It's time for the International Food and Wine Festival in EPCOT once again, so we are heading down as we usually do this time of year. We were last here in July to be in WDW with some friends (at a time we usually try to avoid) and are hoping for better - cooler - weather while we are here.
We are taking an earlier flight than usual, so we are out of the house by 8:00 AM and on our way to the airport. It's a beautiful day and we arrive at our offsite parking facility ahead of schedule and are driven to the airport. Check-in and security behind us, we arrive at our gate and have a little something for breakfast. Our plane leaves on time and we are informed that our 2 hour and 10 minute flight will take 1 hour and 59 minutes. It takes less than that and we arrive about 40 minutes early.
Usually at this time we would send a message to our daughter that we had arrived and head over to pick up our luggage while she is driving to the airport to pick us up, but as I said, we took an earlier flight than usual, and she is still at work, so we arranged for Disney's Magical Express (DME) to take us to All Star Sports. With our DME tags on our luggage, we don't need to pick it up - Disney will do that for us - so we head directly to the DME check-in.
Since our hotel is now part of the Magic Band test, we arrived with our Magic Bands in tow, and put them on now to use them to check in at DME. Very cool indeed! Before long we are on our way to All Star Sports where our daughter, who had to take the day off anyway for personal matters, will meet us, having done the check-in procedure for us.
After we get settled in to our room we decide to head to Downtown Disney to have dinner at Splittsville, then back to our room where we will prepare for our first day in the parks.
The day starts as they usually do here with us going to have some breakfast. The food court is being refurbished here at All Star Sports and is closed, but they have redone the arcade as a grab and go food court for the duration. If you want to eat in a full food court or play in an arcade, there are shuttles to All Star Music and Movies, but what we usually get even when the food court is open and operating is available at the temporary set-up so it works just fine for us. We have purchased length of stay refillable mugs, but since the set-up here is temporary, there are no machines to read the chips in the Rapid Fill mugs, but castmembers serving the drinks from a bar type hand held dispenser.
At the appointed hour our daughter picks us up and we drive to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We picked DAK today since she has to be home - working - by noon, and this is the closest park to our resort.
When we arrive we would usually get fastpasses for the Safari, but since time is very short, our first attraction of the day is It's Tough To Be a Bug. The day is very hot, unusually so for this time of year, and more like a summer day. While it is not unheard of, we will reach 90° (32°C) and above every day here but our last.
Next we head to Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama where my wife and daughter rode Primeval Whirl while I took some photos.
My wife's trip to Animal Kingdom is never finished until she plays at this booth.
We still had some time left until we had to leave to get our daughter home on time, so we checked the wait time for Dinosaur and when we saw it was short, got in line and rode. When we were done it was almost the deadline we set to leave the park, so we headed out and drove to her house. Under normal circumstances my wife and I would have stayed in the park, but I needed to drive to the Tampa area the next day, and was borrowing her car to do so, so after she was at home, I would have her car until the next night. My wife and I were now going to Disney's Hollywood Studios (DHS) and the to EPCOT and have dinner at the International Food and Wine Festival. But first, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch.
Rather than drive to the parks, we decided to park the car back at All Star Sports and take the bus to DHS and then take the boat to EPCOT.
Once we arrived at DHS we started our visit with a ride on The Great Movie Ride.
The heat continued to climb and we wanted to get indoors fast, so we headed over to the Animation Academy where we always take a class (or two or three) which always leads to some interesting results. I don't believe we had ever drawn Eeyore before ... this was my attempt.
You have to love the Streetmosphere at DHS!
It was now time to head over to EPCOT where we would visit the International Food and Wine Festival for the first time. This has always been one of our favorite events here in WDW, and except for a few years, we have attended every one since it started. We boarded a Friendship at the Studios over to EPCOT ... which broke down and we had to get off at Boardwalk ... where my daughter was married and my wife and I have spent some very good times. Had we not seen another boat on its way, we would have made the short walk to EPCOT, but wanting to be as conservative in walking as possible this early in the trip, we waited for the boat and continued our trip that way.
When we arrived at the International Gateway to EPCOT, past the entrance I spotted a Magic Band FastPass+ kiosk. Since we don't have admission media prior to getting into the parks, we were not able to reserve the 3 FastPass+ that the Magic Bands entitle us to, but I decided to try the kiosk and see if we could do so now that we were actually in a park. It was successful and we now had FastPass+ for today here in EPCOT.
|Characters In Flight balloon seen over the China pavilion in EPCOT|
Once the concert was done, we decided to use our FastPass+ for Nemo and Friends, and then head back to the hotel as we were getting tired. I had a brief thought of making a quick stop at the Magic Kingdom for a 4 park day ... something we had done just once - when we were much younger ... but common sense - and my tired body - interceded and we kept it to only a 3 park day. This was our final look at EPCOT as we were leaving.
We arrived back at our room where I transferred the photos from my camera to a storage drive and charged the battery, then relaxed with some television before going to sleep.
Tomorrow I will be meeting my brother at my father's (actually now it's "my") house on the west coast of Florida. This will be the first time anyone has been there since he passed away a few weeks ago. There is much that we have to accomplish, so for me it will not be a Disney day.