Southern USA 2013: Day 3 - Orlando


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Southern USA 2013: [Day 1: Atlanta] [Day 2: Atlanta] [Day 3: Orlando] [Day 4: KSC] [Day 5: Wellington] [Day 6: Jekyll Island] [Day 7: Chapel Hill] [Day 8: Raleigh] [Day 9: West Virginia]

Monday, July 1, 2013: We left Georgia at dawn because we were Florida-bound. "Welcome to Florida - the Sunshine State!"
This little guy at the Florida Welcome Center rest area probably was one of several matching statues, but he was the only one we saw during our time in Florida.
You don't see signs like this at rest areas in Indiana.
Shortly after 10 AM, we entered the Walt Disney World compound, ...
... and entered the Epcot parking lot. Having been to all of the countries represented in the World Showcase, it was time to see Disney's version of each of them.
Flat Orchy posed for a photo in front of the famous Epcot sphere, Spaceship Earth.
The Epcot World Showcase opened at 11 AM, and we were right on schedule. We followed the unusually dressed woman in this photo to the edge of the lagoon on our way to the first of the 11 countries represented, ...
... Mexico! We had last visited the real thing six months earlier. We paused only to take a photo, because we had a date with ...
... Norway! With our second visit to Norway scheduled for five months later, we were ready to get a little dose of Norwegian culture. Here's the stave church replica, ...
... the Norwegian bakery and gift shop (featuring authentic Dale of Norway sweaters!), ...
... the left side of the small village, ...
... the right side of the village looking up, ...
... and the Akershus banquet hall.
We were in line for the Maelstrom ride and the doors opened promptly at 11 AM.
We walked right up and didn't have to wait more than a half minute to board the ride.
Photographs in the ride aren't allowed, but it was an animatronic wonder of old and new Norway, followed by a short film after the ride ended. We smiled at the tourism posters at the exit since we'll be visiting soon.
At last! It was snack time at the Norwegian bakery! Of course, we had to get an order of lefse, which was served with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. We also got an almond pretzel pastry and school bread, which is a round sweet bun topped with coconut icing. We also shared a shot of aquavit, figuring that even with Disney's notoriously high prices, at $8/shot it would still be cheaper than what we could find in extremely expensive real Norway.
Finally, we visited the small Vikings museum that is housed in the stave church.
Here is Olaf II, who was king of Norway (1015 - 1028), and later known as St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway.
Next up was China, which we had visited in 2008.
This photo very closely resembles the one we took of the real Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
And this stone sculpture out front is a very faithful replica of the one at the Temple of Heaven.
The details throughout the structure are incredibly accurate.
There is a beautiful garden next to the village.
One building had reduced-scale models of China's famous terra cotta warriors.
The village itself was also meticulously authentic, ...
... right down to the elaborate creatures on the corners of the roofs.
At this point, we were less than a third of the way around the lagoon.
Our next stop was Germany, last visited in 2010.
As much as we would have loved to have a beer and enjoy the charming German courtyard, we had much more to see and do so we didn't linger.
This large train set was located just beyond the Germany pavilion.
Our next stop was Italy! We visited various places in Italy in 2004 including St. Mark's Square in Venice, recreated on a much more cramped scale here.
The Neptune Fountain is a little reminiscent of Rome's Trevi Fountain.
We stopped at the United States pavilion only because Debbie cannot pass up a turkey leg. Oh, it was delicious!
Being surrounded by giant magnolia blooms while we ate was a nice touch.
At the halfway point, we photographed Spaceship Earth from across the lagoon.
A kiosk selling sake can only mean one thing: ...
... we must be in Japan!
Japan is a favorite Bundlings destination with our last visit being a brief layover last year.
There's a huge pagoda, ...
... and a beautiful Japanese garden.
Here's a replica of a statue at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo where our mascot Orchy was photographed. We didn't take the picture of Orchy ourselves and have not seen the original statue, but we have been to the gardens of the Imperial Palace.
The entrance to the main building was just beyond a small bridge ...
... that crossed over a moat, just like the one that surrounds the Imperial Palace.
Inside was an exhibit of Japanese art. From this room, we entered the extensive gift shops where we spent some time marveling over (but resisting) the many Japanese candies, foods, and souvenirs.
As we were leaving, we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the performance by the matsuriza, traditional Taiko drummers. It was very cool.
Exotic Morocco! We had made two stops in Morocco in 2011, including a visit to Marrakech on which much of this pavilion was based.
The architecture and detail were authentic, ...
... and we had the distinct feeling ...
... of being back in Morocco.
Until we saw the Disney prices on the merchandise, that is.
We bought a beaded headdress like this in Turkey several years earlier for a couple of dollars, but here it was priced at $42.75. Seriously.
All of the details were very well done, but we were here to eat, so we headed to the cafe.
We ordered a combo platter of pitas containing different fillings, with sides of hummus, peas, and salad. It was very delicious. Right behind Tom was a plaque explaining that ...
... the tower behind us was a replica of the Koutoubia Minaret that we had seen in Marrakech.
We passed Belle on our way to France, of course. She was posing for pictures with her devoted fans and signing autographs.
Viva la France! Our most recent visit was a series of drive-thrus in 2010 but our last visit to Paris was way back in 1999.
Like the other pavilions, this was very well done, with gardens reminiscent of the Tuileries.
This field of caladiums took our breath away.
We didn't linger in France long since we were already well-fed and did not need any of the French souvenirs.
Off to one side, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) was also posing with fans.
As we made the brief walk to the next country, we looked back across the lagoon toward the Japan, USA, and Italy pavilions.
Just before arriving in England, we passed Alice (of Wonderland fame) signing autographs and chatting with her fans.
Speaking of Jolly Olde England, here we are! We had last visited England in 2010 and had the pleasure of seeing the Cotswolds, which is what we immediately remembered when we saw this little village.
Adorable!
The final country represented is our neighbor to the north, Canada, last seen by us the previous summer.
These totems represent British Columbia and the Western part of the country.
This majestic building is based on the famous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec where we stayed in 2009.
Tucked in back was Disney's version of Canada's beautiful scenery.
What luck! We were here on Canada Day! Proud Canadians and would-be Canadians proudly wore Canadian flags on their shirts, hats, and anything else they could think of.
Having just visited Butchart Gardens the summer before, we were delighted to see Disney's version of it, titled Victoria Gardens.
Although the scale was much smaller, they pretty much nailed it.
A friendly bird hopped out of the lagoon and joined the people strolling back toward the center of Epcot.
Having seen what we had come for, we had an hour or so to visit the rest of the park.
We headed to Captain EO, arriving just before the torrential rains hit. Once again, we marveled at our amazing weather luck, having spent the previous hours under a nice overcast but rainless sky.
Once the Captain EO experience ended, it was still pouring out. No problem -- we put on our ponchos and headed to Spaceship Earth while everyone else hid under the eaves.
We walked right onto the ride without any wait at all, so once again, weather is our best friend when we vacation.
We had a great time at Epcot and were ready to leave by mid-afternoon.
Bye, Epcot!
We drove to Titusville, just an hour or so from Orlando, and checked into our hotel. Then we headed to Dixie Crossroads for dinner.
There's a small pond outside the restaurant where turtles frolic.
Inside, it's a deep-fried seafood lover's paradise. Every meal comes with their signature fritters, which taste very much like beignets. We ate until we were stuffed and it was good.
Near the water in Titusville is the aptly named Space View Park.
This little space shuttle statue got us excited about seeing the real thing the next day.
Numerous monuments listed the names of key people who were involved in the space shuttle program.
This was one of several monuments that listed people involved with the space program who were killed in the line of duty.
Tom compared his hand print against that of cosmonaut Alexi Leonov.
This display featured scenes from the space program plus a statue of John F. Kennedy.
The park continued across the street and featured embedded stones engraved with the names and mission numbers of various rocket launches over the years.
This monument was dedicated to the Gemini program and listed names of people who were involved.
The park ended at the water's edge, and sure enough ...
... Space View Park lives up to its name, because there's the Vehicle Assembly Building in view right across the water, and that's where the space stuff happens!
After visiting the park, we decided to drive out to Kennedy Space Center which was closed for the day, so we could see how long it took to get there.

We would be here bright and early the next day and we wanted to be prepared. Seeing the tops of the rockets in the aptly-named Rocket Garden made us wish it was Tuesday already.

Day 4 >


Southern USA 2013: [Day 1: Atlanta] [Day 2: Atlanta] [Day 3: Orlando] [Day 4: KSC] [Day 5: Wellington] [Day 6: Jekyll Island] [Day 7: Chapel Hill] [Day 8: Raleigh] [Day 9: West Virginia]

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