Christmas at Epcot

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Epcot doesn't really rank particularly high on Tom's favorites list (though he does love Soarin'!), but I LOVE Epcot, especially the World Showcase.

the monorail overhead at Epcot

We got a late start again (on purpose) and arrived just in time for our early lunch reservations at the Coral Reef. I have heard a lot of not-so-great things about their food over the years, but I'm always willing to give things a chance for myself, and since we do a Full House podcast, how could we pass up the opportunity to eat in the restaurant where Danny tried to propose to Vicky as Jesse and Joey did their radio show from inside the tank.

I was really impressed when we walked in. The entry was beautiful, and there was an ocean-themed Christmas tree.

one of the beautiful ornaments

When we entered the dining area, I was surprised by how intimate it was. Cozy and dim, with little shell lights by the tables to provide light, not to mention the amazing view of the aquarium.

a shell light at the Coral Reef

I actually thought the food was quite good; I had the shrimp and grits with the Baileys and Jack Daniel's mousse, and Tom had the steak (which he said was in his top 3 steaks he'd eaten, and that's saying something considering how much Tom likes his steak).

We headed over to watch Captain EO, the Michael Jackson/George Lucas 3-D space adventure from the 80s. I had never been particularly interested in seeing it, but it closed a few days ago, so we figured we should see it while we could. I thought it was trying too hard to capture the charm of Labyrinth (but in space!), but failed miserably; Tom, however, loved it for how terrible it was. 

some of the fountains outside of the Imagination! pavilion

Afterward, we had FastPasses for Soarin' and Spaceship Earth, which we rode before heading over to World Showcase.

We checked out the Christmas decorations in Mexico before heading over to Norway for my favorite Disney World treat, school bread.

Norwegian stave church

When we were leaving Norway to head to China, we noticed a crowd gathered around a small stage. A holiday presentation was about to start, so we stayed and watched Sigrid and Julenissen (a Christmas gnome who visits rural Norwegian families) tell us about Norwegian holiday traditions.

Sigrid and Julenissen

At China, we finally watched Reflections of China. I thought it could use an update, but it was beautiful, and it showed me some sides of China's landscape that I hadn't realized existed.

We spent a lot of time looking at the intricacies of the little railroad garden at the Germany pavilion.

one of the little locomotives crossing one of the bridges

We spent a lot of time just people watching at the Italy pavilion. It wasn't crowded, and it just gave off a very relaxing vibe.

Spaceship Earth as viewed from the bridges at Italy

We hit The American Adventure just as the Candlelight Processional was beginning, so we sat by the fountain and listened to the choir and Gary Sinise (the night's narrator) for a bit. After a little while, we moved on to Japan and then Morocco (one of my favorite pavilions!), where we got to listen to part of a presentation on Moroccan festivals.

Morocco at sunset

We finally headed to France, and realized we had time to watch Impressions de France (which we hadn't seen before) before dinner. Like Reflections of China, it was beautiful, but could probably use an update. It did make me think that all of the pavilions should have a movie that showcases the natural beauty of their countries (the only other one that does is Canada, which we didn't have time to watch).

We had dinner at Les Chefs de France, where I had the macaroni and cheese (very good, but not the best meal I've eaten at Disney World) and the creme brulee (excellent), and Tom had the half chicken, which he proclaimed the best chicken he's ever eaten and the best thing he's ever eaten at Disney World.

After dinner, we planned to catch the boat to Hollywood Studios and take the bus to the Polynesian, because I had planned on surprising Tom with watching the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach. Tom had to go to the bathroom, and the boat left as he came out of the bathroom. The next one was running behind, so we decided to just trek back to the front of the park to catch the monorail. We got to the Polynesian much quicker than we would have otherwise, so we had plenty of time to find a spot on the beach (a porch swing!) and relax with our toes on the sand. Normally, I would have gotten a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai, but I was full of French food. 

It was a Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party night at Magic Kingdom, so I wasn't sure what time the fireworks were starting (the Pageant is delayed if they start at 9), but the Pageant started on time. It's pretty old school (it's from 1971, the year the park opened, and served as the inspiration for the Main Street Electrical Parade), but it was absolutely delightful. It features an undersea theme (and has been updated with some songs from The Little Mermaid), but changes to a patriotic theme toward the end. We both loved it, and definitely plan on watching again on our next trip!

We decided to take the boat to Magic Kingdom (we were right by the marina) so we could catch the bus back to Coronado Springs. While we were in the boat on the lagoon, the fireworks started; we noticed when we saw their reflection on the water. It was absolutely dazzling, and it was an entirely different experience than we had the night before (and different fireworks -- since it was a party night, they were doing Holiday Wishes, which was very impressive!). We arrived just in time to beat the fireworks, be the first ones in the bus queue (we were almost the only people on the bus period -- the driver started to pull away twice but was flagged down by people chasing him down), and watch the rest of the fireworks from the holding area.

It was a night we'll never forget.

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