Day 5, April 1st - Epcot, MGM StudiosGo Back To Part II
We started April Fools Day off with the Pooh and Friends character breakfast at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge. Brian is a *major* Pooh fan and he let us know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't doing another character meal unless it included Pooh. Wilderness Lodge is a short bike ride away from Fort Wilderness via the Bike Path/Exercise Trail connecting the two resorts. This particular breakfast is a pre-plated, all-you-can-eat affair which includes the following for adults: cheese blintzes, sausage, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, scrambled eggs, bread, orange juice and coffee. The kids had eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns and juice. Also, although we didn't get it, it seemed that most tables also had a large plate of fruit. We didn't notice this; however, until we were walking out. It really didn't matter to me as I'm not a big fruit eater but Susan made note of it for future reference. The food was good and the characters, Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore, constantly made the rounds visiting with guests. As I mentioned, Brian is a big Pooh fan. It was so sweet to see him hugging Pooh and Pooh hugging back. We were pleasantly surprised when Pooh picked up a green crayon and wrote the following on the back of Brian's coloring sheet..."Yur one of my favrite peeple xcept Christopher Robin", signed Pooh with X's and O's...awwww! I'm a bit of an Eeyore fan myself, even having a stuffed Eeyore (I call him E2 - E1 was lost in a parking garage in California, but that's another story) that often travels with us into the parks. Eeyore seemed to be pleased to see himself as he hugged E2 when he saw him sitting on the table. :-)
We rode our bikes back to our campsite, hopped into the Explorer, and drove to Epcot, planning to spend the better part of the late morning and afternoon in the World Showcase (WS). We arrived just as Futurecorps was marching out to do its 10:30 show in the Innoventions West breezeway. I *highly* recommend that you take 15 minutes and listen to these 13 very talented musicians. As Susan, Katie and I listened, Brian had a ball at a hands-on Robo Lego display in the breezeway. We arrived at the WS a few minutes before 11 am (opening time) so the kids passed the time feeding a few of the many ducks in the area. We started our journey around the world in Canada...stopping to watch the Circlevision movie "O Canada" - a very nice movie.
We continued counterclockwise to the UK pavilion and stopped to watch the World Showcase Players, a small troupe of actors perform King Arthur and the Holy Grail - it was hilarious! Even our kids loved them...in fact, when asked what they most enjoyed in Epcot their answer was the WS Players! They also learned a new word - Rubbish!!
We spent some time in the park while at the UK, visiting with Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and Alice. As an aside, is it only Brian or do other people's kids "drink around the World" by stopping at every water fountain in the World Showcase? It got to be pretty funny after a while...he looked like a dog trying to mark every tree and fire hydrant in the neighborhood! Anyway...back to the report.
***TIP***If you want to meet characters in a nice, peaceful setting stop in at the park. Most people don't even know it exists and go right on by. Other characters we often see here are the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and we've even seen a Penguin from Mary Poppins.
Next up was France. We went in and saw "Impressions de France", a good movie with a nice musical score in a cool theater with fairly comfy seats. Definitely a nice spot to relax and cool off. :-)
Looking at our entertainment schedule, we noticed that the Voices of Liberty (VoL) were singing soon so we skipped past Morocco and Japan and went right to the American pavilion. The VoL are very talented acappella group that sings songs like "Yankee Doodle" and "Oh Suzannah". They are not to be missed!
***TIP***The VoL sing prior to the showing of the American Adventure. There is no need to queue up for the American Adventure as the theater holds several thousand folks! Take a seat just outside the rose-colored circle on the marble floor in the domed lobby for front row seats to the VoL.
We backtracked to the Japan pavilion to catch the last of the Matsuriza (drummers), then walked to Morocco. The kids were able to get Jafar's autograph while we were there. You can often find Jafar, Jasmine and Aladdin there signing autographs. It was interesting that Jafar wouldn't sign the book of a child in front of us because he wouldn't say "please". Katie and Brian were paying attention obviously because when it was their turn because I overheard a lot of sucking up. Apparently it had the desired effect as Jafar did sign their books. :-) We opted to save the rest of the World Showcase for another day, and decided to visit the Journey into Imagination pavilion on our way out to the parking lot. We did both Honey I Shrunk the Audience (HISTA) and Journey Into Imagination (JII) with zero wait...woo hoo! :-)
We drove to the Crossroads and had lunch at Taco Bell before driving to MGM Studios. We were to meet up with a co-worker of Susan's (Darlene) and her family to ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (ToT) at 5:30 and we made it there in plenty of time. Our kids are still terrified of ToT so Darlene's husband, Duane, took their daughter, who is also afraid of ToT, and Brian and Katie to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. We rode after a 25 minute wait (not bad) and had a ball. I hollered "we're all gonna' die!!!", cracking up the whole elevator. :-)
When we arrived at the HISTK playground we found Brian soaked! He'd been playing in the water...oh well, it was him that was going to have to wear those wet shoes. We queued up for the 7 pm Hunchback of Notre Dame show and got good seats along the stage. We were shocked when a new juggler (Randy) appeared to do the preshow...where was Matt??? Randy did some pretty neat tricks but we preferred Matt's show - maybe that's because we know all the joke punch lines? ;-)
***TIP***Get to the Hunchback show 30 minutes before it starts to get good seats along the stage. Sit about 7 rows back (past the step in the stage) for good views of the main characters as they come out to do solos. If the left side seats fill up before you get one, simply walk around to the right side and get one over there. Matt the Juggler does a nice preshow.
We finished the evening off with the boys going to do Star Tours and the girls doing Muppetvision 3D.
Day 6, April 2nd - Epcot, MGM Studios
Our plans for today were to tour Epcot's Futureworld (I refuse to call it Epcot East & West), eat lunch at Beaches and Cream, then spend some more time in the World Showcase. The kids decided that Ellen's Energy Adventure (EEA) would be our first stop so we cut through Innoventions East to minimize walking. How fortuitous! A lady at one of the exhibits had just finished baking 7 dozen chocolate chip cookies and was setting them out for guests...yum yum!! When we walked in the EEA preshow there were maybe 50 people there...it was kind of eerie being in such a big dark room with so few people. We enjoy EEA and recommend it to everyone. It may be a bit frightening for smaller children - watch out for dinosaur snot! :-)
We walked next door to the Wonders of Life (WoL) pavilion to see Cranium Command - a family favorite. I highly recommend this show to everyone. It is a bit loud, but it seems that both children and adults enjoy it. Susan and I crashed on a bench while Brian and Katie enjoyed the hands-on exhibits. No one wanted to do Body Wars so we bugged out of WoL and headed next door to Horizons. We enjoy this ride too and will be very sad to see it closed down. What a shame...with a little work this attraction could be *so* good too! Big sigh... :-(
The Living Seas pavilion was our next stop. The kids love TLS...I think it's ok. Brian likes to get into the big diver suit to see if he can manipulate all the levers and wheels. Poor Katie is still too short. The highlights of TLS are the sharks, rays, dolphins and manatees. We usually spend no more than 30 to 45 minutes in this pavilion before we're ready to move on. And move on we did...right next door to the Land pavilion. We had planned on riding the Living with the Land boat ride first but balked at the 20 minute wait. Instead, we walked right into the Food Rocks show. I've read some negative comments about Food Rocks but the kids like it and we think it's cute.
It was now getting close to lunch time so we began making our way to Beaches and Cream for lunch via the International Gateway. Susan and I had cheeseburger plates, Brian had the grilled cheese sandwich and fries, Katie, the kids pasta. Susan and I split a Milky Way Cake for dessert...yummy! The kids split another ice cream concoction but couldn't finish it. We also spent time in the arcade next door. We give the kids a $10 roll of quarters each for the drive down...if they misbehave they lose quarters. Typically, we don't have to take away too many. :-)
We reentered Epcot through the International Gateway, stopping at France to see Bubble Nicolas, the French mime in a huge plastic bubble. While waiting, Katie saw Esmeralda come out into the little park beside the pavilion and went over to talk to her. She, Susan and Katie spent quite a while together. Esmeralda even took them upstairs into one of the shops so she could point out the Hidden Mickey in the hedge garden below. Katie loved all the personal attention Esmeralda gave her...another magical Disney moment. While this was going on, Brian ended up putting on a karate demonstration for some guests...running through one of his katas. They seemed impressed. :-)
Soon, music started playing and out came Bubble Nicolas - a mime that does his act inside a clear plastic bubble. By this time, the temperature *had* to be in the mid 80's and I didn't see how he could stand the heat! He does a fairly short show - hey, if he didn't he'd suffocate! It wasn't great, but worth seeing once.
Looking at the Epcot entertainment schedule, we noticed a candy artist named Miyuki was about to perform nearby at Japan so we headed that way. We had heard how talented Miyuki was from Duane, my wife's friend's husband, the other night and he was right on the money. Miyuki makes animal figurines out of a taffy ball poised on the end of a chop stick. She can make dozens of different animals and do each in two minutes or less. Brian, sitting on the front row, asked her to make him a purple dragon, which turned out wonderfully. We highly recommend stopping by and seeing Miyuki. We were getting tired so we decided to head back to Fort Wilderness for a nap.
After naps, I took the kids to the pool for a swim while Susan made dinner at the camper. We finished off the evening by going to the Campfire Program to see Brian's favorite, "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh".
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