Day 1 EPCOT at Walt Disney Word, Florida
We arrived right around 9am on the Disney Transportation bus from our 1-bedroom villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort to a crowded security checkpoint we had to negotiate before entering the park (bag check and random body metal detector checks).
After passing security we scanned our Magic Bands and head straight for Test Track, a ride that lets you design your vehicle at a computer station and then input into your ride vehicles computer to put it through it’s paces as you hit speeds of up to 65 miles per hour on hills, hairpin turns and straightaways of the ride circuit.
After the exciting ride around Test Track we cross the park to enter The Seas Pavilion and ride Nemo and Friends Undersea Adventure. Walking through the Pavilion we visit the large 5.7 million gallon Aquarium filled with sharks, manta rays, turtles and other marine life where we were able to see divers feeding the fish, inspecting and cleaning the artificial rocks and coral. There are always knowledgable cast members that can answer questions for you about the animals you are viewing. There are also several areas that let you explore aquatic life with short movies and hands on exhibits.
Then it was on to the Land Pavilion to ride “Living with the Land”, a boat ride that takes you on a tour of the “Living Laboratory” a sustainable biosphere of living eatable plants. There are five distinct areas of the “living laboratory”, which are:
- Tropics Greenhouse – A greenhouse featuring crops from the tropical areas of the world, including both familiar and exotic foods.
- Aquacell – Which focuses on aquaculture, or “fish farming.” It includes several high-density tanks and a few low-density display tanks and tubes, which are served in the restaurants of The Land.
- Temperate Greenhouse – A greenhouse featuring crops from temperate climates.
- String Greenhouse – A greenhouse focusing on innovative high-density techniques, such as Nutrient film technique. It also showcases “vertical growing techniques”, in which plants are grown on specialized trellises which cause the plants to approximate the shape and structure of trees. The produce grown in the String Greenhouse is also used in The Land pavilion restaurants. Over 30 tons of produce is harvested each year.
- Creative Greenhouse – The final greenhouse of the ride shows some unusual ideas about the future of agriculture. Most of the plants are grown by Aeroponics, in which a fine mist of water and nutrients is sprayed directly onto the roots of the plants. The roots dangle freely in the air free of soil. This greenhouse also features an exhibit of NASA hydroponic growing units, which were developed for use on the space station.
In addition the “Living Laboratory” contains:
- Biotechnology Lab – Accompanying the Creative Greenhouse, this lab is a sterile research environment with several USDA scientists on-site at all times.
- Integrated Pest Management Lab – This Entomology laboratory raises beneficial insects for use in The Land and all over Walt Disney World property. It is not visible on the Living with the Land boat ride, but is visited during the Behind the Seeds backstage tour.
With Soarin’ (aka “Soarin’ over California” at Disneyland in California) closed as it gets a new makeover and additional screens the pavilion was pretty empty, even the great food court was relatively empty even though they still had the breakfast menu up.
Then it is on to the Imagination Pavilion and Figment’s Journey into Imagination. After surviving the sights, sounds and smells of the purple dragon’s Journey we entered Figments upside house and then exited the ride through an area where kids can have fun with different interactive games and hands-on exhibits.
Next door we sit and enjoy a short 3-D film on Pixar movie shorts, where they discussed how they got started in the short movie industry and how these ideas came to them. It is a very funny and shows the outstanding creative imaginations of these individuals.
After the movie it was 12:15 and time for some lunch, we had reservations at “The Rose and Crown” restaurant in the England pavilion at 12:30 and enjoyed a nice long restful lunch stop, Jodi had the Grilled New York Strip Steak and said it was prepared just the way she liked it and I had Bangers and Mash with a side of Yorkshire Pudding both very good and filling. The restaurant was not crowded and had many tables open for walk up customers.
After the filling lunch we headed back to visit the Canada pavilion and watched the Circle-Vision tour of that great country. Circle-Vision is a 360-degree screen where you are flown, driven, trained and walked through the towns, cities and countryside of Canada. The 14-minute experience is well worth it. Wonderfully narrated by Canadian Martin Short.
We pass back thru Great Britain then cross the Disney represented English Channel by bridge and pass straight through France heading to faraway Japan to wander through the shops of Japanese curios and candy and then explore the Bijutsu-kan Gallery in a little museum where they have rotating exhibits. This time it was an exhibit on kawaii – Japan’s cute culture.
Heading back to Morocco we wander the bazaar and take some photos.
We then proceed back to France and watch an interesting Acrobat show in mime. One acrobat balances on stacked chairs 6 high that sit on top of wine bottles that are resting on a small table, quite an entertaining little show. After the show outside of Chef’s de France Restaurant we begin to wander into the back of the France Pavilion and enter a theater to watch the movie, “Reflections de France”. This 18-minute show is a wonderful trip through the regions of France set to classical music. I think we have seen this movie every time we have gone to EPCOT and have always dreamed of going to France, today we enjoy the movie even more since our 3 week trip to France enable us to have visited and walked many of the sights and regions we now see in the movie.
After the show we head over to the “Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles” to pick up our sandwiches for our breakfast in the morning. I got a Croissant Jambon Fromage and Jodi a Jambon Brurre on a baggette. I was also a little hungry so I picked up a Pain au Chocolat for a snack. YUMMY.
Well it was late afternoon and we are both are a little tired from the first day here. There is a 3-hour time difference from our home, and since we got into Orlando Airport yesterday at 4:30 in the afternoon then getting up at 6AM (actually 3 AM per our body clocks), it has taken a little toll on us old folks.
We stroll back toward the entry of the Park and drop into Future World West to get our free photo taken with several of the Disney Characters. Each time they have different characters for the day and we were lucky enough this time to get Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy. Each of them gave us both hugs and Goofy, being my favorite was just clowning around with me, it was great. Yes we are kids at heart.
Well on our way out we could not miss Spaceship Earth. This ride is in the iconic symbol of EPCOT, just as the castle is to the Magic Kingdom. The giant 165 foot diameter sphere raised 18′ off the ground that is based on Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic construction techniques. This 18 minute experience in omnimover vehicles is a fun ride that explores the history of communication from stone age man to the present computer age with animatronics and narration. At the end of the ride you turn backwards as you return from the top of the sphere, as you descend you answer a few questions on a computer screen then you are shown your future in a funny animated movie with your faces as the characters. This is a ride we take at the end of the day when we are tired or during the heat of the day if we are there in summer to cool off and relax.
This our favorite WDW park as it is a cultural and educational experience of the senses. Wandering the countries, enjoying the details and talking to the cast members who are actually from the countries. Even our grandchildren, 7 and 11 years old, enjoy this park and it’s wonders. The food is exceptional here as you can travel the culinary world of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, England and Canada although with somewhat milder versions of the dishes. This is our first of 2 days we will visit this park on this trip.
After Spaceship Earth we leave the park and walk back to the transportation center to catch our bus to the villa at 4:55PM. There we will grab a bite to eat at the Artist’s Palette, a fast counter service restaurant in the Saratoga Springs Resort. As you wait for your food to be delivered to your table they have table and floor mounted artists easels with paper and crayons for the kids, which does not exclude parents and even adults without kids from participating in a little art work if an easel is available. We ordered our sandwiches and sit down to wait for our meal to be delivered to the table. After eating we are feeling very tired so we walked back to our villa at about 6:30PM.
After walking about 6 miles and 15,000 steps today we still have a few things to do at the villa and then fall into bed about 9-9:30 PM exhausted hoping to get rested for our full day at the Magic Kingdom tomorrow.