The CAST: DD1 (Brittany, 15 yrs. old), DD2 (Emily, 11 yrs. old), DW (Marylynn, let's just say early 40's) and myself (Dave,same) Friday Jan. 30/04 So 'Out of Africa' (and the rest of AK) we go and drive over to Epcot. The guard at the parking lot booth looks at the parking pass in our dash and says that it is expired and that we'll have to pay the parking fee. I looked at him in disbelief because I knew we still had more than a week left on it ...panic was setting in...then he smiles and says..."Just Kidding, have a great evening at Epcot"...well, we just about died laughing...we were caught big time...like I said before, some of the CM's just love their job...and enjoy making it memorable for others. We walk by the giant golf ball slowly, absorbing the moment...and videotaping of course...I always get misty the first time each trip when we pass Spaceship Earth...I guess it's just a big rush of the "Disney" feeling. After all the hubbub about Mission: Space, we HAVE to head there first...of course DW has no intention of trying it and DD2 wants us to try it first... here's an important note regarding Mission: Space --- if you are not feeling 100%, it's probably a good idea to pass on this attraction and try it later ...not being privy to my above advice and at that moment my stomach was not feeling so good...DD1 and I head into MS. There was no line (I think the rain was keeping the crowds down) so we walked quickly to the main queuing area (too quickly to really enjoy the exhibits in the line). We were joined by a young couple and sent to our respective 'space ship'. I can't remember which job DD1 and I had, but I think it was engineer and pilot...anyway, when we sat in our seats and the bar and panel came down, you can certainly get a claustrophobic feeling...so here I am, upset stomach, feeling trapped and with all kinds of nervous jitters of anticipation (DD1 was just taking it all in)... I wish that they didn't even mention about the fact that you are actually spinning...I think that if I didn't know about the "spinning", I might be able to ignore that fact and actually think that I'm 'lifting off' also, I understand about "warning" the public, but I think there are WAY too many signs around telling us about how it is going to spin and that we may get sick, etc ...the lift off was an amazing feeling...I can't remember too much after that, the only thoughts I had were 1. don't screw up and forget to push your buttons and 2. "let this be over...soon!"...I do think the whole button pushing thing was distracting from the "enjoyment" of travelling through space...when we were finished, DD1 and I were both a little wobbly on the feet...she thought it was an OK ride and I'll have to reserve my judgement after I've been on it again, when I'm feeling OK 'before' the ride. (note: although we had another opportunity later in the week, DD1 and I decided not to go on again...but we'll try it again on our next trip, maybe with DD2) We met up with DD2 and DW and thought we would try out one of the Innovations buildings...in all the days we had been to Epcot, we had never set foot in either building...and now I know why...personal opinion only - I found that they were like a very good Science Center. This is a compliment, not a knock...I just felt that we were at Disney World, and time could be better spent being "Disneyfied"...I do feel it has it's place if you had the time or if you are really into science... Now, to eat my words...after a half hour or so, DD1 and I headed over to Mouse Gears while DD2 and DW spent a little more time investigating the building...we hadn't heard from them for another half an hour, so we went back in to find out what was so exciting...DD2 had found this video game where you compete against 3 other kids...it was a game of tag and you had to find ice cream cones at the same time...they each had their own screen and were a Disney character and the game ended after a set time frame...there were monitors behind each child, so the audience could watch the game...it was quite fun to watch...after the game every character was credited for something...most cones found, best tag player, most enthusiastic,etc...as there weren't many people around, DD2 played it about 10 times...we eventually had to drag her away, much to the prodding of DD1...ah, sisters We ventured over to the Canada Pavilion and while DW and I watched O Canada, DD's checked out the shops...O Canada...O my god...as much as it does put a lump in the throat (at least for us Canadians), especially the song, why oh why can't we have this thing updated...nice haircuts ...and the skiing outfits , give me a break...for all those non-Canadians out there --- we do not look like this any more!!! I thought that a couple of years ago, the Canadian Government said they were going to invest in an updated version...I guess they found other ways to throw away our billions of tax dollars (sorry for the political rant )...I just think this is a great venue to promote tourism for Canada...anyway, after the show, we met up with the girls in the gift shop. We chatted with one of the CM's about the World Showcase program...we think it may be a great life experience for DD1 to take a year off and to go work at Epcot, maybe between high school and university...we'll see...she seems interested. While at the gift shop, we decide to buy the girls the Epcot passports...we know that World Showcase is not the most exciting place for the 'younger' crowd, so between the Kidcot stations and the passports, it should keep them amused...besides, it gives them an opportunity to talk to the young CM's from each of the countries. After touring Canada for a bit, we head over to the U.K...in the last gift shop, Pooh and Eeyore come out for a photo op...I find the character meetings at WS so much more relaxed with more time for interaction and play...we're just doing the picture thing with the DD's when we hear some music from the courtyard...it's the British Invasion!!...this was the first time we had seen them...very good, not the Beatles, but still good. Off to Japan...looked around the department store until our ressies at the Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki...at MT we are first led off into this little room, with 3 other tables/cooking areas and we are seated with another couple and their 2 children (daughters too, just a little younger than our girls) from one of the northern states (sorry, can't remember which one)...they have been here before...this is our first time...we're a little confused with the hot napkin routine, but it is a learning experience, right?...DW orders an appetizer and we all order our main dishes...seafood for me and chicken for everyone else...the little onion volcano thing is cool (I kept checking around to see who's chef did it best, neat effect)...I think the enjoyment factor here is directly related to the chef you have...the chef at the table beside us was mundane as could be and the chef in the room next to us was boisterous and had the table laughing and clapping!!!...ours was kind of in-between...he chatted with us, did a few minor tricks, but was pretty well straight forward...all in all, dinner was a great experience and the food was delicious (not too keen on the rice though)...would definitely go back, hopefully with a more exciting chef. For DD2, this is one of the main highlights of her trip...she talked about this dinner the whole time we were at Disney and really wanted to go back. I think we'll surprise her and take her to a Teppanyaki style dinner closer to home. If anyone knows of a good one in Southern Ontario....please tell me. We said goodbye to our dinner mates and toured the Japan Pavillion. The main exhibit was on 'tin toys'...IMHO, Japan has the most interesting exhibits (last time it focused on baseball in Japan and the time before was on Japanese toys through the ages). Back to the department store where DD1 had to buy a Hello Kitty present for her friend back home (who is a Hello Kitty collector) and we had to take a picture of the huge HK section, just to tease her friend...I don't know where she gets it from The rain has subsided and Illuminations is a go...we had heard that the deck in front of the restaurant is a great place to watch the show, but it is too crowded by the time we get there...so we decide the view by the water at the front of the pavilion will do just fine. As always, a wonderful show...even better when the wind is not blowing the smoke towards you (been there, done that ) It's been a long day, so we meander slowly across the park and back to the car. I think I like the "meandering" pace much better than the "we've got to get out of here, NOW" pace. You see so much more that way Didn't take long for everyone to fall asleep this night...tomorrow... early entry at MGM.