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By Carol Garcia
Over the last several years, my family has traveled to Florida and Walt Disney World every summer. We know it’s hot, and it’s bound to rain a lot in the afternoons, but we also are able to take a longer trip and don’t have to try to get to all of the parks in one long weekend.
We’ve definitely settled into some patterns. We seem to gravitate to certain locales and attractions each trip. This isn’t something we plan for – it’s just one of those spur of the moment things that make our trip memorable. Last year, we spent several evenings in the Boardwalk area. We also found a new favorite attraction in the Fantastic Plastic Works exhibit in Innoventions East. It was a rainy day when we ducked into Innoventions for some dry time. We stumbled onto this game where the kids could make a virtual robot and compete in a foot race against each other and several other players. As if the game wasn’t enough, after the competitors finished the race, they could make their own robot creations to take home (at no charge!). Needless to say, with several rainy afternoons and three children, we spent quite a bit of time working on our virtual robots and came home with a small army of plastic robots to hold our toothbrushes and guard our shelves.
Well just like my children, Disney doesn’t like me to get too settled into a routine. This year, our evenings were centered around Downtown Disney rather than the Boardwalk. We’re not sure why we moved venues, but it makes everyone happy. Then, the first rainy Epcot day came and it was declared that we should go check out the robots. Well, I knew this was coming, but I had to break the news — the exhibit was no longer there. Disney has decided to move on, even if my children weren’t quite so ready. So, after a brief stop to make sure mom was right (you never can tell), and pay homage to our old favorite that is now behind walls preparing for a new attraction, we had to come up with a new place to hang out. Why not a spin on the new-and-improved Spaceship Earth?
Yes, Spaceship Earth’s refurbishment ended last December, but our brief Mousefest trip didn’t produce any soft openings when we were at the park. This was our first time to try it. The first noticeable difference was in the beginning. Shortly after settling into our ride cars, we had to look at a screen. Our pictures were snapped, and the touch screen in our vehicles asked us some questions about where we are from. We proceeded through the ride, with an updated soundtrack, some new scenes, and a few old favorites. Although Mom and Dad both noticed the chariot missing from the background in the Rome scene, we all enjoyed the ride. Then came the fun. As we slowly traveled back down to Earth, we answered a few questions about our likes on the touch screen again. A computer generated characters from the photos taken at the beginning of the ride. Our faces were virtually cut out and plopped onto cartoon bodies. The cartoons then participated in an activity. Mine went on a vacation (go figure), complete with a suitcase that knows what we want to bring and packs for us. Sign me up for that one.
Remember that we were asked for our location at the beginning? After exiting the ride vehicle, the post-show area features our virtual-selves on a giant screen and going to our home town. After several rides, we make a few discoveries. The kids find it hysterical to say they’re from Florida (they are easily amused). A sleepy mom can sometimes not even hit the right continent and might just indicate she’s from Brazil. We have great discussions as to what expression to use for the photo — happy, sad or even a mug-shot variety.
So, Disney has given us a new favorite from an old friend — Spaceship Earth. Hopefully this new favorite will help us make memories for years to come. After all, making memories with our families is the real draw and Disney provides the perfect environment for just that.