the Backpack ~ Strange and Unexpected
when I post something from the archives, it involves bringing
back an essay or article or such that had appeared on the In My
Backpack web site and was removed during one of the updates or
computer issues over the years.
entry is a bit different though… in addition to appearing on the
site, it was part of the Travel
Trilogy project… or, more specifically,
and Unexpected: Backpack on the Road – Volume One: Florida.
that means a couple of versions exist… somewhat specific, almost
definitive versions if you will… the work that was on the site,
and the chapter that was edited and potentially revised from that
piece and used for the book.
material was originally posted on April 2, 2007. It was later
published in April 2013. Some minor proofreading edits and adjustments
may have been made while bringing the material back to the site
in this posting.
~ ~ ~
absolute stunner of a park. And yes, that matters. Because if
you ask anyone to list their favorite Disney World parks and give
points for ranking them first to fourth… I guarantee
you that Epcot will finish fourth. It may not be unanimous if
you do it as a group vote, but it will be close to unanimous.
Very close. In fact…
we were sitting down to discuss the trip, an unnamed member of
our traveling group didn’t think we would be heading over to Epcot
at all… at least not as a full group. Not a park that the kids
will enjoy was the primary reason given in defense of the thought.
we wound up at Epcot twice. And that person was thrilled with
every moment inside the gates, stating this park created some
of the best memories of the trip.
may tell you Epcot is really two small parks, and there is some
truth to that. The World Showcase does have a couple of rides
and attractions, but is primarily a walking tour of the countries
represented. The Future World section is mainly rides and attractions.
It’s supposed to be an educational opportunity at times… but I’m
not so certain I’ve ever really taken that away from the park
when I’ve visited.
schedule almost never varies… and it’s an operating schedule worthy
of note. Future World opens at 9am… while World Showcase follows
two hours later at 11am. And yet, more than any other Disney park
experience I have ever had in dealing with closing times, Epcot
truly exemplifies the idea that lines and money allow for flexibility.
For instance -- quite often long lines at Soarin’… a ride in Future
World that should be shutting down around 7pm… remain moving long
that I know Tigg and I went on, because I was there…
Space – Actually, Tigg didn’t go on this one. The grandparents
had taken the grandkids, and Nick, Kris, Kei and I went on this
ride while Tigg waited outside for us. It was pretty good, but
I didn’t personally enjoy it as much as other rides in the park.
Earth – In a very strange way, I would compare this ride
to the Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studios. Why? Because it’s
an easy ride that has some fun moments and you won’t be upset
you went on it. That said, for me, unlike the Great Movie Ride
it isn’t something you should be upset about missing.
Track – A couple of women started talking while we were
in line. At first I only heard bits and pieces of what they were
saying, but it became apparent they were talking about our group’s
orange shirts. When I asked them about it, they mentioned having
seen a group wearing green shirts just like these the day before.
Turns out they were in the Magic Kingdom too. The ride was great…
a run showing recreated samples of tests performed on new cars
while they are being designed. In short… a Disney story for a
thrill ride that doesn’t have a Disney history. In this case though,
it works very well. This isn’t a roller coaster… but it has some
speed and twists and turns. This isn’t a simulator… but it uses
braking, bumpy roads, and sharp corners to build some excitement.
into Imagination – This is the second version of the
ride since it opened, and it is still a lot of fun. The girls
loved it, and Ky had fun after the ride… getting off you are led
into a creativity-park sort of place where the kids can play.
On one visit Tamsin volunteered for Doctor Allbright and was made
I shrunk the Audience – The scoop and run was on in here.
Naya was not happy about the show at all, and Tigg pulled off
the “grab the child, make way I’m coming through” escape quite
well. Basically this is a takeoff of the Honey, I shrunk the
Kids movie, where an awards ceremony is supposedly taking
place and the audience is shrunk by accident. This enables the
show to include multiple surprise elements.
into Imagination – Hey, I’m listing them in order according
to my notes, and on our second trip to Epcot… yes, second trip,
not bad for the park many felt we wouldn’t even spend one full
day at… we began day two by heading back to visit Figment again.
– This ride was brought in as part of the Disneyland 50th anniversary
celebration that was held in Disney parks around the world… with
rides being recreated at other places. The original is at the
California Adventure in Anaheim. All I can say is wow. Might have
been the unanimous pick as the best ride any place at Disney World
for this group on this trip. I’m not sure if I would say that
on another visit… hey, never ridden on Expedition Everest, which
wasn’t open during this trip and is open now… but it was the most
impressive ride on this trip. The idea here combines a hang glider
ride experience over California with a ski lift type chair. Keep
an eye on this ride because of lines… use the fast pass if necessary.
others supposedly went on according to my notes, and I want to
preserve them here, but I wasn’t on them…
don’t know of any. The grandkids were taken on a character run,
but my notes don’t show anything being done by anyone else that
we didn’t all get to at some point. Actually… wait… hold on…
Maelstrom – My notes say someone went on this ride in
Norway, but I don’t recall it from this trip. I have been on it
before and loved it. Normally I place it on the must-do list.
It’s a great combination of a flume and a boat ride. Has a good
surprise that makes it worth the trip. No clue who went on it
from our group and no one is saying.
we ate at, or food we enjoyed…
annual food and wine festival was going on, and we tried a few
things. I was especially impressed by an ice wine, a chocolate
crème brûlée, and a pistachio baklava.
House – Kei, Kris, Tigg and I ate here in Japan. It was
ok. In reality, all of the food in Epcot is pretty good… so if
there’s a style you want, head to that country and enjoy. I would
definitely recommend eating in the World Showcase as opposed to
other thing about this restaurant… I hated it as a teenager. The
menu is not burgers and fries and requires some explanation for
children that haven’t had a variety of foods. It was fine on this
trip, and now I recognize the names and items a bit more easily,
but it was nothing so stellar that it needs to be on your list.
really need to know…
trading – Tamsin started her pin trading at Epcot, and
both girls were quickly brought in to the fun. I was amazed by
how fantastic the Disney employees were in doing this. Remember…
a 4-year old kid wants to trade a small and seemingly insignificant
pin for a big, impressive one with swinging doors or moving parts.
Some of these pins are a couple of dollars and others are considered
collectibles that will cost you $10 to $15 or more. So it is pretty
nice to see the staff making trades with kids at whatever whim
a kid has.
Showcase – Ok… second time this has happened to me, so
I have to tell you about this. Let me start by taking you back
was our first trip to Epcot with Tigg and I as a couple (along
with Justin and Jay). We had decided to work on collecting something
small from every country. While in Germany, Justin was standing
at the register with us, and the cashier handed us a print with
Snow White on it. Evidently it was one of some special series
of prints they were offering for kids, with a different one to
be found in each country. At that point of our visit though, we
didn’t have time to head back around the World Showcase to countries
we had visited already in an attempt to complete the collection.
2005. Knowing what had happened back then, I asked in the first
country (Canada) if they were doing anything for the kids. Turns
out… yup… they absolutely were. It was a special mask that the
kids could design and color, with little plastic or such tags
from every country that could be attached as decorations. These
were free. (Well… as free as it gets if you follow my
unexpected fun we had…
was significantly better than we thought it would be. But at this
point, there’s little chance of that being unexpected. If you
do even a smidgen of research, the responses to this attraction
kids seemed happier with Epcot than anyone expected. So I’ll go
with Journey into Imagination and the masks from the World Showcase
as my surprises, and the entire park as unexpected fun for the
have to be honest… Mission: Space was an impressive ride for what
it tried to accomplish, but it doesn’t live up to the hype for
me. I thought Test Track and Soarin’ were easily more fun and
simply better rides. Warning, warning, warning… Mission: Space
does have a bit of a reputation. If you have any hesitations about
the ride… don’t get on. Tigg didn’t. Nick, Kei, Kris and I pretty
much all thought it was ok, but I seem to recall all of us being
a bit queasy and thinking it was good, it was done, and we didn’t
need to do it again.
and I sort of mentioned this a moment ago, I’ve hit a point where
I really prefer eating in the World Showcase when at this park.
If the kids are those picky eaters that focus their meals on chicken
fingers and fries and nothing else, you might have some problems
convincing them to try the sushi. (And… frankly… with sushi, I’d
be voting with the kids.) But a little something in Mexico, followed
by something in Italy, and then a dessert in France is a nice
way to spend an afternoon stroll. Heading to Japan and going to
the hibachi-style grill for dinner is amazing. And… for the chicken
finger eaters… The American Adventure marks the halfway point
of the Showcase, meaning some classic and traditional food options.
It’s different, and a perfect example of what Epcot provides that
no other park experience offers. I don’t look for many food options
in the Future World section of the park. It’s not nearly as good
or creative as what awaits in the World Showcase. (And yet… keep
in mind the appetites of your young ones.)
put a ribbon on it…
had a daily nap. Thanks to some lengthy walks between attractions,
Epcot would probably rate as his favorite place to climb in the
stroller and doze off. And yet, thanks to Figment, it was also
one he seemed to really enjoy.
now… for your enjoyment… one of the favorite stories Tigg has
from the trip.
afternoon, Tigg, the grandfathers and the three grandkids took
off, heading back to our rooms in front of the rest of the group.
Tigg was going to start dinner, and the remainder of us (Mom,
Margaret, Kei, Nick, Kris and I) stayed to wander through Mouse
had managed to jump into the double-stroller with Ky, leaving
Tamsin quite upset about the unfair situation of her walking while
her sister got to ride.
offered everything… reasoning with her (“you can get in once we
get off the tram and I open it back up” and stuff like that)…
telling her what a good girl she was for walking. And, well, you
know how it goes when you try to negotiate with a tired and frustrated
4-year old that has already decided the situation itself is simply
Tamsin kept complaining. Finally, Tigg looked right at her and
said: “Tamsin, nobody cares.”
grandfathers stopped in disbelief at what they had heard. They
weren’t opposed to it… Tigg was simply firm in her voice and saying
something they never would have thought to try. They just didn’t
want to laugh out loud.
was quiet after that.