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Walt Disney World Vacation: Epcot Family Travel Guide 2015

Complimentary Tickets Provided

walt disney world epcot world showcase map 2015

Walt Disney World Epcot & World Showcase

Walt Disney World Epcot is home to some of the resort's most technologically advanced rides in Future World along with a plethora of culturally eclectic experiences in World Showcase. Though the park is split between two major sections--Future World (East & West) and World Showcase--guests have access to both areas with their tickets. Keep in mind, World Showcase opens a couple hours after Future World.

We recently visited the park during our trip in late September/early October and we're excited to share our thoughts and tips for other ADHD families hoping to enjoy Epcot.

Date Visited: September 30, 2015

Crowd Levelsmoderate in Future World East & West; moderate-high in condensed areas of World Showcase (due in part to Food & Wine Festival)

Age Range Appeallittle ADHDers to adults depending on areas visited and height requirements (where applicable)


Special Note: Thought not as condensed as Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, there are still a number of rides that could appeal to young kids as well as teens (research rides ahead of time if you have a sensory kiddo). We found wait times were generally long for the most popular rides (Soarin', Mission: Space, etc.) and relatively short for the rest of the rides. We did use our FastPass+ for Soarin', Test Track by Chevrolet and Mission: Space. Spaceship Earth was the first ride we went on at the beginning of the day and the line was short at the time, which we recommend doing if you plan on going on this ride. While World Showcase is fairly condensed in design there is still quite a bit of walking involved if you plan to make your way around the entire area to visit all of the countries. Plan to stop for snacks and meals as necessary for little ones--make reservations for lunch and/or dinner if you prefer to sit inside and enjoy some low-key downtime as we found outdoor seating to be limited. 


Top Walt Disney World Epcot Tips

  • Plan your way through the park in advance! While it's fairly easy to get around Future World East and West, once you begin moving through World Showcase it is a bit more complicated given that the entire area spans the perimeter of a large lagoon. There are 2 little ferries that can help you cut across the lagoon, but we found they were fairly busy the day we were there and we didn't go on either.
  • Make reservations for any meals you plan to have at the park in advance if you prefer not to eat at quick service options. We found that reservations around lunch and dinner were a little hard to come by even with the Food & Wine Festival in full effect and with so many guests eating at the many carts along the way.
  • Outdoor seating is very limited in some areas, so if you're tired and see something available take advantage!
  • Do not go on Mission: Space if you and/or your little one struggles with claustrophobia. I personally have always struggled with moderate claustrophobia (it was far worse when I was younger) and while I did manage to put on a brave face and enjoy the ride for our boys, it was a little bit of an internal struggle. The "shuttle" you are in is very small and the controls are extremely close to your face, so keep that in mind. 
  • There are 2 intensity levels for Mission:Space--a more mild version and a full-throttle experience. We chose the mild version initially as we weren't sure how our youngest (or I) would do. He fully enjoyed it and wanted to try the more intense option after, though we didn't have time to. They do explain the difference once you get to the ride, but consider having a conversation with your ADHDer or sensory kiddo prior to visiting to better prepare.
  • Spaceship Earth discusses the history of communication through an engaging ride that begins with the Stone Age and looks to the future. Our kids are very interested in science so this was a big hit and we highly recommend checking it out!
  • Soarin' is a great ride, but may be too much for little ones with sensory issues. Our youngest has always struggled with being picked up and going on swings. It took some convincing and constant, quiet encouragement, but he was able to go on this and liked it. Keep in mind, you are suspended in air in a seat and you do move around a bit.
  • Soarin' is located in Future World West in a giant round structure that has a food court in the center and then several rides/experiences around the perimeter. You access these rides by going into the structure and then following signs accordingly for the ride(s) you wish to go on.
  • Test Track by Chevrolet is phenomenal for car-loving kiddos! Our guys each designed their own vehicle and then got to test them on the test rack. They fell in love and still talk about how well their cars did!
  • If you have allergies we did find a lot of the Food & Wine Festival carts had dishes that included dairy, gluten, etc. Definitely double-check prior to sampling anything. I had reasonable luck eating at restaurants we had reservations with despite my wheat allergy, though I always find buffets trickier.
  • Some of the stores in World Showcase have absolutely beautiful and breakable items for sale. Consider having one parent scope out some stores prior to entering if you have a little ADHDer that is particularly compulsive. We found that one of the shops in Italy in particular discouraged everyone in general from touching (they sold beautiful masks and some glass items). There was also a lovely shop in Germany that sold glass ornaments we noted as being too much for our youngest to walk through without wanting to touch. 
  • There is limited shade on the walkways through both Future World and World Showcase, so make sure you take time to stop and find shade during warm months as it can get very hot.
  • If driving, plan to arrive at Epcot prior to opening as the parking lot fills quickly.
  • World Showcase is a great place to grab souvenirs as prices are pretty reasonable on small items throughout many of the shops--candy, food, little knickknacks, etc.


Walt Disney World Epcot Future World East & West

Future World is split into East and West in Epcot. Here you will find popular rides and shows such as Mission: Space, Soarin', the Chevy Test Track and Captain E.O. (still super bummed we didn't get to see the show as I saw it back in the 80s as a kid and wanted to watch it again with my guys). Since a lot of rides are spaced further apart than rides at Magic Kingdom, plan to do a little walking between.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase Map
Walt Disney World Epcot Map 2015

Walt Disney World Epcot Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is in Epcot's famous geosphere! It is also right near the entrance of the park, which makes it easy to hop on as soon as you arrive.

Walt Disney World Epcot Nikon Camera Center
Nikon's Camera Center is also fairly close to the entrance and something worth noting if you bring your camera along. The cast members here were fantastic when I had a mini camera emergency. There were also restrooms nearby.

Walt Disney World Epcot Geometric Installation
I thought this geometric installation in the center courtyard at Future World was really interesting!

Walt Disney World Epcot Fountain
This fountain was great for photos! It was also right next to Fountain View where you could grab Starbucks--just a tip for coffee-loving parents! That Starbucks was also one of the only ones that had Disney x Starbucks merchandise out of all the Starbucks we hit up during our last trip.

Walt Disney World Epcot Mouse Gear
While there were plenty of shopping opportunities in Epcot World Showcase, there were also some in Future World such as Mouse Gear. This was a large shopping space with a wide variety of park souvenirs and Disney merchandise. There were also several smaller stores near Showcase Plaza, though this shop had the most inventory by far.

Walt Disney World Epcot
We found that this area in particular in Future World was very light in terms of crowds during the day, though it did get a bit busier in the evening. If you need a calm area for little guys that need a break from some of the busy-ness, try here!

Walt Disney World Epcot Mission Space
Mission: SPACE! Definitely a hit with our guys and worth checking out (assuming you aren't claustrophobic).

It was extremely hot and humid the day we were at Epcot, so we had some trouble keeping moisture off of my camera lens when pulling it in and out of my bag between air conditioned rides and the heat of the day. As a result, I didn't get as many usable shots as I'd hoped, but at least we got a decent selection of good ones between both parks to give you an idea of what Epcot is like. There are a number of other rides (as you can see above on the map) worth checking out as well. Definitely take a peek!


Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase

World Showcase is the portion of Epcot that allows guests to "travel around the world" in a day! In addition to separate areas that represent 11 countries, Disney's Food & Wine Festival is being held September 25 - November 16, 2015. The Food & Wine Festival is an exciting event for food lovers, giving them the opportunity to stop at a multitude of carts and little pop-up huts where fare from a broad variety of different countries is sold. In addition to shops and restaurants in the main part of World Showcase there are some shows and performers (look for the clown in Italy, he's fabulous!), so keep an eye out as you go through this part of the park!

We grabbed little treats in most of the countries and ended up eating ice cream in France (L'Artisan des Glaces), lunch in France (Chefs de France) and dinner in Germany (Biergarten Restaurant). All of the food was great--the ice cream and the coffee at L'Artisan des Glaces was ohmagosh good--but between the two main meals we ate we felt Biergarten was a bit more exciting since the interior was so neat, the show was super fun and they offered a buffet vs. made-to-order food, which made sampling easier. If you follow us on Instagram you probably caught a peek of the show in one of our posts!

Note: If you have a child with food sensitivities that does not eat out and you go to a restaurant that does buffet-only request to not have them eat if they will literally not eat anything. Our youngest has a lot of sensory issues when it comes to food and he will  not eat anything when we go to the majority of restaurants in Disney. Kids are generally in the $20-30 range in many restaurants, which is steep if you have a child that won't even eat a slice of cheese let alone a full meal. While they won't always allow you to do this, we found Biergarten was more understanding after we explained it to our server who spoke with her supervisor. It can be hard to travel with sensory kiddos and we often struggle to find at least one thing our little guy will eat, but it was nice to not have to pay for a meal he wouldn't even touch or that he'd gag back up. Obviously this isn't for kids that will eat lightly or pick, this is more for kids that won't eat a crumb. I can't guarantee they will always agree to this, but this was our experience.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
After you get to World Showcase Plaza you can go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the lagoon through World Showcase. There are also 2 ferries that cross the lagoon. We went to the right and  started with our neighbor to the north--Canada.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Each area is really nicely designed and distinct from the others nearby.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
This show was pretty neat! These guys were competing against one another, using chainsaws to create wooden sculptures. We would have stayed longer, but there was no shade around most of the area you stand in. Really fun to watch for a few minute though!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
England!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
The Rose & Crown is a pub in the British section of World Showcase. There were a number of other eateries for tea, fish & chips, etc. There was also a toy store!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Down the street a little from Rose & Crown was a fish & chips stand--yum!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
While some countries' areas were bigger than others, it was amazing to see how well they designed each space to make it distinct. I love that I accidentally caught these newlyweds in the corner. It was our 10th anniversary the day we went to Epcot, so it was fun to see a new couple on the day we celebrated a decade! 

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
English gardens are notoriously beautiful, so Disney made sure to include some lovely gardens in England!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Agent P's World Showcase Adventure was introduced several years ago to the park. It's an interactive way for kids to explore the different countries represented while following clues and looking for Perry from Phineas & Ferb.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase Agent P's World Showcase Adventure
If you choose to participate you receive a small phone-like device that leads you to clues and interacts with designated areas. We read about this prior to visiting and decided to give it a try. It is time-consuming. If you want to make it through all the countries, popping in to shops and eating along the way, you may find little ADHDers get frustrated that you're not dedicating the majority of your time to this game. Our guys, like many ADHDers, can be inflexible when hyper-focused on something. We would probably skip this next time for our guys. While we have mixed feelings overall (some clues were out of order and our device died part-way through the park), it may be super fun for flexible kiddos that don't mind missing a few clues here and there. Keep in mind, you don't need to keep playing throughout the entire park (our kids insisted on it until it died). You can do one or several countries rather than all. 

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase Agent P's World Showcase Adventure
Here's an example of one of the interactive clue areas. Nothing to see. Just an innocent little light fixture...

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase Agent P's World Showcase Adventure
Or is it?! Yep, that's Perry!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Beautiful view of the lagoon! In the distance you can see some of the other countries.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Headed to France! Can you see what's peaking out over the treetops and buildings? Our boys are in love with the Eiffel Tower so seeing a small version here was very exciting for them.

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
That was beautiful Morocco ahead!

Walt Disney World Epcot World Showcase
Another view of the lagoon and the ferry to the right that cuts across and brings guests from one end across to the Showcase Plaza area.


Walt Disney World Epcot Final Thoughts

You're probably wondering whether or not we made it to all 11 countries in World Showcase. Well ... we did! Our guys were troopers and they went to every one after spending all morning in Future World. At one point our youngest and the hubs sat down for a bit while our oldest and I did some extra exploring in some of the shops (our youngest has some issues with fatigue and his muscles), but they had a great time overall and got to see some really fun things!

Of all the rides, Mission:SPACE was the favorite between the hubs and boys, followed closely by Spaceship Earth and Chevy's Test Track. Soarin' was a lot of fun as well and definitely worth a FastPass+ to avoid the long line.

Epcot is a great park for those with kids that prefer not to go on rides all day long and want other options, who have kids that love science and those that love to shop! Of all the parks we've been to we definitely spent more time shopping here, for obvious reasons, than in the others so we suggest (if you like shopping like us) that you budget for some extra spending. The large market in Japan was our favorite overall (though we're probably bias because we're mixed Japanese and European), but we loved shopping in every other country as well. 

I see a lot of people ask whether or not Epcot is a full-day park or one you should only expect to dedicate part of a day to before hopping over to another. Personally, Epcot was a full-day experience for us and with so much to see, do and eat I think you'd miss quite a bit if you didn't spend the day there. However, it really depends on what your family enjoys doing. Overall, Epcot was a hit for us and well worth a visit in our opinions if any of what you read above sounds interesting to you and your family!

Note: Complimentary tickets were provided by Disney, however, all opinions above are based on our experiences and not influenced by any outside sources. 


12 comments:

  1. Epcot is always so beautiful. I never feel like I spend enough time there!

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    1. Right? I could have totally done a second round of shopping through World Showcase, not gonna lie. ;)

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  2. The last (and only) time I was at Disney World, I was like 5 or 6 so I don't remember much. It's always fun to see how the park has changed and what little details I do remember! It looks like you had a great time!

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    1. It's actually been really fun for my husband and I to compare when we go as well! So much is changing in the next 1-2 years at some of the parks, some really fun stuff is on its way!

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  3. I have never been to Epcot. After reading this I am definitely more interested!

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    1. Honestly, Epcot is one of my favorites because a. I'm a shopaholic and b. I love to travel so seeing little glimpses of so many places at once is a blast!

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  4. YoOu had me at free cheese lol! Disney looks so wonderful. I have never been.

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    1. Haha! Ooh you should definitely go some time! I personally think the holidays are the most fun, but really anytime is a good time!

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  5. Oh this is amazing! I will have to save it for when we go!

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  6. I still haven't been but I really hope to someday!

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    1. It's definitely worth a trip when you can! Especially during the holidays ;)

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