Monday, June 08, 2015

Part 3 - Epcot!


So, our first full day in Florida started slowly.  Brett and I were up at a decent time, but the kids just would not wake up... 
JD sleeping with Violet!
Jenelle snoozing away!

After around 10:30, we finally began jumping on their beds to get them to wake. "We're going to Disney World! We're going to Disney World! WAKE UP!"  JD didn't think it was funny, but Jenelle giggled.  Soon after getting the kids ready, we had a lazy brunch-lunch at the Village, and made our way to Epcot around 12:30.

We're here - Hello Epcot!

Hey, I hear Tinker Bell?
Where is she?
With our 3 Day Park Hopper Passes, GKTW and Disney also provided us with the most amazing, most exclusive VIP pass ever... the Genie Pass!  This is a new program for Disney World in that the bearer of a Genie Pass has VIP privileges including free parking, free stroller/wheelchair rental, and immediate access to all rides, shows and character ques via Fast Past ques (regardless of the time of day.)  A Genie Pass can only be obtained from a "wish granting" organization, thus replacing the disability pass that was being misused and has now been retired.  We had no idea the power of the Genie Pass until we approached our first ride at Epcot.  Our first ride was the Voyage through the History of Technology.  We entered the fast pass Que behind a family of 18 individuals with a regular fast pass and "Grandma in a wheelchair."  Once the attendant saw our "Genie Pass", we were moved in front of what I called a "hot mess" (the family of 18) and put on the ride immediately.  Not to say this family wasn't deserving of special assistance; it's just that they were large in number with kids running around and seemingly very unorganized.  Bluntly, this group was a hot mess and we decided to go in the opposite direction of whatever ride they went to next!

After that experience - "All Hail the Genie Pass!" and Brett kept it on his person and on display at all times!

Genie Pass!  We love you Genie Pass!
Epcot was very different of course, and it took a while to figure out our bearings.  We really enjoyed the many unique rides in Epcot near the "golf ball" and found some to be better than rides at Disneyland.  It was hot and humid, and our first full day of experiencing the humidity... so we were uncomfortable to say the least.  JD enjoyed the Test Track ride and Mission to Mars, we also enjoyed cooling down in the aquarium area learning about Manatees and Dolphins.
Riding the Chevy Test Track - better than California Adventure's
Carsland Ride (faster too!)
During the trip, JD grew taller than me!

Feeling sentimental seeing the beautiful
sights of our home state of California!
So, after venturing on the rides around the Epcot globe, we decided to journey into the "World Showcase" area.  Prior to our trip, I made reservations for dinner in Japan at Teppan Edo Steakhouse, so we wanted to get an idea of where to go later that evening.  While we were told by many how amazing Epcot was, we were not as impressed to be completely honest.  Perhaps it was because it was a Saturday, or because it was also "Star Wars Weekend"; but we found the World Showcase to be crowded and full of "groups drinking around the world."  Not so fun when you don't know where you are going, your overly hot, and pushing a child in a wheelchair through crowds.

We decided to stop in Mexico to have lunch and to take an opportunity to cool down Jenelle.  Using her mic-key button, we quickly hydrated her with many ounces via bolus of cold water and a cooling towel.  She perked up a bit after food and water, as the heat was getting to her.  During our stop in Mexico, we heard an announcement that the "props" for that evening's firework show were being moved into position.  We got to watch from our resting spot - not something you see everyday at Disneyland!

Resting for lunch in Mexico.

JD pointing out one of the props for the firework show.
Brett enjoying a beer with crowds behind him.

Hydrating Jenelle - humidity and Californians do not mix well!
After lunch, we quickly toured the world, found our location for dinner, and went back towards Epcot for more rides.  On the way, we found a beautiful floral Tinker Bell (she was everywhere!) near the entrance of a Butterfly Garden.  We decided this was something Jenelle might enjoy and took a quick trip inside to see what it was about.  We saw amazing butterflies, and I was able to catch some pretty photos as well.  It was definitely something different, and perfect for Jenelle.
There she is again - Tinker Bell is everywhere!

Visiting the Butterfly Garden.

Jenelle looking for Butterflies!
After riding more rides, we decided to take advantage of the Genie Pass and meet some characters!  Of course, the first person you have to see is Mickey Mouse!  We remarked how JD was now taller than Mickey, and got a great photo.  Mickey was also impressed with JD's selfie skills.

Meeting our host, Mickey Mouse!

JD preparing to take a Selfie with Mickey!
Next character was Goofy - Brett's and my personal favorite!  While Jenelle has always shown true love for Tinker Bell, Goofy may be her new favorite!  I think it may have been his height - but immediately she grabbed his hands and did her jumping routine - which for most is a work out in itself, but also is the way Jenelle shows her happiness.  Here she is jumping with Goofy, who happily entertained her.

Jenelle new favorite - jumping with Goofy!

Jenelle giggling and jumping with Goofy!
Our third character was Minnie Mouse.  She was a delight and really enjoyed not just Jenelle, but the boys as well!
Meeting Minnie Mouse!

JD gets a kiss from Minnie!

Brett and Minnie.
After our photo experience with the characters, we took a photo of the "back side of the golf ball" as JD liked to term it.  Once again, that silly Tinker Bell was keeping her eye on Jenelle.  Eventually we made our way back to Japan for dinner at Teppan Edo.
Tinker Bell keeping her eye on Jenelle!
Dinner at Teppan Edo was fun and we had a wonderful chef who entertained us. We all had shrimp, steak, chicken, noodles and edamae (with beer and sake for Brett and me!)  Dessert consisted of green tea cheesecake and ice cream!
Our chef was Japanese, but grew up in Houston, Texas,
so he spoke perfect English with a southern drawl!

Brett eating his noodles!

An Origami swan for Jenelle!

Our waitress loved Brett so much,
she drew a heart on his green tea cheesecake!
We failed to see the firework show as our dinner reservations were at the same time.  Once dinner was finished, we walked through a much quieter and cooler World Showcase to our car and home for the night.  We wanted to return to Epcot, but unfortunately the time didn't work for us later in the trip.  I think if we'd have had more time, we would have walked through more of the World Showcase.  It was definitely different from our Disneyland, and very memorable.

Next update - Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios!

Thank you again to Make A Wish and Give Kids the World for this spectacular trip!

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