Monday, September 29, 2014

{ Disney World Tips: Epcot }



Well, I'm picking this up where I left off here. I talk a lot. Sorry. Except not sorry ;)

You can see my other Orlando posts here: Magic Kingdom and Hogsmeade trips (9/2012) and my Diagon Alley post  (9/2014). I share a lot of photos and tips in all of these.

In the last post I covered our resort (Port Orleans Riverside), MagicBands, FastPass+, the Disney Dining Plan, and general Tips. This post will be more park centric and I will break it down park by park.

This post will be dealing with Epcot.

Epcot

I loved Epcot.

I know a lot of people don't, but I thought it was very awesome. There are fun rides in Future World but I loved roaming the World Showcase most of all. Although Future World did contain my new favorite ride.

Future World



Soarin' takes you on a virtual hang glider flight over California. You'll see, hear, and smell the different regions. It was awesome.

The girl's favorite ride (in all the parks) was also in Future World, Test Track.


While you wait in the queue for this ride, you get to virtually design a car. This is one of the cars we made. Classy, right? As you ride, your car is pitted against the others in nearby groups and you get to see how well your design did. Fun stuff. Plus, once you hit the outside portion, the ride speeds to 65 miles per hours!

We also rode Mission Space, which, as a claustrophobic I do not recommend. The ride itself was enjoyable, but I did not like the tiny space they put us in and I very nearly banged on the door in panic, but somehow refrained. It is a  motion simulator. Mission Space has a Green and Orange mission. Green is the less intense mission (this is what we did). Orange is the more intense.Choosing Orange you will experience 2.5 Gs of force over an extended period, and simulated weightlessness. In this mission your ship spins. While the Green still bounces you around, there is no spinning (or the G force or weightlessness). If you get to the park and can't remember which color is which, just ask the cast member for the less intense ride and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.




The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a fun little ride that takes you through the movie as you ride in clam shells. After the ride, you are let out into a mini aquarium, which is neat. Be sure to watch during the ride though, there are live fish in there along with the animated ones!

Turtle Talk with Crush is also housed here.



I think Spaceship Earth is underrated. Of course it is very much a learning ride, but I thought it was fun and interesting. It takes you on a ride through time. (Sorry for the blur, low light, cell phone, and motion don't mix well).

Other rides in Future World (that we did not go on): Captain EO, Ellen's Energy Adventure, Journey into Imagination with Figment, and Living with the Land.

For lunch we went to the much praised Sunshine Seasons. It is in The Land pavilion (the same place as Soarin'). It was very, very good. Bean is very picky though and there is nothing at Sunshine he will eat, so, he went to The Electric Umbrella. The Electric Umbrella is a little way from Sunshine Seasons, but not too far. You could grab food there for your pickies, then head to Sunshine to eat, but they are teenagers, so they ate there and met up with us after. I've heard many bad reviews about Electric Umbrella, but both of the kids liked it. While Sunshine Seasons has food like Mongolian Beef with Vegetable Fried Rice, Grilled Fish Tacos, Roast Beets and Goat Cheese Salad, and Spicy Thai Green Curry Shrimp, Electric Umbrella has burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries. There were no complaints from my two.

One thing we did in Future World that a lot of people seem to totally miss is stopping by Club Cool. Club Cool is behind the fountain and right beside Starbucks.


In Club Cool, you can sample complimentary Coca-Cola soft drinks from around the world. There are self service machines, tiny cups, and interesting flavors. Try the Beverly... if you dare! The rest of Club Cool is jam packed with Coca- Cola items for sale, which thrilled Bean. He loves Coke.

Now, on to my favorite... The World Showcase!

The World Showcase

Upon entering the park, the kids bought World Showcase Passports. While these are a lot of fun and the kids LOVED doing them (in fact, Bean says it's his favorite souvenir from the entire trip) , they ARE time consuming though. In each country you have to seek out the person who signs the book, and is very often tricky to find. However, they will stamp your passport and write something in their language. The passports are around $11. They are also, potentially, more for little kids with the stickers and such, but both of these 17 year olds enjoyed it very much. The passport person is usually in or near the KidCot stations in the countries.



Here they are getting it signed in Morocco



Let's tour the world, shall we? Ok, and away we go...........

Mexico:


Inside of the pyramid, there is a twilight marketplace which is fun to explore. There are also a few restaurants inside: La Hacienda de San Angel (Table Service), San Angel Inn (Table Service), Cantina de San Ángel (Counter Service), and La Cava del Tequila (tequilla bar- Dining Plan not accepted).

Along with this there is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros boat ride, which led to an embarrassing moment when I thought we were outside. It was was a twilight ride. As you can tell from the photo of the pyramid which I snapped right as we went in, it was NOT twilight in real life. So, yeah.

However... the ride was cute.


Viva Donald!


Norway:




I loved the look of Norway. It was so pretty. We were able to ride Maelstrom (we enjoyed), which will  be closing next week (10/5/14). They are moving it to a Frozen theme. We actually saw a bit of the Frozen theme in the Stave Church already.

The Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is home to many tasty treats, but probably most popularly, School Bread. School Bread is my favorite treat of the week. School Bread ( “Skolebrød”) is a sweet bread that is filled with custard and topped with icing and toasted coconut. Delish and something I need to figure out how to make. 

Norway is also home to Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Table Service), which is a princess character dining location. Princesses that frequent the Akershus are Cinderella, Jasmine, Aurora, Ariel and Belle.

Norway is currently (Sept 2014) not home to a Character Spot, Anna and Elsa were here a few months ago. They are slated to return to Norway this fall/winter.

China:


Disney really outdid itself in World Showcase. Every bit of it is gorgeous.



In China there are two eateries: Nine Dragons (Table Service) and Lotus Blossom Cafe (Counter Service), shopping, and live entertainment (Dragon Legend Acrobats).

China is a Character Spot for Mulan.


Germany:



Germany is home to Karamell-Küche, which is a delicious smelling snack shop. In there Darla & I got a massive Rice Krispie Treat covered in caramel and chocolate and the girl got sea salted caramel covered in milk chocolate. Amazingly delicious.

We spent a fair amount of time in one of the shops picking out our tiaras!  I can't remember the name of the shop, but there is huge amount of sparklies to choose from.

Also in Germany is shopping, Biergarten Restaurant, a buffet (Table Service dining credit), Sommerfest (counter service), don't miss the miniature train display (it's easy to walk past), and the ever popular Glockenspiel.

Germany is the Character Spot to meet Snow White.

Italy:


I loved the architecture in Italy. The buildings are supposed to present a Venetian, Roman, and Florentine feel.

In Italy there are a couple stores, for dining there is Tutto Italia (Table Service) & Via Napoli Pizza e Ristorante (Table Service), there is also various street performers.





The American Adventure:


The American Adventure is just one large building which is designed Colonial style. Inside of the building is the animatronic The American Adventure show. Also, in the pavilion rotunda, if you are lucky enough, you can catch The Voices of Liberty, an 8 member  a cappella group. They are dressed in Colonial style as well. We had just missed the last performance of the day when we arrived. I have watched them on YouTube though and they are very impressive.

The American Adventure show last 30 minutes and is housed in a blessedly air conditioned theater. It's an awesome way to relax in the cool air for a while and watch our country's history as told by Audio-Animatronic versions of Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. Much of the show is told on a large screen as well.

Up until last week (Sept 27, 2014), you could enjoy the Drum and Fife band. Sadly, they are no longer.

Also in the pavilion is Liberty Inn, a counter service restaurant that serves American fare like cheeseburgers, crab cakes, and hot dogs. You will also find a small gift shop.

There is a funnel cake stand at the very front of the area. It it housed in a little gazebo type building.

Japan:



We were pretty excited about Japan. One reason is that for months and months Darla and I talked about doing the Pick a Pearl in Mitsukoshi department store. Bean decided to do this for the girl's birthday as well (she'd been waiting since July to find out what her gift was), so all three girls got to pick a pearl! Fun.


Here are Bean and girl picking her pearl. There is a whole show that goes along with it. You choose an oyster, then the girls working there make a big production out of all of the proceedings. It's super fun.

photo by Mr. Bakingdom
Here I am (with Darla and some stranger man) pointing to the oyster I want. Don't judge me too harshly, I'd just walked around 1/2 the park in the rain for Fish and Chips in the UK with Mr. Bakingdom while our smart families stayed behind in a dry restaurant (it wasn't raining when we left, nor did we realize how far it was!).

After you pick the pearl, you can just take it home in a baggie, or you can pick a setting to put it in. We all got necklaces. There are also earring settings and ring settings. To pick a pearl is almost $18. The settings start around $20 and go up to over $200 (possibly higher). The chains are sold separately from the settings (mine was around $18).

These are our necklaces:


Mine is the lotus blossom, the girl's is the top, and Darla's is the bottom. All very beautiful and we all love ours very much! I highly recommend it. You have a wonderful keepsake that is very functional and beautiful.

In addition, the teens are HUGE Pokemon fans, and Mitsukoshi department store is FULL of Pokemon and other anime/manga and related items. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in Japan.

There are also a few different eateries: Teppan Edo (table service), Tokyo Dining (table service), and Katsura Grill (counter service). There is a collection of Japanese art in the pavilion as well. One of the most popular entertainers in World Showcase, Miyuki, a candy artist, sadly retired in November of 2013. However, you can still catch the Matsuriza drummers.

Morocco:


Morocco was gorgeous. Pretty much all of The World Showcase is gorgeous, but Morocco was so alive with vibrant color.






There is a good bit of shopping in Morocco. There is also three eateries: Spice Road Table does NOT accept Disney Dining Plan, Restaurant Marrakesh (table service), and Tangierine Cafe (counter service).  On Sept 27, 2014, Mo-Rockin' had it's last show in Morocco. It was rock and roll music set to an Arabian beat.

The character spot in Morocco is where you can meet Aladdin and Jasmine.

France:


France is very lovely. It has a great 'feel' to it. However, there isn't a lot to do. There is shopping, of course, and food. In fact, you can totally get yourself a rockin' beret in France, because France.


There is killer gelato at L'artisan des Glaces.


and this view, of course


and this hedge is quite fun (though the better one is in UK, I'll get to that next!).


The restaurants in France are: Monsieur Paul- which is a signature restaurant. On the Disney Dining Plan it will cost you 2 table credits per person. In cash, it will cost you a lotta! Les Chefs de France (Table Credit), and Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie (quick service credit with a selection of snack credit pastries).

For entertainment in France there is a film entitled Impressions de France and  Serveur Amusant which is an balance/acrobatic routine by waiters in front of Chefs de France.

France's Character Spot is home to Aurora & Belle.


United Kingdom




It's no secret that I love the UK. I love Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, and much more.

So, I was very excited to shop amongst these stores. I went in every single one.... and bought nothing. LOL. I think I was too overwhelmed by it. So many wants.

As I mentioned in the Japan section, Mr. Bakingdom and I did have the fish and chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop. It was very good. It would have been even better if we didn't have to eat it hunched over the condiment cart (there is only outdoor seating with umbrellas, all of it was taken). Yorkshire County is a quick service restaurant. The other eatery in the UK is The Rose and Crown Pub, which is a table service restaurant.


There is a hedge, as I mentioned. This one is a maze. Upon seeing it, we laughed. It is only about thigh high. Not the tall, classic hedge we were expecting. However... I totally got messed up and couldn't find my way out. Yeah. That happened.

Sadly, we hit UK as it was getting dusky. None of my photos are excellent here (or Canada, which is up next).

This photo is taken from inside of the maze. The hedge you see at the bottom of the photo is part of it.


This is a very popular photo op area:




The UK is home to character greetings for Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and... the girl's very, very fav... Mary Poppins.




Off Kilter, a Celtic Rock Band played between the UK and Canada. Their last show was Sept 27, 2014.


Canada

Canada is our last stop on this trip around the world.

We are at the end of the world already? Sigh!



Canada is very picturesque. It has a canyon, pond, waterfall, totem poles, and gardens.


The main attraction in the pavilion is O Canada!, a Circle-Vision 360° film of Canada's cities and scenery.

There are a couple shops in Canada and one restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse. Le Cellier is another signature dining restaurant, costing 2 table service credits per person on the Disney Dining Plan, or out of pocket entrees will run you around $30-60. It is one of Disney World's highest-rated restaurants, but I have never personally eaten there.

That brings us to the end of the World Showcase. It is about 1 1/4 miles around the World Showcase from Mexico to Canada!


Illuminations: Reflections of Earth


Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the Epcot closing show. It is full of lasers, fountains, and fireworks, of course! It's a fun show. Not as impressive as Magic Kingdom's fireworks, but definitely worth a watch.


On your way out in the evening, be sure to look for the twinkling sidewalks. They are near Spaceship Earth (the Epcot ball).

I found many other 'hidden gems' in this post.

I very much loved Epcot, and it is a park I cannot wait to go back to. We spent a day and a half here and there is still SO much to see. I've heard a lot of people say it's not a great park for younger kids, and I can see why, but I can't help but love every inch of this park. There aren't that many rides, especially for younger kids, and a lot of Epcot is just looking and shopping. The World Showcase really only has 2 rides (The three Caballeros and Maelstrom- which is soon to close and be re-themed). There are a lot of entertainers and movies in World Showcase, along with the 'feel' of being in the countries. All of the workers in World Showcase are from the country in which they work, which is really cool!

If you are tired or just want a relaxing few minutes, hop aboard a Friendship Boat. There are two stops for these boats. One is by Mexico and the other close to Canada. The boat from Mexico will let off in Germany and the Canadian boat will drop off in Morocco. 

There are also various carts with items or food for sale that I didn't mention. I'm sure I missed a lot of things. 1 1/2 days was definitely not long enough for me!

Be sure to check Disney's official website for character greeting & show times.


Happy World Touring!

Tina

Sunday, September 28, 2014

{ Frozen Bridal Shower }


My friend Lori's daughter is getting married. It's kind of bizarre. I've known the bride since she was 7 years old, and now, she's all grown up. I shouldn't be surprised by any of this, I mean, Bean is now a 17 year old Senior in High School, but....

It's weird. I know you know what I mean.

Amber's fiance is currently away at boot camp, their wedding will match his Marine blues, (a red/white/and blue theme), but, the shower? That was all about Amber.

I was asked to help coordinate/decorate/photograph the wedding (and shower), so basically Amber has told me what she'd like to see happen, and I try to craft something together. When she said she wanted a Frozen shower (they are Disney nuts too!), I was super excited.

Here's what we did.


To make things simpler and quicker, we started with all store bought foods and then fancied them up.


For any 'on a stick' item like this, first melt a bit of chocolate, dip your lollipop stick into it, and then insert in your food item. Allow it to dry, and then proceed in decorating. This anchors the food into the stick so it won't fall off as easily.

I dipped marshmallows in white chocolate, then sprinkled with light blue sugar, silver dragées, and white nonpareils.


For the Krispies, we started with the larger size treats and cut them into thirds. If you have the smaller sized treats, cut into 1/2, or easily make at home and cut whatever size you like. After placing on sticks, I simply drizzled with light blue and white chocolate, then sprinkled with silver sugar.


We actually found the brownies already cut in this size at Sam's Club. I just placed on lollipop sticks, drizzled and sprinkled like I did with the Krispie Treats. You could make your own brownies, or even use the snack packs of the round brownies then decorate.


We found these mini pretzel rods, also at Sam's Club, and I think they are an awesome size. I, once again, dipped these in white and blue chocolate and decorated with white nonpareils and silver sugar. I really like the way the white white nonpareils look on the blue chocolate. Very snowy :)


The Blue Hawaiian punch is a perfect base for a Frozen themed punch. Recipe below. Also, you'll see swirly blue lollipops in the background. Those were purchased off Amazon. The holders they were in Lori already had at home. I liked them because the color was perfect and they added height to the table.


Lori bought these cute apothecary jars off of Amazon, along with the plastic scoops, the candy baggies, the blue and white Sixlets, and blue and white mints. 


Besides the punch, we had melted snowflakes. Yeah, it's just water. It's a super fun way to present water though, right? 


I typeset several quotes from the movie, all about love. I put those on the table around the room. This is the one I left on the Candy Bar.

For decor on the bar I used a light blue (plastic) table cloth and feet and feet and feet of tulle. I also used some tiny twinkle lights, iridescent gift bag packaging, tiny blue star tinsel, small silver star ornaments, sparkly white snowflake ornaments, shiny gems scattered about, Frozen colored snowflake ribbon and a tiara. Also, to add height in various places, I wrapped three empty boxes in white and silver paper and placed the food items on top of those.

For the food displays, I mostly tried to keep it clear dishes so it would be 'icy'. The jars are simple Mason jars with the snowflake ribbon wrapped around.

I know it's awful seeing Christmas decorations in stores in September, but let me tell you, it really helped me out in this case! If you are planning to have a Frozen party in the off Christmas season, be sure to snap up as many silver, light blue, and white Christmas decorations that you can now while it's all out.


For the tables I used simple cylindrical vases (from the $1 store), the iridescent packing, silver trays (also from the $1 store), and the gems. I also put the typeset quotes on every table. There were quotes from Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Hans.

I wish I'd gotten a picture of the vases from the back, but alas, did not. I had white, sliver, and clear rocks, along with frosty green , blue, and white icy looking rocks and a tealight.

We did a box for Date Night ideas, which was super fun. We just found a box the 'right' shade of blue.


For the take home favors we made sugar scrub, which I called Snow Scrub to go with the theme.



This started out as an all coconut oil scrub, but we ran out and had to mix it with Olive Oil. So, the recipe (below) will be all coconut oil.

And, that's it! We played a few shower games, ate some food (we had real food too! ;)), watched her open presents, and done!

We didn't have cake, we had cheesecake, but you could always make the Frozen cupcakes I did for Darla's birthday to go along with the theme!

To make it even easier, you could use purchased rock candy instead of making sugar glass.


This could easily be tailored to a little girl's birthday party though. Add a few fun games, make the girls Elsa capes with a few yards of tulle, play Pin the Nose on Olaf, assemble snowmen out of marshallows and pretzel sticks, mold heart shaped chocolates to melt in cocoa to show the 'frozen heart' melting with love, and of course.. watch the movie!



Have a lovely day!

Tina



Recipes:

Frozen Blue Punch
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1 Gallon Blue Hawaiian Punch
1 liter of lemon lime soda
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Chill Hawaiian Punch and soda. When ready to serve, pour into a punch bowl and float 1/2 gallon of ice cream on top.


Snow Scrub (Vanilla Mint Sugar Scrub)
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers 

1 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 drops peppermint oil*
1-2 teaspoons clear vanilla (to keep it pure white) or vanilla (will make it off white)

Whip coconut oil in stand mixer for about 5 minutes until fluffy, remove from mixer and manually stir in sugar, peppermint oil and vanilla. If mixture is too wet, add another 1/2 cup sugar until scrub or until desired consistency.

 *peppermint oil gives a little tingle, so be sure not to use too much. If you want just the scent and not the tingle, just peppermint extract.

Makes 4 - 1/4 cup jars
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