The second of the Walt Disney World (WDW) parks we had the pleasure of visiting was EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). You can guess by the name that it is less magical than the Magic Kingdom but that doesn’t mean it lacks in interest or charm. For me this was the best of all the parks. It is split into two halves – Future World and World Showcase. Future World features the iconic “golf ball” at the entrance to the park and is home to most of the rides and main attractions. World Showcase is located by the man made World Showcase Lagoon and hosts permanent pavilions and displays from 11 countries.
The iconic ball at the entry to Future World which is the home of one of EPCOT’s best attractions, Spaceship Earth
Nathan sporting a fez (cause Fez’s are cool!) in the Morocco pavilion at World Showcase
Future World consists of a variety of pavilions that explore innovative aspects and applications including technology and science. There are pavilions devoted to the land, space and the sea with others devoted to energy and scientific discovery. They are all fascinating to explore and feature engrossing attractions and some fantastic rides such as Soarin’, Mission: Space, Turtle Talk with Crush and Test Track.
World Showcase consists of 11 pavilions showcasing the following countries: United Kingdom, France, Morocco, United States, Japan, China, Mexico, Norway, Canada, Italy and Germany. They surround a lake that is the centrepiece of the nightly IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks and light show, a must see when you visit EPCOT. Each world has been built in the style of it’s country and features shops and eateries showcasing their culture. Everyone who works in each pavilion hails from their native country too which adds authenticity to each world.
Rides: The kids loved the rides at Future World. Gilbert enjoyed Mission: Space which is a realistic space simulator featuring Gary Sinise as part of the video induction for new recruits (hello Apollo 13!). The G Forces are quite intense during the ride as you are thrust back into your seat during launch and he came away with a headache after the second go in it with Nathan but loved it nonetheless. The girls were not interested in going on the ride so they spent the time in the gift shop and in the mission control activity centre which has been set up for those who can’t or don’t wish to ride. Matilda loved participating in the collaborative mission control space game while Delilah played happily in the kids play area.
The girls really enjoyed Turtle Talk with Crush which is an incredibly clever and often hilarious interactive experience. You get to “talk” with Crush who interacts in live time with people in the audience. It is suitable for all ages and was a hit with the girls. Spaceship Earth was another experience suitable for the whole family. Seated in a two-person car, you literally ride through history while the dulcet tones of Dame Judi Dench guide you through the formative events of human evolution. After the swift history lesson you have the opportunity to devise your own future which converts into a individualised 2 min feature film that can be emailed to you at the end of the ride. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Nathan and Gilbert enjoyed the pace of Test Track where you have the chance to design, build and race a vehicle. I would have loved to have tried this one but Matilda wasn’t keen and in the end we ran out of time. She much preferred Under The Seas with Nemo and Friends which takes you under the sea to visit all the colour and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. At the end of the experience you can continue to explore the aquarium and ocean based exhibits which kept the girls enthralled for over an hour. There was so much to see that we still didn’t get to see it all!
However of all the rides that Future World has to offer, Soarin’ was by far the family favourite – we ended up riding it on three separate occasions! You sit in a set of harnessed seats which are lifted up and suspended over a concave screen projecting images that simulate you flying over California. The ride dips and moves you around so you feel you are moving in time to the images on the screen – it is a must-do ride at EPCOT.
Experiences: Like Magic Kingdom, there are always lots of things to experience at EPCOT. One evening when Nathan and I were kid-free (thank you hotel kids club!) we caught a free concert with Jon Secada (he had a few hits back in the 90s). World Showcase in particular is a hive of activity at night with musicians, bars and restaurants providing entertainment for all. There are also many character experiences to soak up – Aurora and Belle can be found in France; Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins in United Kingdom; Snow White in Germany; Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco; Mulan in China (I did not realise this at the time); as well as a host of Disney pals, including Donald Duck who inexplicably resides in Mexico!
During the day, kids can undertake the Agent P World Showcase challenge which is an interactive treasure hunt where kids are sent to all parts of World Showcase to find clues and complete missions sent to them via mobile phone (loaned as part of the challenge). Another fantastic experience for the kids comes with the EPCOT passport which can be sourced from any of the pavilions. Matilda LOVED going from country to country getting stamps and signatures from each pavilion and she learned quite a lot along the way too! These are great activities to keep the kids entertained in the less ride-heavy part of EPCOT.
We were lucky enough to visit EPCOT during its annual International Flower and Garden Festival and the park was alive with topiaries of the most beloved Disney characters. They were phenomenal in detail and in impact – we were completely entranced by their intricacy!
Dining: The World Showcase has a myriad of eateries that cater to all tastes. It’s refreshing to find options other than your typical fast food fare – each of the countries get to showcase their cuisine, even if it’s often of the more digestible variety from the snack carts. Our last Disney meal was enjoyed at the Liberty Inn in the US pavilion which served a range of fast food options with quite a number of gluten free options for us. I enjoyed a salad which was much needed after a week of very heavy eating…
The Electric Umbrella in Future World was another favourite with the kids. A Quick Service restaurant, they made really good GF burgers – so good that even the bun was edible! Sunset Seasons in The Land pavilion (near Soarin’) was another cafeteria-style quick service restaurant we frequented more than once during our visits to Future World. Our first EPCOT meal was breakfast from there and they were able to cater to our dietary requirements with little fuss.
I really loved the variety of EPCOT. You could do the rides in Future World but then you could take a leisurely stroll around the lagoon while checking out the delights of World Showcase. I lost count of the times we ducked over for an hour or so (our hotel was within walking distance, virtually next door to the park) and we were never bored or lost for entertainment.
I can definitely recommend EPCOT for all the family – it definitely has something for everyone!
Linking up with Jess for #IBOT x