May 29, 2006

Walt Disney World Day Four

We began this day at Epcot after a bit of a sleep in since we did not need to be there until 9am. We were meeting with the group we went down with (Homeschool Adventures) for a special homeschool program that Disney had arranged with them. There were two tracks available to us, a science program or a culture program. Given the ages of our kids we chose the culture program in the world showcase area. We began in a building in China where we met Gloria, an international exchange student from Hong Kong. She shared with us a bit of her life and talked about schooling in Hong Kong and how homeschooling is illegal there. We were able to ask her questions and it was very interesting. Each student was given a nice book put together by the Disney Institute with some interesting workbook pages and facts about each country and a passport page in the beginning. The rest of the day was on our own as we went through the countries. There was a fair amount of material in the book and we did not make it through even half of it. We were there on vacation so we limited what we did that felt "schoolish" to them.

We headed back over to the land pavilion for another character lunch at the Garden Grill (this one is often available for last minute reservations or walk ins which we were) with Mickey, Chip, Dale and Pluto. The characters seemed a bit rushed here though they did come back several times - instead of spending lengthy time at any one time they were brief but back often. Pluto and Chip were very playful with my kids putting sunglasses on their noses and just playing games with them including pretending to take Rhia's sunglasses (they handed them to me behind their back) and the kids enjoyed them. Mickey was very short here and I am glad we had seen him somewhere else first. The food was alright - not my favorite of the character meals but it was easy to get into and available at Epcot.

We rode Living with the Land and Soarin here. Living with the Land was very interesting and this was one of those rides that I know my kids enjoyed more than other kids because we homeschool and do lots of field trips. They were really interested in how they grow vegetables not in a traditional soil garden and in figuring out what all the plants were. We spend lots of time at the arboretum, science museum and historical sites so my kids find different things interesting and fun. This is the same reason I think they genuinely enjoyed the carousel of Progress. Anyway we enjoyed the boat ride and all they learned. People with older kids or no kids may consider the Behind the Seeds tour which I would have loved but would have tested my kids patience too much. Soarin was very popular with my kids and we should have used a child swap so I could have rode too but for some reason I did not think to do that and I missed this. By the time I tried to get another fast pass it was for after 5pm, several hours later. I did get it but ended up giving it away to some other happy guest because we were leaving the park.

We headed over to the Living Seas pavilion for a peek into the different fish of Nemo and Turtle Talk with Crush which was very cool. Crush comes out on screen to talk to the kids and he is very funny and asks kids questions - both Rhiannon and Ciaran talked to him (they were sitting on opposite sides of the audience and are not shy about raising their hands and waving them) and Sirah was sad she did not get to ask him a question. It is worth the wait and it goes faster then you think it will. However not getting to talk to Crush was a final straw for Sirah in a slow moving day and Serona took her back to the hotel while the other kids and I remained at Epcot.

We had some snacks and went over to Journey into Imagination to see Figment. I still remember this well because it was my brother's favorite thing when we went to Disney when I was younger. My kids also really enjoyed this easy going and at times silly ride. Then we had fun playing in the imaginarium labs. They especially enjoyed making music with their arm movements and jumping on pictures to hear the sounds (airplanes, fireworks, cows, horns, etc) we played there for awhile.

Then we headed into the countries for awhile. Using our books we would look for some interesting fact or object we could look for in each country and make a game of it, we learned to say hello, thank you and good-bye for each country and Epcot provides these Kidcot stops where the kids could make a mask and get little items attached to it at each country. They also had their book passport stamped at each location and we pressed pennies from each country. I do not think we could have done this with Sirah as she would have had little patience for it - this pushed the patience at times of the other two as well and it helped tremendously that we saw Belle and Aurora in France and then Alladin, Jasmine and Genie in Morrocco.

I had hoped to make it to China to see Mulan but we ran out of steam halfway through and headed back to the other areas of Epcot. We ended up settling on just going on Spaceship Earth which was the one thing Ciaran wanted to do. I really thought he would be disappointed when he realized that it is basically a moving history museum in the dark as he is uncomfortable in darkness and I did not think the content would hold his interest nor was I looking forward to going backwards down a hill (no matter how slow) but it was the one thing he wanted to do so we did it and they both LOVED it and wanted to go again. Again the fact we are homeschoolers came out here loud and clear as we worked through history and pointed out all that we have learned from Story of the World and the kids would point out different things as they saw them, thankfully the couple behind us was very patient and claimed they did not even hear us talking through the whole thing.

I decided Epcot, while interesting was just moving too slowly for them and we called Serona, still at the hotel napping with Sirah and decided to meet at Magic Kingdom instead. We met for dinner and a greatest hits night at the park allowing everyone to pick a few rides which of course meant Buzz lightyear, small world, peter pan, splash and thunder mountain and some others. It was a great day and while I was a bit sad to miss the Epcot fireworks and miss dinner with our homeschool adventures group at Epcot it was the right choice for our family who had a lot more fun at Magic Kingdom. Had we had more time we might have returned one evening to have finished the other half of the countries and do the Mission Space area. It leaves us something to look forward to when the kids are older and can all enjoy it more.

Another long day without naps for the older two and another two parks. Thankful for the park hopper and tired with a VERY long day to look forward to the next day we headed back to the hotel for much needed sleep.

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