Not only was this our first big trip to modern day Disney World, it is the first time the kids ever flew on a plane!
We had a direct flight from Rochester, NY (leaving at 9:18am) to Orlando, Fl (arriving at 11:55am). Two hours and 37 minutes. A quick flight, but seemingly endless wait to finally arrive in Florida for the vacation we had been looking forward to for almost six months. The flight was smooth and uneventful. I always enjoy flying and hoped to share that with the kids for their first flight. I wanted to point out the acceleration on take off and reassure them when they heard the clunking of the retracting landing gear. I guess they were too distracted by the destination, since the kids had no noticeable enthusiasm for their first ride on an airplane. Or maybe they just aren’t as geeky as I am…
To get to our resort from the airport we chose to use the free Magical Express (ME) service offered to Disney resort guests. Check out our tips for this service here. ME check in at the airport was easy and quick and before long we were boarding the bus. We arrived at the Caribbean Beach Resort just before 1PM.
Check in at the resort was also quick and easy. All our check in materials were neatly organized in a folder that included our keycards, resort maps, and various other information. Despite the fact that we arrived almost two hours before check in time, our room was ready for us. We were transported to our room by van and the bellman took care of moving all our bags. Our plan had been to be at EPCOT by 2PM, about two hours after getting off the plane. This turned out to be a good estimate of the time required to get off the plane, transfer to the resort, check in, get settled in our room, hop on a bus and get to a park. We were settled in our room by 1:30PM. The room was just off the frame to the right in the photo below.
It was a water view room, off the beaten path, near a quiet beach and a small pool. We checked out the small pool near our room…
and then walked to the Old Port Royale building to check out the gift shop and food services. On the way there we had to walk by the main pool, which at the time was closed for refurbishment. After a bit of shopping and exploring,
we got on a bus at about 2:45PM to go to EPCOT. The Disney Transportation System served us well. We arrived at EPCOT a few minutes after 3PM and by 3:15 we were in EPCOT enjoying the kids’ first ever visit!
The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival, which in 2008 ran from March 19th to June 1st, was in full swing. Entering EPCOT we were greeted by a topiary of Mickey and Minnie hangin’ at the beach…
with Goofy catchin’ a wave behind them.
The kids were overwhelmed (ok, I was too…) not only by the simple fact that they were on their first ever trip to Disney World, but also by the Amazing Disney Magic that they will now be immersed in for the next eight days.
Being fans of the movie “Finding Nemo”, and due to the fact that the “Seas With Nemo and Friends Pavilion” is located in a place that makes it a good starting point for a loop around the entire EPCOT park, we headed straight over to ride “The Seas With Nemo and Friends”.
Next, we headed over to “The Land” to ride Soarin’, but the wait time was well over an hour. So we headed towards the “Imagination! Pavilion” and noticed the leap fountains where water leaps from pad to pad over the heads of passers by. After playing around in the fountains for a while we went in to see “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!”
Next we were on our way to World Showcase. First stop, Canada. Correction. First stop, a gift shop. (We are quickly finding out that there are plenty of gift shops to visit on your travels thru Disney property.) Now, on to Canada. Pictured below is the Canada pavilion, where you can also see the entrance to LeCellier, a great French-Canadian steakhouse that on this trip we did not have the opportunity to dine at.
After strolling thru Canada, we made our way to the United Kingdom. Tabitha had the opportunity to get Mary Poppins’ autograph while we were in the UK.
From the UK it was a short walk over the bridge to France.
From France we traveled to Morocco. In the back of the pavilion is the “Restaurant Marrakesh” which we did not eat at. Walking to the back of the pavilion and then walking back out thru the shops its easy to lose your way. It reminded me of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Marion was kidnapped in Cairo.
From Morocco we headed over to Japan.
After Japan it was back to the US. And for some reason I have no photo (at least from this day) of the US Pavilion at EPCOT.
Just past the US we arrive in Italy.
Somewhere between Italy and Germany we run in to some wonderful topiaries of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
By now it is getting close to 7PM. We’re getting hungry and EPCOT’s nightly fireworks display “IllumiNations!” will be starting at 9PM. We do some sightseeing in China and shopping in Norway and head over to Mexico. While in Mexico we checked out their gift shop and the “San Angel Inn Restaurante”. The restaurant has an attraction called the “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros”, which we were too hungry to want to take the time to check out. It was a chilly evening but we wanted to make sure we got to see “IllumiNations!” from a decent viewing spot. So we grabbed the best table we could find at the outdoor counter service restaurant “La Cantina De San Angel” where the tables are right at the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon in good viewing position for the fireworks. Unfortunately, I can’t recall all that we had for dinner at “La Cantina De San Angel”. The line for service was long but the wait was not too bad. I do remember we had churros and Margaritas and both were great. Since I was only carrying my point-and-shoot camera and night shots are not the greatest quality, in the timeline of this day I have no more photos to share. I don’t have much decent video of the IllumiNations! show either. There is a tidbit at the end of the video below, which is a fun summary of our day traveling to Disney and visiting EPCOT.
After the IllumiNations! show we took our time walking out to avoid getting caught in the crowds. We stopped to watch the fountain in Innoventions for a couple minutes and took notice of the fiber optic lights in the walkways on the way out. Being that we were up since 5AM, and it is now close to 10PM, we were ready to get some sleep. The Disney transportation system efficiently returned us to our resort so we could rest up for a full day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom…