Friday, September 25, 2015

There's No Place Like Home


We just arrived home from 8 days in Walt Disney World and it was absolutely fabulous.  I hadn’t been there since I was a kid….waaaay back when Magical Kingdom was the only theme park.  That’s right, that far back.

Cinderella Castle at Magical Kingdom
 
Most amusement parks focus on thrill rides where it’s all about the speed, height, etc.  I love a good roller coaster, but most of the other rides are a bit much for me and just don’t evoke the excitement that they did when I was younger.  All it took was one dizzying carousel ride at the now demolished Ontario Place to make me realize that my ride tolerance is not what it used to be ;)

What I truly loved about Disney was that the majority of the “rides” – and I’m talking probably about 90% of them - were more like shows…and they were all amazing.  They also did a fantastic job of describing the rides so that you knew EXACTLY what you were in for...spinning, big drops, small drops, dark, loud, fast, slow...it was all described in the app we downloaded onto our phones, together with up to the minute wait times for every ride.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot
 
The thought and planning that went into each park and ride/show was clearly evident.  Take the lineup areas, for example.  I have never seen such effort being placed into what is often considered an afterthought when creating a ride.  Every lineup area was either indoors or covered and many had fans running as well.  In the hot Florida sun, that in itself can make the difference between a great day and one that ends with heat exhaustion.  There were also interesting things to see and do while we waited.  A few times, we actually felt that the lines went too quickly as we didn’t get a chance to examine many of the exhibits along the perimeter.

But what really surprised me was that I found it to be just as much an experience for the adults as for the kids...maybe even more so.  There were many couples there, both older and younger, with no children in tow.  Even my husband mentioned that he would love to go back as a couple at some point.

Disney's commitment to the environment & sustainability
was evident in many of their exhibits & shows
 
There was far too much to see and do.  Eight days - that's right 8 FULL days - was nowhere near enough time.  We were at the parks for about 10-12 hours each day and probably did just over half of the attractions in each park.  On top of that, there were numerous daily activities at the hotel which we didn't end up taking advantage of because of our limited time.

I had never seen such thick bamboo,
which grew throughout the parks
 
You really do get swept up in the excitement.  Never in a million years did I think that I would get myself a set of mouse ears – and I didn’t – but boy was I tempted which, in and of itself, was another surprise.

Although there were not a lot of garden related sights to see, I did get a few shots of plants and flowers that caught my eye:



  







The UK pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot had some beautiful landscaping...no surprise there!

One of many houses in the UK pavilion in the World Showcase
 
Now, I said there weren't a LOT of garden related exhibits, not that there were none.  There was an entire section on sustainable agriculture at Epcot which I wasn’t even aware of until we got there.  It was a definite highlight:

Blurry photo courtesy of the boat ride we were on at the time ;)
 
We went on a boat ride called "Living with the Land", which took you through the Land Pavilion greenhouses.  They grow fruits and veg in the ground as well as hydroponically & vertically, maximizing the use of space.  Their message was all about growing food in such a way as to minimize or eliminate the need for chemical pesticides as well as maximizing production from a limited amount of space.   There were so many fruits and veg I had never seen growing before and some of which I had never even heard of.

Taking photos during the tour was not easy as it was difficult to focus and shoot as the ride moved along.  I also didn't want to be so pre-occupied with taking pictures that I didn't enjoy everything there was to see.  The photos that I did end up taking represent only a small portion of what we saw on the tour.  As with practically every other attraction at Disney world, this "ride" totally exceeded my expectations:

Carolina Reaper Hot Peppers


Dragon Fruit


Fluted Pumpkins
Notice the ones hanging from the overhead trellis


Nigerian Drum Gourd


Winter Melons

White Eggplant
 
It's a bit difficult to see the eggplants in the tree, so I enlarged a section of the photo:

Close-up of the white eggplants
hanging in the eggplant "tree"


More eggplants

Pineapple (YUM!) with a macadamia tree
in the back left corner

Rice and Papayas


Sweet Potatoes


Tomatoes grown using the "Lean and Lower" technique
(had to look that one up)


Herbs
 
For us Northerners, bananas are always a fascinating sight:

Bananas


Water Lily, Lotus & Sea Grapes
 
Did you know that all parts of the water lily are edible?  Neither did I.  The only thing is that "edible" doesn't necessarily mean tasty ;)

Lettuce Tower
Wouldn't I love to have one of these
under some grow lights in the basement
 
I'm sure you can see that this was no typical greenhouse tour.  Unfortunately, the ride went much too quickly for me.  I would have loved to stroll the greenhouse and take my own sweet time examining all of the different plants and/or techniques used.  So it's no surprise that the one big regret I have is that I missed the "Behind the Seeds" greenhouse walking tour which takes you behind-the-scenes in the greenhouse area including the research labs.  We didn’t find out about it until the 2nd last day we were there and we weren’t able to make the tour times work with our schedule.  Aargh!  I was so disappointed.  Oh well – I KNOW we will go back at some point, so that will be one of the first things I do.

As for how the garden fared back here in Ontario while we were away, things did ok, although it could have done with a bit more rain.  I think it rained on one day this past weekend, but the weather has also been fairly hot, so it was not enough – the beds were bone dry and I had to give them a good soaking yesterday.

I am now in catch up mode - I have a ton of work to do in the garden, including finishing the raised bed for the blueberry bushes that have been sitting in pots since spring (and they are miraculously still alive) as well as a ton of harvesting & blog reading.

Disney is truly a wonderful place.  But each and every time I go away, no matter how fabulous a vacation it was, I always breathe a big sigh of contentment when I arrive back home.  Dorothy really knew what she was talking about ;)

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

14 comments:

  1. Although I can't say I share your enthusiasm for The Mouse (vowed never again once my son grew up), you sure did find an interesting "ride." Glad you had a great time, and welcome back to the chore/pleasure of your garden!

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    1. Thanks Will! There is definitely something to be said for the carefree life you have when you are on vacation. I did miss my garden a lot, especially by the end of our holiday. I was quite disappointed when we got back and it was already dark as I was just itching to get outside and see what was what.

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  2. I've never been to a Disney park, but you have whet my enthusiasm! We just got back from Colorado and it sure is good to be back home again.

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    1. It is truly a wonderful place and I have since spoken to a couple of other people (who are older than I am) who also said Disney surprised them & they hadn't expected to enjoy it as much as they did. And welcome back!

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  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation! We have been there a couple of times but not for a long time! Sounds like there is so much more to do and see now! Welcome home! Nancy

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    1. Thank you Nancy - Things have definitely changed a LOT since I was last there. I suppose that's not too much of surprise considering it was almost 40 years ago!

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  4. I always loved Epcot Center. Once my husband was presenting an award to someone there and we got to go without the kids. I did Living With The Land without anyone which was really nice. My family thought it was kind of boring but I loved it. I also loved the festival they had going that week, which was foods and drinks around the world. They had small booths set up in each of the countries (and some not normally represented there) and little nibbles and small drinks all the way around. It was a heck of a lot more fun than sitting in a restaurant.

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    1. Oh, that food festival sounds amazing! When we go back, I'll be doing the greenhouse walking tour on my own as well - like you said, I'm sure it will be more enjoyable that way.

      They have a Flower & Garden festival from March to May & I'm hoping that we eventually make it to either that one or the Food and Wine festival, which just started yesterday. I actually think it will be hard to choose between them!

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  5. That sounds like such a fun trip and since you went in the fall you probably missed a lot of the crowds.

    I went on a trip that included Disneyland, Knots Berry Farm, and Universal Studios in highschool during the winter. It was so fun with no crowds and no lines whatsoever. Disney World is supposed to be a lot bigger so there's probably a ton more to do and those green houses look amazing. Six Flags Magic Mountain is probably my favorite but there's always lines there no matter the season.

    Oh the Food and Wine festival sounds wonderful!

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    1. I've never been out west, but Disneyland and Universal Studios would definitely be on the short list of attractions we would take in if we ever do make it out there.

      Apparently early September is one of the best times to go to theme parks when it comes to crowds, probably because so many kids go back to school at that time. They were definitely not a big issue for us; most rides had a 10 minute wait. There were still a ton of people, however, and wait times for the most popular rides could get up to 90 minutes. Thank goodness for the Fast Passes!

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  6. We were there in 2000 and 2002 and I'd love to go back again. Disney certainly know how to do theme parks, I don't think anywhere else comes close. The second time we went, there were three generations of us, my mum and dad, myself, Mick, Daniel and Eleanor and my brother and his daughter and there really is something for everyone, we all had a great time.

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    1. Yes! That's what I found so incredibly wonderful. I had honestly thought it would be mostly about entertaining young children & was not expecting to enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did. I don't think I've ever had my expectations surpassed as much as on this vacation.

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  7. I never knew that Disney did that agriculture / horticulture stuff! Truly something for everyone, eh? Like you, I would have wanted that ride to go slower - or for me to jump off it altogether.

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    1. Let me tell you, that thought crossed my mind more than a few times!

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