A new year, and the TR goes on, bringing us to the Disney portion of our trip. We decided to do Walt Disney World Resort in style, staying with friends from back home at Disney's amazing Polynesian Resort. I am a fan of all things Tiki Modern, so the resort really worked for me in more ways than one. It was an absolutely gorgeous and relaxing place to stay - obviously so close to the parks - but expensive! I was also surprised to find the bar closed so early. I was ready to spend a fortune on tropical cocktails, but there weren't too many punters hitting the bar, so I'm guessing the resort is mostly a destination for families with kids... Well, duh... But can anyone tell me if there is a more 'adult'-oriented resort at Disney World? Something a little more 'late night'?
Anyway, after spending too much time enjoying everything else on offer at Disney's Polynesian Resort we completely messed up our first Disney park day - Epcot. We arrived around midday and that was our first big mistake. I had forgotten that you really have to HUSTLE the Disney parks to have a more thorough, enjoyable day. It seems that there is no longer any time of the year when the Disney World Resort parks are quiet and you have to go in expecting big crowds each and every time. You then have to RUN to the most popular ride first, then fastpass and fastpass again until you've hit up the most popular attractions before all the fastpasses run out (and they will).
I had also completely forgotten that it rains in Florida every day without fail, usually around 3-4pm. The tropical thunderstorms usually pass pretty quickly, but they will inevitably close certain rides, such as Test Track. And sometimes, as on the day of our Epcot visit, the thunderstorms won't pass as quickly as you might like... For us that equalled a two hour wait to get ONE ride in on Test Track. Bloody hell!
Despite totally messing up our Epcot visit, I did enjoy the park. It was beautiful, and it had some great attractions. I was even able to overlook the two hour wait for Test Track as the ride really delivered a very fun experience. In Future World, Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth were other highlights, and I was very surprised by Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure. We all groaned when they annouced the 45 minute ride time, but I loved the experience of the theatre seats elaborately moving through the various scenes - which was kind of like the Carousel of Progress on acid. Alright, so everyone else in my party fell asleep, but I couldn't get over how the moving theatre worked!
Walking around the World Showcase we briefly sampled the various areas before getting rained out. Epcot is definitely a theme park experience I will have to repeat in the near future. I was very interested to sample more food (and alcohol!), give some of those rare Circle-Vision 360° movies a try (I'm fascinated by this old fashioned innovation), and check out some more of the Future World pavilions, but we simply ran out of time.
We did catch the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show, which was spectacular, but before it had even ended we hustled our way back to the monorail to beat the insane crowds. By our next park - the Magic Kingdom - we had learned our lesson and ended up having a very full day there. But lesson learned at Epcot: If you're an international visitor with one day to do a Disney park, you have to work a little harder to make it a successful visit.
This is the sight that greets you as you enter Disney's Polynesian Resort, opened 1971. It's pretty amazing!
We stayed in the 'Aotearoa' longhouse (that's the Maori name for New Zealand, an unfortunate coincidence...).
I am a fan of Tiki Modern and wanted to steal so many things.
Some of this furniture would look great in my house.
The resort is right on the lagoon - just across is the Magic Kingdom, a short monorail ride away, with a station by the hotel entrance.
The resort had a beautiful outdoor pool!
Speaking of the monorail, we went all the way around the lagoon and southwards to Epcot.
We'll get to you tomorrow Magic Kingdom...
A view of the best Space Mountain of them all (because it's two credits!).
The monorail cuts straight through Disney's Contemporary Resort.
The monorail finally reaches Epcot and runs around Future World. Here's a view of Test Track from above.
Looking out over to the World Showcase.
I loved the retro vibe of the place straight away.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
And here's the amazing Spaceship Earth. Hard to believe there's a ride inside this thing...
For the rest of our Florida trip we were joined by some good friends from back home, Kevin and Craig!
I don't like the look of those clouds one little bit...
First up we rode Mission: SPACE which is basically a giant centrifuge with fantastic motion simulation effects.
The queue was great too.
Very 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Of course we did the 'intense' version of the ride, and holy crap did we feel those G forces!
I was looking forward to Spaceship Earth, which is now narrated by the lovely Judi Dench.
Spaceship Earth uses Disney's Omnimover system, which works except when people are too stupid to get on the damn ride in a timely fashion!
From the neanderthals to the Phoenicians...
...the Middle Ages to the Renaissance...
And into my favourite period - the mid-century, where everything's retro!
I love that episode of the Simpsons when Marge describes a "World of Tomorrow" ride - "what the people in 1965 thought the world would be like in 1987"! I was kind of getting that vibe here...
We thought it might be time to check out the rest of the park before those ominous clouds turned into rain.
I love these old school buildings!
It was looking increasingly stormy over the World Showcase.
But we made it to Mexico.
I thought this was a good pavilion showcasing the country.
This reminded me a little of the Blue Bayou Restaurant inside Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
While we were here we gave the Gran Fiesta Tour a whirl...
I've never seen The Three Caballeros, and I'm not sure I will ever get round to it!
Alcohol is everywhere at Epcot, which is a good thing for lushes like me.
Not the first - and certainly not the last - mobility scooter we saw in Florida...
Argh, those clouds!
The beautiful Norway Pavilion.
I do believe there's a log flume here. Cue the inner log flume enthusiast!
Maelstrom was okay, but there's wasn't much 'fluming' - it was more of a boat tour with a fun backwards section.
The gate outside the China Pavilion.
I believe this is where one of the park's Circle-Vision 360° movies is located. These shows are disappearing fast so I was disappointed to miss it!
The Germany Pavilion.
They had some great architecture here.
But none more so than the Italy Pavilion. We really needed more time to explore the World Showcase...
But the rains finally came, and then some...
America gave us shelter!
We weren't planning to eat at the American Adventure, but the weather swayed our decision. I have to say the food was awesome (and came with a show!).
The park got quite a soaking.
Unfortunately we left our TPR ponchos at home.
Seriously, it looks like a hurricane has blown through!
We decided to try something indoors. So why not ride Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure...
What do you mean it takes 45 minutes?!
I loved it! (And it helped that I managed to stay awake!)
It was finally dry enough for Test Track to re-open.
We sucked it up and got in the stand-by queue.
A bit of themeing.
The wait was long... Plenty of time to check out Facebook...
Did I mention I hate waiting in queues for anything whatsoever?
But you know what, Test Track was awesome!
By the time we finally emerged it was nighttime.
Time for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
It was a spectacular show.
We had fun taking photos.
The huge rotating globe was particularly impressive.
We decided to leave before the end of the show to beat the massive rush to the monorail...
Oh Epcot, I will be back to visit again soon... I didn't sample anywhere near enough craft beers today.
What a shame that you only had a little time for Epcot. It still looks like you guys had fun, but that's a park that needs to be taken at a slow pace and just enjoyed. Hopefully you get back for Food and Wine sometime, because, correct me if I'm wrong... I think you and Andrew like to drink alcohol...
Barge84 wrote:What a shame that you only had a little time for Epcot. It still looks like you guys had fun, but that's a park that needs to be taken at a slow pace and just enjoyed. Hopefully you get back for Food and Wine sometime, because, correct me if I'm wrong... I think you and Andrew like to drink alcohol...
Yes we do Thad! I will definitely get back to Epcot sometime soon and give it a few days if I can. The Food and Wine Festival would be great!
Matt, try one of the resorts in the Boardwalk area next time. I'm partial to Boardwalk, but Yacht & Beach also skew a bit older due to convention traffic and proximity to Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom. Certainly a lot more late night venues in that area as well.
SharkTums wrote:Matt, try one of the resorts in the Boardwalk area next time. I'm partial to Boardwalk, but Yacht & Beach also skew a bit older due to convention traffic and proximity to Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom. Certainly a lot more late night venues in that area as well.
mattnz wrote:I was very surprised by Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure. We all groaned when they annouced the 45 minute ride time, but I loved the experience of the theatre seats elaborately moving through the various scenes - which was kind of like the Carousel of Progress on acid. Alright, so everyone else in my party fell asleep, but I couldn't get over how the moving theatre worked!
I can't tell if you're just very behind the times, or just that gay, but I would hardly say this ride is anything more than a great place to take a mid-day nap and escape the hot, hot sun. But hey, gotta have the love for Ellen's Big Gay Energy Ride.
mattnz wrote:I was looking forward to Spaceship Earth, which is now narrated by the lovely Judi Dench
Ehem... it's the lovely DAME Judi Dench.
Clearly I joke. Please come back to Florida! I miss you guys!
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