It was back to EPCOT for our final theme park day of the trip. We used fast passes for Mission Space, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth, but the bulk of this visit was spent in The World Showcase. On our previous visit, we went counter-clockwise, visiting Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Morocco. This time, we went clockwise, starting with Mexico.
Inside Mexico's pyramid is the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride. The Gran Fiesta Tour is a ride similar to the Magic Kingdom's It's a Small World. It's a bit dated and cheesy, even with a refurbishment that now includes The Three Cabelleros, but it's a must-do every trip.
Norway, with its grass covered houses and trolls, is one of my favorite pavilions. I have Norwegian ancestors, so I'm kind of obligated to love this pavilion. It was a bit of a construction zone, as they were turning the Maelstrom ride into Frozen Ever After. We perused the gift shop, where we found a jar of lingonberry jam with the same name as my Swedish stepson, Felix. Also perfume designer, Geir Ness was visiting. Many years ago, I bought a bottle of Laila: The Essence of Norway, and Ness signed the bottle for me. I think he must live in Florida, because every time I visit, he's at EPCOT making an appearance. Laila is a lovely fragrance, and after discovering it at EPCOT, I've since learned that I can purchase it at my local Nordstrom.
China, with its colorful archway, blue pagoda, and manicured gardens, is one of the prettiest pavilions.
Germany has one of my favorite dining options, The Biergarten, where you can pretend you're at Oktoberfest, dining on schnitzel and beer, while doing the chicken dance.
A few pictures looking across the lagoon towards Future World.
By the time we reached Italy, we were desperate for lunch. Our idea of not making dining reservations and keeping it flexible, was working against us. Even though the holiday crowds had died down, the restaurants were mostly booked up. We discovered that Tutto Gusto, the wine cellar in Italy, does not take advanced reservations, and although they were busy, we were able to get a table. The food was amazing. We splashed out with an antipasti starter, a wine sampler, lasagna for mains, and two desserts. It was so good, that we took the kids back in the summer. I highly recommend Tutto Gusto!
In the middle of the World Showcase stands the United States Pavilion. Housed in the colonial style building is The American Adventure, a show which utilizes animatronics and film to explain the history of America. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I always find it to be a bit of an emotional experience. It's beautifully done. Make sure to arrive early to see the mini-museum, and to hear The Voices of Liberty, an a'cappella group that performs before the show.
Japan has the best shopping, I'm not just talking about my love for all things Sanrio, although the Sanrio offerings are significant. I could get lost for days in the Mitsukoshi Department Store. They also have an amazing teppanyaki restaurant, and a cool museum, that had an exhibit on Japan's cute culture. I think she is no longer works at EPCOT, but they used to have a woman who sculpted animals out of candy. It was amazing! She was so talented and could really make any animal. Look her up on Youtube!
We finally made it to Morocco, where we had ended our first visit to The World Showcase.
We had a special surprise as my friend, Carrie and her husband, Dave, were also visiting WDW. I knew Carrie in high school and we also worked together at Universal Studios Hollywood. I had not seen her in many years and we had not met each others spouses. It was pouring rain, but we talked for hours. We were so excited over catching up, that we didn't even take a picture together! Dan and I had to leave by the late afternoon, to get to the airport and return our rental car, otherwise I'm sure we would have hung out all night.
A finally EPCOT picture...this was taken by a cast member when we were near Norway, but it's my favorite, so I wanted to save it for last. It was sad to end our trip, but knowing we were returning in the summer, we converted our multi-day tickets into Annual Passes. It's always easier to leave, when you know you'll soon return.