After two days at Magic Kingdom, a day spent trespassing at the pools of Disney resorts other than our own, we were spending our last day at Disney World at Epcot.
We had a 9:30 reservation at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for breakfast, and we wanted to get to Epcot when the park opened at 9am to give McKenna a chance to meet Anna and Elsa before breakfast and before the lines got too long. Amazingly, everything went according to plan and we followed the herd through the park to the Norway section.
McKenna has gotten into these awful Youtube videos featuring really terrible Disney princess impersonators. While these videos are definitely a sign of the decline of Western civilization, they really make you appreciate the high quality Disney “cast members.”
We timed the Anna/Elsa visit perfectly to make our breakfast reservation.
McKenna was just a bit excited while we waited to go in.
Excited because at age 7, you can never meet the same princesses too many times in too many places, especially when one of them is the third incarnation of Ariel, the second with legs.
Akershus featured a few nice wrinkles to separate it from other character experiences at Disney restaurants. First of all, Disney has recruited people from Norway to work as the wait staff. This was essential, because when I am eating in a make-believe “Norway” meeting actresses pretending to be princesses, it is a deal breaker if the waitress is inauthentically American. A second key feature of the restaurant was that periodically, the princesses led the kids in a “procession” around the restaurant.
This is probably a better option for kids getting energy and excitement out than the “run around the restaurant as fast as you can five times” alternative offered by Laura.
After breakfast, we wandered through the World Showcase section, and noticed, once again, all of the people wearing matching shirts. While this makes sense for large groups, especially groups of students, something in the Orlando air seems to compel pairs of tourists to do this, and shirts like these were everywhere.
Epcot uses three “tiers” for its Fastpasses, and all of the best rides are in “Tier One.” We used our Tier One pass on Frozen Ever After, which, as you can see from the line on the left, was a good call.
The amazing thing about the Frozen ride was the advances in the animatronics on display.
Instead of the old, heavy-lidded characters on most Disney rides, characters that blink so slowly it’s like they prepared to entertain children by getting totally baked, the Frozen characters had screens that had been molded as their faces. As you can see above, this made the animatronics look almost identical to characters in the movie. Which means we are one step closer to…
Unfortunately for McKenna, snack credits had to be used on food and could not be used on headwear.
Epcot was much more laid back than the Magic Kingdom, and the crowds were definitely smaller. At the Magic Kingdom, this drum area, like Tom Sawyer Island, would have had a line:
Disney has astutely placed princesses around the international World Showcase section, which gave McKenna something to do when she wasn’t trying on headgear or using up snack credits.
As in the Norway section, Disney recruits people from around the world to work in the different “countries” of the World Showcase. A lady from China wrote McKenna’s name in Chinese characters on a fan, which made the fan a hit with everyone.
We really lucked out with the weather the entire time at Disney. One of the things I remember most of the earlier trips I took to Florida was the daily rain, but it did not rain the entire week. This gave McKenna plenty of time to enjoy the outdoor activities, some of which were provided by Disney and some she invented herself.
In the afternoon, we finally ventured into the Future World section, taking McKenna to Turtle Talk with Crush, which I highly recommend for people with kids, and the Nemo ride, which was just OK. As much as the rides, McKenna loved the aquariums in that area.
And she learned some valuable lessons about the adaptability of life.
As with the Magic Kingdom, once we used up our Fastpasses, we could obtain new Fastpasses; also, like the MAgic Kingdom, the crowds were bad enough that only the worst rides were available, the Epcot equivalents of Stitch’s Great Escape. Rather than go on a second-rate ride, we chose to bite the bullet and wait in the line for Soarin’. The line for the ride was 70 minutes, but the time went by pretty quickly.
Soarin’ is a very well done ride, and in addition to the impressive visuals, there were blasts of odors, providing smells to acompany each landscape. Either McKenna’s enjoyment of Soarin’ or a psychedelic effect of the smells from the ride prompted her to do this.
Since it was almost 9pm at this point, we found a place to watch the fireworks and used up our remaining snack credits on an assortment of pastries at the bakery in the France section. Then we watched the fireworks show, which topped the show at the Magic Kingdom mainly because Epcot’s had this:
Then it was time to extricate ourselves from the park.
After a great trip, it was time to leave Disney World behind – next up: Asheville and the mountains.