Epcot Really is a Park for Children
If you listen to some people they'll have you thinking that Epcot is designed exclusively for senior citizens. It's too bad it still has this stigma as Epcot can be just as much fun for for the little kids as it is for the "inner child."
First and foremost, rent or bring a stroller even if your little guy has outgrown it awhile ago. Unless your family has been training for the Boston Marathon, this is one big park and it's very easy to get tired out.
Epcot is the only Disney theme park with the "Kidcot" program. All of the World Showcase countries have "Kidcot stations". The kids are provided with a picture of Duffy Bear to color and at each station they can get a stamp to decorate it. Yes, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. "FREE" is a word rarely heard in Disney World.
An added bonus at the World Showcase, Kidcot stations is the chance for the kids to get their autograph book or Epcot Passport stamped. They'll learn how to say "Hello" in a different language. Kids love the idea of "collecting" the stamps and in the process will be taught some new skills.
Probably the best thing for kids is the ongoing redesign of the Living Seas. Previously (unless you're raising a future Marine Biologist) this attraction quickly became a yawner for the little ones. Not anymore. With the new focus on "Finding Nemo" this is one attraction that kids love. The best part is "Turtle Talk With Crush" but with popularity comes long lines. Try to get there first thing in the morning or be prepared to wait.
Another attraction designed for the little ones is the Imagination Pavilion. The Journey Into Imagination is a cute ride for all ages. Afterwards, there are all sorts of interactive stations for you to enjoy at the "Image Works - Kodak 'What If' Lab. (You don't have to go on the ride to access this area.) Then there are the fountains. They go up, they go over and they captivate the kids.
Imagination is also home to "Honey I Shrunk the Audience." This 3-D movie is great, but there are some scary elements to consider when viewing it with kids. If they (or you) don't like mice or snakes, skip this one.
"Living with the Land" is a boat ride. Don't let the Fast Pass option trick you into thinking this is an exciting attraction. While budding botanists familiar with hydroponics will love it, it's a bit on the B-O-R-I-N-G side. Still, simply being on a boat and seeing the fish and baby alligators in one section you go through may be just enough to hold their attention for one go round.
Thanks to the renewed popularity of Ellen DeGeneres, most kids will recognize her as the star of the Universe of Energy. It's a funny spoof of the Jeopardy Game Show that finds Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy going back to prehistoric times in search of the source of energy. Although this attraction is a bit on the long side, you can't beat the combo of dinosaurs and kids.
Test Track is great, but again, height requirement. If your kid is too short for this, you can still visit the "after ride" area where there are a couple of interactive displays as well as the latest GM model cars. Kids love hopping in and pretending to drive. (Dad usually enjoys this as well.)
Another attraction with height restrictions is Mission:SPACE. Kids love the action, but you may be reluctant to go on this ride if you've heard of its dubious history. After distributing countless motion sickness bags and sadly, after two real tragedies, you now have the option of choosing a less intense experience. There's also an interactive area that all ages can enjoy.
Spaceship Earth is one of the "grand daddies" of Epcot. A semi-snoozer, it probably has just enough elements to keep the kids interested at least for one go through.
One area that's often overlooked is Innoventions East and West. It's a shame since this is where the kids can work off some energy and learn while playing. There are tons of hands-on activities that they'll love to experience. Give it a chance, you'll be glad that you did.
Combine water with kids and you'll get soggy smiles. There are two fun fountains where kids can jump in and splash away. (Please don't toss them over the fence into the main fountain. That would be a bad thing.) Look for the fountain by the walkway towards Test Track and the other play fountain by the central walkway to the World Showcase. Warning, kids don't get wet, they get soaked. Be prepared with either a change of clothes or have them wear their bathing suit under their outfit that day.
I admit it, this is where the kids eyes roll back into their skulls and they get "that look." You know the one, you promised them Mickey Mouse and now they're looking at a bunch of boring buildings.
Be realistic, some of the World Showcase is over the kid's heads. When you were five years old, did you really care that the tiles in the Morocco Pavilion were handcrafted? (You probably still don't care.) This doesn't mean that the entire section is a wash, it just means that you have to plan more carefully unless you want whine to go with your wine.
As mentioned earlier, the Kidcot stations at each country are a godsend. Kids love making their own souvenirs, and with a bit of luck, you'll be able to browse some shops while they admire their handiwork.
Speaking of souvenirs, you've no doubt discovered that the Mouse and his many friends come in all sorts of shapes and forms and your kid will want each and every one of them. At the World Showcase, your wallet can get some welcome relief. It's surprising how inexpensive a lot of the merchandise is.
World Showcase offers Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. It is an adventure for the entire family. You are given missions to solve in many of the World Showcase countries. It's a great way to spend some time with your family and discover some hidden treasures in each country. Be prepared for some surprises along the way.
In Japan there's an extensive assortment of Hello Kitty and Anime items and some very reasonably priced and unique candies. (This is the perfect solution if your kids promised to bring back something for their friends.)
In Germany almost every flavor and shape of Gummy candy that's made is found here. Italy has Perugina chocolates in small packs. The United Kingdom pavilion also has wonderful candies. Canada has maple sugar treats. Again, inexpensive and something the kids will love.
Mexico is great for finding a reasonably priced toy. China has some little trinkets that don't cost much at all. You can find inexpensive handcrafted Christmas ornaments in Norway. Let the kids pick one out and you'll bring back great memories when you give it a special spot on your tree. There's a HUGE carved wooden Troll in Norway that's a perfect picture op.
Now onto some action. At the Mexico and Norway Pavilions there are boat rides. The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros rarely has much of a wait and is just short enough and colorful enough to keep the kids interested.
Look for the Koi fish in the ponds at Japan. With any luck, a candy making demonstration will take place!
Facing Germany, head to the right and look for the model trains. These are great and the kids will get a kick out of watching them run.
Over in Morocco you'll usually find Aladdin, Jasmine and/or the Genie doing Meet & Greets. If they're not out front, go through the open market shops opposite the Marrakesh Restaurant. They're often there with no wait at all for a picture and an autograph.
Speaking of the Disney Characters, many of the most beloved names are derived from Fairy Tales that originated in the World Showcase countries. For instance, you may find Snow White in Germany, Beauty and the Beast in France and Pinocchio in Italy. There's also a double decker bus with many of the Disney characters (including Mickey & Minnie) that makes appearances. At Epcot's Guest Relations they'll be able to provide you with the day's schedule.
Some of the best snacking can be found in the World Showcase. In Japan the shaved ice is always a hit, Germany has wonderful soft pretzels, Mexico has churros, funnel cakes are found at a kiosk in front of the America Pavilion, and both France and Norway have bakeries with some of the yummiest treats the whole family will enjoy.
Don't forget the character meals. The Princess Storybook Dining in Norway and the Chip and Dale Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill are very popular with the kids. (Be sure to make a reservation as early as possible for these venues.)
There are some real snoozers in the World Showcase as far as the tot set is concerned. The movies in France, China and Canada are simply not going to hold their interest. Ditto for the American Adventure. While it's an amazing animatronic show, the subject matter is going to find most youngsters squirming in their seats.
Throughout the day most of the countries schedule entertainment. Some of it has kid appeal, some of it does not. Off Kilter may be a lively, fun band to you, while it's just a bunch of guys in skirts to your kid. Gauge your child's reaction to see if it's worth sticking around to watch the shows.
At night, IllumiNations is spectacular but there are a few things to keep in mind. You are very close to the fireworks and I've seen more than a few kids lose it during the loud booms. It can be scary (and painful) for little ears. The other problem you might encounter is getting a decent view. The best spots are up front around the lagoon, but if the park is crowded, scoring a good view can be a challenge.
There you have it. Epcot with kids can be magical or it can be your worst nightmare. The good news is, even if you don't get to see all of the "adult" venues, by creating a great experience for your kids they'll be happy to go back to Epcot again and again. Don't be surprised if it ends up being your family's favorite destination.
- Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza coming to Disney Springs - At this fast casual artisanal pizza restaurant, you can build your own pizzas. The restaurant is planned to open in May 2016.
- How to Add a Subtle Touch of Disney to your Work Space or Home - There are ways to have subtle reminders of Disney parks or movies throughout your home or work space that will give you the nostalgic feeling to get you through the day.
- Forever Remembered at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex - A new exhibit recently opened at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to honor the fallen astronauts and pays tribute to the orbiters Challenger and Columbia.
- Changes to Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party begin today - The new Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party will offer an assortment of desserts, as well as fruits and cheeses. New beverages options will be available. A sparkling cider toast will take place as the fireworks begin.
- Typhoon Lagoon hosts After-hours Neighborhood Beach Bash for DVC members - Classic beach party tunes from Teen Beach Movie and Teen Beach 2 will keep the party going while families enjoy the park's attractions, plus hula-hoop spinning, limbo contests, snacks and beverages.
- Two new Food & Wine Festival marketplaces coming to Future World - The Sustainable Chew Marketplace will feature three dishes from the chefs on ABC's The Chew. The Chew Lab will be a marketplace inspired by food-science labs and food tech trends.
- ABC's "The Chew" to tape live from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - ABC show "The Chew" will be taping live from the Festival on October 7, 8 and 9!
- Disney Family Culinary Adventure teaches chefs' cooking techniques - Spend an evening with Disney chefs working together to learn new cooking techniques and then enjoying the five-course dinner that you helped to prepare.
- Disney to stream 4th of July fireworks live from the Magic Kingdom - The fireworks show will be streamed live on the Disney Parks Blog beginning at 8:50pm EST.
- Tips for touring Walt Disney World at its worst (crowds), so you can be at your best - Although Walt Disney World commercials can make you believe that crowds, lines, and not-so-magical people are non-existent, they are a reality of touring during "peak seasons."
- Hoop Dee Doo 8:00 show is cancelled on July 4th - The 4:00 and 6:15pm show will still be held.
- Walking in Waltís Footsteps: Marceline Edition Part 1 - It is often said that Walt drew upon his time in Marceline for the inspiration for Disneylandís Main Street, U.S.A. We visited Marceline late on a Saturday afternoon.
- Updated menu for Gardens Kiosk at Animal Kingdom - A new menu is available now that Flame Tree Barbecue Restaurant has reopened.
- Flame Tree Barbecue Restaurant reopens with a few menu changes - A Jamaican Jerk Salad and a Watermelon Salad have been added to the menu. Jalepeno cornbread replaces coleslaw as a side.
- Disney Visa cardholders can save 35% at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows - Disney Visa cardholders can save 35% on Deluxe Studio-Standard View rooms when staying most nights 7/5/15-10/3/15.
- When you are shaped more like Buzz or Woody than Snow White - For people like myself, of size, visiting a theme park comes with some concerns.
- Confirmed: The Magic of Disney Animation will close July 12 - A Disney spokeswoman said, "Work is underway on a new experience, and we look forward to sharing more information in the future."
- Walt Disney World merchandise events for July 2015 - List of artist appearances and signings around the Walt Disney World Resort.
- D-Zone relaxation area to be added to Innoventions West - Guests will be able to find food carts, seating and charging stations here.
- Captain EO to return to Epcot July 19 - It has been on hiatus for a few months for sneak previews of Tomorrowland and Inside Out.
- Animal Kingdom Updates - Two new shops have opened since my last update and I highly recommend you check them out.
- Flame Tree BBQ restaurant rehab extended through June 29 - The restaurant should reopen July 1.
- 2016 Disney Dining Plan pricing - Price list for the Quick-Service, Regular and Deluxe Dining Plans.
- Classic Shows Breathe New Life Thanks to FastPass+ - OK, Iím a nostalgic kind of person. For me, what keeps me coming back are the classic attractions and shows.
- List of 2016 Disney Dining Plan participating restaurants - More restaurants are generally added toward the end of the year as contracts with non-Disney owned and operated restaurants are finalized.
- What Souvenirs Are Worth The Money At A Disney Park? - In my opinion souvenirs are crucial in bringing the Disney memories home with you, but how many of them end up in the back of your closet?
- Walking in Walt's Footsteps: Kansas City Edition - We decided to visit a couple of landmarks important to the history of the Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney himself.
- Animal Kingdom to test opening the Oasis area 30 minutes early - This will only take place on mornings that do not have Extra Magic Hours.
- Hot Cheese Sauce removed from Disney World counter service restaurants - It may be available behind the counter if guests request it, but there's no indication if this is a permanent possibility or if that supply will go away too.
- Registration details for Tables in Wonderland's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview - The event will be held Sunday, July 12, 2015 from 12:00-2:00pm.
- Walt Disney World plans 4th of July festivities - There are special fireworks planned for Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
- Living with the Land will be closed for a week in September - The Epcot ride will be closed for refurbishment 9/8/2015 - 9/17/2015.
- Annual passholder and DVC discounts added to World Showcase DestiNations Discovered tour - Annual passholders will receive a 10% discount and DVC members will receive a 15% discount.
- Candlelight Processional dates and dining package prices - This year's event will be held November 27 - December 30, 2015. Narrators will be announced at a later date.
- Splash Mountain added to evening Extra Magic Hours
- Coronado Springs fitness center and Casitas pool to be closed for 3 months - Fitness Center and Casitas Leisure Pool closed 7/5/2015 - 10/12/2015. The main pool and other leisure pools will be open during this time. There will be a temporary fitness center in the Casitas area.
- 2016 Walt Disney World packages released - Information for 2016 packages has been released and these are now available for booking.
- Great Movie Ride offers new photo op - Guests can take part in a new photo op outside the Chinese Theater, allowing them to walk the red carpet and put their hands in "cement" just like the stars.
- Disney resort pools hosting Disney Jr. Pool Parties - Music and activities will be themed around Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Miles from Tomorrowland and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Pool staff will lead young guests in games like "Sofia Says", sing-a-longs and dance parties.
- Be Prepared! EPCOTís Plan for the Massive Influx of Children Will Be... Nothing? - My EPCOT Center has been gone for awhile...and although Iíve slowly been dealing with what I see as a neglected, bare-boned version (now with even less attractions), new problems are popping up from a lack of vision for this parkís future.
- Animal Kingdom Starbucks donates portion of sales for animal conservation - For every Starbucks Flat White Latte sold, a portion of the sale price will benefit conservation programs to save the cotton-top tamarin in Colombia. The drink's look represents the cotton-top tamarin's white fur on top of their heads.
- Watch faces soon available for MagicBands - This summer, two watch faces will be introducted for MagicBands - a Minnie analog face and a black digital face.
- Discounted two round golf pass available - Play two rounds of golf, any day, any time, any course for a discounted rate.
- Starbucks opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom - This is located in the old Creature Comforts location.
- A Tale of Two Disney Birthdays - Is it alright to wear a birthday button if it is not actually your birthday?
- 2016 Aulani vacation packages now available for booking - Packages are available for booking for dates 1/1/16 and beyond, but cannot be booked more than 499 days in advance.
- Experiencing the Disney theme parks while pregnant - Being pregnant at Disney can make it a different vacation, but still very fun.
- Zuri's Sweets Shop opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom - The treats will all be inspired by Africa and many will be unique to this location.
- Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! begins today at Hollywood Studios - The world of Frozen is taking over Hollywood Studios this summer! Spend the day enjoying the interactive experiences!
- Walt Disney World package offers available for families - A "Kid-sized package" and a "Magic Together" package are both available. Valid for stays select nights 8/15/15 - 10/3/15.
- Summer room only offer for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders - Valid for stays most nights 6/16/15 - 8/27/15.
- Tips for planning your 2016 Walt Disney World vacation - Walt Disney World will be releasing the pricing and availability for 2016 rooms and packages on June 22, 2015.
- Rustlin' up some grub at Disney's Trail's End Restaurant - Recently we tried Trail's End Restaurant at Disney's Fort Wilderness campground, and were not disappointed.
- Summer room offer for Florida residents - Valid for stays most nights 6/6/15 - 8/13/15.
- Review: Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Star Wars Weekends - This dinner is held at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant and is a dinner buffet featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Chip and Dale all dressed as Star Wars characters.
- Zuri's Sweets Shop coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom - This will be located in Harambe Market and will feature 80 new items such as decorative candy apples, flavored chocolate bars and popcorn.
- Walt Disney World adds more allergy-friendly menus - Allergy-friendly menus will be available at Magic Kingdom, the Deluxe hotels and Trail's End Restaurant later this month.
- A World of Lights: Aulani Edition - A showcase of uniquely themed light features at Aulani.
- 2016 Walt Disney World packages open for booking June 22! - Request a quote today to be added to our waitlist!
- Tony's Town Square Restaurant doing away with separate lunch and dinner times - Beginning July 3, the restaurant will be open straight through from 11:00am - 9:30pm.
- Taking a Disney Babymoon: 10 Ways to Make it Extra Special - Here are 10 tips I can offer to make your Disney babymoon a memorable experience.
- Tips for saving money on a Disney vacation - Disney fans are always on the lookout for deals and ways to save money in order to make another trip back to the magic.
- Norway Pavilion's Frozen attraction rumored to be opening May 1, 2016 - This attraction will be replacing the Maelstrom.
- Pizzafari will no longer serve breakfast - Breakfast at this Animal Kingdom restaurant will end June 17, as the park's new Starbucks will serve breakfast beginning June 18.
- Pirates of the Caribbean rehab begins - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed from June 8-September 25.
- Starbucks to open at Animal Kingdom June 18 - This will open on Discovery Island in the former Creature Comforts location.
- "Frozen Fever" short to be shown at Disney's Hollywood Studios - The new animated short, Frozen Fever, will be shown in the ABC Sound Studio from June 17-September 7.
- PhotoPass to be available at Disney water parks - PhotoPass photographers will be stationed at the water parks through Labor Day.
- Kids golf free in the afternoons at Aulani - Kids under 17 can golf free after 3:00pm at the Ko Olina Golf Club when accompanied by a paying adult.
- Blog - Disney Parks Take Top Six Spots In America Last Year
- Tables in Wonderland hosts Jiko Wine Dinner - This event will be held at Animal Kingdom Lodge on Thursday, June 11.
- Bus Roulette at Walt Disney World - The rules are simple, you jump on the first bus that comes.
- Mickey's Backyard BBQ now open 4 days per week - New food items have been added to the menu as well.
- 5 Surprisingly Romantic Spots in a Disney Park - There are actually many overlooked areas in the parks that are surprisingly romantic.
- New details for the 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival - New premium events and a kids' scavenger hunt have been added for this year.
- June merchandise events for Walt Disney World - List of merchandise events and artist appearances/signings around the Walt Disney World Resort.
- Disney Dining Guide: San Angel Inn Restaurante - A look at one of the first options you come to when entering the World Showcase from the Mexican side.
- VIDEO: NEW Brunch at Chef Mickey's Overview - The menu expands from the regular breakfast offerings and includes: soup, salads (caesar, seafood, broccoli, antipasto, chicken and caprese), hot dishes (BBQ ribs, seafood etouffee, baked salmon). Mickey waffles, ice cream and bakery treats are also on the menu.
- Thinking About the Relative Cost of Disney... - How does the price of a day at Disney compare to the price of other forms of recreation?
- TCM updates have been added to The Great Movie Ride - After months of anticipation, the TCM changes to The Great Movie Ride are now in place and bring new life to one of the most dated attractions at Walt Disney World.
- Changes to Disney's Rapid Fill Mugs in Walt Disney World - Do you purchase a rapid fill mug for your resort stay or do you purchase single-serving cups or bottles?
- 5 Life Lessons I Learned From Visiting Walt Disney World
- Tusker House: Character Dining At Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Eat to the Beat Concert Series schedule released - The 2015 schedule for Epcot's Eat to the Beat Concert Series has been released and includes new artists Tiffany, Everclear and Chaka Khan.
- Can you take the heat? Going to Disney World in the summer - Itís no surprise that Florida is hot and humid. But, what do you do when you really want to go to Disney World and the only available time is the summer?
- Tables in Wonderland presents Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sneak Preview - Sample foods and beverages from this year's Festival.
- Best Places To Take Mid-Day Breaks Within Disney's Hollywood Studios - Try taking a break from the action within the parks without hiking all the way back to the resort.
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Residence Inn Maingate
- New stage show for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - Disney has a announced a new "Hocus Pocus" themed villains show for this year's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
- Star Wars, Star What ?!? - Why a non Star Wars fan should attend Star Wars weekends
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Knott's Berry Farm
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Sheraton Park
- New Epcot tour- World Showcase DestiNations Discovered - This 5-hour walking tour will take guests backstage at the World Showcase.
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - California Adventure
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Grand Californian
- Blog - I Can Go the Distance...Now That I've Processed My Race Deferral
- Harambe Market opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom - This new quick-service location is located behind the Mombasa Marketplace.
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Hilton Anaheim
- Hoypoloi closing at Downtown Disney 5/25/15 - It will be replaced by United World Soccer in July.
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Howard Johnson Anaheim
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Downtown Anaheim
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Disneyland Hotel
- 7in7+ Disneyland Edition - Disneyland Park
- 'Paint the Night' Full Nighttime Electrical Parade - 'Paint the Night' is the brand new nighttime electrical parade at Disneyland for the 60th Anniversary Celebration. 'Paint the Night' originated in Hong Kong Disneyland and proved popular enough to replicate for Disneyland Park, with just a few improvements like the Main Street Electrical Parade drum float leading off the parade and a brand new Frozen float with Anna, Elsa and Olaf!
- VIDEO: 'World of Color - Celebrate' Full Show with Outros - World of Color - Celebrate tells the story and legacy of Walt Disney as narrated by Neil Patrick Harris and the one and only Mickey Mouse. The story starts with Walt creating Mickey Mouse and showing his evolution before moving into Walt's progression into feature length animation. The story wraps with Disneyland and remembering that it was all started by a mouse.
- VIDEO: The Force Awakens and Star Tours in 'World of Color - Celebrate' - In the brand new World of Color - Celebrate, Star Wars - The Force Awakens and Star Tours make an appearance in the show highlighting the great things to come from Walt Disney's life as hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse.
- Life Through the Disney Lens
- New additions announced for Disney Springs - There are several retail stores and dining venues on the list.
- Blog - Review: "Tomorrowland" perfectly channels Walt Disney's philosophy and spirit
- Blog - Top 5 ways to be a good guest at Walt Disney World - Do's and Don'ts
- Blog - Star Wars Weekend Merchandise Hits the Shelves
- SeaWorld lays off Clyde & Seamore mimes, among others
- Man sentenced to 5 years for Disney ticket scam
- Club 33 members upset about more changes to benefits
- Iger says future Star Wars attractions to be based on new films
- SeaWorld's CEO steps down
- Man sues SeaWorld for automatically renewing his annual pass
- Retirement date set for Disney's Meg Crofton
- Woman sues Disney, claiming disability after falling from carousel horse
- Hotel leadership changes at Walt Disney World
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer released