Disney Park: EPCOT (open till 9PM)
The forecast for this day was iffy. Our weather apps all stated thunder showers with intermittent sunshine; so we grabbed our ponchos and headed to EPCOT!
**This post is going to take a quick personal turn before I get back to my trip details.
When I initially arrived in Orlando on this trip, I had gotten word that one of my cousins from England was in the area visiting Florida with all her family. Her daughter and I are connected on FB, so I had shared my itinerary to see if any days overlapped to meet up while we were there in the same city. Her daughter texted me during dinner at Art Smith’s the night before that they would also be at EPCOT till 2PM this day.
‘Well, I thought you were Italian?’
Here is a little back story to explain my English family..
I have mentioned a few dozen times how I am born to immigrant parents from Sicily, Italy. Living here we have had just ourselves, no aunts, no uncles, though I have a pretty huge family; a total mix of 17 aunts and uncles. Most of my aunts and uncles live in Sicily, with the exception of five, one of whom, on my mom’s side, moved to the UK as a young man. This uncle, one of my favorites, married an English woman and had five children together. Though my mother was always very close to her brother, and would always be on the phone, skype, or receiving letters and photos of everyone often, we never had many chances to meet as kids or anytime really. I am the third youngest first cousin on my mother’s side, the second youngest on my father’s, and with such a large family the age gap is big; most of my first cousins average about 15-20 years older than me.
Well, I had the luck as a child to meet my uncle three times; he traveled to America twice. He visited once when I was 4yo with his son, and again when I was 9yo with his wife. Then at 13yo my mother and I stayed with him at their sister’s house during a vacation in Sicily.
When I was 23, my husband and I were freshly engaged, and I took a chance to fly to London with him on a work trip. At that point, my uncle with most of my family lived in Cornwall, about 9hrs away by train from London. I couldn’t take that trip, but one of my first cousins lived right outside of London with his family. A cousin I had never met but always felt I knew through the countless photos we had fawned over growing up. So we stayed with him for a day. I got to meet his daughters, my two beautiful second cousins and spend such a lovely time together. Just a funny fact about this cousin, he is featured in the first scene of the 007 movie, A View to Kill, just a split second. He worked as an actual Royal Guard for the Palace in real life, and in the movie he is the guard on horse going by the screen in the first seconds after the credits. (Not sure why I am sharing this but I love that he is in this movie with his suit on!!)
In the early 2000’s one of my English second cousins came to visit. Then after I got married I had started to make some mental plans to visit my family in England, but my uncle got ill and passed away; I was devastated for a long period. BUT, let’s fast forward to my sister’s wedding in Sicily in 2007, the only two English cousins I had met attended. And that was it from England, I had met my uncle and aunt, one cousin when I was 4, another at 23.
Then this day happened, of all places at Disney . I got to meet a third cousin from England!
My cousin, guys!
So, I am a pretty emotional person about family, probably because I always fantasized what life would’ve been like living in Sicily with everyone close by or with anyone here at all. So meeting my cousin was absolutely surreal for me. We talked about meeting at Mexico in the Showcase. When we got there, it was a bit of a seek game. I looked outside, no one. The I went inside, no one. My second cousin texted me that they were outside and as I walked out to check again, I saw this little woman standing across the way who looked just like my mom. And my uncle!
It was her!! I screamed in joy and hugged her right away. I was very happy to make this happen. I got to meet her with her whole family- her husband, my two second cousins, and one third cousin!! People I had only seen grow up in pictures. She got to meet my children and husband. My girls loved all their accents and to finally meet extended family. They knew this was important to me. Just surreal.
We caught up as much as we could about our families. We jumped topics but we talked about my sisters and parents, and my uncle, who had passed away, and her mom and siblings. The time flew, all I could do was dwell inside my head of how much family I have missed in my life AND how she looked like my mom and our family. We talked about a lot, but they had to move on to their next destination as they were traveling with my second cousins partner and family.
Just crazy right? It was an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always hold close.
Just as we were parting ways, it started to rain. We threw on ponchos then head along with our plans. We started with a bite of school bread in Norway, which we still think they changed the recipe because of the renovations to the bakery. It just had a whole different consistency. As we were in Norway the rain came down heavier, and we were on our way to seek refuse in Frozen Ever after, where we were headed because the lines were super low. WERE. As soon as we were walking over, the whole world walked over and the lines popped up to 45 minute wait in minutes. We shrugged it off because we made a fast pass for it at 5:15PM, and decided to make our way to Germany to grab some fun foods and drinks. The second we walked away from Norway the sun came out and the skies turned blue. …which was awesome!
We grabbed a potato pancake (because I love to eat potatoes all the time) and a berry strudel. The luck is that seats opened up in Germany to chill out in the sunshine. The girls were promised a game of Agent P in Germany, and while they did that with Daddy, I grabbed a champagne at the Weinkeller. When I got back, my husband ran to grab some caramel popcorn, which I think we ate in three minutes flat. haha We spent a lot of time chilling in Germany enjoying the weather and Agent P. We always had great memories of playing Agent P with the girls from our last trips.
I can’t say that I didn’t think about meeting my cousin while I was sitting with everyone, or how that it left me feeling empty. It had for some reason. I even shed a tear under my sunglasses. I don’t know why I felt so sad, but I did. My husband saw me upset, and tried to cheer me up. He understands me better than I do myself. So we decided it was time to get up to walk around more, and I suggested we grab slushie drinks in Japan. We liked those drinks a lot, and my kids would never say no to more sugar haha. This time, however, my husband grabbed a frozen foam Kirin beer from a different location within Japan. It was super cool looking, and even though I am not a beer fan, it was fun to drink!
We walked over to Morocco. We had planned to grab another drink here, but the machines were broken. Womp, so off to walk through the bizarre. The styling of the space is so beautiful, and unique to the showcase. The girls, at this point, saw the KidCot stations in n alley and decided to flake us to color Duffy..and rehash their obsession with talking to each KidCot station representative while coloring. Which is great, but how they didn’t see this our first day is funny.
So. Enter rant here... My only complaint about the Showcase is that they go through a lot of trouble to be authentic with the feel of each country, till you get to the shopping. They don’t really sell unique items in these countries that make you want to drop cash like you should on vacation. I know I am advocating more money to spend, but I am serious. I like shopping, I do it all day, and most of the things I like to buy are quality things that make me happy. They don’t sell any and it’s a shame. Like Morocco, for example, where we are a the moment. Such a missed opportunity. If they sold things that were real imports I would have bought them! Like some of the decor around the space were more intriguing than the actual items to buy…like one store we went into last was selling the same stuff the other stores had, the ornate dresses, the flashy fashion jewelry and shoes, etc, except they had a table set up with obscure Moroccan hair products in the window. On the table was a small assortment of hair care things, even incense oddly enough, but there was this sole bottle of green colored shampoo that looked like it had been there for a LONNG time..I grabbed it because the label was a throwback to the 70’s. IT WAS OLD SHAMPOO! and it smelled disgusting to boot! Here is an opportunity to actually sell the most coveted hair products in the world, the middle east is known for their amazing beauty products, and you are selling crappy hair shampoo and oils? Why? And each store had the same merchandise, such a missed opportunity, guys!!
Bbah, I should be a buyer for EPCOT. The stuff I saw was so weak everywhere.
Ok rant over.
We arrived in France. I love this little corner of the Showcase so much because out of all the countries, this one actually feels like parts of Paris. My husband asked us to chill by the fountain, and he grabbed tomato tartes with two la vie en rose slushies, which I didn’t know they were both for me. haha I really loved them so I was happy. We took a walk around the area. The kids wanted to find the KidCot table to get stamps and color their Duffys some more. It was inside the store/Pattiserie. As I was shopping around, the girls were coloring and my husband disappeared; only to emerge calling me with his special whistle. He was behind me with treats and a table for four in the corner. He grabbed Napoleons for him and the girls, and a beignet filled with hazelnut chocolate for me.
I am insane for Nutella, so this was definitely received with a smile. 🙂
Once we finished our treats, the girls decided to hit the KidCot again for more coloring, and my husband went to check the line for Aurora outside. Within seconds I got the text that he was in line so we shuffled out and made it for the girls to meet Aurora. We leisurely walked through England and Canada. Weird thing, it’s a huge joke for us in the house that we had never, and YES NEVER, seen Oh Canada! with Martin Short. Well, we rectified this and made it up the stairs and down the mountain to see it. It was actually not as annoying as I thought it would be, on the account that Martin Short can sometimes be annoying. And by sometimes, I mean usually.
After our journey through Canada, we trotted back over around the Showcase to Norway to get on Frozen Happily Ever After. Ok, so here I go… I loved the Maelstrom, it was one of my favorite rides, especially the part where you thought you’d fall out of the building, and I love the changes they made for this ride. The theming through out and the animatronics were great. I actually liked it more than I thought I would. The only stinky thing was we all sat second row, behind some jackass who kept using flash photography, and some dufus behind us, too! What are you taking a photo of in the dark!??! Well the woman behind us stopped after two flashes, but the guy in front of us wouldn’t stop. During each display the CMs kept having to slow down the ride to yell at him from above. He was so annoying!!
But the ride was fun, we all got to sit on one row together which I like, and we even got a little wet.
After the ride, we decided to dry off by walking through China while the kids were at the KidCot table. China is pretty. I remember loving China during my first trip to EPCOT with my husband in 2002. I made him sit there with me for so long so I could soak up the sights. We ate and hung out for like three hours or something just talking. haha So silly.
Finally, FOOD! We made it to our reservations at Via Napoli in Italy starving because we hadn’t eaten in like five minutes. The weather by the time we had our reservations was absolutely perfect. It was hot but breezy, so we opted to sit outside. We wanted to take a long break for dinner, so we grabbed a margherita pizza with some drinks and just talked about all the fun we have been having and made plans for the night. We snagged some FP for test track and a character meet up…we still hadn’t met up with Mickey this trip! (I had made a Mickey Mouse character meet FP that we had cancelled, and I was upset over it, so this FP was for me. haha) After dinner, the kids wanted to color more and get a stamp from KidCot. As I was hanging out with them, I noticed the CM in the space was from Sicily, so we started talking. Then a local elderly gentleman came over to join in on the conversation, who was originally from Sicily. He reminded me of my father; how he physically used his hands to explain things, so I enjoyed talking to him.
After this we walked over to the Character meet. We didn’t choose to hang out for Illuminations again since we had seen it last time, and we had other plans. The character meet was so much fun, it made up for the fact that we had to cancel the one at the MK. Mickey is such a gentleman, and Goofy, man, I swear Goofy flirted with me! haha We all had such memorable interactions with the group. Minnie was my youngest daughter’s favorite she said, because she was so polite and loved all of their shirts. 🙂 So cute.
Right after that fun time we hopped on Test Track. What great timing we had because as soon as the ride broke loose to the outside track the fireworks from Illuminations were going off in the sky around us and it was so amazing. Truly magical. We all couldn’t believe our luck!
We left Test Track to look for a few things in Mouse Gear, then made our way to grab a Mickey sandwich for the girls. Walked slowly to the bus.
😦 Our last full day at EPCOT.