Our first day in the parks at the Magic Kingdom, we headed out early to EPCOT! Since I'd never been to Disney World before, all of this was new to me. But having been to Disneyland and California adventure before, I knew that there were be some similar things at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as there was there. But EPCOT was entirely new!
EPCOT is a celebration of human achievement and future inventions. It is often referred to as "a permanent World's Fair". It was divided into two half, the first half at the front of the Park is called "Future World" and the second half at the back of the park, surrounding the large lagoon, is called "The World Showcase."
We started our day, as most everyone does, with a photo in front of the giant golf ball, of Spaceship Earth as it was more commonly known. The flowers that spilled out in front of it were a pleasant surprise and gave a splash of colour to an otherwise dull entrance.
As we walked in the front door, I noticed Pluto bouncing around under the golf ball, and we immediately ran over to catch a photo with him. I know a lot of visitors just snap a picture with the character and hit the road, but I love chatting with them. There are so little moments in adulthood wholly to embrace your childhood imagination and the idea of play that when you do come face to face with those moments, you can't let them pass you by.
We headed over to "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" ride and hopped on a clam shell to cruise under the ocean and watch a short and sweet animations/video projection of the movie Little Nemo. All in all, I prefer the Nemo submarines at Disneyland, but this is a good option for people who might get a little claustrophobic inside those subs.
After our ride, we rushed outside to meet Chip and Dale. These trouble makers were such fun get to interact with. They teased us, played jokes and spent a good 5 minutes with us. Making us feel like we were the only people in the park.
Following out meet and greet we thought it was time to head out of Future World and into the World Showcase. Although, most of the rides as located in Future World, this part of the park, honestly, seems a bit drab. Especially once you gaze out over the World Showcase Lagoon.
People usually have a plan of attack when walking around the World Showcase. They walk from either the right or the left and go around the lagoon. But we had a mission to take on. We were trying to get to the Provincial Belle Meet-and-Greet at 11 am before the huge line formed. So we booked it over to France, skipping over Canada and the UK (don't' worry we came back).
After seeing Belle emerge in the distance, we stood up and waited patiently at the front of the line. Belle was a joy and absolutely seemed like she stepped right out of the movie. She was so warm and kind and was one of the best character actresses we met. She WAS Belle. We talked to her about creating bookshelves modeled after her own in Beast's castle, and she was flabbergasted and honoured. What a cutie
After checking out Belle's Meet-and-greet from our list, we found ourselves to be a bit peckish. Since we already were in France and I was dying to try a macaroon, we opted to visit the Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie.
Les Halles is truly a Parisian work of art. From the Art Nouveau style typography to the retro furniture and lighting and finally the delectable treasures inside the glass cases. We settled on a cup of coffee and one of those incredible looking Macarons filled with cream and raspberries.
The Macaron was the best thing I eat all day. It was that perfect combination of sweet with that tangy zip of the raspberries.
Epcot is a place where the entire world and all the cultures therein, comes alive in a single location. So many architectural details and colour schemes are taken into account when designing these places. Walking down the streets of "Paris" you do feel like you're there. Maybe an idealized version of the city, but nonetheless, it is a very transporting effect.
Most of the shops on the streets are actual shops selling French goods such as Guerlain perfume. It also includes two French restaurants, Monsieur Paul, and Les Chefs de France. The only attraction that is in France is called "Impressions de France" and is a short film. The film has been playing since the opening day of the Epcot park in 1982. It offers a visual tour of the nation, encompassing the music of French classical composers such as Claude Debussy and Camille Saint-Saëns.
The perfume shops in France are one of its highlights and the smells coming from outside the windows meant that you couldn't help but poke your head inside.
The perfumery was pretty pricey, but some of the smaller shops sold a few "Eau de toilettes that were very reasonably priced and just as wonderfully smelling and beautiful packaged.
France is one of the most picturesque countries you can visit at Epcot and is worth an hour or so of your time. We enjoyed touring it in the morning since it was the perfect spot for breakfast, meeting Belle and avoiding too many people!
I loved this little column in the middle of the square covered in vintage posters for various events in Paris' history, concerts, operas, and ballets!
Opposite the gardens and fountains, there is a small artisan station where props that Parisian artists of the day would have used were set up on the street like they just been left there. Boxes of paints, brushes, canvases and a photo box were all set up as if someone had just run off to the cafe to grab a coffee before they were simply to return to their craft.
After finishing wandering around France, we headed over to the UK to catch the Alice in Wonderland meet and greet. The United Kingdom Pavilion was designed to look like a stereotypical British village, has English gardens including a hedge maze.
Alice’s meet and greet take place right in front of the village houses. Since it was a chillier day, all the characters were out wearing their cloaks, a unique experience since usually Florida is way too hot for them to be wearing their cold weather gear. Alice was one of the most enigmatic characters we met. She was full on Alice and hilarious to chat with. Even her English accent was pretty bang on. It was jolly good fun!
After meeting Alice, we set off to check out the shops. The stores in the UK neighborhood sell British items, such as tea, toys, clothing, and Beatles merchandise.
The tea shop was my favourite, carrying all sorts of different british teas and treats. But the best thing in the shop were all the collectables to do with the Queen’s Jubilee or other such ephemeral event do-dads.
The shop opposite the tea store was filled with Guinness themed good and other beer related do-dads. Towards the back of the-the English Pavilion there lies another shop selling replica armor and swords from famous soldiers and princes in English history.
Before lunch, we wanted to browse the Canada exhibit quickly, but it was a chilly morning, and I decided on grabbing a cup of hot cocoa before heading back out. There’s nothing like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold morning to warm the soul and put a smile on your face.
The Canadian Pavilion seemed the strangest to us, and I wonder if this is how everyone who is actually from the country that is on display feels about their exhibition. The Canadian exhibit emphasizes Canada's outdoors. It includes a canyon, a waterfall, gardens, a pool with fountains, and totem poles. The main attraction is O Canada!, a Circle-Vision 360° movie of Canada's cities, scenery and people.
The three native totem poles, two are made of fiberglass, and one is carved out of wood. The wooden totem pole depicts three stories of the "Raven" tricking the "Sky Chief" into the release of sun, moon and stars from a chest. It was carved by the Alaskan artist David A. Boxley and was officially put on display in April 1998.
The "Northwest Mercantile" store was the perfect example of what to me is NOT Canadian, all beavers and maple syrup, but here it exemplifies the essence of Canada. But to be fair, I'm not sure what else really could sum it all up...
Before heading off for lunch, we stopped in to meet Daisy since she was out meeting guests and the line was pretty short. She was such a fun and feisty character and was a great time getting to chat to even if just for a short period.
For Lunch, we decided to head back to England and have a pub lunch at the Rose & Crown Dining Room. This replica of an English pub serves up British cuisine, including potato and leek soup, bangers and mash, and fish and chips.
The pub itself feels very authentic. The dark, amber wood, raucous laughter from the men standing at the bar, gorgeous stained glass on the doorways and various knick-knacks lining the walls of the building.
One of the most attractive parts of the Rose and Crown is their selection of ales and stouts including Boddingtons, Bass, Harp, and Guinness (from the Republic of Ireland), as well as Stella Artois (despite being Belgian, it is one of the UK's most popular lagers). Dan settled on a pint Black & Tan, a mix of ass and Guinness. A thick and delicious brew. I couldn't' drink, but I did treat myself to a cup of Ariel Punch, complete with souvenir clip on Ariel glow pin.
For lunch, we settled on the classic dish of fish and chips. The perfect compliment to the chilly weather we were having outside. Warms the body and soothes the soul. It was just the ticket for setting back out to tour the remainder of the World's Showcase!