:wave2:My two friends and I went to Disney in the middle of August.
I got us a room at the Port Orleans-Riverside. We stayed in Magnolia. I was extremely impressed with the room, and our building was close to a bus stop. By FAR the best I had stayed in on Dis. property. There was a ceiling fan in the room for pete's sake! When was the last time you saw a ceiling fan in a hotel room? I can't say enough great things about this resort and would HIGHLY recommend it to ANYONE (unless you are extremely picky and only stay in places like The Swan or Grand Floridian). The front desk staff was nice. Online check-in is genius! (Makes the process SO much easier/quicker). The decor of the resort was super-cute. Very "deep south". It's supposed to be like a fancy plantation you would see up and down the Mississippi from St. Lou to NOLA. We were very comfortable the two nights we were there.
The first evening we were there it was raining and they had shut down the ferries to Downtown Disney so, we didn't get to do that. We hung out, instead at the bar in the main building. We got these drinks (don't remember the name. Something with "star") that came with a light-up "ice cube" (these will come in handy later). Then a clown-type man came out to entertain, the room filled up, and we went back to the room (none of us have kids, and don't mind kids, but it was a little more high-energy than we were looking for at that point). The gift shop there was nicely stocked.
After a REALLY good night's sleep, we went to the cafeteria at the POR for breakfast. I was not overly impressed with their cafeteria, layout-wise. It was cramped and not much seating. We ended up sitting outside, which wasn't bad, other than the fact that it was August in FL and we knew we were going to be outside the majority of the day.
We went to EPCOT, which we've been to a million times...literally. Started the day by hitting Soarin'. It's best to do Soarin' first thing because there isn't much of a wait, especially if you enter the park within the first hour of opening.
We skipped the other Futureworld rides (we had other goals in mind) but did hit Club Cool. Club Cool is awesome because you get to taste all the soda from around the world you want! (I prefer the ginger ale and apple ones).
We were at the Mexico pavilion at opening (11am). There was a mariachi band that was playing to welcome guests in. I ALWAYS start the day at Mexico. One of these trips I'm gonna mix it up and start somewhere different...Anyway, Amy decided to start off with a margarita in Mexico so, there we were. (Side note: Donald Duck appears here)
Next was Norway. Carlsbad beer, the Troll ride, and cute Norwegian guy in their gift shop (and inappropriate pics with the troll statue).
Next is China. "Reflections of China" is probably my favorite film at EPCOT. It makes me want to hop on the next flight. The little exhibit they have in there with the terra cotta soldier replicas and other clay figures is pretty cool. And the greeters at the entrance to the Temple always get a kick when I great them with "Ni-Hao" (hello). (Side note: Mulan and Mushu appear here).
Moving on to "Africa". Disney could do SO MUCH here. What a culture-rich continent! They did expand the snack stand but, it's mostly just the bongos you can beat on and the Coke coolers you can open and get misted with water.
Next is Germany. You can usually see Snow White and Dopey here. In the buildings you can find Christmas ornaments and beer steins. Most importantly is the wine room (and outside beer garten). The wine room offers "flights", which are samples of 3 different wines. My favorite here is in the cold months when they offer the mulled (HOT) wine. In the toy store there are yodelling beer steins!
On to Italy. Unless you want to be accosted by perfume, skip the first shop. Go straight to the right side for Limoncello shots!
USA! USA! USA! (enough said) This is where all the concert action happens. Food and drink-wise, bleh. I can get a Bud Lite or Sam Adams anywhere. I do like the American Adventure film, the Liberty Singers (or choir. Or Voices of Liberty, whatever they're called). Also, there's the fife and drum corps that come out periodically and lead everyone in "God Bless America." USA! USA! USA!
Next is Japan. Mmmm...sushi and sake. Again, they LOVE it when you say "Konichiwa" (hello) and "Arrigato" (thank you). The drummers that perform here are FANTASTIC. Catch 'em if you can.
Next is Morocco. You can generally find Jasmine, Aladdin, and the Genie either by the lake on the right or back by the restaurant in a special room. There is also a room on the left in the first building that has a display of Moroccan wedding regalia. Morocco is pretty neat, a lot of little nooks and crannies to explore and find. Good baklava and wine, too. Mo' Roccan (band) is also a must-see. The belly dancer looks like a real-life Jasmine. AWESOME tunes! I dig the violin player.
Next is France. Ah, Paris. I like the film here, too. They let you take your champagne in, and french kisses are encouraged (HAHA!) The boulangerie (pastry shop) is a must-visit, as well as the wine shop. Sleeping Beauty has been outside the perfume shop (kind of by the canal and gardens) the past few visits.
Next, it's over the bridge to England. LOVE the Beatles tribute band. So fun. Every once in a while you can catch Mary Poppins or Alice back there as well. If you go in the Toy store and keep on moving towards the rear of the building, you can find Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore! At the Rose and Crown, pop in for a Strongbow. Mmmm...Strongbow...Here's where we whipped out the light-up ice cubes and impressed the adorable British bartenders! *sigh* british accents....Anyway, we didn't eat there this time (except for an order of "chips" (fries with vinegar) at the bar. However, they have some pretty tasty entrees at the R&C. (Lamb with Guiness BBQ sauce, anyone? Fish & chips? Mmmm...)
Lastly is Canada. Off-Kilter is THE BEST band at EPCOT. They are so entertaining! I also like the movie in the Canadian pavilion. You go up the steps and then down through the "mountain". I've always wanted to eat at Le Cellier, but haven't been lucky enough to procure a reservation.
That's my Epcot trip, in a nutshell. We didn't stay for the fireworks this time, but I've had really good views standing on the bridge between Africa and China and also standing up on the restaurant in Japan (Edo? The one above the front entrance to the mall).
Off Kilter...ohmygosh how I love them. (Even if they don't wear their kilts "regimentally"--it is a family show, after all!) Epcot sometimes gets short shrift because people assume it's trying too hard to be "fun-ducational", or they get irritated when Disney gets particular countries wrong. I always enjoy Epcot, and the World Showcase is my favorite part of the park. The Cast Members there are always so happy to tell you about their home country and their experiences in the US...my kids love learning how to say "hello" and "goodbye" from various CM's in other languages!
Thanks for the trip report, it sounds like you had a fantastic time--and now I'm *that* much more excited to get there myself! *boingy*
I know. Epcot is all in good fun. If I wanted a history lesson, I'd go to a museum. But if you have any questions, the Cast Members are always happy to answer questions about their country or just chat. Sometimes they look SO BORED because people just go up and buy their whatever and move on. You can't help but stand there and talk to them for a little bit (but only if it's not busy!). They even give you good tips like, what their favorite item is on the menu or a good place to watch Illuminations.
The ONLY thing that ticks me off at Epcot is the Kimpossible scavenger hunt. People can download this Kimpossible game onto their cell phones and it sends you to various areas of World Showcase. It's obnoxious because people turn their speakerphones up full blast and you hear the "DOO-DOO-DOODOO!" Kimpossible ring and then crazy cartoon voices while trying to enjoy a glass of champagne in Paris, for example...Oh well. Whatever keeps the kiddies entertained. And I AM at Disney for crying out loud. Of course there are going to be annoying things to keep the kids entertained. HA!