Happy 37th Birthday (a day or so late!)

Tuesday, Epcot celebrated its 37th birthday and premiered its new nighttime show "Epcot Forever." (The show will NOT last forever, but only till 2020; which makes me wonder why they had to kill my favorite show "Illuminations:  Reflections of Earth."  Yes, I know it was old, but I never grew tired of it.)  Epcot is my favorite Disney Park; only slightly edging out the Magic Kingdom.  But let's face it, there are 4 wonderful (major) parks in Disney World and "ranking" them is like ranking your favorite wines...they are all pretty darned good and depending on your mood or your palate for the day, they change.

In honor of the anniversary, let me give you 37 Bfth thoughts and memories on Epcot.
  1. It was the first park I visited with my husband on our honeymoon back in 1996.   These were the days before the internet as we know it (yes it existed, but it wasn't as expansive or easy to access).  My husband had purchased the Unofficial Guide and he used it to map out our visit.  We checked into our room at the Contemporary (in the garden wing that no longer exists) and mid-afternoon made our way over.
  2. The first attraction we visited was The Living Seas.  This was pre-Nemo.  There was no "ride" but you did get a pre-show (and it rained...and rained...and rained...) and you took a "hydrolator" to Sea Base Alpha.
  3. Next up we crossed to the other side of Future World and found that The Universe of Energy had reopened.  Looking at timeline of the pavilion, it seems like we were one of the firsts to experience "Ellen's Energy Adventure."  (This was WAY before Ellen had her own talk show.)  The pre-show, the moving seats, the dinosaurs...it was so impressive.
  4. Then we moved on to Horizons.  This is the attraction that grabbed me and has never let go.  (Even though it's been demolished and replaced with Mission:  Space.)  The ride had a wonderful storyline (and sort of was a continuation of Carousel of Progress from the Magic Kingdom), an amazing film shown on Omiluxe screens (breathtaking to see), endearing audio-animatronics, memorable music that fills your soul (if we can dream it, then we can do it) and the ability to pick your own ending.  We went back to this attraction several times on our honeymoon and every time we visited WDW until it’s closing in 1999.
  5. Jumping head several years (2003); we visited Mission:  Space on a December trip.  My husband LOVED it.  I thought (and still think) it was interesting, but I didn't feel so great riding it.  (This was when there was only one option and barf bags were provided.)  Since then I have ridden it only once more and never done the "lighter" version, but my husband and my son have.  (My son was only so so on it.  He did it once I'm not sure if he'll ever do it again.)  Call me a fuddy duddy or an old woman, but I still miss Horizons...nothing will ever match that for me.
  6. Our first meal on our honeymoon was at the Rose & Crown for dinner.  We were on a pseudo meal plan (we had some sort of vouchers that we could use).  Learning it was our honeymoon, the waitress gave us a (wine) cork with a coin (a dime) in it for good luck.  I have never heard of that before or since, but still have the cork.
  7. We SHOULD have stayed at the restaurant and moved outside or asked for outside seating, but we did not.  Instead we watched Illuminations (which was different than Illuminations: Reflections of Earth) from the United Kingdom area which was a bit crowded.
  8. Should I even have started listing attractions without starting with Spaceship Earth?  Spaceship Earth IS Epcot.  If you don't know what Epcot is, you know Spaceship Earth.  (Even if you don't know what it's called?)  It calls you when you enter; it might be smart to pass it by and go back to it later.  But the siren song beckons.  The symbol of Epcot (without the giant hand/wand!) it MUST be ridden!
  9. The best way to reach Epcot is by monorail.  It passes by all of the Future World attractions and you can see World Showcase too.  Gives you an aerial view of everything before you even set foot in the place.  What a great way to be introduced to the park.  Of course entering via International Gateway via boat isn't a bad way to go either.  Arriving by bus...well...it's not preferred method.
  10. During our honeymoon we also ate lunch at Restaurant Akershus.  This was pre-Princess character meal and the restaurant was not crowded.  The food was excellent, but I don't think people knew what to expect.  We returned several times, and while we enjoy the princess meal, I think we liked it better when it has an undiscovered gem.
  11. The first time we ate at Akershus and had the Princess experience was with our son and my in laws in September 2009.  It was also when I met the late great chef, John Viereck (who died December 31, 2016:  https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-last-time-i-didnt-see-john.html?fbclid=IwAR1A0qxYlQTg-YgcHQnQaMb7LsHT8KgZ6PY3Rza3YSQDiV-hrS_9nm6a8mI) He took such incredible care of me and quickly became a good friend.  We may have not known each other long or seen each other much, but I still miss him.
  12. John eventually ended up at the Rose and Crown as a chef.  If you've read the link above about John, then you already know what an incredible meal he planned for me in April of 2012; even though he wasn't there to cook it himself.  The fact that he planned everything out for me and continually checked in on things that day, speaks volumes.
  13. Speaking of chefs:  In the fall of 2009 the three of us along with our good friend, Ken, had a lovely lunch at the Rose & Crown courtesy of Chef Amber.  We had met her before the birth of our son at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom.  She moved around to several locations and is now at Trattoria al Forno.  She too has become a good friend and on this particular day she made sure that we celebrated our anniversary in style and provided a special cake (egg free due to my allergies) to commemorate the occasion.  Every meal she has prepared is memorable, but this one stands out as my son immediately put his fingers in the icing!  (He was still a toddler.)
  14. Amber also saved my life once in Epcot.  She had moved to another position, but stopped by the Rose & Crown to visit us while we were having lunch.  She saw what I was served and IMMEDIATELY told me NOT to eat it.  Even though I had spoken to a chef prior, Amber knew just by looking at my plate that it was not safe.  Her knowledge and diligence saved me from a hospital trip at a minimum or even worse.
  15. We never got to experience The World of Motion, but I am a big fan of Test Track.  (Although I prefer the original pre-show to the updated version.  My husband and I can still do the banter between Bill and Sherrie!)  I love when the "car" bursts through the doors and you speed around the track outside the building.  (Although my husband says it's just like when I drive on Route 280).
  16. It made me sad to see Wonders of Life close.   Walking by it and not being able to go in was heartbreaking (although I know they used the building but not the attractions for special events.) While the movie, "The Making of Me" was nothing special (sorry Martin Short), Body Wars was very cool (if a little nauseating due to the motion) and Cranium Command (although very dated in its look to the late 1980s) was hysterical.  (I DO miss Buzzy).  I actually enjoyed the interactive displays.  (Which is something I can't say about Innoventions East and West.) 
  17. Imagination has one of the greatest displays outside of the building.  The leaping water!  The "waterfall" that goes up.  Imagination is definitely in play outside the pavilion.  The inside...well, I haven't been too happy since Dreamfinder went away and left Figment on his own.  (The door for Dean Finder IS a cute tribute though.)  I loved "Honey I Shrunk The Audience" and HATED "Captain EO" (my son screamed; we left.)
  18. One of the greatest underappreciated (and now gone) treasures was the Fountain of Nations.  I could (and did) happily stand there and watch as it chimed at the top of the hour or as the water "danced" to a musical selection.    Surely I am not the only person who wanted to dance along as the music soared?

  19. Speaking of music, it's always been an integral part of WDW, but especially so at Epcot.  Music of a variety of nations at World Showcase.  Each pavilion in Future World has its own soundtrack.  (Have you ever noticed how all the interior music for The Land revolves around the sun and the moon?  "You Are My Sunshine," "Moon River", etc. are part of the rotation.)  And yet you might not notice how it all blends together because it is so artfully done.  
  20. Which leads me to the recently retired Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  I can't listen to the soundtrack without getting teary.  Everything tied together so beautifully; music, water, lights and fireworks.  This is why I could watch this over and over throughout the years.  The whole show tapped into something inside of me.  So while I know change is necessary and this show had been around for a LONG time, the retirement of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth really hits me hard.  Probably even more so because in April of 2012, while we were finishing up dinner at the Rose and Crown, the servers asked my son to start the show because Mickey was stuck on the monorail and would be late.  He had to wave a "wand" (more like a light saber!) to start the fireworks.  Will always be a treasured memory.
  21. Another treasured memory at Epcot was at a lunch at the Garden Grill back in 2004.  We were dining with friends and I arranged for my husband and I to get "re-hitched".  It was a simple ceremony that they used to do there (I don't believe it's around anymore) and was sweet and funny.  The restaurant itself is a cool experience, as it slowly revolves, and this just added to it!
  22. Since I'm on a food kick; by now EVERYONE knows how awesome Le Cellier is.  Believe it or not, back in the early part of the century (did I really just say that?), it wasn't that crowded. The food was just as good (if not better) and it was a nice cool place to relax after a hot day in the sun.  It's been a long time since I've been there (cost; difficulty securing a reservation), but it holds a special place in my heart.  If I had only kept my mouth shut about it.
  23. While we're in Canada; O Canada is my favorite Circlevision film.  I don't care if you're talking about the version that I first say in 1996 or the recent update with Martin Short.  It really covers the country and all its beauty.  Of course now I have the song stuck in my head, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
  24. "Regular" movies are good too.  Impressions de France was dated even the first time I saw it.  But the film is so beautiful and the featured music is awesome.
  25. I'll be honest, I never found Germany all that exciting, but then I took my toddler son.  The train layout there captivated my son.  He wandered in and around and about (all while we melted in the sun).  Sometimes the simple things have a great impact.  
  26. It was in the area where the film lets out (where there is shopping and some free space) that I first encountered a Living Statue.  I have tons of photos of my encounter (on "real film") I MISS the Living Statues in Epcot.  (I know they were in a variety of countries.)  They were so much fun and in the digital age with social media, I know they'd be seen EVERYWHERE.
  27. While I'm lamenting the loss of statues, let me also whine about the passing of other great performers such as Off Kilter (Rock with a bagpipe? I'm in!), Mo'Rockin and the World Showcase Players.  Loved them all...miss them all.  (Please make sure Mariachi Cobre stays!) And what about those Future World strolling players:  like the "aliens" and the "butterfly people" (It's been so long that I can't remember their exact titles.)
  28. I'm sure bias has a lot to do with it, but The American Adventure has got to be my FAVORITE thing to do in the World Showcase. And I'm not just talking about the show proper; I'm incorporating the pre-show music (if you time it right) by the Voices of Liberty and going up the stairs thought the hall of flags.  It powerfully incorporates all the elements that stir my soul.  I realize that it is a somewhat sanitized history of the country, but... How can you NOT cry at the end while "Golden Dreams" plays on?
  29. I may seem to complain about change, but I have to say I LOVE the addition of Soarin' to the Land pavilion.  (Although the queue could use some design elements...there's nothing there!  How un-Disney-like is that?)  You truly ARE soaring over some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.  A unique experience that is not to be missed.
  30. Complaining about change?  Well, I haven't done the Frozen attraction yet because it had just opened on our last trip and the wait time (WITH Fast Passes) was several hours!  So maybe it IS amazing, but I have a special affinity for Maelstrom.  "You are not the first to pass this way...nor shall you be the last."  How the first time you ever rode it you thought you WERE going to go over the falls (no you weren't).  Sure the film at the end was cheesy, but it was also nice cool attraction and a time to sit down and relax.
  31. NOT complaining about change:  I loved El Rio Del Tiempo.  I love the Gran Fiesta Tour.  They are alike; they are different.  Like both.  Would be happy to be riding either right this very second.  
  32. Question:  Millennium Village:  WHY?  I never got it.  I know celebrating the millennium was a big deal (and I'll reminisce about Tapestry of Nations/Tapestry of Dreams in a minute), but putting together a whole building for smaller attractions from other countries never made sense to me.  (I don't recall a great deal about most of the attractions either.)  There were other spaces that could have possibly been used; although maybe I shouldn't second guess the whole thing?  Just seemed like a waste to me.
  33. Tapestry of Nations (which eventually evolved into Tapestry of Dreams):  I'd say that it was the greatest parade to ever hit Disney (and I'm not one for parades), but it was more than just that.  The music, the puppets (I managed to holdout from the siren call of the miniature versions that they sold.), the drums...and did I say the music.  I just think about it and music immediately invades my brain.  Like Illuminations, I could have watched it over and over and over again. (Sadly much of the times that I saw it, the weather wasn't cooperating.  It must have rained on that parade more than it rained on all the other park parades combined; or at least it seemed that way to me.)
  34. While the holidays are big in all the parks, but Epcot they are even bigger.  Every country has in World Showcase has its own traditions that are (for lack of a better word) showcased.  I loved visiting with the three kings in Mexico, Father Christmas in the United Kingdom, La Befana in Italy...it's such a treat to hear the different stories.  I have been lucky enough to have several visits under my belt and I've seen this through an adult's eyes (before my son) and as a child might.  
  35. The Candlelight Processional is completely magical.  Incredible music.  I was lucky enough to see the show twice; once with narrator Ben Vereen and once with Rita Moreno (who gave a whole new expression to HALLELUJAH!).  If you can sit through this and NOT be moved, you have no heart.  (And if you have no heart what are you doing in WDW?)
  36. I do enjoy character meet and greets and I've had some of my best experiences at Epcot.  Dining at The Garden Grill with our son gave us an opportunity to meet with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale with no stress of lines.  I've also taken care of the Visa cardholder meet and greet and the photos of my son during his first visit with Mickey and Pluto are precious memories to me.
  37. Can I already be at #37?  Epcot has so much to offer and has given me more memories than I could jot down here.  But as I said previously, sometimes the simplest of things mean the most.  I've always enjoyed just BEING in Epcot.  Standing in the center of Future World and just being.  (Does anyone else have fond memories of those purple things that used to whirl round on poles?  Or the pre-recorded bird call that is meant to keep the birds away.)  But one of the most memorable experiences I've had in Epcot was not MY experience.  I believe it was our 2nd trip with my son when he discovered the interactive fountains (near the path that leads from Future World to World Showcase.)  He was JOYOUS running around.  I can still see him in my mind's eye...blue cap; blue shirt and khaki shorts.  I had been smart enough to bring a complete change of clothes...except for underpants.  Even the best laid plans...but there are no worries in Epcot, Mousegears is close by and so are toddler undies.

Happy (Belated) Birthday Epcot!  Thank you for filling me with memories...I can't wait until I can come back and make even more!


  1. Wow, very well written!! (I thought there was a ride originally in the old Living Seas? After you went down the hydrolator?) I have a great memory of meeting your son for the first time and you meeting my now husband while we waited in the (very) cold for Illuminations. I'll sure miss that show!

  2. Hi Queen! When the Living Seas first opened the Hydrolators did lead to a ride. After the sponsor pulled out, Disney closed that ride for many years and cut a path right to the SeaBase through one of the preshow theaters. The Nemo ride follows the same path as the original ride.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Not Guilty

Please Don't Ask Me...

Lowe's LIES