keys to the kingdom : epcot

Pssst: Be sure to check out all of our updated tips, here.

Hello you wonderful readers! Today, we’re continuing our Keys to the Kingdom Series.

It’s time for our next installment in our Keys to the Kingdom Series, here at The Handmade Home.

If you missed our introduction, or would like to read all about the deats of  where to stay, food for thought, or fast pass/rider swap 101, or an overview of the magic kingdom,feel free to click on over and read all about it. This series is three moms’ takes on their vacationing experiences with Walt Disney World, and while we realize that novel upon novel upon novel could be written on this subject matter, our series is meant to serve as a nice, basic overview introduction for those of us who may be first timers, and wish to familiarize themselves with the basics… all while balancing the whole young family gig. So feel free to poke around, and check it out!

Cristin is back to dazzle us all with her knowledge…With a few rogue rando thoughts in italics per me…So take it away, oh master of park highlights…

Epcot.

Well, I’m not exactly sure where to begin. I guess it’s safe to say that sometimes,Epcot gets a bad rap. People tend to refer to it as the “grown-up” park. Sure, there are many interesting things for grown-ups to see and do while at Epcot, but there are also some super cool rides (some being my most favorites in all of Disney World) as well as some not-so-well-known, kid-friendly attractions. Whew – that was a lot of dashes :}

Epcot is broken down in to 2 sections: Future World and World Showcase.

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Future world focuses on things like the technology, the environment, and even things such as space.

The World Showcase is literally that – mini replicas of countries around the world. One cool thing to know about the World Showcase is you can only work in a country if you are literally from that country. So expect tons of unique accents, different cultures, and some of the best food Disney world has to offer!

Also, in order to keep the kids excited about touring each country, there are several stations called Kidkot : Fun Stops set up throughout the World Showcase where kids can do different types of crafts for free!

There are even 2 entrances to this park. Since we stay at the Boardwalk Inn, we have the opportunity to either walk over to the back entrance, or ride a short boat ride across the way. The back entrance takes you right into the midst of World Showcase while the front entrance will lead you to Future World. So, let’s start at the front of the park in Future World, shall we? And just as I did with the Magic Kingdom post, I’ll break it down attraction by attraction.

___________________

Here’s a little symbols key for this:

* means don’t miss it!

< means grab a fast pass for this attraction.

Occasional Italics: Ashley’s two cents with three small kids.

Future World :

• Innoventions : the two Innoventions centers are kind of like large science/discovery centers that have hands on displays. Each display is focused on some type of technological or scientific invention. If it’s raining or hot, this is a place to get some quick shelter while looking around. You can walk through each one fairly quickly if you aren’t interested once inside. Side note: if you have an older kid (maybe age 6 and up), look for the Kim Possible recruitment centers. A cast member will explain what your mission is, but this is a fun activity to help kids get excited about going through the World Showcase.

• Honey I Shrunk the Audience : this 3D attraction has recently been replaced with Captain EO starring Michael Jackson. I’ve heard it’s only going to be there for a limited time, and it is the same attraction that existed at Disneyland back in the late 80’s early 90’s.

• Imagination : Ever heard of Figment the cute purple dinosaur? You can find him at this attraction. There are a couple of spots where the lights go out and there are some pretty loud noises, but the kids in my family always enjoy this ride. It’s cute and overall kid friendly, and the cool attractions at the end of the ride are definitely worth the ride itself! Check them out!

• Spaceship Earth : Actually located inside the large “golf ball,” it’s the icon for Epcot. It’s a slow moving ride that tells the history of communication. Sound boring? It’s actually pretty cool! The kids in our family have always enjoyed this one and it is a great place for shelter when needed. –Our kids loved this one.

• Universe of Energy : Ok I have to admit it’s been YEARS since I have been on this attraction. So I guess that says something. This is a skip on our list each year due to how stinking long it is. It is a 45 minute show/ride all about energy. It’s only saving grace is that Ellen Degeneres hosts the entire ride making it bearable.

• *< Soarin : I don’t know if I should begin by saying just how much I LOVE this ride, or if I should start off by stressing how unbelievably long the wait time can be. First things first- as soon as you enter the park, GET A FAST PASS FOR THIS RIDE. If you don’t, chances are the fast passes will be completely distributed by early afternoon and you will be stuck waiting at least an hour to ride. And believe me, you don’t want to miss this one. By far the best ride in Epcot.

• Circle of Life : unless your kid is a huge Lion King fan, skip it. It’s a 20 minute film about the environment, where they incorporate Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa.

• Living with the Land Boat Ride- I don’t know why, but there is something rather relaxing about this ride. Maybe it’s because my family usually eats in the food court, located directly beside this attraction, so I’m usually riding on a full stomach? Anyway, this boat ride takes you through different types of “lands” such as a tropical rain forest or an African desert. It’s a slow easy-going ride, but yet again the kids in our family always seem entertained enough.

• * The Seas with Nemo and Friends : Don’t miss this precious, more than kid friendly ride based on the movie Finding Nemo. Even waiting to ride is cool and entertaining. And don’t miss the neat attractions at the end of the ride. Especially Turtle Talk with Crush! He literally interacts with the audience members- too cool!!

• Mission: Space : Only attempt this ride if you are not prone to motion sickness. We had a group of 7 people ride this ride, and not a one of us came out without feeling sick for the rest of the day. It simulates being on an actual space shuttle by spinning around at crazy fasts speeds…hence the motion sickness. For us, this one is now a major skip.

• * < Test Track : This is a really fun ride to do with kids who can handle going fast. Waiting in line here is somewhat entertaining, but this is the other attraction in Epcot with crazy long waits, so don’t forget a fast pass to this one either. Experience what it is like to be a “test car” and go through a series of tests such as brake controls, weather adaptation, and of course, speed.

World Showcase:

• Mexico : This is my personal favorite country to visit due to how cool the inside of the pyramid is! It looks just like a little marketplace right out of Mexico. If you’re craving Mexican food (either quick service or sit down), this is the place for you. There is a short very kid-friendly boat ride telling some of the history of Mexico inside the pavilion, so don’t miss it!

• Norway : Mealstrom is the name of the ride located inside this country, and it is kind of a fun one. If your kid doesn’t scare too easily and enjoys a little bit of a thrill, try this one out! But don’t let the trolls get you! –Our kids loved this one, but they tended to not scare easy. Always ask a cast member before jumping on a ride with little ones. 

Don’t forget about the princess storybook dining located in the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. A must do for little girls with princesses on the brain.

• China : If you’re looking for Mulan, you might find her here. Also look for acrobats performing in front of this country throughout the day. There is also a film on the history/culture of China. We skip it.

• Germany : walking around this little country is quite charming. Look for the model trains. If you’re in to German food, this would be the place for you.

• Italy : It has a good restaurant with good Italian food. That’s about all I have to say about that :}

• United States : there is a 30 minute show here called the American Adventure. I always enjoy watching and remembering some of the history of our country, but if you have young ones they might not appreciate it as much. However, our youngest found this attraction to be perfect for her afternoon nap since it is in an air-conditioned theater!

• Japan : If you like Hello Kitty, you can find some merchandise here. The food is also really yummy here and served hibachi grill style.

• Morocco : If you’re strolling by, walk inside this country to find the marketplace/bazaar. Other than that, I don’t have much to say about this attraction.

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• France : there is a yummy and popular restaurant here but don’t overlook the tasty French bakery as well! There are also acrobats that perform here periodically. If you’re lucky, you may spot Belle or her Beast while strolling around this country of love! There is also a quick film here about the history of France if you’re in to that.

• United Kingdom : this little area truly does look like it is straight from a street in London! You can also smell the Fish and Chips coming from a nearby Pub. Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins sometimes show their cute faces here. Look for different types of entertainers performing in the Gazebo.

• Canada : this country houses my favorite restaurant in all of Epcot – Le Cellier. But don’t forget, you must book your reservation out months in advance to confirm your spot here. And trust me, it’s totally worth it! There is a film here as well about the history of Canada.

• Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure : in order to participate in this adventure, get your instructions at the recruitment center located inside Innoventions. This is a fun, interactive way to get your kids excited about going through the World Showcase…. And saving the world from the bad guys :)

That was wonderful, Cristin! Once again, a big fat thank you for her expert input! Epcot does get a bad rap, but I think its not one to be missed. If anything, it’s great for a slower paced kind of day, and chocked full of inspiring learning experiences for the entire family. For more on Epcot, be sure to check out our Food for Thought post. What are your fave spots in the park? Any recommendations? We’d love to hear! Happy weekend, everyone!


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6 Responses to keys to the kingdom : epcot

  1. HannahJo says:

    Japan also features an AMAZING candy artist who creates the most beautiful candy sculptures on a stick and gives them to lucky audience members! you can find her booth in the square beside the front door of the Japanese market center. While you wait, they also feature incredible Japanese drum music in the same pavilion at certain times.

  2. Love me some Epcot! We were there earlier this year w/ both our kids (10 & 4) and they each had a great time. The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is one of the most imaginative experiences ever…so much fun! And don’t forget the Taiko drummers in Japan…..Ahhh_mazing!

  3. Cristin Malone says:

    Great tips HannahJo and Stephanie! Thanks!!

  4. Trista says:

    I think finding the Kidcot: Fun Stops is key to enjoying Epcot with your kids. This is what made my sister and I enjoy it.

  5. Cathie says:

    For an extra charge (currently $18 for ages 10 & up / $14 for ages 9 & under) you can take the Behind The Seeds tour of the Living with the Land exhibit. It takes an hour but it was fun. You get to go through the greenhouses that you see while on the ride and they talk about the innovations Disney is making in those fields. I took my then 5 yr old and though he didn’t understand most of the technical stuff he had a great time seeing behind the scenes, waving to the people on the boat ride, releasing ladybugs into the Disney gardens, feeding the giant tanks of tilapia that you see while you’re on the boat, and seeing all sorts of things growing that he had never seen before (like peppercorns growing on the plant). It was educational and a fun and a little bit of a break. Older kids might like it even more. He enjoyed Epcot a lot!

  6. Carrie Baxter says:

    Epcot is my favorite and also my children. They have grown up going to Disney at least 4 times a year. At 18 and 15, we learned a lot of valuable tips. For those who want a souvenir in any/all parks, take a roll of pennies and two rolls of quarters with you. Purchase the penny smashing book. The penny smashing machines are in every park (cost .51 each time) and almost every gift shop (which Disney has in excess). When our kids were little, we let them smash 5 a day and once they got their own money – as many as they wanted. It was a fairly inexpensive Disney momento and they still have them. Our other tip is to carry extra t-shirts for EVERY family member and flip flops in case your tennis shoes get wet. That way if you want to jump in a puddle in the rain (which I always do!) you can.