When I found out several months ago that my aunt was visiting Walt Disney World for the first time ever with a friend, I was so excited to help them plan! I immediately sent her a copy of the Unofficial Guide, made sure she had a TouringPlans subscription, and told her I was available any time to help plan things. There were a few phone conversations about park hoppers and car rentals…but then she said she was all set. I should have known better.
The night before she arrived I asked her where they were going there first day and what plans they had. She then informed me they had made no plans: they were going to sleep in and then show up at Epcot whenever and just wing it. WHAT?! No. You can’t say something like that to me. My JOB is planning and Disney World. You can’t just tell me you’re going to show up and wing it. She hadn’t even looked at the Unofficial Guide I sent her.
Immediately I rescheduled my whole day and instructed her to meet me at the Epcot turnstiles at 8:30am. I was going to last-minute plan their vacation to make sure they saw everything they wanted.
When we met up the next morning and she saw there was already a large crowd at the turnstiles, my aunt clearly regretted her decision to not plan anything. I told her not to worry and began to put things together. I started by asking what her “must-do’s” were for Epcot and suggested a few of my own, as well. I made a Touring Plan on my phone and got it ready for the day about to begin. I then went through the other 3 parks and made plans for the following few days based on what they really wanted to see. In less than 30 minutes we had basic plans ready to go for all 4 parks.
As soon as the turnstiles opened we headed in and began checking things off the list. Soarin’ FASTPASS, Test Track (where I designed the most fuel-inefficient monster of a car ever), Mission: SPACE, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, and Journey into Imagination…by 11:00 we had finished all of Future World. The only ride we hadn’t done was Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and I told them to save that for if they had time later that day. It was so great to see the parks through the eyes of people who had never been to Epcot. They both really enjoyed everything.
The only major new thing we noticed in Future World was all the construction going on in the Land Pavilion. One of the escalators is completely walled off, and the buzz seems to be that it could take up to six months to be fixed. To help with the flow of traffic, the emergency exit doors near Soarin’ (by the bathrooms) are open, and there is a pathway that winds around backstage and takes guests back into the park near Imagination. I’m not sure if this actually helps with crowd flow, but it was neat to see a little bit of backstage and convenient to not have to go all the way upstairs just to then go right back down the hill.
Before we left Future World my aunt wanted to take a look around Mouse Gear. While we were there I noticed a few new items. They had some really great attraction poster magnets with original artwork from Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and Tropical Serenade. They were really good looking and only $4.95 each (very cheap in Disney-prices). They also had a few new phone cases for iPhones, including one that featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. There also were 3D Marvel cases with Iron Man, Thor, and Spider-Man.
We then headed into World Showcase. At this point a lot of my worries about their having a great experience at Epcot had melted away. They had the rest of the day to explore World Showcase, and that was plenty of time to enjoy everything. After riding Gran Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom we decided to split up for the rest of the day. The Advanced Dining Reservation System was down, so I couldn’t make them any dining reservations. But I left them with instructions to try to get a walk-in at Via Napoli and if that failed to eat in the bar at Tutto Gusto. I reminded them that IllumiNations was at 9, told them to call if they had questions, and then headed off to find some lunch for myself.
After browsing menus in my Lines app on my phone, I settled on Liberty Inn in the American Adventure Pavilion. I had only tried one thing on the menu there previously and wanted to try something new. When we walked in I noticed that in the dining room there was a fancy table set up with a table cloth, silverware, and flowers. I was curious what it was doing in a counter service dining room and decided to ask a Cast Member. The Cast Member told us that was a special table set up for the family of the day and then asked if we wanted to be that family! I was so excited! She instructed us to go ahead to the register and order and then she would help us out.
As soon as we ordered and paid the same Cast Member came to us, said we didn’t have to wait for our food, and led us to the fancy table. After we were seated she left and returned shortly with our drinks…in real glasses! It felt so silly to be served like in a real restaurant at Liberty Inn that we couldn’t stop giggling. It was so much fun.
When our food came out it was brought on real plates under fancy silver domes! It was like something out of a movie. It was so odd to see normal counter service food being served like we were at some fancy French restaurant in a movie. I had ordered the grilled chicken flatbread with bacon, cheese, and red pepper aioli. I wasn’t expecting too much after my previous experiences here, but I was pleasantly surprised! The chicken was juicy, and the toppings were all very flavorful. It was a delicious sandwich that I will definitely have again.
After a few texts to make sure my aunt was all settled (they did get into Via Napoli and had a lovely lunch) we ended our day at Epcot.