Welcome back friends (we’re friends right…right). This is a melancholy post for me because it is the last in my series of how to adjust touring plans for toddlers. This was a very fun series to write and, if you missed them, here are my posts on the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Until I discover a way to shoehorn in more long-winded posts about attractions I like/dislike, this will be the last.
I have saved Epcot for last because it is my favorite park and I am incredibly self-centered like that. Okay, I actually saved it for last because it turned out to be my daughter’s second favorite park (after Magic Kingdom, of course), which came as a surprise to me. In my usual style, I will be going step by step through the Epcot One-Day Touring Plan for Parents with Small Children. As we go I will give you tips, pointers, hints, and my personal thoughts about pretty much everything. Enjoy!
1. Epcot Entrance – Arrive at the entrance to Epcot 30 minutes prior to opening.
I’ve gone through it before, but arriving as close to park opening as possible is the key to avoiding long waits. I know that waking a sleeping child is also undesirable, so if your little one tends to sleep in, you might have a tough choice to make.
This is not a tough choice because this is a fantastic (although imperfect) attraction. Unfortunately, there is a 40” height requirement, so a toddler will likely be too short. I would suggest snatching a few FASTPASSes for use by the adults later.
Be aware that if your child is tall enough, this is an attraction where kids must sit in their own seats with no chance of comforting or removing them during the ride. Once it starts, they have to take the whole flight.
A quick aside about my ‘imperfect’ comment above: I really enjoy Soarin’, but I love a ride with a story and Soarin’ doesn’t have one. It’s like watching a California travel video rather than actually flying. Also, it wouldn’t hurt anything to upgrade the picture quality (yes, yes, I’m nitpicking).
This attraction depends on the kid It can be seen as a fun boat ride, a scary thunderstorm (just one part), or a tedious ride about gardening. I have never taken my daughter on it because I’m afraid of boredom. I have also never taken my wife on it for the same reason.
Yes, yes, yes. This single attraction is the reason that my little girl loves Epcot. It is a very short ride with almost no story (they lose Nemo…again…then easily find him…yep). What it does have is all the Finding Nemo characters, which is all a toddler is really going to care about. The last few scenes where the Finding Nemo characters are projected into the actual fish tanks is actually very cool.
I also strongly recommend Turtle Talk with Crush. It is technologically cool and just plain cool. It is fun, funny, and just short enough to not let those short attention spans drift. It seems that a lot of people skip this out of disinterest or unawareness and I urge you to not make that mistake, even if you don’t have kids.
(I also suggest you allow a few minutes for staring at the seagulls in front of the pavilion and repeating “mine.” It will happen.)
Even as I write this, the 5 year old boy in me is tearing up. I miss the original version so much, but it is sadly not there. What we have instead is a bland, stale, mostly uninteresting “journey” through the Imagination Institute. My daughter doesn’t love this ride, but she doesn’t dislike it either…much like everyone else. One bonus (or curse) is that you will sing “One Little Spark” the rest of the day.
6. Captain EO
Um…so…I’ve never seen it. Honestly, I always forget it’s there. I’m not sure that a toddler would like it because of its 3D, interactive theater, and Michael Jackson-ness (even I don’t know what that means).
This is another one that a child may not enjoy so much. It does feature characters from The Lion King, but I don’t think just that will keep my attention the whole time (whoops, I mean ‘a toddler’s attention.’ Freudian).
8. Sunshine Seasons – Eat lunch.
Sunshine Seasons is good. It has variety, quality, and food to fill my belly. Sure your heart will skip two beats when you get to the cash register, but this is Walt Disney World.
9. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – This ride can also be seen after Spaceship Earth later today.
From entry to exit, you will be in the Energy building for about 45 minutes, most of which is in the form of a movie. Rare is the occasion that I have stayed awake through the entire movie and, since I’ve already proven that I have the attention span of a 2 year old, that is the best that you can hope for. The worst would be 43 minutes of screaming. There is a pretty cool ride-through dinosaur exhibit, but that does not an interesting attraction make (and you have to sit through the movie parts to see it).
If you do this attraction, I would use it as a rest/nap and not expect a small child to understand, or pay attention to, the movie (don’t blame me, it’s Judy’s fault…stupid Judy).
This is a pretty lame attraction and it was made lamer when it was changed to its current iteration. That said; it has Donald Duck in it, and the appearance of that angry, speech impedimented water fowl means that my daughter now loves it. From an adult standpoint, it is not terrible nor is it terribly interesting. It is also not very long, an opportunity to sit down, and cooler than the Florida summer. Go for it.
The bad: It’s on the dark side and features trolls, polar bears, a backwards section, and a drop.
The good: It’s a short boat ride.
Final verdict: It’s worth a try because even if your child is a little scared, it will be over very quickly. Of course if there’s a fear that it will frighten the little one into avoiding dark rides or boats then you may want to keep walking.
Final final verdict: Parent’s choice.
I know I’ve stressed before how important this is, but I’m going to do it again. Epcot is big and requires a lot of walking. It is stressful enough trying to keep a toddler happy day after day in such an overwhelming place as Walt Disney World without running them (or yourself) ragged on top of that.
13. Spaceship Earth
This attraction has just enough to keep a toddler interested. With the rapidly changing show scenes and the constant movement they should be fine. It probably won’t be one they ask to ride repeatedly, but they won’t recoil in terror every time they see a Phoenician either (thanks for the alphabet by the way).
14. O Canada!
This film (and the same goes for Impressions de France and the China film) will probably not hold a child’s interest. They are glorified travel guides to the countries and, while beautifully done, they are not exciting in the eyes of a 2 year old (i.e. no characters).
Much like the films I just mentioned, this will be a little dry for a kid (and quite a few adults). Rather than a film it is animatronic-based, but it is still a telling of America’s history. Since that can be summed up in the words “America Rocks,” there is no need to see the show.
Much like the other nighttime spectaculars, IllumiNations contains fireworks, fire, and music. It is up to you whether your child would enjoy that or think that the world is ending…there seems to be no in between.
That’s it for the plan, but here are the other attractions that are not listed:
– Test Track: With a 40” height minimum, most toddlers will not be able to ride. If yours can, and has an affinity for quick, jerky movements, they may enjoy this attraction.
– Mission: Space: Even if your child meets the height requirement (44″) here, I would definitely avoid the Orange side. It spins very fast and while I didn’t necessarily know I was spinning, my stomach sure did. If I couldn’t handle it a small child couldn’t either (because I am theoretically tougher than a child…theoretically).
The Green Misson: Space is much tamer and basically just watching a small TV and shaking a bit. Sure I can’t do the Orange side, but I just don’t see the point in this one.
– Innoventions: Most children will find the displays at Innoventions dry and possibly boring, but it is probably worth a walk through anyway. There are a lot of interesting displays and you may be surprised what your kids find appealing. It also is decidedly indoors and therefore not eligible to experience intense heat or rain.
– World Showcase: My personal favorite area of Walt Disney World. I am however not a child (technically), so that may not be of vital interest to you. There is very little in the way of attractions in World Showcase but, much like Innoventions, you may be surprised by a child’s reaction to it. There are several little things like the drums at the African Outpost, musical groups in several countries, and various character greets that can keep your little one’s happy.
That sums up my thoughts on Epcot as well as my series on Touring with a Toddler. I hope you have enjoyed them and found them helpful (although I’ll take one out of two). Thanks for reading!