Listen to the Voices of Liberty harmonize

Many an exhausted mid-afternoon have we found ourselves halfway around Epcot’s World Showcase seeking air conditioning and a peaceful respite. For our family, nothing recharges the touring batteries better than a break on one of the benches tucked under the soaring dome of the American Adventure Rotunda. If we’re lucky, while waiting for the titular attraction to begin, we’ll be treated to a magnificent performance of “Shenandoah” by the a capella ensemble Voices of Liberty. The acoustics in the Rotunda are incredible. (more…)

10 spots to get splashed in the Disney Theme Parks

Visitors to the Walt Disney World theme parks generally know going into the game that they’re likely to encounter some heat. The index can range from toasty warm in the milder months to darn near sweltering in the summer. Much appreciated are the myriad ways to cool off around property. If it’s not yet time to head back to the hotel swimming pool, we’ve got 10 spots in mind in and around the theme parks where you can catch a break from the temps and savor a splash or two.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Casey Jr Splash ‘n Soak Station

First stop on our Splash Tour is this colorful, spurting collection of circus cars in Fantasyland. Themed after the animated film Dumbo, Casey Jr Splash ‘n Soak Station will be a magnet to your parched tykes on a hot day at the Magic Kingdom. We prefer to “splash” instead of “soak” at Casey’s — use your own discretion. (more…)

Count characters in bloom at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival

I don’t garden or tend flowers, don’t cultivate a single square foot of my property, and certainly neither of my thumbs would be mistaken for green. Instead, I’d rather get that green fix at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival. It’s all the beauty of gardening without the hours toiling away in the yard and the inevitable disappointment when the local rabbit population decimates my veggie plot.

A recent springtime trip to Epcot found our sunny days filled with lush gardens, explosions of color, favorite Disney characters in bloom and — very important here — the delicious outdoor kitchens that sustain us throughout our touring. We made our way from Future World to World Showcase checking off the character topiaries on our Garden Passports — which made for a fun activity for the kids and a cool souvenir as well. Here are some of our favorites (clockwise from top left: The Three Caballeros hot pepper garden in Mexico, Phineas and Ferb at Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure kiosk in Future World, the Seven Dwarfs in Germany and the new FIgment sculpture near Spaceship Earth.). (more…)

Saying farewell to Ellen’s Energy Adventure

We’re all in agreement that Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a bit of a dinosaur. The education on the origins of energy Ellen DeGeneres receives in her time-traveling trip with Bill Nye the Science Guy was fresh, what, 20 years ago? Not even a magical Disney makeover is going to save this stale show from the chopping block. (more…)

Team up for a game of Mission: SPACE Race

[This post was written by Junior Mouse Holiday contributor Andy, a master at Mission: SPACE Race.]

“And the winner is…………TRITON!!!!”

If you have heard this, you have probably played Mission: SPACE Race. Mission: SPACE Race is a highly interactive game situated with other hands-on activities at the end of the Mission: SPACE attraction in Epcot. When playing the game you are assigned to one of 2 teams on a ship, Triton or Orion. Up to 56 people can play at one time. (more…)

Playing tricks at Club Cool

Call me a mean mom if you will, but I had Club Cool – the free soft-drink sampling station at Epcot hosted by Coca-Cola – on my WDW checklist for years fully intending to see our kids’ reactions to the Italian soft drink Beverly. (For the uninitiated, the drink falls on the bitter side and doesn’t typically please young palates.) Over the years each kid has taken his or her turn being offered with beverage with the sole goal of capturing on video their sweet little puckers for  posterity. Cue the camera! The expressions never disappointed. (more…)

Enjoy: Fish ‘n chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop

A basket of fish ‘n chips and a Harp lager in his grasp while wandering World Showcase might have been my husband’s favorite memory of a recent trip to Epcot. The highly portable dinner had come from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop, a compact cottage with a quick-service dining window in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Yorkshire County serves up two superior strips of fish – slightly crisp on the outside, flaky and tender on the inside – and thick-cut fries for less than $10. It’s such a tasty, filling bargain that we found ourselves back at Yorkshire County twice during the trip (and, clearly, it was still on the brain days later!) (more…)

Disney Classic: Living with the Land

Writing about this classic Future World attraction is a little intimidating. No, it’s not thrilling or eye-popping or remotely cutting-edge. But the original ride – then titled Listen to the Land in then-christened EPCOT Center – made such an impression on me as a kid I’m sure I can’t convey it in words. It could have been the catchy Sherman Brothers tune heard during the opening scene of the ride. It could have been the whimsical “Symphony of the Seed” sequence. I remember being completely charmed by the American farm scene. I dreamed about running freely through the greenhouses and picking tropical fruit at whim. (more…)

TRYit! to find new favorite flavors at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

My mouth is watering as I read about all the new menu items at the 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It was only six months ago that our Mouse Holiday Family was pushing our way through the toasty World Showcase, sampling as much of the Food & Wine Festival as the kids would tolerate – but I am so ready for more delicacies! Noshing on small portions from the various ethnic Marketplaces was a wonderful way to encourage the kids to try new foods. The Flower and Garden Festival likewise features booths arranged around World Showcase – Outdoor Kitchens, in this festival’s parlance – offering fresh flavors themed to their corresponding countries. Special “TRYit!” dishes have been specially created to appeal to kids, combining both familiar and new flavors in an attempt to expand often picky palates. (more…)

Wishful Thinking: The original Test Track

I’m a slow one to accept change. I was in tears when the original IllumiNations retired in 1996. I practically revolted in 1998 when Zazu and Iago moved into the Enchanted Tiki Room. I refused to drop the “PeopleMover” title when “Tomorrowland Transit Authority” took over (so thank goodness PM has been reinstated). So understandably I’m a bit blue that Test Track has been made over into a “Sim Car” digital testing ground with a TRON-inspired design. I wish I could ride the original Test Track just one more time. (more…)