Epcot One Day Touring Plan with Small Children

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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?

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Posted on September 26, 2011

13 Responses to “Epcot One Day Touring Plan with Small Children”

  • We enjoyed our time at Epcot this summer. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked because 1. it was near the end of our 10 days and we were all getting tired and 2. we also worked in quite a few character greets while there.
    Having said that, we did have success with me going to get fastpasses for Soarin’ first thing while my wife and girls- ages 2 and 10 visited the character spot. By the time I made it back to them, they had seen all of the big five and the 10 year old and I hightailed it over to Test Track and then on to Sum of All Thrills. So (I’m sure you’ve already thought of this) you may want to fastpass Soarin and go directly to Test Track next time.

    • I did that on another trip, and ended up right at Test Track with a 30 minute wait and time to kill. 30 minutes in Test Track with that noise is a no go for me. Test Track seems to be the squeaky wheel.

  • the past two years my wife and two children 9 & 6 have done epcot in one day. We arive at around 11 and hit it all using emh. Having the wife helps alot because while the wait in line I do all the walking around for fastpass. Not so much fun in late june and mid august but well worth it for the kids. We even get to do kidcot. Fyi, we never go on soaring being that we lives 20 minutes from disneyland and have been on hundreds of times with only minimal waits. Same goes for tsm at dhs, not going to fly across the country to spend 2 hours in those lines.

  • We tried the 1-day for small children this June, but got there late, so we had to fastpass Test Track, too. Went pretty well overall, but Test Track completely screwed up our plan – almost missed our dining reservation in Italy – what a pain to haul between Norway and Test Track! Still, we all loved the ride. If I had to do it again, I’d skip Ellen (couldn’t believe how much time that took out of our schedule, they could def. cut 10 mins from that ride easy.) and maybe Figment and Eo. Eo was fine to see once, but think I’ll wait to do the movie again once a new one goes in. There just doesn’t seem to be much to Figment (loved the old version), it was so disappointing (and deserted!). Would rather spend that time wandering around World Showcase or doing a second round on Soarin’. Overall, I found myself much more fatigued at the end of the day than after any of the other theme parks.

  • It sounded like you missed your fastpass window. Are they now actually enforcing the end of the fastpass window? I know this was discussed a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t heard anything about that in the past couple of weeks. I thought they were just not encouraging it, but that you could still get through with a fastpass that expired several hours ago.

    • I didn’t miss my window. When I got back, the Fastpass line was 45 minutes long. There was a malfunction where they gave out too many Fastpasses.

      I have heard the same thing about the window being enforced. I’m going to check it out when I’m down next week and see what the story is. I’ll report back.

  • Thanks, I misunderstood. I am going October 4, and I tend to collect fastpasses early and use them at the end, so if they are really enforcing it will mess up my touring strategy. Oh well, I will just need to adjust.

  • The trek to Soarin’ is reportedly a lot easier now with the new Epcot rope drop procedure.

  • Just got back from Epcot last week. I have a 3 and 5 year old and they wanted to go back a second day over the other parks (which we did). Only thing I would recommend if you have small children is to do the main character greet first as you get all the main characters in one air conditioned space and wait times got up to 45 minutes later in the day. We then headed second to Soarin and only had a 5 minute wait. Getting there after the initial 15 minute rush cleared everyone out and we virtually skipped the crowd.

  • Don’t worry about the fastpass window!! Just go back whenever… And I would always recommend getting/loading up on FPs and then just using them later whenever you get to it (in a nice orderly progression from one to the other).

    EPCOT is a lot of (/too much?) walking. But if you can make those legs burn, you can really save a lot of time just standing around in line… (But all that back tracking can cost time.)

    Skip captain EO!! It was never good. It’s a VERY GOOD indication of why star wars episode 1 stunk. Just a bunch of stars phoning it in. It was really enlightening to go back and see it given the context of bad george lucas decisions and fan complaints.

    Did you get to ride test track? It is worth the wait, if they’ve never done it. Just have something to do to stay occupied in line. It’s my favorite at EPCOT. But I usually just go single rider. Nobody else in my group likes it that much. The best part about the single rider line on test track is that all the even numbered groups leave so much room for the single riders to get right on.

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