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Epcot with Kids ~ Top 10 Tips Families Need to Know

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Parents planning a trip to Walt Disney World might be inclined to skip Epcot, assuming kids won't appreciate the park's focus on technology and world cultures. This would be a huge mistake, though! Children love to set off on a fantastical journey into the future and around the world at this incredible theme park. There are two distinct areas at Epcot, both of which have more in common with a World's Fair than a typical theme park. Future World features technological innovations while World Showcase allows guests to experience the cultures of 11 countries all in one day. To make the most of your time at this unusual Disney park, read our top tips for planning your Epcot schedule with kids.

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Beauty and the Beast topiaries in the France pavilion during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Beauty and the Beast topiaries in the France pavilion during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (Photo credit: Disney)

1. Planning ahead is essential.

There's a direct correlation between the amount of pre-trip research and subsequent enjoyment at Epcot with kids. It's important to read about the park, consider your family's priorities and come up with a plan of attack. This is especially if your family's time at Epcot is limited.

Parents should also be familiar with height requirements for rides to avoid disappointment and time wasted in line. The last thing anyone wants is to build up excitement for an attraction only to discover that one of the kids isn't tall enough to ride.

Young children love The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Future World at Epcot with kids
Young children love The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Future World (Photo credit: Disney)

2. Arrive early to maximize your time at Epcot.

Epcot is huge. In fact, this park is nearly three times bigger than the Magic Kingdom. A late start at Epcot with kids will seriously limit how much ground you can cover in one day. Guests staying at a Disney Resort can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours to gain extra park time before crowds arrive. World Showcase opens later than Future World (generally at 11 am) so it's a good idea to hit as many attractions as possible in Future World before heading to World Showcase when it opens. Parents with young children will want to bring or rent a stroller due to the park's vast size and the amount of walking required.

MagicBands are used for park entry and FastPass+ and more at EPCOT with kids
MagicBands are used for park entry and Genie+ and more at Epcot (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

3. Avoid long lines with Genie+, Lightning Lanes, and Single Rider.

Disney's FastPass program reduced wait times at popular Disney attractions when it was introduced in 1999. Starting in 2021, FastPass was replaced by Genie+. For popular attractions, Disney fans can purchase Genie+ to skip the standby line via the Lightning Lane. Starting at 7 am (whether in the parks or not), purchasers can start making attraction reservations via the My Disney Experience app. Note: park-goers can reserve each Genie+ ride or attraction just once per day and can reserve only one attraction at a time. Genie+ is available for 10 attractions at Epcot. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure is also eligible for Lightning Lane access for a separate fee.

Epcot Genie+ and Lightning Lane Attractions

  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: Space
  • Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (extra charge)
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Older kids and adults who are willing to ride popular attractions by themselves can also take advantage of single rider lines on select attractions for much shorter wait times.

The Soarin' Around the World attraction is exhilarating for some, but motion sickness-inducing for others at Epcot with kids
The Soarin' Around the World attraction is exhilarating for some, but motion sickness-inducing for others (Photo credit: Disney)

4. Skip it!

If an attraction doesn't appeal to your family, then don't feel that you have to do it just because it's popular. If anyone in the family suffers from motion sickness, for example, you may want to skip Soarin'. This flight simulator attraction takes riders on an inspiring make-believe journey around the world, but it can cause some passengers to feel woozy. (Alternatively, riders can choose to keep their eyes closed throughout the ride if they start to feel sick.) Not a fan of scary rides? Lucky for you, there aren't many at Epcot. Take a peek at the scariest rides at the park via TripSavvy.

Visit characters like Joy and Sadness from "inside Out" at the Epcot Character Spot in the heart of Future World
Visit characters like Joy and Sadness from “inside Out” at the Epcot Character Spot in the heart of Future World (Photo credit: Disney)

5. Meet Disney and Pixar characters at Epcot with kids.

In my family's experience, Epcot is the best place at Disney World to meet characters. The lines are often shorter than at other Disney parks and we have met characters at Epcot that we haven't seen anywhere else. The World Showcase is a prime location for character greetings since many Disney movies are based on traditional stories from these countries. My family has enjoyed meeting Mary Poppins, Mulan, Alice in Wonderland, and Marie from The Aristocats in their homelands. You can also dine with princesses in a medieval castle at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway, a character meal that has traditionally been easier to book than the princess-themed meal at Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom.

Check the Epcot map schedule at the start of the day to confirm character appearances, times, and locations. But, be aware that wait times will grow longer as the day goes on. If there is a character who is a must-meet for anyone in the family, then plan to attend the greeting as early in the day as possible. We once waited 1.5 hours to see Belle and the Beast at the end of the day. My daughter was adamant that we had to meet the royal couple because it was the first time in many Disney trips that we had ever come across the Beast at a character greeting.

China is one of 11 countries you can visit at EPCOT with kids
China is one of the countries you can visit at Epcot with kids (Photo credit: jewhyte, Depositphotos.com)

6. Collect Kidcot passport stamps in World Showcase.

Kidcot Fun Stops keep kids motivated to travel to each World Showcase pavilion so they can collect stamps from each of the 11 countries at Epcot: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. Children of all ages enjoy coloring a cardboard cut-out of Duffy the Bear at these designated stations. They can also learn to say hello in the host country's language at each stop.

For even more fun, purchase a Passport to the World, a book featuring a page for each World Showcase country plus stickers for decorating the pages. My kids always loved the scavenger hunt aspect of filling the passport. Plus, it makes a great souvenir of a day at Epcot with kids. Even if parents don't want to purchase a passport, kids can still collect stamps and participate in the activities at the Kidcot station in each land at no extra charge.

7. Go undercover as a secret agent with Phineas and Ferb.

School-aged kids will love the interactive Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, particularly if they are Phineas and Ferb fans. Would-be agents sign up at agentwsa.com while at Epcot. Families then use a smartphone to follow clues that guide them through World Showcase to solve a mystery involving the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Each mission only takes 30-45 minutes but will ensure the kids are keen to explore the country pavilions. Plus, agents receive a very special “thank you” for helping save the world.

Festive mariachi band music and dancing at the Mexico pavilion at Epcot with kids for Holidays Around the World
Festive mariachi band music and dancing at the Mexico pavilion at Epcot for Holidays Around the World (Photo credit: Chloe Rice, Disney)

8. Attend seasonal special events.

Epcot hosts special events at certain times of year that make this theme park even more fun for families. Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is held each spring and features beautiful flower displays and topiaries of favorite Disney characters. Foodie families will fall for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Especially popular is the annual Holidays Around the World celebration, where visitors celebrate the spirit of the season and learn about holiday traditions from around the globe from late November through early January. Take a look at a full list of Walt Disney World special events.

An array of tempting fare in the France pavilion at Epcot with kids
An array of tempting fare in the France pavilion (Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, Disney)

9. Eat your way around the world.

Anyone who likes to eat is going to love World Showcase! It's possible to nibble one's way around the world, sampling international treats at each of the pavilions or dining at the many alluring sit-down restaurants. The table service restaurants at Epcot are some of the most popular at Disney World so anyone planning to eat at these must be sure to make Advanced Dining Reservations as soon as possible, up to 180 days ahead. After getting your fill, great entertainment and shopping await at each of the pavilions.

Light the Night fireworks spectacular concludes a wonderful day at Epcot with kids
Light the Night fireworks spectacular concludes a wonderful day at Epcot with kids (Photo credit: Disney)

10. Top off your day with fireworks.

Light the Night fireworks show is the perfect way to end a long day of touring Epcot with kids. Some of the best views of the fireworks are around the lagoon but it's necessary to be in place early (and wait a loooong time) to secure a spot. Some restaurants in the World Showcase offer excellent views but reservations must be made well in advance. Anyone with a Park Hopper Pass can head to Epcot just for the fireworks show at the end of the day since Epcot often remains open later than the other parks. It's worth the trek from another Disney park for the booming and brilliant display.

Epcot with Kids ~ Top 10 Tips Families Need to Know

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Do you have any additional tips for planning your Epcot schedule with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Lisa Goodmurphy, The Spunky Travel Mama

Lisa Goodmurphy is a lawyer turned family travel writer and a mom of two daughters. She grew up in small town Northern Ontario and now resides near Toronto, Canada. Badly bitten by the travel bug years ago, she considers herself fortunate that her family is equally enthusiastic about her mission to explore the world—one trip at a time. Lisa shares her travel adventures on the blog that she founded in 2011 and now contributes to many online media publications as well. You can read about her family’s travels on her blog, Gone with the Family, on Google+ or on Twitter as @GoneWithFamily.

Comments
  1. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) says

    You’re right about people wanting to skip EPCOT because it’s “too educational” or “boring”. Thankfully, my parents did not choose to skip EPCOT on our many visits to Disney World; it’s my most favorite attraction in the area. It also is what helped spark my interest in world cultures and travel at a very young age. Canada was always my favorite at the World Showcase 🙂 Norway is pretty awesome, too.

    • Lisa Goodmurphy, the Spunky Travel Mama says

      EPCOT is one of my favourite attractions in Orlando too, Francesca – especially the World Showcase. My kids might not say that it’s their favourite (yet) but they love it as well and we could easily spend an entire day wandering from country to country!

  2. Ellen Lanin says

    This is a very good list of advice for enjoying a visit to Epcot with children (and grandchildren). Sometimes the long wait in a line can be a good “down” time to relax and eat a snack.

    • Lisa Goodmurphy, the Spunky Travel Mama says

      Thanks, Ellen! I don’t mind time spent in line either – particularly if it’s shady and I can sit down!

  3. Some other fun tips:
    1. Bring a golf ball with you on the Soarin’ ride. During the ride movie, when a golfer hits his ball toward the audience, pretend to reach out and grab it and then present your ball to your child (blows their minds =). Don’t forget to draw on a Mickey on the ball first =).
    2. For your girls, go to Japan and “Pick a Pearl” in the shop. They will open the oyster and present your pearl. You can have them set it in a necklace or buy a “pearl cage” from Etsy or Ebay (much cheaper).
    3. Keep an eye out if you are near the large wooden doors between Canada and UK in the World Showcases. They will have characters in training come out of those doors to practice interacting with the kids. You never know when you might get to meet a bunch of favorite characters with out a line!!

    • Lisa Goodmurphy, the Spunky Travel Mama says

      Thank you for the additional tips, Angela – I’ll keep them in mind for the next time we are at EPCOT!!

  4. Man, this post brings back memories of my favourite part of Disney World as a kid. The park is definitely too big to do in one day, two is much more comfortable!

  5. Lisa Goodmurphy, the Spunky Travel Mama says

    I prefer two days at EPCOT as well – then I can take my time exploring the World Showcase!!

  6. Highly recommend the food and wine festival there in the fall!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      I have never done the Disney Food and Wine Festival…someday!

    • Karen Lammardo says

      I totally agree, there is so much to learn at Epcot. Both in Future World & World Showcase. Teaching children about the countries should be a important part of their vacation. So they learn about all the different cultures in the world.
      We just love the Food & Wine Festival. Disney is the best! 🙂

  7. Our whole family loved Epcot on our trip to Disney World last year! Test Track and Soarin are among our favorite rides in any Disney park. We had a lot of fun strolling through the World Showcase, seeing the shows and sampling the foods. We did it in one day, but two would have been better. Great tips, Lisa!

  8. Christopher Wallace says

    We are going to the EPCOT center next month. These tips are gold. Thanks very much.

  9. Amanda Keeley-Thurman says

    We just visited Epcot and I loved it so much. I just wish I had more time there. The kids loved getting their passport stamps, but I was busy trying to complete the drink around the world challenge. I don’t think we did one ride or met one character actually. Ha.

  10. I love these tips. Most people only think of rides when they think of Disney, but when we go, we always head to Epcot first. It’s a ton of fun and a great learning experience.

  11. Many great tips to consider when planning a trip to Epcot with your kids. I love the fact that Epcot is educational. Loving to learn new things can rub off on your kids!

  12. Oh I love the wristbands! What a truly wonderful thing to incorporate. I wish I could say I’ve been there. I haven’t, but my husband has. I hope we get to take the kids one day!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Epcot really is a wonderful option for the whole family. I hope you can bring the kids there someday soon!

  13. Joely Smith says

    Fast pass is a MUST at Disney! I sure wish we could go do it all again! I am thankful however that we were able to do it even once. Such a great experience for the entire family!

  14. Jennifer Van Huss says

    I haven’t been to EPCOT since I was a kid. I don’t remember it being anything special. After this post, i’m truly reconsidering it! What beautiful grounds and I bet my older boys would get such a kick out of it!!

  15. I’ve never been to EPCOT but this looks like so much fun. Those Fastpast bands look awesome. What a great idea. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go to EPCOT and experience this.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Gisele – Epcot really is such a unique theme park. I hope you can visit someday!

  16. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place says

    These are great tips for families planning to go to Epcot. It really pays to get there early and avail the fast pass. I agree with skipping attractions as well. You don’t have to experience everything to have a great time!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      In fact if you try to experience every single thing, you’ll probably wind up stressed out & exhausted instead of having fun!

  17. Terri Steffes says

    We are headed to Epcot to the Garden show in late May. We love be Epcot and it was always my daughters favorite park!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      How fun! The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival looks amaaaaazing. Enjoy!

  18. Marissa Zurfluh says

    Epcot looks like it would be so much fun! I need to make a family trip there!

  19. Jones Around The World says

    Sending this to my sister now!! She’s planning a trip Epcot, and I think she’d love this post 🙂 Great job

  20. Wildish Jess says

    I’ve never been to Epcot with kids but I went as a kid. It was my favorite part of Disney World.

  21. Jennifer Brand says

    Epcot is my kiddos favorite park! We love playing Agent P as a family, and also pin trading! Epcot is the best for pin trading! There are so many cast members walking around the World Showcase that you can do a lot of trading in a short period of time!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Epcot is my favorite park by far! My kids like to do the pin trading too, but often forget to bring theirs. We will have to remember your tip (and our pins!) for the next time we visit. Thank you for sharing your Epcot with kids tips!

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