June 18, 2017: Epcot - Garden Grill, a meltdown around the world, Frozen, more Frozen, Akershus, and Test Track
By our second park day, DM and I easily fell into a rhythm getting everyone ready to go. DH was still struggling with the time change since he hadn’t come with us to the wedding (The rest of us had adjusted by then), and he was pretty useless in the mornings. I think we were all a little surprised when we were at the West Depot by 6:30. Unfortunately, an Epcot bus wasn’t even showing up on the monitor. It made me antsy, but we had so much time before our 8:05 Garden Grill reservation that I tried to not fret. We used the time to apply sunscreen and break down the stroller. When an Epcot bus still wasn’t showing on the screen by 6:45, I decided to ask the next bus driver that came through. He assured me one was coming.
I think DH was mildly amused by my frustration. Another ten minutes or so passed, still no arrival time on the monitor for a bus for Epcot, so I decided to ask another bus driver what was going on. The next driver I asked called and assured me one was coming just after 7:00. DH joked that if I bothered a third bus driver that they would sent a bus just to appease me. Finally, an arrival time appeared on the screen. I watched the arrival estimate bop up and down with mounting frustration, and a bus finally showed up around 7:18. It was full of CMs who were doing some kind of training with running the bus depots. DM, bless her, made small talk with of the CMs. I just wanted to get to Epcot already.
The one thing DD3 had asked for was to eat with Chip and Dale. She and I had fallen into the habit of watching ride videos, etc on Youtube, and one time we came across a video of a family at Garden Grill. Chip had smashed food in the Dad’s face, and DD thought it was hilarious. Since this was a few months after I had made our ADRs, I didn’t think that I would be able to snag the reservation. I put a request in the reservation finder, and by the end of that day, I had an 8:05 for Garden Grill. This trip was all about doing things we thought DD would enjoy, so I was thrilled that we could make her wish a reality.
If, you are ever at POR and your Epcot bus doesn’t show up until almost 7:20, know that you can in fact get to the park, go through bag check, get through the ADR line, tap in, and make it Garden Grill by 8:00.
Once we made it, I finally felt like I could relax.
Ellyn, our waitress, brought us back to our table, and I wished that I remembered to ask for a table on the outer ring of the restaurant. DD3 spied the chickens in the farm scene from Living with the Land on the way to our table and thought it was the coolest thing. She declared, “Mommy, I want to go on that.” Oh, baby girl, that was just the beginning of your obsession with Living with the Land. Ellyn was lovely, and we quickly had a table full of food and drinks. We had our first Mickey waffles of the trip, and they were delicious. I slipped DD3 DH’s Father’s Day card, and she proudly gave it to him. DD3 has a hard time keeping secrets, so I was amazed that she had kept our gift hush hush so long. Breakfast was off to a good start.
Pluto came by our table and had great interactions with DD. I was pleased, especially after our experience with CRT the night before. Next up was Mickey. DD3 saw Mickey in the FOF Parade the day before, but she didn’t get to interact with him. She just hugged Mickey and didn’t stop. It was precious, and it was moments like these that made the trip worth the cost.
After that, I thought that Mickey had moved on to the next group. DD1 was seated next to me and away from the edge of the table because she wasn’t too sure about the characters. All of the sudden, she and turned around and there was Mickey large as life right over her shoulder. I think he may have tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention. She started screaming and sobbing. While Mickey meant well, he terrified her. If she grows up hating Mickey, we’ll all know why! She looked at furries side eyed the rest of our trip.
Chip and Dale both came by much to DD3’s delight. We were using a menu that Ellyn had so kindly given us to block DD1’s view. She just wasn’t having it and was still pretty terrified. Chip danced with DD3 and she interacted with Dale. DD3 seemed pleased even though no one smashed food in DH’s face. Each of the characters came by at least twice. I still giggle thinking about Mickey trying to sneak by our table. He turned away from us and spread eagle against the wall hoping DD1 wouldn’t notice him. It was hilarious. This was what I expected from character meals, and as other Liners had said, the food was delicious! GG is already on the list of things we must do next time.
I knew that DH and I could hit up Soarin’ if we were done with breakfast quick enough, but I didn’t want to rush our meal. I figured if we were done in enough time, we would do it. If we weren’t, oh, well. Ellyn brought us our check and a little pixie dust. With our check she had included five passes for Turtle Talk with Crush. I already had FPs for Crush already, but she told me to switch them to something else. It was such a nice gesture!
After GG, we split up. The park hadn’t opened yet, so DD and I headed to Soarin’ while DM took DD1 and DD3 to “that chicken ride” aka Living with the Land. DH and I were in the first group to ride Soarin’ for the day. “Wow!” is all I can say about Soarin’. DD3 was tall enough for Soarin’, but I wasn’t sure how it would sit with her. Having experienced it now, I think she would’ve loved it, especially the part where you soar over the pyramids. Egypt and mummies fascinate her. Soarin’ was such a fun experience! I am, however, glad we didn’t take her because she adored Living with the Land. She gardens with DM and I at home. We still aren’t sure why she loves LwtL so much other than that. She was determined to bring Mommy and Daddy back to the “ride in the big ball.” The roof of one of the greenhouses has a pattern similar to Spaceship Earth, so that is where she thought she was. We didn’t have the heart to burst her bubble.
We left the Land and immediately got in line to meet Joy and Sadness. We have watched Inside Out with DD3 a million times, so it was only appropriate. The wait was minimal.
After, we headed over to Figment, which was walk on. I had added it to our TP out of nostalgia, but I’m pretty sure we’ll skip it next time. At the Seas we used our FP for the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. I also had a FP for the Character Spot.
While we were in line a the Character Spot, DD3 started gagging. I immediately had fears of Norovirus or something other nasty bug that people pick up at Disney. The CMs at the FP lane assured us that they would let us back in and looked rather relieve that we were leaving. I’m sure they didn’t want to clean up vomit. We found bathroom and quiet spot in the same building… DD gagged a few more times, but thankfully didn’t get sick. Ugh! I didn’t want to be that mom dragging a sick kid through Disney and exposing everyone else, but neither did I want to cut our day short. We waited a while and she seemed fine. We eventually decided that DD3 gagged because of DM’s coffee breath? DM had been blowing on DD to cool her off and DD is extremely sensitive to smells. Crisis averted.
With the gagging behind us, CMs let us back through the FP line. We met Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie. DD3 loves Minnie. It was a win!
We stopped to take some pictures with Spaceship Earth and got some great magic shots of DD3 with Tinkerbelle, and of DH and the girls. CMs were great to acknowledge DH all day for Father’s Day.
I also caved and bought DD3 the light up Ariel bubble wand that she spied on day one at Disney Springs. I was initially trying to hold off on buying it until our second MK day. I wanted her to have it at night for the fireworks, but let’s be honest, I was tired of her asking for it so I bit could he bullet. We bought it only to discover that all she really wanted to do was blow bubbles and not use the automated wand. Oh, my child!
At this point we had hit all of our must dos in Future World, so we headed to World Showcase. I thought that since we had eaten a big breakfast, we would be fine waiting until 12:30 or 1:00 to eat again. Boy, was I wrong. DH was getting cranky. He was hot, he was tired, he was hungry, he was irritated that we had just spent $20 on a bubble wand that DD3 didn’t really seem to want. We were breezing past pavilions, and I suddenly realized why people take solo trips to Disney.
We finally stopped in France. DD3 met Aurora, and we stopped in Le Halles to get a sandwich for DM. The initial plan was for everyone to stop when they found something they wanted and to eat around the world. Everything in Le Halles looked delicious! I momentarily thought about getting something for myself, but I had my sights set in Japan. I wanted to try Katsura Grill.
It became apparent while we were walking that DH and now DD3 were hangry and close to meltdown. We skipped Japan and headed straight to America where I knew there was food they would eat. The Liberty Inn is nothing special, but the food was pretty good, or at least I can attest that the BBQ pork sandwich is good. DH got a burger, and we ordered an adult chicken nuggets meal for DD1 and DD3 to share. We also ordered Coke and cherry slushies to maximize our dining plan.
After food, AC, and a potty break, DH and DD3 seemed revived. DD1 had slept in the baby carrier through most of World Showcase, so she was pretty perky too. DM rarely flags, and if and when she does, she knows how to hide it really well. When I was growing up DM would plan these amazing trips all over the U.S. She would do loads of research (books mostly since we didn’t really have their internet) and we always did or saw the best of/most important things everywhere we went. When you travel with my mom, you don’t miss anything. I never had a doubt that she could keep up with my TP since we are cut from the same cloth. I keep telling her that she needs to join Lines.
We went back to Japan since I wanted to pick a pearl with DD3. This was such a fun experience. I had read somewhere that a family did this every trip, and when their girls were bigger, they had a piece of jewelry made with the pearls. I thought that was such a neat idea. DD3’s pearl was covered in gunk, so it took the CM a really long time to clean it. While we were waiting, another CM made a drawing for DD3 and wrote her name in Japanese. It was a sweet gesture that went really far with us.
It was getting overcast when we left Japan, so we decided to book it to Norway and find somewhere to ride out the rain. We made a pit stop in Germany to grab a treat from Karamel Kuche. Karamel Kuche lived up the hype. Everything was delicious! It starting to sprinkle by the time we had our treats. We kept moving and ducked under the patio at Kringla in Norway before it really let loose. We were in a walkway and a CM told us we couldn’t stay there with the stroller, but when I showed her that DD3 was asleep she took pity on us. Said we could push the stroller up to a table as long as we weren’t blocking anything. We hung out there eating out treats and people watching until it was time for our FEA FP.
DD3 was out. Hard. We had a difficult time getting her going. By then I knew that we probably needed to take a midday break the next day, and that 7 AM EMH was a bad idea. It was only day two and most of our part were running on fumes.
We all loved FEA. DD3 was just a bit too young for the movie during the height of Frozen fever, but it’s still a favorite in our house. The ride, of course, dumped into the gift shop and DD spent the next few minutes dithering on what she wanted to purchase. DD3 spent so long trying to decide that we were almost late to our reservation at Akershus!
Belle was right inside the door for a meet and greet. She was lovely and told DD3 that she would have to ask her Papa to make her a pair of light up shoes too.
Our waiter gave us the ins and outs of the cold board, our menus, and when the princesses would be coming around. DD3, DM, and DH went to the cold board while I waited with DD1. DM and DD3 seemed happy, but I knew this style of cuisine wasn’t DH’s speed. He’s a chicken nugget and mac n cheese kind of guy, Thankfully, he was willing to suck it up for DD3. DM and I thought that chilled asparagus was delicious!
We had all been to the cold buffet when they announced the Princess Parade. Aurora came and collected the children from our section. DD3 was all smiles as they marched around Akershus. After the parade, princesses kept passing our table, but none had stopped by. DD3 was getting rather sad. It seemed like our table was at the end of the princess route since we were near the back of the restaurant. A few of the princess kept coming and going through a backdoor. DD3 kept saying, “Mommy, why are all of the princesses passing us?”
Finally, Cinderella dropped by our table. DD3 told her why she was sad, and Cinderella immediately sat down on the floor with DD3 and scooped her into her lap. It was perfect. She hugged on my baby girl and made it all better. She even gave DD3 a kiss on the cheek! DD3 was beside herself. I don’t know if Cinderella tipped off the rest of the princesses about DD3’s sadness, if we just lucked out in being at the end of the route so the princesses had more time, or if the interaction at Akershus is always top notch, but it was the best character interaction of our trip.
Snow White came by and DD3 showed her all of her good manners. I may have (totally did) told her before our trip that princesses only let you eat with them if you have good manners. They also talked about sharing and how DD3 had met Snow White’s dwarves the day before on the mine train.
Ariel was up next, she was spunky and spot on. DD3 spent most of the time telling her everything she knew about mummies and Egypt. Egypt is DD3’s pet subject, and she loves getting books on it at the library. Ariel was still at our table when Aurora showed up. Ariel told DD3 that she would be ruling kingdoms when she was older since she already knew so much about the world. DD3 ate it up.
Aurora was my personal favorite. She rolled with whatever DD3 threw at her, and she laughed when DD3 told her that her parents didn’t get married like she did, but “the normal way.”
Looking back at the time stamps on my photos, some of the princesses almost spent five minutes with us. It was such a phenomenal experience for my princesses loving DD.
In the end, here is what we decided about Akershus: weird food but amazing character interaction. I don’t think any of us loved our food, except DD3 who got a kid’s steak. DM and I had the braised beef, and while it was pretty good, the pink pickled mushrooms were a little off putting. DH ordered the meatballs, took two bites, and that was pretty much it. I’m sure they were probably delicious though. He’s just such a picky eater.
Akershus was also one of the few meals that didn’t feel rushed. It will definitely be on our list of must dos as long as our girls are into princesses. We may do breakfast next time since that food will be more appealing to my family.
The line for meeting Anna and Elsa was showing a fifteen minute wait. I don’t think we even waited ten. With more fantastic character interaction, Epcot was a slam dunk for us. I have friends who haven’t taken their children to Epcot because they think their little ones will be bored, but my DD3 loved it. She’ll tell you that’s it’s her favorite park after MK. It’s at the top of my list too!
After Anna and Elsa, we decided to start heading out. After our FEA FP earlier, I had snagged a FP for Spaceship Earth, but while we were at dinner, I had modified it and found a FP for two to Test Track. I was pretty sure DH would love the ride and that DD3 would too. DM and I waited for them on some benches outside of MouseGear while DD1 slept in the carrier. We decided then that EMH at AK the next day was probably a no go, and that we would definitely plan resort days on our next trip. Everyone was tired.
DH and DD3 loved Test Track. If it hadn’t been so late, I think we would’ve tried to snag another FP. We stopped to take some more pictures with Spaceship Earth since it was starting to get dark, and DD3 asked for a drink. That’s when we realized that we didn’t have our cooler. As soon as that happened, I remembered taking it out of the stroller and putting it somewhere thinking that I would forget to pick it back up, but I couldn’t remember where. DH told us to start heading towards the bus, and that he would either retrace our steps or go to Guest Services. After a few minutes at Guest Services, DH called to let us know that he had it. I was pretty shocked and had written it off as gone for good.
With all of our stuff now in tow, we all headed to the bus stop. Once again, we were out later than I had planned. It seems to become the theme of our trip. When we got back to POR, DH took DD3 with him to fill up everyone’s mugs, and then it was baths, showers, and bed for everyone. DM and I decided to get everyone up at around 6:00 like we had been doing and that we would get to AK in the morning when we got there. We figured that would probably put us in the park around 7:30, and we would still have some time to take advantage of EMH.
It was another successful day in the parks, minus a few meltdowns.