Day 206- Butterflies at Epcot

Today is beautiful and it is a hot 90 degrees this afternoon. There are beautiful clouds in the vibrant blue sky and a good breeze. The kids went to Epcot last weekend with some friends and they got to hold butterflies in the Butterflies on the Go Butterfly exhibit. It sounds so fun and so cool to get to hold a butterfly. So, we decide to go to Epcot because I want to get to hold a butterfly!

We enjoy our drive to Epcot. There is a light crowd as we arrive and go through the main parking gates. The parking attendant is filling in vacant spots near the front. That is great and will make our walk a lot closer.

As we walk to the entrance, we get our bags checked and MagicBands scanned. Now, we enter into Epcot and see the beautiful topiaries for the Flower and Garden Festival. Goofy eaters the plants while Pluto smiles and Daisy holds a fresh bouquet and greets you as you enter!

The first place I look for is the Butterflies on the Go exhibit, so we walk up around the right side of Spaceship Earth, pass Fountain View, and walk on around to see the butterfly exhibit.

As we walk in, we begin to look at all of the beautiful flowers and the little houses full of chrysalises. It is amazing to see the different stages that the chrysalises are in and even the ones that are empty. You can see various stages of the butterflies’ life cycles as you look at the flowers, chrysalises, and the butterflies.

I see someone holding a butterfly and I am so excited to see one this close. Soon, they are about to leave and they gently pass the little orange butterfly to us. I was so excited to hold a real, live butterfly!! It just sat there on my pointer finger and I could just look at it for a little while. Then, I handed it to the kids. They have held one before, but this is the coolest thing I have ever done! Soon, we have several families gathering and I ask if they would like to hold this butterfly. These butterflies are so cool! You just gently put a finger in front of their tiny legs, and they crawl right on to your finger. Please, whatever you do, try not to touch their wings, as they are very delicate, and there are signs to remind of this. It is too cool to feel their little feet crawl onto your finger!

I had just handed it off when we tried to catch another one, and a mom called me the “butterfly whisperer” and then three landed on me. It was SO cool!

I am watching these kids enjoying the butterfly when I hear a little guy say, “Oh, there is a caterpillar!” in the best British accent. You really can see every stage of a butterfly’s life in here! I ask his dad if his son would like to hold the butterfly, and he is so appreciative. Then, Twinkie sees his older brother is trying to catch one with one of the KidCot paper Duffys. She let him know that his little brother is holding a butterfly, and maybe his brother would let him hold it if he wanted to. He jumps up and goes to hold the butterfly.

The kids hand it back to me and I show the next little one how to get the butterfly to walk onto her pointer finger. Her dad is so excited and takes her picture. Then, her brother wants to hold it, so they ask if I can help them. I am so happy to show them how to transfer the gorgeous orange butterfly from one pointer finger to the next. The smiles on their faces as they get to share the butterfly with someone show how truly magical this moment is. Soon, they are leaving and another family comes up and asks for help learning how to transfer a butterfly from one person to the next. This is so much fun!

The last family actually sat down in a group and got a picture with their young son holding the butterfly! Everyone is all smiles and it makes for a beautiful, absolutely amazing picture. A little girl stops me and wanted to show me all of the butterflies flying around the top of the butterfly exhibit. That is so sweet. So, I ask the little girl’s parents if they would like to hold the butterfly. The young son was more than glad to hand the butterfly off to her. She is so excited and her parents snap a few pictures of her. Then, there was a grandmother that isn’t sure how to get to hold it, so I show her to put her pointer finger in front of the butterfly and gently move it to let the butterfly step onto her finger with its front feet, and then lightly turn her finger to help it step its back legs onto her pointer. They are so excited!

Amazement and awe fills the faces of young and old, of moms and dads, and even of grandparents as they experience the delight and joy of getting to hold a delicate butterfly. As I am getting ready to leave, there is a young pre-teen girl sitting so still; she has been there for a while and starting to look disappointed. I ask her if she wanted to hold a butterfly. She said, “Yes,” and sounded a little disappointed. So, I told her that there is a dad in the red shirt, and a dad in the blue checked shirt holding a butterfly. We walk over and her mom is so excited that they will get to hold a butterfly. A dad handed off the butterfly to me, so I turned and helped her get the butterfly on her pointer finger! Her mom’s eyes lit up and she started taking pictures of her.

This was the most rewarding day. I love seeing so many visitors get to hold these precious butterflies. To see the gracious sharing of these little butterflies from one family to the next is so cool. I was so grateful that someone shared a butterfly with me. I wish everyone could experience this amazing adventure.

Well, I need to get something cold to drink, so we go the Fountain View to get some Starbucks coffee and tea. I get an iced tea lemonade on this hot evening. We get our coffees and teas and find a place to sit for a minute to cool down. There is a great spot in the shade where we can watch the fountain water dance to the music.

Soon, we head for the front gates and walk a short distance to our car. It was a fabulous evening with all of the butterflies. Good night, Epcot, we had so much fun today!

Day 182- Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Today there are blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It is going to be another hot day, near 90 degrees, as we get to Epcot this afternoon. We park fairly far out, so we catch the tram and ride to the entrance. We get our bags checked, MagicBands scanned, and enter into the Flower and Garden Festival. The sun shines bright as we walk toward Spaceship Earth. It is busy, but not too crowded.

My first stop is to get something cold to drink, so we walk on around to Fountain View, which houses Starbucks. It is amazing how 88 degrees seems a lot hotter on such a sunny day. Iced tea lemonade sounds nice! As we get to Starbucks, I think a lot of people need a cold beverage since the line is somewhat long. It takes a little while, but I have my drink and we head for the Festival Center to see the displays.

Before we get to the Festival Center, we have to stop and get a picture with the Buzz Lightyear topiary. It looks really great when you see it with Mission: Space in the background. Love it!

Now, we are off to the Festival Center. As we walk up, we begin to see all of the flowers. As you enter there is a wall filled with all sorts of plants, orchids, ferns, and various other tropical greenery. It is truly incredible!

When we leave the Festival Center, we hear some sort of music… Drums? Or is it something else? Oh, how fun! The Jammin’ Gardeners are playing all sorts of trashcans, shovels, buckets, ladders, and even the ground as percussion instruments! They are so much fun and so entertaining to watch!

I need to get something to eat, so we walk back through toward Starbucks and go around the fountains. We stop for a picture, trade a pin, and head off toward the World Showcase Lagoon, turn right, and backtrack a little to the Urban Farm Eats booth. We order the Kale Salad with dried cherries, almonds, and goat cheese with white balsamic vinaigrette and decide to share the Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick it Up Rub. The tables are in the sun, so we walk toward Canada and find some benches under umbrellas. There we sit in the shade and enjoy a very late lunch. The gluten free kale salads are really good. We had these the other day, and they are so filling and so yummy! The tilapia is tasty, but we found that the main spicy punch comes from the winter melon slaw. The winter melon slaw was Twinkie’s favorite part of the tilapia dish.

There is a steady stream of people passing as we enjoy our lunch.

Now, off to The Tea Caddy, Mr. Stephen Twining is there today. As we enter the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion, Twinkie finds some pins to trade. Then, we continue on to The Tea Caddy where we check on one of our favorite teas. We find that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tea is gone, and Mr. Twining is on a break. We walk through the gardens behind The Tea Caddy and then we enter into the Lords and Ladies shop to look at the Downton Abbey items. We make our way through The Queens Table shop and back through The Tea Caddy. Mr. Twining hasn’t returned yet, but maybe next time we will be able to meet him. We did get to meet him last year, which was really neat!

Now, Twinkie is going to trade another pin on the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion before we head to the front of Epcot. We are enjoying the day, it is hot, but I think we are doing good drinking tea and water to stay hydrated. That sounds funny since it is only March, but in Florida, it is like the early part of summer weather. The clouds have gathered overhead and it is nice to have some shade as we get to the front gates, catch the tram, and walk to our car!

It has been a lot of fun today. The colors and combinations of flowers are so refreshing! I loved today and being at the Flower and Garden Festival!

Day 156- Epcot Rainy Day

It is such a rainy afternoon! The rain is light as we get to the Epcot parking entrance. We get parked, walk in the rain to the entrance, get our bags checked, and scan our MagicBands.  We enter and see the beautiful purple flowers; with the rain, they smell awesome!

We near Spaceship Earth and there is an amazingly long line for a late afternoon. We go on around and see so many colorful raincoats. We see the family of orange rain ponchos, the pink poncho family, and there are so many Disney ponchos. Then, I see one green poncho. It is a myriad of color. Even in our group, we have a red raincoat, a green, and a pink one!

The rain begins such downpour that we go to get drinks at Starbucks and decide to go to sit in the Electric Umbrella. We find that they have a pin trading umbrella! So, we had to take a minute and look at these cool pins!

We enjoy a few minutes of drinking our coffee and teas as we watch all of the people going through the walkway near MouseGear. Then, as we are fixing to leave, there is a family who sits at the table near us. They were so cute: the mom and dad were searching their phones, and their teenage daughters were talking to them, trying to get their attention. I walked to their table and the daughters looked up. I smiled at them and said, “Do you have trouble getting your parents not to watch their phones when you are sitting down at the table?” The daughters laughed and said, “Actually, we do!” They laughed as they explained that their mom just got a new phone and she is on it all the time! Just then the mom looked up and asked, “What was that?” The girls and I giggled. It was fun talking to them for a minute and their daughters thought that it was really funny!

Now, we are off and heading for the front gates on this rainy day. It is not very cold today, just wet… very wet! We had fun, rainy day at Epcot!

Day 154- Epcot

It is a beautiful day; a little windy and cool, but beautiful! We are heading for Epcot today. It has been busy this weekend and we are hoping that Epcot is less crowded than the other parks. As we get to the parking lot, we realize it is going to be very busy. We hop on the tram and head for the park. We get our bags checked and wait in line to scan our MagicBands.

As we get into the park, we can already see how busy today is going to be. We get close to Spaceship Earth where we can see that the line and wait time is really long. Even the Fastpass+ line is rather long today. We walk around the walkway and carefully make our way through the crowds of people.

I think we will drop into the Artist Shop. It is so beautiful to walk into the shop and see the talent that goes into each of these creations. From the sculptures to the paintings, there are so many beautiful things to see here!

Now we are off to Starbucks to get coffee and tea to take with us as we make our way around the World Showcase. As we walk toward the World Showcase Lagoon, see the flowers that are being laid for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! I cannot wait! I love seeing the artistry that is put into all of these lush gardens. We walk on around and stop in France to see the beautiful design of the shrubs. I love these. Twinkie stops to get a picture, and then we see that there is a quiet place in France to sit. On the way, I must stop in and see what is new in Guerlain. As we exit, we sit where we can watch the Friendship boats as they come and go. There is a quiet serenity in this spot. I look up just as a lady is taking a picture of us. I realize by her expression that she recognized my kids from being on the Steve Harvey Show.

We sit for a few more minutes and soon, two men who work on the Friendship boats walk by. We realize that the sun is beginning to set and it is getting really chilly fast! It has been so peaceful here sitting and watching the boats come and go, but we must head out before the temperatures drop. It will be chilly tonight! As we are leaving, we can see the different areas being prepped for the Flower and Garden Festival! I am so excited to see how beautiful all of the flowers will look in the next few days!  

It has been a fun visit, and I am so happy to see all of the new flowers!

Day 149- Epcot, Seagulls and Coffee!

This is an absolutely beautiful day to be at Disney World! The sun is shining as we begin our day! I think we will head for Epcot. It is not too busy as we drive up to the Epcot parking entrance. As we drive onto the parking lot, I can see we are going to park at the far end of this parking row. Once we park, we decide to walk to the park entrance.

As we begin to walk, the family who parked beside us has a little one melting down. I stop and say, “Hi!” and they begin talking about how the little one did not want to ride in his stroller. As we are talking, they mention that they are going to walk and not take the tram since they have 2 strollers that they would need to fold in order to board. I mention that we are going to walk to the entrance too. They were a delightful family to chat with: the mom and dad, their daughters, and the grandkids. I knew they were going to have a wonderful day!

We say our goodbyes, go through the bag check, scan our MagicBands and enter into Epcot! We make our way through the crowds and around Spaceship Earth. We see Starbucks on the right, located in the Fountain View. The lines today are not very long, so we stop and grab a coffee. It is pleasantly warm outside, so I order a Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher with Raspberry Syrup.

As we leave Starbucks, the music is playing, and the big water fountain outside is giving a great show. We head for the World Showcase Lagoon and turn toward Canada.  We notice that the flowers are going in for the annual Flower and Garden Festival that happens March 4th through May 17th.  Can you spot the Hidden Mickey shape in the flowers?

The Canadian Lumberjacks are beginning a show as we walk through Canada. I hear the lead lumberjack let everyone know that there is a Canadian Lumberjack photo opportunity, and see the team strike a pose! Many in the crowd are laughing and taking pictures. It is a really great place to stop and see these Canadian Lumberjacks.

We make our way through Canada and now walk through the United Kingdom. I see Alice greeting guests, and soon we see Mary Poppins signing an autograph book for a little girl. As we walk up toward the bridge to France, we see Cinderella taking pictures with little ones. We have never seen her in this area, and are surprised that Tinkerbell is directly across from her talking to a little girl. It is so much fun to see Alice, Mary Poppins, Cinderella, and Tinkerbell all near the United Kingdom pavilion. After a moment of watching and taking all of this in, we begin to cross the bridge to France.

I stop on the bridge and look across to an area with benches that we have seen regularly, but it is usually packed with people. I told the kids that the benches were empty, but I was not sure how to get down to that area by the water. Twinkie said that she would take the lead and she found the path, past the fish and chips shop, to that little peninsula. We picked a bench and sat for a few minutes as we were greeted by a swarm of seagulls flocking toward us to see if we had brought any tasty snacks that they could snag.

As we sat, we realized that as people tried to bring their food into the area, the seagulls began swooping down and trying to get their food. After several failed attempts by the seagulls, a young couple made it to a bench with their food, just as seagulls swooped down again. I hollered and said that the birds were after their food. The couple laughed and turned toward each other to block the swooping birds. It became even more interesting about 30 minutes later as we heard the gulls squawk. We looked up to see a couple with their child across the way, close to the fish shop, looking out over the water as they were trying to share a fish dinner. The dad waved the seagulls away a few times. The lady swatted a seagull off of the wall and we could hear the swat. Soon, a seagull swooped down, flapping its winds just in front of her face; it even looked like it touched her. We heard them say something about one of the seagulls bothering their child as the dad turned, leaving his fish dinner on the wall. Two seagulls instantly swooped in and grabbed a big fish filet! The dad hollered, and turned to swat at one seagull, when another swooped and grabbed some French fries in a fast swoosh. The dad hollered at the seagulls again as a cast member approached and started talking to them.

We decided that there had been enough action going on, so we walked back up to the walkway, and headed for France. Our mission today is to walk around the World Showcase. It is fun walking “around the world” on such a beautiful day.

We go through France, Morocco, Japan, The American Adventure, Italy, Germany, The Outpost, China, Norway, and Mexico as we finish our 1.1 miles around the World Showcase Lagoon. There are no clouds now, and the sky is so very blue. I enjoyed seeing so many families having fun. Today it seems like there are a lot more grandparents with their families and grandkids. I love seeing the three generations interact. I love seeing grandparents having just as much fun as the kids! As you enjoy your vacation, it’s fun to look around and notice the wonderful families who are here with you. There are some really amazing families enjoying their time here at Epcot today!

Now we make our way back to the park entrance and walk out to our car. It has been a wonderful afternoon. It was so fun seeing all of the characters and countries today!

Day 86- Epcot: Chefs de France & LeVar Burton at the Candlelight Processional

We are going to have a full day at Disney’s Epcot! I am so excited to get here early and enjoy looking around before it gets really busy. We arrive, park, and walk to the front gates. There are plenty of security guards to check our bags and a pretty good line to get our MagicBands scanned. It does move quickly, and soon, we are walking toward Spaceship Earth.

Oh, that mom looks like she might want to be in the picture with her kids! I ask and she is so happy. We stop and my kids take the picture. The mom is so thankful, and we are happy to help. I love seeing how happy people get just with a simple offer to take a picture. It is a future treasure to have the whole family in one picture. I know that, and it is important to me to get that treasure to them.

We do some pin trading at several shops. We make it out to the World Showcase Lagoon and then back to Starbucks for Twinkie’s coffee. I going to check the Port of Entry shop and as I get close, I hear Tooti say, “Would you like to be in the picture with your family?” I turn and have to take a moment to see her doing what we do best, helping someone have a wonderful Disney experience of kindness.

As we begin to make our way around the World Showcase, we spy Duffy in his Santa suit! Wow, the line is very short and we’re also in our Christmas attire! Picture? I think so! Along the line, there are cute open storybook-type displays telling the story of how Mickey went on a trip, and Minnie gave him a teddy bear, Duffy, so that Mickey wouldn’t be lonely on the trips; so sweet! Duffy is too cute and so fun to meet! He gives us hugs and complements our outfits. How fun to meet a teddy bear that hugs you back!

I am so excited to see the Candlelight Processional again tonight. LeVar Burton is there tonight, and I cannot wait to hear him read the Christmas story. So, we have chosen Chefs de France for our lunch reservations. This is one of our most favorite places to eat. The décor is so French, from the tin ceiling, to the windows framing the passersby; everything is so picturesque as you look out towards the World Showcase Lagoon.

The Chef is amazing and the food is served with excellence. We usually have gluten free French onion soup. But, today, we are going to enjoy a feast. Chefs de France has a wonderful selection that is gluten free. We are quickly served gluten free bread and butter with our tea and cappuccino. Next, I am having the goat cheese salad and the kids are having the cheese board. The salad is wonderful and the goat cheese that accompanies the salad is so delectable. The cheese board is amazing. Tooti and Twinkie are very pleased with the amazing assortment of cheeses. This is one of their absolute favorite cheese boards in Disney World. They are really smiling as they taste each cheese, and they love all of them!

Soon, we are served our beef ribs with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. Twinkie has the roasted chicken with the same sides. Oh my goodness. The beef ribs are cooked to perfection, boneless, and oh, so delicious. They even bring us a side of the specially prepared Cabernet sauce… it is especially scrumptious on the potatoes! Twinkie’s chicken is absolutely incredible, cooked to perfection, and even better than she remembered. Our waiter, Max, was wonderful, attentive, and courteous. Soon, it was time for dessert. What would we like? Crème brulee, please! The crème brulee comes out with perfectly caramelized sugar, and it is fantastic, the perfect ending to an incredible meal. We receive our passes for tonight’s Candlelight Processional, and then we are off!

We walk towards America and look at the shops there. Then, we decide that it is a little over 2 hours until the Candlelight Processional begins, so it’s probably a good time to get in line. We are there for a while and then a kind couple joins us. It is quite a while until others begin to get in line, but we have a wonderful chat with them until we are seated over an hour later. They are a very nice couple, and it was the wife’s birthday today. Happy Birthday!

We make our game plan as they are letting the wheel chairs and scooters enter the theater. I would love to be on the front row, right up close, and near the orchestra. We are so excited. We get the OK to be seated and are instructed to stay to the left until we get down near the front. Sure, we can do that! We walk in and it is so exciting to get to sit at the front. It was so worth the wait! I hear the delicate harp sounds and see the beautiful lady playing. We see the orchestra begin to filter in, and soon the orchestra plays the sounds of Christmas. The choirs are gathering and the trumpets are sounding. Then, LeVar Burton is there. Geordi LaForge in real life! He is amazing. He greets us and says that Walt Disney himself actually began this Candlelight Processional tradition, and this is LeVar’s favorite thing: to get to read the Christmas story. He begins reading, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…” I love hearing this story read. I have heard it my whole life, over 50 years now, and I still feel the excitement of this Christmas season well up inside of me. The entire Candlelight Processional is spectacular, and the ending of the Hallelujah chorus is magnificent.

Day 82- Holiday Macaron Treats at L’Artisan des Glaces & Walt Disney’s Birthday

I am standing here, near the end of our day, on Walt Disney’s birthday, and I am overwhelmed with the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks. It is described as breathtaking, and it truly is. The music subsides, and I think that the show has ended at the finale, but the music continues past its normal ending, into a special addition for Christmas! It was so amazing, so bright, and so beautiful that I could not take it all in. The music was fabulous and the final song, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me,” is echoed in the delicate, then spectacular, powerful fireworks display. I am so in awe of this grand holiday finale that I cannot even put into words how absolutely beautiful the Christmas fireworks finale is. I will have to see this again, it is so incredibly beautiful. What a wonderful experience on Walt Disney’s birthday!

As we walked back toward the entrance, I looked at Spaceship Earth, and it looks like a snow globe. It is so pretty and I see the word “Goodbye” on it in English, then in every language of the countries around Epcot. It is so beautiful and so clever. What a magical touch! It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful evening of fireworks.

Our evening began in France, with a most wonderful gluten free Holiday Peppermint Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich at L’Artisan des Glaces. The cast members at L’Artisan des Glaces were wonderful working with us as we read the ingredients to make sure we could have the Macarons. Sounds perfect! I was given our three macarons and Tooti found us a table in the Courtyard of France. It is a beautiful night, and the moon glows bright overhead as we completely enjoy our tasty treats! They were so delicious!

Once we finished our Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches, we headed toward the America Gardens Theatre to see Whoopi Goldberg at the Candlelight Processional. We stood at the back and waited until she was announced. It is so cool to see her in person! It’s so fun to know how much those who are in the theatre are going to enjoy this Candlelight Processional.

We leave and head around the World Showcase Lagoon to Mexico. We stop at La Cantina de San Angel for a snack and place our order. As our order is ready, our cousins make it back to Mexico, so we get to see them before they head home. We suggest a couple of places to watch fireworks when they head out. We are finishing our food as the fireworks begin. Wow!

What a spectacular day! Happy Birthday, Walt Disney!