Our last day at Walt Disney World started with rope drop at Epcot. The original plan was to focus on the East (left) side of the park on this day, but that got sort of blown away by the lack of lines during Miriam and the kids’ first day at Epcot. They happily criss-crossed all over the park, so instead this return trip became about hitting a few highlights and trying a few new experiences. We started off using the original plan, hitting Test Track and Mission: Space first. Mikaela and Jon rode Mission:Space (Orange) by themselves this time, while Miriam and I waited for them at the exit. After Mission:Space, we continued to World Showcase, where we hadn’t ridden any of the World Showcase attractions yet. We rode both Grand Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom, after which we grabbed lunch at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – love their sandwiches, and they’re always generous about not requiring kids on the dining plan to order from the kids’ menu.

After lunch, we headed back to Future World for one more new Epcot experience – Mikaela REALLY wanted to try Sum of All Thrills. Jonathan and Miriam explored the rest of Innoventions while I waited with Mikaela at Sum of All Thrills. The line wasn’t particularly long when we arrived, but we seemed to have arrived in the line just after a large, extended family, with limited English skills. The line move VERY slowly at that point. We almost gave up waiting after over 25 minutes in line, but just then Mikaela’s group was brought into the “briefing room,” so we decided to let her go. She designed a quite aggressive roller coaster for herself, and loved the experience. By the time she got off, Jon was near meltdown and it was time to get back to the resort. While the kids napped and Miriam got a good chunk of our packing completed, I went to return our rental car. We’d rented from the Car Care Center, and were leaving waaaaay to early in the morning to return it before getting on Magical Express.

As I was returning the car, the usual afternoon rain started. But there was something different about this afternoon rainstorm. It was coming down MUCH harder than it had the rest of the week. The Car Care Center shuttle gave me a ride back to All-Star Music, and the rain was still coming down hard. We let the kids sleep as long as we could, then got them up and dressed for our special end-of-trip dinner at Yachtsman’s Steakhouse. We checked in at Yachtsman about 15 minutes before our ADR time, but the wait to be seated was more like 30 minutes. Thank goodness there was some outdoor game toys that had been moved inside due to the rain. Mikaela and Jon (and a few other kids who were waiting with their families) enjoyed a little indoor lawn bowling to pass the time. By the time we were seated, the kids were getting pretty antsy and I was getting nervous about how they would handle themselves in a high-end restaurant. But they were great!

Jonathan was happy with noodles and cheese from the kids’ menu, but Mikaela was a bit disappointed that the only steak on the kids’ menu was steak skewers. We compromised, and I ordered the big 24-oz. porterhouse and shared with Mikaela. Miriam went with her old standby, the filet. I also ordered a bowl of lobster bisque (my absolute favorite soup). All of the food was terrific and the kids behaved well. Our waiter was patient with the kids, but otherwise just competent, nothing spectacular. We were tempted by the desserts, but also fairly stuffed. We figured it would be better to head on over to Epcot and get an Illuminations viewing spot, then maybe we’d pick up some dessert from the French bakery.

At first, it seemed like the rain might be letting up a bit. But as we walked (in the rain) toward the International Gateway, the rain just started falling even harder. Big, heavy, cold raindrops. But now we were stuck in no-man’s land. We could walk back through the rain to the Yacht Club, where we’d have to get a cab to go back to All-Star Music, or press on into Epcot and on throught to the buses. We chose to press on, still hopeful that we’d be able to enjoy Illuminations. We headed to the bakery in France to pick up some desserts, and as we entered the building we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to wait this out. We were all cold and tired and miserable from the rain. So we packed up the desserts, and then made a dash toward Future World. We ducked into MouseGear for a respite from the rain (and to pick up one last souvenir – Mikaela decided she wanted a baby Minnie plush, to go with last year’s baby Mickey). Then it was off again for the bus stop.

We finally settled back in at our resort, with the rain still pouring down, to enjoy our desserts. Miriam generously volunteered to take our resort mugs and make a run to the food court to fill them with decaf coffee for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids, and we had a nice little dessert picnic in our room, before making one last sweep of the room to make sure we were all packed up, but for the clothes we would be wearing in the morning. We had an early flight out, so our Magical Express time was 4 a.m.! The best laid plans, thwarted again! We still had a great dinner at Yachtsman that night, and a wonderful trip overall. But somehow, I’d managed to spend four days in the last year in Epcot, without seeing Illuminations!

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