Friday, October 19, 2007

Take Flight at Epcot!

The park with the giant golf ball. Epcot. It was the one that quite surprisingly, my family deemed the favorite (by all 5!) We arrived at 9AM (this park was not open an hour early to Disney Hotel guest on the day we visited) and were surprised to find found the place vacant. I immediately snapped a picture of ourselves -with the golf ball behind us-with no people in the background. How cool was that? I was excited.
We made a bee line to a high intensity ride that is Test Track. It allows riders to board a race car that is on a track (basically a roller coaster). Drivers then enter into the hair-raising world of auto testing on one of the longest, fastest rides in Disney history! Strap yourself in to race up bumpy terrain, roar through hair-pin turns, speed into freezing cold chambers, and rush on to 50-degree banked curves at 60 miles an hour. It was really neat. Even after Sister Sledge''s hyterical breakdown the day prior at MK on the Kiddy Coasater, she was excited about this ride. She wanted to ride it again.
After what was the most exhilarating ride for us, became the second most after we took a test flight in "Space Ship Earth". This ultimate interactive thrill-packed adventure is as close as you can get to blasting off into space without leaving Earth. Each member of your astronaut team has a challenging role in a dynamic and daring cosmic mission dodging meteors and navigating nebulae. Select exhilarating and intense training and join the Orange Team, or opt for a less intense galactic adventure on the Green Team. Both adventures are out of this world! On spaceship earth, "astronauts" get a brief training and debriefing of a mission that you will be navigating into space. Only 4 people were allowed to a "space capsule" so My husband and the 2 boys rode in one, and myself and Sledge rode in another with 2 other people we didn't know. The capsule is really a simulator. It is dark and inside there are several buttons that you will need to press on the mission so that you can make a safe landing on Mars. The door closed and we were then moved by the simulator so that we were facing a "sky" above us. It felt almost as if we were lying on our backs. Did I mention that there are 2 versions of this ride? One that is for "lightweights" and then the orange level that provides twist and weightlessness by spinning the capsule you are riding in so that you are upside down. It even comes complete with barf bags. Yep, you guessed it....we were in the orange.
The countdown was on as we looked into the blue sky before us. At lift off you saw the clouds breeze by as you went through them, like on an airplane. Then the turbulence of leaving the atmosphere and finally space where we seemed like we were floating. It was a wonderful feeling.
The mission was on and we began to press control panel buttons and use our joystick to drive the ship. I began to laugh so hard (like the "Laughter video on my blog). It was just a strange sensation that made me loose it. I couldn't' stop. With the "high rate of speed" I could feel the tears coming from my eyes immediately being sucked back into my ears. It made me laugh more. Somehow we managed to complete the mission despite my laughter drunkenness. As we departed the space capsule we met the guys. They questioned why I now looked like Tammy Faye Baker after a TV Testimonial. Tom and Toes were also hysterical with laughter. All at poor JSmooth's expense. JSmooth hated the ride. The poor child had boo-hooed the entire time because he thought that he had actually boarded a space ship and left this atmosphere. In one sequence the navigator is asked to take drive the ship and becasue JSmooth he small he could not reach the joystick. I was told that he cried uncontrollably, saying "We are going to die. Toes, we are going to die. I can't reach it". Finally I was told his Daddy saved the day and grabbed JSmooth's controller and landed safely. That little boy thought that he was in space and it was seriously going to be his last moments alive. Bless him. After many hugs and congratulations for a successful mission (and an explanation that it was all just pretend) it was on to the next ride.
After we got our blood pumping we headed over to "Soarin. My friends the Schmitts had highly recommended this ride so I was anxious to give it a try. However, there are many signs along the way as you wait warning that if you have a fear of heights to reconsider. I have a fear of heights! A huge fear, but because of the family pact we made where majority ruled on rides, I pressed on, heck! I had just completed a space mission this was going to be nothing! I was excited to see what it was all about. After a brief "training" in a small confinement area given by my husband's Seinfeld hero, "Putty",via prerecorded TV, we were off. The group we were in (about 15-20) loaded into 3 rows of seats , like a theater but they had a safety harness that came down and locked you in. The seats then lifted into the air. From 40-feet in the air this amazing free-flying attraction gives you an aerial view of the beauty and splendor of California and a brief fly over of the Disney Magic Kingdom. Experience the Golden State like never before — from the Majestic redwoods of Yosemite to the Golden Gate Bridge to the bright lights of Hollywood. The IMAX type screen displays images that simulate flying over such places as the Colorado Rockies, a fruit orchard, the Magic Kingdom and the ocean, among others. It was really neat because some locations provided smells. For example when you flew over the Rockies, you could smell the pine that were seeming below your feet. In the fruit orchard the smell of blossoms permeated the air. Wind blew into your face. The entire ride completely played with your senses. The Schmitts were right. It was incredible. JSmooth said it was his "all time favorite ride".
Epcot had so much to do there, that we hardly scratched the surface. I will mention that we saw three times the characters at Epcot that we saw at Disney. It seemed that every other country in the showcase had a character appearance and there was also an area in Epcot that allowed characters to greet guest. I was very impressed with Epcot. If we had the opportunity to go down again, I think we would spend our time at Epcot and perhaps try out anther park. While my children enjoyed the magic kingdom, I think they are at an age where the MK was kind of juvenile to them. Even my 7 year old acts more mature than his years or looks indicate. He liked the scientific areas and wonderment of Epcot.

Other notables we rode:

The Seas with Nemos and Friends: Cruise out to sea in the clamobile! Greet all your Nemo pals as they swim amid the live marine life of the gigantic aquarium. Delve down into the deepest parts of the ocean in this fun-filled story where the majesty of nature meets whimsical Disney magic.
Honey I Shrunk the Audience:Professor Wayne Szalinski is at it again and this time you're the one who gets shrunk. This interactive adventure goes beyond 3-D with incredible special effects and awesome surprises. Be ready to make nice to mice, face the fangs of a python and duck when a dog has a very itchy nose. You might feel small, but your laughs will be big! It was very cleverly done. I kids especially enjoyed it.

I hope that if you have not gone to Epcot you will have the opportunity to experience it. It is worth the trip!

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