Celebrating Epcot’s Actual Birthday With Its Movies

Today was Epcot’s 30th birfday! To celebrate, I slept in.

Actually, I’d better start this with an apology for my general laziness as a blogger that day. The only thing I planned to do that day to celebrate the 30th was spend the day in Epcot seeing all the different countries’ movies and watching the special fireworks. I’d heard about D23’s public anniversary panel presentations, but I assumed they’d be the same ones we saw the previous day and was pretty tired of sitting around in a convention hall all day, so I skipped them. NOW I find out some of the panels were actually different, and, according to Trish, even better than the ones we’d seen. Consarn it! Why do I even pay D23 the big bucks?!

So I’m afraid this installment will not have any of those panels in it. I hear you can read all about them on the Interwebz, though, so if you’re not interested in a bunch of photos with silly captions from World Showcase, I bid you a fond farewell…

Where was I? Oh yes. Asleep! When I woke up, I shoved all my stuff into my suitcase, checked my bags with Bell Services, and moseyed into Epcot.

I was all the way out at the DVC kiosk on the bridge to Future World when I hit the end of the line for Epcot 30th anniversary merchandise at Mouse Gear!

I count myself fortunate to be so picky about the type of Disney merchandise I will buy that I never have to wait in these kinds of lines (which means I have more time to wait in line for whatever D23 tells me to!). I’m not even sure what these people were waiting for, since half the anniversary merchandise had been out for three days already and most of it seemed to also be available on DisneyStore.com. In fact, I’d saved myself shlepping home all 11 of these awesome retro World Showcase T-shirts by ordering them online before I left LA!

Secretly smug about avoiding the merchandise crowd, I continued on toward the Festival Center to pick up a pass for the special Chase cardmember IllumiNations viewing area that night.

I was pretty much instantly smacked by karma when I got to the Chase Lounge and discovered this HUGE line to get in!

Worse, they let all of us stand there 15 minutes before they announced that passes for the IllumiNations viewing area were long gone. Gah! However, the long walk to the Festival Center was all made worth it when I made a bunch of new friends in line. What happened was, I tweeted a pic of the line, and seconds later the girl in front of me turned around and asked if I were Lurkyloo cuz she’d just seen a photo of the back of her own head on Twitter! Hi @MaryAshmore!!! Then, the girl in front of her turned around and asked if I were Lurkyloo cuz she’s a DIS Boards bride too. So at least we all had a fun time waiting in line and chatting together.

After the announcement, I decided the lounge was probably not worth a wait (something I’ll confirm for you later in the trip) and cut my losses with a cup of Ghirardelli drinking chocolate on the way out.

It was pretty dear at $2.75 for a demitasse, but oh BOY was it good. I’m someone who likes her sweets even better if they can be had in liquid form (see: No Way Jose Milkshake), the better to savor all that delicious flavor! I think they don’t even add the milk called for in the directions on the back of the tin you can buy.

I was strolling along thinking maybe my day wasn’t getting off on the wrong foot after all when I ran smack into a bumblebee, who hitched a ride on my neck for, like, I dunno, it felt like 20 minutes but was probably about 20 seconds. I like bugs, but naturally I was concerned about the pointy end of this one, and even after he eventually flew away, I couldn’t figure out if I’d been stung. (Rule of thumb: If you can’t tell if you’ve been stung, you haven’t). And to top it all off, I just missed my Friendship boat to Germany. Oh the agony of my tourist’s problems!!!

I tried to spend my 20-minute wait in the shade enjoying the breeze and being thankful I wasn’t sitting behind a desk somewhere. And eventually, this happened!

Cruising the sparkling waters of World Showcase Lagoon, seeing the colorful buildings of Mexico, Norway and China against the backdrop of a Florida blue sky… no bad mood can withstand that! By the time my feet hit Germany’s scorching pavement I was as relaxed and happy as I’d ever been, ready to start my leisurely tour of World Showcase. The goal was to see every movie—it’s easy to skip them when you’ve seen them before, but in some cases it had been years since I’d seen some of them. By gum, I was even going to sit down for NORWAY’s film instead of breezing by on my way out of Maelstrom!

My second taste of the Food & Wine Festival was Poland’s Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions & Sour Cream, plus, uh, cheese toast with catsup…?

Ah, “Zapiekanki: Toasted Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread with House-Made Ketchup.” Well you can’t fault ‘em for truth in advertising. This tasted exactly like what it said, but with no real melding of the flavors. And boy, oh boy do I hate the pretentious adjective “house-made”… I mean maaaaybe it’s OK at a restaurant, where you have terms like “front of house” and they might actually make some of their condiments on the premises. But to which “house” are the chefs of Epcot’s ginormous industrial kitchens referring….?

The taiko drummers were performing as I strolled into Japan—just like in the free Walt Disney World vacation videos!

I always think about the international cast members with specialized skills like this and wonder what life is like for them out in real Orlando. Going to the grocery store, seeing a movie, getting their cars washed…. No one suspecting that they are master taiko drummers or sugar-animal-makers or mariachi trumpeters…

My first shop of the day was the best shop of any day: Mitsukoshi Department Store.


And you thought Hello Kitty couldn’t get any cuter…

The previous day’s lost-fan scare had me thinking about getting a new one, and, as if on cue, the one I’d bought in the Japan pavilion the year before developed a rip just that morning.

Totoro fans: Cute, but not $69 cute!

Which one do you think I picked?

It’s turquoise, it has bunnies—what’s not to like?

After I bought the fan, I put it directly into my little fan holder from Kyoto, and the two clerks kindly pretended to be impressed,

My snack from Japan turned out to be a dud. I thought sushi would be a winner cuz it was so dang hot out, but there was no ahi tuna sashimi like I remembered, and all of their hand rolls were spicy (the California roll is not to be considered on account of the grody cucumber).

I asked if I could get the Karaage Roll without the spicy mayo, and the girls nodded and smiled and said “yes.” My English must be a little rusty, though, cuz the Karaage Roll turned out to be LOADED with spicy mayo.

Not much to look at either!

I did OK at New Zealand’s booth, though, where I finally found a Food & Wine snack that actually looks good in photos!

…Just not this one…


I took my haul to a table in Tangierine Cafe, which was one degree cooler inside than outside. When I tried to get an ice water, I ran into the perfect storm of Disney ankle hazards:

The lady in the scooter wasn’t even ordering, she was just parked there waiting for the rest of her party to order, and the rest of the aisle was blocked by a stroller. The child inside kept his parents dangling for a good 5 minutes as they tried to cajole a lunch selection outta him. When I did finally make it to the counter, the staff felt so bad about the wait they didn’t even seem to mind that I was mooching a free water!

Things started looking up when I walked into the lobby of Impressions de France and the French cast member at the door complimented my outfit’s “color scheme.” I mean, that’s something, coming from a French guy, right? (What I missed 2 minutes earlier was a lecture delivered by an American manager who told him to stop being so dour and try to make more conversation with guests. “Compliment them on their clothes, or something—that’s easy enough!”)

This shot was not supposed to be in focus, it was just supposed to remind me where I was

I tried to get some shots of the theater because how else do you illustrate the part of your trip report where you watched a movie? Turns out “what you can shoot from your seat” doesn’t always make the best photos.

I dunno… it seemed cool at the time…

Impressions de France has been remastered and looks great! Plus the music is gorgeous and there’s air conditioning, and it’s one of the few World Showcase films where you get to sit down—this movie has it ALL!

Every time I see the movie, I can’t help but think, “These kids are all grown up now… and the grannies are deceased!”

It seemed like a fitting followup would be standing in a triple-switchbacked line in the sun to order Coq au Vin sur Gratin de Macaroni and Creme Brulee au Chocolat au Lait. Were they purposely perpetuating French stereotypes by keeping registers closed and allowing the cutlery dispensers to go unfilled? And how’m I supposed to eat chicken breast with a spoon?

I am convinced that the chocolate creme brulee was actually vanilla and had been mislabeled. Or perhaps they dropped the “-esque” suffix from “chocolate” in the description.


On to postprandial peripatetics in Morocco…

“Don’t even THINK of sitting down at this Kidcot station, old lady!!!”

I made the obligatory pilgrimage to Morocco’s museum to see the water seller’s outfit mentioned in Jason, Jason & Alex’s “Imagineering Epcot: An Extra Perceptive Close-Up of Things” presentation the previous day.

And then I went back to Japan to see now-famous The Melon Box That Jason Grandt Schlepped All Over Tokyo.

The sky suggested a classic Florida afternoon rain shower was on its way.

I risked sogginess to bring you these shots of the dessert party location in Japan!

On my way to see Reflections of China I happened upon the Epcot’s midday “anniversary moment” at America Gardens Theater. By all accounts neither you nor I missed anything here…

Can’t we see these guys multiple times per day, every day of the year in the Mexico pavilion?

Germany’s booth caught my eye…

…As did this amazingly spot-on Snow White. Way to look like Snow White, lady!

At the Germany booth I got the Schinken Nudel, described as “pasta gratin with ham and cheese.” Sign me up!

Ah, the country of Cheese. I hear it’s Mickey’s favorite vacation spot!

Man, I love the temple in China! Almost makes me wanna have a wedding do-over so we can get married in front of it.

You do not get to sit down in “Reflections of China,” but these hat racks are great for leaning against!

I like to bring my own cupholder to the movies

China was as majestic as ever, but I really wish they’d sneak a restoration of the film into Shanghai Disneyland’s budget somehow. It’s looking kinda worn. When I got out into the gift shop, it was pouring outside.

Hmmm… maybe you can see the downpour better in this one…

No… how about this one?

What about this one?

OK, take my word for it: POURING!

There’s no better place to be stuck in the rain than China’s huge gift shop. There’s plenty to see and do and tweet!

“We just can’t understand why no one will adopt this one…”

This cat stole my heart. He was SO rasty and mean-looking among this sea of cute stuffed kitties that I knew nobody was ever gonna buy him, so I got him as a surprise for Patrick. That night on the phone he even mentioned my tweet about the cat and said, “Poor kitty…” so I knew he was going to crack up when I came home with the cat.

OK, steel yourself for my all-time favorite gag in China’s gift shop…

It’s PANDAmonium in here!!!

How about a snack?

Pork Potsticker and Mongolian Beef in a Steamed Bun


It’s a wonder those fisherman catch anything, what with that giant Viking always striding about in the bay scaring all the fish!

I always say Maelstrom is too short, and this time the Spirit of Norway answered my prayers in the form of a 3-minute ride stop.

Plenty of time to take 36 pictures just like this one!

Looky! There’s even time for a zoomed-in, blitzed-out shot of the mural in the next scene!

Ick… are those islands or mildew spots…?

Not to be missed on my tour of World Showcase films was Norway’s… because it is always missed. They don’t even try to make you stay for it anymore, and it’s a wonder Disney’s legal team doesn’t require them to keep the house lights on to prevent injury to the hordes of guests sprinting by the film as they depart Maelstrom.

Well today, folks, you’re gonna watch it!

Aw…. I wonder if that little boy grew up to be an actor…

I wonder if that guy ever got down from there…

I wonder if Norway’s Laziest Man ever woke up, or if those poor kids ever filed a child labor lawsuit…

I wonder if all those outfits have come back in style yet…

I wonder if that teacher ever got a haircut…

Afterward, as I passed by Kringla Bakery and its stash of fresh school bread, it reminded me that I still hadn’t run into @ProgressCityUSA yet despite the fact that on most trips I come across somebody I know from the Internets about every 15 minutes. Then this lizard distracted me.

Where were YOU when I had a bee that needed eating?!

It was getting to be time to leave Epcot and go check in at Art of Animation so I’d have a chance to freshen up for an evening back at Epcot. I had to pass by Canada without stopping in for the film, but DONT WORRY! I did get to see it eventually. (I know you’re worried.)

And then, as I staggered up that last hill by the UK on my way to the International Gateway, the crowd parted and there was @ProgressCityUSA! And his brother, @LoveIsTheNewHip (a Twitter handle that I originally thought was “Love is in the Whip” as a reference to Dole Whip… time for me to step away from the Disney…). Huzzah! I dont know why this had become my goal—maybe because every trip needs a goal to keep things interesting—but I had attained it. So I barged in on whatever conversation they were having and introduced myself before they had a chance to recoil from the melting, flailing woman in a big hat and a magnifique color scheme.

I got to hear a bit about how @ProgressCityUSA—sorry, D23’s Michael Crawford—came to be D23’s Michael Crawford, and I met his brother Jeff, who arranged the new-old Sherman Brothers song we’d heard the day before at the anniversary event. It’s good to see D23 hiring experts who are also fans for this kind of stuff.

OK, I have to stop here or this will never get posted. My last shot of the afternoon is of this magnificent, blasting AC vent that greeted me as I stepped into the Beach Club’s remotest corridor and made my way back to the lobby and my luggage. Enjoy!

Up Next: Checking into Art of Animation + Epcot’s 30th Anniversary Fireworks + MINI CAKE!

Editor’s Note: This trip report is currently on hold while I tell the story of our vow renewal at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii and anniversary trip to New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World. I do solemnly swear to return to this one when that one’s finished!

16 Responses
  • Shannon
    January 16, 2015

    Still looking forward to reading your thoughts on Art of Animation! I love living vicariously through you!

    • Carrie
      January 19, 2015

      Well bless you for still caring! I have a Christmas/Harry Potter trip I need to write up first, so… in a nutshell… I liked the newness of the Little Mermaid rooms (probably not a factor anymore) but hated that there was ZERO cell reception inside the room (probably also not a factor). The only way to call Patrick at night was to sit in my car! I don’t think I’d stay there again just because it’s basically the same as Pop but more expensive.

  • Katie
    December 2, 2013

    Ah, the country of Cheese…LOLOLOLOL I literally laughed out loud at that. I always come around to reread these reports when I need to be cheered up 🙂 Can’t wait to see how this installment ends.

    • Carrie
      December 3, 2013

      Me either! Oh wait…. I’m the one who’s gotta write it! 😀

  • Valerie
    April 12, 2013

    Did this trip report not get finished or is the next link void?

  • Claire (Chilly)
    November 30, 2012

    Excellent use of the hat in China. Has Patrick given the cat a name? If not can I suggest Schrodinger as the perfect name?

    • Carrie
      November 30, 2012

      LOL! I’ll pass along the suggestion…

  • Candice
    November 20, 2012

    My hubby and I were amongst the crazy people in that line. We were told that there were specific pins that were only going to be released in short supply that morning, so we rushed into Epcot and hurried into line. 2 hours later, we were successful with our loot and thought we were just the cat’s meow. After Illuminations that evening, we strolled through Mouse Gears for one last look around, and there were all of the super-exclusive, ultra rare, in limited supply pins we waited two hours for in the morning in abundance. We felt like total tourists at that point. Epic fail.

    • Carrie
      November 20, 2012

      GAH! That’s awful! Well, thanks for letting me know… now I really don’t feel like I missed out on anything!

  • Tim
    November 12, 2012

    We always like to picture the fire twirler from Festival of the Lion King riding the bus to work each morning dressed in his full ensemble with the double-bladed baton on the seat next to him.

    • Carrie
      November 12, 2012

      BWAAAhahahahaaa! See, that’s exactly the kind of stuff I think about!

  • Hope
    November 12, 2012

    I’d love for thousands of people to be lined up to give me money on my birthday! Talk about best birthday ever Epcot! 😉

    I’ve heard of “drinking around the world”, but I really like your “eating around the world” tour now. I’m adding it to my list of things to do.

    I loved all the pandas in China. Too funny about the crazy kitty plush. I hope you got a picture of Patrick with it when you gave it to him.

    • Carrie
      November 12, 2012

      Say, that’s a great idea! I’ll see if I can get the two of them to sit for a portrait… 😀

      • Hope
        November 12, 2012

        lol I think it has the makings of this years holiday card, don’t you? 🙂

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