{Disney World} Part 3: EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

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The Chronicles of America: Our Itinerary | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 |

Our second Disney day was spent at EPCOT, possibly one of the most unique parks, with its mix of futuristic attractions and 11 country-themed pavilions.

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And it was a pleasant coincidence that our trip fell during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, so you’ll be seeing an excessive number of photos of topiaries in the rest of this post!

The temperature that morning was perfect – the right amount of sunny and chilly – for us to run through the park as it opened, as we made a beeline for the most popular ride: Frozen Ever After (FastPasses+ had run out a week in advance). Epcot’s attractions are a lot more spaced out than in Magic Kingdom, so we brisk-walked for a good 5 minutes before finally reaching the ride, located in the Norway pavilion.

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I was ready for the day ahead, sporting my Frozen Mickey ears

The queue was less than 5-minutes long when we arrived, comprising mainly parents with toddlers who were decked out in Frozen costumes or wearing the same Mickey ears as me.

Before Frozen became such a hit, the ride used to be called Maelstrom and was a Viking themed boat/flume ride. We had the fortune to ride it during our 2009 visit, and the Frozen ride uses the exact same track but just with a cuter and more child-friendly overlay. The little kids on board with us were fascinated by the ride, and so was I; the animatronics and effects were simply stunning.

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We rode the ride another 2 times since the queue was still very short (since the ride is a long distance from the entrance); we couldn’t ride it a third time because the queue had gotten longer by then.

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I had booked a Test Track FastPass+ for my dad, so we headed there for the ride. But we got sidetracked by the post-ride area, which had a lot of Chevrolet cars on display, as well as these fun photobooths with special effects.

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I was pretending to be roadkill

After taking a whole bunch of photos, we sent my dad off to brave the ride, and when he came back saying it wasn’t terrifying, I decided to give it a shot myself. We booked FastPasses+ again and waited for 20 mins before getting onto the ride. I instantly regretted my decision, but it was too late and we blasted off. I was terrified but also lowkey enjoying myself, though I definitely couldn’t have sat it another time as it gave me a mild headache from the G’s (I’ve never sat on thrill rides until this trip).

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I look like a bored & pale in this pic. But I was actually having fun, it’s just my RBF.

We headed to the China pavilion for lunch, since we’re Chinese and obviously missed our food after just a few days abroad. To be fair, Western food is just burgers, steak and fries which gets pretty dry – quite literally – after a while (I’m just joking don’t kill me).

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We ate at the Lotus Blossom Cafe (ugh such a tacky Oriental-sounding name). The food was decent and serving size generous.

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After lunch, we strolled to the pyramid-shaped Mexico pavilion to go on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.

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It was a really leisurely boat ride, basically a Mexican-themed version of It’s A Small World, and with a cute storyline featuring Donald Duck.

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The shops sold Mexican wares like sombreros, Día de Muertos-themed merchandise (beautiful painted skulls) and ethnic clothing.

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I was pleasantly surprised when I realised there was a Coco exhibition in the pavilion, featuring dioramas and items shown in the movie. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and watch the movie this instant; it will make you laugh, cry and have a deeper understanding of how Mexicans remember their ancestors.

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a diorama of a scene from Coco

We continued exploring the park, stopping to smell the flowers and admire the handcrafted topiaries scattered all over the park.

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We went on Spaceship Earth, a slow-moving (it’s around 20 minutes long!) dark ride that traces man’s progress since the beginning of time. During the course of the ride, as you watch animatronics reenact significant points in mankind’s history, the train takes you all the way up to the top of the Epcot ‘golf ball’, where you’re invited to create your own future on a small screen on the front your carriage, as the ride slowly goes back to ground level. I nearly fell asleep during the ride as it was really stuffy and slow, but it would be a fairly interesting and informative ride for children.

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The sun was scorching and the heat was getting unbearable, so we headed to the World Showcase to explore the rest of the countries’ pavilions, since there would be air-conditioned shops in each country.

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flowers blooming everywhere! And a glimpse of the Canada pavilion

Almost every country’s pavilion has a theatre which shows short films about their respective countries. If you’re not pressed for time, you could watch the films; we only watched the one in France.

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Tinkerbell in the UK pavilion
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Beauty & The Beast in the France pavilion

Every pavilion was decorated so painstakingly and there was immense attention to detail, which made it feel so immersive and it was almost as if I’d magically teleported from one country to another.

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The most stunning pavilion (in my opinion) was Morocco. The architecture was so vastly different from the others, and the sheer scale of the buildings was awe-inspiring.

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Morocco’s gift shop was also completely in character and had such painstaking details that made the experience even more authentic.

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Japan was really magical as well, and there was even a massive Japanese department store that spanned the entire ground floor of the interconnected buildings in the picture below. They were selling everything under the sun, from Japanese cookware, to Rilakuma plushies, to instant noodles. It was reminiscent of Isetan back in Singapore, but I’m sure Japanese department stores are a source of culture shock for non-Asian visitors since they’re so glitzy and somehow manage to stock everything.

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There were also hourly performances by a Japanese drum troupe at the pagoda. I’ve never watched a Japanese drum performance in my whole life, and it’s nothing short of magical how we could experience so many different cultures in one tiny theme park. This is why I love Disney and their Imagineers; they really do make magic.

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Lady & the Tramp in Italy
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classic Italian architecture
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the iconic Lion King scene (Africa pavilion)
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We made our way back to the more futuristic side of Epcot to finish up the other attractions and complete our shopping.

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The Flavors Around the World attraction was basically a soda fountain in a Coca-Cola gift shop, and we were able to sample unique (but not necessarily yummy) flavours of Coke from different countries. Some were downright awful, but it was a fun experience nevertheless!

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Our last stop for the day was The Seas With Nemo & Friends, a slow dark ride (you sit in a clamshell that moves on a conveyor belt) that takes you on an adventure with Marlin, Nemo and other beloved characters from the movie. The characters were projected onto the background of an actual aquarium, which was fantastic and really well done.

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sorry, my phone can’t take pictures in the dark + on a moving vehicle

The exit of the ride led us directly to the aquarium (Sea Base), where we admired the marine life and a solitary dolphin for a while, before rushing off to catch our bus back to Disney Springs (since the buses depart punctually and it’s a 30 minute wait between buses). We shopped at Disney Springs until almost 9pm that day before walking back to our hotel, the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista, to retire for the night.

Fun fact: We clocked 10.3km in Epcot, but it’s far from our record of 16km in Animal Kingdom!

You’ll get to see Animal Kingdom in the next post; there’s safari animals, an Avatar-themed land, and lots more! To get notified when I post new stuff, be sure to follow my Insta or Facebook page. 🙂

The Chronicles of America: Our Itinerary | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 |

xoxo,
Faith

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