|Day 3, Tuesday January 1, 2002
This was a day spent entirely at Epcot.
We were up very late this day, owing to the long day and late night of New Yearís Eve. We were just rolling out of bed at 10:30, didnít end up at lunch until noon, and didnít make it to Epcot until about 1:30. I stayed at Epcot through Illuminations, but Debbie and Nick went back to the hotel about 8:30, so it was a short day indeed.
We tried out the Pepper Market at Coronado Springs for lunch (breakfast?). Hereís a couple of surprises. Debbie had steak and Nick had pizza. This was the sixth consecutive day that Nick had pizza at at least one meal (he had been out of school for the week before we left). Debbieís steak habit isnít quite as ingrained, but it was still no surprise.
I ended up having a Kung Pao Beef dish. All of us thought that the food was good, but it does take a little extra time to eat here. If you arenít familiar with the Pepper Market, there are several separate kitchen stations, offering a variety of different foods. You get a ticket when you come in, take it to each station you are interested in to order your food, and they stamp your ticket. On your way out, they add up your ticket at the register, and you pay the total. It does allow for a wide variety of food choices, but we all agreed that the food court at the old Port Orleans French Quarter was better (and I certainly missed their gumbo).
|We were then off to Epcot, and had pretty good luck with the bus, catching
it right as we were walking up to the curb. The bus ride was short
and pleasant--he didnít stop at the other three CS bus stops. Sometimes
he does, sometimes he doesnít, Iím not sure of the pattern.
Epcot actually seemed pretty empty. Iím not sure if this was a slow day, or we had our senses put out of whack by the throngs of people yesterday.
We immediately went on Spaceship Earth when we entered the park, and had a great ride. I dearly love Spaceship Earth, and am nagged by this rumor I read right before leaving about them changing the theme of this to something ridiculous. I realize that the probability of this is extremely low, given the popularity and symbolic importance of this ride. But, even thinking about changes here makes me cringe. One of the best rides on property, and my favorite attraction at Epcot, Spaceship Earth always leaves me feeling good about the times we live in, and taking away an excitement about the power of global communication we have at our fingertips.
It does sound like an ad for AT&T. Which is one of the reasons I find change is doubtful.
We did stall on SE once, and a couple of times afterwards, it seemed like we slowed down, and our audio was a little out of synch. I still had a great time, though.
|Nick messed around in the phone sound effects booth after we got off
the ride. This is a cool little booth which projects images onto
a huge touch screen, and lets you select by touch various sound effects.
There is a phone in there, and you are allegedly supposed to call someone
and add these sound effects to your phone call. But, I imagine most
people just mess around with the sound and pictures, like we do.
I did get some of Nick on film this time--weíll see how it comes out.
I tried to get Fast Passes for Test Track after we got out of Spaceship Earth, but they were gone for the day. So, we decided to come back in a bit and stand in the standby line. But, we wanted to do Ellenís Energy Adventure first.
This is another attraction that never disappoints. Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy are both funny, the life-sized dinosaur animatronics are a kick, and the wide-screen energy film is both fun and informative. And, of course, thereís Jeopardy. I still love this attraction, and I know Nick still enjoys it, but itís not his favorite thing at WDW the way it once was.
We caught the entire preshow, and had a flawless ride and film.
We then went to stand in line for Test Track. On the way over, we stopped in that little park space between Energy/Life and TT. We took a couple of pictures, and enjoyed the peace of this cloudless but chilly day. Iíd much rather have a chill in the air than rain, and we were having some good luck with weather this trip. We did have to wear jackets for most of the day, though.
|The standby sign for Test Track said 90 minutes, but it was closer
to 55. Nonetheless, Debbie was starting to wear down, and I had to
talk her into sticking it out. I snapped a couple of photos of the
queue, which I hadnít been in in a while. They still didnít have
the queue running the entire inside expanse, although they had a big chunk
of the queue outside. Go figure.
Test Track does seem like it needs a little attention paid to it. The video screen in our car did not work. At least it had a static image on it, but none of the informational (or entertaining) stuff that used to be there. And the ride broke down while we were on it, right after we were almost hit by the semi. It wasnít that long ago this was the new, premier attraction at Epcot. It deserves a decent refurb, just to keep up the maintenance and kill the bugs.
We didnít buy the TT photo, because we have several. But, we did do Dreamchasers, which is the new VR ride as you exit the main TT ride. Nick said he didnít care for this, but I thought it was great! You sit in a chair, and press your forehead against the top of a VR helmet, which includes headphones and a stereoscopic display. It is actually a lot more comfortable then the helmets, for example, over in Disney Quest, as you are resting on the device, rather than carrying something around on your head. As the motion of the film spins around, the chair you are sitting in turns, giving you a nice centrifugal illusion.
|It is, however, completely non-interactive, just a film, not something
that you can really look around in (like the VR in DQ). Still fun,
though. The topic is a goofy little cartoon thing about where GM
engineers come up with their ideas for new cars. Something that would
be more at home in Imagination.
Speaking of which, it was a shame to see the glass pyramid kind of dark and empty. Maybe they learned their lesson about messing with old favorites after the refurb of Journey Into Imagination drew such poor response. It sure didnít stay open long. Hopefully, the new new Imagination will be more like the old old Imagination, and not so much like the old new Imagination. Everyone got that?
After Dream Catchers, we had to hurry to make our 5 p.m. PS at Cafe Askerhaus. I just caught the Characters on Holiday bus as it pulled out of the little alley between Mexico and Norway. I didnít get any video or pictures, but it was fun to see it.
Got some photos around the lagoon with the camcorder, that has a better zoom but less resolution than our digital camera. They didnít turn out too bad.
Cafe Askerhaus was delightful. Debbie and I both agreed this was the best meal we have had there. Iím not sure why people expect this to be fishy, we had ham and roast beef, and a nice turkey with herb potatoes, plus something called pork saddles (?). OK, there was also smoked salmon, and some seafood items, but you could certainly avoid them. I did have both a crab salad and a bunch of excellent peel and eat shrimp. This is a nice variety of very high quality food, and we really enjoyed it.
|We also had a desert. At the recommendation of our waiter, we
had an excellent rice pudding with strawberry topping. You could
smell the fresh strawberry sauce when he brought it out to us, and it was
as delicious as it was aromatic. It was a wonderful end to a perfect
Nick skipped desert. He missed out on a couple of things that looked like they would have been fun, including a ginger bread man that you painted a face on, and a big soccererís apprentice hat which housed some type of chocolate concoction. But, he wanted to go and play on the Viking ship and teeter totter. We let him do this unsupervised, as he is getting to the age where he can manage himself, and has the sense to come back to where we are.
We caught the Tapestry of Dreams parade immediately after dinner in front of Norway. I think I liked Tapestry of Nations better overall, even though they say some nice words about Walt in this one. The parades are really very similar, but the millennium themed TON just seemed cooler.
We went on the maelstrom right after the parade. This is a fun ride, and there is a fair amount of detail, though it certainly isnít one of the big ticket rides. We liked it, though. A nice attempt to capture the essense of Norway. Naturally, we skipped the film at the end.
|The nighttime Christmas decorations at Epcot were gorgeous, even after
having seen the Osborne lights. The Osborne lights are a world unto
themselves, but the decorations at Epcot are impressive nonetheless.
There was an enormous, splendidly decorated tree on the WS side of the
main walkway between Future World and WS. Then, leading from the
tree to Future World, there is a huge lighted canopy, which pulsates to
the sounds of holiday music. Itís gorgeous. I tried some photos,
but the colors arenít right. It was a wonderful thing to see.
We took a rest on a bench back on the Future World side of the walk. Shortly, there was a very nice fountain show, with colors and watery explosions orchestrated to some wonderful music. I tried some film of this, which came out OK, but didnít do it justice. Like the canopy, this was a lovely and uplifting visual spectacle.
Debbie went into the Mouseworks store, while Nick and I went to see Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. We sat in the second row, and I actually think a few rows further back is better for the 3D effects. I canít count the number of times Iíve seen this show, but I still love it and the reaction it gets from the audience. Itís really a masterpiece.
After HISTA, Nick and Debbie went back to the room, and I wondered over to WS to catch Illuminations. It was after 8:30, so I got a lousy spot. I told myself better a lousy spot than not seeing it at all, and I was right. I was still delighted by the show, although I had a terrible view of the globe, as I was nearly behind the boat dock at the front of WS. I took some video, which came out better than expected, but nothing like the real thing.
The one thing about videoing events like this is that it distracts you from enjoying them, so I have to be careful not to overdue it.
Even with the restricted view, I did enjoy Illuminations. I was in a good place for the full effects of the overhead fireworks, and the music and full-sky finale were awe inspiring. There doesnít seem to be a perfect place for Illuminations, and there doesnít seem to be a perfectly terrible place either (I called this one lousy, but you know what I mean). From the Rose and Crown, you have an unrestricted view of the water, but a mediocre overhead view, unless you are at one of the few tables that isnít under the awning.
Overall, it was a great end to a short but sweet day. It didnít seem like we covered a lot of ground today, partly because of the late start, and partly because we were all so tired from NYE. But, we would be back to Epcot again before going home, and I still canít think of a better way to start a year.
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