I’ve been walking/running/drag racing around the World Showcase Lagoon now for almost 19 years. In March of 1982, I was at WDW with college friends, and saw the previews. We were drooling to be there at EPCOT on Opening Day October 1, 1982, but grad school got in the way. Not to be deterred, the gals made it there for spring break in 1983. Since then, I’ve toured the World Showcase with my fiance, as a newlywed, as a mom of a newborn, with 2 strollers in tow (does anyone remember those GIANT steel Cadillac strollers that they used to rent?), with restless toddlers (that was before the characters inhabited that Park), with grandparents, with the young’ns that HAD to decorate their mask for the Tapestry of Nations Parade at every country, with tweens that simply had to have their passports stamped at every Pavilion, bored teenagers and with the entire clan on Christmas Eve for the Candlelight Processional, but never A-L-O-N-E. Not until one day this past January. If you read my review of La Hacienda de San Angel, you know that I had my sit-down meal there that same day. What follows here are the other firsts I experienced that afternoon…
2. That’s right, I started my day with a glass of champagne. And it wasn’t even noon. My choice of beverage set my attitude for the rest of my stroll- C’est la vie!
3. I SAT and watched the Koi swim in the ponds at the Japanese gardens for 20 minutes. Yes, I did. The Japanese proverb came to mind: “A frog in a well does not know the great sea.”
4. I have seen snippets of The Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps from glancing back over my shoulder, or when serpentining around the spectators at high speeds. In January, however, I checked the entertainment time guide, parked myself in a prime location in front of the American Pavilion, and watched the patriotic show from start to finish. I believe I was the loudest clapper that day. Hooray for the red, white and blue.
5. Lunchtime! Even though I did not want to ruin my appetite for dinner (it sounds as though I’m still talking to my kids), I wanted the “full” (pun intended) experience. I simply had to have a quick bite at the other new spot in the World Showcase; Via Napoli. Although I did not have an Advanced Dining Reservation, they were able to seat sola me-o almost immediately at about 2:30 pm. I had read that the pizzas were very pricey, and $18 for an individual pepperoni pie does exceed even what a New Yorker would be braced for. However, it was still too big for this individual (I could have easily split it with someone), and the taste rivaled the wood-fired variety I had sampled in Rome. Delicioso!
6. On that same trip to Italy, we took a gondola ride on the Grand Canal. How is it that I never came across this beautiful facsimile at the water’s edge of the Italian Pavilion? My first thought was- “where’s the gondolier”?? I did some research when I got home, only to find that there was a planned Epcot Phase II that would have featured the ruins of a Roman coliseum and a gondola dark ride! Wouldn’t that have been incredible? Via Napoli now occupies much of the space that was allocated for this full attraction, so perhaps we have to be content with a great slice of pizza!
7. What can I say? A girl’s gotta have dessert! Since Karamell-Kuche opened this past September, I felt compelled to take a look-see. The reviews that I read did not lie; the aromas, the display and the lines were all as advertised. I just couldn’t resist the HUGE chocolate cookie drizzled with karamell. When in Munich…
8. Boy, by the time I finished that cookie I sure was thirsty. As I came out of the Chinese Temple of Heaven (my mouth was full, so I did not check its “perfect acoustics”), I spotted the Joy of Tea kiosk. It was a bit chilly by late afternoon, so the hot Chinese Green Tea was perfect. I’m waiting for a hot sulrty day in July to try the Peach Oolong Tea Schnapps Slush. (Perhaps the schnapps is an homage to the Pavilion next door!)
9. Who shops at Norway? Well that day I got my first chance. Geir Ness was on hand to promote his award winning fragrances for men and women. I didn’t care for the women’s perfume, but loved the clean, fresh scent of the men’s cologne (inspired by the Norwegian mountains, said Geir). Not only did I purchase a bottle for my husband, I had the bottle personalized by designer himself. I’m sooo proud of my souveneir!
10. True confessions. At Mexico, I had to kill some time before my dinner reservation, so I decided to take my first-ever ride on a Friendship boat. At a speed of 7 mph, and a queue that can be lengthy, we always felt it “was quicker to walk”. Friendship I (above) took me on a leisurely cruise from Mexico back to Germany. Did you know that each of the 8 Friendship vessels has its own custom color? I sure hadn’t noticed. The Friendship I has pink trimmed windows and a blue striped roof. I think one of my new hobbies will be to spot all 8.
After spending hundreds of hours at the World Showcase over the course of 28 years, I accomplished 10 Disney firsts in about 6 hours. I completed my full circle, the 1.2 mile perimeter of the World Showcase Lagoon, just as I began. At Disney, everything old is new again.