Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Epcot–Tomb Warriors, French Roast, Pastry and Ice Cream!

Tuesday Afternoon December 9, 2014
Disney World



We again spent the morning in the Magic Kingdom.  If you didn’t catch our morning adventures, you can see them here.  If you haven’t seen the wonderful Disney Electrical Parade, you can find it here.

For today, getting to Epcot from the Magic Kingdom was a breeze.  We took the monorail to the transportation center and got on the Epcot monorail and zip we were there.

Mickey and the gang were there to meet us too.  Right in front of the giant golf ball.  They really get around.  I fit right in with my Santa Hat and mouse ears.



Epcot’s tree was also a giant one and it reminded me that this year, there was not a giant tree in the town square in the Magic Kingdom as there had been when we were here last.   Loved this Earth ornament.  It was bigger than a baseball.




We only have 5 or 6 hours to spend here so we skip the Future Worlds and go directly to the World Showcase.

We head around clockwise which means we come to Mexico first where they are highlighting their ancient Aztec Heritage.  As in every country the architecture is really stunning.







Inside the building are several nice restaurants and what can pass for a Mexican Bazaar



At the very back is the entrance to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros one of whom is Donald Duck.  It’s a water ride and the first thing we pass is one of the up scale restaurants where there is water front dining over looking the Aztec Temple we are gliding by.




My pictures of the Aztec statuary and the fiesta on the ride turned out too blurry to use except for this last one of the flags and fireworks at the end of the ride.  It is actually very nice ride.  Fairly low key.  Well done.  It is  interesting to be inside a building on a waterway under the stars and fireworks.  Hope you can see the fireworks in the picture.




The country pavilions all encircle a lake which is referred to as the lagoon.  Next around is Norway where this building of native architecture houses the Frozen exhibit explaining about the research done in Norway for this film. 


Many settlements nestled between steep mountains and deep fjords exist along Norway’s coastline. Stavkirke (stave churches) were built on prominent locations to mark these

settlements.  The castle in the film, which I have not seen,  apparently features this architecture.   The detail on this building is just amazing.  Check out the door for example.

To create the world of Frozen, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen,  members of the production team traveled to Norway to study everything from terrain to buildings, snowfall patterns, and traditional attire.  The sound designers spent time studying the sound of ice cracking.  The lighting designers examined how light reflects and refracts off of snow and ice.  The animators observed reindeer to  influence Sven’s performance in the film.  Sounds like really interesting work to me.  Much more so than what I did in my working life.


This traditional Norwegian Bunad outfit was handmade and embroidered in Vesteralen, Norway by a mother and her eighteen year old daughter, using wool, linen and satin.   This traditional clothing was copied for the characters in Frozen.   The handwork is just gorgeous.









The male native attire displayed is a southern Sami man’s outfit. These people, are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the arctic area of Sapmi. 

The Sami are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and are hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. 
They are traditionally known in English as the Laplanders.

Their best-known means  of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding. Currently about 10% of the Sami
are connected to reindeer herding and 2,800 are actively involved in herding on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.

The jacket (koft) is made of dark blue felt and is paired with a wool hat and shoes made of tanned reindeer leather.  I’m fairly surprised that this would battle the harsh conditions described as these people spend their lives living in nature.



Here in Norway we find the first of several skits by natives about about holiday traditions in their country. Sigrid is telling us about Julenissen the mischievous Christmas gnome.





At each of the countries we are checking out the restaurants for future visit planning.  There are usually 3 or 4 ranging from fine dining to fast food.






I am just wowed by China.  Their colors and architecture with its minute details and colors jump out at me.  We enter through the gates of the city. 






Once through the gates we approach the Reflections of China Pavilion.  It is magnificent inside and out.







Inside is an exhibit that is nothing short of astonishing. 

Farmers digging a well in the Shaanixi Province in 1974 accidentally unearthed a monumental discovery – the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of the Quin dynasty. 

Archeologists were stunned by the sheer enormity of the 2,000 year old tomb which stretches over an area almost 22 square miles.  The central mausoleum alone covers 526 acres – twice the size of Epcot!  The tomb is still being explored.  It remains the largest unopened tomb in history.

At the center of the Qui Shi Huang tomb is an underground palace, the emperor's final resting place. With the help of modern technology, archeologists located the burial chamber, but have not unearthed it for fear that any excavation would damage the sanctuary.  I was very impressed by this restraint.

Ancient writings report that the palace is a replica of the emperor’s earthly residence and is illuminated by oil lamps meant to shine for all eternity.  The texts also state that the entire Chinese empire was reproduced on a miniature scale – complete with rivers and lakes, and with jewels representing the sun, moon and stars – so that the emperor could see his kingdom for all eternity.



The very first act of Qin Shi Huang, before he was emperor, was to make preparations for the afterlife by beginning the construction of his tomb. Over a period of 36 years, 700,000 workers constructed a vast underground city that included a massive palace and a life size terra cotta army. This army was comprised of over 7,000 cavalry troops, chariots and horses.  The tomb has been dubbed Necropolis or “metropolis of the dead”.  All this for a dynasty that existed only from 221-210 BCE.

The tomb warriors were intended to be the protectors of the emperor beyond the grave.  Because nearly all of the faces of the tomb warriors are unique, some archeologists believe that the figures were modeled after real soldiers.

Many other emperors followed Emperor Qin’s example and created their own special armies.  One tomb even provided a mess hall for the convenience of the terra cotta statues.  Now that’s too funny.


 This exhibit is entitled Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China.  It is the collection of the Schloss family.  What began in the 1960’s as a modest interest in the largely overlooked realm of Chinese tomb sculpture grew into a life long passion for the Schloss family.  Over the next 40 years they amassed an historically significant collection of ancient Chinese artifacts providing insight into more than 1,000 years of social changes, cultural traditions, and technical advances in China.  I’m not sure how I feel about these things begin taken out of the country of China.  It is their history and I wonder if we should be allowed to loot it as we have done in so many countries around the world.

That said, it was amazing to see and worth the trip to Epcot in itself..

The reproduction on the left shows how the terra cotta warriors looked 2,000 years ago when they were newly painted.  I wish there had been a docent there who could have told me whether unearthing these statues has caused them to deteriorate.



We are called away to the adjoining room.  Here we are welcomed to China and invited to experience the Reflections of China Circle Vision 360 film which is really wonderful.   The theater doors are there on the left.   The film flies you all around China beginning at the Great Wall.




The theater exits outside and we are on the side of the beautiful building.




The sun has gone down while we are inside watching Reflections of China.   We are beginning to think of dinner.



Germany is next around the lake.   I’m not sure what this unique snowman was made of but I’ll bet his lights are lovely in the full dark.




Helga is telling the story of the first Christmas tree and the tale of her first nutcracker.  The opera The Nutcracker was written by Tchaikovsky but the libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and The Mouse King.  Hoffman was a very popular German author whose stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach’s famous opera The Tales of Hoffman.  Many of the Christmas customs and songs we have today originated in the area of Germany and Austria.  The Christmas Tree and Silent Night among them.




We wander through Germany looking at the restaurants.  We have eaten on a previous visit at the only one for which you do not have to have reservations.  Besides, David is set on having an appetizer in France.




If you love caramel you will love this bakery in Germany. I have  never seen so many ways caramel can be put into treats.




On the path from Germany to Italy we find a very large model railroad community with 3 trains running.  I have to use my flash to get most of these pictures.  For lovers of model trains this would be real delight.



There are villages, mountains,rivers, lakes,  bridges, churches and forests for the trains to run over and by on their rounds.



  Pretty close to full dark now.


We wander through Italy but don’t stop.  Next time here we will go around the lake from the other direction since we will also miss Japan and Morocco this time on our way to France.   The man is on a mission.




You can tell which country you are in not only by the architecture but also by the music being played.




This Italian tower is not leaning.


There are two very nice restaurants in Italy if they are in your budget, Tutto Italia and via Napoli.  I’m guessing about $75-$100 for dinner for two.  At Via Napoili Ristorante e Pizzeria you can get a $31 pizza that serves 2 to 3.






After Italy we buzz by The American Adventure which we visited on a previous visit and Japan which we have not seen.  We are on our way to Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie.  David’s favorite bakery.  It’s down one of the little alley ways in France.  We just can’t quite remember which one.




But David finds it.


Folks are lined up on both sides to pick out pastries and get real French Roast coffee of all types.  David prefers DARK  I call it mud.

The tables are all full.  People are standing at tall tables with no stools.  I assume stand up eating is a French thing. 

David was speculating there was little chance they would have the chocolate croissant he really wants for his appetizer (I call it “Life is short, Eat Dessert First).

And as you must have guessed, he is right.  They are all out of chocolate croissants.  So he has a chocolate éclair instead and declares it an excellent substitute.   He raves about the REAL dark French Roast Coffee.



Here we have a man in his element.


I am saving my calories for “dinner”, so to speak. 

After David finishes his appetizer we walk to the United Kingdom and enjoy the view over the water before taking a left at the bridge.






We arrive at Beaches and Cream, a tiny ice cream parlor where if you don’t have reservations, you have to hope to get fitted in.  Here I am waiting for a spot.  Notice that I am standing right in front of the reservations person so she cannot possibly forget about me.  However long it takes, this is my Birthday Treat and I’m not leaving without it.



I just love this old fashioned soda shop.  Thank you, thank you to Nancy and Bill for discovering it.



It has a counter and the colors are totally Florida and ICE CREAM!


It even has a Juke Box which plays vintage tunes.



As we wait for our order, the lights go out and back on, bells ring.  The Kitchen Sing is delivered to the table across from us.

The Kitchen Sink is the most expensive item on them menu at $29.  It is described as scoops of Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Coffee and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream smothered in every topping they have.  It supposedly serves 4.




Since I seriously detest both coffee and mint chocolate chip ice creams, the kitchen sink is not in my future.  BUT ‘No way Jose’ is.   Now check this out.  Chocolate and vanilla ice cream, peanut butter and hot fudge toppings, peanut butter and chocolate tiny kisses, whipped cream and a cherry.   MAGNIFICENT!   Happy Birthday to ME!!

Oh David has their Pork Belly Cuban Sandwich for dinner.  It has ham, pork belly (I may not want to know what that is) swiss cheese, pickle relish and grain mustard on a fresh baked sub with what appear to be hand cut fries.  He gives me a few bites of each so I don’t go into a sugar induced coma over my “dinner”.  It is delicious.




Wish you were here Bill!! And you too Carrie!



Unlike when we were here for David’s birthday when I ate every single bite,  I am unable to finish the whole thing so David graciously takes care of it for me.  Isn’t he nice!






After that serious carb overload we are head back to Winnona.  It is so dark, it feels like it is 10:00 at night, although it isn’t even 8:30.  We’d love to see the ‘IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth’ light show in and over the Lagoon but it doesn’t happen until 9:30 and then we have to take the monorail to the monorail to the boat to Winnona. 

We saw it last time for David’s birthday.  Was it that we were slightly younger or that we had more days in Disney World?  I’m going with the latter.  So next time we’ll plan for more days so we aren’t too tired to do the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and the IllumniNations here at Epcot.

I take these pictures as we leave the park.





Tomorrow is our last day in Disney World before we move on.  Our time here is almost at an end.


  1. That settles it! We need to get back to Orlando! Excellent blog, Sherry, for those who can't make the trip.

  2. Wow...what a day you had. I'm with Jeannie, we really need to go back there. I love the story about the emperor. What an amazing display.

  3. I'm overwhelmed with the enormity of it all and all that I have seen is through your eyes....I can't get over needing reservations at an ice cream parlour. Happy Birthday!

  4. Now THAT was a fabulous looking sundae. . .Happy Birthday to you!

    I have always wanted to go back to see the World Showcase, and explore it fully. . .not something 10 year old boys were that interested in doing on our first trip. . .but we do have pics in the Japanese Gardens. . .look forward to seeing more pics . . .

  5. As I can't imagine I will ever see those countries, I really have to make it to Epcot! The building of the tomb is so over the top as a burial "place", but what a historical treasure for capturing the reality of that time period. Way beyond "time capsule", so much life-size culture was preserved. I too am pleased at the restraint shown by the excavators - I'm confident technology will one day allow a virtual opening without disturbing the real thing. Your birthday dinner is perfect, and the location is adorable! Thanks again for sharing all your amazing photos - I feel like I've seen so much and my feet don't even hurt (well, except for unpacking......)

  6. The World Showcase looks wonderful ...When I visited my daughter in Vancouver she took me to China Town, they had similar arches at the entrance. I was captivated by the tour.
    Love how you two troll for good food ! I can sure relate to anything chocolate and now will try your suggestion of dessert first ! Really like the picture of you & David eating !

  7. I Love Disney! Don't remember seeing all the country places when there long ago, but things constantly change there, making it fun to return. Besides I don't think you can see it all in just one visit any way. Of course, desert first, because we can. You must have been on sugar overload for the ride home. That Chinese tomb is over the top amazing. Hard to believe you've already left there.

  8. One rainy day out of four ain't bad. You sure did a lot on your Birthday and I love that Hat. Happy Birthday.

  9. If I never get to Disneyworld, and I probably never will, I won't be sad, because I feel like I have been there with you two! Thanks for the wonderful trip via your blog and pictures!!

  10. Happy, happy day, Sherry!!! WOW!! that is some ice cream!!!

  11. That is my idea of a perfect birthday dinner!

  12. That French Bakery is one of our favorites as well. Since we are staying at the Yacht Club when we visit in January, that bakery is going to be way too convenient!

  13. I took my 2 youngest sons to Epcot in about 1997. I don't think the monorail connected to Disney then, or maybe I was just lucky not to find it, so I got to skip the whole Mickey Mouse thing. I loved Epcot but it seems to me there were only about 5 countries represented at that time - my memory fails on all of them except Canada. That was the most spectacular event of the entire day when the Royal Mounties came thundering all around us on the 360 degree screen. I've never seen anything like it before or since. Yay for Canada!

  14. Perfect Birthday Dinner:o)) Bill would have joined in with David on the Chocolate Eclair and followed that up with a Banana Split...he has no discipline;o)) No Way Jose is my sundae of choice, except I do ALL chocolate ice cream!! I bet we could get a Kitchen Sink hold the coffee and mint chocolate chip;o))

  15. The countries sound so neat - thanks for the tour! What a way to see Europe ... and Asia! Amazing how much energy the Chinese had to build that amazing tomb - living this life in homage to the next one. That is really quite something. I would have enjoyed the coffee and the chocolate, but, Dad's dinner choice probably would not have fit my bill :) That ice cream though...AMAZING!! I'm so glad you got that treat! Great day/great blog!

  16. Since I am finally catching up, let me greet you a warm belated Happy Birthday, Sherry. I love Epcot and the way the big cities around the world are presented, but it has been decades since I was last there. So I enjoyed a refresh from your bday celebration there.

  17. I'm surprised you didn't get some sort of Jamaica me Crazy thing :) Nice tour of Epcot!

  18. Never been to the beaches and cream- we will have to check it out.

  19. Happy Birthday to you, indeed! I like the way you celebrate! You look so absolutely delightful and delighted. That was a very fun tour of Epcot with wonderful photos -- when we were there about 15 years ago we only made it to Japan and Morocco, so thanks for showing us what we missed. Your photos make me want to go back. ;-)


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!