Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goodbye Texas, Hello Florida!

Eleven hours after saying goodbye to Texas and the first sighting of the beautiful Texas wildflowers, we arrived in Mobile, Alabama.  Mobile seemed like such a nice place to visit, but our mission was Orlando, so I think we actually spent less time in our hotel room overnight than we had driving there that day, and began the second leg of our journey first thing the next morning.
We arrived at our beautiful resort hotel ~ the Sheraton Vistana Villages ~ around 6pm that evening.  I have to mention here how much I love Facebook.  Really, it has become far more than a fun way to stay connected with friends and family near and far.  It is also my main source of news and pertinent information.  I say all of this, because I found out about the Sheraton resort when a friend from high school posted a photo of her room there while on vacation with her family.  She also mentioned a few of the room's amazing amenities in her Facebook post, and just a few clicks later, I had reservations!  There are many fabulous places to stay in and around Disney World, of course, but this one perfectly suited us with its full kitchen, laundry room, 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, living/dining room, screened-in patio, and flat screen TVs in every room.  Also, there were 2 gigantic swimming pools, a small market/grocery store, several restaurants, many on-site activities, really wonderful customer service, and all for a very reasonable price.

It was good that we got there by 6pm, because it gave us time to settle in, freshen up, and still make our dinner reservations in Downtown Disney at 7:30 with this lovely lady:
Our friend Romy... from Switzerland! Many of you may know her personally, but if not, you may have met her here or here.  In a very "it's a small world after all" kind of way, and again, because of Facebook, we discovered that we would all be in Disney World at the same time.  Romy was there for a conference, and we enjoyed meeting her at the end of one of her work days at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.  Raglan Road is an Irish Pub, and we all enjoyed fish and chips or burgers together in a very lively atmosphere.  Later, we strolled around through the shops, stopping for some gluten free cupcakes and coffee to end our evening.  (The REALLY "small world" thing is, that Romy will actually be at my house tomorrow evening and through the weekend for a wedding!  Poor girl.  Can't imagine the jet lag from making two trips to the States in two weeks!)
Epcot was the first park we visited, due to some very scientific research my friend, Anne, told me about via this website. The advice and information there is very valuable, and made our trip as smooth and enjoyable as it could have possible been, I believe. (Well, that and Anne's wisdom from personal experience and her list of favorite restaurants!)
We had a sighting of Mary Poppins, who was asking this woman if her husband was as much of a handyman as "Burt."  We visited the English tea and toy shops nearby, posed in an iconic British phone booth, and walked passed people eating fish and chips at the Rose and Crown Pub, where I developed a crush on my waiter and his authentic accent when I was about 15 years old, i.e. the last time I was at Epcot.
We ate cheeseburgers on gluten free buns with french fries from a dedicated fryer in America at Liberty Inn...
...and got hugs from Tigger and Poo.
We hung out in France for a while, watching a sidewalk performance by a French waiter who stacked restaurant chairs about 6 high and did a balancing act on top...
...and ate a delicious Mexican meal at La Hacienda del San Angel (everything on the menu gluten free except flour tortillas and salsa, which was just sad.) while overlooking Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon where the fireworks show would soon start.
And that all happened the second half of the day!

Earlier in the day we made it to all of this:

Soarin' (wow!)
Test Track (Cooper and Kayla considered this their roller coaster!)
The Seas with Nemo
Spaceship Earth (a trip through history, and seemingly our Veritas Press timeline cards!)
Mission Space
Journey Into Imagination with Figment (same as what I remembered ~ ha!)
Living the Land (boat ride through amazing innovations in food growth)
O' Canada movie
Impressions of France movie
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth light and fireworks show

And if you tune into Facebook at all, you might know that I was completely exhausted after all of this, wondering how I would make it through four more days.  Well, I did (barely!), so stay tuned, and I'll tell you about our next day in Magic Kingdom soon!

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