It began with a mouse

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Nov 22, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, November 3, 2005

It began with a mouse

Walt Disney was broke and on a train with his wife from New York to LA. He was a cartoonist who had been relatively successful but a poor business deal had seen the royalties from his early creation signed away to another company. Whilst on the train he began drawing and designed a cartoon mouse. He called it Mortimer Mouse. His wife thought the name was too pompous and suggested Mickey. And so on the back of Mickey Mouse an empire was created. It began with short cartoon flicks next was feature length cartoon films before moving to regular films, movie productions, theme parks and the like. Today Disney produces many movies and so our first stop this morning was Disney MGM Studios.

Similar to Universal Studios, the focus on this park is on showing the way movies, TV shows and animation are put together. So there are only a few rides, the rest of the attractions are shows and tours. And many of them are educational. They make learning fun. Going to Disney High School would have been very interesting. Although working at Disney would be hard. You have to be perpetually happy, even when idiots ask the same stupid questions of you all day long. Staff are not called staff but cast members and are expected to play their part. Nothing can be seen to go wrong, as that would destroy the illusion that Disney works so hard to create. All cast members wish you a magical day and wherever you walk you are constantly greeted and smiled at. I thought it might get on my nerves after a while but it has been good.

Actually it has been good to experience the politeness of the Americans. They queue in a very considerate and patient manner. They let people go in front of them. They offer up their seats. They smile at you and say excuse me if they need to pass you. When a bus arrives there is no pushing or shoving and people board in an orderly fashion. It made for a pleasant change from Europe where people would push and shove and kill to get in front of you. One point to the USA.

We were on a busy schedule today so at one we left MGM and took the shuttle across to Epcot. Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Walt's original idea was to have an actual planned community (like a futuristic city) with over 20,000 residents. He would be able to implement some of his ideas like people movers and monorails. He died before his dream was realised and the company soon realised that it didn't want to be in the planned community business. When the park opened in 1982 it was still called Epcot and used some of the ideas that Walt had envisioned. It is considered to be geared more towards learning than the other parks.

There are two different sections- Future World which has different pavilions dedicated towards learning such as The Land, Mission Space, Energy, Living with the Seas and so on. There are still some cool rides and all the attractions make learning fun. The other section is World Showcase, which is like a World Expo. There are different pavilions, which are paid for and run by different countries. It is quite an expensive exercise so there are only eleven pavilions including Mexico, Morocco, Norway and France amongst others. The pavilions are quite good and give a good feel for what the country is like. For example the Germany pavilion tries to recreate Oktoberfest. It is designed to look like a German town, but with architecture from different eras and regions. The Platz is decorated with a statue of St. George and the Dragon and a clock tower. The Biergarten, at the rear of the courtyard, sells traditional bratwurst and sauekraut amongst other German delicacies. The pavilion also has numerous small shops selling German goods, including dolls and cuckoo clocksIt has a big beer hall, souvenir shops, stalls selling bratwurst and sauerkraut and the like. For Americans who haven't travelled overseas the pavilions are a good way to see the world.

It is also a good chance for people to get drunk at Disney. All the pavilions have alcohol and there were lots of people doing a World Pub Crawl. Stopping for a pint in England, some wine in France, a stein in Germany and so on. By night time there were lots of drunk people - it was like a whole new set of Disney characters had materialised- Sleazy, Slurry, Tiddly, Burpy and so on. They were far more entertaining than the regular characters.

It was also the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which meant there were a lot of temporary, stands in the World Showcase. There were probably another twenty or so countries giving it a true world feel. Australia had quite a big stand and in addition to the wines they had there was true Aussie fare such as "Shrimp on a Barbie". Well true Aussie fare for Americans who can remember the Paul Hogan ads of the 90's.
Epcot like world expo.

As part of the festival they had performers, the premier one being Mr Chubby Checker. The Chubster doesn't appear to have aged and was up on stage moving and grooving away. And of course twisting. The women were all on their seats gyrating and twisting away and suspiciously quite a lot of the scooter brigade found use of their legs to get up and dance. When the show finished there was a 15 minute fireworks display over the main lake, which in true Disney fashion was fantastic.

By now we had been out for close to 14 hours and were Disneyed out. We had been to the four major theme parks plus other Disney attractions and were exhausted. Our time in Disney had flown and there was still more we could do. But it was time to hand in our Disney cards and move on. Preferably on a scooter for our tired legs.
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