Although the weather is still very hot and muggy (91 degrees in the shade yesterday!) and the school year has yet to start, my thoughts have already turned to fall. With Friday Mornings at Nine coming out in less than seven weeks and my third novel, The Grand European, due to my editor on September 1st (!!), I've been offline more than on trying to get all of my promotions ready and put the finishing touches on the new book.
But when I was in Orlando a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but be reminded of both of these books while experiencing DisneyWorld for the first time. My Friday Mornings story deals heavily with the concept of fairy tales...particularly in regards to how we perceive modern relationships. And if there's someplace in the U.S.A. that calls to mind fairy tales more than most, it would be the Magic Kingdom. Note Cinderella's beautiful castle on left!
And, on the right, Cinderella herself... :) I had a wonderful time visiting the original park on our 1st day! It was funny and unexpectedly delightful--largely because of the company I was keeping. My longtime friends and Chicago-North chaptermates Karen Dale Harris, Erika Danou-Hasan and Simone Elkeles were my guides through the Wonderful World of Disney, and I couldn't have been in better hands. And when they took me on Space Mountain...ahhh, it was pure roller-coaster love at its height!! That is the BEST ride EVER!
For years I'd wanted to visit Epcot, which I got to do on our 2nd day in Orlando. (Here's the famous Golf Ball!) I'd heard so much about the "World Showcase" and wanted to see for myself what that was like, especially since I was in the midst of writing my Grand Euro novel. We visited stage-set-like versions of England, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway, China and other countries, which was very cool. Of particular interest to me were the lands of Italy and Morocco.
The Venetian mask shop on the right was especially fascinating. I love the real Venice. LOVE it. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. I can't claim that the Epcot version matched the allure of original for me, but I did really enjoy Epcot's Venezia for what it was: A taste of that incomparable Italian city with little hints of its genuine flavor in the form of gelato, handcrafted masks, pastas, imported chocolates and even authentic Murano glass. (And, btw, Stefano--pictured right--was genuine Italian, too. :)
And then there was Morocco... Walking through the bazaar was a colorful and exciting experience, but I couldn't get over my constant urge to eat some tajine-cooked lamb. (The tajine is a special clay-like pot used for slow cooking meats.) For lunch, I tried their "Mediterranean Sampler Platter" and truly wish I would have thought to take a picture of it. There was falafel...and cooked lamb and chicken on pitas...tabouli--the Middle Eastern salad...hummus...and more. YUM! And, ohhh, baklava for dessert! (I really got into the whole taste-testing dishes from around the world thing. VERY fun!!)
Finally, as night fell at Epcot, Erika, Karen, Simone and I strolled through the various nations represented at the park and watched some of the "Illuminations" light show. It had been an action-packed couple of days--all before the RWA National Conference even began!--but just as enjoyable and memorable.
For those of you who have been to DisneyWorld, which is your favorite park? I've been told I need to go back to see the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Are the waterparks also a must-see?? Universal Studios? Any other really great Orlando attractions? Would love to hear your thoughts!
p.s. For anyone interested, I have 2 new contests going on at Fresh Fiction this month: One for According to Jane and one for Friday Mornings at Nine... Wishing you all a great weekend!