Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Katie's Guide to Epcot: Introduction

I've decided to write a series about Epcot. I've done plenty of research on the subject. In fact, I think I've spent more time researching and experiencing Epcot than I have on my second major the entire time I've been in college.
Epcot can be a lot of fun, but you have to know how to make it fun. You can't just wander around without purpose or direction. If you do, you will probably get bored very quickly. There aren't any roller coasters, and there aren't many thrill rides. If you're looking for roller coasters, go to Busch Gardens or something. If you're looking for good food, wine, beer, and alcohol, as well as entertainment, Epcot is the place for you. And who doesn't like all those things, preferably all at once?
One of the most likely reasons for a trip to Epcot is Drinking Around the World.
In introduction, Drinking Around The World is a sport in which myself and my father frequently participate. Recently, my dad's two brothers also joined in the fun - although I was not there. I have not been back since January, myself, but my memory is good enough that I should be able to tell you what to eat/drink and not drink, as well as any extracurricular activities that are recommended.
My dad sent me this website which attempts to chronicle the Drinking around the World experience. It falls short, sometimes because the people writing it were too drunk to remember at that point what they drank or what they were doing. My account will be somewhat more detailed.

Some basic tips before we get started:

1. Do as much as you can.
If you've got a 1 day pass to the park, it's best not to waste your extra hours. Get there around the time the park opens (usually 9, but check) and ride the Future World rides. Some of the highlights include Mission Space (or the Spin 'n' Barf, as my dad so affectionately calls it), Soarin' (which includes Smellovision), Test Track, and of course old relaxing favorites like the boat ride, Living With The Land, and of course Spaceship Earth. But more on that later.
You should be able to make at least 2 laps around the World Showcase, at a leisurely pace, between 10:30 (when the World Showcase opens) and the fireworks show. Don't worry about hurrying during your first lap. If you are there on a holiday, such as New Years' Eve, it is best not to leave the park, because there's no guarantee you'll get back in. You can take a nap on a grassy area, like the pros do.

Yes, that's me in the orange.

2. Restaurants are hard to get into.
Sometimes, these restaurants require reservations 6 months in advance. You can try to walk up and get a table, but it's not likely in peak season. Take advantage of the smaller cafes and stands.
If you decide to go to one of the restaurants, during the fireworks show is the best time. It's usually at 9, and everyone is outside watching the fireworks and not eating in the restaurant. The fireworks show, while I love it, is not all that spectacular, and it can be a little long and boring in the middle. Believe me, I've memorized it. If you want to hear the song that badly, call me and I'll sing it for you.

3. Pick the right hotel.
If you are not fortunate to have a house 2 miles from Disney World, I highly recommend staying either at an Epcot resort or a resort on the Monorail loop near the Magic Kingdom.

The Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian are all directly on the Monorail. The Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness are just a short boat ride from the Magic Kingdom Monorail station.

These resorts may be pricier, but you won't regret it - you won't have to take hour long bus rides to and from the parks. Now, there are several resorts classified as Epcot resorts, but don't be fooled - the only good ones are the Yacht Club, Beach Club and (I suppose) the Boardwalk. The Beach Club is the closest to the back gate of Epcot, but you can walk to the park from any of these hotels. I believe there is also a walkway from the Swan and Dolphin, it's just farther. Beware the Boardwalk though - it is noisy, due to the actual boardwalk below the guest room windows, and the pool is in the creepy shape of a clown.

This is inside our room at the Beach Club for the 2006 Food and Wine Festival. It was basically the closest room to Epcot in all of Disney. That's my dad. Dad spent a good amount of time on that couch after riding Mission Space.

4. Don't be an idiot. (refer back to this list every morning that you go to the parks)
Don't let your kids wear wheelies. I can't even tell you how many times I've nearly been run over.
Don't try to start a drunken brawl. Or the men on Segways will come and get you. No, they will not let you ride their Segway, nor will they answer to the name "Gob."
Don't bring your kid on a leash. Or someone will mercilessly mock you. That someone is me.
Don't try to get the ducks to drink your beer. They're ducks. They don't need to be any dumber than they are already.
Don't feed the seagulls popcorn. And you won't get bird poo on your head and the heads of those around you.
Don't rent an old person scooter (otherwise known as a Rascal) if you can walk perfectly well.
Don't try to buy more than 2 drinks per ID.
Don't stand in the middle of the Rose and Crown just for the hell of it. Get your drinks and get out. And don't encourage the weird Hat Lady, either.
Don't be part of a large group of tourists that wear matching shirts and/or follow a yellow flag.
I'll think of more as we go. Rest assured.

5. Don't drink only Budweiser.
If the point was to ingest yet more American culture, you should have gone to Six Flags. Try something new. Some of these food and drink items, you can't get anywhere else. So don't waste your money on a turkey leg and Sam Adams when you can get chocolate eclairs and Casa beer (preferably not together). Also, if you're going to be xenophobic, Budweiser is owned by InBev, which is a European company.

6. Don't be culturally insensitive.
Yeah, these people are in America, so I'm sure they're used to it. But don't try to speak to them in English with a bad imitation of their accent if you aren't actually from their country. Don't say insensitive stereotypes out loud. I'm not mentioning any names, here.

7. Don't wait in long lines.
First of all, that's what Fastpasses are for. Secondly, there is no reason to wait in a line longer than 20 minutes for any ride or attraction in Epcot. Just wait until it's less busy, or get there earlier in the morning.

But, other than that, have fun! I'll be back soon with a new installment.

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