I can take my balloon to the park right?
After parking in the Epcot lot, we walked through the security check point then passed by the RF ticket readers. It's still weird to me to not have physical gates keeping people out.
It's a beautiful sunny day in Epcot.
And we also happen to be in the middle of the Flower and Garden Festival! All around the parks are even more beautiful flowers than usual, along with topiaries of many of our favorite characters.
Chip and Dale were getting into Donald's garden.
Knowing of Theresa's love of plants (check out our Cultivating the Magic Tour at Disneyland) it only made sense that our very first ride of the day would be Living with the Land.
Ian wasn't too thrilled with the dark portion of the ride. Starting in a dark tunnel with a rain and lightning storm probably didn't help.
Seeing all the plants throughout the ride it always a treat. This Mickey head is still working on filling in.
Ian and Theresa pointing out different plants. Once we got through the first part of the ride, Ian was happy to see everything and tried to repeat back name of things we called out.
A couple days before, once we swapped our old WDW tickets with the new ones that could be linked up to the My Disney Experience app, I made reservations for our day today. Not being able to reserve very far ahead of time, I wasn't able to get some of the top rides, but this day it mostly about hanging out as a family, so our reservations were made with that in mind. Our first ride reservation had us off to The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
And after we found Nemo, it was time to look at some real fish. The eels were super active.
And the Lionfish came over to say hi.
The dolphins however were a no-show, never coming down close enough for us to see them.
While we were looking for marine life, all the rest of the family showed up!
I know a thing we can all do together. Off to Club Cool to sample sodas from around the world.
What do you think Ian?
A couple years ago a majority of the flavors were replaced, including my favorite Smart Watermelon from China and Theresa's favorite Mezzo Mix from Germany. I've still got to get used to these new flavors, but for now, I like the Fanta Melon Frosty flavor from Thailand.
Who do we have here? It's our neighbors from California Tom and Abby. It just so happened that we had both planned trips to WDW months before we even knew each other.
Both of us modified our fast pass reservations so we'd be able to do a ride together. We're all headed back into The Land.
And we're taking our second trip on Living with the Land.
This tomato plant has a ridiculous amount of fruit on it. That Lean & Lower technique produces a bunch of tomatoes.
Good seeing you guys. Have a great rest of your vacation.
Time to use our 3rd and final fast pass reservation. After having such great interactions with the characters back home we're going to Meet Mickey and Friends.
Ian loved hanging out with Mickey.
And was sad to have to go.
Luckily Goofy was just next door and ready to give him a big hug.
A GREAT BIG hug.
Ian was fascinated with Goofy's nose.
And gave him a slobbery kiss to say goodbye.
Bye bye Goofy. I'll miss you.
Last up was Minnie Mouse.
Goofy had been happy to let Ian play with his nose, but Minnie was having none of it. She'd get close to him, and he'd reach out to try to grab it then she'd pull back. He got quite a kick out of it, thinking it was a game.
It's after 1pm and I'm ready for some lunch! Along with the Flower and Garden festival, many of the countries around the World Showcase have special booths set up with unique food offerings.
One of the things I've had my heart set on is the Cheddar soup and pretzel bread from Le Cellier. Getting a reservation here is always difficult, but in years past, Theresa and I would order soup and bread to-go. When we attempted it this time though, I was told they no longer offer any food to-go. I wonder why they made the change, considering the fact that they charge $10 for a cup of it. Oh well. Moving on.
The excitement from the morning finally caught up to Ian and he passed out in his stroller.
Of all the places to eat around the world, the Smokehouse at the America pavilion sounded the best to me.
And just look at all the amazing food!
There's a Pulled Pork Slider with Coleslaw for $6 which was delicious.
The Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash for $5.25 was a bit pricy considering the portion size. This wasn't my favorite.
A Smoked Debreziner Sausage with mustard would set you back $4.25. Again, it's a tiny piece of meat for the price, but the skin had a nice snap to it, and it was a bit spicy. Probably my favorite dish.
You can't forget dessert. The "Piggylicious" Bacon Cupcake with maple frosting and a pretzel crunch would round out the meal. It was a normal sized cupcake and cost $4. It was delicious though. Mixing sweet and savory plus the salty pretzel crunch made for the perfect end to the meal.
Austin certain enjoyed it. Just as we finished our meal, the Voices of Liberty were able to start singing. All the family went to listen, while I waited with a sleeping Ian just outside.
For those who didn't get their own maple bacon cupcake, a stop at the Germany pavilion for a caramel apple was in order.
Can you believe the only place we could find a hot dog in Epcot was at the Africa Outpost? It's one of the things Ian will always chow down on. That and the chips it comes with.
Looking at all the foods around the world showcase, the other item I really wanted try was the Beijing-style Candied Strawberries for $4.95. They were covered with a hard sugar shell with sesame seeds on it. I thought it was interesting but no one else in our group liked it.
Aww, look how cute Duffy is in his Flower and Garden outfit.
Best part of Ian not eating the bun with his hot dog lunch is that he gets to feed the ducks with it later!
There's more to see at Epcot and then we're going to the Animal Kingdom! Keep reading for more!