Leah, being thoughtful as always, decided to rise at 5:15 this morning and ended up playing the iPad between her mostly-sleeping parents in our bed. After we roused Aly a few hours later, we hopped in the Red Grand Caravan (that’s-a how we roll, d-o-g) and made the short drive over to EPCOT, otherwise known as “the golf ball” in our little crowd. We spotted Daisy right after entering the park with a short line, so we got in line and Leah kept saying “Hi” and trying to get Daisy to wave at her while we waited. Aly, of course, almost missed seeing Daisy because she was wrapped up in a complex derivative transaction involving two fellow small-human pin traders, but a quick tap on the shoulder brought her back to reality and just in time to grab her autograph book and get a hug from Daisy Duck.
Leah was a touch shy, but then warmed up after Daisy blew her five kisses. Rachel then ran ahead to get fastpasses for Soarin’ while I pushed the double-stroller with Leah in my other arm and Aly walking next to me. Glad we got a stroller. We met Rachel in The Land pavilion and she had gotten us a rider swap pass for Soarin’, so Aly and I could ride right away without waiting (bonus!). Aly pretty much ran away from me down the hall she was so excited, and she requested that we get to ride in the front row, which we did. Riding Soarin’ with Aly is quite an experience, because she hollers, laughs and screams the whole ride while simultaneously reaching out to touch everything coming at us – it’s so funny that the people around us all join her madness and laugh along the entire flight.
From there, we met up with Rachel and Leah and headed over to Club Cool, one of the better kept secrets at EPCOT. You can get free drinks of various sodas (pop) from around the world, and Leah decided that she liked Aly’s favorite, which is called Vegita Beta. While in Club Cool, Aly asked a cast member if she could see his pins, and when she mentioned that she had lost a couple pins yesterday when they fell off her lanyard, he gave her one without trading – another nice bit of Disney magic. We then hit the big outdoor pin store where Aly picked up two new pins and some screw-in backs to make sure the pins don’t fall off in the future.
We briefly went through Innoventions where Aly and I played a team game looking for fire hazards with our special flashlights – it was actually pretty fun, and our team “Searchlights” won the overall game, defeating the “Findmores.” From there, we headed over to lunch at the Coral Reef restaurant.
The Coral Reef is inside the building that houses the Nemo ride and the massive aquarium known as The Living Seas, and one wall of the restaurant is a glass wall of the aquarium. We requested, and were given, a table along the glass, where we popped Lele in her high chair and just turned her towards the wall so she could watch stingrays, giant sea turtles and sharks (“Lemon Sharks”, according to Aly) swim right in front of her face. We had a great server, and our food was all excellent: Leah had a pizza, Aly had chicken, broccoli and mashed potatoes, Rachel had chicken, and I had orange-ginger glazed salmon, which Aly loved – her first time trying fish. Despite being a bit past her nap time, Leah held up well, thanks to the mellow lighting and the presence of the fish.
Rachel took Leah up to the bathroom for a quick change on the way out while Aly & I gathered up our stuff and headed up to meet them. Along the way out, we gave our Soarin’ fastpasses to a mom & two kids since we weren’t going to use them.
We then marched out of the park and found our Red Grand Caravan among the 12,000 Red Grand Caravans (we used to use the panic mode to find our car in the massive WDW parking lots, now we use the powered tailgate to send up a red flag), loaded up the kids, and then realized that I had lost our “park pack”, which we use to carry:
- My driver’s license
- WDW annual passes for Rachel, Aly & myself
- Our hotel room keys, which is how we pay for everything here, so the only money we carry
- Our Tables in Wonderland card, which gives us 20% off all meals
- Our photopass card
We quickly checked all the possible places it could have been, and none of them yielded the park pack. Leah was very hot and overtired, and one of the other two girls, who shall remain nameless, had very much need to find a bathroom, though I would not find this out until later. What to do? Can’t get back in the park without a park ticket. Can’t get into the hotel, much less the hotel room, without a room key. Can’t get on the plane home without ID. So I started the car, cranked up the A/C, and left the girls there while tracing my steps back to the main entrance of the park, but finding nothing along the way. Since I hadn’t played much pocket pool during the walk from the restaurant to the car, I was pretty sure it was on the table at the restaurant.
I walked over to Guest Relations, where a manager must have sensed my panic as she walked by while I was waiting in line, because she came over to talk to me. I explained that I had lost what is pretty much my vacation wallet, and she said, I’ll call over to the restaurant and check if they have it. She came out about two minutes later and said that Coral Reef did have it, and she’d be back in just a minute, taking a quick backstage route to the restaurant and back. About five minutes later, she returned with my park pack, and I wanted to hug her, but spared her, since I was a sweaty mess from the heat, hurried walking, and lost-wallet stress. Ironically, I had turned back to survey the table when we were leaving, but I think it was under a napkin, but I clearly did not see it.
I jogged back to the car, which I then pointed out to Aly was probably further than I had run in the last year, and she said “Yeah, Daddy, you never run.” Smart kid, who also happened to be sitting in the passenger seat when I made it back to the car, as Rachel had to take the back seat opposite Leah, who was sharing the pain of her exhaustion with the entire region. Thankfully, she did go down for a nap fairly easily when we made it back to the hotel, and I took Aly over to the food court to fill up our mug 5 times with different kinds of pop and drink it standing right there. Aly has probably had more pop today (before 2pm) than any other day in her entire life. We’ve still got dinner to go….