Epcot – World Showcase’s Drawbridge

Clearly no matter how many times I visit Walt Disney World or how much I read about my favorite vacation destination, there will still be things I don’t know.  Remember when I found out about the collectible transportation cards?  Discovering there’s a drawbridge in World Showcase was a lot like that…an unexpected Disney surprise!

Epcot – World Showcase’s DrawbridgeChina Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase

It’s okay if you’re thinking, “How did she never notice the bridge over a waterway between Africa and China?”.  Truth is, I never noticed it before because I was never trying to get from France to Norway when the bridge went up.  I don’t know about Raymond and Joseph, but I was cruising along looking forward to using our Frozen Ever After FastPass, minding my own business, focused on the crowd ahead.  The crowd that wasn’t moving!  Then suddenly I was all, “Whoa!  What the heck!  Check it out, y’all!  There’s a drawbridge!”  Me being me, I sort of eased us up to the front of the crowd for a better look.Epcot - World Showcase's DrawbridgeI seriously had no idea what the deal was.  Turns out, the globe used in Illuminations is stored backstage and moves into the World Showcase Lagoon via this little waterway-with-a-drawbridge.Epcot - World Showcase's Drawbridge Epcot - World Showcase's DrawbridgeI was a little surprised at how unassuming and kind of small the globe looked.  During Illuminations it’s the amazing centerpiece of all the action.  Arriving at the “theater” it looked rather like an unadorned actor heading for make-up and wardrobe.  Or a super hero as his or her alter ego maybe.Epcot - World Showcase's Drawbridge The crowd around us was boisterous and having fun.  I was even enlisted to take a photo for a group of young adults clearly celebrating something (or just having a really great time involving lots of adult beverages).  When the globe moved on and the drawbridge lowered, we were on our way to what we would soon find out was a closed Frozen attraction.  I was happy anyway – I’d learned something new about Epcot and got to see the famous Illuminations globe up close in the light of day.

Did you know about the drawbridge?  Have you seen it go up for the globe to pass through?

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light – Fraught with problems and persistent rumors from its earliest pre-production phases, this newest nighttime show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom got mixed reviews from Raymond, Joseph and I when we recently saw it for the first time.

Who Would Love Disney’s Rivers of Light

Originally scheduled to premier in April, 2016, Rivers of Light finally made its long-awaited and much-anticipated debut in February, 2017.  Rumors about the cause of the delay ranged from problems with the floats to mechanical difficulties to dissatisfaction with the music and/or show storyline.  Early reviews have not been favorable, but we’re a family that likes to decide for ourselves where on our attraction popularity scale each new offering falls.  We booked FastPasses so we could arrive at 8:00 pm for the 8:30 show.  The FastPass entrance to the amphitheater (in Asia near Everest) was just opening up as we arrived and we found seats easily.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light?

There’s a pre-show for Rivers of Light that involves lights in the trees, animal noises, shadows and music.  I thought the lights were nice.  When the 15-minute show began, we were captivated by the visual effects.  Animal Kingdom’s first nighttime spectacular predictably focuses on the relationship between nature and all living things.  There are shamans on boats who do a lot of arm waving which creates some cool shadow effects on the boats’ sails.  The combination of lights, lasers, music, boats, lanterns, projections on water screens, and colorful floats sounds like an easy win – and the show itself is not bad, just not what we’ve come to expect from Disney.Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light

Great Use of Special Effects

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to like.  Joseph thought it was good entertainment and was especially impressed with the visual effects.  Raymond wished it had been a little more “Disney” with familiar (or at least memorable) music or even the inclusion of some appropriate characters (Pocahontas, Jungle Book, Brother Bear, etc.)  I thought the music was pretty terrible, but the water screens, projections, and floats were fantastic.  The storyline (if you can call it that) seemed to be an overly simplistic “we are one” theme.  Based on the kids around us who were asking if the show was over barely five minutes in, I’m guessing Rivers of Light will not be popular with kids up to about age 8 or 9.Disney's Rivers of Light Who Would Love Disney's Rivers of Light Disney's Rivers of Light

I received a survey about Rivers of Light via email after we got home and tried to be as honest as possible about what we did and didn’t like.  Hopefully Disney is planning to make some improvements.  I completely understand the need for Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show to reflect the park’s conservation message, but there’s certainly room for improvement with the music and disjointed scenes.  Go see Rivers of Light for the beautifully illuminated floats and projection effects.  Don’t expect catchy tunes or a soundtrack you’d like to purchase.

Since Megan hasn’t seen Rivers of Light yet, we’ve got FastPasses for the last week in June.  Maybe seeing it for a second time will give me a better appreciation for the music and overall message…we’ll see.

Have you seen Rivers of Light?  What did you think?  If there were children in your party, was it a hit with them?

Breakfast – Disney World Monorail Loop

On that rare (for us anyway) occasion that we aren’t planning to be at a Disney World park when it opens, we make time to enjoy a good breakfast.  Some of our favorite spots are near Magic Kingdom.

Breakfast – Disney World Monorail Loop

At the Contemporary – There are two places we favor:  Chef Mickey’s and the Contempo Café.  The breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey’s offers basic breakfast fare of all kinds.  Mickey Waffles, cereal, eggs, potatoes, pastries and more.  For a character dining experience, it’s a solid choice.  Meet the Fab Five and fuel up for the day.  We’ve booked Chef Mickey for our departure morning on more than one occasion – it was a great way to say farewell and end our vacation on a happy note.Meeting Minnie at Chef Mickey's

The Contempo Café is a quick service restaurant right next to Chef Mickey.  The menu‘s not huge, but for a decent price we can share the “Bounty Platter” and an order of cheesy grits (we love our grits in the South!) and be on our way.

At the Grand Floridian – Again, we’ve been pleased by two places.  One’s a sit-down restaurant and the other’s a quick service spot.  The Grand Floridian Café boasts a big, broad menu in a fancy, Victorian setting that’s still considered casual dining.  If our meal will be falling into the brunch-ish time frame, this is where we’ll eat.  We’ve found it easy to make a last-minute breakfast reservation no matter what time of the year we go.

At the Gasparilla Island Grill, the menu is very similar to the Contempo Café, but we’ll pass up the Bounty Platter here for a freshly prepared Croissant Sandwich…yum!  Note to other lovers of grits – don’t order them here.

At the Polynesian – There’s only one place for us and that’s Kona Café.  There are a couple of perfectly respectable quick service options at the Poly, but if we’re having breakfast at this resort, it’s going to be at Kona.  There’s lots to choose from – sweet, savory, lite, heavy – there’s something for everyone on this unique and delicious menu.  The Tonga Toast is legendary.    Added bonus for us – the grits here are the absolute best!

How about you?  Do you make time for resort breakfasts at Disney World?  Which ones are your favorite?

Disney Vacation Libation – Flights Around the World

Walt Disney World offers plenty of choices to grown-up guests looking for vacation libations.  For those of us who like trying new foods and drinks, flights have become a popular way to enjoy adult beverages while sampling new flavors.  From beer and wine to whisky, rum, and tequila, there are options all over the place! (As a mom, I feel compelled to add:  Please drink responsibly.)

Disney Vacation Libation – Flights Around the World

This list is in no way all-inclusive.  Rather like the flights featured, this selection of options is but a small sample of the many choices available in Disney’s many pubs and lounges.RM-Rose&Crown-Scotch-Flight2

Rose and Crown – I’ve described in detail the single malt scotch flight in a previous post.  I highly recommend it if you’re a scotch fan and currently priced at $20 for samples of Glenkinchie, Oban, and Lagavulin, it’s a pretty good value.   The next time we stopped by this lively bar in Epcot’s UK Pavilion, we were pleasantly surprised by the rare availability of a table.  Hot, thirsty and with plenty of time to spare, we ordered up a couple of Imperial Sampler beer flights ($12) and sat down to enjoy the atmosphere and tasty flavors of Bass, Harp, Strongbow (cider), Boddingtons, and Guinness – that’s five beers to try (5-ounce pours of each).Rose and Crown Imperial Sampler

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – Even if you’re not into the specialty cocktails this pub is famous for, Trader Sam’s has something for you.  The Kona Beer Flight is an excellent choice (5-ounce pours each of Longboard Island Lager, Fire Bock Pale Ale, and Castaway IPA).  Trader Sam’s also offers a Rum Flight which includes 3/4-ounce pours each of Bacardi 8-year, Pyrat XO Reserve, and Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year.Trader-Sam's-Menu-Cover

On Our To-Do List…

La Cava Del Tequila – This very popular (but tiny) spot in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion offers a highly touted Tequila flight that’s on my must-try list.  Described on the Menu as “La Cava Tequila Flight  22 Casa Noble Blanco, Partida Reposado, and Ambhar Añejo”.  I know next to nothing about tequila (except for a few ill-advised shots in college) and I’m interested to learn more.  Per several sources, the best time to visit this establishment is in early afternoon – could be dicey imbibing in tequila that early in the day, but I’m game.

Possibly Extinct…Morimoto-Asia-Sake-Flight

Morimoto Asia – The Sake Flight may be gone now.  We loved this option during lunch last December and now it appears to have disappeared from the menu.  We thought it was a fantastic way to try different sake styles and had planned on a repeat during our Christmas week visit this year.  Maybe they’ll bring it back or perhaps if we ask the amazing wait staff will work something out for us.  At about $35 per flight, it was pricey, but we thought it was worth a special treat.

What about you?  Have you tried a flight (or more) at Walt Disney World?  What would you recommend?