Monday, July 15, 2013

Disney World's Epcot In Orlando Florida With A Drive Up The Coast Of Florida

Our big summer excursion this year was to meet our family from Connecticut in Orlando, Florida for a few days and then Frankie and I would take a drive up to Savannah, Georgia for a few days. After Savannah, we would returned to Florida to see our family one last time before flying back home to Texas.

This post will be all about Florida.

We got into Florida really late and of course hungry. So once we got close to the hotel we found a restaurant called Waffle House and were chowing down on some waffles at midnight. It was awesome! We have been to a Waffle House once before but it had been several years ago when we were in Atlanta, Georgia. I don't think I ever took a picture of the actual waffles on this trip but here is one of the coffee!


Later in the trip, after eating at the Waffle House at least 3 or 4 times (there are some in Texas but the closest one is 118 miles away from our house), Frankie was talking to someone on the phone about our trip so far and he described the Waffle House with more enthusiasm and in more detail than any other part of our trip.

Frankie liked loved the Waffle House!

I do have to say that the ones we went to had the friendliest employees.  The cook prepares the food right in front of you and doesn't look at  a piece of paper. He/She is told the order and then they make it from memory.  I would fail horribly at that job!

Strange side note: The Waffle Houses in Georgia were a little less expensive than the ones in Florida.

Now, that the Waffle House has been thoroughly covered, let me move on to the rest of our time in Florida.

Our family was able to stay at a resort on Disney property and as we drove over to where they were staying we got our first "taste" of Disney.

Mickey Mouse Power Lines Orlando


How cool is that!  Then we really got into the thick of it all.

Welcome to Walt Disney World Orlando


Goofy - Walt Disney World Orlando


It was so good to get to see our family especially our nieces and nephew! They just love it when they get to see their "punching bag" Uncle Frankie!

Kids playing with Uncle Frankie 2 Orlando


We hung out with them for the day and swam at the many pools and lazy rivers of the resort. It was so much fun to hang out with the kids who are 11, 10, 8, and 4 years old and their parents (Frankie's sister and her husband).

The next day we all meet at Epcot for a fun filled day.

Epcot ball and Crepe Myrtle Orlando


The kids were ready for Epcot!

Jon Abby Mahalah Orlando


I kept trying to the the youngest niece to smile for a picture, but I didn't have much luck.

Airyel frown Orlando


 But let her Uncle "Ankie" (as she called him) get a hold of her and she is all smiles!

Airyel and Uncle Frankie Orlando

Epcot is split into two different sections.  When you first walk in you are in Future World and then across a lagoon is the World Showcase.  I was really interested in World Showcase, but since we were in Future World we started there.

We were all told to head to the Soarin' ride and get a fastpass. We were told this was one ride we were not to miss! We got our pass which allowed us to come back at a certain time frame so we would not have to wait in line for the ride. We had several hours to kill before our allotted time for Soarin' so we started exploring.  (I really wasn't trying to rhyme there....)

Soarin' was in a section of Epcot Future World called The Land. As we walked around in The Land we saw a film attraction that had no line so we all headed that direction. As it turns out it was a 20-minute video called The Circle of Life. It was about how we need to take care of the land so it will be around for future generations. It also stated how we should not be greedy with what we were given since we all have to share the resources. I have to say, that it seemed rather ironic that we were sitting on this 300 acre, multi-million (billion?) dollar compound watching this video about not being greedy with resources. Plus, several of the shots from the film were from the 60's or 70's.  It needed some serious updating. I wasn't impressed with the video what so ever, but it was air-conditioned and a place to sit for 20 minutes.

After the video we were a little leary of what else would be in store for us in The Land, but we continued on to an attraction called Living with the Land. This was a slow boat ride showing how food was grown over time and then we went through the most amazing greenhouse.

There were so many fruits, vegetables, and spices being grown right there on Disney property. The things grown were also used at some of the restaurants in Disney as well. There were things I have never actually seen growing but use often (cinnamon, vanilla, coffee, just to name a few). There were things growing that looked much different than how we are use to seeing them, especially limes the size of grapefruit, and a tomato tree.

 We even saw food being grown in amazing ways! There were some being grown through a hydroculture method, including one with fish in an aquarium below and the vegetables on the top. The plants provided food and oxygen for the fish and the fish provided needed things for the plants. I do recommend the Living with the Land attraction.

Before heading out of this area I took a picture of the stroller parking. It is CRAZY!

Stroller Parking Epcot Orlando


Our next attraction was on the other side of Future World called Mission: SPACE.

Mission Space Epcot Orlando


There were two levels of intensity. One with many warnings about motion sickness because of spinning and a second one with  little warning of motion sickness. I do tend to get motion sickness and the wait time for the second one was 10 minutes compared to 40 minutes so the second one it was!

We were put in groups of four and in my group there was Frankie and our two oldest nieces. It was nice to get to do this ride with them. We all had our assignments where we had to push buttons at certain times, I am sure that if we didn't push anything the virtual ride would have still progressed. We were on mission to Mars and it involved a hard landing, a slingshot around the moon, and other factors that made the ride fun. It was a very short ride, so I am glad we didn't stand in line long. If you can get a fastpass or the line is not long, I would recommend it, if you have to wait in line long, I wouldn't.

It was finally time for Soarin'! I say that with an exclamation mark although I had no idea what it was. There were signs everywhere about motion sickness but I figured if my 4 year niece could ride it, how bad could it be?

Let me just say, it was AMAZING! You are sitting in a chair that does rise off the ground and all you can see is the huge screen in front of you and the feet of other riders above you. It is a simulation of hand gliding over California. The views are fabulous and so realistic that I brought my feet up a few times thinking they were going to hit the thing we were heading straight for. I did have to close my eyes when we moved fast, but other than that it was fantastic! I highly recommend it as so many did to us.

After this we started to make our way over to the World Showcase part of Epcot, but before I tell you about that, I want to go ahead and put in here the other two rides we went on after touring the World Showcase.

While we were in World Showcase it started to rain and stayed that way for several hours. They had to shut down some of the rides and I think lots of people left. There was no way we were leaving! We paid almost $100 per person and we were staying until they shut the doors and turned out the lights for the night! Once it finally stopped raining we headed back over to Future World just as they were opening back up the rides.

We first went to Spaceship Earth, which is located in the famous Epcot dome. None of us knew what was in that dome, but when you see no line, you go for it! As it turned out, it was a fascinating look at communication throughout time. I know that doesn't sound very interesting but there animatronic people and towards the end it starts to look at what the future holds and that part is really great. At the beginning of the ride they take your photo like on the scary roller coasters so you can see yourself either really enjoying the ride or really hating the ride. We didn't know what they were for so I didn't smile and Frankie made a goofy face, little did we know that we would see those faces again on a screen right in front us! Now we could only see ours since it on the back of the seat in front of us, so it was a very personalized experience.

I did take a picture of the screen in front of us because it was just too funny and despite how we looked when the original picture was taken I am still going to share it. It isn't the best quality but here it goes.

Space Ship Earth Photo Epcot Orlando

The last ride we did at Epcot was Test Track. My sister-in-law had gotten fastpass tickets for them but then the rain shut the track down. As we walked in that direction they were just opening back up. I wasn't going to go at first because they told me that it goes 60 mph and is very curvy. I didn't want to get sick to my stomach so I wussed out. But when I found out that my four year old niece was big enough to ride, I changed my mind and had to get in line without a fastpass.

It is rather sad that I base if the ride is too intensive for me or not is by if a four year old can ride it.

I got on very quickly and enjoyed it. I did have to close my eyes on some parts because of the curves. This one took a photo too as we were on it. I am not sure when it did, but when you got off the ride there was a bank of monitors showing recent riders. I saw mine and took a picture of the picture. I will share this one too, just because I think it is funny.

Test Track Photo Epcot Orlando


Now my eyes are closed, but I am smiling...I am pretty sure that is not a grimace.

I am going to move away from Future World now and on to World Showcase, which is the main reason I wanted to go to Epcot. I knew countries from around the world were represented there and the people that worked in each country were usually from that actual country. I had looked online before we left and decided we should eat in Morocco at the Tangerine Cafe. So we made our way around to it and let me share some the things we saw along the way.

Canada!

Canada Epcot Orlando


England!

UK phone booths Epcot Orlando


Mary Poppins!

Mary Poppins  UK Epcot Orlando


Alice in Wonderland!

Alice in Wonderland UK Epcot Orlando


France!

France Epcot Orlando


Morocco!

Morocco Epcot Orlando


We were so hungry by the time we got there that I forgot to take a picture of the food. It was so delicious! I had the shawarma chicken platter served with hummus, tabouleh, tangierine couscous salad, and pita bread. 

The tangerine couscous was so tasty! I want, no, need to find that recipe! And with one simple search, here it is! It had real pieces of tangerine in it! Oh, I am drooling just remembering it!

The meal was expensive to me, but we were at Disney, everything is expensive. They don't hide prices though. You can see all the menus online with prices and you see the prices plainly printed before you order.

While our family was finishing up their food Frankie and I explored Morocco. It was very pretty and I would love to go to the real Morocco. At one point I saw a cool backdrop and asked Frankie to stand with me so I could take a picture of us. How many tries does it take to get a good picture of us together?

Let's count.

One.

Try 1 Morocco Epcot Orlando


Two.

Try 2 Morocco Epcot Orlando


Three.

Try 3 Morocco Epcot Orlando


Four.

Try 4 Morocco Epcot Orlando


Five.

Final Try 5 Morocco Epcot Orlando


Five. FIVE times, to get my husband to just act normal! But that is ok, I love him because of his goofiness, not in spite of.

After we ate, it started to rain and it rain a good three hours. Frankie and I had no umbrellas nor ponchos, but we carried on through the rain. We wanted to see all the countries so we continued around the lagoon. Let me continue to share some of the sights we saw.

Japan! And you can just make out the rain.

Japan House Epcot Orlando


Paper crane exhibit inside Japan.

Paper Cranes Japan Epcot Orlando


The rain let up for about 20 minutes as we exited Japan. Of course, as soon as the rain left the temperatures and humidity came back harder than before. That was the only time it was pretty miserable out there as far as weather goes. Hot and humidity should never mix, but they do. Shame on them!

We continued on our country hopping right into Italy!

Venice Italy Epcot Orlando


In case you can't tell, that is a gondola in Venice. As we were looking around, all the sudden there was singing and tambourines being played. I turned and this is what I saw:


Not only did they sing, they danced as well.


They also pulled our brother-in-law out of the crowd for a history lesson. I will leave that out for his sake, but if you happen to look through my photos from the trip on Flickr...

It started to rain again and for some reason Frankie and I went one way while the rest of the family went another. If I recall correctly the kids wanted to get an autograph from one the characters so they went to do that while we explored in the rain.

Germany!

Building Germany Epcot Orlando

If you were not aware, Werther's Original candies are from Germany.

Werther's Original Germany Epcot Orlando


At Epcot there is a whole little store dedicated to them with a wall full of so many different flavors that I got so overwhelmed with delight that I forgot to take a picture. We treated ourselves to a bag of Mint Chocolate Werther Originals. I have never seen them anywhere else and I can't even find them online. They were soooo good. I love mint though so there was no way to resist them.

They also had a variety of other sweets there as well.

Werther's Original Candied Apples Germany Epcot Orlando


We met back up with our family in China and stayed there because there was going to be a Chinese acrobat show.

China Epcot Orlando


While we waited for the show to start, I walked around and took pictures.

I saw Mulan!

Mulan China Epcot Orlando


When I told my nieces that she was over there they just looked at me. They didn't know who she was! So now I am on a mission to get a copy of that movie to them.

Off to the side there was a room filled with tomb warriors, it was really an amazing sight. The first picture is not that good, but it gives you an idea of how many there were. They were all about 2 feet tall.

Tomb Warriors China Epcot Orlando


Here is a closer picture.

Kneeling Tomb Warrior China Epcot Orlando


I thought they were so neat!

It was time for the acrobats. It started off a little slow but by the end, I was amazed. I just happened to capture the ending. It was dark in there, so forgive the quality. I tried to fix it but there was only so much I could do.


It was still raining when we left China and again for some reason Frankie and I went one way while the rest of the family went another. Maybe this was the time they went for an autograph. I really can't remember.

So we headed to Mexico. I am closer to Mexico right now as I sit on my couch typing this than we were at Epcot, but that is ok.

Before actually getting to Mexico we passed through Norway.

Norway Epcot Orlando


I honestly didn't know what country it was until I saw a sign. I just don't know much about that country, not even any stereotypes. Vikings?? I am not sure. I will have educate myself on it.

Passing on through Norway and into Mexico we saw the "Mexicanized" (is that a word?) version of Donald Duck!

Donald Duck Mexico Epcot Orlando


How great is that!

We went into Mexico and I guess it started to rain harder because Donald Duck came inside.

No Photos Donald Duck Mexico Epcot Orlando


I like to think that he was saying, "No photos! No photos!" in this picture, but really he was probably just waving. My version is funnier though.

Mexico was a lot like El Mercado in San Antonio, Texas. The same kind of stuff was there, but I am sure at Disney it cost much more. Being from south Texas there wasn't anything that I hadn't seen before. I personally wasn't impressed, but I imagine someone from somewhere else would like it.

They did have a really cool restaurant in there called San Angel Inn Restaurante. We didn't eat there, but the atmosphere was something else.

Restarant Mexico Epcot Orlando


I don't know how they did it, but it really felt like we were outside. It was a strange feeling, because we knew we were inside a building but the feeling of being outdoors was so strong. If you go in there for no other reason, go in there to experience that feeling.

Having seen all the countries we headed back to Future World to ride the rides I already talked about. We did meet back up with our family somewhere. As everyone tried to cram in one last experience. I just sat and admired the view as night approached.  And yes, those are rabbits!

Epcot Ball and Rabbits Epcot Orlando


Epcot Ball Night Epcot Orlando


The fireworks started but we decided we were too hungry to care. We left the park, found food, and said our goodnights and goodbyes because the next day Frankie and I were heading to Savannah, Georgia!

The next part of this post is us travelling north to the Florida/Georgia line and then back into Florida to say our last goodbyes to our family.  The pictures and information about Savannah are in a separate post.

You ready to head north? Well then, let's go, shall we?

We were heading towards Daytona Beach which is actually east of Orlando, but that is where we turn to go north.  We saw a sign for a store promoting all kinds of Florida goodies, so we stopped.


Jumbo Boiled Peanuts Sign Florida


They are not kidding when they say jumbo boiled peanuts. Look at those things! Ok ok really, those are oranges. I am sure they had jumbo boiled peanuts somewhere, just not those.

Orange Palm Lemon and Lime Trees Florida


I wanted one so bad! But knowing my black thumb they probably wouldn't have even made it home. I know some people have lime trees in this part of Texas so I think it would have grown. I have a palm tree in the front yard that seems to be doing ok. I would LOVE to have an orange tree! They grow in the valley of Texas and our climate just a little north of them is not too different, so maybe one day.

Alligator Jerky Florida


The guy said they had to add the beef because alligator doesn't hold together when it is dried. It was good, but tasted pretty much just like beef jerky.

We made it to Daytona Beach.

Welcome to Daytona Beach Florida


Daytona 500 Daytona Beach Florida


Daytona Beach Sign Florida


Painted Cross Section Daytona Beach Florida


We didn't go to the beach in Daytona Beach. It was really crowded, so we continued to follow the coast until we found a place we liked. It was the first time for us to put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Our feet in the Atlantic Ocean Florida


 We have seen the Atlantic when we visited our family in Connecticut but it was winter and way too cold to even get out of the car. For some reason though our brother-in-law got out and a wave snuck up on him drenching one of his feet up to mid calf with freezing cold water. He was a good sport and never once complained about his soaking wet foot.

The Atlantic that we saw near Daytona Beach looked a lot like the Texas beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Atlantic Ocean Florida


The Florida beach wind did the same fun things with my hair as the Texas beach wind.

Us at Atlantic Ocean Florida


It wasn't long after this that we hit the Florida/Georgia line. We continued on into Georgia and then Savannah. Stayed our two nights in Savannah and drove back to Orlando. Again, all Savannah and Georgia stuff are in another post. Be patient, this one is long enough as it is!

Driving back to Florida was uneventful. I do like to stop at the state welcome centers. They are usually good for a break and some entertainment.

Welcome to Florida Sign


The one in Florida is actually very nice. They offered everyone a small cup of either orange or grapefruit juice for free. They have shelf after shelf of brochures on things to do in Florida. There is even a photo op in there.

Us and Greetings from Florida


We were going to try this by ourselves, where I took a picture of Frankie in one hole and he took one with me in the other hole. Then I would try to stitch them together into one picture on the computer. It would have probably been a disaster, but luckily, one of the people working at the center saw us and offered to take a picture with both of us in it.

Even if they are not open when you go through, it is still pretty on the outside.

Close up of Welcome to Florida Dolphin


Back in Orlando, we got to hang out with our family a little more before flying out early the next morning. We all went to eat and then went back to the resort to play miniature golf. I want to end this post by sharing pictures of my beautiful nieces and nephew. Sorry, I can't help it. I have to do this.

The two oldest. (10 and 11 years old)  Two of the sweetest, kind hearted girls I know, unless they are dealing with each other or their brother.

Mahalah and Abby with balloon animals Orlando Florida


The only boy. (8 years old)  It just kills me with cuteness the way his glasses are always perched on the end of his nose!

Jonathan at Orlando Florida


The youngest, who cheats horribly at miniature golf, by the way. (4 years old)


And then one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip. The youngest one being carried by her Uncle "Ankie" and both of them loving every minute of it.

Frankie carrying Airyel Orlando Florida


Next post will be about the Savannah, Georgia portion of our summer trip. I hope you will come back to read it!

Until next time!





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