So you’re walking through the World Showcase at Epcot and you see these tables with kids sitting there, just sitting and coloring and being chill. What’s happened? You’ve entered the Kidcot zone.
Uh, What’s a Kidcot?
Kidcot is a made-up word that’s supposed to promote the idea that Epcot is fun for kids.
When my kids were small, they quite liked the World Showcase. My oldest daughter now wants to study international relations, due, in no small part, to her fascination with visiting the countries of Epcot when she was younger. However, there is the perception in some circles that the World Showcase is not enticing to children because there are few rides in this area. The Kidcot Fun Stops are meant to serve as a way to coax a reluctant child through the Showcase loop.
So what happens at a Kidcot Fun Stop?
The Fun Stops are really just tables, one for each of the 11 World Showcase countries, staffed by natives of the represented lands. The tables are stocked with stick-puppets (currently your choice of Duffy the Disney Bear or Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb) and markers. Kids (or adults, but mostly kids) can sit at the tables for as long as they like and color the puppet.
I know it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but truly sometimes hanging out and coloring for a while is exactly the kind of break you need, particularly if you’d decided to skip the afternoon nap. And having the international cast members at the tables is often entertaining. My teen daughters like to practice their French language skills with the Kidcot cast at the France pavilion – especially les beaux hommes. Oooh, la, la.
In addition to chatting with you, the cast at the tables will give you some rudimentary language instruction in their native tongue (hello, goodbye, numbers, food words, etc.). And they’ll write on the back of your puppet if you want them to, usually something like “hello” in their language. The cast members manning the desks also have an ink stamper with a cute image and the name of their country. They’ll stamp the stick or back of your puppet, or they’ll stamp your World Showcase Passport.
What’s a World Showcase Passport?
It’s a toy booklet designed to look like a passport. Kids can collect stamps at the Fun Stops, much like they would at passport control at a border crossing.
Is there a charge for that?
There’s no charge for the stick puppets, the coloring, or the interaction with the cast members.
There is a charge for the Passports. They come in a packet with an Epcot button (like the birthday buttons, not like a trading pin) and some postage-style, non-functional stamps. The packet retails for about $10.
So the Passport sort of makes the Fun Stops into a “scavenger hunt” type activity?
Kind of. Although you don’t need the Passport to do so, many kids do like the hunt/acquisition aspect of the Fun Stops. They have stamps! Lets collect them all!
Where can I get a Passport?
They’re sold in many of the shops throughout Epcot. They’ll almost always have them at Mouse Gear and at the World Traveler shop next to the International Gateway. The Passport packets are often hard to spot in the stores, so if you’re looking, you may want to ask. On the other hand, if you’re trying to avoid spending $10 on a paper booklet, then it’s relatively easy to do so.
What kind of markers are at the Fun Stops?
There has been a partnership with Sharpie that made that the default market at the Fun Stops. I’m all but obsessed with Sharpies, but sometimes the permanent mark factor can be an issue with small kids. In my most recent Disney visit, I saw washable markers at several of the Fun Stops. If you prefer those, ask the cast member at the table.
Where exactly are the Fun Stops?
Many of the Fun Stops are inside shops, and all have some sort of cover from the sun. Here’s the list of where to find the Stops:
- Mexico: Just inside the pavilion building, near Animales Fantasticos
- Norway: Inside the The Puffin’s Roost shop
- China: Next to the exit of the Reflections of China attraction
- Germany: Inside the Volkunst, near the oh-so-enticing Steiff bear and Harbio gummy displays
- Italy: In an outdoor alcove near La Bottega Italiana
- American Adventure: Outdoors, on the porch-like area next to Heritage Manor Gifts
- Japan: In the Bijutsu-kan Gallery. If you exit the Mitsukoshi store near the sake and candy section, you’ll pass by it.
- Morocco: At the Marketplace in the Medina
- France: At Souvenirs de France shop.
- UK: At The Toy Soldier shop.
- Canada: In a covered area at the exit of O Canada.
Since so many of the Fun Stops are inside stores, I’m worried that my kids will be in “gimme” mode if we undertake this activity.
You know, it seems like that would be a problem, but in many hours of observation, I just haven’t seen that happen. Typically kids get pretty focused on their own projects and tend to tune everything out including, believe it or not, Disney merchandise. But of course you know your child best. If she’s having a Veruca Salt day, then you may want to choose another time to participate.
But if YOU want to shop while your kid colors, then I’ve got your back. You can’t leave you kids alone at the Fun Stops, but you can step a few feet away and look at lovely wares. That’s how I ended up with my first bottle of Laila.
Is there a particular age limit for the Fun Stops?
Nope. This is open to everyone, young and old. That being said, you’ll probably be most successful here with kids between the ages of about three (able to make directed marks with a pen and not freak if they “mess up”) and about 10 (before they get “too cool” for coloring).
Are there particular hours of the Fun Stops?
Theoretically they’re open from 11:00 a.m. until park closing (that’s what the Times Guide says anyway), but in my experience the tables are not staffed immediately at 11:00 and they may close a bit early if they don’t have any “customers.”
Is there anything similar at the other parks?
There’s not really an art project equivalent anywhere else, but there are plenty of scavenger hunt type activities at other Walt Disney World locations. Right there in the same area of Epcot, there’s the Agent P. World Showcase Adventure in which kids use special devices (pre-programmed cell phones) to unlock clues and hunt for bad guys.
At the Animal Kingdom, kids can participate in the Wilderness Explorers game, collecting stickers related to their animal knowledge and exploration of the park.
These are all ways to get your kids doing something at least moderately active in the parks and can be a nice change of pace from passively sitting on rides all day.
So Fun Folks, are you fans of the Kidcot Fun Stops? Do your kids like the puppets? Have you had any particularly good cast member interactions at the Fun Stops? Let us know in the comments below.