After the party, my first order of business was to obtain a neon blue lemon slushie in order to keep from dropping dead of heat exhaustion. I got one in September during the Food & Wine Festival, but I was convinced that it had been from a permanent stand and these things were available throughout the park year-round. I tried the slushie cart between the Land Pavilion and the Imagination Pavilion, but they had some berry flavor in all the slushies—gack!
The kid behind the counter sent me trekking across the park to the slushie stand in front of Test Track, which only serves Coke-flavored slushies. Curses! Foiled again! Finally I ended up at one of the nondescript snack stands at the entrance to World Showcase that you blaze by on your way to Le Cellier and other more interesting eateries.
They’d never heard of blue, but they did have boring old yellow lemon slushies.
The next order of business was to unload the bag of party loot I’d been hauling around, so I went to the International Gateway to rent a locker. I was getting pretty tired of carrying the backpack too (another unpleasant side effect of taking a trip without Patrick!), so I emptied my little Domo bag and stuffed it with the essentials for a trip around the world…. showcase.
By a stroke of luck, Disney bride Jonni and her husband Taz were also visiting WDW from California that weekend, and we had planned to meet up in Epcot that day. Taz has photographed numerous Disney weddings, and he has a super-helpful website of Disney wedding location pictures that has been a boon to those of us planning WDW weddings from a distance. He and Jonni graciously allowed me to use some of these photos in my book, so I was looking forward to meeting and thanking them in person.
When I got in touch with Jonni, they were finishing up lunch at restaurant Marrakesh with none other than Disney Wedding World Record-holders Dani & Benji! Bonus! Dani & Benji have had not one but five Disney weddings because they renew their vows at Disney every year! (I know… I know… don’t get any ideas, Lurkyloo…) Not only that, but they brought their adorable 8-month-old daughter, Kiara. Double bonus!
When we got outside, I asked Taz to take a pic of we three Disney brides with my iPhone so I could blog it. We each posed with the cutest thing in our possession…
Then we did that polite thing you do when you’re with a group and nobody wants to be pushy and you just sorta wander and chatter. The fellas pushed the stroller and talked about, I dunno, whatever fellas talk about. Grilling meat, perhaps? We ladies got acquainted and, of course, talked about weddings. I was too engrossed in the conversation to take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine us staggering around the World Showcase from Morocco to Norway in the punishing heat.
When we got to Norway, I remembered they had water there and you could ride around on it in a boat – that sounded refreshing! I decided this was such a good idea that I would risk pushiness to suggest it. [Cue crickets] After a beat, Jonni took pity on me and agree to go on Maelstrom – whohoo!
We had the nicest time! It was cool and dark, and we had a great conversation in between ominous warnings from trolls. Here we are riding Maelstrom…
For once I was glad to wait five whole minutes for the doors to the theater to open at the end of the ride, cuz it gave me time to try to wangle an invitation to visit Jonni and Taz at their home near Carmel!
Afterward we met the others, who may or may not have been eating School Bread at the Kringla Bakery without us…! Then I made my exit before I’d completely worn out my welcome and headed back around the World Showcase.
To make up for the previous lack of pictures, I took a lot more than necessary.
I always take too many pictures in China cuz I love all the colors…
In the market at the exit to the China movie, I found Patrick his Souvenir of the Day:
It’s so cute, but we didn’t realize what it was supposed to be until last week, when Patrick met a critter called a sugar glider at a gathering of school assembly acts. (At least, we’re pretty sure it’s based on a sugar glider):
And they can fly!
Another cool thing about the festival were the children’s play areas they tucked into a lot of the dead space between pavilions. I think they should be permanent!
…And then I was involved in a nuclear experiment gone horribly awry and gained the ability to fly!
I soared over the Rhine….
…and spotted GINORMOUS copper discs at the bottom of the river! Would my newfound superpowers enable me to extract them?
I’m pretty sure they had extra flowerpots out in Italy, because I don’t ever remember it being this beautiful:
DIS bride Lori—whom you may recall from Day 1 of my trip report—had a bridal portrait session in the World Showcase, and she was lucky enough to get some lovely shots with all the extra flowers.
I grabbed a shot of the America Gardens Theater decked out for the Flower Power concert series (if by “decked out” you mean “containing a sign that says “Flower Power”…).
And I got caught up in the excitement of a Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine meet ‘n’ greet.
Another special exhibit for the Flower & Garden Festival. I think this one was about conservation?
Thank goodness for this handy list of “green” vacation tips – who knew I could “use provided recycle bins if available”? I’m just not so sure about this whole closing the doors when the A/C is running thing – how am I s’posed to cool the entire neighborhood?
In France I noticed something I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before…
I’ve been needing a good reference photo of the view from “French Island Arm,” one of the IllumiNations dessert party venues available to smaller groups.
By the time I got back to my locker at the International Gateway, I had a weird window of time before my reservation at Tutto Italia that was too long to go straight there and too short to do anything like movies or serious shopping. However, it was just right for conducting a photo tour of the World Showcase’s drinking fountains. (I’d spent the whole day dragging myself from one to the next – why not commemorate these lifesavers on “film”?)
I give you…
Drinking (Fountains) Around the World Showcase!
Guide: “Our tour begins with the fountain at the International Gateway. This handsome fixture offers picturesque views of the France Pavilion – but keep your eyes on what you’re doing, or you’re likely to get a snootful!”
“Located on your left as you round the corner into the UK from the International Gateway, this simple, sturdy fountain reflects the hearty spirit of the island’s denizens.”
“France’s fountain combines the elegant sophistication of a Parisian brasserie with the insouciant charm of a fresh-faced dairy maid lolling in a field of flowers. Contrary to popular belief, the source of the France Pavilion’s drinking fountain is not the waterway behind it.”
“The fierce nomadic spirit of the Berbers permeates the Morocco fountain’s rustic design. Don’t be fooled by its proximity to the restrooms—this fixture has been offering feces-free liquid refreshment since 1997!”
“In Japan we find individual monoliths sheathed in pebbles dredged from the Shinano River and flown over individually on the backs of Japan’s national birds, Kiji, or green pheasants.”
“Watch out for the playful nod to the trickster character popular in Japanese literature!”
“As you would expect from a country as large and ostentatious as the U.S., the American Adventure offers not one but two drinking fountains. To see them both requires a perilous journey across ‘America’ on foot, relieved only by a pin cart, a DVC booth and a beer stand.”
“I’m afraid we’ve run out of time, so we’ll conclude our tour in Italy, where seeds cast into an urn by the goddess Flora were germinated by a cherub’s spit to give you the flower-bedecked drinking fountain seen here.”
I reached Italy just a few minutes before my dinner ADR, which was at the ungodly hour of 4:45pm because I couldn’t get one any later, except for, like, 8:30pm. Geez, what does Tutto Italia think it is, Le Cellier?
I stopped to watch a clown show going on in the courtyard, but I’ll spare you the awful pictures I took. Instead, let us gaze once again upon… Majestic Italy!
Tutto Italia was looking particularly fetching that afternoon.
It was too hot to sit outside, though…
I had picked Tutto Italia for my Epcot dinner because it was one of only two sit-down restaurants there I hadn’t been to (the other being the Biergarten, where I fear the buffet will be as unappealing to me as the one at Akershus… OK, I haven’t been to Teppan Edo, but I have been to Tokyo Dining and to a Benihana, so that counts, right?).
I’m not a huge fan of Italian food, especially Americanized red-sauce Italian (Buca di Beppo, I’m looking at you…), and I’d heard the fare was pretty mediocre when the place was L’Originale Alfred di Roma. But since it’s now owned by the fairly reliable Patina Group, I was willing to give it a shot.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried about eating too early. I had to wait and wait and WAIT to get a table. To pass the time, I took some blurry pictures of the lobby.
I parked it at a seat under the kitchen window, thinking that I might be able to wangle a table a little sooner if I sat directly across from the hostess station and let them hear my stomach growling.
Instead what happened was that the manager bustled over and began making a big fuss over my outfit and asking to take a picture of me with my camera. He insisted I wear the hat. Unfortunately, I will not be posting the extremely unflattering shot he took, but suffice it to say he’s no Jensey!
After that, the hostess took pity on me and struck up a friendly conversation. She was a college-age girl from rural Italy, and she said she couldn’t recommend any one dish on the menu because she loved all the food at Tutto Italia. She practiced her English on me and I practiced my English on her, and finally my table was ready. Molto buono!
I was seated at a two-top along the edge of the main dining room.
The tables are really close together (another steal from the Le Cellier playbook?), and the one closest to me held a family with a cute little girl. Unfortunately, she did absolutely nothing untoward during the whole meal, which means I have no funny story to report!
My waiter was the Flying Gambini Bros. I mean, there was a waiter, and then there was his roommate, who looked and acted just like him, and they all but put on a circus act as they tag-teamed their tables. They were very charming — and limber!
First, one of them somersaulted over with a basket of bread. You will be spared my usual diatribe on the pretentiousness and inauthenticity of serving dishes of olive oil with bread because they also gave me butter. However, this butter was sullied by chopped basil (don’t get me wrong – basil is A-OK with me, just not in my butter!) – d’oh!
I wasn’t sure what to order. I wanted to get something I wouldn’t order elsewhere and that would show the restaurant’s quality. I figured pasta would be a good test – usually I consider it the worst-value item on a menu because it’s so cheap to buy, but I was hoping they actually made their own pasta at Tutto Italia, which would make it worth it to me.
After I placed my order, I dashed off to the restroom to wash my hands and take these thrilling photos for you…
I was on my way back to the table and paused to take this picture…
… when one of the Flying Gambini Bros. leapt over to me carrying my dinner and imploring, “Signorina! Signorina! Your dinner – it is ready! Please come back to your seat!” I made him a deal that I’d do it if he posed for this picture:
We both rushed back to my table and BAM — it was time to eat!
It was SO good! The pasta was, for lack of a less poncy word, supple (I’ll refrain from describing it as “napped” in the sauce because that’s another tired restaurant-review term that makes me cringe) and the combination of flavors was perfect. I was just licking my plate clean when one or more of my waiters lobbed the dessert menu at me from a trapeze.
I conveniently forgot that I was attending a dessert party in 2 hours and ordered the profiteroles. Not only were they just as good as (and possibly identical to) the ones at Chefs de France, but my waiter(s) obliged my request for extra chocolate sauce with a veritable trough full of the stuff – whohoo!
When the bill came, I wasn’t sure how the tip was gonna work out, what with the Flying Gambini Bros. both waiting on me equally even though only one was officially my waiter. But I figured since they were roommates it was probably all going to the same place anyway (and that place was “beer”).
Up next: Fantasmic! Dessert Party, with a Special Guest Appearance By… Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares!!!