Our last full day, and a steamy start - as you can see through the fogged-up lens cap of our camera early that Wednesday morning. :)
We ventured back to Epcot for our final morning since our evening there had been rained out two days before - and because we had some fast passes to use!
If you've never visited Disney, you might not know that there's actually a ride inside the Epcot ball - Spaceship Earth - and the boys loved it. We had to ride it twice, which was okay because it was nice and cool and relaxing in there! ;)
Since our evening plans had been rained out during our first visit, we weren't able to take advantage of our fast pass for Frozen that evening. Frozen is the newest attraction at Epcot that opened in the spring/early summer, and has been known to see lines as long as FIVE hours long!! It is very hard to get a fast pass for the ride so it was a huge bummer when the rain that evening caused them to shut the ride down and we weren't able to use ours. I wasn't able to get another fast pass for it for later in our trip so our biggest goal on our final morning was to get to Epcot before the gates opened and BOOK it to the very back of the park to be one of the first groups in line.
Well, we ended up laughing the whole jog back to the ride because everyone else that showed up to Epcot that morning had the same idea. This ride is that popular and that well known. People will ignore EVERYTHING at the front of the park until they've had an opportunity to ride this one. Luckily even though we weren't the only ones power walking to the line, we still only had to wait in line about 30-45 minutes, and it was all in air conditioning so it wasn't bad at all.
And it was worth the wait. The ride really is so well done, as you take a boat tour through Arendelle and up to Elsa's frozen castle. Olaf comes right over to your boat to sing to you, there's an element of surprise when your boat starts going backwards, and you eventually encounter the giant snowman monster before sailing down the hill back to home. The technology used to create characters that look life-like in these rides is really incredible, and I wasn't sure if it would prior to riding it, but I do believe Frozen the ride lived up to all its hype.
After we were done with Frozen, we were able to relax a little bit. (I really was so worried about getting us on that ride!!) We stopped in the Norway pavilion for some cinnamon rolls and breakfast drinks before heading over to Soarin' to take advantage of another very valuable fast pass reservation.
There's no way to take pictures of this ride inside, but what an experience. One of the best rides anywhere. We could have ridden it over and over again. What used to be a hang-gliding experience over the state of California was upgraded this summer to a hang-gliding experience over the entire world. As you sit down with your party and strap yourselves into your hang-glider, you are lifted off the ground, feet dangling beneath you, and transformed into an alternate reality. They used a real helicopter and video camera to take actual footage of flying over landmarks like the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris... and as you glide above with your dangling feet below, you feel like you are actually there. The wind blows your hair, the actual smells of these other countries and landmarks permeate through the air around you, and you end your journey by flying over the Epcot ball during its nighttime fireworks show. It's a must-do. And each time you ride it, you have the potential to experience different places than your last trip.
We also enjoyed a ride on Mission: Space - what actual NASA astronauts say is the closest thing a civilian could actually come to knowing what it feels like to be launched into outer space. The experience is so real and life-like that years ago Disney had to make a second variation on the ride - a less intense version. Since I did get somewhat queasy the first time I rode it, Brandon and I opted for the less intense experience, while the other four tackled the full experience and missioned to Mars. :) It was neat to see and hear how excited Jaden was to tell me that he actually helped fly the space ship and that they actually completed their mission!! This one was one of Jaden's favorites and right up his alley. :)
We took a break for lunch to enjoy our reservations at the Coral Reef restaurant, where we dined under the sea with sharks, sting rays and turtles. :)
One of the neat things about the kids menus at Disney restaurants is that all of their meal options come with a special dessert - for only a dollar extra. ;)
After lunch it was time for Test Track, a high-speed ride that takes you through the motions of what real cars go through when they are being safety tested and endurance tested. This was another favorite of the boys and they were almost angry when the ride came to an end. ;) Prior to boarding our cars, we each got to design the car that we would ride in and then race them and test them against the other cars. Brandon and I came in second and third in our categories. :)
This picture below was the 100th time Brandon ran up to my parents to hug them and thank them for this trip. :)
By this point, it was mid-afternoon and time to head to one last park before ending our vacation. It also meant it was finally time to ride the Disney Monorail, another bucket list item for the boys. This is the most popular form of transportation between Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
When we arrived at the transportation center, we were supposed to be getting off one monorail and loading another, but that monorail was undergoing testing. So - we got to ride the Magic Kingdom Ferryboat to complete our journey.
This was another first for our family. As often as we had been to Disney, we had never traveled to the Magic Kingdom by water, and we were able to grab spots right at the front of the ship beside the captain.
The rest of our final day deserves a post of its own. Stay tuned...