Once more, I have made the sacrifice for you, dear reader, of traveling to Walt Disney World to test out the One Day Touring Plans with Small Children. This time, it was Epcot on the list. And let’s be honest, it’s not really a sacrifice. It’s a great time, and this one especially I particularly enjoyed.
As usual, the plan calls for arrival 30 minutes prior to park opening, so I loaded up my 9-year-old son and my 5-year-old daughter to join the fun, and we made it the park 25 minutes prior to the official opening. That’s the best we had done on any of these plans so far, which made me pretty excited to get a head start on the day. Our first stop? Soarin’.
If you’ve never tried to get to Soarin’ in the morning after Epcot opens, then you have avoided one of the most daunting experiences I have ever had. I was holding hands with the kids, so imagine a sea of humanity being led from Innoventions to the Land, around the top floor of the pavilion, down the stairs, and into the queue area. It was very crowded, and I was very scared about holding on to the kids. It’s definitely not an experience for the timid.
However, we managed to make it, got on Soarin’, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. This is my favorite ride at Walt Disney World because it’s so immersive and relaxing. We got through the line, rode, and disembarked by 9:20, which was really good. The next step on the plan is Living with the Land, which both my kids enjoy, so we hopped right over with no wait and rode that ride. Again, it’s relaxing and enjoyable, so we left the Land pavilion feeling great at 9:45.
Next up on the plan was the Seas With Nemo and Friends. The one hitch that my kids threw into the mix is that both of them wanted to ride Test Track, but it’s not on the plan. Here’s where I made a fatal mistake. I decided to sprint over to Test Track to see if we could get in line. One problem…there was a mechanical issue. We got FASTPASS tickets for later in the day, but that too would turn out to be a problem. More on that later.
We went back over to The Seas and managed to get in with a minimal 10 minute wait. After our ride, we had to go and play around a bit on Bruce the Shark, which made the compulsive touring plan person inside me die a little. However, as a father, it did my heart good to watch the kids enjoying themselves and learning a bit about the ocean. Isn’t that what Epcot is all about? We skipped Turtle Talk with Crush and headed out of The Seas at 10:25.
Next on the plan was a trip to see Journey Into Imagination with Figment, which we did with joy. I know it’s not the same as the original incarnation, but it does my heart good to see Figment. My kids love him, too, so we rode the ride and looked around the gift shop for souvenirs, ended up grabbing some, and left the pavilion at 10:45. The plan wanted us to see Captain EO next, but despite my pleading, the kids were not interested at all.
Next up on the list was lunch at Sunshine Seasons, but since it was so early, we grabbed a pretzel and some waters and headed over to the first post-lunch step – Ellen’s Energy Adventure. For whatever reason, my kids love this ride, so we got over there, enjoyed our snack in line, then saw the entire pre-show and ride. This one takes a while, folks. So it was 12:05 by the time we got out of the attraction. Now it was definitely time for lunch, and we hiked over to Sunshine Seasons.
After enjoying some sandwiches, dessert, and more water (it was hot that day), we looked at the plan to see where we needed to head next. The first step was the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico pavilion. Again, this is a favorite of my kids, so we headed that way. Anyone ever measure how far it is from the Land to Mexico? It’s far. We made it, rode the “Donald Fiesta Boat” as my daughter calls it, and exited the pavilion at 1:30.
Now we had a decision to make…our FASTPASS windows for Test Track had started, so we could head back there, or continue the plan, going around World Showcase and skipping out on Test Track. Despite my pleading, the kids wanted to go back and check on Test Track. But when we returned, we found out that an error had made the FASTPASS 45 minutes long! Needless to say, we skipped it and headed back to World Showcase, but the round trip cost us valuable time.
We arrived at the Maelstrom at 2:05. The plan had us leaving the park after this, but I knew we likely would not come back later that night. So, we got FASTPASS tickets for the Maelstrom (the wait exceeded 30 minutes) and planned our next steps. The plan called for leaving, then coming back in to ride Spaceship Earth and the American Adventure, as well as seeing the Canada film. Knowing there was no way we’d make it all the way to Canada, we instead grabbed some school bread from the Norway pavilion and waited for our FASTPASS return time.
Finally getting on the Maelstrom at 2:45, we were all about done. We had one more ride in us, and we elected to make that Spaceship Earth on the way out. After making the long walk from Norway to the front of the park, riding the ride, and exiting, we finally got out of Spaceship Earth at 3:45. We were out of the park and back at the hotel by 4:30.
So how did the plan work? If not for my mistake of trying to squeeze in Test Track, it would have been perfect. The kids love all the attractions here, and we hit everything we wanted to try except the Canada film. This one and Animal Kingdom’s are my favorites of the Small Children Touring Plans because they require a lot of walking. The kids get tired but get to enjoy all the attractions. It makes for a peaceful night, that’s for sure.
What about you? Have you tried dragging kids around Epcot? How did it go?