We began our day at Epcot in Future World, arriving before park open. Cast members let guests in through the front gates, but areas of the park weren't open yet, so we hung out with the crowd until everything officially kicked off, then headed to Test Track. So did everyone else.
We ultimately decided to skip Test Track and made a u-turn, heading instead for the Character Spot, where Matt got to spend a little more time with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. These character interactions were excellent - another thing that was not in the plans but turned out to be awesome. Going in with a plan but being prepared to chuck it from time to time in favor of something that fit us a little better served us well throughout this trip.
Next we made our way to The Seas with Nemo and Friends. There was zero line here, presumably because everyone else in the park was at Test Track. We hopped in a clamshell and toured through a mix of animated fish (Nemo, Marlin, Dory, Bruce, et al) and real ones. Who's ready for Finding Dory? I am, for sure!
After that, we checked out the rest of the Seas, which included some big tanks with sharks, turtles, fish, rays, and a dolphin. Also, a giant, climb-in-able Bruce-type thing that is both hilarious and a little bit terrifying. Moving on...
We had a FastPass for Turtle Talk with Crush for 9:40, but there was no standby line, so we skipped the FastPass and went straight in. It was similar to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor in that animated characters interacted with the audience in realtime. The kids sat on the floor up front, and Crush talked to them.
While we waited for the show to start, I changed our Turtle Talk FastPass. The only real option was Journey into Imagination with Figment, but we didn't need the FastPass here either. After we rode it, I understood the lack of demand for this attraction.
Next up, we headed to the Land pavilion. We had some time before our Soarin' FastPass window, so we did Living with the Land. The standby line was short and moved quickly, and Matt really liked getting to see inside the greenhouse.
Once it was over, we walked a few steps over to the Soarin' entrance. The FastPass line seemed crazy long, but we started moving quickly. The standby line was 60 minutes at that point. We had a little wait, but it was so worth it. Soarin' is awesome! We wanted to ride it again immediately, but that was definitely not an option given the long standby line. I cannot wait to go back and do Soarin' Around the World once it switches over.
We grabbed some lunch at Sunshine Seasons next, then made our way over to Spaceship Earth, our last FastPass for the day. When we first walked into the park, Matt seemed really anxious about the giant golf ball and did not want to go in, but he professed the ride's awesomeness as soon as it came to a stop and was very pleased with himself for going into the park's icon.
After Spaceship Earth, we stopped in MouseGear, where Matt got his sorcerer's hat Mickey ears, then we caught the bus back to the hotel to rest up before returning to spend some time in the World Showcase.
Our plan for the evening was to enjoy the holiday goodness in each pavilion, grabbing a few small bites for dinner along the way.
We began in Mexico but not before grabbing a device to participate in Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. We weren't quite prepared for how time-consuming it would be, but we loved how the mission was integrated into the Mexico pavilion, and Matt was thrilled to send Doofenshmirtz packing.
Over in Norway, we stopped in to share some school bread. This sweet pastry filled with custard and topped with coconut lived up to the hype in our opinion. Definitely worth the snack credit.
In China, we watched some acrobats perform and hung out with a friendly dragon.
And in Germany we listened as Helga shared Christmas stories. She and her nutcracker friend chatted with Matt for a few minutes after storytime.
As we made our way out of Germany and into Italy, it was starting to get dark, and we didn't accomplish a whole lot more after that. We listened to La Befana tell her story for a few minutes in Italy, ignored the America bit, blitzed our way through Mitsukoshi in Japan, and ultimately decided to sit down for a bite to eat at Tangierine Cafe in Morocco, which was an absolutely tasty decision. Erik and I both got shawarma platters - he got the lamb, and Matt and I shared the chicken. Both included hummus, pita, tabouleh (more green than grain - yay!), and couscous.
Truth be told, after dinner we skated through France, the UK, and Canada without doing much more than window shopping. Next time, I'd love to start early and spend more time exploring the World Showcase in the daylight.
Worn out from our around-the-world adventure, we made our way back to the hotel via several hops: Epcot monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center (our one and only monorail ride of the trip), then ferry to the Magic Kingdom (for our first glimpse of the park lit up at night), and boat back to Wilderness Lodge.
Stay tuned for my Animal Kingdom write-up next!