During this time last year, I was standing in my happy place, Walt Disney World. My love for this place started when I was very young, as my parents took us every year through elementary school (sometimes twice a year!). I have made it my mission to have my children feel the same way about this beloved place. So far, our older children (age 13) have been there 6 times and our younger ones (ages 11 and 12) have gone 3 times. Our younger kids were only legally members of our family for one month before we whisked them away to WDW. In hind sight, not my best move to take 2 very fearful children whose lives were just turned upside down to a place that can be a little overwhelming and intimidating to the average adult. Nonetheless, they went and now beg to go back often…..and have agreed to call him “Uncle Walt”.
But here’s the thing that really gets me worked up about WDW. Any time someone on social media asks for tips about visiting Uncle Walt’s place, there’s always at least one person that says “If you have younger kids, skip EPCOT.” WHAT??!? I beg to differ….and so do my kids. EPCOT is their most favorite place in all of WDW. So it is my intention to change the minds of those with younger kids.
My kids’ love of EPCOT probably started back when my husband worked for Siemens. This meant that we got into the “secret” Siemens lounge connected to Spaceship Earth. It has beautiful views of the EPCOT fountain and a special door to enter the Spaceship Earth ride WITH NO WAIT! I mean, no wait and Disney – how often do you hear that? I will admit that speaking strictly in numbers, EPCOT doesn’t have that many rides. But that is the beauty of it. You can go slower and not jump from one line to the next, checking rides off a list. Take your time, relax and take in the surroundings. What do MY KIDS love best about EPCOT? Here’s the list they made up…….and my commentary to go with each one.
- Club Cool – I’m pretty sure this is high on their list because we generally don’t allow them to drink soda. But when it’s an attraction and Uncle Walt’s, I cave. This is a fun place where you get to sample some popular Coca-Cola products from around the world. Only downside is the floor gets a little sticky. Upside is it’s not your job to clean it up! So win! Oh, and try the Beverly – it’s the BEST!
- Kidcot Fun Spots – In each country of World Showcase, there is a table just for younger kids. Just check into the first one that you come upon and ask for a kit. Currently, they will give you a little paper briefcase. This is sooo much easier to carry than the old Duffy the Bear on a stick. The sticks were not exactly backpack-friendly. For each country, there is a card with info about the country and a scene for you to color. Feel free to ask the cast member at each station questions about their country or ask politely and they will write your name or hello in the native language.
- Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure – So so so so good! This is a game that you can now play using your own phone. Check out the kiosks near the entrance to World Showcase and near the International Gateway for specifics on how to play. You get to follow clues to defeat the evil Dr. Duffenshmirtz. It takes around 30 minutes to play and lets you check out all the nooks of each country that you would otherwise miss.
- The live shows – There are a ton of live shows throughout the park. Look for the times guide for details. My kids’ favorites are the JAMMitors (a bucket band type group) usually found near the main fountain and the Chinese Acrobats in…well, you guess it, the China pavilion.
- The special character sighting – Many times you can see characters here that are rarely seen in other parks. Mary Poppins in United Kingdom pavilion, Belle and the Beast in France, Aladdin and the Genie in Morocco
- The festivals – You can see the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, the Food and Wine festival in the fall and now the Festival of the Arts in the winter. I’ve hit them all and they all add special touches to the park.
Hold on, there’s “adult” stuff coming up. No, my kids didn’t suggest these but they know mommy’s happier because of them.
- Diverse food – Maybe you like having burgers for every meal but me, not so much. There are diverse food options in every park but nothing beats EPCOT. On our last trip, I had hummus and quinoa for lunch at Sunshine Seasons, chocolate croissant for snack, teppanyaki for dinner and Japanese kakigori for dessert.
- World Showcase wine walk – you can find plenty of alcohol options in EPCOT but we enjoy the wine walk option. It is located in Germany, France and Italy pavilions. You buy a “passport” and can get 2 wine pours per country. The price has steadily gone up but it’s a great way to enjoy the park while your kids are playing Agent P’s adventure!
Please don’t skip EPCOT! You will be missing something magical!