Epcot seems to be one of those parks that you either love or hate, personally I love it! It has been my favourite park ever since my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1992. I love that it feels so laid back and there seems to be a lot less rushing around compared to Magic Kingdom for example. Epcot is huge though and because it is so spread out I like to spend at least two days there.
I think Epcot captured my heart because it felt so futuristic (which is exactly what Walt’s aim was for the park), I love watching the monorail glide almost silently through the park above our heads and the angular design of the pavilions have none of the quaintness that you would expect from a Disney park. It really does feel as if you have stepped into the future.
As you enter the park the giant golf ball that houses Spaceship Earth dominates the skyline. (It’s not really a golf ball, but it looks like one and it’s not very easy to describe it in any other way!) The structure is so huge that you can see it from various places across the Walt Disney World Resort – next time you’re queuing for Summit Plummet in Blizzard Beach or climbing to the top of Everest in Animal Kingdom have a look into the distance and you should be able to spot a few Disney landmarks. Spaceship Earth is a gentle ride taking you through the stages of human life and is narrated by Dame Judi Dench, it’s lovely but the queues build up quickly as it’s so close to the entrance, go later in the day and you should find smaller lines.
Behind Spaceship Earth you can choose to go one of three ways; right to Future World West, left to Future World East or straight on to the World Showcase.
Future World East
Home to one of my favourite rides, not just in Epcot but in the whole of Disney World, Test Track. I love this ride! You start by designing your own car which you can then put to the test. The ride vehicles look like actual cars and they test your design for things like handling and speed. It’s a fun ride with twists and turns but it gets really exciting when it takes you outside and speeds you up to 65mph! At the end of the ride it tells you which design was the overall winner. The ride exit takes you through a pavilion where there are cars on display and various hands-on exhibits such as the opportunity to create your own advertisement. This ride is great fun and one that I would recommend for most ages, it’s a very popular ride so it’s best to book a FastPass to avoid long queues.
You will also find Mission Space in this area, it’s not one I’ve ridden for a long time because it gives me motion sickness but I might be brave and give it another go on our next trip! One of the best gift shops in Disney World is based on the edge of Future World East – Mouse Gear – it has a great selection and well worth a look if you are hoping to pick up some souvenirs.
Future World West
This area of Epcot has so much to offer.
The Seas With Nemo and Friends has a gentle ride that all ages will enjoy, huge aquariums with dolphins in SeaBase, an area with manatees and the hilarious Turtle Talk With Crush (definitely a Must-Do for our family).
The Land is my absolute favourite part of Epcot! In here you will find Soarin’ Around The World, where you feel like you are flying over the oceans and landscapes of the world. It’s so immersive that you feel like you really could dip your toes in the ocean or reach for one of the oranges in the groves (the smell of the oranges is one of the best bits in my opinion). This ride is lovely and gentle.
Next door to Soarin’ is Living With The Land, this is my Must-Do in Future World but my kids hate it! You board a boat and take a relaxing ride through the greenhouses where various plants and foods are being grown in experimental ways. This ride has always fascinated me, I love seeing the innovative ways that the Disney horticulturists are growing things. On our next trip Mark and I are taking the Behind The Seeds Tour where you get to go backstage and see the latest growing techniques, I am so excited to take this tour!
There are two eateries in The Land – Sunshine Seasons, that offers a wide selection of quick meals and snacks, and The Garden Grill where you can have a character meal with Mickey, Chip and Dale and other characters in a slowly revolving restaurant. We’ve eaten at both of these locations and had good food in both.
The final pavilion in this area is called Imagination and has a cute ride called Journey Into Imagination With Figment. This used to be Harry’s favourite ride when he was little. It’s a gentle ride that introduces you to a cute little dragon called Figment. At the end of the ride there are some fun hands-on exhibits that kids enjoy.
The World Showcase
The World Showcase is almost an entire theme park on it’s own! Opening slightly later than Future World, The World Showcase is home to 11 countries of the World. You can start your journey around the ‘world’ either at Mexico or at Canada. We tend to start in Mexico because it is our favourite pavilion. If you go inside the giant pyramid you will find art exhibits, traditional Mexican souvenirs on sale, a restaurant and The Grand Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros ride – a gentle boat ride that is fun for all ages.
There is so much to see in the World Showcase. Each country is themed to its traditions and there are displays throughout the day from each one. We really enjoy wandering around the Showcase and looking at the various items on sale (if you have a Hello Kitty or Pokemon fan head to the Mitsukoshi Dept Store in the Japan pavilion for pricey but very cool merch!).
Epcot is the place to go if you want to meet characters! The Character Spot in Future World offers the opportunity to meet a variety of Disney characters and at this time you can meet Joy, Sadness and Baymax in Future World too (the characters do change so it’s best to check the park guide on the day you are visiting). Around The World Showcase there are many characters to meet, for example Belle can be found in France, Alice and Mary Poppins are often in the U.K pavilion as well as the various character meal options.
Special Events At Epcot
Epcot holds several special events throughout the year. We have experienced the Food and Wine Festival that runs from late August and offers the opportunity to sample many different foods from around the world. During the Christmas period Epcot celebrates Holidays Around The World and the World Showcase hosts the Candlelight Processional where the nativity story is told by a narrator and choir. We really enjoyed the holiday celebration as we were able to get a taste of how the different countries celebrate Christmas and the Candlelight Processional was beautiful (although I would say it is more for adults than children). The other two special events that are held at Epcot are the International Festival of The Arts and the International Flower and Garden Festival, I would like to experience both of these festivals too.
At The End Of The Day
Epcot ends its day with IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a fireworks display set around the World Showcase Lagoon, with a giant floating globe and lasers. Check your park guide for times as the time for IllumiNations may change if special events are taking place.
So there you have it, that is why I love Epcot so much. Have you been and do you love it or hate it?
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