Good Night’s Sleep
Our first night in the hotel was blissfully uneventful. My biggest worry coming to this resort with an infant was that he would be up and unconsolable in the night and he would wake people up. Turns out I had nothing to worry about all along. In fact, I would say that Quin probably slept better at the hotel than he does at home. That is most likely because we were so close by and it was easy to get up to tend to him. Either way, it worked out well and I had nothing to complain about.
Ethan slept in Grandpa and Grandma’s room the first night, as we thought he might be kept awake by Quin more than by Grandma’s snoring. Nothing really stirred him, though, and he slept quite well through the night.
In the morning, Jenny and I got up somewhat more rested than the day before. We slept in until around 8:30 having only gotten up once each with Quin during the night, so we felt good enough to try out the 1.4 mile track that surrounds the lake in the middle of the grounds. The Caribbean Beach Resort is a number of buildings organized into Islands. Ours was Martinique. Each of the islands surrounds a big lake in the middle with beaches surrounding it. Each island also had its own pool, which we took advantage of several times. Anyway, Jenny and I went for a small run then stopped by the central shop to get water for Quin’s bottles and some snacks for breakfast. After that, off to the parks!
Our first stop for this day was EPCOT, which again stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. We grabbed a quick snack for breakfast as we had reservations in EPCOT for a character lunch, then jumped on the bus to EPCOT.
Have I mentioned how big the Disney World Resort is? Let me put it another way in case I haven’t properly explained that yet. From our hotel, we could see Spaceship Earth, the big ball in the center of EPCOT. It seemed not at all far away. However, after boarding the bus in the morning, it took us no less than 20 minutes to get to the park! Now, after having consulted a map, I now know that it took a long time to get there because the park entrance was all the way around the park, forcing us to weave in and out of several highways to get there, but still, 20 minutes, and they are both on the same property!
EPCOT, much like the Magic Kingdom before it, was BUSY! There were people walking all over the place. The weather was somewhat better than yesterday, but still not hot, which was OK since there were so many people around, hot weather would have made things uncomfortable.
The first look at EPCOT is no less amazing than that of the Magic Kingdom. The huge Spaceship Earth structure dominating the sky right at the entrance, with the Beach Boys music playing (why the Beach Boys, I couldn’t say), water fountains splashing about everywhere… They definitely went the extra mile with this park to make it seem different.
EPCOT is separated into two separate parts, Futureworld where there are a bunch of rides and attractions that deal with imagination, conservation, and life in the future, and the World Showcase, which has buildings and attractions attempting to capture the feel of different countries around the world. Since it was quite busy, we decided to check out the newest attraction first, Soarin', which was located in “The Land,” one of the buildings in Futureworld. Well, that line was already around 2 hours long, so we did the next best thing, we caught a couple of shows.
The first show we saw was called “Live With the Land,” which was narrated by Pumba, Timone, and Simba from the Lion King. This, along with most attractions, seemed to have the actual actors doing the voice work for the video, which is impressive. The show was pretty neat. It was all about how we should conserve and live with the land instead of against it. I found it somewhat ironic that Disney of all companies was preaching conservation when they pump millions of gallons of water through their fountains and use tons of plastic to deliver food to their hungry customers each day, but hey, the message is still important, and the show wasn’t too bad.
The next attraction we took in was again in The Land. This time we boarded a boat (a common theme in many Disney attractions) and toured through some labs that Disney had setup in an attempt to grow things in different ways. This trip was pretty cool as it showed all kinds of different plants being grown in a huge greenhouse. They also tried new ways of growing things, like suspending tomato plants in the air so that the air can get to the leaves properly, or growing tomatoes upside-down. Fairly interesting stuff.
We had made reservations for a character lunch in The Land’s table service restaurant for around 2:00, but after taking in our two shows we still had some time to burn, so we headed outside and went into a building titled “Imagineering.” This was basically a big hands-on playground of all sorts of technology that could change the future, stimulate the imagination, or educate in some other way. They had stations setup with video games, fire alarms, a pizza game, but most impressive, a Segway area. Mom, Dad, and I waited in line for what turned out to be one of the most fun adult rides in the park. No kids allowed on these! We first sat through a 10 minute orientation video, then we got to go out into the larger area and drive one, and I have to say, it is a lot of fun! I want to buy one!
After peeling Ethan away from the video games, we worked our way over to the Harvest Cafe for our character lunch. I really didn’t think much of a character lunch when we got there, and actually had no intention of scheduling one thinking Ethan was too old for them. Boy was I wrong. The food wasn’t too bad, but Ethan really liked the characters. Any time one of them came around, his eyes got really big and he shouted to one of us to look at them. He was particularly excited about Pluto, though why, I can’t quite figure out since he didn’t even know who he was. The characters we ended up getting to meet were Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Mickey. Dale stopped by for an especially long time having developed somewhat of an obsession with Quin. That was a little creepy, but we moved on.
After lunch, we left Futureworld and decided to try to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We had read earlier that we could take a boat there, which meant we didn’t have to take a bus, so that sounded good to us. To get to the boat, we had to go through part of the World Showcase, Canada and England to be specific. Canada wasn’t that spectacular to just walk by, but they did have a band present called Off Kilter which was a rock band with a bagpipe player as one of the main instruments. It was quite interesting. England was more interesting to walk through, but still, we had a mission and intended to accomplish it. So we went through the park exit and boarded Friendship 3, a boat that serviced some of the EPCOT resorts and ultimately Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The boat ride was actually a blast. Everything at this park is an experience, I have to tell you. It was commanded by two old guys who clearly didn’t need to be working any more, but probably did because they liked people and they got to drive a boat around all day. They had fun talking with the people on the boat and driving it around all day, so it made for a pleasant ride. Along the way we stopped at several EPCOT resorts which looked quite nice. In fact, if we weren’t there with kids (although, what would be the point of that?), I think one of these resorts would be ideal since it was very close to other things to do, like a brewery, the ESPN Club, and dancing places. With kids, though, our resort was very nice.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney’s MGM Studios, is a smaller park, and had fewer people in it, which was nice! The layout was pretty neat as well. After entering, you are placed on a street that looks much like the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, but with a Hollywood feel. Like Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, the park is split into zones, but these zones are different movie themes. One area was a full scale replica of a street in New York City!
The first show we saw was the Indiana Jones stunt spectacular. This show took place in an outdoor theater with a huge set piece at the front that looked like the cave from the opening sequence to the first Indiana Jones movie. Before the show, some casting member came out and got volunteers to do silly things in front of the audience, which was cute. Once the show started, though, was when the real fun began. The first stunt had them doing a rendition of the opening sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ethan has never seen that movie, and he was hooked. The even did the ball rolling towards Indy, and him getting squished, which I think they added for this show. After that stunt, the entire stage moved aside on huge tires and revealed a middle-easter scene in the background where they staged another stunt. All in all, they did three different big-set stunts. Ethan’s favorite part was whent hey fake punched each other, so don’t be surprised if he asks you to let him pretend to punch you!
After Indiana Jones, my dad and I went on Star Tours, a ride themed after Star Wars where you ride in a transport shuttle through some space battles and other things. For me it was the first ride where I stood in line and didn’t have the benefit of Fast Pass, and I didn’t like waiting very much! Jenny, Ethan, Quin, and Grandma went to the Muppet show 3-d movie, which I heard was great.
After meeting up with them, we took in some miscellaneous other rides, some of which we had to skip because Ethan developed a fear of dark places that he could not overcome on this day. Ultimately we ended up at Hollywood and Vine, our second table service meal for the day. This restaurant is a buffet and serves American style food. It wasn’t too bad, probably the most ordinary of all of our table service meals, but they did have a decent beer selection, so that made me happy.
Wore Out Part II
After a full day of park hopping, we were pretty wore out yet again. We decided to forgo the light show, which looked pretty cool, and head back to the hotel so we could live to play another day.
Things we Learned Today about Disney
- Do a character lunch even if you think your kids won’t like it.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a smaller park, but attracts fewer people. It’s also a lot of fun!
- More exciting commentary coming tomorrow!