5 fun things to do at Epcot

5 fun things to do at epcot

Epcot is perhaps the more ‘grown-up’ of the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Orlando, so I am writing this as an adult*, for adults because Disney World is for everyone, not just kids!

*Please note I don’t really consider myself to be a proper adult.

1. Buy a passport and travel the world

As I said before, I’m not a proper adult because no proper adult would buy themselves one of these souvenir Epcot passports and then visit all the Kidcot stops (basically children’s craft stations) dotted around the countries in the World Showcase to get their passport stamped.

Epcot World Showcase souvenir passport and badge
I also got this cool Mickey badge with my passport

I visited Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, each time receiving a cute message from the Cast Member there – which by the way, all Cast Members are from the country they are representing at Epcot. How cool is that!

The passport page for Mexico at Epcot World Showcase
The passport page for Mexico

2. Meet characters in their countries

One of my friends really wanted to meet Beauty and the Beast and we found out that they would be appearing in France in the World Showcase so we wandered off there when it was time. Our other friends decided they were too cool to meet the characters but they totally missed out!

Meet Beauty and the Beast in France at Epcot in Orlando
< insert all your Beast jokes here >

The Beast linked arms with me and Belle asked if me and my friend were sisters and then told us how she often travels with enchanted objects.

There are many other characters you can meet around the park, I spotted Mary Poppins in the UK and Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco too.

Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco
Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco

3. Ride Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is Epcot’s signature attraction. You know that big globe thing that looks like a giant golf ball? Well, there’s a ride in there!

Spaceship Earth at Epcot featuring Toy Story topiary for the Flower and Garden Festival
Spaceship Earth with Toy Story topiary

You sit down in a little train and get taken on a journey through time, exploring the history of communication, which was alot better than I am making it sound!

When you exit the ride you are taken to an interactive area called Project Tomorrow, where you can do silly things like make yourself appear floating about on the screens among other things. I can’t really remember but it was amusing at the time!

Project Tomorrow at Epcot
We’re the floating space-women!

4. Eat the global cuisine at the World Showcase

Give the usual theme park food a miss and head for the World Showcase for your meals. We had some yummy baguettes in France for our lunch and then for dinner we paid a visit to Restaurant Marrakesh for some delicious Moroccan food. Dinner reservations are recommended.

The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France - World Showcase, Epcot
The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France
Try some of the world cuisine on offer at Epcot. This is Restaurant Marrakesh - the Moroccan restaurant.
Restaurant Marrakesh

5. Attend a festival

Epcot hosts its own festivals each year. If you visit during Spring then you will be there for the International Flower & Garden festival and if you visit during the Autumn/Fall then you’ll be in time for the International Food & Wine Festival.

Cars 2 topiary at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from Cars

Our Orlando vacation was in May, so Epcot was adorned with some amazing Disney themed topiary in celebration of the Flower & Garden festival, although the Food & Wine festival sounds pretty tasty!

Tigger and Pooh topiary at Epcot during the Flower & Garden festival
Tigger and Pooh

Of course, Epcot has alot more to offer than what I have mentioned above and if you can, you must stay for the fireworks!

Have you ever been to Epcot? What did you enjoy the most?

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WonderWorks Orlando – going upside down in Florida!

As I’m in a #throwbackthursday kinda mood I thought I would write about a place I visited on holiday in Florida a few years ago. If you read my post about Puzzling World in New Zealand, then I guarantee you will like this!

WonderWorks is the famous upside down house situated on International Drive in Orlando. It’s a weird, crazy, educational and fun indoor “amusement park for the mind”. It’s open from 9am until midnight so makes for something perfect to do if you have kids to entertain in the evening. Or in my case, friends who just wanted to visit the awesome cool upside down house.

WonderWorks - the famous upside down house on International Drive in Orlando, Florida

WonderWorks is an exciting and interactive adventure, where we got to experience an earthquake simulator – feeling the power of an earthquake reaching 5.3 on the Richter scale and a hurricane simulator with winds rushing at 74 miles per hour!

We also dipped our hands into icy water at -2 degrees celsius, which was as cold as the water when the Titanic sank. The challenge was to see how long you could keep your hand in the water for. Let me tell you, I couldn’t manage more than a few seconds!

There are loads of things to see and do in WonderWorks, we played with giant bubbles and laid on a bed of nails… 3500 nails to be precise and all in the name of science of course!

Make giant bubbles at Wonderworks on International Drive in Orlando

Test your endurance on the Bed of Nails at Wonderworks, Orlando

There was also a tube filled with one million beads. One of the beads was purple, the rest were pink or yellow. The challenge was to find the ‘one in a million’.

Find the one in a million at WonderWorks Orlando

And you know what, we only blooming found it! I even took a picture to prove it (although it is a tad blurry).

One million beads, one of them is purple - we found the one in a million! WonderWorks Orlando

We also got to go into a 2-seater simulator which tipped us upside down and threw us about. There was also an indoor ropes course – a bit like a neon glow treetop adventure kind of thing, except indoors. From the ground up it looked pretty easy and not too high although it’s a different story when you’re up there!

And just for your sheer enjoyment, here is a picture of me looking goofy in a spacesuit and my hubby who completely lost his head in the madness of it all!

Looking goofy at WonderWorks Orlando

As well as interactive spectacles, there are also crazy mirrors and random artwork, including these Gum Blondes – celebrity portraits made purely of bubblegum!

Gum Blondes artwork at WonderWorks

All in all our visit to WonderWorks Orlando lasted a couple of hours and offered us something a little different to rushing around the theme parks or lounging by the pool.

If you enjoyed this post, then why not check out my quirky travel board on pinterest or read about my visit to Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand.

The world’s largest orange!

Orange World Gift Shop – Kissimmee, Florida

 

If you’ve ever been to Kissimmee then you will know about the assortment of quirky gift shops that line the Highway 192 – the mermaid, the wizard, the giant animals, amongst others – and no doubt you will have popped in to one or two of them for a bargain price souvenir.

Mermaid gift shop on Hwy 192 Kissimmee

Magic Castle Wizard gift shop on the Hwy 192 Kissimmee

Jungle theme gift shop on Hwy 192 in Kissimmee

But my favourite gift shop on the 192 has to be Orange World – the world’s largest orange! We decided to go for a little drive one evening and explore the Kissimmee area and couldn’t resist the draw of parking up next to a massive orange at the side of the road.

Behold the orange!

Orange World Kissimmee Orlando

As we approached the entrance to the shop we were greeted by a member of staff (or possibly even the owner) who said as they would be closing in a little while, would we like some free of charge orange and grapefruit segments? Well, who were we to say no! Can’t beat a bit of Florida citrus.

At this point I was wondering whether everything within the shop was just orange coloured or orange flavoured, of course much of it was, but there were other fabulous and tacky gifts to be bought.

As I mentioned before when I wrote about the world’s largest gift shop in Las Vegas, I can be quite impulsive when I am on holiday, so of course the excitement of free fruit plus a shop shaped like an orange got the better of me and I ended up purchasing some ridiculous tat…

A mariachi seashell band.

mariachi seashell band

Grow your own pet flamingo.

growing pet flamingo

Don’t judge me. And don’t ask why. But what is a grow your own flamingo? I hear you ask. Well, you pop the little egg into some water and in a couple of days it hatches!

So what about you? What fabulous tat have you purchased in a moment of madness when on vacation? Leave me a comment below or you can email me at quirkylittleplanet@gmail.com and write your own guest post!

 

A muggle's guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - how to make the most of your time at Universal's Islands of Adventure

A muggle’s guide to… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You may be forgiven for thinking that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a theme park in its own right but in actual fact, it is just one part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. Since The Wizarding World opened in June 2010, it has been Islands of Adventure’s biggest crowd-puller, with people even queuing for up to 8 hours to get into the park on the opening day! But fear not Potter fans, here is my run-down on my time in Hogsmeade which will hopefully help and inspire you on your own wizarding adventure.

Top Tip: Get to the park before it opens and grab a map. As soon as the gates open, head straight to The Wizarding World. The rest of the crowd are sure to be heading in this direction too but the amount of people will be far less than later on in the day.

Rides

First up, make a beeline for Hogwarts Castle as this is where the main ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, can be found. Enter the castle (don’t forget to stash your belongings in one of the free lockers!) and follow the corridors of Hogwarts school, where you will find yourself in the familiar surrounds of the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Dumbledore’s office and other recognizable locations from the movies and books. You’ll be enchanted by the moving, talking portraits as depicted in the movies and even holograms of some of the main characters, so much so that the attention to detail here makes the queuing process a bit of an experience in itself.

Eventually when you reach the ride, you take your seat upon a 4-person “bench” and are then strapped in and whisked away for an adventure through the land of Harry Potter where you will follow Harry twisting and turning on his broomstick, over the Quidditch pitch and through the Forbidden Forest. You’ll see a fire-breathing dragon, giant spiders and evil dementors among other things – all in a clever mix of real animatronic models and high-tech computer graphics. The ride lasts for around 4 minutes and you’ll definitely want to ride it again just to take it all in! We were incredibly lucky and the longest we had to queue for this ride was around 20 minutes but queues for this have been known to exceed 4 hours!!

The next biggest ride is The Dragon Challenge, which is a nod to the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire. Consisting of 2 large and looping rollercoasters, guests will all join one queue and then must choose whether they want to ride the Chinese Fireball or the Hungarian Horntail (red or blue, in muggles terms). Both coasters travel at the same time and there are even a few moments when it appears as though both rollercoasters, or dragons, may collide. Perfect for thrill seekers, wizards and non-Potter fans alike.

A slightly tamer, yet still fun, rollercoaster ride is The Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a lot less stomach churning than The Dragon Challenge and aimed more at a younger crowd. Just don’t forget to bow to the Hippogriff before you ride!

honeydukes-at-wizarding-world-orlando

Shopping and Dining

If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on a Pygmy Puff or a Golden Snitch, then all the best Potter merchandise can be found at the shops in Hogsmeade. These include favourites from the books such as Dervish and Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and, my favourite, Honeydukes sweetshop. I defy anyone to walk out of Honeydukes without purchasing some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (rotten egg flavour jellybean anyone?)

Top Tip: Inside the bottom of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans box there is a little piece of paper revealing which colour beans relate to which flavour. I must admit part of the fun is the Russian Roulette element but if you don’t like surprises or want to trick your friends into eating all the nasty ones then this might come in handy!

You can also visit the Owl Post in Hogsmeade where you can send a postcard home with a special Harry Potter stamp and a Hogsmeade post mark. The stamps are pretty pricey as you have to buy a whole pack (they won’t sell you just one) but you can always purchase a postcard and get a Hogsmeade post mark on the back (you just won’t be able to post it).

While the queues were kind to us for the rides, unfortunately they were a problem at Ollivander’s wand shop and so this was one part of Harry Potter World we failed to experience. Because the shop is small and is an interactive environment, limited numbers of visitors are allowed in at any one time. So true Potter fans should definitely aim to get here early if they want to see and do everything.

If you’re peckish while in this part of the park, then The Three Broomsticks serves up traditional British dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, but even if you’ve already eaten, make sure you take a seat in the Hog’s Head pub and sample some famous Butterbeer or Hog’s Head Brew.

Top Tip: Butterbeer is non-alcoholic and comes in regular or frozen (slushie). No one should leave Hogsmeade without trying Butterbeer as the taste is indescribable!

hogs-head-at-harry-potter-world

Other entertainment

There are plenty of things to look at in Hogsmeade, besides rides and shops. The village scenery is very beautiful and detailed, and true to the films. If you are there at the right time you may witness the Triwizard Spirit Rally, with ribbon twirling from the Beauxbaton witches and mock-fighting from the Durmstrang wizards.

Of course, I should add that my visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was before they opened Diagon Alley at Universal Studios last year – which now even includes the Hogwarts Express to connect the two Universal parks!

Have you had the chance to visit the new Diagon Alley section? What did you think?

please-dont-feed-the-birds