However, we decided that the first stop should be CVS Pharmacy for a sun hat (stetson, but of course), non-shimmery sunblock for John, and stronger sunblock for me as the shimmery stuff (thanks Mum! :D) was only factor 20. Having been successfully slathered in sunblock and newly hatted, we set off for Epcot.
Enjoy the blue sky, folks...It doesn't last long!!
Spaceship Earth A.K.A. The Giant Golfball.
Again, I had underestimated how big EPCOT actually was. We decided to attack World Showcase on our first visit, as there were fewer rides and more sedate wandering, which was less likely to lead to any repeats of The Gatorade Incident, which I definitely didn't want.
EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, if you prefer), like almost everything else, is built around a lake. The side closest to the entrance is Future World, which includes Spaceship Earth. I always thought those blocks standing up around the bottom of SE were just lights or something. They're not. They are all covered in pictures of people, which is pretty awesome! I want my picture on there though.
We were lucky that our holiday coincided with the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.
The displays were just incredible. I think we saw most of them, though I don't think we have photographs of them all because of the weather. There were loads of topiaries of Disney characters, and then other areas that were just beautifully planted.
We walked past Spaceship Earth and through the Innoventions Area to get to World Showcase. Test Track was closed whilst we were there, for a refit, but Disney had put on entertainment outside the building, with the guys below making regular appearances to sing, and explain what the improvements were.
They also brought a sweet ride with them!
Spaceship Earth from the Innoventions Area.
Peter Pan, Cpt Hook and Crocodile!
We decided to wander to World Showcase through Tinkerbell's Fairy Garden. I adored the fairy garden, the tiny little houses were so intricate and the fairies were really well done. There was also a brass-rubbing "game" for the kids, where they could collect a sheet and a crayon and get pictures of all the fairies from their plaques. I've just guessed at the fairies' names from what I can remember/find on google, so if they're wrong please tell me!
Terance the Dust Fairy...Don't we all have a few of these?!
Hanging out in the fairy garden.
A sign of things to come! :S
Flowers in the World Showcase Lake.
Mickey and Minnie! Going a bit American Gothic there, Mickey!
Donald and Daisy.
World Showcase! And some pretty forboding clouds. :S
We entered World Showcase on the Mexico side. World Showcase is based around 11 countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, "The American Adventure", Morocco, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada). Each country's area features a film about the country, and a few shops selling local produce. A few have rides, and some have shows. All of the countries are only staffed by people from that country, which is really great as they can answer any questions you might have, and you get to hear a little of the native language as well.
So, we started off in Mexico.
The Mexico Pavillion is based on a real Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan (yes, I did Google that, I couldn't remember!). Inside the temple is an exhibition all about the beautiful Oaxacan wood carvings, which are the ones painted with dot-work a little like Aboriginal style, but way more detailed (and I think prettier). In the heart of the temple is a little Mexican marketplace, which sells sombreros, sugar skulls, jewellery, and pottery painted in the Oaxacan style. I couldn't afford a carving, so I bought a little pottery rabbit instead, which fortunately survived the journey home! there is also a restaurant in there, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabelleros. You travel around in a little boat, whilst Donald and Cabellero Two and Three (did they have names? I don't know) travel around Mexico in a mix of anamatronics and film. When we got off the ride, there was a band performing.
That was the only picture I got in the Mexico Pavillion because it was a sort of twilight setting, with little stars, etc.
The next stop on the world walking tour is Norway.
Inside the little Scandinavian village there is a small exhibit about the Vikings, the usual shops selling food, clothes and perfume, and a ride, Maelstrom. You travel back in time aboard a Viking ship, and see Norway's history (with the addition of a few trolls) progress. I really liked Maelstrom, even if there was a few mini log-flume type drops in there (one of which you go down backwards!!!!). I was beginning to learn that I'm not keen on travelling around in the dark. I like to know what's coming. Travelling backwards in the dark? *meep*
This guy watches over the gift shop!
Italy across the lake, with more grumbly clouds.
The China Pavillion was next, and it was so beautiful. Going from one country to the next you really do get the sense of being in a different place, even though you just walk down the street. The trees and plants change, the music and sounds change, and of course the style of all the buildings change. The China buildings were amazing.
When I think about these topiaries, in my head they are moving...but looking at the photograph again I'm guessing that is just something I've made up later as they were actually real planted topiaries!!
Cute concession stand.
Reflections of China. The Chinese film is a 360-degree film, in a circular theatre. I've never seen anything like that before, it was great, and had some gorgeous film of China.
Fu Dogs outside the gift shop.
The stunning ceiling in the "Temple of Heaven" waiting area for Reflections of China. Seriously, this was the effort in the WAITING AREA. Amazingly beautiful. If you only click for the large version of one photograph, make it this one!!
Scale models of the Xi'an terracotta warriors in The House Of The Whispering Willows gallery. They also had some pieces from the Schloss collection.
It was starting to spit with rain as we left China, headed for Germany, and the sky definitely wasn't having a magical day! :S
Along the way there was this lovely Haiti garden, to raise money for farmers, etc in Haiti.
Look who was waiting to welcome us to Germany! There was one hell of a queue (no change there then!), so we didn't stick around to say hello, but I managed to get a snap of her between kids.
The Karamell Küche. They sold just about everything you could imagine baked, made or trimmed up with Werther's Original. We tried the scrumptious caramel-filled cookies.
I love the tissue print too. :D
It was whilst we were sat outside Oktoberfest enjoying our cookies that it started to rain. And I mean RAIN. Literally it was bouncing down, with full-on thunder and lightning. We hid in the gift shop for a while, watching people ramming their kids into ponchos in a mad panic, but in the end we gave up and braved the rain.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves topiaries.
'Scuse the finger in shot, I was sheltering my lens from the rain!
Next up was Italy, with a special Venice area.
Venice, looking almost as wet as the real thing!
We didn't really spend that long in Italy. The rain was bouncing (as you can see around the gondola in "Venice"), and we were getting hungry again, so we had a quick look around the shops (Italy is mainly shops, though there is a little glass-blower type place as well I think) and headed on to America.
The America pavillion did make me laugh. All of the other countries were just "Italy", "China", "Mexico". America is "The American Adventure". It's no different to any of the other pavillions, no major rides, etc, so why it deserves a special title is beyond me. John reckoned it was because we were already in America, so they had to make it a bit different.
When we walked in there was a doorman hurrying people into the Liberty Inn restaurant, so in we went! I left John in the queue and went to grab a table.
Yup, we got WET that day. Within about 15mins of it stopping we were perfectly dry though!
Whilst I was waiting for John to arrive with lunch, the dinner show started! We hadn't realised, but they have a regular "show" at Liberty Inn, with minute men and flag-bearers playing their instruments and marching between the tables of bemused diners.
The food here was great. We only had regular cheeseburger and fries, but they were delicious!
The actual "American Adventure" is an anamatronic show, which is staged in a huge Colonial-style building. I didn't actually get a photograph of the outside of the building. We got inside just in time to hear the end of the Voices of Liberty Singers performing in the waiting area.
From the waiting area, you travel up escalators through the Hall of Flags to the main theatre.
You weren't allowed to take photos inside the theatre, so I don't have any more. The actual show was really really good. The anamatronics were amazing, one even walked upstairs, though the story left a little to be desired. According to The American Adventure, the Pilgrims arrived at America...And no-one was there! It did give me great concerns about the standard of education in US history departments!
Outside the theatre there were more topiaries.
Woody and Buzz!
On to Japan! I had been looking forward to Japan since before we got on the plane for one thing: Pick a Pearl. You got to choose an oyster, they crack it open in a ceremony, and you get to keep the pearl that comes out of it.
Because nothing says "Japan" like a Nascar car and a redneck tow-truck...
Ka-chow!!!! Lightning McQueen.
Waiting to pick my pearl in the Japan pavillion.
The Pearl Picking Ceremony begins.
Measuring my pearl.
Banging the drum.
My pearl! :D I had it set in a little pendant. You can choose all kinds of settings, starting at around $15 and going right up to ones with diamonds, etc, in them.
The Japan pavillion also had a really interesting exhibit about Japanese art, showing how the traditional Japanese myths and legends had been transformed and re-told in the stories today, like Anime and cartoons.
I love this little guy! He's Moon Rabbit, stamping out rice cakes on the moon...
The drummers were playing as we left the pavillion.
Pretty pool of GIANT koi carp.
By the time we hit Morocco, things were starting to dry out again. This rain shower was a first for me, a downpour of warm rain, and then 15mins later everything was more or less dry!
Hot, sunny Morocco!
The mosaic work in Morocco pavillion was gorgeous, so detailed, it was beautiful.
So much detailed carving.
Queuing in France...and I am très excited, because...
I LOVE Marie. The Aristocats is my favourite Disney film, probably ever, and Marie is my favourite character (along with Thumper, of course).
Beauty and The Beast in the France Pavillion.
Beautiful hedge maze garden, with France pavillion in the background.
Cogsworth and Lumiere.
Winnie The Pooh!
Over the bridge, with the Eiffel Tower in the background!
Welcome to England! The United Kingdom pavillion is too cute (though I don't see much of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland in it)...It has a pub, little shops, and it's all in olde-English style. The street contains one building for each century of British history. When we walked through the turnstile when we arrived the greeter asked where we were from, and made a point of telling us about the "Yorkshire County Fish and Chips" in English pavillion!!
The miniature Hampton Court Palace.
I don't have many pictures of the next pavillion, which is surprising as it was Canada!
By that time we were exhausted, so we decided to sit and watch Off Kilter, the awesome band who play in the Canada pavillion. I'd seen a video of them on the DisneyGo blog, and I really wanted to see their show.
Whilst I was waiting, John headed back to Japan to pick up my pearl pendant. I was just glad that I didn't have to make that walk again!!
That pretty much ended our day at Epcot. The park closes pretty early at 9pm, and it was about 7:30pm when Off Kilter started. When their set finished and John was back, we sat around by the staging area, and waited for the fireworks to start.
That extra walk to Japan and back was the final straw!!!
The EPCOT firework display is a show called IllumiNations: Reflections Of Earth. It's a 3 act show (they all run together, I mean there are three different "themes"), from the creation of Earth through to the present day. A huge illuminated globe floats into the centre of the lake, and plays videos from all around the world, as well as changing colour, etc. There is also music, fire, lasers, water fountains and fireworks. Most of my photos didn't come out that well, but I got a few! One of my favourite parts of the show is at the start, torches are lit around the lake, and instead of the usual dimming the lights announcement, you hear the sound of someone blowing out a candle, and the torches and all the other lights go out/dim. SO cool.
After the display we joined the long queue out of the park. It didn't actually take that long, but we were both in walked-too-far-already agony, so it felt like forever!
Spaceship Earth. :)