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family vacations

orlando day 1: Disney World’s Epcot

I’ll confess, I do have a couple of things from my last Food for Thought trip to post. But I couldn’t wait to start uploading pictures from my family vacation in Florida, so I just decided to sandwich the Food for Thought between 2 Thanksgiving Break posts – sounds good, yah? COOL.

So.

Disney World.

Need I say more? It’s “the happiest place on earth, where dreams come true and magic happens.” Something along those lines anyways.

Hmm, so maybe that’s not exaaactly what happened to us, but I think my family and our friends still had a darned good time at Epcot theme park in Disney World.

the famous globe thingy

But first, why did we even go to Florida in the first place? I know, it’s kind of random. Apparently, it was a planned trip between my parents and their friends, and they just decided to take their kids along for the ride. One of the dads in the group was able to rent a vacation house near Orlando, so that’s where we decided to go.

Not gonna lie, I was kind of upset that we didn’t get a Thanksgiving spread like the one last year. The same group of family friends gather at our house for the annual Thanksgiving feast, and my mom goes all-out cooking and making both traditional American and Korean food to put on the table. And everything is absolutely DELICIOUS. Everyone just gains about 10 pounds at my house, just pigging out on my mom’s food. Because really, who doesn’t go overboard on Thanksgiving?

But alas, it was not to be this year. However, we DID get to go to Epcot and Universal Studios, so in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it was too big of a loss. And my mom said that she’d make a mini-Thanksgiving feast for us later. Yay!

It was disorienting to have an 80ºF Thanksgiving, although it wasn’t unpleasant – it legit felt like summer. But the place was already bedecked in Christmas decorations and blasting Christmas carols from the speakers.

a loner amidst all the palm trees

actually edible, apparently

So when deciding which of the 4 Disney parks to go to, Calynn and I immediately leaned toward Epcot because it just sounded SO COOL. It doesn’t have as many rides as the other parks, and it’s more about exploring and sight-seeing rather than thrill-seeking. But reading the reviews and descriptions online, this place sounded right up our alley.

my dad pondering which ride to go on first

Epcot stands for Experimental Community of Tomorrow, and the park itself is divided into 2 sub-parks: Future World and World Showcase. The majority of the rides are in Future World, so that’s where we hit up first.

my sister and my dad, standing in front of a big reflective building.

Although a bit dated, Future World is exactly what it sound like – cool gizmos and rides geared toward what the future will be like. So most of the stuff is based on time and space-travel.

in the future, my dad and his friend will be... scuba divers.

Some of the stuff was a little cheesy, but others had really cool effects and were conceptually very interesting. Nothing was roller-coaster-thrilling, but fun nonetheless.

the orange pass for the more "intense" version of the ride.

stick out your butt and the orange pass-pose gets even better!

Being at a theme park, of course most of our time was spent standing in lines. It wasn’t too bad though – time flies when you’re having fun chatting with friends.

fun while standing in line

eating while standing in line - korean onion rings ftw!

After going on a few rides, everyone started getting hungry so we headed over to the World Showcase to grab some food. This part of theme park is made up of 10 different areas built on a “country” theme. There’s France, Norway, Italy, the UK, Japan, China … This was the part that I was looking forward to the most – it was just SOO COOOOL. Not only were the architecture and famous landmarks recreated in each of these microcosms, but all the people working here were actually FROM that country. The people working in Japan were all Japanese, the people in France all spoke French fluently, and the people in the UK all spoke with British accents – you get the idea. BUT HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Well, we didn’t get to explore too much at first because all we were focused on was filling our grumbling tummies. So we quickly passed through:

Mexico

aztec pyramid!

You could actually go inside the pyramid, and there was an entire plaza built there, with stores, restaurants and a huge background of pyramids.

glass-molder, selling his wares inside the pyramid

Back outside, we sightsaw a little more before continuing on to the next country.

mariachi band

lol nice try calynn

LOL-er

Here they had Mexican restaurants serving asado, ropa vieja, enchiladas, burritos, and street food like churros and nachos as well. And ginormous sombreros. Which my family obviously had too much fun with.

Next up was Norway:

viking house!

Then China:

hey, we've been here! the real one in China!

And then Germany.

For the edible foodstuffs here, they were selling sauerkraut, pretzels, bratwursts, and caramels.

mm.. making caramel-coated apples

And of course my dad had to get…

BIER

LOL.My dad said it was actually really good – none of the cheap Heineken or Coors Lite stuff. This beer was apparently imported from Germany, so I guess it was bound to be good. And hey, while in Germany, do as the Germans do, right?

Germany also had a cute miniature version of the German countryside:

After our short detour in Germany, we walked passed Italy:

Where they were of course serving pizza, pasta, gelato, tiramisu, etc.

It took us a while to find a place to actually eat because a lot of the places here are pretty expensive, with dishes of $20+. They’re actually legit restaurants, but we were only looking for a quick bite to eat. I wish we could’ve eaten at the Japanese yakitori place, but we ended up getting:

a veggie burger

a chili dog

and a pulled-pork sandwich

In America.

colonial america, that is.

Really, could you get any more theme-parkish food? There was so much to choose from, but these were cheap (about $7 per order) and familiar, and the only thing familiar enough for the other families to eat. Boo. I wanted to try some bratwursts and pasta and couscous (from Germany, Italy, and Morrocco, respectively).

After everyone was finally re-energized, we walked the other way around (the World Showcase is set up as a giant circle around a huge pond). This time, my family and I took care to visit and explore each of the cities more throughly.

So next, we walked through Morrocco, where we were definitely getting the Aladdin vibe.

the "marketplace"

We got to go into the restaurant here (although we didn’t actually eat anything), which served more up-scale Middle Eastern food and entertained its diners with belly dancers.

yeah.. it was pretty dark in there

But there were also smaller, more casual dining places where you could get stuff like pita and falafel, hummus, etc.

After touring Morocco, we headed over to…

Japan! There were scheduled performances in each country, and we timed our visit to Japan so we could see the drummers.

This performance was so intense! You wouldn’t think so, because they’re only making music after all. But both the women and the man were jumping around, switching places, and swinging their arms while pounding on the drums. They were all out of breath by the end of each song. Jeez, what a way to work out, huh?

Right after the drummers was a Japanese candy-maker, who pulled and molded hot sugar into different animals.

pulling the sugar to incorporate air, making it glossy

using little scissors to snip and mold the the sugar. COOL.

painting..

finished product - a flamingo!

next, a monkey in the works

Exploring Japan itself, we were shocked to see how much effort Disney had put into making so legitimately Japanese. There were restaurants with legit Japanese dishes on the menu (although touristy options were also available). I’ve already mentioned the workers, but going into the stores, there were all sorts of foods, clothes, and other stuff actually imported from Japan and stocked on the shelves.

japanese crackers!!

GUMMIES, POCKY.

They also had tankfuls of Japanese oysters, ready to be opened anytime a little girl felt like getting her own pearl.

ta-da! now, don't you feel ariel?

And of course, Japan wouldn’t be Japan without a serene koi pond, would it?

After stopping for a break, because my sister just HAD to try the Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar..

"I want to bite off the ears!"

We passed the other way around through Canada.

to..tem... pole?

And then headed to England!

Of course, there were stands selling fish and chips, but pubs and restaurants serving stuff like shepherd’s pie also seemed to be popular here in the UK.

The sun was setting around this time, so we took the opportunity to rest and enjoy the pretty sights.

i see mexico!

and japan!

Finally, my mom, Calynn, and I (my dad was back in Canada enjoying a rock band) headed over to one country left – France.

While there was a restaurant serving fancy French cuisine here, I felt that more emphasis was put on the cafe, bakery-ish eateries serving French pastries and coffees.

Once we had visited France, our tour of the world was done! We slowly made our way back around to the Christmas tree where we had planned to meet up with the other families, enjoying the sights and sounds of Epcot at night.

germany, in all of its christmas light decor

Whew. I think that was the longest post yet. I’m tired just typing and uploading everything, so you can imagine how exhausted we were at the end of the day. There was a looot of walking done, but just being able to visit so many different countries made every step worth it. Disney definitely did everything they could to make being in each section as immersive and real an experience as possible. Isn’t it amazing? It’s definitely something you have to see to believe.

Now, I’m sure it can’t possibly beat going to the actual country itself, but Disney Epcot might just be the next best thing. Lack of exciting rides aside, it’s something unique that really only Disney could pull off.

Yay, Orlando posts are halfway up! Like I said, Universal Studios will be the next, next post. Jeez, finals are looming ever closer and I’m still blogging… Well, a week and a half until the semester is over!! Even though I just came back from home, I can’t wait to back in Bergen again. Just a little longer… HWAITING!

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