Are you worried Epcot is only geared towards adults? Don’t be! Epcot is off-and-on my children’s favorite park. In fact, I think this park is probably the BEST place to see characters. They’ve got all sorts! This park is huge though so make sure you have your walking shoes on. They do sell Crocs here and believe me, nothing is so kind to your feet on all that asphalt as Crocs. Of course, if they don’t fit right – like any shoe – you’ll get a blister. Go to first aid and get a Band-Aid. I know there are some people out there who want their young child to walk the parks. I have to ask, why??!! All Disney parks are huge, especially Epcot. It is not unusual to see a child of 8 in a stroller at Disney. They have small legs – and it hurts after a couple of days to do all that walking. If you are in the Florida sun, and your child weighs 40 pounds, and you’ve got to carry him/her because their little legs can’t go one more step – you need a stroller! Renting one from Disney can get pretty expensive quickly. If you are one who drove from home, pack in the stroller or if there is no room, go to one of the local Walmarts or Targets (yes, there is shopping outside of Disney) to purchase a quick umbrella stroller for under $20. If you don’t have a double stroller but you need one – get two umbrellas and then get some stroller connectors. They are around $10 off Amazon. They clip on the bars of ANY stroller and connect it to another. Very handy! There’s also something called a ‘Buggy Board’ you can get off of ebay (and other shops) that attaches to your stroller that makes a spot for another small child to stand so as you push the stroller, they can save their feet.
PARKING: Follow the signs towards Magic Kingdom and Epcot to get to Epcot (or Epcot Center as I still call it). These were the original ‘two’ parks – so they are connected by a monorail to get other. If you have driven to the park and need to find handicapped spots, follow the blue line painted on the asphalt (you do this at all parks). If you bought your tickets at a AAA office or a ticket package from AAA, you should have a ‘AAA Parking Pass’. In this case, when you arrive at a park – ask the Kid of the Kingdom (the person working the parking lot money box) where AAA parking is. In most cases, you’ll be following a green line, painted alongside the blue line. This will allow for parking right up front where you can walk into the park and bypass the tram (and the lines for the tram). If you have a stroller – your stroller must be folded before they let you off and on trams. It just seems easier to walk so take advantage of AAA parking if you can.
ARRIVAL: Upon arrival, head towards the ‘big golf ball’. You’ll need to go through security here. Make sure to pack lightly and not to pack anything not allowed into the parks (knives, guns, etc.). If you qualify – to through the ‘no bags’ line, which in most cases is not a line because everyone brings bags to the parks! It is easy to send your family through the ‘no bags’ line and then wait with all of the party’s bags so not everyone is crowded into that security check point. All bags – even children’s – must be checked. It is for your safety. Once through security, you’ll see where tickets can be purchased. There is also a restroom and guest relations. After purchasing tickets, or if you have tickets already, proceed to the next point – the turnstiles to enter you to the park.
ENTRANCE: After entering the park, you are inside the gates of Epcot. People will be all around you stopping to take pictures of ‘the golf ball’, ‘the big ball’, Spaceship Earth. This is a ride. If it is in the morning, there will likely be a line. Bypass this until the afternoon. There will be no line later in the day. Past this, is a ‘tip board’ a tip board is set up in the front of every park to show the wait times for the various attractions.
FUTURE WORLD: Future World has some of the best rides at Disney. In front of the tip board and to the right, there is the Character Corner where you can meet all of the Disney characters in the comfort of being inside a building. Great way to capture memories. Also a delicious ice cream shop is here – along with bathrooms.
The Land: The absolute best – bar none – is called Soarin’. This ride is good for most every age although it does have a height restriction. Check the wait time. If it is 20 minutes or less – ride it. Otherwise, proceed to the ‘LAND’ pavilion and go down to the lower level (to the left at the entrance) and get fast passes. Don’t leave the park without riding this ride. It is a must-do!
Test Track: Another favorite is Test Track. Check the wait time for that as well. Test Track is the opposite direction from Soarin and nearby to Mission to Mars.
Mission to Mars: The easy version of Mission to Mars is pretty neat – and about all I can take. The regular version takes you on a simulated ride to the moon. The easy version does this without having your spacecraft move. The other has a LOT of movement. If you want to skip it all together while another member of your party rides, they have a great area to the left of the ride entrance. Go through the store and take a left. This is a child’s dream. Tunnels like a gerbil runs through – video games – a spot to send messages/via emails home. This wait area is one of the best.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure: Also on this side of the park is Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Hmm. Well. It takes a long time – probably 45 minutes – and if you like fossil fuels or if it is particularly hot/cold/wet outside, this is a good bet to make you feel better. The preshow has Ellen Degeneras thinking she’s on Jeopardy! The good part comes after that when you get to ride in huge slow moving vehicles (much like those found at that Great Movie Ride at MGM/Hollywood Studios). You’ll travel back in time and see a ton of dinosaurs. If you have anyone in your group that likes dinos, this is a great ride for them. No thrills. But fun animatronic animals.
Back on the other side of the park, there are three pavilions – the Living Seas, the Land, and Journey Into Imagination. So if you took a right at the tip board, those are your options. If you took a left, you have Test Track, Mission to Mars, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
The Living Seas: houses a giant aquarium, Turtle Talk with Crush, and the Nemo ride. Take the slow moving ride into the pavilion and visit with characters from Nemo. Nice ride particularly for children. The kids like to see the manatees and sharks – and all sorts of other marine life housed here. Turtle Talk with Crush is a show where the children sit on the floor and Crush from Nemo actually talks to them. Very cute!
The Land: houses the popular Soarin’ and Living with the Land – a slow moving boat ride through some farming areas they house in the pavilion. There is a huge food court here as well. The Circle of Life movie is here – as well as a sit down restaurant with characters. What is Soarin’? It is a flight simulator ride that won’t make you sick. I know because most make me sick! Even with fast passes, when you hand in your ticket – you’ll have a 20 minute wait. There’s a preshow telling you where to store your gear, and then you board. It looks like rows of seats. You sit and they are then lifted off the ground and in front of a huge movie screen. The way that the movie was filmed, it makes the rider feel like they are hang gliding over California. There’s an orange grove with the real smell of oranges, and mist from the ocean. It’s a great ride.
Imagination: Past the Land, is Journey into Imagination. This ride has a little purple dinosaur flying around. I love this slow moving ride – with its starts and stops to learn more about your senses. This ride ends in a fun play area for kids. Also here, a 3D movie. Until they change what they are showing – I won’t mention it. Now, leaving here and keeping to the right, you’ll enter World Showcase in the Canada pavilion area. If you are on the other side of the park, leaving from Test Track’s area – you will keep to the left to enter World Showcase in the Mexican Pavilion area.
WORLD SHOWCASE: The World Showcase is a circle around a lake. All of the different countries have pavilions. It stretches from Mexico to Canada or Canada to Mexico depending on where you entered the World Showcase. Looking at it from the lake, with the ‘big golf ball’ behind you – if you go left you will first enter Mexico and if you go right, you will first enter Canada. We’ll start our journey in Mexico. Everyone who works in the World Showcase area is from that particular country on a work visa. Sometimes, they’ve just gotten here and their English is sketchy. It makes it all the more fun to order at the French restaurants.
Mexico: this looks like a pyramid. Inside is a village of sorts with shops and a restaurant. The little ride is Donald Duck’s Three Callaberos. It used to be called the River De Tiempo. The change is the added Disney characters.
China: this has a ‘circle vision’ theater attraction to learn about China. It is entertaining. Mulan is here as a character. There is usually some form of a show going on. There’s a couple of restaurants and lots of shopping.
Norway: In Norway, there is a ride like Its a Small World with a hill – and some trolls. Take the ride – and where it ends in the little town – walk through the movie seating area – or stop and watch it if the weather demands. You’ll learn about Norway if you stay. This exits into a shop (they all do) and your choice of troll and some great perfume Laila can be found here. Besides the ride, there is the restaurant! This is where you can dine with princesses (very popular). They also have a great walk up (counter service) with Kringles (almond covered pretzel with icing!).
Italy: Great shows here as well as food. Shopping, too.
Germany: Lots of shops, food, and shops! Disney characters like Snow White are found here. Pretzels are huge here. As is a new (couple years old) caramel apple shop!
Africa: This isn’t really a pavilion. There’s some shops and counter service food. Kids play on the drums set up.
Japan: OH…now THIS is a really good restaurant. They also have a great shop full of the Japanese video game merchandise like Nintendo’s Mario and Pokemon characters on shirts, backpacks, and everything else you can think of. They have a pavilion to learn more about Japan.
America: This has the Great American Adventure show…really patriotic. Very nice. Also a good spot to cool down (or warm up depending on the weather) as the show is about 25 minutes long. Counter service food – and a shop. Mickey and Minnie in 1800s garb.
Morocco: Characters from Aladdin are scattered here. Usually a group called MoRockin is playing with a belly dancer nearby. There’s food and shops to go through.
France: Beauty and the Beast are here. As is Marie from Aristocats and Sleeping Beauty. Three restaurants, a learning pavilion, and a bakery. Delicious!
United Kingdom: Over the bridge from France, you enter the UK. Although most call it ‘England’. Alice in Wonderland characters, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and friends. Just think of all the characters to see here! They have some great shows, shops, and food. The Rose and Crown is very authentic and Harry Ramsden has a fish and chips (chippy, or takeaway) here.
Canada: One of the most popular restaurants, Le Cellier, is located here. There’s a great circle vision movie here as well. Lots of shopping. Quick service dining, as well.