During this time of being stuck at home, its a good time to blog about and remember the happy times. Sometimes considered the "happiest place on earth" I have never actually been to Disney World until the fall of 2019. I have to admit I am a Disney fan, I love the movies and all that; but I was never a die-hard fan. Though I was excited to visit for the first time, I never understood the people who only go to Disney for vacation religiously. To me it was a theme park that I could see a visit or two in my lifetime, and be happy. However, after a visit I totally get why people repeat visit this place. In fact we have now decided to try and make a mini-vacation every year or two to visit Orlando. Not only for Disney but for Universal Studios. We figured why not. Usually you can find reasonably priced airline tickets to Florida, but also our Hilton Vacation Club has three properties there. We'll still explore new places though too but adding Orlando into the rotation.
For the next month, I will be dedicating some blog posts to each of the 4 Disney parks. Plus I'll probably do a couple of Universal Studios ones. In these posts, I will highlight what were some of our favorite activities, rides, and foods. We did not stay at a Disney property, but at our Hilton Vacation. We did decide that sometime we do want to try and stay at a Disney property because there are some extra perks you get from that. If you have never been to Disney, their are tons of websites,blogs, podcasts and Facebook groups out there to help you plan. I recommend doing your research and planning ahead. My favorite podcasts are the ones that are part of the Capture the Magic Community. Great group of people and hands down the nicest and best Facebook group I am in. I also love checking out things on Disney's Food Blog.
Before I begin I want to mention that this was my first time and my husband's second. Though some parks did not exist when he was there as a kid such as Animal Kingdom. As much as we tried to do it all, we couldn't. We dedicated one full day to each of the four parks, and there is only so much time in a day. I know there are things we missed and foods we wanted to try but didn't get around to. For the first blog post I decided to start with Epcot.
Epcot I was super excited for but was probably my least favorite park. No offense to those who love Epcot. I know people who do. Everyone we knew thought we would love it because of the world and travel type theme to the park, but we didn't. I felt like I was looking at cute but commercialized version of the world. All the countries seemed to only offer food or shopping. Don't get me wrong some great food and some cool shopping, but I found myself bored. In my opinion the Norway area was the best area they did. That area also included a Frozen ride, and a Stave church with some of the history of Norway beliefs. There was stuff to do in that country and not just try to get you to spend money.
I did hear that they were expanding Epcot and giving it an redo. I promise I will give it another shot someday. I also felt if I were a local and could get a season pass, I could see liking Epcot more. Just go out there for a quick bite to eat and enjoy the festivals. Speaking of that let's discuss!
Picture courtesy of Pixabay.
Food & Wine Festival
Throughout the year Disney does different shows or festivals as part of Epcot. Right now if they were open it would be the International Flower and Garden show. When we were there, it was the highly popular food & wine festival. Throughout Epcot are little booths that they have set up with food you can try. The booths usually tie into the region you are at in terms of the style of food. The booths also do a pairing and offer some sort of alcoholic beverage. When we arrived that day we were given a passport book. It mentioned all the booths in Epcot, where they were at, and what they were serving. There were stickers in the back that you were to apply for each thing you tried.
Now let me mention none of this food is included in the price of admission. You have to purchase everything. The food and drinks at each booth are not big plates. They are small plates where you only get a few bites of each item. For the drinks, you can a small glass that I want to say was like 3-4 oz. The cost varied but was like $4-$9 for each thing you tried with $5-$6 being a good average. It is nice because you can go around and sample a bunch of stuff without being full right away, but I will warn you those few dollars ad up quickly. My husband and I shared everything so we could try more but probably did end up spending well over $100 on food and drinks. I will say though everything we had was pretty delicious and there was a nice variety. Since all we did that day was eat at these food stands, I don't have any advice on any of the restaurants inside Epcot.
Photo taken by me on iPhone.
Out of all the parks this one seems to have the least to offer in terms of rides. Here are the rides that we did that day.
Probably the most popular ride at Epcot and its easy to see why. You are taken into a room with seats that make up a hang glider. Then you are lifted up in front of a massive screen and your journey begins. You feel like you are flying through the air, as the screen takes you over the world highlighting famous landscapes, monuments, and cities.
Living with the Land
I really enjoyed this ride, but I know that it can be hit or miss among fans. This an easy ride where you sit in a boat and go through a water canal in basically a green house and learn about agriculture. You learn about different types of food, flowers, etc. that grow in various climates around the world. You also get to see how Disney uses what they grow there throughout their properties.
Frozen Ever After
This is also a boat ride but this time it features Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and other familiar faces (and songs) from the Frozen movie cast. This ride does have a few minor drops and you do float backwards for a while. Nothing to get excited about and you may get a little wet but the kind that dries easily. I like the Disney boat rides and would recommend it for sure.
This ride is sponsored by Chevy where at first you get to design your own car. You are taken into a room to choose your cars features for a certain time. Then they load you into a model car and take you around a track. Each part of the ride breaks down certain features of a car that I assume are tested when making any car at a factory. You get to see how well the car you designed holds up to these tests. I honesty wasn't into the designing a car part, but my husband enjoyed it. I did enjoy the ride part a lot.
This is the ride that inside the famous Epcot geo-sphere right when you walk in. The ride takes you through history on how humans and communication has evolved through the years. Though the early stuff was cool, I felt like the modern and future times were outdated.It was what people thought the future would be like 50 years ago. I put this ride middle ground for me. Not my favorite, ok to do once. I hear its getting an update, so I will be curious to go back when that is done.
Journey Into Imagination
Ok this ride is pretty cheesy. It has a nice message in that its geared to get kids to use their imagination and not be afraid to be creative. The ride itself is a little cart that takes you around encouraging this idea with scenes. What makes the ride fun is Figment. He is the purple dragon that enforces this message and stirs up "trouble" during the ride. I really liked Figment. I mean he's a dragon and he's purple; totally up my alley. However this ride is clearly geared at little kids. I would love to see Figment used again in a better ride.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Final ride to cover. I love the Nemo movies but this ride wasn't super exciting for me. You sit in a cart and go around like your underwater with highlights from the original movie. I remember there was a part with live fish but not a lot and it looked kind of sad. I felt bad for the fish. Probably my least favorite ride of the day.
Shows & Other Attractions
As I do these blog posts, you will notice that we didn't really do a lot of shows. Being our first time there we were mainly focused on the rides. We did not see any shows in Epcot. We probably would have stuck around to see the fireworks that night but honestly we were there when they opened and by 4:00 in the afternoon, we were bored, tired, and it close to the end of our trip. We ended up gong back to the hotel and relaxing by the pool.
One thing I will recommend checking out is the Stave Church Gallery in the Norway section. The building is a replica of a classic stave church that you can find in Norway. Inside is a gallery filled with artifacts and some of the countries Viking lore. If you watch the Marvel movies you will recognize names such as Thor and Loki .
Picture of the Stave Church in Norway taken by me on iPhone.
There is some great shopping in Epcot. All the countries have wonderful themed shops surrounding items from that country.I mentioned earlier that I was disappointed that shopping seemed to be the only activity some of these countries offered. I don't mean to sound contradictory. My thought is that if you are in the mood to shop (and I wasn't) it may be a nice option. However, if I really wanted to shop in Orlando I probably would have checked out the massive outlets by my hotel, and not paid admission to a theme park.
My overall impression of Epcot was that it needs some work. That is has potential but its not quite there yet compared to the other parks. A way to make it feel like you are getting more bang for your buck. However, I hear that they are working on expanding and new plans for things that feature Ratatouille, Moana, and Guardians of the Galaxy are in works. Once those are complete, I will give this place another chance.
Photo below taken by me.