Exploring the World

(It is waiting, after all.)

DH’s cousin, who was really the catalyst for this entire trip plan, came into town on Friday evening along with her son. (For the rest of this post, C* refers to the cousin, and S* refers to her son.) C* was going on a cruise, and as C*’s parents live in FL and much of C*’s family (same as the family we were visiting) lives in Orlando, she decided to make it a stop before her cruise. C* had a hell of a time with the airport and a million other things, but that is her story, not mine. 🙂 My point is that she was frazzled. And then, her hotel’s Disney shuttle turned out to be shared with 6 other hotels, so on Saturday morning, her intent was to meet DH at DHS early so they could all do the thrill rides together. But, she ended up not making it to DHS until like 11am or so. Because, on top of being shared, the shuttle just dropped them off at Epcot (or something like that), so they ended up doing the Epcot heavy traffic rides first thing and then taking Disney transport over to DHS to meet up with DH.

In the meantime, it was DHS’s extra magic hours (resort guests get an extra hour in the park in the morning), and DH had gone super early to ride Toy Story a few more times. As for me, I wanted to not be rushed, and I wanted to go back to Downtown Disney. I also wanted extra time in the World Showcase at Epcot (which opens at 11am). And, my parents were leaving that morning, so I wanted to get to say goodbye to them. Thus, while DH was at DHS, I took care of the remainder of packing our room and got us checked out. All the while, I kept our connecting room door open to my parents room. I kept listening at the door, and it was quiet. At one point, I peeked at the window, but the blinds were shut. I figured either they had gone for early breakfast or they were sleeping still. (This was at 8:30am, DH having woken up and been out of the room by 7am.) I took my time about packing, and then started hauling stuff out to the car.

Then, the texts started coming in. First, DH told me about C*’s troubles with the shuttle. Then, my parents had all texted me goodbye. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this already, but our cellphones didn’t get coverage in our hotel room. I never got any calls or texts or messages until I left the room. I peeked again at my parents room as I was walking back, and sure enough, it was cleaned out. (There was a crack in the curtains that I eventually got a view through.) I called them, and they offered to wait for me to join them at breakfast (they were done and about to get on the road), but it seemed silly at that point. I still had a bunch of bags to pack into our car, and they needed to get going.

So, I ended up having breakfast at Chick-Fil-A. It was my last shot at it, since they’re closed on Sundays, and it was the third time I’d had it while we were in FL. It was delicious. Then, I went to Downtown Disney to make one last shopping trip. I ended up buying a Mickey purse that I really liked (but that has a short strap that I don’t like…but it was on sale for a low enough price that I forgave it), and I returned a camera bag that I’d bought but decided I didn’t like.

Actually, I don’t think I mentioned that. But, on Thursday evening, I was convinced that I needed a park purse. So, I cajoled my parents and DH into letting me make a last minute dash through the Disney store for a good bag/purse. (Requirements: must have cross-body shoulder strap or backpack straps, must be big enough to hold camera, IDs, and either DS or Kindle, but not so big that it inspires me to carry a bunch of crap I don’t need) I’d seen this Mickey bag, but the shoulder strap was too short to do cross-body for me. And, I’d seen a camera bag that was a really nice camera bag, intended for giant cameras (SLRs), with a nice strap on it. So, I decided to buy the camera bag. But then, when I got back to my hotel room, I spotted my Haiku bag and realized that it would make a perfect park purse, especially for Epcot and Magic Kingdom which both promised to have long lines (and thus having room for both DS and Kindle and a sweatshirt would be nice) and cooler weather.

During my mad dash, I also grabbed a replacement Tigger pen for the one that was stolen. And, it turned out, at the same time, DH had run over to Pooh Corner to buy me a replacement Tigger pen as a surprise. 🙂 I thought I would just end up with two Tigger pens (not a bad thing!) but then it turned out that, as I was madly dashing, I’d grabbed a Pooh pen instead of a Tigger pen. It all worked out! And if DH hadn’t been so thoughtful, I’d be Tigger pen-less. Instead, I had Pooh and Tigger.

Back to the main story…

So, I did some more shopping. I got some souvenirs for friends. I took pictures of the Lego creations (that were on the memory card of the stolen camera). Oh, and by the way, they totally do a song and everything to open the Disney store at Downtown Disney, too. They select a family and do a mini-version of the Magic Kingdom opening. 🙂 Disney magic rocks.

Then, I was going to check us into our Saturday night hotel (The Buena Vista Palace, which was hosting the bridge regional and thus we got a REALLY good rate on it), but I decided I was running too close to World Showcase opening, especially considering that I was still walking slowly. I’d doubled up on bandaids for the toes, which help keep the little toe from getting smushed, but I was still just going slow so that I didn’t kill my feet again.

I got super-awesome parking at Epcot. I don’t know if the marathon helped with parking or if I just timed it right, but I ended up in the first row past the handicapped parking. Sweet!

As I walked up, I saw marathon-ers falling over, which was HILARIOUS. I mean, I try not to laugh, because these are people who overexerted themselves and thus are really in danger. But, I mean, they’re coming off of having badly planned and run a half-marathon, and then they are DETERMINED to walk through Epcot. Ha! So, like, they’d be walking, and their legs would just, like, stop. Like on How I Met Your Mother when Ted dared Barney to run the NY marathon and then Barney’s legs just stopped working and he fell over on the train? Yeah, just like that. I’d been considering renting a scooter to avoid foot-ouch, but after seeing that, I just couldn’t do it.

I stopped off at the photopass center to get our free 5×7 that was included in the buy-4-get-3 promotion. I ended up picking out a picture of us in front of the Animal Kingdom Lodge holiday tree. It was a really pretty picture of us. The group pictures we had done all had at least one person looking odd. And, I suspected I could snag the digital versions off of the Disney site (and I did — they’re in the gallery).

After that, I slowly made my way to the Coca Cola exhibit, which has 7 different countries’ sodas that you can try. That was really fun. I liked Morocco’s soda the best. I texted DH that they would have to try the sodas. Then, I started the hike to the World Showcase. It was nearly 11am, and the first water taxi was about to go across the lake.

Disney *really* needs to do something with the walk between Future World and World Showcase. It is a long hike with almost no interest. You can see it on this map.There’s one play fountain for kids. There are some bushes and gardens but nothing interesting. From the big fountains, under the monorail, and all the way to the showcase plaza, you walk with nothing to really look at or do along the way. It felt very un-Disney in how stark and boring it was, and it’s no wonder that World Showcase (which is awesome) gets so little attention given how hard it is to get there.

I ended up taking the water-taxi over to Morocco and then went straight to Japan. I decided I would do the showcase in two semi-circle segments, skipping the US. I shopped in the Japan store, which was nowhere near as cool as I remembered it. I mean, they did have a few things of interest, but the last time I was there, they had tons of kakemono and art, and they had Asian-themed Mickey stuff. Now, they have sneakers and t-shirts. Blech. Basically, I could get everything there at Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights. Maybe I’m just jaded now that I know where to get my Japan fix? I ended up spending less than $20, and I felt dumb because I couldn’t remember how to say “thank you” in Japanese. I ended up saying the equivalent of “have a nice day” instead. (How I remembered that, but not doomo arigatoo? I don’t know.) Nonetheless, the salesgirl (who was from Osaka) was impressed and we chattered a bit, about as far as my out-of-practice Japanese could take me. I think I told her that I was still at Tulane instead of saying that I learned at Tulane, but oh well. 🙂 I asked her about maneki neko, and she apologized because they don’t carry many of them anymore. They had a few stuffed flying nekos that you could hang from the ceiling. They were cute, but I couldn’t imagine putting them in our house.

I walked through the Japanese gardens. I enjoyed the zen fountain, and I copped a squat near the waterfall to Kindle for a bit. I resisted the urge to get tempura because we were eating at Teppan Edo that night. Then, I walked through Morocco and over to France. I ended up getting an orangina and a chocolate mousse in France. Then, I found a quiet niche and read for awhile. I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, tucked in a corner with a book. I watched the water ferries coming in from the Epcot resorts. Then, I proceeded to the UK and Canada. The UK had a bunch of football jerseys. Blech.

But Canada, O Canada! I had so much fun there, and I’ve *been* to Canada. But I loved all the funny t-shirts, and I fought the urge to buy and chug maple syrup (DH will know why I had that urge, but I’ll leave it to him to explain in comments…I’m writing a novel here already). I liked the stuffed bears. I kept telling myself that I don’t cook enough to need a Canada-themed apron. Then, I watched a wood-chopping demonstration. I realized that in my past world showcase wanderings, I had skipped Canada unintentionally. It’s kind of tucked away.

Next I walked over to the *other* water taxi and took it over to Germany. I briefly wandered through Italy and Germany (more football gear). The Outpost turned out to be an African themed area, I think. Or maybe Australian outback? They don’t really say. But, they had a face painting booth. I watched the painters doing each other’s faces and decided that they were quite talented. They were having a private competition amongst themselves for who could do their make-up up so that they looked so old that someone commented on it (they were all college age or younger). So, I arranged to have my face done with cherry blossoms. OMG, I should get my face painted every day. It was so pretty, and it made me look gorgeous. (See the gallery for a picture, and it looked even better with my glasses on, believe it or not. She just did an amazing job of placing everything and choosing the colors.) They wouldn’t accept a tip. But yeah, do that if you get a chance. Oh, and it didn’t itch, didn’t flake or peel off…it looked as good at 11pm as it did at 2pm when I got it done.

Next, I wandered over to China and again had to resist the urge to eat delicious food. I actually liked China’s shopping area better, but I didn’t see anything worth buying. Mexico was cute, and it was indoors. I bet it’s a boon to visit when it’s hot outside, but on a cool January day, it just made me feel chilly. I spent the next hour stretched out on a bench near the lake, reading in the sunshine. That was nice. Eventually, I heard from DH that C*, S*, and he would be arriving at Epcot soon, so I hiked back over to Future World and waited for them to arrive. Eventually, we met up. DH insisted on all of us doing the game over at Mission to Mars, and C* filled me in on their adventures while we walked. I was meeting S* for the first time, and he seemed really cool. (He’s 17, I think?) He reminded me of the guys I hung out with in high school and thus instantly won my adoration with his pleasant and intelligent sarcasm. Also, he and his mom seemed to have a good relationship, and that made me happy, too.

Anyways, they were cool. We played Mars as a group, and then we hiked out to World Showcase (by way of the Coca-Cola exhibit for a tasty beverage or two). We walked around, sampling a few things as we went. They did a couple of the rides. We watched Chinese acrobats. After making it over to Japan, we looked at a Tin Toy art exhibit. We separated briefly but met up at the Taiko drumming demonstration. Even though we had a late reservation, they were strapped to be done looking around by dinner. But, dinner came, and we were seated.

Teppan Edo was not the best Japanese hibachi I’ve ever had, but it was good. It was the first time I’ve had hibachi that I still felt hungry at the end, too…and I had ordered an appetizer! And plum wine! Granted, I’d skipped lunch, but hibachi normally is enough for two meals.

Anyways, after that, we watched Illuminations from the Teppan Edo balcony (decent viewing spot, I might add). Then, we joined the masses walking out of the park. My prime parking spot came in handy, as my feet were back to feeling like one giant blister. We dropped them off at their hotel and checked into our hotel.

In an attempt to drain the blisters that had formed, I poked myself rather severely in the heel. (I had a blister under a thick, calloused area of my foot, so it was taking some pressure to get a needle in…and when it did go through, I accidentally stabbed myself too deep instead of just opening it up.)

And that’s pretty much Saturday. Our hotel room is pretty darned awesome. It’s huge and beautiful, and it puts our room at Port Orleans to shame…but the atmosphere isn’t as good, of course. And, my bedcovers don’t have Mickeys on them. Plus, we have a King bed (Disney resorts tend to only have doubles), so we are finally going to get to sleep in the same bed. 🙂 (We will cuddle for a bit in a double, but we can’t share one of those. DH has the jimmy legs every now and then, and I’m easily startled.) Our original plan was to play bridge tomorrow, but I think we’re going to blow that off, as I’ll need to get to the airport super-early since I have no ID.

Relevant Photo Albums: Downtown Disney, EPCOT World Showcase

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