Today we started the day out at Epcot again, to finish up the couple of countries and the couple of rides we didn’t get to initially thanks to the daily rain storms. So, off to the park we wandered and once inside we headed East (we did the Western route the other day). Since the World Showcase folks don’t open up until 11, we started out in the front of Epcot and headed right for the Universe of Energy, mostly because there was no real wait there and everything else already had posted wait times.
So, in the Universe of Energy, we saw the show called Ellen’s Energy Adventure, in which Ellen Degeneres scoffs at her ex-college roommate but now super-smart physicist, whom she called Stupid Judy, as she (Judy) appeared on Jeopardy. This edition of Jeopardy was all about energy and Ellen thought it was stupid because no one should have to care about any energy beyond what it takes to pet the cat and eat a bag of chips. Naturally, Ellen falls asleep during this episode of the hit game show and has a dream about it. Ellen is on Jeopardy against Einstein and, of course, Stupid Judy.
In the first round, Ellen gets nothing right and answers one question incorrectly, while Judy answers everything else, for something like a nearly $18,000 lead. So, during the commercial break, Ellen calls on her neighbor, Bill Nye, the science guy, to help her learn about energy.
That’s when things got really exciting!
The next few minutes transport Ellen and Bill back to the big bang, then to the dinosaur era, then to the beginning of the age of mammals. Eventually we go through the entire industrial revolution as well and get to the present time, at which point we end up back on the set for Double Jeopardy.
Of course, along the way, we’ve learned once again that solar power is something for the future, once again, despite the existence of 36 of them on my roof (maybe I am the one dreaming and they’re really not there). We learn that we must find new ways to drill for oil and new places to do the drilling. We need to use more nuclear power despite the various complaints against it (such as not having anything to do with the waste from it). It talked about water power and wind power almost like they are the stuff of science fiction, then it went into more sci-fi stuff by talking about mastering fission.
So, anyway, back to Ellen’s dream, she answered everything in Double Jeopardy and ended up tied with Stupid Judy, who we learn, used to call Ellen “Stupid Ellen”. Ironic, dontcha think? Einstein, however, still had $0 and they dismissed him with some great parting gifts: a compact fluorescent bulb and a copy of the home game.
Final Jeopardy’s question, I mean answer, was, “This is the only kind of power that will never run out.” They went through the long, drawn out Final Jeopardy music while Stupid Judy looked confident and Stupid Ellen worked and worked and worked at answering. When they finally got to the end, they revealed that Judy risked everything and left her answer blank because there would be no kind of power that would never run out. Sorry, wrong answer, loser. No money for you. Ellen also risked everything, but her answer, I mean question, was “What is brain power?” Of course, this cheesy answer was right, Ellen was a hero in her own mind and the world is much better because of it. Thank goodness. I will rest better knowing that Ellen knows that new sources of oil, coal and nuclear power are what we need to enable our greed and excessiveness for the next century and beyond.
So, anyway, the lines now were only longer than they had been when we started the day. So, we headed out to the World Showcase to see a couple of countries we skipped over on Thursday. So, we went to Mexico first and looked at the weird, multi-colored animal artwork statue thingies and paintings and stuff, then walked around through the little shop and near the tremendously pleasant smelling restaurant so that we could get to the boat ride. On this exciting ride, we got to see the escapades of Donald Duck, Panchito and José Carioca as they gallivanted across Mexico, through all of the different areas of the country. Mostly, we saw Panchito and Señor Carioca as they tried to find The Donald (Duck) so that they could play their concert for us, since the show was titled the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. Exciting stuff, this was, as Donald showed up lounging on the beach, in the Mayan pyramids, in the city, on the farm, under my kid’s left arm (ok, I made that last one up). But at least it wasn’t raining and it was air conditioned.
Next we headed north to Norway, where we took a voyage in a Viking boat and watched a movie about the people of Norway and how they’re really cool because of all the tough stuff their ancestors had to go through in their battles with the sea. Again, it wasn’t raining in there and it was air conditioned so you’ll hear no complaints from me. The voyage in the boat had some cool stuff, especially relating to the Vikings and their work.
From Norway we headed back to our car to grab lunch, which we had stored in a makeshift cooler in a suitcase in the trunk. We ate in the car and despite the Central Florida heat it wasn’t too uncomfortable sitting in the car with the windows down (you didn’t think we’d turn on the car and run it while we sat there, did you, after all we learned from Stupid Ellen?). Once complete, we walked to the bus stand and caught a bus over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
I could tell from the outset that there wasn’t a lot of support from the family for this park. The kids were very blasé about it right from the outset for some reason. But in we went and we spent time putting on sunscreen, using the rest rooms (seriously, I think we visited all of the rest rooms in central Florida in the week we were there, some of them multiple times), and getting bottles of water and maps.
The entrance to the park dumps you into a section of the park called The Oasis. Here you can see actual, live animals, such as an anteater, several red macaws, some parrots, birds with pink feathers on their lower half and white feathers on their top half and lots of other things. I’ll say that I had no idea how large anteaters are. This dude was huge! He sure didn’t look happy, though, as he was pacing in a circle, never really standing still enough for me to take a good picture (what a jerk).
From The Oasis, we took our one possible route that didn’t leave the park and crossed the bridge over the Discovery River (I am not convinced that this is really a river, as it looked more like a moat to me) and we entered Discovery Island. We didn’t do anything on Discovery Island, instead we hung an immediate left and found the bridge back over the Discovery River to take us into Camp Minnie-Mickey. Camp Minnie-Mickey was very much kid oriented in that the food and activities were focused on the kids. Pizzafari was the main dining establishment and it, surprisingly enough, served pizza. Sure, it was technically on Discovery Island but it was on the path to Camp Minnie-Mickey so I considered it to be part of that section of the park. Here in Camp Minnie-Mickey we saw the Festival of the Lion King, which was a live action/animatronics show using songs from The Lion King. It featured acrobats and singers and dancing. There was a dude who twirled one of those batons with fire bursting out of both ends (yes, it was real fire). They separated each section of the audience into four groups and gave us all an animal that we were representing. We were warthogs, I think, which is kind of neat given that the wife and I were born in the year of the boar on the Chinese calendar and warthogs are sort of like boars. The wife and I are rather boring, too, but that’s kind of a different story. Anyway, this show was enjoyable for all.
Next we headed to see Pocahontas and her Friends, a show that I thought would be really neat. I guess I should have read the little blurb closer and noted that it was a children’s show that was going to show five animals from the forest. The silly grandmother oak from the movie was there, along with Sprout, the little annoying whiny little twig of a tree, and they shared the stage with a very good approximation of Pocahontas as she has been popularly portrayed through history. She sang a bunch of songs and the five animals (there were exactly five) wandered across the stage long enough to pick up a snack that was left for them at center stage. They literally just strolled out and then left. There wasn’t even enough time to get decent pictures of some of them. Pocahontas left the stage for a moment and came back carrying a snake. The end of the show featured multi-colored paper leaves being blown into the air by a hidden blower. It was colorful. The whole point of the show was to say that it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the forest and wildlife. It was a nice moral to be impressing upon the children, but for me the show was dull and boring. But they handed out paper oak leaf cutouts to all the kids, so I guess it was worth it. They were purple, because that is the color oakleaves are when grown organically. Or something like that.
So, we left there and headed out to leave the Camp Minnie-Mickey area of the park by the one path available – the bridge over the Discovery River. As we got to the end of the bridge, we found Lilo and Stitch standing there for pictures and The Girl decided she wanted to have her picture taken with them. So, we lined up and got the pictures before continuing on our way, only to find the path blocked because it was time for the big parade. There were a lot of the characters in this parade, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and others. There were some neat floats, too. I was struck by how rude some of the people were as they pushed their way into position to see the parade better. The fact that we were already standing there didn’t faze them at all. Actually, taking a step back, it’s likely that I’m just overreacting to them as my laid back, New Jersey attitude has likely skewed my perception of what it means to notice and/or respect the people around you. So, I want to apologize publicly for the nasty things I thought about the people who jumped in front of me and my kids; I was out of line to think anything poor about you. I’m sorry.
Anyway, after the parade, we headed back into the depths of Discovery Island and we wandered to the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” show. This 3-D show was housed in the roots of the Tree of Life and in it Flik and Hopper from “A Bug’s Life” talked about different bugs. It pretended to squash a stink bug and we all got a good whiff of it to go along with the obligatory creepy-crawly feelings of bugs on our legs and in the seat. It was kind of funny and creepy at the same time.
We left the root system of the Tree of Life and headed toward the Asia part of the park. As we approached, we stopped for a drink at a little kiosk across the walking path from the Yak and Yeti restaurant. While we were drinking them, the thunder and lightning started. We decided that we had had enough of the rain and we left, heading back to the busses and then to the car and back to our villa. The kids proclaimed that they didn’t like this park much at all, but I still believe that there really wasn’t enough time to make that determination, given how few things we actually did. My opinion of the park was that it was too heavy with the Disney themes and characters and not heavy enough with the actual animals.
Over the past few days, I’ve developed a theory. This theory has been that if I wear sunscreen, it will rain whereas if I do not wear any, it will not rain. So far, we have a success rate of 100% for this theory. We’ll try it over the next few days as well and see how it does.
So we went back to the villa and watched a movie (the Beatles in “Help!”) while we ate dinner. Then, the day was essentially done and we read, did dishes, etc. before bed.