June 2021 Walt Disney World Trip Report – Part 4

Well, this is sad that I’m already on the last day of the trip! For our last day in the park, we visited Epcot, where we primarily drank around the world and did a couple of attractions in Future World.

Jump to…

June 7, 2021 – Epcot

We started the last day of our trip a little differently thanks to Epcot’s late opening hours (11 am). I think we could have been up earlier, but with the park opening so late we didn’t have the motivation to so we slept in and took our time getting ready. I was also trying to squeeze in a lot of fun “first visit” must-do’s for Josh, so I picked up a mobile order from the food court of some Mickey Waffles so he could try them for the first time! (We have a Mickey Waffle maker at home, but I wanted him to have them in Disney first because…I have problems.)

When we arrived at Epcot, I picked up a Flower & Garden Festival passport book and headed toward Spaceship Earth. It was cool to see the new fountain in front of Spaceship Earth (especially at night, it looks beautiful!)

One strange thing about the parks during this time is that there was no traditional rope drop to allows the crowds to spread out. In my head, it seemed like once we were in the park and could walk to an attraction, the park was open, but that wasn’t the case. Guests could walk into the park toward an attraction but the rides would not be open until the park officially opened.

I don’t think we got to the other parks early enough to experience this (except for the Magic Kingdom, but we spent all of our pre-opening time near the Main Street train station to see the characters, so it didn’t even occur to us) so when we got to Epcot we weren’t really sure where to start. Josh didn’t care about rushing to Soarin’ or Test Track, so that saved us some lines and crowds, and it also meant that anything we’d want to do in Future World wouldn’t really have a wait time (and we were really more interested in drinking around the world anyway to be honest.)

In the end, we ended up rope dropping…Living with the Land! We actually sat on a bench inside the Land pavilion while we waited for the park to open soaking up some glorious air conditioning since it was already a hot and humid morning. As much as I do love Test Track and Soarin’, I usually don’t bother unless I have a FastPass or it’s the end of the night so the lines are shorter, so it was nice being with someone who didn’t need to rush there first thing in the morning. Living with the Land is a nice and relaxing way to start the day anyway.

After Living with the Land, we backtracked a bit to The Seas with Nemo and Friends. This is really an underrated pavilion in my opinion that I think probably suffers from its location kind of in the corner of Future World not really that close to anything else. It’s a fun dark ride though- I always love seeing the characters from the film swimming with the real fish in the final scene, and since Finding Nemo: The Musical was not yet open in Animal Kingdom, this ride gave us a quick listen to “Big Blue World,” one of the songs from that show.

We stayed in Future World a little while longer to go on Journey Into Imagination with Figment. For someone who has never been to Disney before, Josh was probably really familiar with Figment. If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen the drama with Eric Idle (who plays Dr. Channing in the attraction) a while back when he admitted to never having seen the ride or even Figment since he filmed his bit in a studio and the Figment animation was added later. Things on his Twitter got…interesting…anyway, I had to catch Josh up on all things Figment so he could make sense of that when I talked about it!

He also read the Figment comics, which he saw while in Epcot are nothing like the attraction, and I also caught him up on what the original ride was like, how it changed, etc…In the end Josh ended up really liking Figment! I do admittedly like the current version of the ride too, but like…If they can’t bring the original back, can they just re-do all of it based on the comics?

We thought about doing the Pixar Short Film Festival since we were right there, but this was our last day of the trip and only day in Epcot so we decided to save that until next time. At the very least, I know Josh has seen all of the films in there at home, so while the show is fun, I’m not sure that’s a must-do for us on a short trip.

Kahlua Tini from Joffrey’s

As a quick aside, this was I believe the last “Taste of” Flower & Garden Festival, meaning the reopening, not entirely normal yet sort of festival. For the most part, the festival was definitely still a large presence in Epcot, but there were some things that seemed a little off compared to previous festivals. It seemed like there were less topiaries, and of course any kind of seminars and demonstrations weren’t happening, and the music series was adjusted to only include local Orlando musicians and Epcot performers (which is cool in its own way, but usually it’s more well-known bands.)

We needed coffee by that point, so we went for the closest Joffrey’s to us and uh, also started drinking…So our first drink of the day was a Kahlua Tini, aka iced coffee with cream mixed with vodka and topped with coffee liqueur. (If it has coffee in it, it’s still sort of breakfast, right?)

With some caffeine and vodka in us, we started to head toward Future World. (I know, I know, we didn’t get to Spaceship Earth. Don’t worry, we will later! The line picked up by this time in the morning and we figured we’d get it on our way out of the park when more people would be in World Showcase. Spaceship Earth is my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World- I wouldn’t miss it for anything!)

Tulum Craft Beer from the Jardin de Fiestas outdoor kitchen

For drinking around the world, we started in Mexico (which I think is the correct way to start, especially if you’re starting with tequila.) We actually didn’t start with tequila- While I would usually head inside the pyramid to La Cava del Tequila, Josh doesn’t love to tequila and there was a line to get inside (I assume a capacity limit? But either way we were fine staying outside this trip rather than waiting). So instead, we got a beer from the festival booth.

We tried the Tulum Craft Beer with a floater, which the festival passport described as “Artisanal lager with citrus notes made with Caribbean seawater and served with an Elderflower Liqueur Floater.” The floater definitely made it a little boozier for an otherwise refreshing lager, so as far as not going with tequila in Mexico, I think we were off to a good start. (If we had a longer trip, I probably would have grabbed some nachos from La Cantina de San Angel, but this was our only Epcot day and we had lunch at Biergarten!)

I do wish we had more time in Epcot, because I think Josh would like the Gran Fiesta Tour ride, but we hadย  a pretty solid plan of drinking around the world and checking out more of the topiaries and festival eats so spending too much time inside each pavilion probably didn’t make the most sense.

Next up was Norway! We mostly stuck to the festival booths while we were drinking around the world, but Norway was an exception because it’s been way too long since I’ve had a troll horn so we had to stop at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe to get one. (I know school bread is probably the most popular dessert from this bakery, but I don’t know…the troll horn is definitely my favorite! It’s basically a puff pastry filled with very lightly orange flavored cream, and it’s amazing.)

For beers, we were originally going to go with the Einstok White Ale but they were out of it. In general in Epcot, we noticed some odd beer choices throughout the day, that I assume were a covid change.

For instance, some of the festival booth’s beer flights were supplemented with local beers and I’ve never seen that before. My guess is that this was the end of the festival, and the festival was already different than usual so…I guess I don’t quite know but it was weird.

In any case, we ended up going with the Aass Pilsner (pronounced “ouse,” I’m sure people mispronounce it all day…I didn’t know the correct pronunciation until I looked it up in the My Disney Experience app later, but thankfully when I ordered I just said pilsner!

Aass Pilsner from Kringla Og Bakeri Kafe

Also, due to covid there are no ICPs (international Disney College Program participants) working in World Showcase, so most locations within the countries are currently staffed with Floridians wearing the standard Epcot outdoor food/merchandise costumes. Thankfully this means no one in Norway is taking offense to people who are probably asking for “ass beer” but it was definitely strange to not have Cast Members from each country working in Epcot.

China was up next, and we grabbed a Tang Dynasty (which really wasn’t Chinese at all, but just sounded like a refreshing drink from the festival booth) and some crab and cheese wontons.

The wontons were basically crab rangoons, but probably a little higher quality than what I’d get from a local takeout restaurant at home. I’ve always put off trying them when I see them at Flower & Garden Festival for that reason, but they were a nice little snack and I’d get them again!

The drink was made with Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila Gold, light rum, strawberry syrup, Pina Colada Mix, white boba pearls, and soda water. It was light and refreshing (and made up for the tequila we didn’t have in Mexico) but also sort of heavy on the coconut and probably not my favorite drink I’ve had in China. I’d have a few sips if Josh ordered it again, but if you’re looking for a mixed drink in China I would go with the Kung Fu Punch (vodka, Triple Sec, mango syrup, orange juice and soda water.)

Tang Dynasty from the Lotus House outdoor kitchen

We skipped the Outpost because the line was long and we decided a pre-Biergarten beer flight in Germany made more sense than either a Safari Amber (which we just had in Animal Kingdom the day before) or a frozen coke, which I believe is usually what’s on the menu there.

I’m also unclear if we’re supposed to stop there or not when drinking around the world…it’s not a country…but it’s there…? If it weren’t festival season I’d probably stop for a Safari Amber, but with the festival we could just keep going to Germany and get a flight instead.

The beer flight we had in Germany was not necessary because we also ordered one with our lunch…but since drinking around the world was the plan for the day, why not I guess!

This beer flight is one of the examples I mentioned earlier where beers from the actual country were served with a random Florida beer. I’ve never seen that at an Epcot festival before so I have to assume that’s a covid thing.

The flight we got from the Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market outdoor kitchen included Bitburger Premium Pils from Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, Stiegl Brewery Radler Zitrone from Salzburg, Austria and…M.I.A. Beer Company Hugo, from Doral, FL.

From left to right: M.I.A. Beer Company Hugo, Bitburger Premium Pils, and Stiegl Brewery Radler Zitrone from the Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market outdoor kitchen

Normally this is the point in drinking around the world where I start feeling it, so I’d grab one of the giant pretzels from a beer cart in Germany to sober up a little, but we had a lunch reservation at Biergarten so I knew I’d be getting plenty of food there!

Probably because we had a table service reservation in Germany, but I think this is the country where the lack of ICPs was most noticeable. We wandered through the gift shops looking at all of the Christmas ornaments and beer steins, and not having people from Germany working there felt a little strange.

It was even more noticeable of course in Biergarten, but that was partially because of the changes to the whole restaurant to accommodate the covid guidelines, too. Biergarten’s original format obviously doesn’t jive with covid, as it’s an Oktoberfest style buffet where you would normally sit with strangers.

Instead, we were seated at a four-person table and served lunch family style (still all-you-care-to-enjoy.) The band was still performing (and for what it’s worth I believe all of the members of the band are actually from Germany, but they are regular full time Cast Members, not ICPs.) The dance floor was closed, though.

Biergarten is always a fun experience because it tries to be authentic but it isn’t quite possible in a theme park setting. You normally have guests who are horrified because they didn’t realize they’d be sitting with strangers, and kids holding up a glass of milk during songs where their dads are holding up beer (which is kind of adorable.)

We had water, too….

One positive covid change that I hope sticks around is the family style dining replacing buffets. My only gripe with that setup is that Biergarten actually has so much food, I would have preferred they just asked which things we wanted instead of bringing out a whole platter (or give you the option, try a little of everything or pick a few things). We had to keep asking for more of only a couple of things (bratwurst, the nudel gratin, etc…) and didn’t really touch some of the others (which isn’t to say everything wasn’t delicious, just that it’s a huge variety of food).

However the food is served, Biergarten definitely holds up as one of my favorite Epcot restaurants. It’s really fun to have the live entertainment during your meal, and it’s not like I can just go to a German restaurant at home because there really aren’t any near me so it’s a nice change of pace.

I do sort of hope they keep the tables free of other guests though. I know it’s authentic to what a real Oktoberfest would be like, but I swear every time I’ve eaten here with other parties they didn’t seem to know they’d be sitting with strangers and they just look horrified and it’s awkward. I guess with enough beer it wouldn’t be though…?

Lol you know I don’t remember what these beers are. I can tell from the photo the grapefruit beer is in the back.

Speaking of beer, our flight with lunch came with Schofferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen, Konig Ludwig Weissbier, Beck’s Pilsner, and Warsteiner Dunkel. The Konig Ludwig Weissbier (which the menu describes as “Bavarian hefeweizen wheat beer with a full bodied lively taste perfectly balanced with complex fruit aromas”) was my favorite.

The flight is fun, but next time I think I’d just get a half-liter of that. Getting a liter at Biergarten is really fun, but I don’t know how I could possibly drink a liter of beer while filling up on bratwurst and potato salad…

We stopped in the American Adventure pavilion after lunch to see the American Adventure show. We also did a quick walk through of the exhibit in the American Heritage Gallery, which is currently, “โ€œCreating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art.โ€ I really love this exhibit, but I’m not sure how long it’s up for (for whatever reason Disney never seems to share when the World Showcase exhibits will change), but it’s been a couple of years for this one now so if you have a trip coming up I’d check it out in case it’s gone next time you’re there.

The American Adventure building also had an exhibit on the history of Jazz using imagery from the new movie, Soul. We didn’t make it over to this one but am planning to on our next trip assuming it’s still there. Between the two exhibits and the Voices of Liberty (if they return to the rotunda soon, they are currently performing outdoors in the American Gardens Theatre), there is a lot to see in this pavilion before the show starts so I always recommend arriving a little early to give yourself some time for that.

Limoncello Margarita from the Primavera Kitchen outdoor kitchen

After the show, we continued our journey drinking around the world by backtracking to Italy (which is between Germany and the American Adventure) so we stopped for a limoncello margarita. A limoncello margarita is exactly what it sounds like– limoncello mixed with tequila. It’s a drink that just tastes so refreshing on a hot drink in Epcot with booziness that sneaks up on you (thankfully we were sharing all of these drinks, but on my own at the pace we were going I’m not sure this would have been doable!)

We definitely had a beer flight in America…I remember we left the show and decided to go back to Italy because Josh felt like we got so far that we couldn’t skip a country at that point, but I don’t have a picture of it. I remember saying I liked the double IPA, and I have the little card from the beer flight saved in my purse still, so it must have been good, but I guess I was out of it at that point if I didn’t grab a photo!

Anyway, the flight at the Magnolia Terrace outdoor kitchen in the American Adventure pavilion came with 81Bay Brewing Co. Orange Coriander Wheat Ale from Tampa, FL, Wicked Weed Brewing Day Light American Light Ale from Asheville, NC, and Parish Brewing Co. Ghost in the Machine Double IPA. I guess just take my word that I at least remember liking the double IPA (but also I was obviously drunk by then so….??)

Next was Japan! We had to go in Mitsukoshi, because it’s just a fun store to walk through, but also because I needed a new sushi cat keychain since my last one broke. These keychains are adorable- They’re $10 and come in a little mystery pack so you don’t know which cat you’re going to get. I had my last one for a few months but it then pieces of it started breaking off (I still have them and keep meaning to buy super glue to fix it) but I figured I’d get a new one too while I was in Epcot.

I got Fever if you’re looking at the photo this time, and he is just so cute! He actually already broke as I’m writing this trip report, so just a head’s up if you also get one of these (my guess is that in Japan they probably cost closer to $1 not $10…) but I still love them. It’s only in 2 pieces and honestly I’ll be happy gluing him back together. (This is probably the weirdest tangent and it’s a good thing I wasn’t too drunk that I’d be stocking up on multiple sushi cats…)

For a drink in Japan though, we got a shaved ice with sake. (Have these always been around or are they new? I just noticed them…) I usually go to a different kiosk further inside the pavilion and get a Tokyo Sunset, but this time we stopped at the shaved ice stand closer to the American Adventure side of the pavilion and this is definitely now my favorite drink from Japan!

Sake Mist from Kabuki Cafe in Japan (this was blackberry flavored, but you could also get blood orange or coconut pineapple)

Especially on a hot day, this was so refreshing, and the syrup wasn’t too sweet (I don’t love when drinks are overly sweet) probably from the sake balancing it out. I would definitely get this one again and am excited to go back and try the other flavors (we went with blackberry this time).

Morocco was next. Without stopping at Spice Road Table or the other actual restaurants in Morocco, I think it’s hard to find a more authentic drink here. (I don’t know why we were suddenly going for authentic when the drinks we had in China and Italy really had nothing to do with those places, but for whatever reason that was the goal.)

Since we were now going “authentic” we ordered a mint tea with gin from the dessert and drinks booth near the Japan side of the pavilion. It was…by my calculations…85% gin. That drink was strong. A good value I guess but not great going down unless you just love gin that much.

Maybe Morocco just has the strongest drinks for some reason? Last time I drank around the world, the mimosa in Morocco got me messed up and had me convinced that my knee pain was actually totally fine, so I finished drinking around the world and went home to learn I was doing that on a torn ACL.

Mint Tea with Bombay Sapphire Gin from Oasis Sweets & Sips

So I don’t know…I also don’t love mint tea to begin with, so between that and the overwhelming amount of alcohol this one was mostly Josh. I had enough to try it but I mostly stuck to water with this one!

I hope the Morocco pavilion returns to normalcy with the rest of the parks. I know the Moroccan government pulled out so Disney is now managing the pavilion, but before it was really one of my favorite spots in World Showcase so hopefully the things that are missing due to that whole situation and covid come back soon.

After Morocco, we headed to France where we stopped by the Ratatouille topiary outside where the new ride will be going later this year. I’m pretty excited for that one to open. I think World Showcase could use some more rides and it looks like it will be fun as it’s basically a dark ride going through the kitchen from the film as if you are a rat.

Of course for a drink in France, we had to go with the lemon Grey Goose slush. This will forever be one of my favorite drinks in Epcot. It’s just so refreshing with the right amount of sweetness and booziness to it.

Citron Slush with Grey Goose Citron, vodka, and lemonade from Les Vins des Chefs de France

If you’re not into lemon, they have another slush that’s orange with Grand Marnier that is also delicious. And usually during Epcot’s festivals you can find an additional flavor at the festival booth. La Vie en Rose is a favorite during Flower & Garden Festival (made with Grey Goose vodka, Grey Goose L’Orange vodka, St. Germain Liqueur, and white and red cranberry juice blended into a slush) but it’s really hard for me to stray from the lemon.

As we neared the last couple of countries, we stopped to check out a few of the topiaries and gardens. Flower & Garden Festival was definitely a little light compared to previous years (which Disney advertised since it was still “Taste of Flower & Garden Festival,” but this kind of worked for us because we only had one day in Epcot anyway.

The U.K. pavilion is home to one of my favorite gardens at the festival that I always make a point to check out, the Shakespeare Garden. This garden pairs plants with quotes where they are mentioned in Shakespeare’s writing (plus it’s beautiful!)

We also saw Peter Pan and Captain Hook in the U.K. pavilion. I know in previous years these two had been placed a little differently so they were higher up like in the movie. That’s cool, but it was nice to see them up close, too. (This was still a hard spot to get a photo though. The topiaries are kind of tucked away near the Yorkshire County Fish Shoppe and it’s not an easy spot when the pavilion is crowded.)

For a drink in the U.K., we grabbed a Harp Lager on draft from the beer cart. There are certainly much more interesting beers (and mixed drinks) inside the Rose & Crown Pub, but we weren’t really into going inside places where we were unsure what the COVID protocols were. (I guess there were no real protocols other than wearing a mask, but some places had lines and we kind of stayed away from indoor dining when we didn’t have a reservation.)

Harp Lager on draft from the U.K. Beer Cart

If we were to head inside I would have ordered a Welsh Dragon, which is mix of Peach Schnapps, Melon Liqueur, Creme de Menthe, orange juice, and pineapple juice. (Pro-tip: It comes with a souvenir cup but you can order without it to save some $$.)

A beer from the cart outside is always a solid choice though. I usually grab a Harp when I sit outside in the U.K. pavilion with some fish and chips. Fish and chips were not going to happen today after lunch at Biergarten, but if we had another day in Epcot then maybe!

Before we continued on to Canada, the final country, we stopped to check out another one of my favorite topiaries- Kermit the Frog! In previous years he’s had a more elaborate spot by France (about where Remy was this year) but it was nice seeing him in the U.K. pavilion too. If IllumiNations were still happening, Kermit would have a prime spot to see the fireworks!

Finally, the last pavilion…In Canada we did another beer flight, because why not? (Again, we did share all of these drinks…) This was another ‘mostly Canadian but with a hint of Florida’ flights, which I assume is something we won’t really see again after this festival.

The flight came with 81Bay Brewing Apricot with Maple Syrup (Tampa, FL), Collective Arts Brewing Blackberry Fruit Beer (Hamilton, Ontario), and Goose Island Beer Company Lost Palate Mango Hazy IPA with Mango and Cinnamon (Chicago, IL). Okay, it’s a third Canadian, but I can see what they were going for at least with the maple syrup in the first one. That last one though…?

Beer flight from the Northern Bloom outdoor kitchen

If I remember correctly, and it’s getting a little fuzzy at this point, we liked the IPA the best. That is not surprising, because we tend to prefer IPAs, but I’m actually not sure I’ve had many of them at Epcot’s festivals.

While in Canada, we made a new friend! There was an adorable baby bunny hanging out by the lagoon, so we spent some time talking to her. (I obviously don’t know if it was a her, but I’m going with it. In my head she’s named Canada, but pronounced like the song from the old Oh Canada show…We had some drinks by this point if you can’t tell.)

With the flight in Canada, we had successfully completed drinking around the world! (Or drinking around the world +1…I have this photo of Josh holding another beer and I have no memory of where it came from. We just discussed it and both remembered getting it because it “sounded good” but that’s all I’ve got!

The only thing left to do in Epcot was ride Spaceship Earth, and maybe walk through some of the gift shops on our way out.ย Riding Spaceship Earth at night on your way out of the park is always a good decision because there is usually no line then (or a short line if anything at all.)

We had no wait on Spaceship Earth, and got to thank the Phoenicians personally for inventing the ABCs. During the descent of Spaceship Earth, we were about ready to fall asleep after such a packed day in the park.

On our way out, we stopped at Gateway Gifts and Camera Center (the two shops right under Spaceship Earth.) I always love visiting these shops even though they’re tiny because they were some of my favorite places to work merchandise during my Disney College Program. They were always so chill, and it was fun closing there and helping guests with last-minute purchases as they headed out of the park (and also telling them over and over that we were not package pickup and there was an indeed another shop outside the park entrance).

Mystery beer. We have this photo but don’t have the memory of what it is or of buying it.

As soon as we walked out of the park, I couldn’t wait to go back. I’m really glad we ended up coming before things returned to “normal” because had Josh’s sister not invited us I probably would have waited it out a little longer. Sure, it would have been nice to not have to make some of the covid-related adjustments throughout the day, but it was nice to have less crowds, and feel like we got to see and do a lot given our limited time in the parks.

Things are certainly adjusting to normal much quicker now (I feel like as soon as we came home all kinds of announcements were made, that we really just missed a lot of the return to normalcy), but there are still a lot of questions. As for when we’ll go again…I’m not quite sure.

I really miss my usual fall trip. While I’d sometimes take shorter trips throughout the year, my one longer trip has often been the last week of August into September when the Halloween party in the Magic Kingdom overlaps with the first week of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. That won’t happen this year, because with things still being a little off then (especially thinking Boo Bash vs. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party) I think it makes more sense to wait a year. So unless something comes up sooner (and I’m hoping it does…) I think our next trip will be fall of 2022!

That’s all for this trip report…See ya real soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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