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.
- The Great Reveal Debate: When to tell the kids about your Disney vacation - Do you like to surprise your kids at the last minute or let them know well in advance of the trip? We’ve done both and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both.
- Dockside Margaritas opening at Downtown Disney April 23 - Waterfront margarita bar, themed like a Florida fruit stand from the 1960s and serving handcrafted margaritas and authentic Florida brews.
- Walt Disney World for Teens - Walt Disney World often has a reputation of being for young kids or families and not necessarily for teens.
- Disney Springs' "World Showcase of Flavors" - As new residents of Orlando we were excited to try the new food truck area at Disney Springs.
- A Few Obscure Things That Could Ruin Your Disney Vacation
- Spending the afternoon at a hidden gem: Tom Sawyer Island
- The Whole World and Beyond - In 27 Square Miles!
- Frozen Summer Fun Premium Packages now available - Cost is $69 adults, $39 children (ages 3-9).
- it's a small world closes for rehab - The attraction will reopen later this week.
- Be Our Guest breakfast can now be pre-ordered - Pre-ordering is available from 30 days to 5 minutes prior to the reservation time.
- Menu for The BOATHOUSE at Downtown Disney - This restaurants is located on the water in the Pleasure Island area of Downtown Disney.
- Walt Disney World's Jungle Cruise closes for refurb - This Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed through May 18.
- The BOATHOUSE opens today at Downtown Disney - This upscale, waterfront restaurant is one of the newest restaurants to join the Disney Springs area.
- 4 Reasons Why Disney Should Consider Bringing Back 3 Of The Original Hotel Concepts
- Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting Disneyland Paris
- Dooney & Bourke release at Downtown Disney - The Runway Princess collection and the Beach collection will be released on April 25 at Cherry Tree Lane at Marketplace Co-Op.
- Disney Myth buster: A Disney Vacation is Too Expensive - Let's break down the numbers and compare exactly how Disney stacks up against other common vacation destinations.
- This Dad's Disney "Duh" Moments - In order to help my fellow Disney fan dads, I decided to put together a short list in hopes that you will have fewer "duh" moments on your trip.
- Sleeper Pick, Best Resort for Tots: Bay Lake Tower - When choosing which resort in Walt Disney World to stay at with young children, many parents take into consideration how "kid-friendly" the resort appears to be.
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party tickets now on sale - The Party will be held select nights November 8-December 18, 2015.
- Night of Joy tickets now available - Night of Joy will be held this year on September 11-12.
- Tickets now on sale for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - The Party will be held on select nights September 15-November 1, 2015.
- What's in your Disney park bag?
- Premium packages and VIP tour details for Star Wars Weekends - The packages offer reserved viewing for several of the weekend's events.
- Main pool reopened at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - The pool has been closed for several months for a remodel.
- Main pool at Contemporary Resort to be closed in September - The pool will be closed for maintenance September 8-10, 2015.
- Convenient dining options near the Disney World parks - Sometimes on a Walt Disney World vacation, you find yourselves looking for dining options out of the parks, but still not too far away.
- Tables in Wonderland special dining events announced - Jiko wine dinners will be held April 18 and 19.
- List of Star Wars Weekends celebrities, including Ian McDiarmid and Frank Oz - New to this year's lineup are- Ian McDiarmid who played Senator/Emperor Palpatine and Frank Oz who played Yoda.
- Blog - Run, don’t walk to try one of these new sandwiches in Epcot!
- 5 Songs from Disney Films that are Works of Art - I feel these songs can stand on merit alone without the movies they are featured in.
- VIDEO: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort DVC Grand Opening Ceremony - The Bora Bora Bungalows and the Pago Pago Studio Villas at Disney's Polynesian Resort are now open and the newest members of the Disney Vacation Club family.
- Easter brunch to be held at Grand Floridian and Contemporary Resort - There will be three seatings at each.
- April merchandise events at Walt Disney World - List of merchandise events and artist appearances/signings around the Walt Disney World Resort.
- Happy 20th anniversary to Blizzard Beach! - Disney’s Blizzard Beach is a 66-acre themed water recreation attraction — inspired by the mythology of a snow ski resort that didn’t exactly find a suitable climate in Florida!
- Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are now open!
- Blog - Judge fools all, banning Frozen from theme parks and agreeing with "Frozen is my life story" author
- VIDEO: Bora Bora Bungalows and Pago Pago Studio Villa Tour at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - Take a tour of the brand new Bora Bora Bungalows and Pago Pago Studio Villas at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
- VIDEO: Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Overview - Take a look inside Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
- How young is too young? Bringing a baby to Walt Disney World
- Pricing released for Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic - 2015 will be the 6th year for this event that features wine and beer seminars, tasting stations and live music.
- Trader Sam's to be open from 4pm-midnight, with adults only after 8pm - Trader Sam's is currently in soft opening at the Polynesian and will officially open in late April.
- VIDEO: Skeleton Make-Up Tutorial For Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney World - A simple and easy way to make up you or your kids for the great Disney costumed events.
- Succumbing to the Charms of Hong Kong Disneyland - Not surprisingly, the park has many things in common with the other two "Magic Kingdom" style parks I have visited, and it also has many features that make it unique.
- VIDEO: Pirate Make-Up Tutorial For Disney Cruise Line and Walt Disney World - A simple and easy way to make up you or your kids for the great Disney costumed events.
- New figures available for Star Wars Weekends D-Tech Me experience - The experience is held in Darth's Mall and takes about 10 minutes.
- Parking lot shuttle being tested at Downtown Disney - There will be an overflow parking shuttle between the Hess and Team Disney parking lots and the parking garage on the West Side (first floor drop off area). Shuttle hours will be Sunday - Thursday 10:00 AM to Midnight, Friday and Saturday 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
- Trader Sam's Grog Grotto soft opening on March 28 - It will officially open in late April.
- "Tomorrowland" preview to be shown at Epcot's Imagination Pavilion theater - This is available April 3 - May 22, 2015.
- Blog - Be Our Guest Breakfast and Construction Update in Magic Kingdom
- Dining at Disney's table-service restaurants with your children
- Super hero-themed store to open in Downtown Disney - A "Super Hero Headquarters" store will open in early May in the location of the former United World Soccer Store.
- Effortlessly Cast Off 3 Common Park Stressors
- 3 Reasons Why Upgrading To A Moderate Resort Can Make All The Difference
- New additions to menu at Studio Catering Company - New sandwiches and a vegetable wrap are available.
- Space Mountain to be closed for 4 days in April - The Magic Kingdom attraction will be closed from April 20-23.
- First look: Photos of Disney's new Polynesian Villas & Bora Bora Bungalows
- Meet the Easter Bunny at the Magic Kingdom - This meet and greet will take place through April 5.
- "Kid-sized" package offer available for Walt Disney World - Available for stays select nights 6/16/15 - 8/27/15.
- 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