On our second afternoon at Walt Disney World Resorts, we spent some time exploring the Epcot technology area.
Soarin’ over California in IMAX hang gliding simulation
A highlight of our entire trip was the Soarin’® exhibit. This is a unique experience. The wait time at the entry was about an hour, with no fastpass tickets available. It was an easy wait because the walls of the waiting area have been transformed into interactive games for the waiting groups to participate and compete against each other. Fun to play, fun to watch and a great way to pass the time in que.
The Soarin’® experience is that of being on a hang glider and traveling the coastline and landscape of California. The IMAX screen projects simulations of ocean waves, pristine white ski slopes, the inspiring redwood forests, and some familiar city scenes. It is captivating entertainment and a memorable ride. The air moves in the room as the scenery changes, giving the illusion of fast movement. This was a very fun experience.
In the same building, hot air balloon sculptures near the ceiling are very pretty with vivid colors. There is a nature ride through the research area of the Epcot Center. This ride included some agricultural research experiments including tomatoes on trees and above-ground potatoes.
John & Gwyn at Epcot, Orlando, Florida – October 2013
Hot Air Balloons
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is the ultimate reunion for those who long for a taste of their homeland and the international foodie adventurers of the region!
We were very fortunate that our trip dates coincided with the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. On the previous night, we walked through the area and knew it would be worth the return trip on the second day. It certainly was!
These sampling booths represented many countries and all of the senses were fully engaged with sights, smells and sounds of the many converged homelands. About half way through our journey around the world, we moved back to the technology region of Epcot and then returned into the mix of food, wine, and good times as the evening rolled in. We finished our evening listening to live music at the Canada pavilion – a relaxing end to a wonderful day.
Day 2 begins…A quick breakfast at the BoardWalk Bakery and then we took the ferry over to Disney Hollywood Studios. Our plan was to spend a few hours here and then head to Epcot and the International Food Festival. Another full day ahead! The Disney Hollywood Studios park was less crowded than Magic Kingdom and the weather was much more pleasant for being outdoors. This park was a lot of fun! We attended a special effects show with an Indiana Jones theme, did a backlot tour, and learned the history of the park. The backlot tour demonstrated some unique aspects of filming movies and we saw Herbie!
Herbie in the back lot after a long day in the movies
Movie making through the years
The history of the Disney cartoons and evolution to international recognition was fascinating and since we both enjoy history, it was a good educational experience. Oswald and Steamboat Willie were the beginning for a cartoonist and the skills honed on these early sketches were instrumental to the creation of Mickey Mouse and all that came afterwards. Walt Disney’s life story and the challenges through the year brought a new perspective to all that surrounded us.
During the ferry ride back to the Boardwalk Inn, we decided to have lunch at the Beaches & Cream Restaurant at the Beaches Yacht Club resort, which was near the entrance to Epcot and offers seated dining. The food was tasty, but service very slow. We ordered a burger and chicken sandwich and enjoyed the time together. Our seats were at the bar again, so we were able to watch the staff build the “kitchen sink” ice cream extravagances and deliver them to the ice cream lovers. After lunch, we walked through some of the areas of this resort and the beach theme decor.
Next stop…a short walk to Epcot and the International Food and Wine Festival
Continuing our first day at Walt Disney World, the monorail ride over to Epcot was quick and comfortable. Compared to the morning bus shuttle, the monorail has more room for passengers and belongings and the seats are more comfortable as well. Upon arrival at Epcot, we walked through several exhibits and then nestled into a clamshell with seating for two for a relaxing and cool ride in the Nemo and Friends building.
By this time, it had been a long day with a lot of walking, so we headed to the other side of the Epcot park for the bridge access to the Boardwalk Inn where we were staying. At the bridge, we paused for a skyline photo as the sun was setting.
One recommendation for visiting this area is to plan ahead for meals, especially dinner! We waited almost an hour for a seat at the bar for Flying Fish Cafe. The food was good, not great. We ordered romain salad along with entree dishes of scallops. The service was probably about average considering that the bar staff was attending to their bar duties in addition to overseeing the patrons seated at the counter. As an aside, on the previous night, we had pizza by the slice at the walk-up window on the boardwalk. It was pricey, but delicious and instant service. After dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe, we strolled the boardwalk, which had several active entertainers – juggling, story telling, and other such street performances are the norm for the Boardwalk Hotel experience.
With only two days to spend at the Walt Disney Resort, we knew the hours would be action-packed!
Day One started with a trip to Magic Kingdom. Visiting the park for the first time as 50-somethings, it was an enjoyable day, but not particularly “magical”.
We started off along Main Street and then to the left side of the park, which seemed less crowded. We climbed through the tree house at an easy pace and then over to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride with no waiting at the entry.
After a walk to the back of the park, we did have a 30 minute wait for the raft ride to Tom Sawyer Island, but once we arrived were quickly exploring the island’s caves, bridges forts and more. A short ride on the motorized raft carried us back to the main area of the park.
One of the highlights of the day was the Hall of Presidents display. This exhibit has robotic presidents (no laughing allowed) and synchronized speaking and actions for a journey through the timeline of America’s history.
After lunch, we enjoyed watching and then riding the Mad Tea Party. Next event on the program was the featured parade, which was exciting and beautiful with the many costumed characters and lively music.
Humming along afterwards, we went to Disney’s Tomorrowland. The only exhibit that captured our attention in that section was a rotating exhibit showing the history of technology. It was entertaining and educational, so we enjoyed it a lot. After a few other rides and displays, we headed to the monorail for the quick ride over to Epcot, concluding our time in the Walt Disney Resort’s Magic Kingdom.