Hello from Orlando, Florida!
Today we visited EPCOT and enjoyed the off-season at the parks, which meant wait times for the attractions were minimal and we got to ride/see everything we wanted to. In fact, the only ride we didn’t go on was the boat ride in the Mexican pyramid. (I wanted to do it just to “complete” the park, but we were tired by the end of the day) 😫
For this Disney trip (our third to Disney World in Florida) we stayed at the Swan Hotel, which is kind of a pseudo-Disney resort. It’s owned by Starwood/Marriot, so it’s more like a regular hotel, but with Disney touches. Since it isn’t a 100% Disney resort, there were a few differences. For instance, we couldn’t link our Magic Bands to our credit card, the gift shop didn’t have a lot of Disney merchandise, and the hotel is not serviced by Disney’s Magical Express buses to/from the airport (you’ll need to book your own shuttle; we went with Mears). It was funny that the clientele was a mix of theme park goers and people attending conventions. In fact, the hotel hosted a couple company events when we were there. It was amusing to see exhausted Disney families arriving back to the hotel (including us) and having to walk past groups of tipsy businesspeople enjoying their evening events. 😆
One the plus side, the rooms were much nicer than the budget Disney resorts like Pop Century, and provide free water and coffee in the rooms. The beds were comfy and the bathroom was super-modern. I’d say the room was similar to the one when we stayed at the high-end Jambo House. Also, the Swan and Dolphin hotels are conveniently located right between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, so you can take the Friendship boats to either park, or even walk to the parks if you have 20 minutes or so. ⛵
In the morning we took the boat to EPCOT, which was super because it drops you off at the International Gateway entrance to the World Showcase, near Canada. I’d guess the line/security check would be much shorter at this entrance, and of course, there was no line since we were there during the off-season. The first thing we did was head on over to the Norway area to ride the Frozen Ever After boat attraction. It was pretty good, and the wait was only about 20 minutes! We were lucky to get to ride it because it seemed to have broken down constantly the rest of the day. 😵
Besides Frozen, some of the highlights of our day at EPCOT were:
- Soarin’ Around the World – Or first time to experience the updated ride, which now visits international destinations instead of just California. Rode it twice!
- Dinner at Tangierine Café in Morocco – Delicious lamb and chicken shawarma, hummus, olives, kefta, etc. And Moroccan wine! (see menu)
- Designing wacky cars at Test Track (photos below)
- Surviving as part of the Orange Team in Mission: SPACE – They aren’t kidding when they say it’s an intense ride!
After a long day, it was time to head back to the hotel. But on our way to the boat dock, we watched the Illuminations fireworks show, which was nice because with the minimal crowds, you could have a great front-row view from almost anywhere in the World Showcase. It was a great day at EPCOT!
Please enjoy some photos I took during the day, won’t you?