I broke down and bought the insanely expensive family photos that a PhotoPass photographer took of us at both Epcot and Hollywood Studios:
What can I say? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing because it is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE that any of us will ever go back to Disney World (at least until grandkids come along. *ahem*)
If you order photos from Disney’s PhotoPass option, let me give you a tip:
Order the largest digital copy you can.
Here are the options that Disney gives you for purchasing the PhotoPass photos.
Two 4×6’s for $14.95.
Or, one 5×7 for $14.95.
4×6, a 5×7, or an 8×10 digital copy for $14.95 each.
Here’s my tip: Buy the biggest digital copy you can. If you’re going to pay the same amount anyway, pick the biggest digital copy. Download it, upload it to someplace like Flickr, or simply go to Snapfish (if you have an account with Flickr, it automatically defaults to Snapfish whenever you want to order copies), and order any size copies you want from that 8×10 for WAY less than you would pay for actual copies through Disney.
When you pay the $14.95, you’re also paying for a royalty-free license – which means you have permission to make copies of the picture, you just can’t make copies and then sell it to someone else.
At Snapfish, you can get 4×6 copies for $.09 A PIECE!
5×7’s are $.79 cents a piece and 8×10’s are $2.99 a piece.
So, if you’re going to pay the same price for all sizes anyway, you might as well buy the biggest size available so you can order more prints at a fraction of the cost someplace else.
So it’s 9:30 in the morning on July 22nd, and we’re standing in line to go to Epcot. It’s hot. As in, two minutes of standing out in the hot sun and it was like I had just stepped out of the shower hot – I was dripping wet and already melting.
Though I was uncomfortable, it really wasn’t that surprising. We have hot and humid weather here in Missouri, so I sort of just endured it, and then ignored it. I mean, what are you going to do? You can’t control the weather (regardless of what some *cough* experts believe).
The resort had bus stops for all of the parks right outside their entrance, and we watched a bus pick up people for every OTHER park than ours for about fifteen minutes.
So the melting bit? Was pretty much a puddle before the bus ever arrived. I got on the bus already hot, gritty and wiping sweat out of my eyes. But again, not complaining. When I’m prepared to be hot and uncomfortable, I’m okay with it. It’s when I don’t WANT to sweat (like on my way to a job interview), that I get extremely cranky.
Just as the bus pulls up, and we’re getting ready to board, about 150 Brazilian girls come around the corner and to my surprise, they ALL board our bus. I couldn’t believe the bus driver didn’t make them take the next bus because HELLO, safety issues?? So the ride over to Epcot was even MORE hot and uncomfortable because now we had teenage Brazilian girls packed in like sardines and various body parts rubbing up against us.
We know they were Brazilian because Kevin asked them. And what little we could ascertain from their broken English, they were just one group of God knows how many (seriously, we saw HUNDREDS of these girls distinguished by their different colored t-shirts and/or backpacks at various points all over the place for the two days were at Disney World) milling around the parks. I still have no idea why they were at Disney World, but I think they were part of some big sports club/group thing.
All I know for certain? Were that they were annoying as all get out. They talked loud, they were rude, they had NO problem invading others’ private space and for some unknown reason, they would spontaneously break out into song at random moments (usually the moment when things would finally settle down and just when you felt it was safe to take a breath and savor the sweet silence). One girl would start chanting/singing a line and then all of them would chime in, at the top of their voices, and before long, the entire bus would rock and vibrate from the sheer noise.
Didn’t any of these girls’ mamas teach them what an “inside” voice was?
I know they were just being girls and having fun, but the sheer number of them was overwhelming and we were already hot and uncomfortable to begin with, then we had to endure hot, young bodies on top of that.
Actually, I think the guys were okay with that part. HA!
They had a particular fascination with Dude and Jazz. They stared at Dude a lot (he ignored them, as you can see in the picture), but they actually reached out and tousled Jazz’s hair. I guess they were drawn to his blondish color, I don’t know. But Jazz was NOT amused, I can assure you.
At any rate, it was a LONG ride to Epcot with all of those chattering girls and impromptu songs, let me tell ya.
But once we arrived at Epcot, we forgot all about the Brazilian girls.
I had bought two-day passes online, so we were able to go right through the gate. I thought it was interesting that in addition to inserting your card, they had you place your index finger on a scanner and scanned your fingerprint thereby imprinting that specific card as yours. That’s a heck of a lot more efficient than having to show a picture ID each time.
I walked through that gate, took one look at the giant Epcot ball and immediately forgot all of my careful planning. I knew about the FastPasses, but promptly forgot how important it was to GET those FastPasses immediately, so we were left standing there, scratching our heads and wondering what we should do first.
The only thing I knew? We were NOT going to stand in line for an hour to ride any rides. No thank you. We passed the entrance to the SPACE ride in the ball thingie and the line was completely wrapped around and insanely long. After strategizing (ha! That’s a word, I just looked it up) with Kevin a bit, we decided we would go through the park backwards – or at least in the opposite direction than most people were walking. So instead of turning left and going through the park clockwise, we went counter-clockwise.
We’re clever like that. HA!
Out of all the things that we wanted to do, the one thing that Jazz wanted to ride was the monorail.
I have to admit, it was pretty cool to see that thing silently glide through the park from time-to-time. We ended up riding it to the main transportation area, but we never got off, we just rode a big loop back to Epcot, but it was enough to scratch Jazz’s itch.
Somehow, we walked right by The Living Seas and The Land – I don’t know how we missed it. But we did end up going through the Imagination! Pavilion and though it was cute, it left the boys rolling their eyes and pretty much solidifying WHY they didn’t want to go to Disney World in the first place – too kiddish.
We then went to see Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson. It was in 3D and pretty cute – I think the boys enjoyed that. It was really fun to feel an animal rub against the back of our legs and to be misted with water.
We had every intention of walking through every country pavilion, but it didn’t work out that way. We did take a short boat ride through the Mexican restaurant and watched the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, which was cute and offered us a moment to cool off and to salivate over the food.
Which only reminded us that it was nearing lunch time – and that food is INSANELY EXPENSIVE. (Sorry. I won’t let that go.)
I do wish we had taken a ride on the Maelstrom though, in the Norway pavilion. I didn’t even remember that ride until I started writing this post and was looking back through the attractions to jog my memory on what we did at Epcot.
We stopped to eat lunch there (I won’t mention the price), and then we listened to the Voices of Liberty while we waited to go in and watch “35 lifelike Audio-Animatronic figures and filmed sequences in dramatic recreations of extraordinary people and events in American history.”
(I apologize for the video quality here – I had my camera set on the wrong settings. But you can hear them and that’s all that matters).
We really enjoyed the show. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes and made me proud to be an American.
When we left The American Adventure pavilion, we saw the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps.
And we also saw some pretty ominous clouds rolling in:
We got rained on at the Morocco pavilion and had to spend about twenty minutes hanging out there until the rain passed through.
We finished walking through the pavilions and headed back to the front of the park. Kevin really wanted to ride the Test Track, so we picked up a couple of FastPasses – we were scheduled to ride the ride between 6:20 anad 7:20. It was about 2:00 by that time.
So, we headed to the Space rides.
Kevin really wanted to do the Mission: Space simulators and I had read enough about them online to know that I did not. However, they have two missions – an orange mission, which is a lot more intense, and a green mission for those of us *ahem* who get motion sickness going across town.
We picked the green mission.
All of us positioned ourselves into our seats (it’s a good thing they warn you about being claustrophobic because wow, we pulled those panels into our laps), and prepared ourselves to take off in a rocket to Mars. We all had positions, I was the navigator (uh oh), Kevin was the engineer, Dude was the pilot and Jazz was the commander.
At various points in the ride, every one had their own buttons to push – and of course, I missed my mark. FAIL!
It was a really rocky ride and THANK GOD it didn’t last very long because Jazz and I stumbled out of the pod feeling pretty queasy – Kevin and Dude were okay. In fact, Kevin wanted to go again on the orange mission, but I knew there was no way my stomach could handle that ride again, let alone a more intense ride. (I started to get pretty worried whenever we first got in there because each station had their own barf bags).
After we left that ride, we walked back to the Epcot ball to see if the line for that ride had gone down. It had, in fact, we pretty much walked right into the ride. Spaceship Earth was probably my favorite ride.
The attraction’s Audio-Animatronic scenes depict the stirring story of human connection from the dawn of recorded time to the 21st century’s cyber age.
Bear witness to prehistoric man’s first words, behold the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians, follow the advanced system of roads amidst Rome, and journey through the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Information.
And then on the way down, the car simply reversed itself back down the spiral tracks. But to help distract you, they took pictures of your face and inserted them into an interactive story that you could punch options into and we all had quite a laugh over our choices.
It was time for dinner when we finished that ride, and Dude wanted to go back to the Mexican pavilion and have some tacos. (I won’t mention the price).
It started to rain on us again when we sat down to eat our tacos. (Well, the guys ate THEIR tacos, I sort of ate the left overs). The clouds had rolled back in and though it wasn’t pouring, it was raining enough that to walk anywhere without a poncho or an umbrella we would get soaked.
After dinner, it was time to use our FastPasses for the Test Track. We headed over to the ride only to be disappointed to see they had closed it due to the lightening. We were worried we would miss out on our FastPass time, but they told us that if the ride wasn’t open before the end time on our FastPass, they would honor the passes until closing.
It didn’t look like the rain was going to let up any time soon, so we went to watch Ellen’s Energy Adventure. The guys weren’t exactly thrilled with this attraction, but I really wanted to see it because I love Ellen DeGeneres.
It was amazing. The ENTIRE theater became the ride. The theater seats divided up into four sections and before we knew it, we were moving throughout the theatre. The show was quite funny, of course, because it had Ellen in it, and we all really enjoyed it.
After the show was over, we went back to the Test Track, but it still wasn’t open, so we walked around the park a bit more and since it was getting so late, we decided to just stick around and watch the fireworks.
Which were pretty amazing to watch over the lake in Epcot.
We never got to ride the Test Track and Kevin was pretty disappointed as that was the ride he really wanted to ride above all others.
After the fireworks show was over, the park closed down and several thousand people all left at the same time. We found our shuttle stop back to our hotel and were standing in line, when about 200 Brazilian girls began converging on the All-Sports Resort bus stop. They were loud and obnoxious both in speech (and who knows what they were saying, it’s probably best we didn’t know, actually) and in their crazy, spontaneous songs. We were all pretty tired by this point and we just wanted to get back to our hotel room. We were also VERY RELIEVED to see the girls weren’t trying to get on our bus.
Our bus came first and we got on. We had just settled into our seats when the first of the Brazilian girls came on board.
And they kept coming. We ended up having so many people on the bus that we were squishing faces into the windows.
And they were even louder in the closed confines of the bus. That was one LONG bus ride back to our hotel.
When we all finally filed out of the bus, we noticed that the Brazilian girls weren’t going into our hotel, but were walking to the All-Sports Resort next door. So they had bummed a ride on our bus to get back to their hotel room faster.
So we had a great time at Epcot. Even though we didn’t get to see everything, or ride everything we wanted to ride, we still felt like we had accomplished a lot and we really enjoyed ourselves.