Monday, September 17, 2012

Disney Day #2: EPCOT

One of the sadly inevitable facts about my children is that they do not sleep in. Well, Syd seems to have the potential to sleep in, but the sadly inevitable fact about her is that she shares a room with her sister, and her sister always wakes her up. Therefore, no matter how late we may have gotten in after Fantasmic the night before, when the alarm went off in the master bedroom at 7:15 the next morning, Matt and I trudged sleepily into the living room to find both girls wide awake, watching Disney Junior (yay for condo cable!) and eating leftover frozen pizza.

That inability to sleep is what makes me worry that the girls are not well-rested after a late night, but it does make getting to EPCOT by its 9:00 am opening, Hot Pockets in three hands (I still think they're gross!), travel coffee mug in the remaining hand, classic Disney songs playing on the ipod hooked into the car stereo, MUCH easier:

EPCOT is the one park in which, even with absolutely zero lines for even the most popular attractions like Soarin'--

--I left at the end of the night feeling like there was a lot of stuff that we simply didn't get to. It's a big park, for one thing, and some attractions close early (we missed out on "Captain EO" and "Journey into Imagination with Figment", which closed two hours before the rest of EPCOT), but there are also so many OTHER things to do in EPCOT that you could probably meander and browse and sight-see happily for a week without getting bored.

For instance, EPCOT is character heaven!
Mary Poppins
Snow White
Tigger and Pooh
It was in this park that, to my surprise, both girls got REALLY into meeting the characters. After carefully watching other children's encounters, Willow used some of her spending money to buy herself an autograph book, too, but even without it, with just hugs and hand-shaking, character encounters were so engaging for everyone! I knew that the princesses and other "face" characters would carry on small talk with the kids, and that was really cute to watch, but I had no idea how interactive the costumed characters would be, too. Everyone was completely delighted by every character that we met, and we met a lot!

In the past both girls have had trouble answering even simple questions on the fly when conversing with strange adults (Willow is notorious for answering, when asked what grade she's in or what school she attends, "I don't go to school"). After our first Disney day, when I saw how engaging everyone at Disney is, I actually drilled the children on their ages, their home state, their schooling situation, and their grades (When I first did this, Sydney said that she was from Arkansas and was a kindergartner, and Willow had to think about how old she was, sigh). One of the really unexpected results of our Disney trip is that both girls are now very good at answering these questions, and introducing themselves, and thanking someone when complimented, etc. My shining moment was when Snow White asked Willow what school she attends.

"I homeschool," said Will.
"Oh, you must be very smart!" said Snow White.
"I am," Willow replied.

We had lunch reservations at Les Chefs de France, which Matt had wanted to try. I had expected the food to be more French, I suppose, or maybe just to have more French options, but the adults' quiches and Willow's flounder were quite tasty (as were Sydney's pasta and chicken strips, after she refused to order anything French)--

--and Les Chefs de France is also special because it's the restaurant that Remy, the rat from Ratatouille, now cooks at. Why, yes, we DID meet him! 

One of the waiters rolls him around on a serving cart to greet diners, and although Remy was pretty darn cute, this waiter was way funny.

I was too close to get Sydney and Remy in the same frame, but here she is interacting with him. Just look at the expression on her face!

In the World Showcase, both girls got really into Kidcot, a free program that lets kids color a big cardboard bear on a stick and then take it around to the Kidcot tables in all the other countries to get it stamped. In many of the countries, the docents would also write the child's name in the language of their country on the bear, or draw their country's flag on it. I would have vastly preferred if the Kidcot locations had always been in the cultural areas of each country--
 --rather than mostly in the indoor mall area of each country, which meant that, in my opinion, we spent WAY too much time in gift shops, but the kids LOVED the program, and Willow even insisted on spending part of our evening going partway back around the World Showcase, to get stamps from the couple of countries that we'd passed before starting Kidcot.

Sydney did a lot of shopping in the World Showcase. I saw a lot of stuff that I'd like to buy, but managed to abstain--I actually came out under budget for souvenirs, if you can believe it, never finding the perfect giant coffee mug for myself, and spending less on the couple of souvenirs that I'd planned to treat the girls to than I thought that I'd spend.

 There aren't as many rides in EPCOT as in the other parks, so we rode them all--Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land (we rode this one with only one other family, who seemed profoundly unamused at our delight with the ride--"Look, cotton bolls! Papaya! Ooh, giant chard!"), Soarin' three times, The Seas with Nemo and Friends twice for Syd and Matt (Willow flatly refused to ride it a second time, and I was happy to accompany her to the aquarium instead), Mission: Space once without spin and once for Matt and the girls with spin (spinny rides make me vomit, so I window-shopped instead), the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, and Maelstrom, which I do believe wins the award for most rides. We all rode it three times in a row, then Matt and Syd rode it another three times while Syd and I did Kidcot--they'd only planned to ride it once more, but they couldn't refuse the CM's invitation to keep jumping back on board through the exit, since there was no wait for the ride. Throughout our entire Disney trip, the only thing that we got sick of was retracing our steps through seemingly miles and miles of empty queue every single time we wanted to re-ride a ride.

 Overall, I think that The Seas was our favorite building--

--and we probably could have spent most of our EPCOT day there. The kiddos LOVED the aquarium--

--and we ALL adored Turtle Talk with Crush. I wish that I'd prepped the girls ahead of time with questions for him, but still, you should have seen their faces when he swam down, looked right at them, and said "Hello, little dudes." 

This day was Sydney's hardest day, mostly because, although she liked all the sight-seeing, she really just wanted to go on rides, and so there were a couple of tantrums to help break up the day, and a couple of benches upon whom I'm sure hers was not the first time-out to be held. 

Nevertheless, even though it was late, both kids perked way back up for IllumiNations, which, you probably don't want to hear, I found enjoyable, but not necessarily impressive enough to warrant the late night and the standing at the edge of the lagoon for half an hour, etc. This was the only park that we really walked around in the dark in, though, which was an additional adventure for my kids who all summer have been going to bed while it's still light out:

They were happy enough to hop into their own beds at the end of it, though, and here's what I saw when I went into their room to kiss them goodnight:

Two kids, sound asleep, ready for Animal Kingdom in the morning!

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