A Guide to Epcot with Kids
Yes, You Should You Take Your Kids to Epcot!
Epcot isn't just for adults - you and your kids can have a great day at Epcot! There is an Epcot myth that is so widely accepted that you will even sometimes find it in Disney World related guidebooks - this official sounding legend states "that kids will be bored by Epcot" and that "parents of small children should skip this theme park altogether." We at Build A Better Mouse Trip want to expose this crazy anti-Epcot conspiracy once and for all!
Epcot is a great place for the whole family - including preschoolers! It is true that Epcot is different than the Magic Kingdom but that's not a bad thing. There are very few thrill rides at Epcot that will exclude the younger members of the family. Instead, there are lots of interactive opportunities to engage the senses and hold the interest of almost every age group. You will also find your favorite characters (including character meals) at Epcot and those little touches of Disney whimsy that delight young and old alike.
Look at the smile on the face of Kaylynn, the incredibly cute little girl in the photo to the left. She and her dad had a great day together in Epcot and your family will too. If you don't have Kaylynn's amazing sense of style, you might want to If you keep reading to find out about all the great things Epcot has to offer your family, you'll see more pictures of Kaylynn having a great time in the China and Morocco pavilions at Epcot.
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Epcot Kidcot Stations - Fun and Free Epcot Activity Specifically for Kids!
There are Kidcot stations throughout Epcot, in both FutureWorld and the World Showcase. Your kids can decorate a card stock Duffy the Bear (free) at which ever station they stop at first. Then they can add a decoration at each additional station throughout Epcot. The World Showcase Kidcot stations can be especially fun because there will often be a Cast Member (Disney employee) from the country represented by the pavilion – giving kids the chance to meet someone from another country. My kids asked the Cast Member in the Japan and China Pavilions to write their (the child’s) name on the back of the bear – it was neat to see it written in a way that is so very different from our English alphabet.
Epcot Character Spot & Other Disney Character Experiences
Did you know that your little one can meet lots of Disney characters at Epcot?
If you’re going to Epcot with kids, you’ll be glad to know that you can find classic Disney Characters – like Goofy and Donald Duck – at the Epcot Character Spot, near Innoventions West, in Future World. The characters are in front of very cute backgrounds, making it a great spot to get photos. You can utilize Disney’s Photopass service or use your own camera. This is a very popular spot and lines can get very long – they post the expected waiting time near the entrance.
Remember that there are lots of characters who appear at the World Showcase Pavilions so don’t feel like you have to stand in a long line with your toddler to see – though this is the spot to find classic Disney characters like Donald Duck.
Epcot has two character meals:
1) Princess Storybook Dining (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion.
2.) Chip & Dale’s Harvest Feast (Dinner Only) at The Garden Grill in the Land Pavilion.
Epcot's Future World for Little Kids
Epcot's Spaceship Earth - Kids Enjoy this Gentle Ride
Epcot’s iconic focal point is a big, silver geodesic sphere called Spaceship Earth. Inside the 18-story sphere is a gentle, slow moving ride that travels past scenes depicting the development of human communication – from cave paintings to writing to telephones to satellite communications. Honestly, the history lesson is lost on most youngsters but they do seem to enjoy the visual elements of this ride. My daughter loved this ride when she was six. At the end of the ride, you can customize a short animated video and email it to yourself.
TIP: This ride is the first thing you see when you come through the gates and, as a result, is often crazy-busy for the first few hours of the morning. Ride this in the afternoon and you’ll enjoy much shorter lines. Click here to find out how to get free Disney theme park touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.
The Land Pavilion at Epcot - Soarin', Living with the Land, and the Circle of Life
Epcot’s Land Pavilion has three attractions and two restaurants – all of which are appropriate for families with small children.
Soarin’ is Epcot’s most popular attraction but should be considered a “headliner”, rather than a “thrill ride” because it is gentle enough for almost everyone tall enough to ride this hang-glider flight simulator ride. Don’t worry, you’ll sit upright and have a seat belt as you are raised to experience the sights – and smells – projected on a large IMAX screen. Parents and child can sit side-by-side. The seats do raise and the sensation for flying does bother some people who are sensitive to heights but the ride is very popular with all age groups – from preschoolers to senior citizens. TIP: If you don't already have a FASTPASS+ reservation for this attraction, head to the FASTPASS+ kiosk to secure one as soon as the park opens. This ride is so popular that, during busy seasons, all FASTPASS+ reservations are often filled by noon or early afternoon. You must be at least 40-inches tall to ride Soarin’.
Living with the Land is an indoor boat ride past examples of farming and agriculture, both past and present. Gardeners love this ride while others think it sounds suspiciously too educational for vacation purposes. Don’t feel like you have to see it but don’t rule it out either – the sight of a Mickey Mouse shaped pumpkin or the experience of boating through a greenhouse might be better than expected in holding your child’s interest. The ride lasts about 15 minutes.
The Circle of Life is a 20-minute film starring Timon & Pumba (The Lion King) about environmental responsibility. It is okay – not amazing, but okay. Go ahead and see it if you have time or need a break in an air-conditioned space.
The Garden Grill is a rotating restaurant offering the Chip & Dale’s Harvest Feast Character Dinner inside the Land Pavilion. Beginning November 8, 2015, this location will also offer a daily character breakfast and lunch. Advance reservations are recommended – call 407-WDW-DINE. You can check for last minute reservations at Epcot’s Guest Services desk but do so early in the day.
Sunshine Seasons is a quick-service restaurant in the Land Pavilion – no reservations accepted. This is one of the best quick-service restaurants in all of Disney World, with a nice variety of food selections and free refills on beverages. TIP: This location gets VERY busy – have lunch early (around 11:15AM) to avoid long lines at the counters and for ease in finding a table.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends & Turtle Talk with Crush
The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion should be on every family’s Epcot “must see” list. Here’s what you’ll find:
1.) The Finding Nemo “clamobile” ride takes you into the main part of the pavilion. It is an easy ride that is appropriate for all ages.
2.) An impressive indoor aquarium featuring a huge saltwater aquarium, oceanography exhibits, and real marine life. There are often two rescued manatees on display – especially interesting during feeding time.
3) Turtle Talk with Crush – An interactive animated film featuring Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo) who tells jokes and answers questions from audience members. Entertaining and education, this tends to be very popular with kids.
4.) Coral Reef – A table-service restaurant with one entire wall looking into the huge saltwater aquarium. The food is generally good but is on the expensive side, especially if you’re not on a dining plan. Coral Reef serves lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s entrance is on the outside of the Seas pavilion. Advance reservations recommended (call 407-WDW-DINE) or check by the restaurant podium early in the day for last minute openings.
The Imagination Pavilion -
Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion has three attractions:
1) Journey Into Imagination is a traditional “dark ride” where you ride past different scenes about the four senses…and imagination…in a brightly colored car. There is no height restriction for this ride so it can be enjoyed by the whole family. Adults probably won’t be too impressed by this attraction but little kids love it!
2.) ImageWorks Lab – this interactive area is found at the exit of Journey Into Imagination. There are several stations that let you explore sights and sounds. You can also email a fun, free e-postcard to yourself or to someone else from this area.
3.) Captain EO 3-D movie. This older Disney 3-D movie attraction starring Michael Jackson was brought out again after the singer’s death. Michael Jackson plays the spaceship captain of a rag-tag bunch of space creatures who conquer evil with song, dance, and 1980′s hair. There is no height or age restriction for this show but some small children might find the movie a bit frightening.
Epcot's Test Track - A good starter for little kids who want to try big kid rides.
Test Track falls somewhere between a “headliner” and a “thrill ride”. The whole attraction is very well done and part of the ride includes a few banked laps in a car going about 60 miles an hour. Each car holds up to six riders, with two rows of three seats. My own children all experienced this attraction as soon as they were tall enough and did just fine when told what to expect and when seated next to a parent. It is a great ride and is very popular. If you want to ride, do so as soon as the park opens.
Epcot's Mission Space - height requirement: 44"
Mission Space is a wonderfully executed space simulation ride that showcases the some best work of the Disney Imagineers. There are two experiences and the one labeled “less intense” is still exciting but probably too intense for most children under age 6, or even a bit older. If some of the family wants to ride, get a “Rider Switch Pass” at the ride entrance and let one parent evaluate the ride to determine whether or not it is appropriate for your child. Even if your little one isn’t going to ride, you can still enjoy the interactive activities at the end of the attraction, including a climbing play area for little ones called “Space Base”. If you’re in the line, a cast member can direct you to this area from inside the attraction; if not, you can access this area by entering through the Mission Space gift shop at the ride exit.
The Universe of Energy - Ellen's Energy Adventure
Dinosaurs, air-conditioning, and a good spot for a quick nap!
Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a 40-minute attraction that stars Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The attraction combines filmed portions and a slow moving ride through a scene with dinosaurs. It isn’t scary and the air conditioning alone makes this ride worthwhile on a hot, humid day. My daughter would fall asleep as soon as we sat down on this ride – she was at least 10 before she managed to stay awake for the whole thing. This is a great attraction to enjoy in the afternoon, when your preschooler is ready to slow down a bit.
Innoventions features World’s Fair type interactive exhibits sponsored by various corporations, with a big emphasis on Technology. There are several exhibits geared towards younger kids. While interesting, these are not the best of the best that Epcot has to offer and we recommend saving this area until after you’ve enjoyed a lot of the other exhibits in the park, especially if you intend to exit the park for a mid-day break.
Colortopia, presented by Glidden, features a short film that talks about the psychology of color. There are some fun activities for kids at the Color Lab which has computerized stations where you can blend red, greed, and blue to create new colors and a Spinning Spectrums activity with spinning disks where you can try to guess the actual colors. The most fun activity may be "Color Our Wold" where you use magic paintbrushes to create beautiful digital scenes.
Jammitors at Epcot
The Jammitors are a garbage can percussion group at Epcot. Epcot has some really great live entertainment – the JAMMitors are a “Stomp” like percussion group that perform in Future World.
Epcot's World Showcase for Little Ones
Epcot's Mexico Pavilion - Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros!
The Mexico Pavilion is a beautifully designed pavilion with a Kidcot station, a place to send a free e-postcard, some restaurants, and a boat ride called “The Gran Fiesta Tour, Starring the Three Caballeros” that is a little like a Taco Bell version of “it’s a small world”. Honestly, the ride isn’t Disney’s best work – not by a long shot – but your kids may still enjoy it.
San Angel Inn is a table-service restaurant inside the pyramid and is kind of special. The pyramid’s interior looks like a Mexican village and overlooks the boats from the “Gran Fiesta Tour” ride. It is a lovely setting that families enjoy. The pavilion's Kidcot station is inside the pyramid in the first entryway.
Donald Duck appears here intermittently throughout the afternoon – check your Epcot Times Guide for exact times during your visit.
Epcot's Norway Pavilion - Maelstrom and Princess Storybook Dining
Epcot’s Norway Pavilion is going through a major renovation that won't be done until early 2016. When complete, the pavilion will have a Frozen (Disney movie) themed attraction. As a result, the “Maelstrom” Viking boat ride has closed.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is home to a character meal featuring Disney Princesses and there are generally at least four princesses in the dining room at all times. Disney does not announce which princesses will be present at any particular time but Cinderella does not usually appear at this Princess meal because she has two other character meals to preside over. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Advance reservations are highly recommended. Because of the location of this restaurant, I recommend lunch or dinner instead of breakfast.
Epcot's The China Pavilion - Jeweled Dragon Acrobats, Circle-Vision Movie, and Mulan
Epcot’s China Pavilion is a beautiful pavilion. It’s also home to a visually stunning Circle-Vision movie depicting scenes throughout China – it is gorgeous but might not hold the attention of small children. You do stand through the movie and parents seem to end up holding toddlers at some point.
The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats appear here and are very popular with children.
As for Disney characters, Mulan does appear here intermittently through the day.
Epcot's Germany Pavilion - Snow White & a Model Train
The Germany Pavilion doesn’t have any rides or movies but you can meet Snow White here at various times during the afternoon.
The pavilion also has a model train that children enjoy watching.
The Biergarten Restaurant features a German band that gets surprisingly high marks with small children0.
Epcot's Italy Pavilion - Sergio the juggler
The Italy Pavilion doesn’t have any rides or movies but it is home to Sergio – a fun juggler who involves the crowd in his performance. This is an act kids really seem to enjoy.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is a popular restaurant in the pavilion.
The American Adventure
The American Adventure is a 30-minute show highlighting some of the most important people and points in America's history. It features animatronics and multimedia elements and is led by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The subject matter may not hold the attention of the littlest members of your family but, with 1024 seats, it is a perfect spot to get off your feet and out of the heat or rain.
Trivia: It took 5 years to complete this attraction. There are 110,000 Georgian red clay bricks in the building and the pavilion encompasses 108,555. While some attractions at Disney World use visual tricks to make them appear larger, this pavilion does just the opposite and is designed to look smaller than actual size so that it doesn't dwarf the other nearby pavilions.
The Matsuriza Taiko Drummers in the Japan pavilion perform 15-minutes shows that capture the attention of many kids several days a week. Check your Epcot Times Guide for exact times during your visit.
There is also a pond of Koi fish in this pavilion that seem to delight children.
This has always been one of my children's favorite pavilions in the World Showcase. They had fun wandering through the passageways and seemed to stay a little longer at the Kidcot station there than at other pavilions. Another great thing about this pavilion is the fun character interactions with Aladdin, Genie and Princess Jasmine. When my kids were a little older, they enjoyed trying the food and seeing the belly dancer in the Restaurant Marrakesh.
Serveur Amusant is a neat balancing act that performs several days a week in the France Pavilion. This act ends earlier than a lot of the live entertainment in the World Showcase so check your Epcot Times Guide to be sure you see them.
Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle and the Beast appear for photos and autographs at intermittent intervals throughout the day - check your Epcot Times Guide and try to arrive at least 5-minutes prior to the scheduled appearance time so that you are sure to see them.
The Impressions de France movie is lovely but may not hold the attention of many children but it is a great spot for a rest or to get out of the heat/rain.
United Kingdom Pavilion
Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and characters from Winnie the Pooh greet children throughout the day in the United Kingdom pavilion. Check your Epcot Times Guide for exact times during your visit and try to arrive at least 5 minutes prior to the scheduled appearance time to be sure you'll be able to get a photo with and autograph from your favorite characters.
There is a small hedge maze in this pavilion that is too short for adults but there always seem to be gleeful children running through it.
British Revolution is a fun musical group that performs British rock-n-roll from the 60s - 80s.
The Canada Pavilion is lovely but doesn't really have anything geared to young children. You can see a Circle-Vision movie called O, Canada! and enjoy the beautiful flowers.
Special Events at Epcot
Christmas is a wonderful and special time at Epcot. Each of the World Showcase pavilions will have special holiday storytellers that do a delightful job of presenting a holiday tradition from that country. Another wonderful Epcot Holiday tradition is the Candlelight Processional where a celebrity narrator and huge choir present the Nativity story through readings and song three times nightly.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is presented every spring and is included in park admission. This is a gardener's dream but kids also enjoy special activities and exhibits designed just for them, including character topiaries and a butterfly pavilion.
Check our list of Special Events and Ride Closures for important information about Epcot during your visit.
Kid-friendly Epcot Tips
TIP: Originally the park name was an acronym: EPCOT = Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Others have suggested that a more accurate acronym would be: Every Person Comes Out Tired. The truth is that Epcot is huge – it is about twice the size of the Magic Kingdom and you can easily walk 8 - 12 miles over the course of a full day in the park. Consider renting a stroller for toddlers and children who generally no longer use one – even six or seven year old kids will find this a lot of territory to cover and will appreciate the ride.
Epcot takes a little advance planning so that you see the entertainment that you want to see - some starts earlier in the day, others a little later in the afternoon – France's entertainment usually ends earliest in the day (around 4:30PM) . You'll received a "Times Guide" when you get to the park but you can get an idea of the schedule in advance by clicking on the "Epcot" tab at http://www.wdwent.com/
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