Ever since I was a kid, we would leave the Magic Kingdom for the less busy theme park….Epcot. As a kid, Epcot was not very exciting when it first opened. Over the years, Disney transformed Epcot into a "must-see" and "must-do" theme park. I think my highlights pretty much cover the whole park. What can I say? Epcot is awesome!
Test Track/Soarin’: We’ll start with the obvious and lump them together, because who can go to Epcot and not go on each one of these rides at least once during their Disney World vacation?! Test Track is fun for all ages. The ability to build your own car while waiting in line and then your car races other people who are in the car with you is fun. If your car doesn't do well, it makes you want to go back and try again! When on Soarin', be sure to look around and take in the smells. Yes, Disney does disburse scents of particular items depending on where you are "flying" by at the time. While this is a great ride for all ages, some people with height fears may need a hand to hold or possibly a motion-sickness pill. I hope you’re all wearing sneakers due to all of the walking, but if you normally wear flip flops, don’t wear them this day due to your dangling feet. You may lose a flip flop or possibly hit someone as it falls.
Spaceship Earth: Yes, it’s a ride that could’ve been lumped in with the previous rides, but it’s different from the usual ride and deserved a paragraph of its own. It’s a great, informative ride for all ages. It’s not a thrill ride and is aimed towards educating guests. The 15 minute ride demonstrates how advancements in human communication have helped to create the future. Guests go back in time to see the origins of prehistoric man and then travel forward in time to see important breakthroughs in communication throughout history including the alphabet, the printing press, telecommunication, etc. Be sure to pay close attention to the monitor in your car. There are touch screens to do something special.
Dining: Lunch and/or dinner at any one of the many restaurants in the World Showcase is a must-do! Some of the finest cuisine is brought to you by their respective countries made mostly by citizens of those countries. Some of them are rather pricey. Lunch is less expensive, but the menus can be different from their dinner menus at some locations. I’ve said it several times on this site that if you having the Disney Dining Plan, you have no worries about the prices in the dining plan participating restaurants. Just remember to book your reservations 180 days in advance. If you gave me one choice of a park to eat at throughout all of Walt Disney World including Disney Springs, I would choose Epcot in a heartbeat. Also see 7 Tips To Successful Dining Reservations to help you get the desired reservations at your favorite restaurants.
Future World: There is so much to cover in Future World. All I can say is “don’t miss out on it”. There’s so much to see at Epcot and there’s so much walking that by the end of the day, much of Future World has been skipped out on due to pure exhaustion. While it’s important to get to Test Track and Soarin’, I suggest taking the morning to go through Future World seeing that the World Showcase doesn’t open until 11. So, get up early and head on over to Future World. Take advantage of the morning's extra magic hours if you are staying in a Disney resort hotel and explore while you can. Say hi to Figment for me!
Illuminations, Reflections of Earth: Also known as the “Kiss Goodnight” from Walt Disney World at Epcot, this night time spectacular is held in the World Showcase Lagoon. This 12-minute show has a HUGE, rotating globe as the center of the show. The show has music, fireworks, water fountains, lasers and fire. It tells a story of Earth from the chaos of creation to life, adventure and celebration. There are many great viewing locations around the World Showcase Lagoon. For the best locations, take a peak at 3 Top Spots To View Epcot's Illuminations.
Shopping: During the hot weather, shopping inside the stores is a great place to cool off and look at all the merchandise you can buy. There are the Walt Disney World stores before you get to the World Showcase, but don’t forget to shop at all the stores in the World Showcase. There are so many shops with unique products representing each country’s culture. Not to mention all of the great food primarily made by citizens of the country. The only pavilion that is directly sponsored by their country’s government is Morocco. All of the other pavilions are sponsored by private companies with an affiliation to their countries.
Live Shows: Most countries have some form of live entertainment that perform at various times throughout the day. Go through your guide as soon as you walk through the gates so you can try to time your location to the shows you want to see. One particular show that may leave you wondering is how in the world the acrobats do what they do in the China pavilion.
American Adventure: This takes quite a bit of time, but it is worth it. This is also something I recommend to see as soon as it opens for one very important reason: SO YOU DON’T FALL ASLEEP!! It’s a great place to rest and cool down from the heat. The seats are comfortable. In the morning, you are less apt to fall asleep, because you haven’t been running around all day. This show is important to see with both eyes open. The audio animatronics combined with the artwork, the music, the narrative and the basis of the story itself is inspiring.
Beer: Granted, there are many, many places where you can stop for an alcoholic beverage in Epcot, but one of our favorite things to do is grab a beer at the outdoor stand at the Rose & Crown in the UK. Just sit, drink a cool beverage and rest to rejuvenate ourselves for just a few minutes. It’s now a tradition with my family. Of course, it started with just my husband and I, but now we are passing on the tradition to our kids as each one turns 21, if they choose to partake. Even without the beer, it’s nice to just sit and look at your surroundings. While one of our favorite shows has now been cancelled in the UK, I still look forward to our favorite place to stop for a beer and "just be" with my family for a few minutes of downtime.
Pick A Pearl: While shopping in Japan, pick a pearl. For a set price, you can select your oyster and it is opened right before your eyes to reveal your pearl. Of course you can then have it mounted in any number of jewelry styles or just take it home, as is. Keep in mind that there is a risk. The oyster may not have a pearl at all, BUT it could have two, it could have a very large one, it could have multiple, etc. It’s funny how something so simple can be so much fun and create a fun memory and a great souvenir to take home with you.
Candlelight Processional: (Seasonal) The Processional takes place in the theater across from the American Adventure pavilion. There is a choir and orchestra on the stage. Each weekend, a different celebrity narrates the Christmas story between musical numbers. Be sure to book a dinner package for the Processional in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Flower and Garden Festival: (Seasonal) While Epcot is beautiful year round, during the festival, the park blooms exponentially (literally). Massive flowerbeds pop up all over the World Showcase and Future World. There are also playgrounds, a cranberry bog and a butterfly house that also make up this fun festival. Disney also has guest speakers and experts from HGTV do demonstrations. After a long winter, we can all use a grand, colorful spring that can only be done by Disney in grand Disney style.
Food and Wine Festival: (Seasonal) I can’t think of anything I would want to do more than to eat and drink my way around the world. I love sampling different foods that I don’t normally make at home or could buy in restaurants around my home. The World Showcase transforms into a major Fall event with a large variety of international tastings. Each country and several additional regions set up booths with small servings of foods unique to their country. There are also artistry booths, wine tastings, seminars and special ways to purchase and remember each country you taste test.
Frozen Ever After: This ride opened in 2016 and the lines have been long since day one. I strongly recommend a Fastpass for this ride if you're lucky to get one. Pictures and videos never portray Disney's beauty and magic, but this video will give you an idea of the experience. Don't forget to stop by the Royal Sommerhus to see Anna and Elsa. It's important to review the FastPass tiers. Click here for details.