Archive for the 'Orlando' Category

Walt Disney World’s EPCOT: A Family Friendly Taste of Morocco, Japan, and Norway

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

After growing up on a steady diet of Disney movies, Disney soundtracks, and Disneyland, I was excited like you wouldn’t believe to visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The complex is the size of a small island nation. In addition to dozens of enormous resorts that hold thousands of guests each, it boasts six amusement parks: Magic Kingdom (a Floridian replica of the Anaheim original), Hollywood Studios (Disney’s take on Universal Studios), Animal Kingdom (lions, tigers, and bears), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), and EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow).

I hope to visit each park someday, but since The Astronomer and I only had one day to pay our respects to the Disney gods, we chose to explore EPCOT. By the way, the park’s “golf ball” centerpiece is called Spaceship Earth and houses a ride that narrates a shortened history of the world.

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

EPCOT is divided into two sections: Future World and World Showcase. We started our day in Future World, which focuses on “technological advancements, innovation, and wonder.” The Astronomer felt right at home there.

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

Since nothing works up an appetite quite like using your imagination, we soon headed to World Showcase to grab a bite. Set around a man-made lagoon, World Showcase is comprised of a collection of pavilions representing the cultures and cuisines of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Each country has a formal, sit-down restaurant that requires advance reservations either by phone or in person at guest services. As soon as we arrived at the park, The Astronomer and I booked a table at the Norwegian restaurant because The Astronomer’s mother recalled enjoying a buffet with an abundance of smoked fishes the last time she dined there.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Chicken Fingers

Islands of Adventure - Orlando

The Astronomer and I traveled to Orlando earlier this summer for the National Down Syndrome Congress. While in town for the informative and inspiring conference, we made sure to pencil in a few extra days to dabble in some amusement park action. Whereas I was looking forward to visiting EPCOT at Walt Disney World, the thrill-seeking Astronomer was stoked about Universal’s Islands of Adventure. As luck would have it, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened a few weeks before our trip.

Islands of Adventure - Orlando

Truth be told, I have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie in my life.  The Astronomer only remembers bits and pieces of the stories after sleeping through the audio books on a couple of family road trips. Still, we were both excited to ride the rides and eat the eats, even though we had no idea of their literary significance.

Islands of Adventure - Orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a unique experience because it stays true to the theme at every turn. All of the rides, shops, and foods available in this section of the park capture various elements from the novels. It was a balmy ninety or so degrees when we arrived, so a tall glass of Butterbeer was definitely in order. According to, Butterbeer is a popular wizarding beverage with a very slight alcohol content and a taste “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch.”

Continue reading ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, and Chicken Fingers’

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