Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happiest Place on Earth

Last year I visited Walt Disney World for the first time in many, many years (like, the early 80's). I had forgotten how wonderful the Disney experience is and I enjoyed it so much I bought a Florida Resident Weekday Only Annual Pass. It cost $190 and I can go to any of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) any Monday through Friday excluding certain holiday blackout periods. Since I work primarily weekends and don't particularly want to go to WDW during busy holiday periods, this passport fits my lifestyle perfectly.

I've used the passport at least 10 times since I've bought it, including going to EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival last October. I had planned on going to that three days in a row, but I ate and drank so much the first two days that I threw in the towel and came home one day early. Too much really is too much.

This week I drove over late Monday afternoon and went to Ft. Wilderness for dinner at the Trail's End Restaurant in Ft. Wilderness. It's a buffet, so again I ate way too much, but it's so good. Then I took the boat over to the Transportation & Ticket Center where I picked up a monorail to EPCOT. I had a sangria at Cava Del Tequila in the Mexico Pavilion then proceeded to walk off some of my dinner by circling around World Showcase. I'd forgotten how pretty EPCOT is at night, with all the lights around the various country pavilions.

I stayed to watch Illuminations, the fireworks show at 9 pm, then took a bus back to Ft. Wilderness. Although I've camped at Ft. Wilderness before and it's very nice, it is pretty pricey for someone like me who just needs a place to park and sleep for the night. So off to Cracker Barrel I went to park for the night.

The next morning I was up before 0600 and off to the EPCOT parking lot. I parked in my usual spot in the RV lot, right in up front, and took a shower before catching a bus to Hollywood Studios. I like to get there right when they open so I can get onto the Tower of Terror before the line gets too long. I rode that, then jumped on the Rock N' Roller Coaster before walking around a bit. I thought about eating at the Brown Derby, which I've done before, but decided to wait and try out the Tangerine Cafe in the Morocco Pavilion back at EPCOT instead.

I took the boat ride from Hollywood Studios back to EPCOT and got to Morocco right before noon. Upon a recommendation from a cast member I tried the chicken and lamb platter. It wasn't horrible, but I regretted not eating at the Brown Derby. The price was comparable and I already knew I liked the food at the Brown Derby. Oh, well, next time. I did, however, not miss the chocolate mousse at the Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion. That dessert, to me, is the best thing going in all of EPCOT. Talk about death by chocolate.

I stayed in France and watched the 20-minute movie showing beautiful scenes from the country. It was good, but I was starting to doze in my seat, so I went back to My Way for a little nap before heading back into the park for the evening. I had a late dinner of the Teriyaki Chicken Bowl in Japan, then sat and enjoyed the warm evening air and people-watching. I considered staying for the fireworks show, but decided instead to head on home to Tampa. I'd seen (and eaten) enough for one trip. I'll probably go back again next month.

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