WDW: October 1 – Happy Birthday, Epcot!

That’s right, we were there for the big 30th Anniversary/Birthday celebration of one of my favorite places in the world!  If you’re reading this and that isn’t a big deal to you, just pretend – it was to us 🙂

But first things first, major itinerary changes.  We realized how difficult it was going to be to leave town as early as planned, so our ridiculous deal on flights was nullified when we changed them relatively last minute.  And to make matters worse, our only option – for the first time ever in our time together – was a non-direct flight.  It was honestly the lesser of two evils though, because it’s one thing to leave home at 4 or 5 am after days to pack and prep – and entirely another to try and pack up a hotel room in the same situation.  But that’s a story for another day.  This particular day was just phone calls, emails to confirm rental car agreement changes, etc.  It all went smoothly and we were off to Epcot early and excited!

We got there at 8:15 which felt like overkill, but we realized as soon as we were in the parking lot that it was going to be packed!  The announcement time was elaborate for the big day, including confetti cannons.  Our commemorative maps and buttons were cute, and the girls were just as excited as I was – if for different reasons.

There was a mad rush to Mousegear for some exclusive merchandise (seriously – some people waited in line for hours!) and a similarly mad rush to the Festival Center.  We made it to the lounge in time for wristbands though, then set out to see if we would be able to get anything accomplished in the crowds.  After a quick ride on Journey into Imagination (still a 10 minute wait where there usually isn’t another soul around), I grabbed some Soarin fastpasses and fed Nolan while Kyle and the girls headed to Living with the Land – which had a 20-minute wait!

We realized then there wouldn’t be many attractions without lines, so we decided to head to World Showcase instead.  The Food & Wine Festival was in full swing of course, and we hadn’t yet sampled anything!  We started with beef empanadas and a steak skewer at the Argentina booth, and a paleta at Mexico, before finally getting to play the Agent P World Showcase Adventure game.

Lunch was at Lotus Blossom (plus some extra Potstickers from the Joy of Tea booth!), where they’ve replaced one of the gross ice creams with a lychee flavor (some sort of Chinese fruit) that is delicious – making it a good counter service option again.  We split just two meals so we could continue snacking around the world.

Finally the time came to ride Soarin with Elise and Avery, and I assure you I cried a little. 🙂  There is something magical about that ride, and I finally got to share it with my sweet daughters.  They were so precious riding it, I hope I never forget how excited they were with each new scene.  I couldn’t wait for them to ride it again with Kyle!  We then took a bus back to the hotel to keep our parking spot, and hung out there for a few hours – knowing it was going to be a late night.

Back at Epcot that afternoon, we got more Potstickers and a Mongolian Beef Bun, rode the Gran Fiesta Tour and spent some time in Norway.  Kyle took the girls on Maelstrom (which they surprisingly really liked), and Elise waited in a long, hot line to see Mulan while a sleepy Avery watched the acrobats.

From there, we got a few things at the Karamel Kuche (where the simple milk-chocolate covered caramel square is still champion) and headed to dinner at Tutto Italia.  The girls were most excited about Minestrone soup (thanks to the mention of “Minnie-Strone soup” on an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), but everything about the meal was absolutely delicious.  We left only to find it pouring rain, and were shocked.  Ha.

After ducking in a few World Showcase shops, the rain eventually stopped.  I took Nolan to our viewing area while Kyle took Elise and Avery to Soarin.  They came back in tears (all of them, very nearly) because apparently Avery – who had never once been a source of hesitation on a single 40″ ride – was “too short”.  They were heartbroken, as was I.

Kyle was an absolute rockstar with the kids as we waited for Illuminations.  It was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen (and our view was great). The tag ending for the anniversary celebration was deafening and blinding and simply unbelievable.

And we were beyond exhausted by the time we fought the crowds out and made it back to the hotel, but we wouldn’t have wanted to miss being there for anything.