The Best Place on EarthOctober 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: Disney, photos, vacation
Ah, Disney. Ah, Florida. Ah…wait, it’s 91 degrees? The whole week we’re there? Whatever…it’s still the best place on earth.
James and I spent a blessedly kid-free week at Disney, getting some extra mileage out of those season passes, staying at the very posh Dolphin resort, and eating our way around the world at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. And Liam spent a mostly wonderful week with my parents in Kansas City. (Aside from catching a monster cold and infecting the whole tribe, he had a great time.) We drove up from Wichita Tuesday night amid unseasonably cold rain.
I’m not gonna lie. When our plane landed Wednesday night in Orlando, my body did a double take when we stepped outside of the airport. Was it always so humid here? It’s funny how you acclimatize to your surroundings – I remember my mother asking me the same thing when she and my dad came to Florida last February. After a couple of 90-degree days, though, it didn’t feel so abysmally hot and sticky. It also helped that when I checked my weather app while standing in the hot sun, it said freezing drizzle for Wichita. I’ll take hot and sticky any day.
How did we ever survive before apps? On our way to our hotel I consulted my Disney World app and discovered that Epcot was having “Magic Hours” until 11 that night. Normally the park would close at 9, which was just about when we’d be arriving at the hotel. We were going to get a jump start on the food and wine fun! It was all we could talk about in the cab. We hurriedly ditched our stuff in our room on the 18th Floor (resort view, way up in the top of the triangle. Quite nice.) and practically ran to the Epcot gate. But, boo, all the booths for the festival were closed, so we had to console ourselves with Grand Marnier slushies from a regular kiosk in France. We briefly considered riding Soarin’ with its 30 minute wait time, but I was totally beat from flying. Besides, we had plenty of time to ride the big rides. Famous last words…
Thursday we spent the whole day at Epcot sampling wares from around the lagoon. Our goal: to acquire a stamp from every pavilion in our passport. And at the rate we were going, it wouldn’t take long to fulfill. We had a few duds: the Mango-Habanero Margarita from Mexico was an unsurprisingly odd combination (top photo), and the Singapore Sling left us reeling. Perhaps we should have known when we overheard one of the booth employees describing it as, “Very fruity…and very Ginny.” Gin breath on every sip, yikes! But we did have a few hits. I was partial to Brazil’s frozen Caipirinha, which was a bit like a frozen margarita, but much better than Mexico’s offering. James loved Japan’s Green Tea Colada (middle photo), and I couldn’t help laughing when they put an umbrella in it. James likes such girly drinks! On a lark I tried the Frozen Dragonberry Colada from the Refreshment Port, and it was hands down my favorite drink of the festival. And, of course, we had to sample our perennial favorites, Apple Ice Wine from Canada and Honey Mead from Ireland. Food-wise we think this year was even better than last year. On my list of new favorites were the Grass-Fed Beef Sliders with Monterey Jack and Hot Sweet Pickles from the Florida booth (I ate one almost every night!), the Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard from South Korea, the Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachio and Honey from Greece, and the Escargot at France. James was all about dessert, going bananas for Australia’s Pavlova, a Meringue with berries and vanilla custard. He had, like, five of them. The lines for Test Track and Soarin’ stayed super long all day and night, so we took a ride through Space Ship Earth. And stupid me thought I’d give Mission Space another go. Even the super easy green level made me queasy. And, of course, we couldn’t leave without posing in silly hats!
Friday we beat the heat with my friend Calli at Sea World. James and I hadn’t seen the new Antarctica exhibit. It was fun, and freezing! But the penguins were super cute, as always. Calli rode my favorite coaster, Manta, with me while James bided his time with the dolphins. We saw our favorites, the sea turtles and manatees, and enjoyed another blessedly cool exhibit in the Arctic. I tried to talk James into going on the big water ride, but of course he wasn’t havin’ it. I think our very wet ride on the Dudley Doo Right at Universal Studio ruined all water rides for him.
Saturday, with aching feet, we trod to Animal Kingdom in the morning so we could ride the Expedition Everest. James had never been on it, and I was thrilled he actually agreed to ride a coaster with me. Then it was off to Magic Kingdom to ride Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise. And by evening, when it was dark and spooky, we hopped on the Haunted Mansion ride. I’m sure we did more, in fact, I think we even managed to squeeze in a siesta at our hotel room, which we’d been doing every day to avoid the height of the afternoon heat. And we stayed at Magic Kingdom until 11, almost drunkenly staggering back to our room, despite having not had a drink (the only day we didn’t!)
Sunday, suffering from theme-park fatigue, I was grateful that my friend Mandy had agreed to meet me at the pool in the late morning. She brought her daughter Nicole with her, and we had a blast getting bossed around by a pint-size three-year-old. James came down at lunch and ate at the pool-side restaurant with us. Very relaxing. Rejuvenated, after sundown we headed over to Epcot to chip away at the passport. Wait times at Test Track and Soarin’ were still stupidly high, so we got drunk instead. Whee!
Up early on Monday, we took the boat over to Hollywood Studios and raced over to the Toy Story Mania ride for the fast pass. Thirty minutes after opening, they were nearly out. We managed to snag one for 5-6 PM. Sheesh! We killed time doing some of our favorites: The Great Movie Ride, the Backlot Tour, and Star Tours. We stumbled across a history of Disney exhibit that we’d never seen before, and what a hidden gem! All about Walt Disney’s life, his career, and the building of the theme parks. And even though we’d promised ourselves we wouldn’t come home with a bunch of souvenirs, James bought two T-shirts and I left with this awesome (and kinda creepy) Yoda back pack. Initially we bought it for Liam, but it’s way too big. Oh well.
Tuesday morning I got up super early, taking advantage of Epcot’s early morning “Magic Hours”, and raced to the Soarin’ fast pass line. I thought I was being such a good little wifey, getting him a pass while James slept in. But, foiled! I could get a fast pass for me, but not for James, since he hadn’t entered the park with me. Disney and their rules! The wait time for the ride was only 10 minutes, so I went ahead and rode it. And I had just enough time to come back for our much-needed couple’s massages at 10. They were spa-licious! (Though, perhaps not quite as good as we’d expected considering the price. Boo.) And since it was our last day, and since we’d already finished our passport, we stood in a 40 minute line for Test Track and a 70 minute line for Soarin’. Not ideal, but worth it. Oh, and I convinced James to see Captain EO with me. It’s so delightfully cheesy. James thought it was lame. But what does he know? George Lucas, droids, aliens, space travel, AND Michael Jackson in the 80s?! What’s not to love?
And then our vacation came to an end. Despite our excitement about leaving Liam with my parents, we talked about him incessantly every day. Liam seemed to have a nice time there, not once asking when we were coming home until Tuesday. Poor kid came down with a horrible cold/flu on Sunday, and it made the rounds at mom and Jill’s house. But he did manage a trip to Union Station and a Trunk or Treat at Evie’s school, and he got a ton of cousin time. So I don’t feel too guilty leaving him behind. Besides, we fully intend to bring him back when he’s older. And with any luck I’ll be able to coax him on the rides that James is too chicken to ride. Here’s hoping.