Monday, July 11, 2011

Back on Dry Land: Trip Report pt. 4

So the cruise on the Disney Dream was wonderful, but boy was I ready to be back on dry land.  Mainly because I knew I was headed "home" to Animal Kingdom Lodge!  My family has been privileged to stay at the Lodge several times now and I can say without a doubt that it is our favorite resort at Walt Disney World.  I fell in love with AKL from the first moment I stepped inside and now it really does feel like home.  The drive from Cape Canaveral was very easy and we even had time to stop and pick up some McDonald's for breakfast.  We checked in around 9:30 a.m. and since our room wasn't ready, we headed to the buses and on to Epcot.

This trip we opted to take it easy on our WDW touring, since we've been so many times already, so the whole goal was to hit our absolute favorites and to try and do a few new things as well.  So of course, once inside Epcot, we headed over to the Land pavilion to pick up fast passes for Soarin' later that evening.  Then it was on to the Imagination pavilion, Payton's favorite.  A quick ride on Journey Into the Imagination with Figment, a stop in the gift shop and our traditional "imagination" green screen photo taken, then on to Captain EO.  Payton was determined to see this show again, as we've heard rumors that it won't be around much longer.  I have a feeling that he and I will both probably cry when the official news comes out that it's being replaced, especially if they put Honey I Shrunk the Audience back in!

Up next, time to travel around World Showcase.  We slowly made our way over to the Canada pavilion to enjoy the gardens and to see the Circle Vision showing of O' Canada (something we had never seen before, believe it or not).  The show and pavilion are beautiful.  We were early for our reservation, but decided to go ahead and check in at Le Cellier.  Again, this was our first time eating at this restaurant, and it was such an enjoyable experience.  Because we weren't on the dining plan this trip (I'll have more to say on this later), and we had just spent quite a bit on the cruise, we opted out of steaks and decided to try the Le Cellier House Burger.  I also tried a small bowl of the Cheddar Cheese soup, while Kendall ordered their onion rings.  It was honestly too hot for soup, but I am glad I tried it.  It is very good, not something I would order every time, but I enjoyed it.  The burger was the absolute best burger I have ever eaten.  If I wasn't getting steak, I'm glad I got this!  Another great part of lunch was the pretzel bread that was brought out as an appetizer.  Delicious!

Following our wonderful lunch, we lazily walked on into the France pavilion and decided to take in a showing of Impressions de France, which luckily for us, was air conditioned and had seats!  The film and the music were both beautiful, but it was hard to keep our eyes open!  Not only were we a little tired and very full, but I was still fighting off the motion sickness a bit, and this film didn't always help that.

Then it was on to Japan, Payton's favorite pavilion in World Showcase.  The whole reason for stopping in Japan?  Why to shop of course!  Believe it or not, my son found a Godzilla t-shirt in the shop and had to have it.  Thankfully we were able to slow him down after that, because he was drooling over all the Power Rangers toys!  By this time we were all getting very tired and very hot.  I had wanted to go on to the American pavilion to finally see The American Adventure, but I was out-voted, and so we caught the Friendship Boat at Moracco and headed back toward Future World.  Then it was on a bus back to AKL.

Thankfully our room was ready once we arrived back at the Lodge.  I had asked them to text me when it was ready, but had never received a message.  We were assigned room 5122 with an amazing view of the Sunset Savannah.  We hauled our luggage up from the van, with the help of bell services, then took a few hours to just rest and relax before heading back to Epcot for the evening.

Photos from AKL taken over course of stay.

Once we felt ready to go, it was back to the park and to the Land pavilion again for a ride on Soarin' and dinner at Sunshine Seasons.  This is one of our absolute favorite quick service options, as they have so many choices and everything is delicious.  The boys shared some chicken (well Payton got a kids meal, then ate some of his dad's too!) and I had a turkey sandwich.  They finished before I did, so they headed off to Mission Space while I finished up and then leisurely took photos of the pavilion and the park on my way to meet them.  Epcot is just as beautiful at night as it is during the day.  Once they finished riding Mission Space, we walked around a bit, enjoying the cool breeze, then found a spot for Illuminations.  That fireworks show is simply amazing and brings tears to my eyes every time.

Since we were in for a big day at Hollywood Studios the next morning, and we were close to Future World, we headed on to the buses right as Illuminations ended, and thankfully got back to the Lodge pretty quickly.  Then it was off to bed!

Up next, our first day at our first Star Wars Weekend!  If you have a favorite location in Epcot, share it with me!  Please leave comments or questions below.  I love to hear your thoughts on the best spots in the parks, or the best time of day to visit.

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