The marathon was just the end of a wonderful nine days in Orlando. I have decided that Disney really is the happiest place on Earth, and I need to figure out how to get back there sooner rather than later. Maybe I could be a Disney princess some day??
We flew into Orlando bright and early the morning of New Year’s Eve. I had read that the parks close early on NYE because they become so full of people, so we wanted to make sure we were at a park before that happened. We took a 6:20am flight to make that happen. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel and headed off to Epcot. We were staying at the Hilton in Downtown Disney. Although it is not a Disney resort, they are on Disney property, and offer free transportation and extra magic hours to guests.
Epcot was packed, as expected. We decided we would come back another day to do some of the rides, and opted to tour the World Showcase instead. On our way there, we stopped at the Coca-Cola store to try free samples of Coke products from other countries.
I really liked a few of them, especially the one from Israel and the vitamin water from Japan. A few were just weird, such as the watermelon flavored soda from China. Italy’s was so gross to me – it was really bitter and left a bad taste in my mouth.
We then headed to the World Showcase, stopping along the way to admire the holiday decorations that were still up.
The first stop in our world travels was Canada. Our original plan was to drink our way around the world, but it was a hot day, and only noon, so instead we planned to just try a few drinks and food items along our way. In Canada, we watched the video O, Canada!
These videos are in what they call Circle Vision 360. You stand in a round room where you are surrounded by a screen that goes around the whole room. It was a really pretty way to learn about what Canada has to offer. A few countries had these videos. They felt somewhat dated, and were more or less advertisements for the countries, but I enjoyed them. It made me want to visit countries I hadn’t been to, and I got excited when I noticed landmarks I have been to before!
Next up was United Kingdom. We snapped a few pictures and watched part of a show in the streets, and were quickly on our way to France.
One of my favorite things about the World Showcase was that the cast members in each country were actually from that country. It made the experience feel more authentic. In France, we stopped at a little stand for strawberry-filled crepes, topped with sugar. They were delicious!
We watched Impressions de France, which made me want to go back to France. I spent two days in Paris in high school, but it looks like I missed a lot there! After the movie, we were off to Morocco, where we stopped for lunch at the Tangierine Cafe. The three of us split two Vegetarian Plates, which included hummus, couscous, falafel, lentils, tabouleh and salad greens. I also tried the Kasbah Coffee – coffee with hazelnut liqueur. It was good, but for about $7, it was a tiny serving. Morocco was one of my favorite countries. They didn’t have any rides or videos, but they had a market area with beautiful clothes, jewelry and other items for sale.
Japan was next. Again, no rides or videos, but we walked through a few displays and took some pictures.
Next was the U.S. in what they called the American Adventure. As you may expect, we were greeted by funnel cakes. There was a long wait until the next show, so we decided to come back later in the day.
Italy was one of my favorites for the scenery. We thought about stopping for gelato, but the line was really long.
We had dinner reservations in Germany that night, so we passed through quickly the first time around.
We stopped for a refreshing drink in China, and then it was on to Norway. We waited in a long line for the Norway ride, Maelstrom. It is a boat ride with a small drop. I had braced myself for a much bigger drop, so it wasn’t bad at all.
Our last stop around the world was Mexico. By this point, we were dealing with wall-to-wall people, but we made our way to the boat ride in Mexico, the Gran Fiesta Tour starring Donald Duck.
This ride was more for kids. It was a boat ride through a lot of television screens, each playing quick snippets of Donald Duck and the other Caballeros. It was pretty random, and may have been designed to keep the attention of a three year old.
After Mexico we headed back to America, where Disney was handing out free hats and horns for New Year’s Eve. We waited in a line for about half an hour, because we were told they were only giving away supplies until they ran out. After we got our hats and horns, we went to watch the American Adventure movie. You can imagine how loud it was in this building – everyone was blowing their horns indoors!
After the movie we walked back to Germany for dinner at Biergarten. It was a family-style buffet, where we were sat with a family of five at our table. It was a couple with three girls. As the oldest of three girls, I was able to relate. The middle child was especially talkative and entertained us during the meal. She told me that Jessica is her favorite girl’s name 🙂
I was impressed with the buffet. The website for the restaurant did not list many vegetarian options, but they had tons. Lots of salads (and bean salads) to choose from, cauliflower soup, pretzel bread, spaetzle and more. Not to mention all the desserts! I did not go hungry. Or thirsty 🙂
This picture was taken outside of Biergarten. Notice the really nice cast member who was asking others to stop so we could have our picture taken? After dinner we went back to China to catch the last movie we had missed – Reflections China, another round movie theater. I’m adding China to my list of places to visit! Okay, it was on there already, but the movie made me really want to go soon.
After the movie we just wandered around the World Showcase, looking for the best place to catch the fireworks at midnight. We settled in somewhere around Japan. A little before midnight, they celebrated new year’s for each country who had already celebrated around the world. They would announce, “Germany celebrated new year’s 5 hours ago.” And then Germany lit up, they played German music and shot fireworks near Germany. The U.S. new year show was awesome. I took some video of the last minute of it, and the sky was completely lit up.
Happy New Year’s! Since we had been up since 4:00am, we were ready to head back to our hotel right after midnight. It took forever to make it back to the buses, and then we had to fight our way onto the bus for our hotel. A cast member was threatening that people would walk home if he saw any pushing, but I definitely got elbowed by a lady who managed to get a seat on the bus! We had to stand on the hour+ bus ride home, thanks to NYE traffic. I was a little grumpy by then, but all in all, it was an awesome way to ring in the new year!