Monday, November 27, 2017

Our Disney Trip 2017: Epcot

Here it is.  The start of the Disney posts.  Whew, these can get pretty photo intensive for sure, but we love all things Disney.  Eddie and I think we are on a good 5 year Disney rotation so you might see another trip for us in 2022 if you stick around that long.  Haha!  Of course, we will have a teenager then so things will definitely be different around here.  Epcot is probably the most enjoyable Disney park for adults as their special events seem to appeal to the older crowd.  They have the International Flower Festival in the Spring and the International Food and Wine Festival in the Fall.  We have experienced the flower festival which is pretty spectacular with amazing flower sculptures everywhere.  We just missed the end of the Food and Wine festival, but I was very excited about experiencing "Christmas" at Disney.  Every park had huge and amazing Christmas trees and lots of extra beautiful Christmas decorations, and every park was different with the decorations matching the theme of the park.  Epcot had a lot of traditional decorations for the different cultures around the world.  I wish I had better pictures of the different countries, but I never seem to have enough time to immerse myself in that part of the park because we are too busy with the rides and more kid friendly stuff.  I imagine I can experience more of that when the kids are all grown.  Evan was very happy to get to experience a couple of rides he missed out on last time, and we all had a fun and tiring day.

*Note:  Some of these pictures were taken by the Disney photopass photographers.  I highly recommend getting the photopass picture package which is usually around $100 to get all of the pictures to download on any devices you want that you have taken around the parks.  The cool thing this time was that we didn't have to wait until we got back to our room to see the pictures on our computer.  We could immediately see the pictures on the Disney app from our phones and even download them right away if we wanted.  Disney photopass pictures are way better to share than the usual camera selfies.  Haha!  There are photopass photographers set up in all the best photo spots in the parks and with all the characters.  It is so much easier to let them take your pictures than to worry about getting all the pictures you want and then the pictures not turning out so great.  Most of our photopass pictures were top quality shots.  There were a few outdoor shots when the sun was too bright and the photographer couldn't seem to get the camera to cooperate for those so they are a little more washed out looking.  All in all, I think this is the single most worthwhile cost of Disney.

Mattox was so excited when he spotted Mickey and Pluto at our hotel.  We actually stayed offsite this time to save money.  We knew we wouldn't really spend much time at our hotel anyway so it wouldn't be worth it to pay more than double the hotel costs to stay onsite.  I didn't even take many pictures of our hotel although it was a really nice resort very close to the Disney parks.  It had a shuttle bus to take us to the parks everyday, and we did use it the first day.  It didn't leave as early as we would like for the other parks though.  It would be a nice hotel in the summer because it had a great pool and waterpark area to play in, and my boys were sad we didn't get to use it.  Surprisingly, there were a few kids and families using it while we were there.  If you are interested, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort. 

After a hearty "Disney" breakfast compliments of a really awesome buffet at the attached Applebee's that was included with our hotel stay, we were off.  Seriously, the breakfast buffet really did rival any of the breakfast buffets at the Disney resorts.  Last trip, we stayed at a Deluxe resort at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I did enjoy the addition of the African themed food, but the kids never ate any of it and just enjoyed the standard breakfast fare and Mickey waffles.  This buffet had a Mickey waffle maker so you could make your own hot and fresh waffles.  After we rode the hotel shuttle to the Disney transportation center and picked up our tickets, we got to ride the awesome and "futuristic" monorail (not so futuristic as it was when it was first built...haha!).  The boys didn't get to ride it last time since the onsite hotels have their own shuttles to drop you off at each park.  

We got our first view of the big ball.  I used to call it a giant golf ball when I was a kid. 

The entrance to the park was gorgeously festive and still exhibited the flower sculptures I loved during the Flower Festival.  I just love Bambi. 

Tinkerbell sprinkled us with her magic fairy dust so we could have a "magical" time.  The photopass pictures will give you lots of these special pictures.  We were all excited to finally get to the park. 

Just some of the additions you can add to your photopass pictures.

I love that the photopass photographer captured a close up of Grayson so I could remember his first time at Disney. I took the pictures of the boys with Bambi. 

We always start to the left of the entrance with the Nemo ride.  There is a whole aquarium inside the building.  The birds on the rock were animatronic, and you could hear them saying "Mine Mine Mine."  Haha! 

The first ride was a slow one we could all enjoy.  You hop into a clam shell and ride under the sea.  

It is impossible to take pictures on the Nemo ride, but you ride through the aquarium and see real fish and the digital characters from the movie swimming along too.  Mattox liked the stingrays.

And the jellyfish. 

This is an important Disney shot inside the "friendly" shark's mouth.  "Fish are friends, not food."  

We thought the little boys would enjoy Turtle Talk with Crush.  Evan and Brody sat up front on the floor.  Crush comes out and actually talks to the audience.  He calls on kids and answers their questions and responds to them.  Brody raised his hand and tried to get called on. Grayson sat back with us and the other parents. 

You will never be more thankful for double strollers than at Disney.  These babies were able to take naps whenever they needed them and really made it a much easier day. 

Brody loved the Christmas decorations.  The snowman and Goofy topiaries were a hit. 

Our next ride was inside the Mayan pyramid in Mexico.  Evan still really wants to visit Cancun and see Chichen Itza which is on our short travel list to see soon.  He loved going inside the pyramid again and wished we could have eaten at the restaurant inside.  I tried to make reservations for some of the restaurants, but they were nearly all filled up.  People schedule reservations a year in advance. I was lucky enough to snag a few though. 

My big boys in Mexico. 

This was another slow boat ride we all could enjoy.  Mattox loved seeing Donald who seems to be his favorite character most of the time although he was a little shy when he did finally get to meet him. Hey, I would be shy to meet my favorite celebrities too! 

It was dark inside the pyramid so it wasn't easy to take pictures.  I didn't want to use the flash on the actual ride. 

It is kind of like a Mexican "It's a small world" with the colorful animatronic characters. 

I did get one decent shot of the boys at the end of the ride. 

And Daddy took my picture with the boys outside the pyramid. 

We decided to visit China for lunch.  I couldn't get reservations so I thought we could just eat at the quick service Chinese restaurant.  It was not impressive. 

The pagoda style buildings were pretty. 

I loved the koi pond and Chinese decor. 

After lunch, we had a fastpass to ride Test Track.  Last trip, Test Track had just closed completely down after GMC and the other automobile companies went through the big financial crisis.  GMC originally sponsored this ride.  You get to design your own race car and see how it performs as you walk through the line to get on the ride.  

I rode this one with Evan, and Eddie rode with Brody.  I don't know why my husband did not get any pictures with Brody on this ride and others.  Yes, it makes me mad.  I took most of these with my cell phone.  You can also download the ride photos with your photopass app with just a quick swap of your card or magic band. I also hated that Evan and I were in the back row on the opposite side from the camera riding with some older girl who rode solo.  

Mattox's turn for a nap. 
This time, I rode Mission Space with Brody.  Evan had been so disappointed last visit when he was just barely not tall enough for this one.  Yes, I am upset Eddie took no pictures of Evan on this ride. 

Brody was excited to get his Launch Ticket to go to Mars.  There are two levels of this ride.  The easier one just takes you on a practice mission on earth.  The other one shoots you off to Mars.  I did not know how intense this experience was.  You buckle yourself into a rocketship and get the effect of blasting off into space.  I presume they are spinning you really fast, but all you see is the screen in front of you showing your progress into space.  You also have an assigned job on the mission so you have to pay attention so you can hit the correct buttons at the correct time.  It is a little difficult when you are just trying not to get sick.  Haha!  Mattox just liked the little space station play area outside of the ride.  

Brody was getting ready to board his space shuttle.  Mattox was enjoying climbing through a tunnel.  

The big boys were assisting on a special mission on a space station and were competing with another team. 

That was Brody and I on Mission Space.  Eddie didn't take any pictures of him and Evan in Spaceship Earth inside the big ball, but he did send us a postcard from the future.  I rode Soarin' with Evan. 

It was snack time, and Brody chose cotton candy for his treat.  Grayson even tried a little.  Mattox preferred that we feed him because he did not like the sticky or fuzzy feel of cotton candy. 
I enjoyed my Mickey ice cream very much.  We dressed the boys in their Disney shirts for our first Mickey character meeting at Epcot Character Spot.  I wanted a picture of Mattox with his Mickey diaper bag with his name on it that he received as a baby gift.  
Getting all dressed up for their pictures.  I saved the shirts for the character photos to keep them clean.  Haha! 

Mattox gets his first sight of Mickey.  He wasn't wearing his glasses yet, but I think it is safe to say he definitely saw Mickey.  He didn't want to stay behind the chain either. 

Finally our turn, and Mattox couldn't wait anymore.  I love his big smiles for Mickey...his hero! 

Mickey played peek-a-boo with Grayson.  Brody was not cooperative for the photos of course. 

Ugh, Brody.  Oh well, the rest of us were happy. 

Mattox couldn't stop looking at the "real" Mickey. 

Goofy was fun, but he wouldn't let us pull his ears.  Haha!  I had just mentioned that when we went last time, our little baby Brody had liked pulling Goofy's ear, and he went nuts and was holding his ears to protect them.  

Brody and Evan got some good hugs from him. 

Minnie is always the sweetest.  She gave Mattox and Evan some extra sweet love.

So much love in this picture. When we went last time, Minnie gave special love to baby Brody.  I don't know why she didn't do that for Grayson.  Probably because I was holding him.  She likes men better I guess. 

Epcot was pretty at night, but picture taking was hard.  We were walking around the nations to get to Italy where we had dinner reservations.  A photopass photographer took mine and Eddie's picture with the Eiffel Tower in the background.  

We passed through Canada.  

My boys became a totem pole. 

I thought the poinsettia tree was pretty. 

And the giant teapot and teacups.  The boys liked the little thatched roof cottage. 

A pretty view across the water of the giant Christmas tree, Independence Hall in America, and the Eiffel Tower in France. 

The big ball was also lit up at night and made a pretty reflection on the water. 

We passed through Japan, but it was very dark over there. 

Independence Hall and the American area was festively decorated. 

In Italy, the boys saw a fountain that I guess was supposed to remind you of the grand fountains in Rome like the Trevi fountain. I took no photos at dinner apparently.  My phone had probably died, and I didn't feel like getting the camera out.  Grayson was getting tired and wanted milk after dinner so I took him outside while Eddie waited to pay the bill.  I caught the beginning of the giant globe show of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  I was sitting back in a little corner of a courtyard breastfeeding so I couldn't get any decent pictures. 

All fireworks at Disney are spectacular although Magic Kingdom's are the best. 

On the walk back around the park to get out, we passed through Norway.  There used to be a viking ride here that got changed into a Frozen themed ride.  I couldn't get a fastpass so we didn't try to ride it sadly.  I think it would have been a good one. Sigh. 

The giant Christmas tree was pretty traditionally decorated.  The Mayan pyramid looked cool at night. 

I tried our entire walk out to get a decent shot of the goodnight messages on the ball in all different languages.  I finally got a decent shot in English at least.  Sigh.  These boys were DONE!  Goodnight, Epcot! 

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