So you know that itch when your wanderlust kicks into high gear? Yeah, for me, that never goes away. Thankfully, the recent trend of presents from my parents seems to be tickets. For this past Christmas, it was a ticket to Disney – which meant I could pretend to satiate my travel bug at EPCOT! I had never been to EPCOT, but always wanted to go – if only to finally “see” Morocco (#1 on my travel list). Obviously I couldn’t wait too long after receiving my magical gift, so I ended up going during the first week of January… Which meant there would still be crowds, but I was desperate to get away. And yes, I did go by myself and I had a marvelous time.
So I got up early that morning, my FastPass+ choices made and organized, and drove the three-hour trek up to Orlando. I’d like to think that I planned it out quite well, arriving about twenty minutes before the park opened and heading straight for one of the popular attractions I didn’t book a FastPass+ for, Test Track. It was a fun ride, but I’m glad I got it out of the way first, as I personally don’t think it would’ve been worth over an hour wait. Once I reached that finish line, I decided to wander around until my first FastPass+ time arrived. Mission Space, Living With the Land, and Soarin’ were my three selections for the day. Clearly I know what I like, because those were perfect choices. Soarin’ was incredible and when I had a chance to ride twice, I took it. Living with the Land was very educational and appealed to my inner-environmentalist. Misson:Space was fun – I went for the more intense experience, aka the right choice.
I could go on and lay out exactly what I did throughout the day, but no one actually cares. My organizational plan for the day broke down somewhere around 10am… The park only opened an hour prior. I blame my over-eagerness to be in Italy again, which is in the very back of the park, so it meant walking all over EPCOT quite a few times. Not mad about it; there is so much to see, and despite what I’ve heard, much to do.
Future World was fascinating. I especially loved all of the focus on sustainability and caring about our Oceans (which clearly the government should defer to Disney on…. A sad state of affairs when that statement has to be said). Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Living With the Land are definitely some of my top picks in this department.
I consider myself very lucky in that I have been able to visit some of the countries for real; and I plan on visiting every other country represented in EPCOT as well. And no, I didn’t consider the World Showcase to be a cheap imitation. First, they only hire people who are native to the respective countries, so the information you can learn from the Cast Members is boundless. In fact, as I was getting some gelato I noticed that one of the members’ name-tag said he was from Rovigo. When I lived in Italy I lived one town over from Rovigo, in the teeny-tiny village of Ceregnano. I mentioned this to him and he was stunned. It *is* a small world, after all. Second, it can get just as touristy in some areas of these countries, with shop after shop of trinkets and snacks lining the streets. Plus the food was on point… At least Italy-wise.
I did purposefully save Morocco for the evening, as something to look forward to. Honestly it worked out in my favor, because when I was exploring down each “street” I caught Princess Jasmine out of the corner of my eye heading to meet guests. So I followed and discovered a super short line of people waiting… Probably because her meeting spot is kind of hidden in the back of Morocco. The pavilion made me excited for when I do finally get the chance to see Marrakesh, Fez, and Casablanca.
Let’s be honest, one of the reasons I chose EPCOT over the other parks was because I heard France was the only place to meet Princess Aurora. So imagine my disappointment when I did not see her name on the Walt Disney World App for Character Encounters. But then also imagine my utterly joyous delight when I walked past France and saw her in a gazebo, meeting other guests. I was actually making one last pass through the Showcase on my way out, but as soon as I saw her, I knew I couldn’t leave until I got a picture. Sure, a smarter person would’ve noticed the sign about her encounter times on their first pass through France at the beginning of the day, but all’s well that ends well.
There were certain things I wanted to mark off my checklist: getting some Limoncello in Italy, a traditional Pimm’s at an English pub, meeting as many princesses as possible, getting at least a tiny taste of Morocco, Italian food in general, going inside the giant golf-ball, etc. And I managed to check off most, if not all, from my list! There were a couple things I feel like I may have missed out on, but none were vital to my overall experience. And as every true traveler knows, you can’t plan every minute and activity. You have to be willing to go where the day and place take you.