Travel, Saratoga Springs, & EPCOT: October 3, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 began our latest trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. We flew out of Lehigh Valley International Airport on an airline which is new to the airport, Frontier Airlines. I was quite happy with the airline--they allow a carry-on & personal item and still give you a soft drink during the flight. That's all I need to keep me happy LOL! While on the flight, which was a direct flight to Orlando International Airport, I watched the first three episodes of season 1 of "Once Upon a Time" which I thoroughly enjoyed.

It was a rather uneventful flight and we arrived in Orlando without incident. We took the "Magical Express" to our resort, Saratoga Springs. We are staying in the Springs section of the resort which is my favorite area as it is within walking distance to the gift shop and "The Artist's Palette" which is a counter service restaurant. I had read that there had been some renovations at Saratoga Springs and it is quite evident in our room. The rooms were always nice but it looks like they put down new carpet, new linens, curtains, shower curtains, etc. The room looks great and on the bed was the towel art that Disney is known for. It was a several towels arranged to look like Minnie Mouse ears.

We visited the restaurant and got our refillable mugs for the trip and then set off for EPCOT. Before we entered, I needed to go to will call because my annual pass to Disney expired in September and I had renewed it over the phone. We got a really nice cast member who waited on us and she informed us that there is currently a special running for Disney Vacation Club members. This special, which began after I renewed my passes, is for the premium annual pass which includes the standard parks but also the water parks, Wide World of Sports, etc. I had said I really wasn't interested as I don't really go to those areas. The cast member explained that the other difference is that while the annual pass gives a 10% discount on merchandise, the premium pass gives a 20% discount on merchandise. Now that was something that appealed to me. And when she said the price difference between the two passes was only $15, I jumped at it. So we each have a premium annual pass to Disney now!

Currently Disney is celebrating the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT which is something I have never attended and October 1st marked the 30th anniversary of EPCOT. Our first stop, once we entered the park, was to our favorite gift shop, Mouse Gears. They had merchandise for the 30th anniversary including limited edition pins. It was amazing to watch because there was a cast member who had a shopping basked full of these pins and it seems they were constantly restocking the shelf because people were coming in and getting these pins. I grabbed the commemorative pin, a commemorative pin & patch set, a commemorative lanyard, and a 30th anniversary mystery pin set (which features Figment). When I checked out, I saved almost $10 thanks to my premium pass! The cast member who waited on me told me that on Monday, the line for the pins went all the way to "Spaceship Earth" and that once they sell out that is it so that I was lucky to get the pins.

Next we went for dinner at the "Electric Umbrella". Still trying to be good diet wise, even though we are on vacation we decided to split a meal. We ordered a chicken ceasar salad and a meatball sandwich and then split them. That way we each got a 1/2 sandwich but then a 1/2 salad which was good. The restaurant offered french fries or grapes as the side for the meatball sandwich so I asked for grapes. Well they gave us both! I passed on the fries and was so full I couldn't eat the grapes so I took them with me since they were in a sealed bag. So I guess I have breakfast for tomorrow!

It was then time to begin exploring the park and we started with "Journey Into Imagination with Figment" which is one of my favorite attractions. The characters I focus on with collectibles are Peter Pan, Duffy the Disney Bear, and Figment so I always enjoy this attraction. Next was Captain EO which is a classic. While I love this 3D movie which features Michael Jackson in a science fiction short that was produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Copolla, it also makes me sad. No matter what other oddities surrounded Michael Jackson, he was a talented individual and he was quite good at his craft. We then rode "Mission: Space" which had only a five minute wait and we had a great time on this flight simulator ride as well.

It was then time for more shopping! We went to the store that features Duffy products as I was looking for the new Duffy outfit I saw online which is a Halloween outfit. I found it and picked it up and at the store they also had a 30th Anniversary T-Shirt that I saw at Mouse Gears and passed on but there it was again and in my size so I picked it up. It was then that I saw an item, I just had to buy. Now there are many different sizes of Duffy stuffed animals. I have the larger sized bear and they make interchangeable outfits for this bear and it has become a hobby picking up the different outfits (I even have the Jedi Knight outfit for him). But there is a Duffy bear that is slightly smaller than the one we have and they don't sell outfits for him but instead you have to buy the bear with the outfit on. Because of that fact, I choose to pass on purchasing that size bear because if I bought all the interesting ones I'd have about 50 Duffy bears in my house! Well the latest one they put out is Duffy wearing a white t-shirt promoting the 30th Anniversary of EPCOT featuring Figment. OK, they had me! I bought one. So now I have yet another Duffy bear but it is worth it!

By this time, it was past 10 PM and we were tired so we headed back to the resort. Along the way I took some pictures of the scenery of EPCOT at night. This is the first Disney trip since I bought my new camera--a Sony DSLR camera. I'm happy with the quality of pictures I was able to grab: