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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > March 2013: Edition One

INTERCOT Insider
March 2013

Brought to you by INTERCOT's network of sites:
INTERCOT - Walt Disney World Inside & Out
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<<Introduction>>

Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail--and he's got another edition of the INTERCOT Insider!    In this edition we unwrap a Easter basket filled with sweet savings for passholders, tasty dining reviews, the latest Disney park calendars, and more trivia goodies.  We also take some time to enjoy the spring flowers that have sprung around Epcot for the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival as we take an in-depth look at the Gardens of the World tour. Hang on to them hats and glasses, cause this here's the most informative ride on the internet!
 

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<<A Taste of the World with Mickey'sGirl>>

-- Around the World --

The Cast: Dear Husband Brian - Turning 45 on this trip; Dear Son Harry (14) - Celebrating graduating from Grade 8;
Dear Son Euan (8.5) - Celebrating his Half-Birthday because we can’t go down in January, Me – Just happy to be making the trip with my guys!

Wolfgang Puck’s Café – Downtown Disney

Atmosphere: I love the open kitchen at Wolfgang Puck’s Café, and passing the sushi bar and pastry bar. I think opening your kitchen to your patrons is a great reflection of the quality of your establishment. The restaurant is very open, and the tables are in close proximity to each other, which can lead to volume issues. It was unpleasantly noisy by the time we were finished our meal. 3/5

Food: We are sushi loving folk, so we ordered some sushi to share before dinner. We had some cucumber rolls, California rolls and salmon rolls (so Euan would partake), and then some spicy tuna rolls and house speciality sushi. Fresh and fabulous. We all really enjoyed the sushi, and the quality of the fish used. I almost wish that we had just kept ordering sushi for our dinner, but that was also very good. Harry had the Pepperoni Pizza. The crust was thin and light, and though he would have preferred it without the red peppers, he thought it was really good. In my opinion two non-teenagers could have easily shared this! Brian had the Cavatappi Chicken Alfredo with bacon, peas and parmesan, which was very rich and delicious, and I had the HUGE Spaghetti with Tiger Prawns, tomatoes, capers, basil, chili flakes and anchovies. I have really developed a taste for capers, and with the anchovies and fresh tomatoes, this was a fabulous dish. There were several plump Tiger shrimp and enough basil. I had trouble finishing my meal partially because it is such a large serving, and partially because I REALLY enjoyed the sushi! Euan had cheese pizza and carrots. There were lots of carrots to share, and we brought some of his pizza home with us. He said it was awesome. We were all very full, but since it was Brian’s birthday, our server brought desserts. Brian had key lime cheesecake, the boys had ice-cream and I had a latte. Brian really really enjoyed his cheesecake. 4/5

Service: The service we received at Puck’s was the best I’ve ever received at a casual restaurant. Our server was well acquainted with the menu and could discuss it very easily (his personal likes and dislikes, recommendations based on portion sizes etc.). He visibly had several large party tables to deal with, but he never failed to show up with fresh drinks or to clear a plate. He was spectacular. 5/5

We’ve dined here twice before, and have always enjoyed our meals. I think the service is what distinguishes this restaurant. Overall rating - 4/5

Sci Fi Dine In Theater – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Atmosphere: There is NO better atmosphere at any dining establishment in DisneyWorld than at the Sci Fi. We all LOVE LOVE LOVE the campy movies, and the Drive In setting. 5/5

Food: I have long defended the food at Sci Fi, but I feel I have to go with the masses on this visit. I had the Turkey sandwich with Avacado Mayo sandwich. I don’t know if it was just me, but the sandwich which was so stellar last year, seemed rather slapped together this time. Brian had the Ruben which was fine, Harry had a bacon cheeseburger which he enjoyed, and Euan had the hotdog with carrots and apples. This was all accompanied by gallons of iced tea, but the food was nothing spectacular for sure. 2/5

Service: Our server was good. He brought lots of refills, ice cream sundaes for both of the boys because of Brian’s birthday pin, and Euan got ice cream with his kid’s meal. It was thoughtful of him …. And he sang Happy Birthday to Brian. 3/5

I am not as keen on the Sci Fi as I as prior to this visit, but we will likely return. We always do because it is a fabulous place to cool down when spending a day at the Studios. Overall rating - 3/5
 

<<Tour Tips with faline>>

-- Gardens of the World Tour --

This Epcot tour is only held during the Flower and Garden festival. When it was booked, very specific instructions were provided. First, there is a 2-day cancellation policy. Check-in is at 8:45 a.m. in Guest Relations. No large bags or fanny packs are allowed. Each participant must have a photo ID. No open toed shoes are allowed.

Our tour during the 2012 festival was scheduled for a bright, sunny, and fortunately, not over-warm morning. To be sure we would arrive on time, a wake up call order was placed and the alarm on the cell was set. When morning arrived, the cell phone alarm sounded just a few second before the phone began to ring with the wake-up call. To meet all the requirements for this tour, I had planned carefully to wear shorts that had enough pockets to allow me to bring necessary items with me. Since I wasn’t sure what would qualify as a large bag, I decided I would not bring any bag. I wanted to be sure I had my park ticket and drivers’ license, my small camera, and my cell phone all of which I was able to stuff into pockets. I would wear sneakers.

Since we were staying at the Beach Club and Guest Relations is located near the front of the park, we set off at 8:15 a.m. promptly. We walked to the International Gateway. Because it was prior to normal operating hours, folks were being checked against early morning dining reservations before being allowed in. When our turn came, I announced we had a tour scheduled. Hmmm….they don’t have a list for that…Fortunately, we were still allowed to enter the park. We walked at a steady pace to the Guest Relations office outside of Spaceship Earth. When we arrived there, we were told the meeting place was actually outside the front entrance and over toward the Guest Relations window there. Okay. We checked in for our tour almost exactly on time. There were still approximately 8 people who had not yet arrived.

We were checked in by a woman who did not accompany us on our tour. Homer, our guide, mostly stayed out of the way during the check in process, but did supply each of us with ear plugs and a device that would allow us to hear him speaking. As others checked in, I began to notice that, except for one, every woman who appeared for the tour was carrying a bag or had a fanny pack. One of the bags was huge. One of the fanny packs was about the biggest I had ever seen. No mention was made of the prohibition of these items on the tour. I was a bit peeved that Disney did not enforce the rules they had set for this tour – I thought perhaps they would suggest that these items be placed in lockers for the duration of the tour but, no, each person was allowed to bring their luggage with them.

We started out pretty promptly. The first order of business was to again gain access to the park so we, once again, needed to present our tickets and go through the turnstiles. Once inside the park, Homer was greeted by another cast member – a photographer. We were told that Disney would be photographing the tour as documentation for their own records. The photographer stayed with us throughout the entire tour and took a number of pictures.

Homer explained that he first came to Disney as an intern. He grew up in a farming family and went to college to study horticulture. After he graduated, he returned to Disney and has been there ever since. His own area of responsibility is not typically in Epcot, but teams are pulled from all the areas of all the parks to prepare for the Flower and Garden Festival and also to dismantle the flower exhibits when the festival has ended.

We started our tour with the Fantasia topiaries at the front of the park. Homer explained that this is the first year that the festival did not have a theme. He hinted that some special things might be planned for next year which will be the 20th anniversary of the Flower and Garden festival. From there, we went to view some of the flower towers placed near Spaceship Earth. Homer explained how they are put together and transported, how they are torn down and then reused during the Christmas holidays when they are replanted with poinsettias. He said the Festival lasted so long that many of the flowers were pretty stressed to remain fresh and vibrant throughout the entire time. Many of the flowers that are removed will become compost. In fact, Disney employees are encouraged to help themselves to as much compost as they would like for their home gardens.

The sand sculpture was discussed. It was noted that it was reworked several times during the festival with different scenes and that, while it held up well to rain, heavy rain would damage it and the sculpture would need to come again and fix the sculpture.

A visit to the butterfly house elicited conversation on the types of flowers that attract butterflies as well as the types of plants that are eaten by the caterpillars that will become future butterflies. We viewed the floating flowers and spoke of some of the types of plants that are used in the various gardens. We made our way to the Mexican pavilion. I had never noticed the orchids growing there before. Homer also pointed out a tree, just to the left of the entrance staircase that actually grows thorns on its trunk. As we moved from country to country, Homer pointed out the types of plants used in each and the color schemes that are used just for that pavilion.

In Norway, we discussed the roof covered with grass. We noticed the calm of the China pavilion as later contrasted with the flowing waterscapes in Japan. Homer defined topiaries for us and how they had made changes, over time, in the materials used to create the various topiaries. He pointed out where topiaries were reused in different scenes. In Germany, he noted that one individual is completely responsible for all the plantings in the train area. That person makes sure the plantings do not become too tall for miniature buildings and makes sure the plantings match the seasons – for example, there were plants that represented the Flower and Garden festival in the little village.

The time passed quickly and before we knew it, we were in Canada and the three hour tour was almost at an end. Here, we got a real surprise. We were allowed backstage to see the back side of the Canadian "mountains" and how the plants on the mountains are situated. Just before we went back on stage, we were each provided with a pin and a Festival poster to commemorate our participation in this tour.

This was a great way to essentially "stop and smell the roses". Homer pointed out so many things that we walk by every time we are in the park but only see as part of the background. How many of us have really looked at the bonsai trees in the Japanese pavilion? Do you actually remember there are bonsais located there? I, for one, found myself much more cognizant of the plants and how they are used to support the “story” in each location. Even if you are not a gardener but only appreciate the beauty of plants, you might find this an excellent tour to put on your itinerary. The 2013 Flower & Garden festival continues through May 19th.
 

<< Fun Facts with Imalismom>>

-- Epcot: Part Two --

- In the boat ride in The Land, note the house number on the mailbox as you pass though the farmhouse scene. The number "82" is a nod to 1982, the year EPCOT Center opened.

- As you watch the pre-flight video for Soarin, notice the flight number. It is 5505; honoring Soarin’s official opening at Epcot on May 5, 2005.

- Look for a hidden Mickey in the giant mural in the loading area of the Maelstrom ride.

- It is always twilight in the Mexico’s Plaza de los Amigos as that is the time friends and family gather in the plaza for socializing.
 

<<Calendar Corner>>

-- Summer / Fall 2013 --

Extra Magic Hours, Operating, and Event schedules have been released through October 2013. For guests visiting during this time, you will want to visit the Park Hours and Events pages to aid in planning your trip. Remember, all times and schedules are subject to change, so check back often.  

>> Current Park Hours 
>> Extra Magic Hours Schedule and Info
>> Fireworks, Parades, & Event Schedules


<<Conclusion >>

This edition is hopping away into the sunset.  We hope this edition has given you a reason to take a new look at the Flower and Garden festival on the Gardens of the World tour.  We'll be back in a few weeks with more great tips, news and deals. See ya real soon!
 

<< Thank You To Our Sponsors! >>

The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic to you!

All Star Vacation Homes
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INTERCOT's Official Travel Agency.  An unconventional Travel Agency for the unconventional client, Magical Journeys is dedicated to finding the best pricing for your next magical journey. We work hard to save you money, and still give you the quality service you deserve.

The Official Ticket Center
Website: Buy & Price Tickets Now!
The Official Ticket Center is Walt Disney World's, Universal Studios and Sea World's #1 guest service provider for the last 3 years. The Official Ticket Center sells tickets only, at a discount price.

Quicksilver Tours & Transportation
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Our drivers are the first personal contact you have when you arrive in Orlando.  No other transportation company goes to the lengths we do to ensure that your trip is exactly how you imagined it. At Quicksilver, we truly believe there's no such thing as going "above and beyond" for our clients. Instead, it's all part of doing our jobs correctly.

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This Disney Vacation Club resale site offers the largest selection of DVC Resale's anywhere!  They are the number one Disney Vacation Club Reseller in the world. See how easy and affordable it is to purchase your very own piece of the "MAGIC".

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Comments or questions may be sent to newsletter@intercot.com
 

 
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