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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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