Friday, December 24, 2021

Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition 2021 at Epcot

Happy Christmas Eve! Today it's time to celebrate Holiday Traditions with Olaf!

The whole family loves watching Christmas specials (guess you could call that a holiday tradition) and one of our favorites is Olaf's Frozen Adventure. In it, Anna and Elsa realize they have no holiday traditions, so Olaf sets out to find all the traditions in Arendelle to bring back for them. 

The TV Special also has one of my newest favorite Christmas songs, When We're Together. When Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell sing it together, I get chills. My favorite recording of it has to be when they sang it as part of Disney's Magical Holiday Celebration in front of the Disneyland castle. And if you happen to look towards the screen-left side of the choir, at the top you'll see Ruston! And two rows below him is another friend Paula! 

But let's get into what this post is really about. Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition in Epcot. 

We've only been coming to the parks for a few weeks now, but we've already got our own family traditions. It starts with a visit to Club Cool to drink sodas from around the world. 

And next, we stop at the popcorn stand right before the bridges that take you into the World Showcase. They have the yellowest, butteriest, best tasting popcorn anywhere in Disney World. We sit on the curb and eat our popcorn and sip a cup of our favorite Club Cool soda.  

Having learned my lesson with the Remy's Hide and Squeak maps, I made sure to purchase these early, before they sold out. Here's a look at the front. 

And when I bought it, the cast member offered to let me pick out the prize that you get for completing it, but I decided to hold off. The prizes offered were a random Disney pin (I've got tons of those), a cheap lanyard (no use for that), or an iron-on patch (meh, the design wasn't our style). I had heard from others that the real prizes for this quest were stuck in a shipping container somewhere and that they might come back later in the season. 
I put the map away and we saved it until just before Christmas. Epcot is starting to get busier and busier, so ride times are going to get longer and longer. A walking quest like this that will take us all around the park will be perfect for busy days! And here's a look at the back of the map with the different traditions we'll find along our journey. 

Our first stop around the world is in Canada. The Canadian pavilion is very large, which we've seen from trying to find Remy earlier this year. We wandered past the totems, over towards the O Canada circlevision theater, and by the waterfalls. 

Right out front by Le Celier, Olaf has loaded his sleigh with Gingerbread! 
"Young and old delight in baking and decorating sugary gingerbread cookies."
We also got an idea of how big Olaf is going to be when we search for his. I was expecting him to be a bit taller!

Next, we visited the United Kingdom. Olaf has found Holiday Crackers. 
"Around many dinner tables, holiday crackers 'explode' to reveal festive surprises."

Olaf has done a good job hiding in France. That and the crowds being in the way made it difficult to find. 

But eventually we spied a little bit of white poking up above these topiaries. 
Olaf has a Yule Log. 
"In winter, many families place yule logs on the hearth to bring good luck, as they cozy up around the fireplace."

Get that sticker applied Alli! They took turns. Only 1 map needed. 

Above the L'chaim! Holiday Kitchen, Olaf has a stack of dreidels to play with. 
"Many families celebrate Hanukkah by playing with four-sided spinning tops, called dreidels."
Ian - I learned about those in school!

Morocco is next, where Olaf has discovered a tree branch with Olives on it. 
"December is the time to give thanks for the harvest with a lively olive festival."

In Japan, Olaf has what looks like a cake, but this is Kagami Mochi. 
"Many families decorate for the New Year with festive kagami mochi made from rice."
I also spy an orange on top. We learned in the Epcot ride "Living with the Land" that citrus fruits are also common gifts among asian countries. 

At the American Bandstand, we see that Olaf is singing Carols with sheet music. 
"Children of all ages ring in the most joyous time of the year by singing cherished carols."
I also spy another tradition of ours in the background. It's a poster for the Candlelight Processional!

And it's going on right now! Tonight's guest narrator was Andy Garcia. We didn't wait for seats, but we did stand at the back for a little while to listen to the performance. 

On with the quest! 
At the American Adventure, at the base of this large Christmas tree, Olaf has a candle holder called a Kinara. 
"The seven days of Kwanzaa are celebrated with seven candles to symbolize struggle, hope, and the people of Africa."

In Italy, Olaf has found a loaf of Panettone. It's fruitcake!
"Many bakers prepare a zesty fruitcake called panettone as a delectable holiday treat."

In Germany, Olaf found Candy Canes! Fitting because they were invented in Germany in 1670!
"The first-ever candy canes were said to have been given as gifts from a choirmaster."

Our walk from Germany brought us to China where they kids found Olaf's sleigh loaded with Floating Lanterns. 
"Floating lanterns fill the night skies, marking the beginning of the New Year."
That would be a really fun festival to visit. 

In Norway, the kids and Olaf have found Straw Decorations. 
"Goats, made of straw, guard Christmas trees as the holidays draw nearer!"

Our very last country to visit is Mexico, where the kids found Olaf and a flower pot filled with Poinsettias. 
"Festive poinsettias are presented in striking arrangements to celebrate the holidays."
Ian - I learned about those in school too! I made one out of paper. 

With our map complete, we went back to see Cast Member Hayley at the Disney Traders gift shop. She chatted with the kids about how they liked the quest, and which one was their favorite to find. Alli liked the German Candy Canes, while Ian liked finding the straw goat. 

For a prize, there were no choices this time. Behind the register were large stacks of these Mickey "kitchen sink" bowls. It doesn't really go with the map, but it's better than nothing I suppose. The kids were happy to have it, and Hayley suggested that they should eat some ice cream out of it. 

I'd saved turning in the map until our very last day before we got blocked out for the rest of the year. And sure enough, a few days later, I saw a post on Facebook saying that the prizes for Olaf's Holiday Traditions Expedition had arrived. That plate does look a bit more festive than our Mickey sink. 
D'oh! We were too early for the prize this time, too late for the Cookie Stroll prize, and missed out on Remy's prize entirely

Our map got stamped, right in the center, saying something like Epcot - Complete! - Well Done

The kids loved going around the world, finding Olaf and seeing all his favorite Holiday Traditions. Great job!

To finish the night, and to wrap up our year here at Walt Disney World, we each picked our favorite rides (with reasonable wait times) to visit. Ian chose to ride Soarin, seeing beautiful views and highlights of countries from all over the globe. 
Theresa chose her favorite ride here, Living with the Land. 

I love that they decorate it for the holidays, and feature holiday plants like cinnamon, nutmeg, cacao, vanilla, and ginger specifically for this time of year. 

And they do such a good job with other decorations too. 

Alli and I picked Mission Space Green and Mission Space Orange as our favorite rides. And just as we finished up our last ride on Mission Space, it was 10 minutes before park closing and Test Track was a walk-on. That will be a great way to end our night and our year! We've loved visiting Disney World and are looking forward to making more great memories and maybe even starting a few more traditions in the new year. 

1 comment:

  1. Exhilarating last ride to cap off the Disney World park visits! Like the holiday look added to the Living with the Land attraction. What a deep blue & purple shade map for the Olaf Expedition...those scavenger hunts are so how you included an enlarged insert of Olaf at each destination since he was so "small" to see in the bigger photo (having the text of the holiday tradition was very interesting & informative, too). Too bad about the (mis)timing for those prizes...that was a cute Olaf plate...oh well, at least ice cream works better in those Mickey sinks :-) Club Cool and popcorn as a new (yummy) Epcot tradition for the family...wonder what other new traditions are born at WDW! Regarding those citrus gifts, it was explained to me one time (Chinese culture) that especially during Lunar New Year, the tangerine or kumquats (the 2 fruits most commonly given when growing up) represent a wish by the giver that the receiver will be "prosperous/wealthy" in the new year...the "golden" color of the fruit is like the color of gold (hope I'm remembering things correctly!) Merry Christmas!! EOM