Exploring Epcot at Walt Disney World Orlando with Kids
While Epcot is not a theme park that is filled full of thrill rides, it still has a lot to offer for those travelling with younger kids. We travelled with our two boys aged 9 & 11 and with a bit of pre-planning, made our day at Epcot into a fun-filled adventure.
Planning your day needs to start 30 days (or 60 days if you are staying at a Disney Resort) before your visit date. This is when you can make your fast pass selections. If you are not familiar with the fast pass system, it basically means you can pre-book three rides at certain times where you skip the queues. It is best to book the fast passes for as early in the day as possible as once your three selections are exhausted, there are fast pass kiosks at the park where you can get extra fast passes for later in the day.
Epcot works on a fast pass tier system, which means you have groups A & B and you can only make one choice from group A and two choices from group B for your first selections.
- Frozen Ever After – all young princesses will love this Frozen journey through the Kingdom of Arendelle, but fast passes go quick for this popular ride and can be hard to get.
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – Epcot’s spectacular nightly fireworks show.
- Soarin’ – this is definitely another favourite of ours where you get to virtual hang glide around famous landmarks from different parts of the world. This is what we used our initial fast pass for.
- Test Track – this was our boys favourite attraction at Epcot. On this ride you hop aboard a six-seat vehicle and take it through a series of efficiency tests ending with a high-speed blast around the Test Track facility building. Afterwards you can walk around a showroom featuring the latest Chevrolet cars. We didn’t use fast passes for this ride as there is a single rider option which has virtually no queues. As we weren’t fussed if we didn’t sit together, this was a better option for us and we saved our fast passes for other attractions.
- Living with the Land – this is a slow-paced indoor boat ride through Disney’s agriculture farms and laboratories which lasts about 15 minutes. This is interesting if you love gardening but our boys got bored by it pretty quickly so we don’t recommend using a fast pass for this one. Plus there were no queues when we were there anyway.
- Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival – popular Disney & Pixar short films shown in 4D, this attraction was actually really good and worth going to but you don’t really need to use a fast pass as there were no queues.
- Journey into Imagination with Figment – travel through Dr. Channing’s sensory labs with Figment the purple dragon to test your five senses and imagination on this carriage ride. Afterwards the kids can enjoy ImageWorks, an interactive play area. There are also some pretty cool jumping water fountains outside the Imagination building, a fun way for the kids to cool off in the Orlando heat!
- Spaceship Earth – located inside Epcot’s landmark 18 storey silver sphere, this attraction showcases the development of communication technology from caveman paintings to television to computers. This is a good educational slow-paced ride which goes for about 15 minutes. As you exit the ride you walk through Project Tomorrow which is an interactive game and activities area. This attraction can get quite long queues, so a fast pass is a good idea here.
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends – younger kids will love this attraction where you board a “clam-mobile” on a journey under the sea to find Nemo. When you hop off the ride you are located in a pavilion which houses an impressive size aquarium and don’t miss Turtle Talk with Crush (see below). This attraction can also have long queues so try for a fast pass here.
- Turtle Talk with Crush – the kids absolutely loved this Q & A session with Crush the Turtle from Finding Nemo. A few of Nemo’s friends from the movie also make guest appearances here. This was a really entertaining attraction, there were plenty of laughs for the whole family. There weren’t any queues when we went so wouldn’t recommend using a fast pass.
- Epcot Character Spot – meet your favourite Disney pals at this character sport located at Future World.
- Mission: SPACE Green – this is the less intense of the two space simulation rides that take you on a space journey to Mars. This one doesn’t get as busy as the more intense Orange ride so fast passes for this one may not be needed.
- Mission: SPACE Orange – this is definitely not for those who experience motion sickness but awesome for those that like to experience the G-Forces of a spaceship launch. Would recommend a fast pass as this gets quite busy.
If you have ever wanted to eat and drink your way around the world, this is the place for you. World Showcase at Epcot consists of 11 pavilions attributed to different countries located around a large lagoon, so be prepared for a bit of walking. While a lot of the focus of the pavilions is to showcase the food and culture of that particular country, there are still quite a few attractions for the kids to enjoy.
Some things the kids will love about the countries featured in pavilions at Epcot’s World Showcase are;
- Mexico – kids can take the Gran Fiesta Tour which is a slow boat ride starring the Three Caballeros. You can also see special appearances by Donald Duck at select times.
- Norway – as well as the Frozen Ever After ride the children can also meet Anna and Elsa in the Royal Sommerhus.
- China – there is a 14 minute film called Reflections of China shown here which highlights the natural beauty of China, but it may not hold the attention of younger kids for that long. They will however enjoy the amazing performance by the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats.
- Germany – our boys really enjoyed this pavilion which included a Garden Railway Miniature Train and Der Teddybar where you can shop for teddy bears, toys and gifts. Snow White also has a meet and greet in Germany at select times.
- Italy – the only real attraction for kids here is Sergio the juggler and mime who performs at certain times throughout the day.
- United States – The American Adventure is a 30 minute show which explores key moments in the history of the United States.
- Japan – experience the amazing performance of the Matsuriza who will captivate the whole family with their Taiko drumming abilities.
- Morocco – kids can have fun meetings with Princess Jasmine, Aladdin and Genie.
- France – Serveur Amusant is a French acrobatic act that will have the kids enthralled but they only perform on select days. Another attraction is the Impressions de France film which runs for 18 minutes, so younger children may not sit through it. They should however enjoy a meet and greet with Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
- Canada – O Canada! is a 14 minute film which showcases the beautiful country of Canada and screens continuously throughout the day.
- United Kingdom – inside a quaint English garden, kids can work their way through Tiggers Maze. There are also scheduled appearances by Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland.
Special Events at Epcot
Epcot plays host to different special events throughout the year. We were lucky enough to visit during the International Food & Wine Festival which is a celebration of food and drink from all around the world. During the festival you will find a lot more food and drink stalls from all different parts of the world, as well as more roving entertainment. In 2017 the festival will run from August 31st until November 13th.
Another popular attraction at Epcot is the International Flower & Garden Festival which in 2017 will run from March 1st until May 29th.
While Epcot was probably the least favourite of all the Disney Parks for the kids, we still had a really fun day out here. There is more than enough to keep the kids busy for a full day if you want to explore the whole park. However if it’s only the rides that you are interested in at Epcot, then make sure you have a park hopper pass as you won’t need a full day here – you can just catch the mono-rail and finish your day off at another park.