It’s kind of hard to believe that I had never been to Orlando – no Disney for this kid! But when the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team announced they were playing Panama in Orlando, in what could be the match that put the U.S. in the World Cup, of course we were going!
Tim has always loved soccer. He had season tickets to the Chicago Sting “back in the day”, and we still have some drinking glasses commemorating the team! I have become a fan, mainly because of him. It can be a “beautiful game”, but to a soccer novice like me it can also be very frustrating and boring. I’m still learning though!
This was going to be a quick trip since we had just returned from California a couple of weeks prior. The plan was to get into Orlando early so we could see the USA vs Mexico soccer match that night. Our flight was at 5:30 a.m. and we landed in Orlando a little after noon. It was pouring down rain – buckets! The airport was closed when we were getting ready to land due to the weather, and once we finally landed we had to sit on the plane for another 30 minutes due to lightening in the area.
We were staying at The Aloft in downtown Orlando, and ventured out to Church Street to have lunch at Artisan’s Table. This restaurant was recommended by the hotel, and we loved it so much we ended up going there twice. Delicious food!
I didn’t realize the USA v Mexico soccer match would be starting at 10:00 PM in Orlando … stupid East Coast time LOL!! We ended up watching it back at the hotel since I wasn’t sure I could stay awake for the whole thing. Also, we had a big day planned for Friday.
The next day (Friday) was our Disney Day. Woo hoo! Remember, this was our first time at any Disney Park, and neither of us knew what to expect. Prior to our trip we had done some research and consulted with some Disney fanatics to decide which park to go to, and decided upon Epcot. I’m not going to lie – I had some sticker shock!
We took a Lyft from our hotel to Epcot and arrived at the park around 10:00 AM. The first ride we encountered had a line of around 20 minutes – and at the time I thought that was too long. Newsflash – that would be the shortest line we saw our entire time at Epcot for any of the rides. Most of the lines were 90 minutes. I’m not much of a ride person anyway, which I guess is a good thing. The only ride I regret not going on was Soar. We found out later that the bartender at The Aloft Hotel was the project manager for this ride, and it sounds fantastic.
One thing adults can do at Epcot is drink and eat “around the world”. There are food and drink pavilions, as well as sit-down restaurants, at each country highlighted in the World Showcase. Pretty neat!
After several hours of eating, drinking, and wandering, I was getting tired (like a little kid) and hot, a little buzzed, and wanted to go home. I originally wanted to try and stay and see the fireworks, which I have heard is fantastic, but there was no way I could stick around until 9:00 PM!
We took a Lyft to The Wellborn to have a drink and a snack before heading back to the hotel. This place was awesome! It is located on Lake Lucerne, and is an eclectic combination of a large courtyard with patio tables and an older home that is now set up with bars and seating areas. Needless to say we loved it here – it was the perfect way to end our Disney Day!
We did a little more exploring in Downtown Orlando on Saturday. Garth Brooks was playing at one of the nearby stadiums, so the city was full of cowboys. There was a pre-party set up on Church Street that got pretty crowded, so we opted to take a walk around Lake Eola. We have become the “typical retired person” and are now obsessed with birds LOL! We saw lots of birds you don’t normally see in the Midwest!
Dinner Saturday night was at a Soco – so delicious!
Sunday was Match Day! We were so excited! The stadium was within walking distance of our hotel, which worked out great. The American Outlaws Orland Chapter was meeting up at a local brewery close to the stadium, so we decided to go check that out. It turned out to be really small, with the line for beers snaking out the building. Remember how I don’t like to wait in lines? So, we ended up walking back to the stadium and found a small sub shop where we could get a bite and a beer.
There was a tailgate party next to the stadium sponsored by U.S. Soccer. It was pretty cool, family-friendly, but my only complaint – no bathroom facilities! There were two port-a-potties outside of the tailgate area, and it looked like they were there for the construction crew working on a nearby project. Oh well – poor planning!
The stadium itself is really cool – not a bad seat! Our seats were in the second deck, but we had a perfect view of the pitch.
The match itself was so much fun! Basically cheering, chanting, and drum beats the whole game! And the U.S. was scoring like crazy – the end result was 5-1. What a game!
We left Orlando to travel back to the Midwest the next day. Our message to U.S. Soccer:
We love you, we love you, we love you,
Where you go we’ll follow, we’ll follow, we’ll follow,
Cos we support the US,
The US, the US,
And that’s the way we like it,
We like it,
We like it
And our message to adults going to Epcot – start later in the day (like 5:00 PM) so you can see the fireworks 🙂