Remember back in the beginning when I mentioned something about sneakers? This is the day when sneakers became an issue. After two days in Crocs - and don't get me wrong, I love my Crocs - my feet were a mess. I had blisters where the Alice flats had rubbed, and just generally owie soles. I wanted my Reeboks. My Reeboks were in Massachusetts, my feet in Florida. But it's Orlando. There is lots of shopping. And I had my GPS. And a rental car that I waited in a long line for...and so, on Sunday morning a plan was hatched that involved a trek to the nearest shoe store, preferably a Reebok outlet. And lo, there was Reebok, and the Orlando Premium Outlets and it was good. Sort of. As malls go, this one is quite lovely. I am not exactly a mall rat sort of a girl. And apparently on Sunday malls don't open until 10am. And I get up at, oh, 6:30 am (or so)...and am quite easily bored. I also tend to assume that everyone, including malls, operate on my time table. They do not. We arrived at the mall at about 9:30am, ahead of opening. We located the Reebok store. We sat in the sun, lizard style, and soaked up some rays. We got bored...we needed to use the sand box. After consulting the extensive electronic mall information touch screen station (seriously!) we determined the location of the rest rooms and headed off.
And then I saw it. Before I announce that which I saw I should point put that at Disney the coffee is not coffee. It's Nescafe liquid, mixed with hot water, and dispensed out of a large, well, dispenser. There are no grounds. There are no filters. There is, in short, no coffee. Walking toward the bathrooms of the outlets I thought I saw...did I see...yes!! There it was! A STARBUCKS!!
Again, don't get me wrong. When I am home I sip locally. My favorite grinds are local ones; Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters and Pierce Brothers inhabit my cabinets. But when I travel? There's no place like Starbucks, there's no place like Starbucks, there's no place like Starbucks. After a few days of sipping black watery Nescafe stuff, a latte from Starbucks was a little sip of happiness. After Starbucks we headed back toward Reebok and I sat in the sun and basked for a while. Once Reebok opened, I trotted in and found a pair of sneakers, on sale even.
Feet happily ensconced in a decent running shoe (or two), we headed back to Port Orleans to park the car. At odds time-wise, we decided to change into bathing suits and hang out at the pool for a while before heading off to any parks. I grabbed a margarita and a chair and my knitting, and was happy. Gene swam. It was a little cool for me to commit to that, but I did dip in the hot tub which was lovely. This is a cool pool. Not only are there chairs, towels, bathrooms and a bar, but the pool is policed by lifeguards who take their jobs more than seriously. When a mom yelled that a kid was struggling a bit, in went the lifeguard, no regard for long pants and sleeves, whistle blowing. Instantly the pool was surrounded by hyper-vigilant folk in red and white, pacing restlessly back and forth, scanning the water carefully in case they'd missed anything.
After swim-time we headed into the food court and grabbed a bite (salad for me, a burger for Gene), then back to our room to change out of wet swim wear and into something a bit more appropriate for the evening. We headed off to Epcot to play for a bit before dinner.I love Epcot. I don't know if I said that before, but I love it. I love the water. There are fountains almost everywhere and lagoons everywhere else. Well, except for the big fountain in the middle that's under wraps right now.I love the jumping fountains outside of the imagination pavilion. When my kids were here they loved them too. Epcot, for me, is all about the little things.Gene loves the monorail. He particularly loves to ride it from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and back again. Or anywhere, really. He's just a monorail person. I like it, but think it currently smells like wet goat. It is my considered opinion that all carpeting should be removed and replaced with something that will resist the Florida damp, perhaps Formica. I also love small children looking cute,and a certain purple and orange dude who lives in my mind, my car, and Journey into Imagination. I love finding things, like the peace of the gardens behind the UK and Canada pavilions. Or the Coke Cool Spot, which used to be almost hidden, but now has taken a more central role. The gardens in Japan have quite spaces and nooks. You discover them if you are willing to slow down your pace and allow the experience to unfold.
This is not to say I don't love attractions like Test Track, Mission:Space, and most certainly Soarin'. By the way, Fast Pass that puppy first thing. This is not a moment for slowing down. If you're a group, choose one member of your party to take tickets and go get them while the rest of you wander a little, breathe in the place, scope things out, maybe jump in a line for a high-demand attraction like Mission Space or Test Track while the chosen one heads for Soarin' for Fast Passes. Once they've obtained the tickets they can either jump in the single rider line or wait for you outside. One day we arrived at Epcot, it may have been this day, and the stand-by line for Soarin' was 75 minutes, with all Fast Passes distributed for the day. Also bypass Spaceship Earth if it's early. The lines are much shorter in the evening.We wandered a bit and then took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom so we could grab another monorail to the Grand Floridian for dinner. We had reservations at 1900 Park Fare, which is a buffet restaurant we've eaten at before, with Pooh and friends. I love Pooh and friends. Before diner we had a little time, so we wandered around the resort, indoors and out, and we found some intriguing facts.At deluxe resorts, the trash cans have flowers growing out the top.Also deluxe resorts have amazing lobbies, very themed.And often very beautiful.And shiny and sparkly.
Now, before we left I'd made up my mind to have tea at the Grand Floridian. I'd discussed this with Mary and she and Ed did it and Ed survived, so I figured Gene would survive. Probably. I didn't tell him a lot about it. This experience takes place in the lobby of the Grand Floridian in an elevated area set aside as the Garden View Lounge. The grown-up tea takes place at a different time than the Perfectly Princess Tea Party. But you should have seen Gene's face when he saw this:Can you see it? You can click and make it bigger, but I'll tell you anyway...each Princess will receive a My Disney Girl doll in Aurora costume (with accessories), ribbon tiara, best friends certificate, bracelet, scrapbook set, rose, and of course tea, sammiches and tarts and such. All for the very low price of $250 for each princess and her accompanying adult! I do wonder if they offer a separate price category for, say, a mother with three daughters...not that I know any of those who would, you know, be interested in this...
See, this is where my brain falls out. I know this is insane. Like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. But I can so see myself dressing April up and dragging her here, like some twisted caricature of my true self. Or maybe that is my true self. Maybe deep down inside I am all princess, all the time. Maybe on the inside I wear pink, and brush my hair, and put on make up? Naah. Not possible.
Anyway, that's not to the point. We headed for 1900 Park Fare for dinner. This is a character dinner currently featuring Cinderella and friends. I missed Pooh. The ugly stepsisters and wicked stepmother were also in attendance, as well as Prince Charming himself. We had interactions with them all; stepsisters were funny in their roles as desperate women on the make. Cindy was, of course, charming and gracious and smiling. Charming was...way too much for me. Stepmother was sarcastic, which made me love her. In the food department - it's a buffet, but a Disney buffet. It was a bit more hectic than I prefer, but the food was good, certainly better than your average buffet, especially the mashed potato and the salmon.
After dinner I have no clue what we did again, but I assume it went something like "head back to Downtown and wander for a bit and then head off to bed".
Getting bored yet? The vacation was a full week. There's more to come! But maybe a commercial tomorrow. I took pictures of Book 2 socks before sending them off in the post. Maybe you want to see them?