View From Table 9

February 3, 2008

Our Trip to the World of The Mouse Part IV: Epcot

Of all the days we planned on this trip, this was the one I was most excited and interested in for two reasons. First, because the last time I had been to DisneyWorld, Epcot was nothing more than a sign in a field saying “Coming in 1982 – EPCOT, the World of Tomorrow.” Second was the fact that I was going to go SCUBA diving for the first time since becoming a Mom almost 6 years ago.

When we planned the trip originally we figured we’d have to leave Orlando for a day to dive someplace else like Devil’s Den or Weeki Wachee (another fun place to dive BTW and a seriously old Florida kitschy show). I was really thrilled when I found out we could dive at Disney! Better yet, our son and my parents could watch us dive. Coolness. So, our day would end with a dive in the Living Seas exhibit through the DiveQuest program.

Now I had heard that Epcot wasn’t as impressive as it seemed or wasn’t as fun for kids, it was more of a display than a park. Because of that, we only planned 1/2 day – my mistake. We were quite surprised at just how many cool things there were to see and do. First up, we got to participate in the “soft opening’ for the Spaceship Earth ride/exhibit – the one that’s inside the giant golf ball. It’s a cool ride, we all really liked it, and the interactive games after the ride were really very fun. Oh and the survey you take on the descending part of the ride was pretty cool too. Of course there are many many opportunities for Siemens (the company who ‘brings you’ the exhibit) to tell you all about themselves, but we didn’t really mind that much.

Next off to Mission: Space, which was super fun. We had to skip Test Track b/c the lines were decently long and FastPasses were for after DH and I were to go diving. We then headed over to The Land where we got FastPasses for Soarin’, a seriously cool ride, then hopped on the boat tour. Surprisingly, DS LOVED the gardens we rode through, really getting excited at all the plants he could spot and how they were growing.

Next we went over to the Innovention pavilion and rode the Innovention ride there which DS especially loved, even the stinky smell part (or especially, I should say). He also completely loved the interactive exhibits after the ride.

At this point, DH and I left DS in the trusty care of my parents to prepare for diving. They would meet us at the Living Seas in about an hour – or rather view us through glass. We headed over to the meeting area, met the other divers an the Disney Dive cast. I’d have to say it was one of my most fun dives, and the staff were really great through the whole experience.

Disney provides all the equipment, you are only allowed to bring your own personal mask, which we forgot. The prep was not excruciatingly long as some can be, and the facilities are super clean with great equipment. The dive itself is really cool – temp 78 degrees, 25′ depth maximum.

I was a little disappointed to learn the tank is completely enclosed – no natural light – meaning no live coral and therefore no abundance of coral-loving fish. What more than made up for it were the magnificent fish they had and the opportunity to get close to a Loggerhead and Green turtle. Both are endangered and in the wild would not come near you. Since they are hand-fed in this tank they are completely unafraid of people and had no problem coming right up to us. Coolness!

My other unexpected experience were the people watching us. First time I ever was watched while diving and it was pretty neat. There’s a restaurant that views the tank, so we swam by that a number of times. DH and I even did a little tango for one group, which got great applause. There’s also the observation deck where people come to look at the fishies and us. DH got called over by a group to be in a pic and I got to play patty cake with a young girl among other things. Lastly, we were thrilled that DS got to watch us, though he got itchy and didn’t stay long enough for us to interact with him through the glass. He wanted to go on the Finding Nemo ride, which he loved.

They tape most of the dive, and there’s a small diving bell we each went into so we could take off our masks, smile and wave at the camera. We bought the video, and I think my goofy not-being-able-to-get-my-mask-off may make their ‘best of’ clip this year (duh).

My only complaint of the experience was that there was no citrus to suck on when we surfaced to get rid of the salt water taste. Next time I’ll bring my own tin of pineapple rings or something. Other than that, I highly recommend the dive, it was definitely worth the cost.

After the dive, we went around the World Showcase, which was pretty cool, except we were hungry so we were most concerned about eating. Thanks to a kind cast member who was herself interested in diving, we got in at the German Oktoberfest restaurant. Food was decent, buffet fare. The show was fun, a bit loud for us but thankfully not too long.

By the time we were done eating, the park was closing and we got to see one of the singularly most impressive fireworks and laser show we’ve ever seen (brought to you by Sylvania, a Siemens company, in case you weren’t sure – these guys are all over the freakin park!) Stay for it if you can, as it’s seriously cool.

Highlights:

DiveQuest

Soarin

Spaceship Earth

Disappointments:

Not enough time!

One more post about the trip coming soon…

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