More commonly referred to as Epcot, this area of Walt Disney World is where we spent the bulk of our time on this trip. When we visited Disney in 2004, the boys were only 2 and 5 and Epcot didn't hold their interest. Now that they are 9 and 12, it is one of their favorite parks!
Completed in 1982, Epcot consists of two parts - Future World and World Showcase. The park symbol is Spaceship Earth (pictured above) which houses a ride that takes you through history from the cavemen to present day. Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community with residential homes and businesses, with transportation consisting of monorails and "people movers", and all auto traffic being kept underground. Typical of many of his ideas, Walt was very forward thinking and ahead of his time in planning.
Artist rendering of Epcot from Walt's original idea
The Living Seas section of Epcot was where we spent a considerable amount of time. Being a huge "Finding Nemo" fan, it was great to be able to see how the Disney Imagineers brought together the characters from the movie with real sea life. On "The Seas with Nemo and Friends", you board a "clam-mobile" for a peaceful journey under the waves to visit with Nemo, Dory, Marlin and many other characters from the movie. My personal favorites - the seagulls at the entrance to The Seas, who would break into a chorus of "mine, mine, mine" every few minutes!
It would take days to fully explore all the area in World Showcase area. Strolling through the different areas, you can sample food and drink and fun from many different countries. The view across the lagoon is stunning, especially on a bright sunny day, or at night during Illuminations (I love this water/firework/laser show but missed it this trip - it was about 35 degrees the night the family attended).
Our dining experience of the trip was dinner at Chefs de France in World Showcase. This was my fifth trip to Disney World, and this meal at Chefs de France was by far the best food I have had there. Modeled after the bistros in Paris, with muted colors and high ceilings, the menu was classic French. Onion soup, grilled salmon, local wine and crème brûlée were my dinner choices!
My youngest dining at Chefs de France (where he had chicken fingers!)
Being an Anglophile, Great Britain was also one of my favorites. We had a filling lunch at Rose and Crown, where we sampled classic British fare such a fish and chips, along with some local ales . . .
while my son enjoyed a British Kit Kat bar from one of the shops!
One of my other favorites in World Showcase is Norway. It contains a small thrill-ride, Maelstrom, which takes you on a stormy ride into the world of Northern Lights and trolls on a boat reminiscent of those used by the Vikings. The ride disembarks in a recreation of a Nordic village where you feel you are actually on a dock in a tiny port side town.
The shop at the end of the ride (because anybody who has been to Disney World knows - all rides always exit you through a gift shop!) is full of beautiful Nordic knits and numerous trolls, including this over sized one that my son wasn't very fond of!
I'm looking forward to our next trip to Epcot, where we can explore more countries and culture - maybe the boys will be a little more daring with their dining choices and not just eat chicken fingers and cheeseburgers in every restaurant!
P.S. - In trying to set up the shot for the photo above, I took the picture below. Typical boys who will fight over anything. It ended up being our Christmas card photo for 2010 - with the caption "Naughty or Nice?"
On November 30th we embarked on a family trip to The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. When I say a "family trip" I mean EVERYONE - there were fourteen of us from my husband's side of the family, ranging in age from 3 to 70. While it was a challenge to plan all the dining for such a large amount of people, it was a great experience to be there together!
We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, in the Epcot area of Disney World. The resort is arranged into "villages" all named after different islands (we were in Jamaica), and each village has its own bus stop and pool area. The main area of the hotel (called Port Royale) houses the main pool with a large water slide, the dining and shopping facilities and concierge services.
Our "village" - Jamaica
The main reason for choosing Disney World as our family vacation destination was the season. Christmastime at the resort is beautiful; every resort hotel and park are fully decorated with unique and colorful decorations. As our resort was island-themed, it featured brightly colored decorations and reggae Christmas music. I could do a blog entry every day for the next week on all the special things that happened on our trip - but I will focus on my favorite experience.
Decorations on Main Street, U.S.A.
We dined at The Liberty Tree Tavern on our second evening of the trip. Because some members of our group wanted to see the Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom, we had a rather late dinner reservation. Subsequently, by the time we had finished, the park was closed and was almost empty.
Liberty Square . . . almost empty!
We proceeded back over the bridge toward Main Street, passing Cinderella's Castle decorated for the holiday season with a beautiful covering of "ice". It was stunning - I couldn't take my eyes off it and spent quite a bit of time walking backward to keep looking at it!
Its color faded into different shades of purple, green and blue, while sparkling like ice on a sunny winter day. My favorite photo of the entire trip was taken that evening:
The "Partners" statue of Walt Disney and Mickey
My oldest son in front of the castle (with my younger son and nephew in the background left)
As the park closes, "When You Wish Upon A Star" is played on Main Street, U.S.A. and for a Disney fan like myself, it is a touching moment. It was truly magical!
A video of the evening - I love it when my son says "it's magical"!
If you have never visited Walt Disney World, I would recommend going in early December. The weather was a little chilly, but the crowds were light and the Christmas experience was spectacular. I look forward to planning a trip back next year!