When you check into a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, that's how you are greeted. We are renting from a DVC member, so we receive the same warm welcome as real DVC members.
Our plane landed at 9:20 and we were checked in and inside our Beach Club Villas studio before 11:00. We went straight over to Epcot and started our stroll around World Showcase, starting with France, then Morocco. Epcot is all decked out for the Flower and Garden Festival and looks beautiful.
Our objective was Japan because we had reservations for lunch at Tokyo Dining, a new restaurant since our last visit. There were several incredible bonsai's on display outside the pavilion. Inside, we were greeted by the entire staff for the opening of the restaurant.
When we checked in at the BCV, cast member Allison gave Rick a Happy Birthday button to wear. (His birthday is on Tuesday.) Everywhere we went, cast members - and even some guests - greeted him with a friendly "Happy birthday, Rick!" In Morocco, a cast member wrote out the birthday greeting in Arabic text. Later, at the American Adventure pavilion, a cast member rushed up to Rick and asked where he was from. Rick told him and the cast member said, "We have a call from Disney for Rick from Massachusetts! Follow me." He led us out to the lobby where he instructed Rick to pick up the phone in a box on the wall and dial an extension number. When Rick did this, he heard a birthday message from none other than Goofy.
At Tokyo Dining, because of Rick's birthday button, we were seated first and had the best table in the house in front of a large window overlooking World Showcase. We decided to celebrate the beginning of our vacation by trying something new. We ordered a sake sampler and I also tried sushi for the first time. Both were very good. When we were finished eating and waiting for our check, we heard some clapping and then some of the restaurant staff came out singing "Happy, happy birthday", bearing a piece of ginger cake with a candle on top for Rick.
After lunch we took a Friendship launch across the lagoon to Future World and rode the newly refurbished Spaceship Earth. They have added an interactive touch screen so you can choose your own world of the future. Your photo is taken at the beginning of the ride, and at the end you see yourself in the new world you have chosen. Pretty cute. Dame Judy Dench now narrates the ride and most of the scenes have been redone. We thought it was great.
We took a break at the resort and went for a swim. By the way - the weather is fabulous, although a little hot for us New Englanders. It's going to be in the mid-80s all week. The pool felt great and revived us enough to return to Epcot for the evening.
We started at Mexico with nachos and a frozen Marguerita (for me) and then went to a BJ Thomas concert, where he sang some of his greatest hits including Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, and Hooked on a Feeling. During the Flower and Garden festival Epcot has a Flower Power concert series featuring musicians of the 60's. BJ sounded terrific. Later this week we'll get to hear Arlo Guthrie (Alice's Restaurant).
After the concert we hiked over to The Land to ride Soarin', a thrilling and beautiful glider ride over California and then walked all the way back to the World Showcase again to find a spot near Morocco to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the fabulous nightly pyrotechnics show that is a must-do ending to a day at Epcot.
We had been up since 3 am., so by now, at 10 o'clock we were more than ready to go back to our room for a good night's sleep. We took lots of photos today. They are all here on Flickr. Tomorrow we'll spend the day at the Magic Kingdom.