March 21, 2015: Leaving for Europe

We slept in as late as we dared but we had to turn in the keys and vacate the house this morning.  All of Dominica’s family had gotten up and left either for the airport or to begin their drive back to Texas before we were awake so we did not see any of them today.

Dominica was up first and mostly ready when she woke me up.  I had very little time to shower and for us to get out the door.  It was a rushed morning and none of us got as much sleep as we really wanted.

Putting our stuff, the stuff that is all coming to Europe with us, into the car proved to be a challenge and for the first time it really has struck Dominica that we may have more stuff than can be put into the little rental car that we have in Spain!  It was all that we could do to fit into the larger Mazda 3.  This could be very, very bad.

It ended up taking over an hour to return the keys from the rental house which really sucked as we were losing our one day in EPCOT as a family driving around running errands.  Not fun at all.

It was late, around eleven, when we got into EPCOT.  The lines were already horrible and the temperature was awful.  I was covered in sweat before we even got started.

We wanted to start with Spaceship Earth but the line was ridiculous so we tabled that.  We started, instead, with the Universe of Energy which is a favourite for all of us and one that I have not gotten to do in quite a while for one reason or another – mostly because Disney does not keep it running reliably and it opens late and closes early making it a hard one to make it to.  So we started there, no wait at all, and everyone loved it.  The routine that they do with Ellen and Bill Nye is terribly dated and lots of the “we know these facts about science and you can’t dispute them” have been disproven and make Bill Nye look kinda foolish – as does his support of the use of fossil fuels for everything.  The opening Jeopardy bit is hilarious and classic and I hope that that stays for a long time  Already, though, much of the Ellen and Bill stuff has been removed – the animatronics are all gone now, for example.  So in some ways, the ride is closer to its original than to the Ellen makeover that they did long ago.

After the Universe of Energy it was off to The Land so that I could do the Living with the Land boat ride.  Luciana had been great on the last ride but had a temper tantrum in line for this one because she did not want to ride the boat. So Dominica sat this one out with her and only Liesl and I rode the ride.  We enjoyed ourselves a lot and I got to see the new aquaponics exhibit that they have added to that one.

We were getting hungry, it was around one, so we walked to the dock for the boat to take us to the World Showcase and got the ferry that goes directly to the Morocco Pavilion which was super handy as that was where we were going for lunch.

Dominica had, months ago, made reservations for us at the new Spice Road Table restaurant that had been added to the Morocco Pavilion.  The reservations were for two and it was just a little after one but they were not busy so we took our chances and they got us right in.

We were very happy that we chose the Spice Road as the food, which is basically a Moroccon influenced tapas fusion, was amazing.  It has been a while since I had a really impressive Disney dining experience and this one really stood out . We loved everything that we had which included spicy hummus fries (truly amazing, a must try), fish croquettes, fried calamari and brie.  Luciana ate a lot of the calamari (and had one scary moment where she was choking on a piece that she could not chew) which she used to like but has, for some reason, avoided for quite some time.  Liesl fell in love with the fish croquettes and made us order a whole ‘nother order just for her.  Everyone loved eating there.

It was so hot that we immediately went to the Italy Pavilion for ice cream.  The selection was pathetic, though, so I passed but Dominica and the girls got some.

Our next attraction was the American Experience which Dominica had made me promise that we would do because her family would not enjoy it but she likes it very much.  We got there early enough to here the Voices of Liberty do a few songs.  They are the real attraction and if you go to see the American Experience be sure to get there plenty early so that you can hear them and spend time enjoying the small museum there.  The musical show is phenomenal and has been a part of the show since it opened in 1982.  Even the girls really enjoyed it and did not want to see the “real” show when it was done.  They wanted more of the musical show.

The American Experience itself is very dated and has some bad references in it, like Lance Armstrong, that Disney has been quite lazy about cleaning up.  It’s still well done, but it is over the top propaganda and a bit hard to take all in.

We went on to Mexico and wanted to do the El Rio del Tiempo but the line, normally very short, was crazy and we were not about to waste what little time that we had waiting for that.  So we left and just headed for Spaceship Earth.

We were not really enjoying ourselves as it was so hot that we were very uncomfortable.  And the park was pretty crowded.  Hot and crowded does not make for a fun Disney experience.  And we are rushed and have to drive so we can’t relax in a food or drink venue or have a beer or cocktail or anything either.

We did manage to get onto Spaceship Earth which I had been wanting to do and we had promised Liesl that she could do with me because she had not gotten to do it when the family was all there.  It would have been bad if we had skipped it.  Thankfully the line was down to twenty five minutes which was doable.  Liesl rode with me and Luciana rode with Dominica, all in the same car.  Liesl and I love doing this ride together. It is so well done and so much fun.

That was it for us in EPCOT this time.  Very rushed but we managed to do my three favourite items (Energy, Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land) and we had an amazing meal.  Good enough.  Dominica finally admits that she is tired of Walt Disney World and ready to sit out at least half a decade before venturing back to it again.  We really need a break.  This was her and the girls’ third time in eighteen months!  We’ve done Disney a lot more than we ever intended to do.  It just kept coming up.  And this one was a very stressful one that helped get the message across that we need a break.  So maybe when Luciana is eight we will look to do another big trip.  But we can’t do it every year or every other year, it is just burning us out.  Luciana was tall enough to do nearly all of the rides this year and Dinosaur, in the Animal Kingdom, was by far her favourite.

We left ourselves a lot of time knowing that there was a lot that could go wrong.  Our flight was scheduled for 9:15PM our of Orlando so we left the park right on schedule at 5:15 thinking that that would give us plenty of buffer.  It turned out that we cut it a little close.

Traffic was bad so it took an hour to get to the airport.  Maybe a little more.  And it took a little bit to return the car, although that ended up being fine.

We had to check out luggage and the line for Aer Lingus ended up taking an hour and a half to get through!  It was insane.  While we were in that line our flight got delayed by forty five minutes, so now not leaving until ten.

Once we finally got checked in, we got pre-cleared at security again because of the girls and were right through security which was awesome.  We settled into the gate where the girls played with some toys for a while.  Dominica went to a coffee shop and got herself some dinner.  Once she had what she wanted I went to South of the Border and ordered a bean burrito for my dinner.  While I waited for it I went to Cold Stone Creamery and got a small dish of ice cream to eat while the burrito was being made.  The burrito ended up being really good. I am glad that I made the effort for it.

Our flight was a large Airbus and we got three seats in the middle and one on an aisle on a side.  Dominica took the lonely seat and the girls sat with me. I sat in the middle with one girl on either side.  That made them very happy.  Luciana was asleep before we even left the runway.  Liesl was asleep within thirty minutes of being in the air.  They both slept with their heads on me so I was pretty much unable to move during the flight.

During the night everyone managed to sleep except for me, as usual.  I did manage to see some movies, though. I watched Cloud Atlas which I had been interested in. It was okay but I am not sure that I would recommend it or watch it again.  Full of imagery and stuff but like The Matrix it felt contrived and not well thought through and ultimately very shallow and pointless.  Then I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith which I have seen before and forgot how dumb it was.  So I reminded myself and hopefully will not forget again.  Then I finished with watching The Great Gatsby which was an excellent telling of the book, a truly excellent performance all around.  Sad, just like the book, but a great work of literature turned into film in a really great way.

When she was awake, Dominica managed to watch Paddington Bear during the flight which she said was good.  I want to see that but will wait to see it with the girls.