Tag Archives: EPCOT

USA ’18 – #RetroDisney

We first came to Florida in 2001 when the boys would have been about six and eight. When we came the first time Helen and I were, shall we say, circumspect about it but did it for the boys. However, we all loved the experience and so since then we have managed to come a further seven times! And I blogged about it in 2009, 2011, 2014 and, of course, 2018.

Inevitably over the years we have taken thousands of pictures of the four of us enjoying the sun and the parks. This year we thought that it would be fun to pick some of our favourites from our first trip and recreate them this year. As it turned out that wasn’t possible for all of them due to the locations no longer being there but as you will see we did do pretty well.

I had expected some push back from the boys on this but they were both incredibly tolerant and indulgent of my quest to get them in the same locations and poses.

The first picture was taken in Magic Kingdom at the Sword in the Stone. When we saw this the first time they ran a shown around it where they would get people (adults) out of the audience and they would try to get the sword out without success. Then they would choose a kid who would manage it straight away of course.

I thought that I knew roughly where this was but in the end after much searching I had to ask someone for directions. I was beginning to get concerned that it had gone but no there it was, tucked away by the carousel.  As you can see since the original was taken the hedge has been removed but apart from that it is much as before.

This was the first we took but I think it is also one of the best.

The Sword in the Stone, Magic Kingdom

One thing I quickly discovered was that a number of things affected whether I could exactly recreate the shot. Firstly it was difficult because the camera was different. Back then I had an early digital camera and now I was using my smartphone, which was vastly superior. Secondly, the lighting conditions made a big difference too, as you can see from this one below. I think that is is probably my least favourite of the lot. Finally, it was very hard to get the picture in exactly the same way and without people but on the whole I think we managed pretty well.

Canada, World Showcase, EPCOT

The next three were all taken in EPCOT and the first one took us ages to locate exactly which position it was taken from. As you can see the sign is no longer there (unless it is under that very nice flowering bush!). Also the wall is no longer tiled but rendered. This all threw us a bit and, in fact, it took two visits to be reasonably certain that we were in the right place. Looking at it now makes me chuckle though.


The next two were both taken inside the Inca temple in the Mexico pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. One thing that hasn’t changed much over the years are how Mat’s eyes respond to a camera’s flash. Red in the first and a ghostly white in the second.

Mexico, World Showcase, EPCOT
Mexico, World Showcase, EPCOT
Winnie the Pooh Seat, Disney Springs (neé Downtown Disney)

Initially I thought that this one had been taken inside Magic Kingdom next to the Winnie the Pooh ride but an intensive search and asking around showed that not to be the case. In the end we did some research on Google and some images came up that showed that it was actually in Disney Springs.

There has been so much work done and change at Disney Springs (including a name change) that I wasn’t hopeful that the bench would still be there so I was delighted to find it, albeit in a new location. It also looks as if it has been faded by the sun over the years.

This is another picture that I think has worked particularly well.

Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon

This final picture is a bit of a cheat as the original was taken in Blizzard Beach which we didn’t visit this year. While I was keen to recreate them all as closely as I possibly could that wasn’t going to change our plans which, in this case, included a trip to Typhoon Lagoon.

This picture also works well but for the fact that Alex’s has the wrong hand raised. Alex says it was the wrong way round in the first picture which I suppose makes sense given that he is left handed after all.

We had great fun reproducing these and I’m really glad that we put in a bit of effort to get as many as possible. You’ll note that there are none from Hollywood Studios which shows just how much that has changed over the years.

The next time we do these it will be with the grandchildren replacing the boys, assuming of course that we get any and their parents invite us along!

If you are interested I spliced the pictures together using Instagram’s Layout app, which also explains why they are all square!

USA ’18 – Day 12 – Cars and Shopping

We had unfinished business with Epcot because the last time we went in Test Track wasn’t running and so we couldn’t tick that one off. This is one of our favourite rides so it meant a trip back today specifically to do it.

Disney seem to be having a crackdown on what you can bring into the parks with you. This trip the entry time has been lengthened by more stringent checks on the way in including airport style metal detectors. On the trams from the car parks there is now an announcement stating the things that are prohibited which includes knives, guns and the ever dangerous selfie sticks. I suspect that this is more to do with in people’s way than their ability to do major harm.

Of course it makes no sense just to go to Epcot and only ride Test Track given the high cost of parking. So at opening we first went over to have another go on Soarin’ which was pretty swift at that time before having a couple of goes on Test Track. I had forgotten just how fast it can seem on a steeply banked track. Great fun!

There was only one thing left to do in Epcot and that came from a special request from Mat who wanted his picture taken with Baymax, the robot from Big Hero 6. How could we refuse? It looks like the start of a beautiful friendship!

The boys come up with some strange things at times. This trip they seem to have got into the habit (or more accurately Alex has) of asking when you return from the loo “Sloane or American Standard?” Why they need to know the make of the sanitaryware I am not sure but I found myself coming out today and automatically saying “Sloane, smells of aniseed”!

USA ’18 – Day 8 – Helen makes a plan

Today we were off to Epcot and had planned to dash over to Test Track first to sneak a quick ride in before heading over to Soarin’ where we had a fast pass. In order to squeeze that in we left home promptly at 08:20 and headed off down the US 192. In the past this road has been pretty stop/start due to the frequent traffic lights (there are 15 sets in a six mile stretch – yes I counted 🙂 ). This morning though we were on a roll and we did the whole six mile stretch without a stop at all – every light was on green!

All this meant that we were nice and early into the park so we shot over to Test Track and started to queue. When we didn’t move it quickly became obvious that there was an issue and, sure enough, there came a tannoy announcement saying that there was a delay. As we had fast passes elsewhere we exited and left what is my favourite ride in the park.

Epcot in April/May is always a beautiful place as the annual flower festival is on and it really does look stunning with both Disney themed displays and stunning colours.

Soarin’ had been updated since the last time we rode and instead of a ride over American highlights this one took in a number of different places worldwide ending in Epcot. However, it was obviously CGI’d but very realistic nevertheless.

We then wandered around the World Showcase which contains stylised versions of about a dozen countries including a very twee version of England.

Finally we went to a character greeting and met up with Mickey, Goofy and Minnie.

In the evening we tried out a new restaurant, the Olive Garden which is an “Italian” (it’s about as Italian as I am), which they were still building the last time we were here.

The food was delicious but, as ever, came in massive portions. To compound matters each main was served with a generous portion of bread and you could choose your main to be accompanied by either a salad or a soup all of which seemed a trifle unnecessary.

Both our boys are now above the legal drinking US drinking age and, until tonight, had no trouble in ordering what they wanted. For some reason tonight they were asked for ID which one of them didn’t have so had to make do with a Sprite instead. Given the beards neither looks under 21 and it’s a shame that the ID laws are not applied uniformly.

With limited days left and a lot still to pack in Helen, ever the project manager, created a chart for us to ponder over our dinner. So it is that the next six days are now planned in minute detail – please let me know if you’d like a copy of the Gantt chart!

USA '14 – Day 10 – A trip to Seahaven

Today was (mostly) a boy free day as Helen and I decided to do something slightly more cultural while Alex sat in misery in front of the Man United game!

We went to visit Winter Park, somewhere we hadn’t been previously and has been recommended in the guide books. Helen noted that it had a passing resemblance to Seahaven, the town that is constructed to house Jim Carey in the Truman Show. Scarily it did look like that but fortunately we were able to leave without having to take boat out onto rough seas.

There was a series of lakes in the town and we took a boat trip around them. The houses that lined the edges were just magnificent and when I win the Euromillons I have decided that this is the place to have a holiday home!

We saw another unusual sight in the town – a train. If you want to get around in Florida the way most choose is the car but this service ran from Winter Park to Orlando at least. It was obviously very pleased with itself as it sounded its horn right through the outskirts of the town announcing its arrival. It was a disappointment to find that it only had two carriages when it arrived.

The town’s Main Street is lined with an eclectic set of shops that you won’t find in other places (apart from the obligator Starbucks of course) and we spent a fun hour or so wandering up and down looking at them.

We were back in time to see the disaster that was Man U vs Bayern Munich before going off to EPCOT for the evening with Mat.

The world showcase is one of my most enjoyable places in the whole of Disney. Yes it is a bit cheesy to see so many countries reduced to a caracture of themselves but it is fun and the light last night was just right. We stayed on for the fireworks which we hadn’t been too for a few years and they too were as great as ever.

USA '14 – Day 6 – Soarin' through EPCOT

EPCOT is a real mix of rides and tranquil spaces in the form of the World Showcase, a dozen countries represented by a famous buildings. The UK has a pub, of course! However, the boys aren’t that keen on that part of the park (it’s “boring”) so we only did the rides.

As we had secured our Fastpasses before we arrived we already knew what we were going to do. Our first Fastpass was for Test Track at 09:30 so we dashed over to Soarin’ to get on before the masses. This is another simulator ride where you are flown over the sights of California. I’m not sure if we missed it in previous years but this time we were all sure that we could smell the sights too – particularly as we went over the citrus groves.

Test Track has always been one of my favourites and probably the best across the whole of Disney. Since the last time we were here it has received an upgrade which now has you “build” your own car before “racing” it around a track. All this was to fill time while waiting for your ride. However, it seems longer and less fun than previously, which was a shame.

We did a couple more minor rides before exiting to come back for a quiet afternoon by the pool.

20140406-211609.jpgFor the last couple of evenings there has been a owl sat outside on the road picking up insects. Helen had spotted it first soarin’ past the back of the house. Tonight there were two of them out there. Both were incredibly tame and pretty amazing to watch.

I am not sure why they are always outside of our villa, maybe the bugs are particularly juicy there, but they do seem to like it. This is the best shot I managed to get of one of them, sitting on a road sign.