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Walt Disney World's Epcot offers kids a variety of fun activities

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Recently, a parent at my children's elementary school told me she would never take her kids to Epcot because there just isn't anything for them to do at that Walt Disney World theme park.

Huh? As an annual passholder who takes her young children to Epcot on a regular basis, I was really surprised to hear another local resident express this viewpoint. Sure, first-time visitors sometimes are under the impression that Epcot is designed with adults in mind. There's often the misconception among new visitors that the park can be a collection of educational exhibits grouped by nations around the world or tech sponsors at the front of the park. But surely locals know better, right?

Well, for those who don't and who might harbor the same misconception, let me offer a few ideas for some of the family friendly activities that can fill your day at the park.

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** Thrill-ride attractions. For those who love a thrill, there are several rides every bit as heart-pounding as Space Mountain or Expedition Everest: Test Track, Soarin' and Mission: SPACE. Be sure to book a FastPass for these rides because the stand-by lines can get really long.

** Fun but not-so-fast rides. These are perfect for younger kids or those who prefer tamer experiences. Spaceship Earth offers guests an easy time-travel ride inside the iconic geodesic sphere; The Land ride takes guests through a futuristic greenhouse; Gran Fiesta Tour is a gentle boat ride in the Mexico pavilion; and Maelstrom in Norway is another boat ride with a single, small drop.

** Movies. Many of the pavilions at various nations play shows in theaters. OK, so they are educational. But they are quite interesting in showing other parts of the world, and several are even presented in breathtaking surround-screen formats. Canada and China take guests on tours with short 360-degree movies. Other pavilions, such as France and Norway, have more traditional theaters.

** Scavenger hunts. During the last few years, Disney World has added several self-guided quests in its parks. Epcot features Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, which is a great way to explore the nations at your own pace.

** Create a free souvenir. Younger kids may enjoy the Kidcot Spots, which allow them to color a mask in the shape of Perry the Platypus or Duffy the Disney Bear. Each country has a table for the coloring activity, and cast members will stamp the handle, so guests will have a collection of stamps, as well. Some also will write the child's name in the country's native language. My kids, like so many others, always want to stop at the Kidcot Spots, even though they've participated in this activity repeatedly.

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** Character meet-and-greets. Epcot features some unique opportunities, the most recent of which is Anna and Elsa from "Frozen." The royal sisters still are drawing hours-long lines in Norway, and this is the only place to have a photo taken with the pair and get their autographs. Anna and Elsa are scheduled to remain at Epcot through the end of January, so now is the time to plan your visit.

** Food! Even picky eaters may enjoy the opportunity to sample snacks from different countries that they might not ordinarily be exposed to. This is especially true during Epcot's two large festivals -- Flower and Garden in the spring and Food and Wine in the fall -- which feature kiosks of appetizer-size portions. As my kids have gotten older and have started exploring different flavors beyond burgers and chicken nuggets, they look forward to our family days of sharing different dishes at Epcot.

** Fireworks. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth takes place around World Showcase Lagoon and is a spectacular laser light and fireworks show set to dramatic music. What a way to close out your day!

These are just some of the fun things you and your family might enjoy at Epcot. At various times throughout the year, the park also hosts different concerts and seasonal events that you won't find in the other parks.

And, yes, Epcot lives up to its premise as a so-called Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow that offers plenty of educational opportunities for young and old alike. Practically every attraction inside the park is a learning experience. But most every tech demonstration or national-heritage lesson is accompanied by a fun activity or attraction, as well.

So, for those who have not been to Epcot, rest assured that the first and foremost lesson you might learn is that the park is no different than Magic Kingdom when it comes to the amount of fun you can have there.



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Comments (24)

Deb Horvath:

Epcot happens to be my son's ages 9 and 7 favorite park. They enjoy all of the experiences you mention. Since we usually only get to visit once a year and only for about 5 or 6 days at a time the park they always choose to visit twice is Epcot.

The educational attractions are some of the ones they enjoy the most. The Great Piggy Bank Adventure is a must sometimes twice on every trip. We still find new things they enjoy in both Innoventions East and West. Of course, they always want to do every Agent P mission. On our last trip they even really enjoyed the movies in China and in America. We ran out of time to see France's and Canada's so they will be a must on our next trip. Our 9-year-old insisted on making every Kidcot station. Even though we visited this park twice, there still is so much that they enjoy that we couldn't do it all.

So, I hope the mom at your kid's school gives Epcot a second look. When a mom from our kids' school was planning a trip where they would only spend a couple days at the parks and asked our boys what was their favorite, they quickly responded "Epcot!"

Disneyhobbiest:

My 3-year-old son loved Epcot. His favorite was the fountains where the water "jumps." We stayed there a long time. He also liked The Seas and the interactive spot at the end of the Spaceship Earth ride. He liked the boat ride in Mexico better than "it's a small world."

Vicki:

My girls are 4- and 5-years-old and we spend just as much time at Epcot as we do at Magic Kingdom for all those reasons. Since I am local and frequent the parks, I probably have enough Duffy sticks to wall paper a room, but the girls love going to the countries. Especially the 360 movies in China and Canada, they spin until they are dizzy and since the theaters are designed for it, I don't stop them. Their absolutely favorite part of Epcot is the live entertainers in World Showcase, the juggling mime Sergio in the Italy and The Voices of Liberty in the USA pavilion are family favorites!

Lou:

Nothing to do at Epcot?

That's not just a misconception, It's a misconception that reveals a lot about that parent's character.

My kids range in age from 21 to 9, and Epcot has always been their favorite park. There's always something new to do and learn.

That's the rub isn't it? "Learn?" Maybe their kids either have fun, or learn something, but never both at the same time.

Kev:

Hi Kristin
Epcot does present a case for debate and your article definitely does a great job of pointing out the many positives for families with kids. We have a range of kids from 7 to 13 now, and Epcot has always been the 'quiet favorite.'

What does seem to happen, is that guests really do seem to slow down and enjoy the ambiance and spirit of this beautiful theme park. For me, and I mean this respectfully to Epcot, 'Less definitely does mean more!'

I often find that Epcot is the only place where kids and parents have great conversation, share thoughts and generally appreciate quality time together. Something that the other parks in Orlando seem to rushed to generate!

On the 'flip side', we have to admit, that something fun and new would go down a storm in this amazing park. Epcot has slowed a little in recent years and I'm sure Disney have something figured out!

I wonder what it could be?

Tori Davies:

I am always amazed when I hear people say that they have no interest in visiting Epcot, that Epcot would be boring or too educational. Besides Magic Kingdom, Epcot is our family's favorite park. Epcot contains many of our favorite rides, eating our way around the world is always an adventure, seeing the characters in their native countries creates some of the best photo opportunities, and we find it's the park that we have the easiest time slowing down and relaxing in.

Heidi:

Epcot has always been my daughter's favorite park, and she's now 11! We have been going since she was 5. I have to disagree that it's not for kids. Pick a Pearl, WS street shows, Club Cool, Nemo, thrill rides, etc...There is so much Epcot offers for all ages!

Chris Young:

I still am shocked and saddened when I hear this.Our first trip with our daughters (now nearly 12 and 15 1/2) was when our youngest was just 1 year old.To this day, Epcot remains their favorite or second-favorite park (just depending on the day you ask.) Though we haven't been back for several years now (a result of anything but choice), the youngest still requests IllumiNations in the car on the way to school at least once a week.

I do believe the best suggestion I can make to someone traveling to Disney with their children for the first time is to go to Epcot on the FIRST day. That way, they will appreciate it fully without the expectation of finding cartoon characters at every turn.

But what saddens me the most when I hear a parent say their kids won't like Epcot: I I think they're only projecting their own biases, not giving their kids credit for being able to find culture or entertainment interesting, or both. Of course they are right in saying they know their children better than anyone else, but from my standpoint, I just think its sad that these kids are missing out on the perfect opportunity to see that being inquisitive about the world can be fun.

charissa:

Epcot has always been a favourite of our daughter-even when she was 7. She loves the rides, characters, and shopping in WS. She always says the best meal she had was the mussels from Belgium during the food and wine festival.

Debbie Johnson:

My daughter is 9 years old and has been to EPCOT 3 years ago and has begged to go back which we are this March.

Jim:

You are absolutely correct my kids ages 9-13 both love Epcot. I hate to be that guy, but you got the theaters mixed up. Canada and China are 360, and Norway and France are more traditional-style with seating.

KRISTIN: Thanks, Jim. It's fixed now in the blog. :)

David Seymour:

My wife and I were not fans of Epcot during our first couple visits. I particularly was disappointed in World Showcase. However, during our last visit in Summer '13 we had a good deal of fun. My older son was 4 and could ride Test Track. There are lots of activities in Innoventions that are small hidden gems like Habit Heroes and "Where's the fire?" My older son also got to talk to Crush, which was fun. Agent P made World Showcase more fun. We would definitely go back there during our next visit for a day or maybe two.

Christopher S. Froba:

I took my 4-year-old to EPCOT & he loved it.

He went on Soarin' three times, Test Track, Mission Space, Nemo, TT w/Crush, i.e., every major attraction.

He loved having dinner in Germany at the Biergarten.

So, basically, EPCOT is a great place to take a kid.

Rhonda:

My daughter has always loved EPCOT. When she was much younger, we could barely get her pulled away from a guy carving animals out of wood in Morroco to go to our Test Track fastpass. She sat and watched him for over an hour. At 4, she was dancing away to Off Kilter, and they kept trying to get her to do different dance moves with them. Since then we make sure we see them every time, and she is 16 now. At the end of Figment Imagination, we love to get our photo taken flying around the castle or swimming with Nemo, etc. She also loves Ellen's Energy. She loves all the major rides also but there is so much more if you just look.

Gina Calla:

I have to agree with the other posters. My daughter is nearly 13, and ever since she was old enough to walk, EPCOT has been her favorite park.

One of her favorite rides continues to be Ellen's Energy Adventure at the Universe of Energy because of the dinosaurs. And now, as she gets older she LOVES Test Track, Soarin', and Mission Space. (Although Mom doesn't like the "spinny-spinny" of Mission Space!) :)

And we have done the Great Piggy Bank Adventure and the Find the Fire exhibit in Innoventions more times than I can remember.

Anastasia:

Also, there are numerous "video games" at a lot of the Epcot Future World rides. I brought my 6-year-old nephew to Epcot and I could not tear him away from all the games in the post-Spaceship Earth room. He especially loved the shuffleboard type game where you have to bring energy to different parts of a city.

KRISTIN: Thanks, Anastasia. We love the video games, too!

Mandi:

We too are annual passholders. Our 4-year-old son ONLY wants to visit EPCOT (or as he calls it...the big ball) every time we go! We actually have to beg him to let us go to the other parks once in awhile. I'm always so surprised when parents say these things about EPCOT.

gena yates:

My kids LOVE Epcot ....its my oldest's fav park . With that being said, we are not roller coaster riders and maybe that is what this lady was leaning towards when she said her children would be bored . Also, the 2 big festivals do seem to be more adult orriented and alot of people link Epcot to these festivals . My kids ( ages 8 and 14 ) can spend a day in Innoventions alone , they LOVE IT !!! A roller coaster would not fit into Epcots themeing ,but, like u mentioned there r some cool rides that do fit !! If your looking for one coaster after the other this isn't ur park !! But if u are looking for fun mixed with education with an interactive difference this is THE place to be .....its different and thats why we love it !!! I think soon they will add something new and thrilling to Epcot.......maybe in that one pavilion that used to have that motion ride of the inside of the body......what was that pavilion called ? I love ur blog , keep it up !!

Siggy:

Epcot happens to be the favorite park of my 4 kids, aged 3-12. The older ones love Test Track. They love designing there own cars and racing them after the ride. My 3 year old loves to hop from car to car in the waiting area. They love going into Innoventions and doing alll the activites. My 6 year old loves The Great Piggy Bank Adventure. We love The Land ride and "The Mexico" ride, There are so many things they love at Epcot that I can't list them all. My 12 year old especially likes sampling the foods from each country being a food adventurer of sorts. Maybe this parent should give her child the chance to make her own opinion. Sounds to me she is a bit close-minded.

Sandy:

EPCOT is engaging and educational, and my children love it. There is always more to explore in Future World, and more to discover The World Showcase.

Sadly, we can no longer ride both Test Track and Soarin' on the same day with the restrictions of the new Fast Pass system, and we will not wait in line for 60 minutes (or more). Hope Disney fixes the restrictions soon.

Richard Mercer:

In Epcot there are three "play areas" at the exits to attractions. In each case you can go in through the exit or gift shop to access these areas.
Spaceship Earth: In the exit area there are interactive games for school-age children and adults.
Journey Into Imagination: In the exit area are activities of interest to children of all ages, though the novelty may not last long.
Mission Space: In the exit area are interactive games for children/families on one side, and on the other side a play area for preschool children, including a "climb/crawl-through" maze.

KRISTIN: Thanks for the reminder. My kids love these areas as much as the attractions themselves!

Jeff:

I put people who say "there's nothing for kids" at EPCOT in the same group as those who say, "My kids aren't little anymore so we stopped going to the Magic Kingdom." These people are clearly doing it wrong.

I've loved EPCOT since it first opened, when I was a kid, and my daughter has loved it since she was two.

Every Disney Park has something for every age, but it does require a willingness to surrender to the magic and happiness.

Laura Fox:

Hi Kristin,
We agree with your comments on EPCOT. My sons are 8 and 10 and for years have enjoyed everything about this park. Our favorites in the past have been:

Watching the miniature train village in Germany.
Both 360 films in Canada and China. - You know they like it when they ask to go again in the same day.
The fountains outside Journey Into Imagination - spent an hour there trying to catch the water.
Test Track, Soarin, Mission Space (both sides).
Sitting in all the sample cars after test track and pretending to drive with all their friends in the backseat.
Innoventions - Sum of All Thrills - creating and riding their own roller coaster.
Staring at fish, taking pictures in a sharks mouth (Bruce) and talking to Crush at The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends.
Dessert at Kringla Bakery in Norway or the Boulangerie in France.
Lunch at Le Chefs de France where they get to meet Remy from Ratatouille - they love talking to the "little chef".
Strolling around World Showcase in the evening with their friends doing nothing but hanging out together. Never feels crowded.

I also would love to see Disney do something with the old Wonders of Life Pavillion that is closed. Used to love the old healthy sandwich place in there as well as Body Wars.

So many more things to love about EPCOT. If you haven't been in awhile you should give it another try.

Stacy:

I'll have to support the idea to take kids to EPCOT. My daughter and son (ages 8 and 5) LOVE EPCOT. Both think Living With The Land is captivating. I will be taking my daughter on the Behind the Seeds tour on our upcoming trip--at her request! Caroline loves the countries, the landscaping and the hands-on activities at Innoventions.
My son loves music. The Jammitors, Mariachi, and other live music performances get him going. His favorite thing? The Chevy cars on display at Test Track. Forget about riding the ride, the ability to climb in and out of new cars and no adult tells you to stop is heaven for him. We always give him at least 30 minutes to explore the vehicles.
The park is not so overwhelming with people, noises, etc. so both kids thrive there.
EPCOT is delightful.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 25, 2014 5:57 AM.

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