Spontaneous Disney Trip 2018: Day 2 – Epcot
Day 2 of our sort-of last minute Disney trip took the 3 of us to Epcot! From November 18th thru December 30th, Epcot holds an International Festival of the Holidays. If you’ve ever been to the Flower & Garden Festival or Food & Wine Festival, you’ll notice some similarities in that there are extra booths from more countries than the 11 featured in the World Showcase, with all sorts of fun food and drink offerings. We experienced it for the 1st time last year and were excited to check it out again this year.
Anyway, let me back up. We actually started our day outside of Epcot, with the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk. This breakfast gives you the unique opportunity to meet and greet with Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled and Eric and Ariel from The Little Mermaid! Ariel has always been my favorite princess, but I have absolutely loved Tangled since it came out and Rapunzel is the favorite princess of my best friend and her daughters, so I think that’s given me an even greater appreciation for Tangled. I say all this because our interactions with Flynn and Rapunzel were absolutely amazing!! Flynn was hysterical and Rapunzel was so adorable. I think it’s a product of when the 2 movies were made and the whole vibe of the 2 movies.
Eric was a lot more reserved and Ariel was, too, whereas Rapunzel and Flynn were more laid back and cracking jokes. I was kicking myself for leaving the Tangled-themed Aloha Ears I borrowed from my friend in the car because I easily could have worn those for Flynn and Rapunzel and then swapped for the Ariel and Eric ones. So, if you’re a crazy person like me, you totally have the chance to swap your ears. Eric did love my ears, tho, and even pointed them out to a table several past ours, so that was pretty fun.
After breakfast, we went into the gift shop on the Boardwalk so my mom could get a shirt she was on a mission for.
Then, my mom and husband went to move the car from The Boardwalk parking lot to the Epcot parking lot and I walked the empty World Showcase alone.
It was abut 9:30 or so and the World Showcase doesn’t open until 11:00, but guests from the Epcot-area resorts can enter Epcot through the International Gateway entrance (between the UK and France) and walk to Future World from there.
So I took my time strolling around, enjoying the quiet, and even snagged a solo photo from a kind Photopass photographer.
I got to snag some more cool shots as I headed to meet back up for our Living with the Land FastPass, which is something I often struggle with. I really like Living with the Land, but I’d rather get FastPasses for rides I like more. But, Living with the Land often seems to have a long wait and I don’t really think it’s worth waiting that long for, so I always grab a FastPass.
After leaving The Land, we were heading to Mouse Gear for my mom and I to get our Annual Passholder magnets (they have Goofy on them with snowflakes!) and we saw the meet and greet with Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie only had a 20 minute wait, so we hopped in line.
I have to confess, this wasn’t the greatest experience we’ve had. 2 of the 3 photographers didn’t seem like they cared very much and a lot of photo opportunities were missed for parties in front of us and for us. One photographer even argued with us about scanning both my Magic Band and my mom’s when we told him the linking wasn’t working. (In general, on the trip, several photographers questioned the need to scan both and when we told them the linking wasn’t working, they offered helpful suggestions and scanned both bands, rather than arguing with us and trying to refuse).
Regardless, the characters themselves were great and we had a lot of fun.
Then we finally got over to Mouse Gear so my mom and I could get our Annual Passholder magnets, which currently feature Goofy with snowflakes. I think they’re a really cute perk for passholders and mine is now on our refrigerator at home.
By this point it was time for a Mickey Bar, so we snagged some from a cart by the fountain and sat at a table outside the Electric Umbrella to eat them before heading over to Spaceship Earth for some pictures.
My mom didn’t really feel like doing the whole photo thing, so she found a place to sit while hubby and I got in line. The cast member Savannah who was taking photos was absolutely amazing! She follows lots of Disney instagrammers like I do and recognized my husband’s Lost Bros shirt and my Bibbidi Bobbidi Brooke band buttons on Magic Band and watch right away.
Then, she did the best thing ever! She asked if we wanted to go a magic shot, had us get set up for it, but didn’t tell us who it was going to be. I squealed with excitement when I saw the photo pop up in MyDisneyExperience!!
By this point, it was already late morning and we knew we had to leave on the earlier side for my husband to get back to the hotel by 5:00 for his work dinner, so we headed for the World Showcase. My mom and I almost immediately got sidetracked by frozen coffee in Canada (which was delicious, by the way) and by the time we got to the UK, my mom needed a rest.
We went down to our favorite tables down by the water (which we discovered on our last trip) and it started to rain. The tables had umbrellas so we just huddled closer and my mom and I threw on our rain jackets, but it poured pretty hard for a few minutes, and did that obnoxious off-and-on rain thing for a bit.
We were hungry, so when it chose a moment to let up, we figured we’d start moving because we were interested in some of the Festival of the Holidays food from Italy and Germany. Of course, it completely opened up on us again on our trek for food and, while my rain jacket kept my body dry, my lightweight sneakers do nothing to keep my feet dry so my shoes and socks were drenched.
We squelched our way to the Italy food booth and ordered the fried mozzarella sandwich and stood under the Italy Pavilion’s front overhand to eat it. Sadly, the sandwich kinda sucked. There was too much bread and not enough cheese and the sauce was just mediocre. It’s a bummer, too, because the macaroni and cheese looked really good but we were put off by the disappointing sandwich and wanted to go for something we knew was good.
By then, the rain had stopped so we squished our way the few steps over to Germany for the cheese fondue, which we had twice last year and loved. It’s a little bread sub that’s hollowed out and filled with cheesey goodness and there are potatoes, veggies, and the bread to dip in it and it is SO delicious!
I didn’t take pictures of any of the food because of the rain and, honestly, by the time we were eating that cheesey deliciousness, I was pretty miserable. I literally cannot describe a more uncomfortable feeling to me than wet feet, especially when I can’t take the wet shoes and socks off to let them dry.
We figured we’d try to use our Test Track FastPass and then GTFO of Epcot and go change, but even though the sun was out and the rain had stopped by the time we got there, it had rained off and on again several times on our way and more rain was predicted, so the ride was shut down.
We basically called it quits at that point and went back to hotel to dry off/change and I was pretty upset. We’d literally only done 1 ride (Living with the Land) and we didn’t have any plans to head back to Epcot and I was so uncomfortable, which was making me even crankier. It was almost hard to remember how amazingly the day had started off.
But, such is life. We went to the hotel, dried off and changed, and went to Disney Springs for a bit for some wandering. It was nice staying so close since it hardly took any time to get down there (finding a parking spot usually took as long as the drive to the Lime or Orange garages).
We did a little shopping but only had about an hour til we had to head back. Plus, it looked like it was going to rain again as we headed to the garage, and holy crap did we have good timing! But the time we pulled out of the garage, it was absolutely pouring, and did so the whole drive back to the hotel.
We got back to the hotel to drop hubby off for his work stuff so my mom and I changed and I took the keys and drove us to the Contemporary for our dinner at California Grill! This was my 1st time (and I’m pretty sure my mom’s, too) going to a signature dining restaurant in Disney. We often get the dining plan for free and steer clear of meals that count as 2 table service credits, so this trip was an opportunity to try some new (albeit expensive) restaurants.
When you arrive at the Contemporary, you check in for dinner on the 2nd floor and are taken by private elevator to the 15th floor for dinner. It’s also important to note that signature dining restaurants do have dress codes, which prohibit flip flops and tank tops on women, to name a few. I wore black jeans and a cute polka dot shirt and I did have flip flops on, but they were nice ones so I figured I could take the gamble and no one said anything to me.
The view getting off the elevator and walking through the restaurant with all those castle views through the windows to the right is absolutely breathtaking. I kept hoping the hostess would stop but she kept on walking and we sadly didn’t have a table by a window, but we were seated right by the kitchen, and I am always totally fascinated by watching commercial kitchens, so that was kinda cool.
I have to confess that we don’t often do really fancy restaurants, especially not my mom, so we felt a teensy bit out of place and we didn’t know what everything was on the menu, but we trusted our instincts and holy crap that was probably the best meal I’ve ever eaten! It was definitely the best meal I’ve ever had in Disney by a landslide. I ordered the pork tenderloin and my mom had the salmon.
After our glorious dinner, the rain had started again but we still had some time before Happily Ever After, so we went down to the 4th floor to shop and see the gingerbread house, then rode the monorail in a circle to kill time and it was legitimately pouring again while we were on our adventure.
One major perk of dining at California Grill, regardless of the time of your meal, is you are entitled to view the Magic Kingdom or Epcot fireworks from the observation deck on the roof of the Contemporary. We finished our monorail loop and, by the time we got up to the observation deck, the rain was done. And I mean truly done. It was the most perfect timing of anything I think I’ve ever experienced.
We walked outside, found a spot right on the end looking at the castle and Space Mountain, and watched Happily Ever After from that fabulous observation deck.
It was the best fireworks experience we’ve ever had and it made the meal even more worth the money.
All-in-all, despite some of our fun literally being dampened by the weather, the day truly started and ended so amazingly, so perfectly, that the day really was special. We started and ended with 2 dining experiences that were new to us, that also happened to feature really delicious food and some pretty incredible adventures.
Thanks for reading along! Come back next week to read about our our mother/daughter day in Magic Kingdom!