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Epcot Tips for Planning Your Family Vacation in Orlando
When Epcot theme park, in Orlando, Florida, first opened in the early 80’s it was all everyone talked about. The futuristic park so different from the traditional Magic Kingdom, the place where education, innovation and the understanding of world cultures meet. Rides like Spaceship Earth were a completely new concept, and the novelty of it all was enough to draw the Disney-going crowd.
While it’s still an interesting park and a refreshing break from the mob scene that is M.K., the “newness” factor has worn off a bit and as a result it seems a little dated. But there are a handful of rides we consider must-do’s in our family, and for that reason, I would still recommend visiting Epcot. In fact, one of my daughter’s favorite rides is at Epcot. My suggestion is to go for a day, or even half a day, as it’s the perfect park to combine with a travel or pool day.
Epcot Tips: Which rides are not-to-be-missed?
From our experience, there’s about 5 or 6 rides that you and the kids will really want to do, and three of those rides you can use with Fast Passes. The crowds are not like those of the Magic Kingdom, so if you play your fast passes right and use them for the super popular ones, the lines at the other rides won’t be so long.
The three rides you will definitely want to use your fast passes for are: Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ and Mission: SPACE. Frozen Ever After is Epcot’s most recent addition, and a way to Disney-fy the park and attract the younger crowd. It’s something you would see at the Magic Kingdom, only at Epcot. A boat ride through the winter wonderland and story of Frozen, it’s a well-done ride and even my non-Frozen liking girls (yep, you heard right…my girls aren’t into Frozen, blasphemy!) loved it. The lines are crazy and you’ll be waiting for hours unless you use a fast pass.
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Soarin’ is actually our favorite ride. Meant to feel and look like you’re hang-gliding, you cruise through the world and all of its amazing and breathtaking wonders. It’s an experience. Our only complaint was that we didn’t want it to end…we loved it. (Note, it’s for 40+ inches).
Mission: SPACE I did not do this time around, as last time I was there years ago I almost had a panic attack from claustrophobia. If you don’t like tight spaces do not do this ride! This simulator ride mimics a space shuttle and launches you into outer space, as if you are astronaut. Everyone else in my family and group loved it, and it’s wildly popular (note, it’s for 44+ inches).
We used our fast passes for these three rides. The other rides we really enjoyed were: Test Track and Spaceship Earth. Test Track is super cool, and if you have boys they will especially love it. You first enter a room where you design your own vehicle, and then you take it out on the track to “test” it. It’s a lot of fun, and thrilling as you zip around the track. Spaceship Earth is a classic, and while not necessarily thrilling, it’s an engaging ride as you travel through time and learn about the history of communication from the Stone Age to the Computer Age.
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We also did The Seas with Nemo and Friends ride and Journey into the Imagination with Figment. Nemo was ok, I had much higher expectations for it as it’s one of my favorite kids movies, but my girls enjoyed it. Figment is just plain bizarre and could have done without. Though one of my daughters loved it, and I hear it’s either a hit or miss, so I guess you’re kind of stuck with doing it.
I highly recommend the 15 minute show Turtle Talk with Crush, with the turtle from Nemo. An interactive Q + A, it’s hilarious and Crush had all the adults laughing as much as the kids.
Epcot Tips: What about the countries?
As for the countries, there’s 11 of them, and while I love the idea of walking around from country to country, honestly, it gets a little old, and is a bit cliche. I hate to say it because you know I love travel! And I know people really love the countries. That’s just my own personal and humble opinion. Each to their own, obviously a lot of people enjoy this aspect of the park so I don’t want to deter anyone if that’s their thing. People also love trying all the food in the countries. I guess it just wasn’t for us. We also, in the same vacation, went to Universal Studios, and it’s hard to compare anything to this amazingly innovative theme park.
Epcot Tips: Good to know
The other thing to note is Epcot is big! With 300 acres it’s more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, so make sure to have your walking shoes on. This park requires a lot of walking. I have no problem with that as I’m a big walker, but trying to get from one ride to the next does require some planning, so when you get your fast passes and are making a plan for the day, make sure to analyze the map of the park first.
Also, we didn’t see them, but everyone says Epcot has the best fireworks of all the parks in the Disney Resort. There are more attractions and rides to check out, but those are the highlights. To see more, view Epcot’s website here.
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For the rides mentioned above that we particularly liked, I definitely recommend going to Epcot. I just don’t think you need more than a half a day, or 1 day at most. For Soarin’, it was totally worth it.
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We love Soarin’ too!!
It just sounds like such a beast that any guidance is appreciated. You don’t want to miss anything!
Theme parks definitely require planning – they are indeed monsters!!
Interesting. We actually love Epcot but we only need a day and we spend most of our time in the World Showcase. Our favorite thing to do is to sample the food. We share plates from multiple countries so we can sample more places without filling up too much. And our favorite thing at Future World is the aquarium after the Nemo ride. My daughter is fascinated with aquariums so she could spend hours in it.
Nice. We are more into the rides than anything else so that was our focus. Obviously the World Showcase is popular, but it wasn’t our favorite part. Each to their own, theme parks are always a different experience for everyone. I’m glad we went though for the parts we really enjoyed.
I was at Epcot center in the 90’s! Things must have changed. Can’t wait to take my kids there when they are older. #citytripping
You will have fun!
I’ve been to Epcot as a kid but I’d like to return soon with my husband, this is a great overview! Soarin sounds like my kind of ride too. #citytripping
Soarin’ is amazing – highly recommend! Thanks!
Soarin sounds amazing! I love the fact that this is educational AND fun. #citytripping
Exactly! Soarin’ is amazing..if the lines weren’t so long I’d go on it again and again..
I think you covered Epcot really well. Of course, your must-do rides are rides I haven’t actually done. I guess I should go back. I always spend the majority of my time in World Showcase eating and trying food from all around the world! Yum! 🙂
Thanks Mandy – we do love food!
My daughter would adore the Frozen ride (I suspect, it’s gone from being her absolute favourite thing to lower down the list) but although I do sometimes get claustrophobic, I’ve always dreamed of going into space so Mission Space would need to be on my list. Chances are my only realistic opportunity 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Haha – definitely find your way to Epcot then and do Mission Space. It is an experience like no other – if my fragile body could handle it I’d do it multiple times!
I really recognise the Epcot structure from my childhood…in the 80s. I wanted to go then and I still do. One day I will!! This post will come in handy. Always good to know how much time to spend in a place too. #citytripping
I’m sure you’ll make it there at some point! 🙂
Our kids love Test Track and I’m a fan of sampling all of the food at Epcot. We like trying out the little snacks in the souvenir shops at each country. Not as many rides as some of the other parks, but we wouldn’t miss it on a trip to Orlando!
I agree, Kirsten – so glad we included it in our trip, even if for a shorter visit! It may not have as many rides, but because of that it’s not quite as crowded as some of the other parks, which is nice. We loved Test Track!!
sounds like fun #farawayfiles
I kind of liked the retro feel of Epcot. I stayed on site for a conference before kids and had an explore on my own. My son would go nuts for it now.. and then we’re be on the fast road to NASA (for my husband!)
That’s cool that you got to stay on site for a conference. The things we did pre-kids! 😉
I haven’t been to Disney World since I was …..12? And I don’t think we visited the Epcot Center! Would be nice to see it one day! I like the sound of the 11 countries, but wondering how it’s cliche? #FarawayFiles
Just forced, and as a result a bit hoakey. But you’re talking to someone who’s not into theme parks and finds most of them cheesy – for better or worse!
There are quite a few rides I can see my boys loving here – and I especially like the idea of the educational ones. Great tips here, Corey. #FarawayFiles
Thanks, Clare. There are definitely some really great rides at Epcot, and not worth missing.
I went to Epcot about 10 years ago, and hardly remember it. However we have Soarin’ here in SoCal, as well as Turtle Talk, and we love both of them! I’ve always loved Disney more than Universal, but I will say that I’ve been to Universal Orlando, and it’s really well done especially compared to Epcot… Epcot better step up their game! 😉 #farawayfiles
The Universal Orlando is amazing isn’t it? And this is coming from someone who’s not into theme parks. Maybe Epcot never really had a chance with me because of that – but having said that, the rides I mentioned were pretty fantastic. Soarin’ is incredible!
Do you think BECAUSE you’ve traveled so much that you don’t need to visit the “World” via Disney? I think it probably has value for people who don’t have an opportunity to be as exposed to foreign cultures maybe? Appreciate your honest perspective – great tips to help peeps prioritize. So much to see and do down there! #FarawayFiles
That’s an interesting question – maybe! I also in general tend to find a lot of theme park things hoaky so it may just be the cynical side of me.
It’s been a while since we visited Epcot, but it was one of my favourite parks at Disney. Although the rides are great fun I did enjoy wandering around the countries.
I’ve only been to Disney World once and I vaguely remember visiting Epcot! If I get back to that area, though, I think I would head straight to Universal, which I’ve never been to but it sounds like you loved it? Thanks for sharing these tips! 🙂 #farawayfiles
Universal is amazing! I recommend it to anyone and everyone. The technology is really quite something..we absolutely loved it.
I’m a bit hopeless when it comes to theme parks. We took our son to Disneyland Paris when he was very little and that was great but that’s about it. I think I become bewildered at the scale of them all and which one to choose – so I’ve opted not to go to any. I do hope my son will forgive me, as I quite like the sound of some of these rides…!
Haha I can so relate I find theme parks terribly overwhelming! At least you can say you went to Disneyland Paris!
I had heard of Epcot but I had never read anything about it before. I’m interested that it aims to combine education and culture together with thrill rides, I think that is admirable. I would definitely want to take my family there if we had a Florida holiday. #farawayfiles
It’s definitely an interesting mix of ideas. I hope you make it some day!