Our flight was scheduled to fly off at night to Dubai where we would continue on with a connecting flight to JFK. After that, we would board a Jetblue flight to Orlando and start our journey in the America. But it all didn’t start well, we boarded the flight but it was slightly delayed in taking off from Changi Airport. When we landed in Dubai and made our way to the connecting desk, the staff told us bluntly that it was too late and we had to take the next flight as it was slightly one hour before the next flight. Left with no other choice, we made our way to the customer service counter, at this time where there was a already a queue formed for various enquiries, including a few passengers like us who missed the connecting flight too.
At the counter, it became really frustrating. There were just 2 staffs serving the customers but there were more staffs that seemed to be doing nothing but moving around. When we became the next one to be served, I approached the staff behind the table whom was just ignoring us. I greeted her and asked about the next available flight and she just told me to wait as she did not know how to handle it. Went back to the queue to wait somemore. When we were called by another personnel to the counter, he didn’t even apologise and told us that the next flight was some 6hrs later. That was the last straw when I just told them off that if it was not for them, we would have make the connecting flight and that we were going to missed the Jetblue flight to Orlando. He mentioned that Jetblue was their partner airline but he wasn’t able to change the flight because we purchased directly from Jetblue. We tried to ask for alternative routes such that we might be able to make up time but he does not seemed to know his geography well. We had to take out our Ipad to show him the possible other states’ airport but as he checked back, there were any other available airport. We asked for what they could do for us and they unwillingly offered some F&B vounchers which was pretty limited in choice at one of the cafes. Talked about customer service.
We waited out the the 6 hrs coupled with free wifi in the airport and having some not-so-delicious food and then we were on our way to JFK. The morning flight landed some 12hrs lately at JFK and we made our way to the Jetblue counter and told them that we missed the flight. They were kind enough not to charge us for another pair of tickets but a USD100 no-show for the first flight and then we were off to Orlando, the 7pm flight and another 2.5hrs hour. By the time we arrived at Orlando, it was late and we huddled to get a taxi in the balmy night to Quality inn, some 20 mins away.
Check in was effortless and we made our way to our room, which was away from the reception area on the 2nd storey. It was a welcomed hideaway from the winter night and since we were also hungry from the long flight, we went to the so-called world’s biggest MacDs that was 3mins walk from the hotel and take away our dinner to our room.
By the time we settled for sleep, it was almost 1am.
Day 3 Epcot Theme Park
Started out early as it was necessary to get the best of the available time in a theme park. Had breakfast at the hotel and it was a buffet spread. After which, we went to the tour arrangements counter we booked tickets for transport that brought us to the theme park train station, a short drive from the hotel. The central train station served the various Disneyland theme park and this was the link for people intending to hop from park to park. We chose Epcot as this was theme park was exclusive only to the one in Orlando, whereas Disneyland was available in various places (like Hong Kong). We only got the one day pass as were thinking of park hopping as we didn’t really knew if we could cover the park in a day and even if we didn’t like it then we had to stick to it as we had made reservations for a restaurant by the central lake to watch the fireworks and have dinner.
To get the most out of a visit to the theme park, one must study the type of rides and activities that were present and check the popularity, since the more popular the rides were, the more likely the queue was going to be horrendous. It was really not about the queuing since we were all used to it as Singaporeans but more of having more bang for buck in the theme park. We made use of apps (yup, there are simply apps for almost anything) to help us prioritized the fastpass and normal queuing sequence and just followed that since it could get confusing balancing the were rules to obtaining fastpasses and queuing and looking for the ride at the same time.
There were already queues forming for the more popular rides and we were glad that making it early to the theme park was totally worth it.
Spaceship Earth was a easy going history lesson ride where you get to see exhibits showing different periods of time of man and then towards the future. Not to my liking though.
So after securing the passes, we went around to visit the other parts of the theme park. Went into Capt EO 4D experience, hosted by Michael Jackson (image). Other than the 3D effects that was prevalent everywhere already, there was also the element of feel with air blowing and water droplets splashing onto our faces.
Soaring is an immersive cinematic experience atop a simulator that brings the participants high up to provide the flying feeling. It was definitely one of the better rides though it was not terribly exciting compared to a theme park roller coaster. A must do in this park.
The park had 2 sections, one was more science-ty and the other was a world pavilion showcasing architecture from 10 countries around the world (see map). While waiting for our time go for our rides using the Fastpass, we moved to and from the 2 sections based on proximity to the next attraction. We went over to the Mexico and the Norway section before our next due attraction at the Test Track.
Vikings were the main theme in Norway segment and in there was another easy ride on a boat with exhibits showing stuff that was encountered by these pioneer seafarers.
The Test Track was a place where you given opportunity to design your own vehicle and get to test drive them (virtually). There was a photo session available too where you get to pose with your design with superimposed photo of yourself and this would be emailed to you. There was also a model of the Camaro for photoshoot, popular for being Bubblebee of the Transformers. The highlight of the visit here was definitely the beautiful corvettes on display and the thrill ride (but short) during the “test drive”. Definitely a must do too.
Missions Space was a ride that offered 2 choices – one was the extreme and the other mild. We didn’t know what to expect and since there were really much excitment in the rides for the whole day, we thought we would try the extreme one. Furthermore, the queue was much longer and that would probably meant we made the right choice. It was a ride that provided the feeling of weightlessness and it felt really amazing! I think the ride made use of a centrifuge to spin at 2Gs – you could feel first the pressure and then the weightlessness. However, after that we didn’t feel good and a little light headed and nauseated. Sat down at the exit for a rest to recover. I would still attempt it though if I were to visit again!
We started to explore the world pavilion after the last ride. Started off with the Canada and ending with Mexico for our dinner.
There were basically streets that were designed to give you the feel of being in that country. There was one shop in the UK section that sold soccer related products.
France section gave the visitors a feel of being in Paris. There was even an Eiffel Tower in the background. We chose a French Boulangerie to have some delicious pastries and just chill.
We then went over to Morocco that had a more contrasting design. It appealed to me a little more since I had not visited that country before.
There a place for Japan and the typical architecture was recognizable. We hadn’t visited Japan since Fukushima incident and it was a refreshing visit.
USA pavilion had a building that we went into that had sort of presentation of US history. I didn’t last the whole show as I felt asleep – less due to boredom and probably more due to jetlag.
Italy’s Pavilion showcase the few noticeable structures of Venice, which looked pretty good, at least from my memory of the visit in 2005.
Germany architecture sort of reminded me of Munich town. There was a glass blowing craftsman that was blowing glass balls probably for Xmas trees deco.
China pavilion had replicas of architecture of Beijing, such as the Temple of heaven which looked good.
We actually reached Mexico pretty early. Entered the pyramid and there were stalls selling Mexican stuff and a restaurant too. Didn’t get anything though.
Our plan was to have dinner and at the same time enjoy the fireworks over the lake. We had made reservations at the La Hacienda restaurant which we read online that had huge windows that stretched from the top to the table level. These provided good views of the fireworks. The only thing was we were not able to choose which tables we wanted, so even if we reserved, we need to see if we were lucky enough to get the tables next to the windows. And usually people who wanted to have dinner there also wanted to catch the fireworks so when they do get the window seats, then its too bad! So our plan was to arrive early. We went in at about 6pm for our 730pm reservation. However, we were seated at a table beside the ones near the windows. The other tables were either already taken or if not reserved for a bigger group. We then asked if we could move if any of the tables were available and went ahead with ordering.
Food was new to our taste buds but tasted ok. Portion was huge and since we were planning to stay the long haul (till 930pm) it was sort aligned with our plans. Ordered the recommended Margaritas too though we weren’t really the people who drank. Everything seemed smooth and we even ended up with seats beside the windows after the table beside us emptied. But we didn’t last till the fireworks. The food became too cold to consume and it didn’t help that we felt full from the huge portions. In the end, we gave up and went out beside the lake to watch the fireworks instead. We left the restaurant early and thus walked around some more to experience the park in the dark. Went to the toilet the last time before we finding a location and sat down there to wait till it was time. I even fell asleep while waiting, difficult in resisting the alcohol effect. Soon the crowd started to build and there were people waiting all around. The show started on time and it felt great being so close to the fireworks. The weather made the difference of watching fireworks compared to in Singapore where to need to squeeze with the crowd in hot and humid conditions. Not appealing at all!
The fireworks started on time with a storey telling session that slowly built up to a climax of light streaks and booms, within expectations of a great fireworks show. However, the drizzling rain followed soon after that saw a massive crowd trying to get out of the park quickly and also escaping the rain. We donned our rain coats that we had prepared and slowly made our way to the pickup point. It was one of the last transport back to the hotel but there was more than sufficient time from the park to the train then the pick up point. Our tour first day has ended.
Epcot theme park might not cater to visitors who were looking for thrill rides or Disney characters. I felt it had more emphasis on visual entertainment and of course the world pavilions. Those who wanted a glimpse of it could quickly do the first half of the day in this park and park hop to another one for the 2nd half of the day.