Monday, January 22, 2007

Walt Disney World, November 11-18, 2006 Day 4

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We again experienced that strange sensation of unexpected fatigue this morning after only being up until 1 last night. I mean, geez, what happened to us? We just couldn’t get out of bed. We scheduled Epcot for today, and left the hotel at around 10:30 AGAIN, getting to the park at 11. We left the resort without eating breakfast, but I at least remembered to get coffee, and man, what a difference. Now, Epcot is divided into two sections; Future World and the World Showcase. Future World is basically that, with rides on the furthest edge of realistic technology (differing from Tomorrowland in that TL is all fantastical inventions with little basis in current science; Future World uses existing technology in a fancier way than most people would see every day). (C: Or in other words it’s a place where science fiction becomes…science fact!) There are many rides and shows in Future World, the most important, in Christian’s mind, being Mission: Space. I don’t know if you’ve all heard about Mission: Space, but it’s quite the thing. It’s only two years old and is a bit of a leap in Disney ride planning. The ride building houses two enormous centrifuges, with four seater “cockpits” fixed onto the outside of each, containing seats, video screens and buttons and gadgets to seem like a shuttle command module. The storyline is that guests are new trainees for the flight to Mars, and have to help pilot the ship. Now, the ride is a motion simulator, but with one added feature. When the ride film shows the ship taking off, the centrifuge begins to spin, and creates the same G forces as a liftoff. The ride proved to be very intense, much more intense than Disney and most of the early riders anticipated, and much vomiting ensued, not to mention a few heart attacks and one very sad death due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Consequently, another version of the ride was added, so one of the several centrifuges doesn’t spin, merely runs the film and moves in a motion simulator manner. We had two very adorable and befuddled elderly people in our cockpit. However, I now realize that taking even the weenie side was a stupid, stupid decision. I hate motion simulators. Hate, hate hate. I used to be able to ride my beloved Star Tours over and over, but one ill-fated ride on Back to the Future at Universal ruined my ability to enjoy a simulator ever again. Thank God I hadn’t had breakfast yet as it would have been money wasted. Still, the graphics and set are pretty well done. At least, I think they are. I was a little too queasy to pay too much attention.

As we hadn’t eaten breakfast (see above), and had eaten nothing resembling breakfast in the preceding two days, we skipped the remainder of Future World and made out for the World Showcase, which is basically a thinly-veiled means of putting all the Americanized versions of exotic fare in one place in the guise of a permanent World’s Fair. It’s beautiful and charming and completely sanitized. Canada, the UK, France (with much joking about the proximity of the two, separated only by a mock English Channel), Morocco, America, Italy, Germany, Japan, Norway, Mexico and China, all boiled down to maple syrup and mounties, fish and chips, pastries and perfume, fezes and belly dancing, funnel cakes and presidents, fettucini alfredo and Carnival, beer and crystal, anime and sushi, trolls and Vikings, Acapulco and guacamole and, finally, acrobats and a pagoda. This isn’t quite the order of the pavilions, but we made it to them all, and loved every one of them. There was a particularly hilarious show in the UK about King Arthur, sort of, held in the street between the tea shop (Hobnobs!) and the heraldic shop, involving reluctant audience members dressed up and asked to ride imaginary horses, which the absurdly macho guy playing Galahad wouldn’t do. He only wanted to saunter. His poor wife.

But back to breakfast. Now, I’m a pastry whore. I’d give my virtue for a Napoleon. So, it was only logical that we had to eat in France, where nothing has ever tasted so good as the Napoleon (virtue intact, though), amandine, ham and cheese croissant and cheese plate we snarfed. I don’t know what it is about French pastry cream, but it’s sweet without being insulin-shock inducing, creamy without being greasy and filling without being gut-busting. The poor French boy CM that had to watch us eat must have had every evil, gluttonous American stereotype reinforced, and I totally don’t care. At the end of my life, I’ll remember those pastries.

Each pavilion has some real beauty, and offers a non-threatening way for xenophobic Americans to get a tiny taste of other cultures. I hope that some of the show makes other guests want to go to China, as I now want to do. We need our minds broadened. If only they served real Chinese food and not sweet n’ sour chicken, but one thing at a time.

There were some surprisingly authentic things about the pavilions, such as the astonishing mosaics in Morocco, commissioned by Disney and done by Moroccan artists sent by the Moroccan government as emissaries, a sod roof in Norway, sans goat, and some almost disturbingly young acrobats in China. Hello, bordering on exploitation, anyone? However, the almost appallingly awful El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pyramid sort of set the realistic meter back a few. Fortunately, the kitch factor made the ride quite enjoyable.

I actually could have done with a few more hours to linger more, but we had reservations at Le Cellier, the steakhouse in Canada. Thank God I listened to the other obsessive compulsives at the Disboards. Reservations were a must on this trip, even in the off-season. We wanted to hit one or two more rides before dinner, and the second of the three new rides at Epcot was open late, the new Finding Nemo attraction at the Living Seas. Both Christian and I were just so tickled by this ride. You hop into a clam-mobile, much like a Doombuggy, and ride past sets and rear-projected screens detailing the newest adventures of Mr. Lucky Fin, and it was just lovely, and sweet without being toothachey. And why do they have manatees? Oh yeah, because THEY’RE THE CUTEST CREATURES IN THE SEA. I love them so and want to jump in and hug and kiss them and make all of their problems go away. They make me want to cry with their sweet, innocent faces and auto-valve nostrils. Giant pooperheads.

Sniff. Anyway, we were so tired by dinner that we honestly didn’t know if we’d make it, but Godalmightlyinheavenabove, am I glad we did. I want to die by drowning in their cheese soup. The filet mignon was the best I’ve had, and yes, that includes Daniel’s Broiler, and the crème brulee sampler was, well, burnt sugar bliss. The restaurant is housed in a faux cellar, go fig, and was cozy and romantic and not at all designed to keep us awake. Lovely, but not lively. Still, wonderful and I’m glad we went.

However, shopping when exhausted already and ready to lapse into a meat coma is a really, really terrible idea. We did find some gifts, but had forgotten how to speak by the time we left. We were reduced to grunts and hysterical giggles.

But, a charming and happy, happy day all ‘round. I have decided that Epcot is groovy and neat in all things, even in, well, especially in the glossiness. We had some lovely conversations with CM in environments sort of vaguely like their home countries, and the day was gorgeous. A wonderful fourth day of vacation and third day in the parks. And we were only witness first hand to six tantrums. Still, until today I had never actually seen a child flail and thrash quite that dramatically. That kid should have a career on stage.

Tomorrow: Me in a bathingsuit at the water park. Gack. Be prepared for hysterical sobbing. The watusi cattle outside say good night.

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