Instead of visiting the other Universal, we chose to visit Epcot in Walt Disney World.
|WDW gate at International Dr|
Somehow, visiting Disney felt different. I'm not saying that Universal is not as good ... It's just that Disney has its own magical charm that is irreplaceable by any other theme parks (IMHO).
As usual, we followed our proven strategy of coming early in the morning. Even before that, we also checked the park's forecasted crowd level at touringplans.com. We tried to adjust our schedule with the crowd level. Initially, we planned to spend one day and a half just for Epcot since a lot of our friends suggested us to do so. When we were lining up behind the turnstiles, we took a copy of park map and daily show schedule.
|Epcot's famous landmark from the turnstiles|
This time, we weren't late. We were among the first 10 cars who parked =P By 8.45AM, most of the cast members that manned turnstiles were already at their position. Disney had also began orchestrating their magical experience for the guests who were still behind the turnstiles. We heard greetings from World Showcase countries like Japan, France, Mexico, etc. Btw, Epcot is divided into 2 main area: Future World area and World Showcase area. World Showcase opens later than Future World.
When the park finally opened, we went straight to Innoventions East pavilion for Sums of all Thrills. In this attraction, we designed our own roller coaster and tested it by riding the robot arms. You can adjust the speed and the thrill level to suit your own taste. It was quite fun.
|Sums of All Thrills|
Besides Sum of all Thrills, there are other attractions in Innoventions East: Storm Struck, Test the Limit Lab, and VISION house. We skipped all those attractions (some because of the motion sickness warning) and went straight to get Fastpass for the most popular attraction in Epcot: Soarin. Since our Fastpass for Soarin was still one and a half hour later, we decided to explore nearby attractions. We went to Living with the Land, an educational ride where we voyaged by boat through greenhouses and fish farm. We found two hidden mickey in this ride!
|Living with the Land|
Next, we went to The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The graphics were pretty. We rode a clam vehicle, watching how the movie characters try to find Nemo. After the ride, guests can explore the Main Tank exhibit. We saw a very big sea turtle in the tank but were unable to get a clear shot of him.
|Finding Nemo and Main Tank Exhibit|
Since we still had some time, we went to Imagination pavilion and rode Journey Into Imagination With Figment. It was a very fun ride. Similar with Nemo, after the ride, guests can explore Figment's colorful imagination lab. We skipped Captain EO because we had already experienced it once on our 2010 Disneyland trip.
We went back to The Land pavilion and rode Soarin. Since this attractions was so popular, even for Fastpass there was a line.
On Soarin, we felt like we're hand gliding above Californian landscapes. It was very pretty. In the middle of the show, when we were flying above a very lush tangerine orchard, my husband pointed out that we can actually smell the tangerine. When we flew through ocean we can feel the breeze too. Interesting. I noticed that after the show, the guests clapped their hand. California is indeed very pretty. I'm proud to live in California =P
|Waiting for Circle of Life|
Right after Soarin, we went to the Circle of Life. It was an educational short film featuring characters from "The Lion King." Since this is a continuous show, sometimes guests have to wait. However, the capacity of theater is large. This is a very good edutainment show for parents with kids =D
After resting for a while and had breakfast, we took more picture with the park's iconic landmark and ... Phineas and Ferb.
Then we went to the World Showcase area. There were still some attractions that we wanted to ride in the Future World area, but according to our guide, it is better to ride early or late for these attractions.
On the showcase plaza, we turned to the right. Our first pavilion was the Canada pavilion. We were greeted by this beautiful remake of Victoria Garden.
Then we went deeper into the pavilion to watch "O Canada!" The theater was interesting because it was surrounded by 360 degree screens. The host for the short film was a famous Canadian actor, Martin Short. After the film, we explored the other part of this pavilion.
|Red Phone Booth|
Next, we went to the UK pavilion. We saw a castle and many beautiful rustic shops.
Our next pavilion was the France Pavilion. Similar with Canada, France pavilion has a 20 minutes film which celebrate the beautiful French countryside. When we were done with the film, we explored the pavilion and saw this Serveur Amusant show. We were lucky because unlike the Impressions de France film, this show has several exact showing time daily.
|Eiffel Tower in the background|
From the daily show schedule, I learned that France Pavilion was the location for meeting with Princess Aurora and Belle. Aurora is one of my favorite princess. She was the first princess that I know. According to the schedule, in just 5 more minutes Aurora will be at the character greeting spot. I asked a nearby cast member to make sure where to line up =P TIPS: when you're waiting for a character, take a good look around, often a line is already formed. If there is no line, ask a cast member where to line up. You don't want to waist time lining up on a wrong spot =p
|Waiting for Aurora|
|Here she was!|
On our way to Morroco, we met Belle and the Beast. Too bad the line for photograph was already closed.
|Belle and the Beast|
Pictures of Morocco:
There was not much too see at Morocco. There was no attractions only a few restaurants. So, we went to Japan pavilion. We were actually rushing to Japan pavilion because we want to have our lunch there. Rice was quite a rare treat during our Orlando trip.
|Japanese Zen Garden with rippling golden Kois|
Similar with France, there were some shows at the Japan Pavilion: the Matsuriza show (Japanese Drum Show) and Miyuki's Fantasy Candy Art. I highly recommend the latter.
|Miyuki and her candy|
Next, we went to the American Adventure pavilion. This was my most favorite attraction in World Showcase. It was an inspirational 30 minutes Audio-Animatronics show about America and its history. TIPS: come earlier (approximately 20 minutes) before the show to watch the Voices of Liberty.
|Voices of Liberty|
|The American Adventure Pavilion|
At the Italy pavilion, which was located next to American Adventure, we took a lot of pictures. The architectures were very pretty.
|Some touch of Venice|
|The view from the front of the Italy pavilion|
|The wishing fountain|
Similar to Morocco, there was no attractions at the Germany pavilion. However, they have charming shops to take pictures with =P
We skipped China pavilion and went to Norway to ride Maelstorm. The wait wasn't too bad, around 20 minutes in total. Maelstorm was a mild thrill Viking board voyage. After the ride we took more pictures of Norway.
|Troll inside the store|
We headed back to the China pavilion. Just in time to take picture with my other favorite princess, Mulan. She was so into her character. She kept asking if I already found my soldier =P
And then to our disappointment, it rained. Fortunately, China pavilion has some attractions. We watched Reflections of China - another 360 degree short film, saw terracotta warriors, and browsed the shops.
After the rain stopped, we headed to our last pavilion, Mexico. A looming Aztec Pyramid was the center of this pavilion.
Inside the Pyramid, there was a colorful bazaar. I caught a glimpse of Donald Duck wearing Sombrero! He was heading toward the photograph line. Instead of joining the line, we went to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. There were a lot of restaurants in Mexico pavilion.
Since we were done with the World Showcase, we went back to Future World to check some attractions that we missed. We watched the trailer for Ellen's Energy Adventure, but later decided to skip since the 45 minutes show was too long for us. Instead we went to the iconic sphere landmark and board Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship earth was interesting. I felt that we were keep going up and up ... and was worried that maybe there will be a sudden drop sometime during the ride. There was no drop at all. It was totally a mild ride. In this ride, we saw the history of humanity. In the end, there was a nice twist, we were asked to input our preference of the future and then the vehicle gave us a version of our future.
After the ride, there was a lab where we could experience driving in the future. After playing with the future tools, we went to Epcot Character Spot to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Donald Duck.
That was the second last attraction of the day. We rested for a while in the ice cream stall next to the Character Spot. After some time, we decided to just wait in the Showcase plaza for Epcot night-time spectacular: IllumiNations - Reflections of Earth. We waited around 45 minutes before the show and got a strategic position =D 45 mins might sounds like a very long wait but when you have just spent your entire day walking in the park ... it wasn't that long =P Plus, the show was worth the wait.
Overall, Epcot was a very different theme parks for us, in a sense that it had more educational-focused attractions. Another must see ride in Epcot (besides Soarin') are Test Track and Mission: SPACE. However, when we visited, Test Track was temporarily closed. We purposely avoided Mission: SPACE because of my husband's motion sickness tendency. We finished Epcot in one day, but we fully agree that in order to experience the whole attractions and shows that the park offers, you have to allocate more than one day.
Coming next: Universal Studio Orlando! =P