Where to start, where to start?
After spending 8 days in Orlando – at Walt Disney World – where does one begin to describe, review and record all of the experiences that we shared during our awesome Spring Break adventure?
Today, I’ll focus on the first park that we visited, Epcot. I love Epcot. Plain and simple, it really has been – for years – my favorite park to visit. Honestly? I could live at Epcot. I wouldn’t need much – just a sleeping bag and a nice shady spot to put up a tent – and I’d be happy. It wouldn’t even upset me (much) that I would share my home with 20,000+ visitors each day…I’d take the crowds, the heat and the noise just for the pure joy of living in Epcot.
For our WDW novices, I’ll give a brief background of Epcot…if you’re a WDW expert, like myself, then you are free to skip this part. Seriously. Just go on…move ahead a few paragraphs, and we’ll catch up to you there.
To begin with, Epcot is huge. It’s three times the size of the Magic Kingdom – and so there is a lot of walking done at Epcot. A lot. I’m just sayin’….. Anyway, there are two main areas of Epcot – we have Future World, where the focus is on the future of today’s hopes and dreams…and then we have World Showcase, an exciting, vibrant glimpse into faraway lands, customs and people.
This post today will focus on Future World…we’ll save World Showcase for a future post.
We arrived in Orlando on Friday, March 12th – and by the time we got off the plane, got to the hotel, got checked in, etc – it was about 5:30 pm before we arrived at Epcot – in a pouring rain shower.
But not to worry – being the prepared and savvy travelers that we are, we pulled out our trusty rain ponchos and hit the wet, soggy ground running. We never complain about the rain, as we have learned over the years that the rain acts as a huge deterrent for the average tourist – chasing them all out of the parks and back to their warm, cozy hotel rooms…leaving the rides and attractions empty, for us to enjoy all the more!
No one can visit Epcot without "balancing" Spaceship Earth!
We had 7:50 p.m. dinner reservations at the Rose & Crown Pub, so we used our time before that to ride the three best rides at Epcot – Soarin’, Mission: SPACE, and Test Track.
Soarin’ is an interesting ride, to say the least. It appears to be the #1 ride in Epcot, as a normal wait time is over 2 hours…which, frankly - I wouldn’t wait 2 hours to meet George Clooney or Brad Pitt – so I’m not about to waste two hours of my precious time for a 5-minute ride. However, if you can get a Fastpass – or catch a shorter line – then the ride is fun. I give it 7 stars out of 10…Hubby gives it an 8. The ride gives you the illusion that you’re parasailing over various sights and landmarks in California – while the wind is whistling through your hair and you can virtually smell the oranges as you pass over an orange grove. Very smooth – very gentle – but not quite the thrills that I like.
This is what the seating looks like for Soarin'...these lift off the ground to create the feeling of hang gliding...
Mission:SPACE is a little more thrilling….This 5-minute ride is a simulated space flight to Mars, giving the riders a very real taste of what the astronauts go through when blasting off into orbit. You can pick the “green” team – like Hubby here -
-which is the less intense ride – or my favorite, the “orange” team – which gives you the full G-force experience. Did you know this ride is the only ride in Disney that is equipped with barf bags? How cool is that?!?! I absolutely love this ride. I was one of the first lucky people to ever ride it when it first opened in 2003 – and I loved it then….Turns out, my daughter loves this ride as much as I do – and she loves the more intense version instead of the milder one…a kid after my own heart. Mission:SPACE gets 9 1/2 stars from me.
Last, but not least, we have my favorite ride at Epcot – Test Track. Test Track is the only place in the world where live guests are used as crash test dummies - and it also holds the dubious distinction of being the ride most likely to break down! This is because each car on TT is powered by 3 onboard computers; working together, they have more processing power than the space shuttle! Wow! I always feel the need for speed – and so a 65 mph ride in an open-air test vehicle on a tightly banked track gives me just the thrills I am looking for. This ride can also have, on average, a 2-hour wait – but we learned early on that “Single Rider” line is the way to go. Our family would sacrifice riding together in the same car – for a shorter wait time – and we were happy.
Here's Daughter on one of our rides...
We managed, between Fastpass and Single Rider line, to ride this dozens of times last week. Awesome. 10 Stars.
Another shot of Daughter, this time standing in the Single Rider line...
It always seems to top out at 64.7 mph...darn. I'd love to see that at 150 mph!
Last week was obviously Spring Break for a lot of people – including us – and so I expected the park to be a little crowded. But – I will admit – I was caught off guard on just how crowded the park actually was. Even Disney was caught off guard – they were constantly extending the hours each day of the parks to accommodate the crowds, as well as setting up additional lines as quickly as the crowds were pouring in.
Frankly, it got very old and very exhausting fighting the crowds….besides people to dodge around, you’re dealing with thousands of strollers and wheelchairs and – my favorite – electric motorized vehicles, or “scooters”, that would as soon run you over as look at you.
Crowds aside, I always enjoy Epcot...there are so many things to take in, it needs days - no, weeks - to absorb it all...like this "upside-down" waterfall (the water is going up, rather than down):
This shot was taken Friday night, after the rain moved on...what a beautiful, gorgeous evening - and the park was empty! Even better!
We visited Epcot several more times during the week - and so we'll visit World Showcase in a future post. In the meantime, I'm off to dream about Epcot...where it's empty...and mine. All mine.