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When you ask someone which of the four Disney World parks is their favorite, a lot of people will yell, “Epcot!” (And then I will roll my eyes.) Seriously, Epcot is one of those places that you either love or hate. It doesn’t have that traditional Disney theme park feel like you find at Magic Kingdom or Disneyland. Instead, Epcot is an oasis depicting an idealized version of how the world is now and how the world could be in the future. Between Future World and World Showcase, you can easily see everything at Epcot in one day, especially the family friendly portions.
1 Day Epcot Plan for Parents of Young Kids
- 9:10am Spaceship Earth with FastPass+
- Project Tomorrow
- Mission: SPACE
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Explore the Seas Pavilion
- (Consider adding Turtle Talk with Crush depending on wait time)
- 10:20am Meet Disney Pals at Epcot Character Spot (Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy) with FastPass+
- Break at Club Cool
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Lunch at La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
- 11:45am Frozen Ever After with FastPass+
- Rest outside the park
(*Preferably without kids)
- Canada Pavilion
- O Canada! Film
- United Kingdom Pavilion
- France Pavilion
- Impression de France Film
- Morocco Pavilion
- Japan Pavilion
- American Adventure Pavilion
- The American Adventure
- Italy Pavilion
- Dinner at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
- Germany Pavilion
- China Pavilion
- Reflections of China Film
- Norway Pavilion
- Mexico Pavilion
- Test Track
- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
For our complete 5 Step Disney World Vacation Planning Guide, click here.
Tips, Tricks, and Notable Omissions
Consider a Babysitter
Personally, I don’t think Epcot is a great theme park for parents of young kids. I’m not saying leave them home all day. They will certainly enjoy things like the Seas with Nemo and Friends and Frozen Ever After. However, they will probably not enjoy large portions of the World Showcase. So, my #1 recommendation is to consider hiring a babysitter to watch your kids while you explore World Showcase in the evening. World Showcase is a great spot for date night. Strolling along the lagoon and visiting idealized versions countries you’ve only seen in photos while enjoying a tasty beverage or snack makes for a lovely evening. (I LOVED this portion of our day at Epcot.) If you’re looking for a babysitter, try Kids Nite Out. They are recommended for in-room babysitting on the Disney World website and we loved sitter.
Epcot uses a tiered FastPass+ system. That means you can only select one advance FastPass+ for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, or Test Track. Beware, DO NOT waste a FastPass+ on IllumiNations. It’s the worst nighttime spectacular among all four Disney World theme parks, but more on that later. You can still make two additional FastPass+ reservations in advance for the other rides and attractions throughout Epcot.
For parents of young kids, Frozen Ever After is probably your best bet for advanced FastPass+ reservations. Try to get them when your initial FastPass+ window opens 30 days before your visit. (Or 60 days if you’re staying at a Disney World Resort.) If you aren’t successful, keep checking because they release more as the date gets closer. That’s how we snagged ours.
Keep in mind that Soarin’ and Test Track have 40 inch height requirements. That means short or very young kids may not be able to ride either. However, Test Track has a single rider line, so parents can ride individually and skip most of the queue.
All of this means you should try to get a FastPass+ for Frozen. If you are successful, go directly to Soarin’ at rope drop and then use the single rider line for Test Track. That way you’ll be able to do all of the headliner attractions.
Since everyone runs to Soarin’ or Frozen, a FastPass+ is really not necessary for Spaceship Earth first thing in the morning. You’d probably be better off making a reservation for Mission Space: Green
We elected to skip Soarin’ since it’s the same film shown at Disney’s California Adventure. Same thing goes for Turtle Talk with Crush. We planned on doing Test Track at the end of the night during Extra Magic hours, but, ultimately, we skipped it. We also did not have time for Journey into Imagination with Figment or Living with the Land as the queues were too long.
A number of countries in World Showcase feature films that depict everyday life in those countries. O Canada! and Reflections of China do not have seating. Instead, they have stupid lean bars. This makes them less than ideal for parents of young kids. Impressions de France does have seating, but the film itself would probably not interest young kids.
However, there is an activity to entertain young kids in World Showcase. It’s called Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. If your kids are old enough to be interested, they can search for clues to defeat an evil villain before he takes over World Showcase. This might keep your kids interested enough for you to enjoy one of those beverages we’ve talked about. Find out more on the bridge leading from Future World to World Showcase.
If you decide to have date night in World Showcase, pick either Mexico or Canada to start and walk around the lagoon in a half circle towards the other one. Drinking around the world is the unofficial drinking game of Epcot, so good luck!
Frozen Ever After
I cannot believe I’m putting Frozen on this list, but here it is. The ride features the same boat mechanic that every Disney aficionado knows. (Think Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world, etc.) But, it combines that with the newest animatronics and light projection which really bring the movie to life. Yes, your favorite song is featured. Be prepared to let it go unless you want sing it all day. There is even a slight twist at the end where the boat flips backwards. It’s a lot of fun and very suitable for young kids. I will begrudgingly concede that I see what all of the fuss is about.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
This is another boat ride, but it’s much less crowded than Frozen. It’s great kid friendly activity in the Mexico Pavilion. The Three Caballeros made an appearance in Mickey and the Roadster Racers so if you have Disney Junior fans in your house, they will love it.
When you first sit down in your ride vehicle for Spaceship Earth, you are prompted to select a language on the screen. This sets the narration for the entire ride. Declan and Reese rode together up front while I rode in back. I quickly set mine to English and Declan quickly set theirs to German. The next 15 minutes of the ride were hilarious to me as I tried to narrate for Reese between fits of laughter. They were horrible for Reese. But I’m writing this post so it goes in the highlights.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
While the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland will always be my favorite Nemo ride, the Seas with Nemo and Friends is pretty good too. There are some cool special effects added in that we really enjoyed like the turtle tunnel. The ride also takes you through portions of a real life aquarium called SeaBase. After the ride, you can explore those areas more thoroughly. Make sure to give yourself and your kids plenty of time to explore after the ride. It was one of our favorite spots in all of Epcot. If you’re luckily, you’ll catch a glimpse of the manatees.
(Eating and) Drinking Around the World
We didn’t try anything in Epcot that we didn’t love. Everything was delicious. However, we failed miserably at drinking around the world.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
This was the best pizza we have ever had. I know the Le Cellier Steakhouse is the fanciest, most difficult reservation to get in Epcot, but if you aren’t one of the lucky few, consider Via Napoli instead. I still dream about this four cheese pizza.
Shows and Entertainment
Meeting Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at the Epcot Character Spot
This was Declan’s favorite activity at Epcot. Of course, there are a lot of places to meet the classic Disney characters throughout the parks, but we enjoyed the fact that we could meet all three in a row. It was an excellent use of a FastPass+ since we were traveling with a toddler.
Meeting Donald Duck at the Mexico Pavilion
We stumbled upon Donald Duck as we were leaving Epcot for the afternoon. He was tucked away around the corner of the Mexico Pavilion. Since he was hidden, the line was very short. It was the perfect way to end Declan’s day at Epcot.
We did the green mission which is described as the easier for the two. It felt like a baby ride. And that’s coming from someone with motion sickness! I did appreciate the Gina Torres cameo though.
Shows and Entertainment
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
In fairness, this is the oldest nighttime spectacular in the four Disney World theme parks. And it shows. A spinning globe floats around the World Showcase Lagoon with projections of something emitting from within. We stayed to watch for about a minute before realizing it was going to be a big letdown. Go see Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom. It’s a similar concept that is better executed with better technology.
O Canada! and Reflections of China
Remember what I said before about lean bars? Why not put in seats? Also, the visual effects of O Canada! might make you queasy. Watch with caution if you’ve been drinking around the world.
Final Thoughts on 1 Day Epcot Plan for Parents of Young Kids
Okay, so you may have guessed that we fall into the “hate” category of Epcot. While we enjoyed our kid free evening in the World Showcase, we just didn’t get why people love Epcot SO MUCH. Please don’t @ me about this. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Disney has announced plans to transition Epcot into a more “Disney” like theme park. This includes adding attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy to Future World and Ratatouille to World Showcase. Hopefully, these additions will provide much needed updates to the Epcot experience.