Day 1 continued: Flowers, Cheddar Cheese Soup and the NBA Playoffs?
The first park we visit always seems to vary when we vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort. It doesn’t matter at all to me which one we visit first because I am just so happy to be there! If you read the last post, you will know we were headed to Epcot this evening. Our main goals this afternoon were to:
- Hit up our favorite rides
- Check out some of the Flower & Garden Festival
- Stuff ourselves silly with dinner at Le Cellier
- Score an awesome viewing location for Illuminations
- Somehow keep up with the NBA Playoffs
- Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH) until 11:00 PM
As you can see, we hoped to accomplish a lot and it was almost already 3:00 PM. Our first order of business was Test Track because we had a FastPass+ reservation between 3:05-4:05. Of course, we stopped to take some pictures first because the topiaries at the park’s entrance and throughout the park are amazing! If you ever have a chance to check out the Flower & Garden Festival, definitely make it a point to see all the creative topiaries, it amazes me how detailed each one is, not that I would expect anything less from Disney. After admiring the adorable displays at the entrance, we made a beeline for Test Track, which happens to be my favorite Epcot attraction!
Wasting no time at all, we scanned our MagicBands at the Fastpass+ entrance and headed in. Soon, we were designing our own vehicle seen below to be put to the test on the Sim track. This ride is necessary for anyone who is a car enthusiast! And we’re off! I don’t remember our vehicle performed compared to the others in our car, probably because of the adrenaline rush. People with long hair, beware–this is what happens to you!Such a beautiful couple.
We had some time before our next FastPass+ which was for Spaceship Earth, so we decided to check out the Flower & Garden Festival building which was near the Universe of Energy in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. Being a Disney nerd, I could not believe I had never been in this building before.
The building is used for festivals such as Flower & Garden for demonstrations, exhibits and festival merchandise. I wondered if the fact that the building’s skylights are shaped like a flower have anything to do with why they keep this building around for festivals and not convert it to another attraction.
We walked around the entire pavilion, they had some kind of horticulture presentation going on, but we didn’t stop to watch. We did like seeing all the cute merchandise though! A very neat exhibit was toward the back of the pavilion and showed how Cast Members go about making the amazing topiaries. It was very cool to see all that goes into these works of art!
Feeling informed, we decided to take a break from the flowers and paid a visit to the Seas with Nemo & Friends. We also stayed for Turtle Talk with Crush, which is such a fun little show because it is always different and depends on the participation from the kids in the audience. The show is HILARIOUS! I don’t want to ruin the magic, but definitely check it out if you have never stayed to watch it! It is located in the pavilion that houses the Seas with Nemo & Friends. In fact, the entire Seas pavilion is worth exploring. You can see dolphins, manatees and tons of other fish. There are also educational presentations throughout the day! It is such a great place to take a break from the Florida heat and sun!
It was now time for our Fastpass+ reservation to Spaceship Earth (The Ball as it is known in non-Disney circles). We decided not to try and photograph anything this time around and just enjoyed our slow paced ride through time. As it was nearing our dinner reservation for Le Cellier, we headed to the World Showcase part of the park to explore a bit before dinner.
Here is a hint to the country we ended up in:
If you didn’t guess Mexico, I cannot help you. Definitely the best World Showcase pavilion in my opinion. Not only is it beautiful inside because it looks like you are outside, but you also get to ride on a Grand Fiesta Tour with the 3 Caballeros! Trust me, it is not as wild as it sounds! After our visit with the 3 Caballeros, I resisted the urge to get a churro because it was dinner time and we were off to Canada!
We checked in promptly at 5:40 which was our reservation time and were seated in no time. This is a pretty small restaurant and popular, so I recommend getting a dining reservation 180 days in advance if you have your heart set on eating here.
Le Cellier is a delicious steakhouse, but I honestly go for the ever popular Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup!! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, heaven in a bowl:
Dip the pretzel bread in that soup, and I swear your life will be changed forever.
For our main entree, we both got the Le Cellier Filet Mignon: here is the description from Disney’s website-
AAA Canadian Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Heirloom Toy Box Tomatoes, Truffle-Butter Sauce
Is your mouth watering?
Dinner was wonderful and we were extremely full. We made the smart decision to skip on dessert because it was our first day of vacation and we had many more days ahead not to mention a cruise with unlimited desserts coming up.
After dinner, we leisurely made our way back into Future World taking some beautiful pictures along the way. Epcot always looks to peaceful from this angle.
We had a FastPass+ reservation ready to be used at Journey into the Imagination with Figment and our full bellies were happy that the attraction is pretty close to the World Showcase so we didn’t have far to walk! After a journey into the imagination with our favorite purple dragon, we played in the Imagination fountains as any normal adults in their thirties would. I think this is why we love Disney so much – there is never any judgement to completely grown adults acting as children.
Feeling like we did pretty good on the rides this afternoon, we were ready to stake out a spot for Illuminations and seeing that it was only 7:30, we would definitely get an awesome spot. We found a spot front and center right past the Mexico Pavilion.
You may remember, one of our goals for the day was to stay informed of the NBA Playoffs, now normally, when I am at Disney, I tune out the entire real world and do not want to any communication with it! But, in our house, we are big Chicago Bulls fans and they were in the second round playing their arch-nemesis LeBron James & the Cleveland Cavaliers and I had to know what was happening. We contemplated walking over to the Boardwalk to catch the game at the ESPN Club, but I really wanted to see Illuminations, so we did the next best thing…we streamed it on our phones using Disney’s free Wi-Fi. What a technologically advanced world we live in! This really made the time fly by though and we made some friends along the way as they would ask what we were watching or what the score currently was.We could just tell some dads were jealous of our little setup. In between our NBA watching, we took this beautiful picture of the World Showcase Lagoon. Dusk around the World Showcase is one my happy places!
Soon, the sun was gone and an ominous voice came over the speakers wishing us a “Good Evening” alerting us that Illuminations was about to begin.
As usual, Illuminations did not disappoint one bit! The fact we had a front row seat with no heads blocking our view made it even better! This is why I don’t believe in wasting a FastPass+ on the nighttime entertainment. If you just plan to arrive 30 min – 1 hour early, you should have no issues finding a great viewing location for any of the shows.
While many people headed for the exit, we had two more goals to accomplish during Extra Magic Hours: Soarin’ and another ride on Test Track.
Remember that Extra Magic Hours is a perk for Disney resort guests which allows to stay in select parks two hours after regular closing or enter one hour before opening. Check Disney’s official park hours for the Extra Magic Hours schedule.
Soarin’ is my husband’s favorite ride and since we already rode Test Track, we decided to ride Soarin’ first. The Bulls game was still going on, so we watched the game while in line, making more friends with jealous dads along the way. The game actually ended up going into overtime, so once we were done soaring, we took a seat on one of the benches at the exit to watch the final minutes. The game went down to the wire with Derrick Rose hitting the game winner! We literally jumped up screaming and people thought we were insane!! With the game over we needed to calm our nerves, so naturally, we hightailed it to Test Track for a 65 mph ride in a car. With such a full & exciting afternoon/evening and an upcoming day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, we were ready for some shut eye. And with that, our evening came to an end & we said goodnight to Epcot!