We didn’t arrive at Epcot right at rope drop the next morning, but we needed to catch up on sleep a bit. Still, I think we were there by around 10 am. Not bad, and it was a slow day at Epcot, anyway.
Our first stop there was The Land pavilion, as it’s almost habit to get FastPasses for Soarin’ right away. We only end up using them around 50% of the time, but it’s a fun task, nonetheless. Plus, who doesn’t love visiting The Land? Just being around Sunshine Seasons, the balloons, and Livin’ with the Land makes me happy.
Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a kick looking for vintage photos of The Land online. I absolutely love who much rich detail and 80s goodness The Land used to have. I understand that a lot of this has been striped to open up more space for the heavy traffic that Soarin’ brings, but it’d be nice if the Sunshine Seasons area had a bit more character. Right now it feels a bit like an ordinary food court.
After we grabbed Soarin’ FastPasses, we signed up for a Behind the Seeds tour later in the day. For years, we’ve been saying that we are going to do this, but we always put it off. Paying for the tour that morning pretty much guaranteed that we’d be doing it.
First try, too far away. Time to move closer to the flowers…
Following that we waited a few minutes for the monorail to show up, and we each snapped a few shots. Sarah used her iPhone and I used by D7000 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. I was a bit too far under the monorail, so my shot wasn’t quite what I wanted. I actually ended up liking Sarah’s shot better! I noted her location for a future photo.
Then we headed off to World Showcase. We stopped in Canada to take some photos and were a bit surprised when we saw Liverlips, of Country Bear Jamboree, standing in the walkway near the pavilion! To the best of my knowledge, Country Bear Jamboree is NOT set in Canada (Frontierland is based on the American West, which is in…America), but we were just happy at the chance to meet him during daylight hours rather than in his Christmas scarf at a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
From there, we continued on. It was a relaxed trip and we were looking to gain about 35 pounds each, so we decided to SNACK AROUND THE WORLD!!!
We had never snacked in France, so we decided to start there. This didn’t make a whole lot of sense from a flow perspective, but from a deliciousness perspective, it seemed we were starting in the right place.
Before we even arrived at France’s bakery, we saw Marie from the Aristocats. Aristocats is one of our favorite Disney movies, and we’ve only ever had our photo taken with Marie once. She had no line this time, which is rare for this seemingly unpopular character, so we jumped right on line! We were supposed to meow and put our paws up like cats for the photo, but I think Sarah forgot about the meowing part…and also forgot that she has two paws.
At the Boulangerie PÃ¢tisserie, we ordered the Napoleon and Lemon Tart. It was really tough to narrow it down to these two items, but they looked the most promising. We’ll explore other options more in our coming “Snacking Around the World (Showcase).” The Napoleon very well might have been the greatest dessert I’ve ever had at Walt Disney World. It was filled with custard, but somehow (magically, I assume) the layers of pastry in between were somehow light and fluffy. I’m no pastry-architect, but it doesn’t seem like the pastry layers were load bearing. Yet, they managed to hold the custard just fine. The powdered sugar on top was the perfect complement, and the sweet taste of this dessert was perfect.
The Lemon Tart was also good, but after the sweet taste of the Napoleon, it was a bit of a shock to my palate. Sarah preferred it to the Napoleon, but she started out with the Lemon Tart, so maybe that made the difference. It was still a very good dessert. I wonder if France knows how to make a bad dessert, though?! Our dessert tour had just started and already we had our photo taken with Marie and tried the best dessert ever. It was going to be a good day!
Our next stop was Morocco. We only ordered one dessert there, as nothing looked all that appetizing. And it wasn’t. The portion was large, which normally would be a plus, but in this case (as we felt obligated to eat it all), it was not. We also ate lunch in Morocco because it had been a while since we had eaten there.
We ordered the Chicken and Lamb Shwarma Platter to split. It was fairly expensive, but the portion was large, so I feel it offered reasonable value. It actually tasted better than I had remembered, too! It had a unique flavor fitting of a World Showcase restaurant, but seemed a bit tame as compared to more adventurous dishes found at Sanaa. I suppose that’s partly the difference between a tucked-away table service resort restaurant and a quick service restaurant in the heart of a theme park. Still, it was fairly unique.
About halfway through our meal, this coloring book Duffy on a stick landed right in the middle of our food. It turned out that a kid had been throwing it around and the wind caught it. I picked it up, and the dad came over and grabbed it, saying, “ha, sorry about that” and they walked right off. I didn’t expect some drawn out apology, but almost immediately, the kid began throwing the Duffy around again. This pissed me off. If I had a kid and he or she had a toy that ended up in someone else’s food, the kid wouldn’t be playing with that toy again for a while.
Sarah didn’t eat much of the food after this, as she’s more health and germ conscious than I am. I didn’t see a plate of germs sitting there, I saw a plate of approximately $7.67 worth of food still sitting there, and I wasn’t about to waste over half my food because of a few (or few thousand? I don’t know much about germs) germs in my food.
We weren’t too hungry after this, so we decided to walk the rest of World Showcase slowly before making our way over to The Land to use our Soarin’ FastPasses and doing our Behind the Seeds at Epcot tour. So it was a rather short-lived “Snacking Around the World” quest. Perhaps next time we won’t eat any other food and will flat-out skip Morocco. A valiant attempt, nonetheless!
When we finally completed our stroll of World Showcase, we headed for The Land. We had 30 minutes until our tour, so we figured we had time for Soarin’. Even with a FastPass, Soarin’ is notoriously slow, so perhaps we shouldn’t have tried to push our luck here. We barely finished the attraction before our tour was to start. Luckily, two other people in our tour were running late, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare before the tour started.
You can read our full review of the Behind the Seeds at Epcot tour, but in a nutshell, it was awesome! While I love Livin’ with the Land, my interest in a more thorough explanation of what goes on behind the scenes in the pavilion was very low prior to the tour.
Despite that, I loved the Behind the Seeds tour. It was interesting without being dry and pedantic and balanced the practical applications of these techniques at home (something that doesn’t interest me at all—actually, it scares me, as Sarah trying to utilize some of these techniques likely means more work for me!) with the broader scientific studies and theory behind some of what is being done at The Land.
To the casual theme park guest, though, the tour is outstanding. The tour is engaging rather than a typical lecture, as guests are allowed to touch things, release bugs, and sample foods, and our tour guide was great. On that note, a word of caution; the tour guide is pretty make or break for Behind the Seeds. Our tour guide was exceptional. She had extensive knowledge of the different areas of the greenhouses, was articulate, personable, and wasn’t afraid to admit when she didn’t know the answer to a question (which was rare). I much prefer that than someone making up an answer that sounds good.
Critics contend that little remains of the EPCOT Center that opened in 1982. They claim that Journey into Imagination is now the antithesis of imagination. The Living Seas aren’t nearly as alive now that cartoon characters inhabit some of their waters. World of Motion and Horizons are gone, replaced by thrill rides. Wonders of Life (not a 1982 attraction, but still…) is now the Wonders Retreat, a seldom used home for hard-ticket events during Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival. Spaceship Earth now wants guests to “thank the Phoenicians” and play with touchscreens. While I disagree with much of this (and think many changes were necessary to hold the interest of contemporary guests), I think it’s unquestionable that Epcot has captured the spirit of “edutainment” with the Behind the Seeds tour. Resist as I might, I found myself accidentally learning while having loads of fun on this tour. Going in, I fully expected it to be nothing more than an opportunity to take some cool photos while Sarah learned about gardening techniques. I was shocked to enjoy this tour so much.
After Behind the Seeds, it was time for a caffeine infusion, courtesy of Club Cool. A lot of EPCOT Center fans dislike Club Cool, but I have to admit, we stop there all the time. It may be shameless corporate plugging for Coke, but it offers free caffeine, gives a glimpse at other beverages around the world, and is better than almost everything (besides Sum of All Thrills) in Innoventions. It also takes up relatively little space. All in all, I can’t complain about it.
Next up was Spaceship Earth. I’ve probably said it a thousand times, but this (minus the end of the attraction) is what I’d like to see more of at Walt Disney World. Incredibly long, Audio Animatronic-heavy dark rides rich in visual detail. Epcot used to have several of them, but this is pretty much all that remains. It seems to me that these attractions still resonate with contemporary audiences (who here hates Pirates, Haunted Mansion, or Spaceship Earth?!), so I don’t see why more aren’t built.
Sarah was feeling especially tired at this point, so she decided to go back and take a nap. We were approaching sunset, which I didn’t want to miss, so I wandered around by myself for a while. I had a bit of time before sunset, so I decided to do Mission: Space. Sarah can’t do this attraction, so it’s rare that I have the chance to experience it. I enjoy it, even if Horizons does seem much more appealing to me (I don’t recall Horizons from my youth).
From there, it was sunset time. Journey into Imagination is one of my favorite places to shoot the sunset, and I had an idea. What if I could shoot the sunset from inside the upstairs ImageWorks in Journey into Imagination?! My attempts at seeing the upstairs in the past had failed…would this be a success?
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