Wow. I had expectations going into my first trip to the Orlando resort. The resort was large, the parks were differing and varied, things like that. Many of these were substantiated and many were exaggerated but one thing is for sure — it’s a different world on the East Coast!
This bus takes you from the Airport to the resort at which you are staying. This is included in your trip planning if you are in fact staying at a WDW resort hotel. They also take your checked bags on a separate trip to your room so upon arrival and checkin, you can head straight to the parks! We arrived at about 3:00 pm EST, checked into the brand new Art of Animation resort (The Little Mermaid wing), and headed to EPCOT where Robert, a veteran pro at the WDW resort, recommended we head as it’s his favorite WDW park.
Epcot’s Food & Wine festival was in full swing upon our arrival. We actually planned our trip when we did for several factors including this which also included Halloween Time at WDW as well as the start of Christmas Time. On top of that, from multiple sources and WDW aficionados, the week after Halloween is consistently among the lightest in the parks. This couldn’t have been more true and the weather was unseasonably cold but welcome due to Super-storm Sandy. Unfortunate for them, for sure, yet beneficial for the Floridians.
Our first task upon landing was to eat! It being Food & Wine, we headed straight through Future World at Epcot to World Showcase where we were met with dozens of quick-service gourmet meals from countries around the world. The first stop was the Hawaiian booth which featured a crowd favorite: Kalua Pork Sliders and they were incredible!
This small but DELICIOUS bite satiated us to the point where we had a very important question to answer. In just what country did we want to eat? Virtually every country in the World Showcase at EPCOT features a restaurant with authentic cultural food. We decided upon Japan for a couple reasons: it would be a lighter meal and it was deep enough into World Showcase that we could see the sights on the way of this new (to us) park!
We ate at the Teppan restaurant in Japan and were treated not only to a world-class meal and show, but some personalized food art representing our belated first anniversary (the trip was also considered my wife and my gift for each other) as well as our first WDW trip!
After dinner, we walked out to the 5 minute warning for the World Showcase lagoon show Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. We had been told that this show was absolutely incredible and not to be missed. While like World of Color it’s a technological marvel, we weren’t sure the show’s message was clear enough. That said, it’s still a fun show to watch and we caught some amazing photos!
As our first night came to a close, we realized just how tired we were and the park was closing. We knew we wanted to get up early for our first full day at WDW so we headed back to the hotel to rest up!
First impressions of WDW: the transportation system is surprisingly simple and well organized. We were worried that it would be confusing and were slightly intimidated by it but well placed and clear signage is abundant in the parks and at the exits. We had also heard how crowded the bus depots can get and while the queues were prepared for large crowds, we never waited for a second bus because of crowds and the busses ran much more frequently than the posted 20 min. approximation between departures.
This was truly the beginning of a great trip!
Here is the full gallery of photos for the first day: