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Spring Break: Epcot

Friday, May 18, 2018

On our last full day of our trip (Saturday) we spent the morning at Disney Springs. We headed back pretty early so ALL the kids could nap and then the big three and I headed to Epcot. It was my first solo mom experience at night at the parks. Nights at the parks tend to be more crowded and it means dealing with the massive crowd of people when exiting at closing. Plus the dark is just a new ballgame vs when it's nice and bright and light outside.

I'm just conquering all these park goals ;) When we arrived at Epcot we went straight to get some pics and this was an odd location but I'm always all about finding the photo pass person without anyone waiting so whatever. It works!




Tess was moody. She's very hit or miss with photos so I figured we'd do individual pics instead ;)










Magic Photos have become Britt's FAVORITE. I've started letting the photo pass photographers KNOW that she LOVES these pictures and will even specifically ask if we can have a less common magical touch rather than yet another Tinkerbelle one. It's really made our photo stops so fun and it's a great surprise later on in the day when they hit my phone and we can see them!!! Both Britt's and Kye's were less common ones and they LOVED them!


Here's a tip: When you book your fast passes make sure to screen shot a photo of them. Not only does that protect you if something were to happen on the app that could mess them up (it's happened to me: nightmare city) BUT it's SO much easier to glance at a pic on your phone as a reminder rather than open the app every time you need to check your next fastpass time. Many people even go as far as making it their wallpaper image on their phones but I'm cool with looking it up in my photos folder ;)



First Stop: Club Cool. We all agreed we can handle like one cup of soda but any more makes us feel icky! Green is our fav!


We did get Tess to try The Beverly! Tessie is one of those people who wants to be a pleaser so she tries to act like she likes it haha!


Our first Fastpass was to meet some characters! Britt was having a bit of an attitude issue but I'm very proud of how well she did once we talked through it. She flipped that switch and was pure joy the rest of our time at the park! Meeting Mickey :) 




My theme continued to be using up shirts that are borderline too little ;) I LOVE these princess and star wars shirts and the characters did too! Mickey was saying "where's my name?"







Goofy was THE BEST. He broke down and had a full on DANCY PARTY with the kids!!! They were in heaven and it was adorable!










Goofy asked me to pull his ear? Whatever you're into dude haha!



Had to get a pic solo with him...we all know I love tall guys ;)


Making Zach jealous ;) He and Goofy always have a friendly competition about who is taller!




Minnie!




And she wants on the shirts too ;) We let her know she's not on them bc she's not a princess...she's a QUEEN ;) 





We literally had ZERO plans. And a TON of time to kill. I know people always say that Hollywood Studios is a half day park but I really, really think Epcot is as well. Especially with kids. Because World Showcase is probably the last thing I'd suggest a family of kids should do if they're visiting the parks and aren't able to go often. And aside from World Showcase there aren't a ton of other great options? Not very many thrill experiences. Just not a whole lot going on. But yet I still ADORE Epcot. I think of all the parks it's the one I feel the most comfortable with solo. 

We checked out wait times and decided what to hit up and the kids wanted to watch the Pixar Short Films. This is something I'd never done and assumed it was just sitting in a theater watching Pixar Shorts (all of which we've already seen) but it was MUCH cuter than I'd expected and had more to it than just watching movies! 


We all really enjoyed it and agreed we'd watch it again!

It is a LONGER experience so be warned that it sucks park time. It was three short films and all were super cute!


After we made a little pit stop outside the experience to decide what to do next and the kids gravitated towards the fountain area. The fountains had "jumping water" that randomly sprays onto the pavement...The area also has huge rocks ;) 


Kye started playing with the fountains and seeing if he could time it to not get wet. Which quickly turned into all the kids jumping into the water streams. I discussed it with them and said I did not care. If they wanted to get soaked, they could go for it (total COOL MOM moment over here!) but that I did NOT want to hear a SINGLE complaint about how cold and wet they'd be after. They all agreed and I LOVED just watching them! 

It was also funny seeing the other parents come by. I know if I was at the parks and saw a mom letting her kids get soaked like that that I'd probably roll my eyes to Zach too haha. 

Their joy? Totally worth it!!! I say it all the time but the most magical Disney moments are usually the unplanned ones :) 





The end result :) 


All these "we are crazy" poses are so epic!



Yes, Tess is poking out her hiney. Thanks preschool for this awesome "trick" haha!








Sometimes you just gotta let 'em play in the fountains!


After we hopped into Figment because it was right by where we were and it had NO WAIT. Like such a low wait that the cast members were actually discussing how sad it was that no one was there to ride Figment. I'm super interested to see if they let him fizzle or include him in the revamped Inside Out ride!


While I wouldn't recommend Epcot for a full park day for a family who doesn't visit the parks often...I would totally recommend it for a family like ours who visits pretty regularly. Because there are SO many play areas and just places to chill and explore without any rushing. Basically it's a good place to go and kill time ha! 

Almost every ride has a play area at the end of it. The kids LOVE the area after Figment!


And we loved getting to do the photo booth!!!






Kye takes over the stroller because he swears he's faster than I am :) 


We had a Fastpass for Spaceship Earth. Even though it's also a super long experience, it's still a favorite among our crew! 

Plus Kye and Britt love anything that they can ride together! Tessie and I ride together and the pics of us cracked me up. Even funnier was that this time I let her make all of our decisions for "our future." And she picked stuff I'd never in a million years pick (like that we wanted to "live green" and by the mountains rather than the beach haha!) so our end little peak into our future was really fun to watch! 




Figment is our new bff!

I think this was supposed to be magic but it messed up ha!


I love pics where my kids are looking at each other ;)


Me and most of my crew!



Heading to World Showcase to finish our evening!

Tess has declared that the Donald Duck ride is her favorite. Poor Kye because it's super boring for him but we are all hopeful the rumors about it being converted into a Cocoa experience comes true!


And we got front row whoop whoop!


I brought dinner for the kids and we found a spot to sit and eat and this is the face you make when you HEAR the thunder and SEE the lighting while eating dinner outside. Not cool. 


So. Not only did I conquer my first park at night solo with the kids but I also conquered my first park rainstorm. I knew there was a chance of rain but OMG YALL. This was a legit STORM. Thunder. Lightning. Crazy wind. Insane rain. I had packed all our gear but it was rough. We sought shelter to wait it out a bit and decide what to do. While there we watched strollers be blown over! INSANE. 


We had a fastpass for Frozen. So we waited out the rain and then headed to the fastpass. When you have a Frozen fastpass...you use it haha!

I was VERY proud of the kids. They were AWESOME In the storm. Not only were they awesome but it has quit being super bad when we parked our stroller to go in the ride and the kids all, on their own, ran around the stroller parking area picking up strollers that the win knocked over. It was so sad seeing people's stuff everywhere and drenched. Frozen has such long wait times (the wait when we got there was 70 min!) that most likely those people parked their strollers with sunny skies!!! 


Worth it! AND it was hilarious b/c our crunkness and arm-raising excitement got the family behind us raising up their arms too haha!

Hate you can't see Kye but aren't the girls faces just adorable?!?! 


Hanging with the troll! 


It was still raining and we literally didn't have anywhere else to go until the fireworks at 9. We debated going ahead and heading to the car but the forecast looked promising and I really did want to stay for Illuminations! 

I feel like I'm making Epcot sound like a total time killer park buttttt if you need to kill some time there are also craft stations in all the countries around World Showcase. We spent a solid 45 min hanging in Norway ;) 


Showing my #disneynerd over here but it's a HUGE compliment to me when cast members start chatting me up and think I'm a cast member too ;) I LOVE it haha 

I ended up talking with the Norway cast members at the craft station during our time there and this guy was cracking me up because he was like the Norwegian younger version of Zach. The stories he told were so stuff 19 year old Zach would say. He was talking about how all the girls ask for pics with him hahaha it was hilarious. 


The kids had so much fun coloring their Duffy's!


BEST PLACED HIDDEN MICKEY EVER.

DYYYYYYING.


Kye's legit looks like you could sell it online!

The cast members told me that people have for real come in and asked for Duffy's and then said they were selling them on Ebay haha


We FINALLY made the leap and bought a popcorn bucket! The regular style bucket is $10 and you can get refills for $1.99. Can't beat that! What's great too is they will give you little serving boxes so you can split the bucket too. Totally great investment especially since we're visiting more often!


We had to sorta travel around the world (literally ha!) to find the popcorn bucket and my dinner...a Mickey pretzel, duh. If you're at World Showcase and are wanting a popcorn bucket or pretzel you gotta go to America. They told me it was a 6 minute walk and that was really about right! While I didn't feel like making the treck..it was worth it! The kids got their popcorn, and I got my pretzel.

We worked our way back to the entrance of World Showcase but stopped in Mexico when we happened to pass a perfect spot to see Illuminations. We legit got there less than 10 min before the show and had THE best seating EVER. 

And yes, I know I just said that about my trip in March with Katie...but this seating was even better because we didn't have any trees blocking ;) 




Popcorn + "sticky foot" = happy Tessie :)


Daddy had a great night too of watching golf and hanging with Spear!



We got back super late that night...like 11:00. When the show ended I just took my timeeeee exiting the park. I didn't want to deal with massive crowds and I had both Kye and Britt needing to stick by me since I only had the single stroller. I also totally left my glasses at the condo so it was a STRUGGLE driving back in the dark! Oops. 

We had to be out of the condo by 10:00 am so we got mostly everything packed up the day prior and just loaded up the car first thing that morning. Since we had to be out at such a weird time for our scheduling (Spear eats at 7 and 11 so leaving at 10 would mean we'd have to stop to feed him at 11). I booked us a breakfast! It really couldn't have worked out better!!! Knowing we had somewhere FUN to be before heading home put all the kids in great helping moods ;) 


While Daddy finished loading up we took some pics ;) 


Britt said "Mommy can you give me a magic picture?" ha!


So I made it magic by adding a Gif on IG #genius






Our Gang!


Getting a little catnap in on the way back to Epcot!



We weren't in a rush to get there because we had a fastpass scheduled before our reservation so we just entered with the masses. If you like avoiding crowds it really is true to get there EARLY. Being there when the park is open in the morning really does make all the lines take longer.

Fun fact I learned that morning: On average the security bag check cast members look through 480 bags per hour. C-RAZY!


Once again using shirts that are about too small ;) 


I felt bad Spear didn't have a matching one but he was about too big for his "Oh Boy" onesie and I really wanted him to get to wear it so it worked out!





I adore this haha


My Babies!



We split up once we got in the park and Zach took Britt and Kye to Test Track (Britt's first time riding!)

Test Track Hair Don't Care!


She loved it!



While I took Tess and Spear to ride Nemo!


Had to say hey to "all the Donald's" on the way :)



"I'm gonna find Nemo and I'm gonna EAT HIM UP."

Hmmm okay ;) 


Tess LOVES getting to scan her band! She enjoys practicing scanning it (Mickey to Mickey!) especially in the bathroom stalls haha


Finding Nemo!


We had time to kill before meeting up and Tess LOVES all the animal exhibit areas!


I have a special spot for manatees :) 


Play Place! She had it to herself!








We had a good bit of a wait for our reservation due to our desire to have a larger table. Downside of having a bunch of kids...we take up a BUNCH of space!

Spear was cool with it and just napped in Daddy's arms while Tess and I told stories and the big kids and Zach played a game where they draw on his phone and have to guess the drawing. 


We hadn't ever eaten at Garden Grill before and I thought it'd make for a super fun surprise for all of the kids! I LOVE trying new places to eat! Did you know there are over 200 restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort? And they make changes so often that it makes even re-visiting places fun!


What to expect when you eat at Garden Grill! 


This was the table they originally offered us but the cast member told me she didn't think it'd be enough space and I'm SO GLAD we listened and waited because we really did enjoy having more room! 

The restaurant is revolving which is AWESOME. So sitting on the outer edge really is ideal. Not only is it booths but you have the best views as the restaurant spins. 


And who doesn't love the hidden mickey plate set up? :)


Garden Grill is an all you can eat restaurant but it's served at your table. There are pros and cons about this type of service. It's great because you just get to SIT rather than have to take trips back and forth to the buffet but it can take awhile to get the refill food too which can be a bit of a hassle. 

Our food literally came out right when we sat down!


Mickey Waffles (AND they have chocolate syrup for them...yum!!!)


The best thing though is Chip's Sticky Bun Bake. Ask for a second one so you can get it FRESH because it's AWESOME. 


Most people either LOVE or HATE character meals. The complaints about them are how loud they tend to be and how rushed they can feel. 

Personally, obviously, I'm team character meals. I love that you can meet characters in a more relaxed setting rather than waiting in line for them in the parks. It cuts down on park wait times and on how annoyed my husband will be ;) Plus the food is always good and typically we find that the characters are more interactive in the dining setting!

The ONLY downside is sometimes the timing works out where you're bombarded with characters. It's happened to us once at Chef Mickey's and it happened on this morning. We sat down and BAM! our food arrived and then BAM! all four characters came by almost on top of each other. 

It was a bit rushed for me and felt overwhelming and I literally didn't even have time to settle in or decide which kid was sitting where or even have my camera ready. 

Here's the thing though...if you take your time eating at character meals the characters will typically come by again. I have found this to be especially true when they DO arrive right as you sit down. The timing typically ends up being if chapters come by when you are first seated then they will be coming back by probably as you are finishing up. OR they come by once and it's more mid-meal. 

I LOVE when we get to meet them twice. And this time it was even more perfect because we had a bit of banter with Chip and Dale and when they came by for the second time the banter fun continued with them! 

I lumped all the photos together with each character rather than each time we met them. The phone quality pics are obviously the ones who we met first because I couldn't even grab my camera haha!

Our Favorite Pup!




Pro Dad Alert :) 



I love Kye's love for Characters!


Farmer Mickey is ADORABLE. When we do this meal in the future it'd be so fun to dress in more farmer attire :) 


Spear was getting ALL THE ATTENTION! 

This was his first character meal experience and he did awesome :) 






Britt just always draws people in, including characters. They all always FLOCK to her. Chip and Dale had a competition going for her heart. They both danced with her, kissed on her, and tried to steal her away! They even proposed! 

She said she's not allowed to marry animals hahaha

And she also started to run away with them but then decided she wanted to stay with her parents :) 

We all laughed super hard with Chip and Dale and it was so funny and adorable all the antics they had to win her heart! They involved us all and were super sweet towards the other kids too, including Spear. All the characters really NOTICED each child and made sure to seek them out when they weren't as interested (like Tess who was sleepy from the night prior and not in the best mood). 


Jealous Dale ;)










Zach taught me a little Disney trivia too. Did you know that Disney makes sure that no two characters in their franchise share the same name? And that there is actually only ONE name that is used twice...do you know which one?

Yup, CHIP! 

Both the OG Chip (from Chip and Dale) as well as Chip from Beauty and the Beast!

Since Dale won Britt's heart Chip had his shot at Tess ;) ha!




And he won a kiss!!!

Can I just add I ADORE when characters get down on kids levels? This is something I'm pretty hardcore about myself! 







Rejection haha


Pity Hug


His proposal and stealing her away!






The girls LOVED looking at all the scenery as the restaurant revolved. The jungle area was their favorite! 


We all agreed we LOVED Garden Grill! Awesome vibe, awesome food, awesome atmosphere and awesome character interactions! We WILL be back and can't believe it isn't hyped more? 

We literally got to Epcot, all rode one ride, at breakfast then left to head home! The beauty of being passholders!

Park Maps: perfect kid entertainment at the parks! 


Spear rode on Zach's chest to help wear him out a bit so he'd sleep on the way home!


We got home safely and sweet Tess was so worn out that she legit fell asleep on the couch and slept for a good few hours!!!


We had such a great Spring Break filled with magic moments and wonderful memories together as a family! 

If you're visiting the Disney World Area and are wanting to save money and have lots of SPACE to spread out yet still be super close to the parks be sure to check out our rental vacation home! 

Also be sure you're following me on Instagram for all my Disney updates! 
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