OK today is Epcot day. A few years back it would have been EPCOT day, but these days itís Epcot day. The boy is wearing his favourite Angry Birds t-shirt and the Mickey ears he created back at Downtown Disney. Heís also agreed that today he should really wear his sunglasses. I didnít check the pool thermometer this morning but Iím guessing that by 8.30am itís already eleventy billion degrees. We are directed to a parking space in Amaze, row 33 which is just about in the same zipcode area. After the little tram ride to the park entrance we walk the last few yards to the turnstiles while laughing hysterically at Adrian whoís managed to walk into one of the giant concrete posts that leapt out on him while he wasnít looking. Then of course his ticket decided it didnít like the ticket machine and that caused a bit of a kerfuffle while he turned red and waffled at lot of nonsense at the Cast Member helping the silly man who canít even put a ticket in the turnstile correctly.
First thing we do is get in line for more character photos and autographs. The boy is really getting into this now and is quite happy to wait in line patiently for his turn to use his camera smile. The big five are at this location: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. We wait patiently for each one behind a family of very rotund people who want to spend about 5 hours with each character. At each point the Cast Member had to hurry them on to the next station because the lines were backing up on to each other.
Minnie took quite a shine to young Steven and gave him lots of hugs. While we were waiting in line for the next character I glanced round to see her waving and blowing a kiss...at my son! And I looked down to see my son giving her a coy wave back. My son is flirting with Minnie Mouse! Luckily another family popped in to see Minnie at that moment or who knows where that one could have ended up. I only hope that Mickey didnít see the shenanigans.
While we were in meeting various characters, Nanny Lesley and Auntie Jo had nipped off to get us all Fastpasses for the newest Epcot attraction called Soariní. The return time was still a little way off so we had time to visit the Living Seas pavilion. The entrance to the pavilion has changed since we were last there: the seagulls from Finding Nemo have invaded and every so often a chorus of ďMine, mine, mineĒ goes up. Very funny. You start off here by taking a little Nemo themed ride into the heart of the pavilion. Then itís fishorama wherever you go. The last time we visited here, when Steven was just 8 months old, he was absolutely fascinated by the fish and other marine life in here. Seems nothing has changed and he ran around trying to look at everything at once while shouting exclamations of excitement all the time. I tried to get him to spend more than 3 seconds looking at something but heíd spot something else and rush off to that.
Eventually he slowed down and we noticed that Turtle Talk with Crush was just opening its doors to the next group of guests so we gathered up the boy and went in. Thereís an area at the front where smaller children can sit on the carpet together and Steven said he would like to sit there. We seated him and then the rest of us took a seat a few rows back in the painfully uncomfortable bleachers. This was a new attraction to us so we werenít really sure what to expect. It started with a Cast Member called Bobby introducing himself and chatting about the show and then we all had to call for Crush to come and talk to us.
Without going into detail Turtle Talk is quite simply the cleverest, and funniest thing that Disney has done for many years. Crush appears on the screen in front of you and interacts with the guests in the audience. The reason the kids are sat on the floor at the front is so that Crush can talk to them. He wanted to answer some questions and he wanted to start with ďthe little dude, in the green shell with the big ears.Ē Wait, thatís Steven. We all hold our breath: heís a bit introverted but he successfully remembers, and tells Crush his name. Crush then asks him where heís from. I secretly hope and pray that he does not say ďmy houseĒ but the boy comes through and tells Crush heís from England. ďOooh too cold,Ē Crush instantly replies. He then moves on to take questions from some of the other little dudes; and some big dudes too.
Now how this attraction works I have no idea. Suffice to say it is supremely clever and incredibly entertaining. We all give it two thumbs up as we exit back into the Living Seas area. The boy picks up where he left off and begins running around excitedly pointing at everything. I try and slow him down for a moment as they are about to start at talk at the manatee area but heís too excited so I leave the rest of our group there and follow the boy in case he tries to climb in with the fishies.
While Iím keeping track of the boy a couple of CMs come over and start to chat to us. They ask the boy if he has any questions and explain clearly to him when he asks how the dolphins swim. Then came a bit of magic. The CMs invited our group to visit the top of the Living Seas aquarium. Now it was my turn to rush round excitedly. Luckily the rest of our group arrived just then from the manatee exhibit to join the excitement.
We were taken to the doorway and given a few rules; the main one being no photography of any kind so as not to spoil the secrets. We also had to remove our hats, including the boyís Mickey ears, just in case they fell into the water. After this little chat we were led up a spiral staircase and out on to the top level of the aquarium. To preserve the Disney magic Iím going to be mean and not tell you what it was like up there. It was a fantastic experience though: we got to see divers coming up to collect food for the fish, and we saw the turtles come to the surface for their food. All the questions we asked were answered for us so now I know why the sharks donít eat all the fish in the aquarium. I guess we were up there for about 15 minutes taking it all in. Not many people can say theyíve seen the roof of the Living Seas pavilion from the inside!