Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I’ll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let’s go!
My first (and only) full day without a race!
Our modified plan for the day was a quiet one: rather than leaping out of bed and galloping straight to a park, we woke up at the leisurely time of 9:30AM. Pat immediately jumped onto his computer and went after his work project while I took a shower, caught up on notes, snacked, that kind of thing.
I also used this time to change out our FP+s for the next day; we had originally planned to spend our last morning at the Magic Kingdom but adjusted our scheduled to hit the Animal Kingdom instead. I put our new time slots together and then ran off to the food court to grab Pat some coffee.
On the way back I was greeted with no one’s favorite envelope on the door handle: our Magical Express tickets home had arrived. Except that, well, they kind of hadn’t – the paper listed our flights and bus times as asterisks. Seemed like ME has lost our flight information. Oh, well, guess we can’t go home!
I called the number on the paper and talked to a very nice lady who readily informed me that yes, if your ME sheet is blank it means Disney isn’t going to let you leave. Yay! And then she took down our flight information and gave us a bus time. Boo.
A couple hours later we were out of the room and gazing at some clouds ominous enough to prompt Pat to duck into the gift shop and buy an umbrella. Thus armed, we hopped a bus to Epcot, and just as we were disembarking it started to rain. Pat is very prescient. The security guard at bag check, however, informed us that we didn’t need an umbrella – didn’t we know that you just walk between the raindrops?
The rain did dissipate for a bit after that, which was nice as we were able to get some cute shots in front of Spaceship Earth.
A rain-free zone was also vital for our first FP+ slot, which was for Test Track, perhaps the most finicky ride on property when it comes to the weather. This time around we designed an even more ridiculous car, going for a model as small and wide and flowery and inane as possible. And the weird thing is – it actually performed really well. After our ride, we saw on the post-show big screen that the highest scoring vehicle of the day was something like 224; ours had scored 209. No one we saw come up and check out their car scored higher than 207. Maybe Chevy should start producing it?
We were getting hungry, so we made our first World Showcase stop in Mexico for margaritas and snacks. By some miracle there were plenty of tables available to us in the seated section. More to come on that one, but I want to say here it was the sort of quiet, happy moment that WDW does so well. Since we were in Mexico anyway, we also took a spin on the Gran Fiesta Tour because I always enjoy a ride with no line.
While in line for Test Track I had changed our next FP+ from the Character Spot to the Nemo dark ride at Pat’s request. Our time had opened up, so we jumped on board a clamshell. Halfway through the ride, Pat turned to me and said: “Are there going to be REAL fish soon?” So that’s what he thought of that.
We made a thorough exploration of Sea Base Alpha, making our way through just about every exhibit area. The dolphins and the manatees were neat, of course, but the surprise favorite was the small cuttlefish display. We spent a good ten minutes watching them swim around changing colors.
Upon attempting to exit the building we discovered a pretty no-nonsense downpour had commenced. We had two options: hang around the Sea Base for the foreseeable future, or buy some of those ubiquitous Disney ponchos. Pat consulted his radar weather app and determined we had a good deal of precipitation ahead of us, so we bit the bullet and got the billion-dollar ponchos. Hey, at least we were mobile again!
Protected from the elements in our new accouterments, we shuffled from the Seas over to Innoventions… um… whichever side has the Sum of All Thrills simulator. We were briefly stopped outside by a Disney photographer who insisted we were making a rainy memory, and I can’t disagree with him there.
Sum of All Thrills posted a 15 minute wait, but I’d say we were in the briefing room in 10 minutes or so. The briefing video was kind of painfully cheesy but the design process itself was fun. Pat and I selected the fastest, craziest option – jet – and put together a spinny, loopy monstrosity we named TURBO DRAGON.
Then it was up the stairs to wait for our simulator. A nice cast member showed us a locker where we could put our stuff, then briefed us on safety. There was another CM there monitoring video cameras that showed the faces of the people in the simulator – I guess to guard against vomiting and passing out and such?
Finally it was our turn to climb inside. The monitor CM strapped us in, then showed us the emergency stop button. All this for a ride that proved to be pretty gentle, for all its advertised intensity. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good time, but Pat and I determined that next time we’d design something that was all loops to get the most out of the simulation.
The most interesting thing to happen during TURBO DRAGON was my medal getting loose during the first loop and attempting to smack me in the face. I snagged it with my left hand and held it for the remainder of the ride. “Nice catch,” said the CM the moment she opened up the simulator pod.
It was still raining, but we just re-ponchoed up and headed over to Mission: Space for our final FP+ of the day. Pat decided that we should try an experiment: every time Gary Sinise prompts you to press your button, PRESS THE OTHER ONE. He was quite determined that we would unlock some sort of special alternate version where everyone dies. Unfortunately, as I suspected, all that happened was that we continually triggered the computer override. Perhaps if we had briefed the other members of our team we could’ve discovered an Easter egg?
In an homage to the Wine & Dine Half it was still raining, so we put our ponchos back on and braved our way to the Rose & Crown. Pat got in line at the bar for a Guinness (him) and a Snake Bite (me) while I played the Table Vulture Scans the Room game. I was rewarded with two empty chairs at a small table with two middle-age ladies who mostly kept to themselves but were nonetheless very pleasant. At one point Pat changed from his t-shirt into a long sleeved shirt by putting the latter on over the former and then removing the former under the latter (got that?), and they were extremely impressed by this feat.
Oh, while somewhere else in the parks I had overheard someone saying that the Guiness at the Rose & Crown is better than it is elsewhere in the country. I’m not an expert in such things, but Pat is, and he said that while the Guiness there was good it was not unusually so. He theorizes she was comparing it to the bottled version.
This was my first experience with the singer guy at the Rose & Crown; I think he might be new? Anyway, he just had a mic and a keyboard, but he sang some good stuff. This included a series of songs from Les Miserables with the droll comment that for some reason the performers in Les Mis always have English accents, and my personal favorite, “Wild Rover.” I sang along with that one and did all the claps while Pat gazed upon me with an expression equal parts amused and bemused. Let it be known that he may be a good Irish lad, but I’ve got him beat on the drinking songs!
After a drink or two we decided to head back out into the elements – except we found upon stepping outdoors that the elements had died down considerably. It was now barely sprinkling, but the population of Epcot had seen a dramatic decrease. We headed across the way in a blissful, poncho- and crowd-free state and checked out the Crown & Crest. Somehow they didn’t have Pat’s family crest, so we left that store behind in favor of the British pop culture store right next to it. Pat made a beeline for the Beatles area before meeting me in the Doctor Who section. I tried to sell him on Downton Abbey by pointing out that Ser Jorah (sp?) is in it during season two, but I don’t think he was convinced.
Our next stop on our World Showcase drinking tour was France, where we picked up a Kir Royal and a glass of wine before wandering into the ice cream shop. They had some interesting flavors but we weren’t quite ready for ice cream, so we moved on through Morocco and into Japan.
We wandered through the always fascinating wares of Mitsukoshi before winding up at the sake bar in the back. After inquiring as to our server’s recommendation we wound up with a sake each; I unfortunately don’t remember the name but it was indeed good. Pat is attempting to learn all the ways various cultures say “cheers,” so we also asked her about the Japanese equivalent. Write this down: “Kampai!”
From there we breezed past the American Adventure and went straight on to Italy. Pat lived in Italy for about six months and was dismayed to find the architecture Venetian, insisting that using a port city as your model was a poor means of displaying a country’s aesthetic look. He felt a little better as we walked further into the pavilion and the buildings transitioned into other styles, and in celebration we went into Tutto Gusto for some wine.
It was practically deserted, and we had our pick of spots; we elected to take seats at the bar. I’m afraid I don’t recall our bartender’s name but I remember she was from Rome, which pleased Pat as that was where he lived in Italy. We ordered the “Elegant Reds” wine flight because Pat recognized and liked one of the wines listed, and we added mozzarella and bruschetta as a snack. Everything was delicious and the cozy, rustic, “elsewhere” atmosphere was classic Epcot.
Next we ventured into Germany, where I headed straight back to Sommerfest for graprefruit beer and noodle gratin, a mac and cheese equivalent that knocked another item off my to-eat list. Totally worth it! Pat got a beer and a bratwurst, and we grabbed a table by the fountain as we ate. Epcot continued to be both rain-free and borderline people-free, and it was wonderfully serene.
Closing time was rapidly approaching, and we considered our options before making our final move: back to France for ice cream. I considered ordering the fabled brioche ice cream sandwich but I simply wasn’t hungry enough (SOMEDAY I WILL EAT YOU, SANDWICH). Instead Pat and I split a cup of pistachio and hazelnut scoops.
We walked out of the shop literally JUST as the opening narration for IllumiNations was starting and wandered right up to the lagoon edge to watch it. Our view of the globe was a bit blocked but otherwise the location was great and we didn’t wait around a million years to secure it. I love early evening Epcot rains!
By the time the fireworks were over Epcot was tragically closed, and we headed out of the park, onto the POR bus, and back to the resort. We stopped in at the gift shop for ginger ale before going back to the room and bed. Only one day left. 🙁
Up next: the last day. 🙁 🙁 🙁
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