So here it is, the trip report that will expose the depth and breadth of my Disney obsession. Sure, I’ve mentioned it here and there but you’ve just seen through a glass darkly, not face to face. This was our third Disney vacation in as many years. Our excuse this time was the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. The trip was planned around the Columbus Day weekend so the kids wouldn’t miss too much school. We set out on the Wednesday before the holiday to T.F. Green airport in Rhode Island for the first leg of our flight.
We sailed into the airport in plenty of time and set about checking our bags and getting our boarding passes. Here’s how it went:
Ticket Agent: Hello Mr. Jones, checking four bags? Jeff: Yes, sir. Ticket Agent: And you are returning to Boston? Jeff: No, we are returning to Providence. Ticket Agent: No, you’re returning to Boston.
So here’s the deal; we booked our flights through one of those cheap ticket agencies and got a pretty good rate. Now we know why. It escaped our notice that this ticket calculator returned us to Boston instead of Providence. This meant that when we returned from our fabulous vacation we would be left stranded at Logan airport after midnight with no car. Jeff was working furiously to get the flight changed but no dice, not without a HUGE penalty. So we came up with a plan that relied heavily on the generosity of others. We would Fedex the car keys and parking garage ticket to my mom and then she would make the arrangements to have the car moved to Logan for us.
The flight itself was uneventful, we arrived in Orlando around midnight.
We were exhausted but it sure was nice to breeze through the airport and hop right onto the Magical Express bus. I tried to take a picture of the empty queue line but they were hustling us along too quickly.
On this trip we stayed at the Pop Century resort.
This is what Disney calls a “Value Resort”. The rooms are small, but neat and clean.
The resort itself has a very bright and colorful theme with GINORMOUS icons from the decades of the 1950s to the 1990s.
There are three pools that are in whimsical shapes, the Hippy Dippy pool which is flower shaped, a bowling pin pool and a computer pool. Although the computer pool can only be considered whimsical if you think “square” amusing.
Our first full day we planned to spend at Epcot. We headed out relatively early seeing that our heads didn’t hit the pillow until well after 1:00am.
Before we could head out to the park we needed to take care of sending our car keys to my mom. We went over to guest services and the lady there, Barb said that she was the whiz-bang expert at shipping Fedex, and then proceeded fuss with the computer for twenty minutes because it wouldn’t let her print out the form. She was super nice though.
Once we got all that business squared away, we headed out to get the bus to Epcot. One of the benefits of staying “on property” is that you don’t need to rent a car. There are buses, monorails and boats to take you to all the parks. Sure, it might be faster to hop in your Honda Accord and zip off, but not having to worry about driving or directions (or having too many cocktails) is very relaxing. Plus saving a couple hundred bucks doens’t hurt either.
Spending a day at a Disney park means A LOT of walking. It’s easy put at least five or more miles on your dogs before dinner time. This year we decided to take the plunge and all get Crocs.
These worked out really well. We still had to deal with a couple of blisters, but at the end of the day our feet and calves were not nearly as sore and achy as with sneakers. They were also much easier to deal with in the torrential rain that we would slog through later in the week.
The World Showcase wasn’t open until 11:00am so when we got to Epcot we started in Future World. As we came through the gates, the flags were at half staff in honor of Steve Jobs.
The rest of the family watched these guys while I boogied up to the Land Pavilion to get fastpasses for Soarin’.
Now, off the the Land Pavillion! If we were true Disney geeks, we would have been here for “rope drop” and have already been on half the attractions before 10:00 am. We are not the early rise type of family here, but with a good plan you can really do well touring the parks even with a late start. Making good use of Fastpass is vital.
Here’s a little secret: if you notice, there is a one hour window of time when you can return and ride the attraction. They don’t enforce the end time. We didn’t come back and ride until six o’clock that night. Don’t tell anyone though, it will ruin it for the rest of us!
Once I secured our Fastpasses I took a few minutes to take in the Land Pavilion. There are so many details and just plain beautiful elements all around Disney it’s easy to whiz by and miss them.
Once we all met up again we headed over to Test Track .
This ride is pretty much like riding on the expressway at seventy miles an hour but in a wide open car on a track that’s at a forty-five degree angle.
Here’s another tip for you: Rides like Test Track, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster have single rider lines. This means you will not ride together, however you get right up to the front of the line! We have bypassed sixty minute plus wait times doing this. You just meet at the gift shop where the ride dumps you out.
We had just enough time for one more attraction before hitting the Food & Wine Festival, and it is very important to hit this one with an empty stomach.
“CAUTION! You may experience motion sickness on this adventure! Mission:SPACE is a realistic and intense simulation of space flight. It is unlike anything that you have ever experienced.”
You’re basically put into what amounts to a giant centrifuge that simulates what it feels like to blast off in a rocket. Some people (me) do fine with this sensation, others (Jeff) claim that this will be the LAST time they ride this thing!
As we exited the ride, there was some poor guy slumped over a trash can heaving. None of us could get our cameras out fast enough to discreetly snap a photo. Curses!
At Disney you have to look long and hard to find anything that is actually FREE. One exception is Club Cool. This is a nice little diversion sponsered by Coca-Cola.
Inside there are soda machines dispensing samples of Coca-Cola products from different countries.
A very nerdy thing that Disney people like to do is to get their unsuspecting friends and family to try Beverly. This is an extremely bitter apéritif from Italy.
Our palates were now ready for the main event, The International Food & Wine Festival. Tune in next time when someone declares “This is outrageous! there are snails on my plate!” Sorry, France.