THE “WOW SO SUMMER IS PRETTY HOT IN FLORIDA” JULY 2022 WALT DISNEY WORLD TRIP (DAY 3!!)

Well hey everyone!

I am back! And yeah, I know it’s been a slight wait for this one. But guys, seriously. This is such a long post. And also, there has been the whole “life outside this blog” happening.

So yeah, shizz gets in the way, folks. But I honestly think this one will be worth it. It’s good stuff.

So yeah…

Whatever.

Day 3 – An insanely full EPCOT day!

So, Day 3. I bet those of you that read my Day 2 post are probably thinking, “Oh, I mean. They most likely slept in, right? Like, they were at the Magic Kingdom until 1AM the night before. There is no way they woke up early.”

Ha.

And like, I should mention I had pretty much no voice today from screaming on Big Thunder Mountain the night before. Like, I woke up feeling like I had smoked a pack of Parliaments the night before.

Not good.

Well, for me at least. I think everyone else probably appreciated the break.

Yeah, we were still up pretty early, guys. I was up at around 6:30 myself so I could shower and get myself ready before handing some serious business. But before we get to that…look how pretty the morning was.

Look at it!

And fortunately for me. And you know, for society as a whole. There was a coffee maker in the room and a sold supply of Joffrey’s Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Blend.

Oh, funny-but-not-really-funny story about that coffee. So as you can see, this coffee isn’t like a pod or anything like. Inside that packet is a filter for a multi-cup coffee pot.

You know, like our forefathers used.

So I made my coffee (which was delicious btw), right? And like I drank it, we went on with our day, whatevz. Later that day, when we got back to our room, there was a weird smell. Nickie chalked it up to having teenagers in our room but it turned out I left the coffee pot on with what was left of my morning coffee and it had burned to the bottom.

Which, fine, I should have turned it off. But how in the crud does Disney not have coffee makers that automatically shut off? That seems a pretty big miss on their part and a heck of a safety hazard.

Especially when morons like me are making coffee.

Oh right. I also did this again a few days from now. I’m obviously the best.

Wait though. I AM the best.

Because, like I said, I had some business to attend to. Because today was our EPCOT day. And EPCOT day meant we were hoping to experience the newest Walt Disney World attraction – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind!

Which was exciting of course. But Disney being Disney, it took a little work to get there. You see, at this point in time, there were essentially two different ways you could ride Cosmic Rewind and neither of them involved simply walking up to the attraction and waiting in line nor did they involve a standard Genie+ situation. You could:

  1. Pay for an Individual Lightning Lane and book a specific time – which essentially means you go onto your MyDisneyExperience app and pay a specific amount per person for one ride on said attraction. As of the time we were there, I believe it was around $15 a person to ride it. We had four people in our party riding it. Which would have cost $60. On top of our park tickets. And honestly, I would have had to book for 9 people I think. Which would have been $135. Disney is nuts y’all. We did not do this today but don’t worry. We participate in the madness that is Individual Lightning Lanes later in the trip. We are part of the problem.
  2. Try your hand at the virtual queue – which is a pre-booked time as well. However, it’s free. The catch is that Disney releases a certain amount of spaces at different times of the day. As of time of posting, they were releasing Cosmic Rewind spots twice a day. The morning drop was at 7AM and the afternoon drop was at 1PM. There is also a separate extra drop that happens when EPCOT has extended evening hours for select resort guests, but we will get to that later in the trip. These are limited spaces and they fill up fast. I have heard countless stories of families not being able to secure these virtual queues. This was the plan today – to try our hand at a virtual queue.

So right, the virtual queue. Like I said, I was up early specifically for this task. The spots would drop at precisely 7AM. So my plan was to get on MyDisneyExperience by like 6:55, go to the Virtual Queues tab so I could confirm my party (you can do this starting an hour before the spots drop), and at 6:59 continually refresh my Cosmic Rewind screen until I see the “Join Queue” button. I won’t belabor the detailed how’s and what’s but for a more detailed explanation of how to do everything, I suggest you visit the awesomely detailed disneytouristblog.

Annnyways.

At 6:59, I was refreshing and refreshing and refreshing. At 7AM, my button turned to “Join Queue” and I quickly went through to confirm. And, guys?

I DID IT!!

Boarding group 41. Which wasn’t bad. I mean, yeah, it said 315 minutes but remember, we were doing this at 7AM, 2 hours before the park even opened. So that’s 120 minutes right there.

Yeah, I guess it still seems long. But guys that picture? It was taken at 7AM. Which was exactly when these spaces dropped. I am pretty sure by 7:01, they were gone.

You gotta be quick and completely stressed out to fully enjoy Walt Disney World these days.

It’s a magical time to be alive.

Actually though. Speaking of magical. Being up early also allowed us to do something we have probably never ever done in Walt Disney World – cook an actual breakfast in our hotel room. I mean, sure, we have microwaved or toasted things but having a one-bedroom with a full stove opened up a whole new world for us.

No one to tell us no.

Or where to go.

Or say we’re only dreaming.

And breakfast today was a good one you guys because it would not only be tasty but it would make the room smell all kinds of yum as well.

Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls you guys. Aw yeah.

And I should correct myself. We didn’t make breakfast. Nickie made breakfast. See? Here is a picture of her frosting said cinnamon rolls.

And I have legit never been more attracted to her. I should get a wallet size of this one.

But yeah, breakfast was great. After the stress of securing virtual queues for everyone, it was nice to be able to enjoy a coffee and cinnamon roll out on the balcony.

You know. Before I almost burned down the place.

We all ate our breakfast and got ready and what not and were on the bus to EPCOT by 8ish. Being that this was the first day of the Food & Wine Festival, the kids were convinced we were going to see some YouTube vloggers so they wore their best Michael Kay merch just in case.

Well, Owen had outgrown his Michael Kay shirt so. Myles and Hannah did.

Well actually technically, Myles had outgrown his shirt and Hannah was wearing it while he wore mine. Which I hadn’t outgrown but being such an incredibly generous person, I let Myles wear mine.

That’s a lot of Michael Kay t-shirt backstory.

We arrived at EPCOT at 8:34, and as we were walking in, my watch started to vibrate…

Benefit of staying at a park until 1AM the night before, I guess. The downside? We were now at a park at 8:34 AM.

Sleep is for the weak.

Another awesomeness thing that’s awesome about this awesome day? We were meeting up with Liam and Ayla at the park. Siggins in the house! Arty and Suzanne weren’t going to be joining us until later today but they dropped the kids off at the gate to meet up with us.

And this worked out. Because Nickie had purchased these graduation Mickey ears for Myles and Liam LAST YEAR in the hopes of getting pictures of them on our trip LAST YEAR but that didn’t happen. So obviously she brought them on this trip.

Dude, how is my son a high school graduate? Like, I literally still have stuffed animals on my bed.

Ohai EPCOT!!

When we arrived, as per usual, attractions were down. Our initial plan was to hit Test Track immediately to avoid the ever-growing line that we would be faced with later in the day. But, of course, Test Track was down. So the next thought was to head over to Frozen Ever After, another long line contender. But guess what?

Ride was down.

Oh EPCOT. So frustrating you are.

Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow? More like Entire Place Ceased Operating Today.

So damn nailed that one.

Soooo…the plan therefore was to head to the World Showcase. On account of there is the potential for alcohol there.

And yes, it wasn’t even 9AM yet.

But it was Disney. The place where dreams come true or something.

Onto World Showcase.

Along the way, we passed another 50th Anniversary statue – Figment!!

That makes 17!!

We also passed the Harmonious barge chilling in World Showcase Lagoon.

Which was the first time I was actually seeing it since Harmonious was actually a thing that happens.

So I dunno. That was exciting I guess? What do you want from me? Test Track was down you guys.

Now, as I have said before, there are two types of people – people that start their World Showcase experience in Mexico and people who don’t know what the hell they are doing.

So we went to Mexico. Is what I am saying to you now.

Mexico is such a great pavilion. Super cool on the outside.

Ha, my autocorrect changed “cool on” to “colon.” I totally should have left that in.

But yeah, super colon the inside.

But even cooler on the inside.

Because while it was totally daytime outside, it’s always night time in here. Which would have helped rationalize the whole “tequila in the morning” thing but, unfortunately for me and fortunately for my liver, family, and fellow park-goers, the tequila bar inside the pavilion – La Cava del Tequila – didn’t open until 11AM.

Pfft. Fascists.

But while we were here, we thought we might as well take a ride on The Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros.

Which, whatever. It’s not like there is a ton to this attraction but it’s a boat and the Three Caballeros are in it. So I mean. 5 stars.

Plus, you get to heckle people eating at San Angel Inn.

Well you do when its open. When its closed, you get to heckle empty tables. Which is wayyyy less dangerous.

While we were all asking ¿Dónde Está Donald Duck?, Kayce, Bella, and Lani were making their way to EPCOT as well. We all planned to meet in France.

And Lani was apparently planning to give the middle finger here but Kayce managed to catch her before it all went down.

So right. We had breakfast less than two hours ago, but we were all…

And since we were already in France, we headed down the little Ratatouille hallway thingamajig.

Second breakfast was at a new-to-us place with a totally Disneyesque unnecessarily long name – Crêpes À Emporter by La Crêperie de Paris.

Nickie and I were both having serious trouble deciding between sweet or savory crepes so we were all…

Splitsies!

We ordered the Bechamel, Cheese, & Ham Galette.

We also grabbed a bunch of ice waters (which are always free, btw) and we set up on a Walt Disney World dining table.

In layman’s terms? A trash can.

And man, these were excellent. I honestly can’t decide which I liked better. The Galette was warm and gooeycheesy with delicious little pork bits. And the crepe was perfectly cooked, just the right amount of chew to it, and a nice, not-overly-sweet-and-also-buttery flavor to it. They both complemented each other well.

So yeah, man. Get both.

But hey, we weren’t only in France for crepes and galettes. We had an attraction to get to – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Which was another attraction most of us hadn’t experienced yet. Nickie and Kayce rode this one back in March on a girls’ trip. But it was new to the rest of us.

And while the wait was a bit long, we did have an inside track. I didn’t mention this in my last post about our day at the Magic Kingdom but we did book a Lightning Lane for Jungle Cruise later in the day and it broke down. Which meant we were granted an anytime Lightning Lane to use on almost any attraction either that day or the day after.

So we thought this would be a perfect use for it.

Seriously though. Look how cute these ride vehicles are.

And lucky me, I got to ride with Liam, who was VERY excited. I mean look at Liam. Look how excited.

And the ride was super fun. Is it the best attraction at Walt Disney World? No.

But it’s the best rat-related one.

By the time we were off, this happened…

It was time to head to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind!

Two new attractions in a row? Stop. With the awesome.

On our way to Guardians, we picked up a Food & Wine Festival Passport to see what EPCOT had for my stomach. I mean, it had already been like 30 minutes since we had those crepes.

We also got to interact with iCan, the roaming robot character guy thing.

Which, I mean, he was cool and all. But I feel like he’s also brought us one more step closer to SkyNet.

So think about THAT Disney.

But eh, I am sure the robot takeover won’t be as bad as everyone says.

We had bigger things to think about. Like this!

Look how cool, you guys. A Nova Corps Starblaster.

Glayvin.

Let’s get our Guardians on, mofos.

We scanned our MagicBands up front and walked into the queue. And this queue had like, A LOT, to look at. Thing was set up like an EPCOT pavilion centered on showing the differences and similarities between Earth and Xandar. The queue itself is made up of 3 different rooms, essentially – the Galaxarium…

…the Xandar Gallery…

…and the Phase Chamber, which is really like two rooms. In the first part, Glenn Close tells us some kind of things about the Big Bang Theory. Mercifully, she is talking about the actual Big Bang Theory and not that terrible CBS program that has somehow gaslit an entire society into thinking its funny.

She also says it would be hard for us to get to Xandar so, like, we are gonna be teleported to a ship or something?

And then President Camacho told some “jokes” while also explaining some convoluted nonsense about how we were gonna be transported to this ship.

Then we walk into the next room – which I think is the actual Phase Chamber? – where Lieutenant Terry Jeffords gives us some more instructions and “jokes” before transporting us to the ship, which was an admittedly cool effect. We also get our first look at the cosmic generator here. Which is…a thing, I think?

But of course, something goes wrong. The power goes out and when it comes back on, it’s revealed the cosmic generator is missing.

Turns out the cosmic generator was stolen by a Celestial named Eson who wants to erase the existence of Terrans (which are us.)

So the Guardians of the Galaxy need to be called in.

So like how do we fit into this story? Rocket has rewired what was supposed to be our escape ships to now be the ones to follow Eson and that’s what we are gonna go do.

Or something.

The next step is getting down to the launch area. Oh and quick aside. According to Kayce and Bella, when you get into the Phase Chamber you should:

GO TO THE RIGHT GO TO THE RIGHTGO TO THERIGHT THE RIGHT THE RIGHT THE RIGHT!!!!!

Which was factual. The doors open to the right. But they were way all kinds of adamant about it. So do it. Or they’ll know.

But right…

RIGHT!!!!!!!!

The doors open and we make our way down the hallway to the launch area where our escape pods are waiting for us.

And then, we are off. And the ride experience itself? It’s insanely fun. Things start off slow as they set up a little bit more of the “story” and things pick up once your reverse-launched and your music starts to play. Yeah, there’s music as well. And you never know what song you’re gonna get. There are 6 different songs you can get:

  • “September” – Earth, Wind, & Fire
  • “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears
  • “Conga” – Gloria Estefan
  • “One Way or Another” – Blondie
  • “Disco Inferno” – The Tramps
  • “I Ran (So Far Away)” – Flock of Seagulls

Kayce, Bella, and Lani had already gotten “Conga” when they rode this a few days ago and “Conga” was low on our list as well. So of course, we got “Conga.”

Of course.

But eh, it actually was a really fun song that got us dancing in our ride vehicles and what not.

The coaster itself is an indoor coaster and Cosmic Rewind is what Disney calls an “omnicoaster.” This means the ride vehicle can move 360 degrees to keep you focused on what they want to keep you focused on. Plus, it makes for a really fun, unique experience. The whole thing was super smooth as well.

Yeah, the overall ride was great in terms of experience. Super fun and a new coaster like this is something Disney has sorely needed, especially at EPCOT.

A lot of people these days are saying this is their favorite ride in all of Walt Disney World, in fact.

That…I don’t agree with. Like I said, I did love the actual coaster but, man, that story behind it is weaksauce and all kinds of convoluted. Compare this to something like Rise of the Resistance that is so story-driven and its not even a contest for me. Rise still reigns as my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World.

But Cosmic Rewind could be vying for second-place alongside Flight of Passage. Super fun stuff. Just not up to the snuff of the usual Disney storytelling.

As many of you know, Nickie is not a coaster person. So while we were all doing whatever we were supposedly doing on Cosmic Rewind, she found her way to the World Showcase.

On account of she’s a beer person.

So being that I love both Nickie AND beer, I went off in search of them both. Everyone else, meanwhile, split off to go to Club Cool.

I mean, I guess that club is cool. But there’s no beer there.

And, in case you’re wondering – yes, they made Liam drink Beverly soda and, no, no one video’ed it for the blog.

Sometimes I feel like an island out here.

Anyways, Nickie was over in World Showcase like I said. I think at this point she was back around Morocco so we planned to meet in the American Adventure. I entered back in through Mexico so on the way, I passed through China.

Which was fortunate. In that China houses one of my favorite snack/drink combinations in EPCOT. Behold, the Tipsy Ducks in Love and Egg Rolls.

Located at the Joy of Tea kiosk, the Tipsy Ducks in Love is still probably my favorite drink in all of World Showcase. Thing is made with bourbon, black tea, coffee, cream, and chocolate. Like, literally all the food groups are covered.

And the egg rolls aren’t too shabby either.

I called Nickie to ask if she wanted a Tipsy Duck and egg roll as well. And she did. So, like, that was cool and everything.

What wasn’t cool was the weather. Shizz was hot. Annnnnd the American Adventure? It was a ways away. And it felt even further and hotter with two Tipsy Ducks and egg rolls in my hands.

So by the time I did get to the American Adventure…

…I was a mess and couldn’t take another step. I plopped down at the nearest picnic table, unable to even think about exploring what the American Adventure had to offer.

Now I know how the Pilgrims must have felt.

I called Nickie up and told her where I was and soon enough, we were enjoying egg rolls and bourbon/coffee drinks together.

Kayce also joined us shortly with a bunch of ice waters in hand she obtained from Regal Eagle which was nice and definitely needed. But I distinctly remember her spilling one or two as she tried to set them down on the picnic table.

Which I mean. It wasn’t this gif. But let’s pretend it was.

Poetic license.

After we finished up with our respective waters and bourbon coffees and egg rolls and what not, we figured maybe it would be a good time to soak up some A/C in the American Adventure building. And when we walked in, you guys, we got to catch the tail-end of a Voices of Liberty performance.

Which, as always, was incredible. It makes me sad to think how so many visitors probably don’t even know what Voices of Liberty is. If you’re one of those, well allow me to elucidate.

Voices of Liberty is an a cappella group that regularly performs in the rotunda inside the American Adventure pavilion. They most often sing patriotic tunes but can also be found around the holidays singing, well, holiday songs. And their voices are pretty amazing, especially when amplified due to the acoustics here. Seriously, check them out. I think their sets are usually 15 minutes or so and showtimes can be found in the MyDisneyExperience app.

I suggested we stick around for the American Adventure show as I normally suggest every trip so we grabbed a table off in the corner to wait until the show started. The kids ended up coming over as well, fresh from a trip to the Mitsukoshi department store in Japan, where Hannah had purchased some Peach Gummy Candy.

Which she so thoughtfully shared with all of us. So we all sat around and had a chew.

And yeah, candy was good for sure. Super peachy. Like not just peachy as in “peachy-keen” but actual really peachy flavored.

As we all sat there, and as also happens every trip, my suggestion to stick around for the show was declined.

Yeah. Seriously. Every. Trip.

Everyone else wanted to head back out into the World Showcase to do some snacking. After all, it was the Food & Wine Festival. And the promise of both alcohol and snacks soon made me forget my dreams of America.

I’m easily distracted.

By food and alcohol.

And bears, evidently.

Yeah, man. As we were walking, we noticed a little character-palooza happening and my boy Baloo was front-and-center.

Baloo = best bear.

The heat was getting…

..

Look, I have to do it. Let’s just get it over with and move on.

The heat was getting…

…unbearable.

Right.

Moving on.

So, Nickie and I figured a beer was in order so we stopped in Morocco.

For, um, a beer.

I don’t know. That’s all I have. I legit do not remember what kind of beer this was. My memory isn’t what it used to be.

Probably due to all the beer.

But I know that beer was NOT from a Food & Wine booth. I can tell you that. So it was kind of time to hit one up, no? I noticed one I had on my list coming up – The Alps.

So I veered off to get in line. And obviously I told no one about this because all of a sudden I was alone. Like, literally, I was walking with the crowd. I saw cheese. And I walked off.

Sometimes, I am five years old.

Also, most times.

But yeah, cheese was the big draw here. I ordered up the Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with alpine ham, baby potatoes, cornichons, and baguette. And part of the draw of this dish is watching the dude behind the counter use the raclette machine to warm the cheese and scrape it over the dish.

He scrapes the cheese over the potatoes and cornichons, tops it with a piece of Alpine Ham, and then serves it with a baguette on the side.

I found the nearest trash can and proceeded to eat some hot cheese over some hot potatoes in the hot Florida sun.

And I didn’t regret it one bit. Thing was real good. Like, scraping-the-bottom-of-the-container-to-get-every-melty-cheesy-bit good.

But now here I was, belly fully of cheese, alone.

It was like once the cheese was gone, the reality of my situation hit me.

So I phoned Nickie and she said everyone had ducked into the Odyssey building just at the entrance to World Showcase to get out of the sun for a bit.

To the Odyssey!

When I got into the Odyssey, I was greeted with a surprise. The Brew-Wing beers and wings Food and Wine booth was open!

And, like, that booth was originally not going to be open on the first day of the festival. This was a big deal. On account of chicken wings were sent to us by the gods.

While everyone was sitting over at a table in the main area, I snuck away to put in an order for some Buffalo Wings.

I was food-wandering a lot today.

But yeah, wings.

These ended up being really good wings. Tender, lots of meat, and the sauce definitely had some kick to it.

The one unfortunate thing was they were apparently out of Blue Cheese so we had to settle for Ranch dressing. Which is like Blue Cheese, except way worse. This sparked a pretty heated argument at the table with some actually defending Ranch dressing.

Blasphemy.

We are obviously not friends anymore.

Liam though. Kid can eat a wing.

Impressive. Most impressive.

Though, I mean.

While eating a wing, Liam dropped one square in his lap.

And this of course left a mark so Liam excused himself to the bathroom to try and clean it up. He returned in this state…

So it was obviously our duty to point and laugh and say, “Liam peed his pants.”

He was really happy about that.

At this point, it was a little after 1:30 and we had to be back at EPCOT for dinner a little later. So we made the plan to head back to Animal Kingdom Lodge to get some pool time in. And, like, it wasn’t just the five of us heading back. Noooooo no. Liam and Ayla AND Bella and Lani were all coming back with us to hang out. AND Arty and Suzanne (Liam and Ayla’s parents) were gonna meet us for some pool time as well.

Best afternoon ever? I mean, maybe.

So like, bye for now EPCOT.

We’ll be back tho.

We all hopped on the bus, which btw was waiting for us when we got there.

Bus win.

And on the way back to the Lodge, Owen and I took some bus selfies.

Belfies.

Now, I wanna set up what the whole scene was when we got back to the room. There were a total of 9 of us in the room at this point. One bathroom, one bedroom. Couple of closets. And everyone had to get their bathing suit on. Also? 7 of these people? Teenagers.

It was a scene, man.

Nickie got ready first so she could get down to the pool to meet Arty and Suzanne but I let a bunch of kids ahead of me so I had to meet her down there.

When I got down there, Arty, Suzanne, and Nickie were all at the Uzima Springs Pool Bar so, I mean, when in Uzima Springs…

That there is a Mount Kilamarita (Patrón Silver Tequila, Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, and Sweet-and-Sour with a splash of Cranberry Juice). Which was a lovely drink.

We grabbed some lounge chairs out near the water slide, which were right across from these guys.

Have I mentioned how much I love Animal Kingdom Lodge? Like, just outside the pool area? Flamingos. Incredible.

I am always so torn between who has the better “what’s a group of these animals called” name. It always comes down to flamingos, which are a flamboyance, and crows, which are a murder. Both are awesome in their own special ways I suppose and on any given day, I may prefer one over the other.

It’s like the whole Mounds / Almond Joy thing.

Sometimes you feel flamboyant, sometimes you feel like murder.

Anyways. Right. Where was I?

Oh right, so we swam for a little bit.

And we also went down the water slide a few times. Which, like, pro tip – when I am going down the Uzima Springs water slide or any Disney pool water slide for that matter, definitely get a good almost running start. Like if there are bars, hold on to them and stand just outside the entrance to the slide. When the light turns green, thrust yourself onto the slide. Get on your back immediately and arch it so that your shoulder blades and your heels are the only things touching. This will get you some good speed.

When I did that, Bella informed me it was one of the greatest things she’s ever seen.

So I mean.

At around 4PM, the effects of my Mount Kilamarita were starting to wear off and I wasn’t in the mood to face reality. So back to the bar we (me, Nickie, Arty, and Suzanne) went.

This time around, we got some Captain’s Mai Tais (Captain Morgan Original Spice Rum, Bols Amaretto, and Tropical Juices topped with a float of Plantation Original Dark Rum.)

Which, I mean. These are a Disney bar classic for a reason. They never disappoint.

We hung out at a table near the bar for a little while, enjoying our drinks, and conversing. You know, like adults do. I don’t fully remember the subject matter but I hope it had something to do with whether we preferred flamboyance or murder.

But eventually, we did all have to head up and get ready for dinner.

I should also mention at this point that Liam and Ayla were actually spending the night in our room tonight, which was part of the reason Arty and Suzanne were there. To drop off their luggage and what not.

The reason I mention this now is Arty and Suzie were heading back to their AirBnB while the rest of us (still…9 people) went back up to get ready for dinner.

And, surprisingly, this was all accomplished in under an hour.

I know. I was kind of shocked too.

But even being that it took less time than expected, we still had to get moving. As I said before, we had dinner that night back at EPCOT. Dinner was a 6pm and it was just after 5pm at this point. Sooooez we decided we couldn’t really rely on Disney busses to get us there in time.

We had to do a rideshare. And we could have easily done two Lyfts or whatever but Minnie Vans had just come back so we were kind of itching to get in one of em. For those that don’t know, Minnie Vans are ordered through the Lyft app but they are run by Disney. Each Minnie Van is driven by a Disney cast member. So service is top-notch. Plus they’re equipped with chargers and will play whatever music you want, but obviously you should always want Disney music. Also, they are all red with white polka dots.

You know, like Minnie.

Right so. We tried to order up two Minnie Vans since we had nine people but while Nickie could, my app kept saying that, due to limited availability, there weren’t any in the area. So as we were walking out to the front of the hotel I kept trying but to no avail. We got outside and I relegated myself to ordering a normal, everyday, non-Minnie Lyft.

But…

Just as I was about to order it, up walks Arty and Suzanne. Arty came back looking for his sunglasses, which none of us had seen unfortunately. But while he was there, he offered to take a group of us over to EPCOT in his rental.

Which was super nice.

Nickie and I volunteered to not experience the Minnie Van and Ayla, being the gracious soul she is, did as well.

Everyone else hopped in the Minnie Van.

Now, here is where things got….interesting.

So, as Arty was pulling out of the parking lot, he spotted the Minnie Van doing the same so he sped up to remain in back of it as we headed out onto the highway.

Well, at least we thought he would remain in back of it.

As we proceeded down the highway, Arty moved into the other lane so he could speed up and get alongside the Minnie Van and beep to signal that, I don’t know, we didn’t care whether we lived or died maybe?

It was a lot like that movie Cannonball Run.

Here we are, worried for our safety.

It was a trip.

We did make it, though.

And Arty drove us right up to the entrance to EPCOT.

Like, right up.

Like, beyond where normal parkgoers are allowed to go. There were a ton of signs saying not to go where we went, but Arty? He lives by his own rules.

And I was there for it, man.

So he dropped us off pretty much right at the gate. And like, thanks Arty and Suzanne. The ride was much appreciated.

And also terrifying.

Dinner tonight was in the Land Pavilion so we all made our way over.

Oh, and I should totally show you guys my outfit for the night. I mean, you got a glimpse of it in my car photo. But check this situation out.

Yep. Total Co-ord. I felt like some sort of model.

Not, like, a fashion model. But some sort of model.

So right, dinner tonight was at Garden Grill, which is like the trifecta of Disney restaurants. It’s all-you-care-to-eat. It’s a character meal. AND it is a rotating restaurant.

When we got to the restaurant, we weren’t sure if we would be able to be sat together on account of we had 10 people.

But Disney being Disney, they made it happen.

And yeah, I mean it’s kind of weird we were all like facing out. It kind of looked like we were sitting at the Garfield Thanksgiving table.

But this is kind of how the tables are all set up here. And it kind of makes sense. It works well for characters plus the whole rotating restaurant situation thing.

But.

Buttttt.

It wasn’t all that conducive to conversation. So that resulted in a lot of screens down the line.

And pretty much immediately after sitting down? We spotted a rodent.

Which would usually be a bad sign. Thankfully, he was pretty friendly.

To start out, I ordered a Bud Light.

Which was obvs squad refreshing.

Our waiter also brought over some Harvest-Inspired Garden Salad and rolls.

And cool thing about that salad? The vegetables were all grown in the Living With the Land attraction.

I mean, at least I thought it was cool.

And while we were enjoying our salad and rolls, this good boy came over.

I love that picture because Bella, Lani, and Ayla look like Pluto’s back-up singers.

Pluto and the Plutettes.

After Pluto graced us with his presence, our waiter brought out our main course. Which was a skillet filled with all kinds of goodness.

Up there you got some Barbecue-Roasted Chicken, Grilled Beef with Chimichurri, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Southern-Style Spoon Bread.

All that was real good. I think if I had to pick my favorite thing out of there, it would be a tough call between the Creamy Mashed Potatoes and the Southern-Style Spoon Bread. The Green Beans were nice as well.

He also brought over some servings of Macaroni & Cheese.

Which kind of maybe was the star of the mains tonight. That was some good mac and cheese. Though there did used to be goldfish crackers up in there.

Pfft. #ThanksChapek.

Here’s the full plate shot.

Next up? Rodent #2. Chip. Ugh he’s legit the cutest.

Though I must say, Chip was legit ALL OVER Nickie. Like he was giving me tons of guff and basically telling me he was stealing my girl.

Which, like. Yeah. I can’t compete.

Dude is a Chippendale.

I had to.

Next up for characters? Rodent #3. The boss man. The big cheese.

Mickey the Mouse.

Our waitress offered to take a picture of all of us, which was obvs super nice.

And hey, remember when you were looking at all that food we ate earlier and you were like, “oh man, that’s a lot of food” and “how could one person eat such a food?” and “ok, dude…maybe don’t eat so much.”

Well, first off. Harsh.

But secondly, that wasn’t the end of it. Because we still had dessert coming – Berry Short Cake with Whipped Cream!

Which was soooooo good. The cake was nice and spongey and that whipped cream. Oof.

I also paired my share of dessert with a cup of coffee.

Dinner overall was very good. Garden Grill kind of never disappoints. It’s probably never gonna be in my “best ever in Disney food conversation” but it’s a solid choice. Everything was tasty and fresh and the character interaction was top-notch.

Since we were already in the Land Pavilion, we decided to focus on attractions here after our meal. First up, Soarin’ Around the World.

The line wasn’t too bad at all, taking us about 20 minutes to get from entrance to the actual ride.

But alas, we couldn’t get my favorite row – Concourse B, Row 1 – because another larger group grabbed it in front of us. But we did get Concourse B, Row 2. So I mean, that’s probably complete nonsense to anyone who hasn’t ridden Soarin’ before.

But if you know, you know.

I probably will always prefer Soarin’ Over California, but Around the World has its charms for sure and its still a really fun attraction.

And I do love that all of us could sit in a row together.

Quentin Tarantino and Rex Ryan would love that picture.

I should also mention Nickie had a big moment here. She used to love Soarin’ a ways back but the last few times we have been to Disney, she has been skipping out on it because it was causing her anxiety. But tonight, she decided to face her fears and rode it with all of us. And I dunno. I think she’s back. Proud of you, hun.

In keeping with the “Rides in the Land Pavilion” theme, next up was Living with the Land.

This attraction is such an interesting situation. It’s legitimately just like a boat ride through a greenhouse.

But I am here for it. Maybe it’s because it kind of has the same energy as the boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Like, instead of chocolate, it’s vegetables and whatever. But still, I fully at some point expect this whole situation.

But meh, nothing even close.

Oh also. While we were on the boat, Liam was dropping mad marine biology on us and warning us of the dangers of the Mantis Shrimp.

Liam claimed it was the “most dangerous animal in the world.” Which, like, sounded suspect.

So he spent a good time of his Living with the Land experience conducting thorough shrimp research.

For those wondering – while the Mantis does pack a serious punch that can cause lacerations and heavy bleeding, its not really the most dangerous animal in the world. But don’t tell Liam. I don’t wanna disappoint him.

We had time for one more attraction before we had to go and get set up for the fireworks so we paid a little visit to our friend Figment at Journey Into Imagination.

The line, per usual, was pretty much non-existent so we hopped right on.

So journey with us.

Into Imagination.

I know it’s a shell of its former self, but this ride still hits.

The soundtrack alone is enough. If you don’t clap along to “One Little Spark,” you legit might not have a soul.

I also love that our kids still stop and play in the ImageWorks “What If” Labs.

So, like I said, we were starting to think about the fireworks at this point. It was around 8:15 by now and the show began at 9pm. So Nickie, Kayce, and I started walking towards World Showcase to secure a spot.

The kids, meanwhile, wanted to take a spin on The Seas With Nemo and Friends so we told them we would meet them over there.

We found one of our favorite EPCOT fireworks-watching spots completely open down on the water to the left of the Rose & Crown in the UK Pavilion. We walked down to the wall and looked menacingly at anyone who dared approach us.

And the bonus? Being so close to the Rose & Crown meant drinky-poos were mere steps away in the pub.

This pub is such an interesting place. Like, I am aware there are drunks legit alllllll over EPCOT. But this place just has such a different feel to it. Like, people get straight up belligerent in here. There was a dude in there celebrating his birthday when I walked in and his friend loudly proclaimed a toast to him. When the rest of the bar didn’t join in, he told everyone that didn’t toast his friend to F off.

Yeah, this was Walt Disney world you guys.

But whatevz. There was whiskey.

I ordered myself a glass of Oban 14 and Nickie a Harp.

And I brought our drinks out to enjoy while we waited for the show.

Also though? While the kids never actually got to see Michael Kay, they did run into one of our most favorite vloggers – Paging Mr. Morrow.

We have met Paging Mr. Morrow on the blog here before and, man, this dude is the best. Such a nice guy, super happy to meet his fans, and his content is bomb. He’s a legit pleasure to watch. I highly recommend.

The kids did end up finding their way over to us by 9pm so we could all watch the fireworks together.

So these fireworks were the relatively new Harmonious nighttime spectacular. Something that, again, was new to most of us except for Nickie and Kayce. I was both excited and a bit cautious being that the old EPCOT show – Illuminations – still stands as my favorite Disney nighttime spectacular of all-time.

How did it stack up? Let’s find out.

Commence fireworks photo dump…

Now!

Harmonious is made up of three different main show elements. In the sky, you got your fireworks. And in the water, you got your water features and barges onto which are projected different scenes depicting different Disney films. And while both of those elements are stellar, it’s the soundtrack that really makes this show. It’s made up of all these classic Disney songs in different languages to fit in with the whole World Showcase situation.

And yeah, I kind of loved it. I mean, did it pack the emotional punch of Illuminations? No. It didn’t. But that’s ok. Because it was beautiful. And it was joyful. And it fit very well in the World Showcase Lagoon.

Two thumbs up.

After Harmonious ended, we were treated to another new-to-most-of-us sight. Lights on Spaceship Earth!!!

Man. Now she really is the hottest girl in school.

That kind of signaled the end of the night so we all walked out towards the exit. But on the way, we passed some more 50th Anniversary statues.

We got Pua and Hei Hei…

…Olaf and Bruni…

…and Rocket and Groot.

So that’s three more statues, but 6 more characters. For a grand total of 23!

And on our way out, we got a closer look at this situation.

Liam also took this opportunity to try and recreate the iconic Michael Kay shot on his t-shirt.

And this all happened on the way OUT. We legit squeeze fun out of every minute possible.

But eventually, we did find our way out of the park. Kayce, Bella, and Lani hopped on the Skyliner back to the Beach Club and the rest of us hopped on a bus…

…at around 10pm to get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

While we were on the bus, we noticed a kind of typical smell one might find on a bus at 10pm heading back from a Disney World park in the middle of summer.

Yeah, B.O. you guys.

So we kind of hush-hush discussed it amongst ourselves and Liam assured us it was not him. No one was accusing him or anything but to be sure, he whipped out a stick of deodorant he’d been carrying in his shorts pocket all day. Like, not in a bag or anything. Just chilling in his pocket in case he needed a refresher.

Which legit had us all howling on the bus. And not just us. We noticed others sitting around us laughing at our conversation. It was an insanely fun bus ride back to the resort.

Once we were back at the room, we got everything ready for everyone. Again, remember, we had 7 people here tonight. Which meant Nickie and I were in the King bed in the bedroom, Owen and Myles were on the pull-out couch, Hannah was on the pull-out chair, and both Liam and Ayla were on couch cushions on the floor.

It was…something.

It’s a good thing Liam had his pocket deodorant.

And yeah, that was Day 3 my dudes. Quite a day, no? There was A LOT going on there.

Definitely stay tuned for Day 4. On account of there is also A LOT going on there as well.

Until then, watch out for those Mantis Shrimp. They’ll get ya.

Previous post – Day 2

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