Disney on a Budget, Part 5: Epcot Center

Last week I wrote about our family’s highlights of the time spent at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This week I will review our time spent at Epcot Center.

We spent parts of two days at Epcot Center on this trip to Florida. We have spent many days there in the past, so we knew what our must-see things were. There are several attractions we have seen and done in the past that did not make the list for this trip. Not that they were not enjoyable, they simply did not get enough family votes to be added to the short list. If our trip were longer, we would have covered many more of these items again.

So what things did make our list? Read on to find out.

Test Track was a required stop. The entire family insisted that we took part in this ride. Who doesn’t enjoy going relatively fast in an open top car? This ride (sponsored by GM) was updated sometime between our last two trips to Florida. I think the track layout is the same, but the “environments” you travel through have changed. One fun addition is the game you play while waiting in line. It allows you to design a cartoon style car based on several different criteria. The ride is fun and finishes with a 60+ mph loop around the outside of the building. Since it is sponsored by GM you are dropped off in a showroom of their vehicles. The kids enjoy climbing around in these vehicles as well.

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A favorite stop for our youngest daughter was The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It is a slow moving ride that travels through a simulated (and shortened) version of the movie. Part of the ride is in an enormous aquarium filled with a multitude of sea life. The remainder of the ride is surrounded by animatronics, projectors, and screens. These items really bring the ride to life.

The exit area of the ride also has plenty of things to see and do. There are many observation areas that allow for good views inside the aquarium. There are several interactive displays as well. The most fun thing is probably Turtle Talk with Crush. This is a fun and interactive show with the kids’ favorite turtle, Crush.

club cool

The other family favorite activity in Future Land is Club Cool. Club cool is a Coca-Cola store that offers samples of several different carbonated beverages from around the world. Some of them are tasty. Others are not. There is a gift shop in the store as well, but we have never visited that. We have only used it as a place to come in and cool off on a hot day.  Our favorite soda from Club Cool is Vegita Beta from Japan.

The other, and larger, portion of Epcot Center is the World Showcase. We have walked through all the countries in the past, and ridden on most of the rides. On this trip we hit a few of our favorites as well as one new, special activity.

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WE SAW FROZEN’S ELSA AND ANNA! (at least that’s how the kids said it). The Frozen ride opened the day after we left, and the princesses were not technically scheduled to be at Epcot during our visit, either. However, we heard about the soft opening of their autograph signing area and had to check it out. We waited in line less than 20 minutes to see them. The smiles on the kids’ faces lasted much longer.

Our middle daughter has a Skype-pal in China, so spending some time in the China village was also a must. We explored the buildings, wandered through the gift shop, took pictures, and watched the fish in the pond. We did not stay for the movie because we have seen it in the past.

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For some reason our kids really enjoy the Grand Fiesta Tour in the Mexican pavilion. It is a slow moving boat ride through an Aztec themed building. It features three animated ducks, including Donald, that fly through and narrate the trip. It is relaxing and cool on a hot day. We also happened to see Donald in the restaurant area in the building so we stopped long enough for a picture and autograph.

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The highlight of this trip to Epcot was the fireworks show over the pond in the middle of the World Showcase. The show is called IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It is very well done. This show is why we split our time at Epcot into two days. We wanted to see most of the rides during the daylight hours, but we wanted to make sure we also saw the fireworks. Melissa and I saw them years ago but the kids had not. It was a must see for us to show them.

The show is fascinating and extremely fun to watch. The fireworks display is amazing. The lights and laser display that happens on the water and earth shaped float is also wonderful. If order to see the entire show it is a good idea to find a spot to sit a while before the show begins. There are a couple areas of reserved seating if you want to FastPass or wait in line. There are many other good viewing areas available, but some planning is required.

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A couple notes on where to sit. A spot that is elevated enough to see the show on the water is important. Find an area with a clear view of the center of the pond. Often these are close to the railings around the water. Finding a spot on the exit side of the water will allow you to make a faster exit from the park once the show is over. This is especially important if you are staying on site and using Disney transportation.  The bus lines can get long in the immediate aftermath of the fireworks.  There are many great places to sit and watch the show. Picking one is part of the fun.

We did walk through the rest of the showcase. Seeing all the villages and buildings is fun and educational. The kids enjoyed seeing all the different architectural types. I enjoyed smelling all the different foods .

While we saw and did several other things, these were our favorites on this trip to Epcot Center.

What are your favorites from Epcot Center? Share them with us by comment or email.