Epcot!! My favorite. Walking into this park last year on my first trip was surreal. After seeing the giant silver golf ball thing(also known as Spaceship Earth) on television and in pictures my whole life, seeing it in person was SO exciting for me! Epcot definitely lived up to every expectation that I had…and then some! Have you ever been somewhere that made you feel so happy, so full of bliss, that you thought to yourself, “This is my happy place”? Well I have. Right here in Epcot. Walking through the Canada Pavilion, with a cold Labatt Blue beer in my hand, enjoying the gorgeous scenery. My HAPPY place. I love so much about this park. So today I’ll be reviewing/recapping our trip to Walt Disney World’s EPCOT.
If you missed my last couple Disney World posts you can find them here:
Last year, and this year, our Disney World trips coincided with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. There are a ton of beautiful topiaries throughout the park, in the shape of favorite Disney characters. There are also special food and drink kiosks at each pavilion in the World Showcase that are open only during the Flower and Garden Festival. The festival dates tend to run from early March to late May, but it looks like the dates can vary a bit. They also have special concert events on the weekends during the festival. I recommend going during this time of year because it’s extra beautiful and the little kiosks give you the opportunity to sample small plates at a decent price.
Epcot is divided into two separate sections. There’s Future World and the World Showcase. It’s really like two parks in one. I think it’s best to get there early and start the day out in Future World, and then move on to World Showcase and spend the rest of the day eating and drinking your way around the world. The World Showcase is definitely my favorite part of the park! How can anyone not enjoy a day full of sampling different foods from 11 different countries? It’s heavenly.
As far as rides go, you’re going to be doing almost all of that in the Future World section of the park. There are only two rides in World Showcase: the Frozen Ever After ride and the Gran Fiesta Tour ride. So be aware of this as you plan out your day. This doesn’t mean you won’t find plenty to do in World Showcase- just know that if your family is very ride focused, you’ll want to prepare them. I of course booked our FastPass+ options long before our trip. The Frozen Ever After ride is the toughest Fastpass+ to snag at Epcot so I was sure to get one of those. That left me with only Tier 2 options for my other two Fastpasses, so I grabbed one for Spaceship Earth and one for The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The FastPasses work on a tiered system here. You can read more about that on the Disney World website. Basically, you have to choose only 1 FastPass from the most in demand rides, and then you can choose 2 from the rest of the FastPass+ rides.
We like to arrive early and try to hit as many rides in Future World as we can before we’re hungry for lunch. It seems almost mandatory to begin the day with Spaceship Earth– it’s the ride inside the giant silver golf ball you know so well! It’s right there at the front, so we begin there. It’s a slow moving ride through the history of man and writing/language/communication. It’s cool- my 6 year old likes it. Then when you get off the ride it puts you in this area called Project Tomorrow which is an interactive play area with displays and games. You can also design a digital postcard with your picture to email here too. Even though this ride isn’t the most exciting ride I would consider it a must do.
Next stop- Starbucks! Here it’s called Fountain View. Coffee is definitely a necessity for an Epcot day! I like to stop here and then head right toward the Land and Sea section. This is where you’ll find The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It’s a fun little ride that is perfect for kids- and adults really. I mean who doesn’t love Finding Nemo? When the ride ends it lets you off inside of Sea Base, which is this area that is part aquarium, part sea exhibit with lots of cool stuff to see. We easily spend 30 minutes just looking around this area. There is also an area called Bruce’s Shark World, where you will find some fun Finding Nemo/Shark exhibits.
As you can see, my son is a big fan of this area! I suggest spending some time here to check everything out. They even have manatees! There is an educational value here- they teach about ocean animals, protecting the environment and protecting our oceans as well. There’s also a cute photo spot out front.
We left this area and headed right into the Land Pavilion which is where you find the Soarin’ Around the World ride. I really like this one- it’s a simulated hang-glider sort of ride that takes you soaring around world famous landmarks. It’s really neat and definitely worth waiting in line for. Plus the wait in line is made more tolerable with this trivia game they project on the wall. I love me some trivia!
There’s also the Living with the Land ride in this Pavilion. It’s a boat ride through this huge greenhouse where you can see the different foods they’re growing here through different methods of farming. It sounds boring but it’s actually pretty cool! I wouldn’t suggest waiting an hour in line for this one, but if it’s a reasonable wait it’s worth checking out.
Across the way from the Land and Sea area is where you’ll find another ride we really like called Test Track. You design your own concept vehicle while waiting in line, and the ride is fast and fun. If you have a kid(or a husband) that loves cars, definitely check this one out. It’s fast! But not too crazy for younger kids. The minimum height requirement for this ride is only 40 inches.
After these rides we were ready to head into the World Showcase. This section of the park is based around a huge lake. There are 11 Pavilions around the lake each representing a different country. So as you walk through each different country you get to see different landmarks and such that represent that particular country. Each Pavilion also has restaurants serving the foods and drinks that are form that particular country. For instance fish and chips in the United Kingdom, Poutine in Canada, crepes in France etc. There are also shops in each Pavilion where you can buy goods/products that are from each country. It’s so much fun to browse the shops and check everything out. You can find really neat souvenirs here. Plus eating and drinking around the world is so fun!! It’s literally a food lovers paradise. The people working in each Pavilion are natives of that particular country too. We like to enter from the right and go counter clockwise around the lake. This way we work our way towards the only 2 rides in World Showcase. So just as my son is starting to get bored of the all the eating and sightseeing we get to the rides. I highly recommend this method for those of you with kids.
The entry area to the World Showcase is so pretty!
The first Pavilion if you enter from the right is Canada! This is one of the prettiest Pavilions in my opinion. The scenery is gorgeous, there are waterfalls, and you can get Poutine, the croissant doughnut, and delicious Canadian beer. Need I say more? Oh yeah, and the people working here and just as friendly and polite and you’d expect them to be.
One of the souvenirs that we bought for Cooper this time was the Epcot World Showcase Passport. It was only $11 and it was worth every penny! Each Pavilion has a Kidcot center where you go get your passport signed, and stamped by a person from that country. There are also stickers to put on each page. He had such a good time looking for each Kidcot station and then meeting the different people and chatting with them as they signed his Passport. It definitely helped him to stay entertained while my husband and I enjoyed our snacks and drinks. Highly recommend this for the kiddos!
Next stop is the U.K. There are fun red phone booths, delicious fish and chips(make sure you get the malt vinegar), and good beer. We ordered from the walk up window of the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. It was delicious. We also had fun looking through the shops here. You can have your family crest made, look and swords and shields(Cooper liked this), and enjoy the pretty scenery. There’s a tea garden to walk through and a little maze for the kids. This is also where you can get a photo with Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins if that’s your cup of tea.
The Kidcot cast member was so sweet here- Cooper said she was his favorite. She had the best Britsh accent and drew him a picture of Bamax as a Royal Guard. So fun!
I love the France Pavilion- it might be my favorite! Maybe it’s the scenery, or the french pastries, or the champagne, I can’t decide. All I know is I love it here! It is also an absolutely gorgeous area so be prepared for lots of photo opportunities. We like to grab crepes from Crepes des Chefs de France or walk to the back of the Pavilion into Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie for sandwiches and french pastries. Then we find a shady spot to eat and enjoy the scenery. A stop at Les Vins des Chefs de France is also a necessity. They have wine, champagne, beer, and delicious slushy cocktails. This area also usually has the Photo people around so you can get pictures in front of the fountains and the beautiful scenery.
Next up is Morocco. There’s a really neat outdoor Bazaar here that smells like incense and sells all kinds of neat things. You can find very unique souvenirs here and get your picture taken with Princess Jasmine. We have yet to eat here since we’re usually full from eating in France. I’ve heard great things about the food though- many people say that the Tangerine Cafe is their favorite. Hopefully I get to try it out on our next trip.
Next door to Morocco is the Japan Pavilion. Here you will find the Mitsukoshi Department store which is like a miniature mall filled with cool trinkets from Japan. There are some slightly strange, but unique items here. Some of the things I remember seeing we’re Pokemon toys, erasers in a bunch of different food and animal shapes, hand held fans, and a pick-your-pearl stand. It’s a fun store to walk through and look around. The candy store towards the back of the Pavilion here is also really cool. We have yet to eat at any of the restaurants in this Pavilion but there are some delicious looking options. I want to try out their Teppan grill restaurant, Teppan Edo. Also at Kabuki Cafe they have Japanese shaved ice topped with sweet milk and it looks SO good.
The next Pavilion is the United States. To be honest, we haven’t spent a lot of time here. The food options are just kind of boring. It seems to be the basic things you can get at the other parks like funnel cake, turkey legs, and hot dogs. We did go shopping at the gift shop here and they have cute shirts that represent the different states. I had to get the California one of course- but ironically, the tag on the shirt says “Made in Guatemala”! That made me laugh! We didn’t take any pictures here on either trip, so I’ll just put the picture we took with Pluto last year at Epcot. This was the first time Cooper ever asked to take a picture with a character! I was so happy.
Next stop: Italy. This Pavilion is pretty and feels nice and open. We had great food at the little outdoor kiosks serving foods for the Flower and Garden festival. There’s a pizza place, a wine cellar, pastries, and Italian beer to be found here. All the essentials really. I wish we would have spent more time browsing in the shops here. The only thing I can really remember seeing in the stores here was Ferrari merchandise. I’m not sure that there’s a huge demand for Ferrari hats and jackets out there, but if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll find it here! There’s also a pretty fountain and plenty to look at. My favorite topiary from the Flower and Garden festival is the Lady and the Tramp- it’s a great photo opportunity.
Next Pavilion is Germany. The shops here are fun to look through. You’ll find cuckoo clocks, beer steins, stuffed animals, Snow White stuff, etc. There is a quick service restaurant called Sommerfest where you can get German beer, bratwurst, soft pretzels, and apple strudel. There’s also a sit down restaurant here called Biergarten where it’s an Oktoberfest theme all year round. We have yet to eat here but I’ve heard it’s amazing! I’m hoping to score a reservation there for our next trip. There are miniature trains here that are fun to watch and the whole Pavilion reminds me of a fairy tale village. It’s a fun place to walk around. We also enjoyed the Snow White topiary that was here for the Flower and Garden festival.
Next Pavilion is China. The stores here are filled with so many little trinkets you could spend an hour just browsing. You find lucky bamboo plants, Buddha statues, stuffed pandas, fans, animal figurines, and all sorts of other things. There’s a sit down restaurant here called Nine Dragons that serves your typical Chinese restaurant food. There are also two counter service restaurants: the Lotus Blossom Cafe, and a Joy of Tea. You can catch an acrobatic show called the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats that’s really fun to watch. They perform near the entrance of the Pavilion near the Ceremonial Gate. This is also where you can meet Mulan. This Pavilion is really picturesque with lots of intricate carvings, bamboo, a waterfall and a pond. If you are there after dark you can get a photo with a Chinese lantern.
The second to last Pavilion is the Norway Pavilion. This is where you will find the very popular Frozen Ever After ride- and it’s actually a pretty fun ride! I definitely suggest getting a FastPass+ for this one otherwise you’ll be waiting in a loooong line. The queue for the ride is really cute- you travel through Wandering Oakens Trading Post so you get to hear the Oaken saying “Yoo-Hoo” which cracks us up. try to schedule the FastPass for late in the day since I know we’ll be working our way through the World Showcase and Norway is at the opposite end from where we start. It also gives my son something to look forward to- right as he’s beginning to get bored of the Pavilions without rides, we are getting to the last two Pavilions that do have rides.
You can meet Anna and Elsa here in this Pavilion at Royal Sommerhus, but it looks like the wait is crazy. There’s also the Character dining restaurant here called Akershus where you can meet all sorts of Disney Princesses while you eat. So for those of you with little girls that dream of meeting those Princesses, this is your spot. Just make sure you make a dining reservation long in advance. This place is very popular.
The stores here have lots of Frozen merchandise of course. There’s also clothing, Norwegian colognes and perfumes(the Laila perfume smells amazing!), jewelry, books, trolls, and plenty of other things to look at.
The scenery here is also gorgeous. The buildings look like something out of a storybook and there’s even grass growing on rooftops. During the Flower and Garden Festival you’ll also find these Anna and Elsa topiaries.
The last Pavilion of our trip around the World Showcase was Mexico. This is the other area you’ll find a ride- the Gran Fiesta Tour. It’s a little boat ride that is nice and easy and I’ve never seen a long line for it. Most of the Mexico Pavilion is inside a big Pyramid. No matter what time of the day it is outside, inside the Pavilion it’s always night time(sorta like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride). My son loves it because there’s a “volcano” in the background that has smoke rising from it, and there’s a Mayan Pyramid that reminds him of an Indiana Jones movie. It makes for a really neat backdrop that you can sit right in front of if you choose to eat dinner at the San Angel Inn Restaurant. The food isn’t your typical Mexican food(at least not by my Southern California standards), but it was good. They have a Horchata Margarita which was amazing. The restaurant also sits along the “river” of the Gran Fiesta Tour ride. The area with this restaurant and the shops is designed to look like an outdoor Mexican marketplace. The stores sell authentic Mexican souvenirs like Sombreros, silver jewelry, pottery and worry dolls. Here you’ll also find shops with lots of merchandise relating to the “Coco” movie- there’s even a neat little recreation of the Rivera Family Ofrenda, with all the pictures of Miguel’s family. Watch it for a moment and you’ll see a fun little surprise. If you love “Coco” like we do, you’ll enjoy it.
After passing the Mexico Pavilion you will be back at the entrance to the World Showcase. Both trips we’ve ended up here about an hour before the fireworks show. Last year we grabbed some snacks and then found a spot to sit and watch the fireworks show IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It’s a great show! This year we opted to take advantage of everyone stopping for the Fireworks show, and get on a ride instead. We had hardly any wait for Test Track- so if fireworks aren’t really your thing, take advantage of the short lines.
Also make sure to get some nighttime pictures of Spaceship Earth on your way out of the park. It’s so gorgeous all lit up!
So that about wraps up my review of Epcot- I could go on and on, but I think this post is looong enough! Hope you enjoyed reading- if you haven’t been to Epcot I hope it inspires you to go! I know I can’t wait to go back…
Thanks for reading!