Epcot is such an incredible park, but I understand that it can be a daunting place for families since it tends to draw more of an adult demographic. But no need to worry, below I’m noting our must-dos to keep things fun for everyone.
Before I get started on Epcot must-dos, I have to share my #1 Disney tip to always keep top of mind, (mainly because I always need to remind myself of this tip too). Take your Disney days at a slower pace than you'd expect, no matter what park you're visiting. In the past, I've added way too much into our day's plan and ended up personally bummed because of unmet (insanely high) expectations and my crew is burnt out and cranky from being in a constant state of go-go-go. Trust me, you'll enjoy the day so much more if every minute isn't jam packed with plans. Before each park day, we like to ask the top two things everyone in our party individually wants to do or see. Since doing every single thing in the park isn’t possible, this helps us know what is important to try to hit and what we can skip without consequence during the day. We find this to be a really great way to prioritize and get everyone on the same page. It alleviates broken expectations later in the day and gives you a chance to pace yourself and enjoy the little moments all the more.
Okay, on to Epcot! Epcot is such an amazing park! Whether it's the culture of World Showcase that draws you, the festivals it hosts, the food and drink, the unique attractions, or the overall park vibe, there really is something for everyone. Below I'm sharing out top 10 Epcot must-dos with kids...
10. Explore World Showcase early in the day before it gets overrun by bachelorette parties. - Okay so kidding aside, World Showcase tends to get overcrowded by larger groups the further you get into the day. If you and your kids want to explore each country's pavilion I recommend you start your day in World Showcase and then backtrack to the front of the park when World Showcase gets crowded.
TIP - If you're staying on property, taking the Disney Skyliner or the Friendship Boats are great ways to start your day in World Showcase, because they literally drop you off not in the front of the park, but in World Showcase by France at the International Gateway. (You can walk to this park entrance from Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort and Disney's BoardWalk also.) It saves you a lot of time if World Showcase is where you want to start!
TIP - if you're park hoping, Epcot is an amazing spring board! You can take the Skyliner or Friendship Boats between Hollywood Studios and Epcot and you can get to Magic Kingdom from Epcot by Monorail!
9. Visit Anna and Elsa in Norway - Now that character meet and greets are coming back slowly but surely (woohoo!!) adding character interactions to any day make for a special and always changing experience. That's the best part about interacting with the amazing Disney characters, no meet and greet experience will ever be the same even if you meet the same character dozens of times.
TIP - Don't spend too much time waiting on the characters, unless that was a top priority for someone in your party. We love just happening upon these interactions, and it's much easier to do in the new hybrid manner than it was in the past.
8. Ride Frozen Ever After - Start or end your day at this ride. It tends to have super long lines during the day unfortunately. If it’s a top priority for your party, I recommend hitting it first thing. This ride is known to go down due to technical difficulties on occasion so I’d hate for you to wait until the end of the day and miss it altogether. But if it's just casually on your list, you can absolutely save it for the end of the day... likely it'll be a walk-on during fireworks :)
7. Enjoy the rides that have no height requirements
- Frozen Ever After (Norway Pavilion)
- Spaceship Earth (Inside the Park Icon)
- Journey into Imagination with Figment (Between World Nature/The Land Pavilion and World Showcase)
- Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (France Pavilion) - Virtual Queue
- Living with the Land (World Nature/The Land Pavilion)
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (Mexico Pavilion)
- The Seas with Nemo (World Nature/The Seas)
6. Spend the hottest part of the day enjoying World Nature/The Seas - we like to park our stroller and ride the Nemo ride to start our experience in The Seas since the exit of the ride dumps you into the pavilion. It’s a double win to enter a pavilion through a ride in my opinion, especially one that rarely has a wait time
TIP - the Nemo ride is adorable, but there is one room that still makes me jump as an adult. There’s a pitch black room where an angler fish jumps out at you and comes awfully close to the ride vehicle. I like to put my hand over Tallulah’s eyes for that section. It’s right after the jellyfish room if you want to do the same :)
5. Enjoy some air conditioned shows - On that same train of thought, between Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along/Impressions de France, The American Adventure, Reflections of China, Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival, Awesome Planet, and Turtle Talk with Crush, there is no shortage of air conditioned theaters in Epcot (which is especially great, because there is very little shade in this park).
TIP - Spending time during the hottest parts of the day (usually 11am- 5pm) bopping in and out of these offerings is a nice way to keeps crankiness at bay :)
4. Explore the festivals - There is no short supply when it comes to seasonal festivals at Epcot. If you're coming early in the year, you'll stumble across Festival of the Arts, in the spring there's Flower and Garden Festival, in the fall, Food and Wine Festival and at Christmastime there's Festival of the Holidays.
With some many unique offerings during these events, I recommend picking up a guidemap the day of or browsing your app the day before to know before you go what you and your crew may be interested in checking out. There's something for everyone!
We'll get into a deeper dive of each festival in future posts, but our top things to do at each for kids are...
- Festival of the Arts - there's a free offering where guests of all ages can paint a few squares as part of a huge paint by number mural.
It's fun to be a part of the finished product. There are also so many local artists that bring amazing chalk art/paintings, etc. to the park and are so much fun to watch being installed!
- Flower and Garden Festival - character topiaries are found throughout the park and it's fun to find them as a family.
- Food and Wine Festival - concerts can be found at the American pavilion and are so fun for everyone to enjoy. (I'm excited for the old school bands to return... Hanson was such a blast to watch and meet - they did meet and greets during a festival tasting event).
- Festival of the Holidays - storytellers share stories and Christmas/holiday traditions from each country throughout World Showcase and are engaging for kids and adjusts to enjoy. Plus, Epcot is the only park where you can see Santa and Mrs. Claus :)
TIP - for all the festivals, playground spaces are built out to give kids a space for them to enjoy and more often than not, there are toddler zones in the playground as well as spots for bigger kids :) Major win!
TIP - You can also find scavenger hunts at every festival. This is a great way to explore World Showcase although you need to purchase a map (and in return get a completion gift), but be aware that focusing on this takes up a good chunk of your day, so I wouldn't recommend it for your first day at the park. For more details about scavenger hunts, you can check out this post.
3. Grab some Epcot snacks - Epcot has incredible food all around (more on table service dining in a minute), and snacking around the world is a great way to incorporate some tasty culture into your Disney day! Some of our favorite Epcot snacks are found at…
- Les Halles Boulangerie & Pattiserie (France) - the bread and pastries take me back to Paris with every bite.
TIP - this is great spot to start the day and grab some breakfast pastries since it's located right by the International Gateway park entrance, or end your evening with some pastries to go for the next morning in your hotel room. They’re infinitely better than any hotel breakfast pastry.
TIP - they also have great simple sandwiches for lunch. If the restaurants are full and lines are too long on the promenade, this is a great spot. Plus, the queue is in the AC, which is never a bad thing in Florida. (I know I've been harping on the AC finds a lot in this post, but if you're visiting here anytime from March - October, I want to make sure you're prepared. Epcot can be extra hot with its lack of shade)
- Yorkshire County Fish and Chips (United Kingdom) - this is for sure a meal not a snack but since it's from a to go window it felt right to add to this list. This is a not-to-miss quick bite. I haven’t had better fish and chips outside of the actual UK.
TIP - If you're traveling to Disney with one person or more, split up and have the folks not placing the order find a table by the lagoon. It's not easy to find seats, so you have to hover a bit to wait on a space.
- Mitsakoshi (Japan) - not only is this store really cool, but in the room all the way in the back they have unique pre-packaged Japanese snacks that are fun to try and take with you. - Katsura Grill (Japan) - my husband loves this sushi spot, and I love the ambiance. It's placed in the middle of a peaceful garden with a beautiful view.
- Our all time favorite Disney ice cream (and it's not where you'd think) just recently moved from Promenade Crepe Stand to Crêpes À Emporter by La Crêperie de Paris (France) - although the crepes are good here, it’s the vanilla soft serve that's our must-have. It’s definitely the best on property... and that's saying a lot!
- Karamell-Küche (Germany) - Just walking by and being hit in the face by the smells of Werther-y goodness is reason enough to drop in. Their butter bar is knock your socks off and the popcorn is made in house and is pure caramel magic.
2. Talk with the cultural reps to learn about their home country - One of the coolest parts about Epcot is the fact that the Cast Members in the pavilions are from the country they're representing. With the 2020 park closure, they're still slowly but surely bringing back more and more reps, but you can spot them by their name tags which say their home town and country. We love learning about where the reps are from and some of their favorite hometown spots and regional treats to enjoy. Via Napoli is one of our favorite restaurants to go with kids and Tallulah loves trying out her Italian when she can (she only knows a few words, but she says them with lots of passion :)) We've started compiling lists of must-visit spots we learned from the cultural reps when we can start traveling internationally again!
TIP - the Kidcot Fun Stops are customarily lead by cultural reps and they're always willing to teach the kids that visit about their culture and traditions. Unfortunately they haven't returned to manning those stations yet, but when they do, that's a perfect space for the kids to ask the questions that they have :)
1. Don’t miss the amazing food and drink throughout Epcot - this is the main reason why Epcot draws bachelor/bachelorette party crowds, and although a kids day at Disney will look different than if you were going with friends, you should most definitely make it a priority to enjoy a sit down dinner or world showcase snacks/drinks while you’re here. Epcot has some of the best dining on property, so if your kids are comfortable going to table service dining, making a midday reservation will refresh everyone with some great food/drink/air conditioning and will also give you the opportunity to feel like the day isn’t just for the kids. Most of the Epcot restaurants expect families to be dining not just adults so don’t hesitate to book the restaurant that you want. They’ll specify if there’s an age requirement online (there are very few spots on property that have this limitation).
If you’re looking for some of the most kid-friendly spots, I recommend…
- Via Napoli (Italy) - they have incredible pizza and the space is very open and can get loud, perfect for a toddler to not feel out of place.
- Spice Road Table - (Morocco) - with this restaurant being right on the water, there’s a lot for kids to watch with boats going by and most of the showcase visible. It’s a great place to play I Spy. - Teppan Edo - (Japan) - you can’t go wrong with hibachi, dinner and a show all in one.
- Biergarten - (Germany) - another great place for dinner and entertainment. Plus for this Pennsylvania girl, good old fashion German comfort food never disappoints.
- The best overall restaurant on property (in my opinion) also happens to be at Epcot. We try to book a reservation just about every time we visit Epcot ... it's that good, but also popular, so it can be tough to land a reservation. The vibe is definitely less kid friendly since it’s more on the quite side since it’s such an intimate space, but I’ve never gone when kids aren’t dining there, and ours love it.
It’s Le Cellier (Canada). The poutine is out of this world, the wild mushroom risotto and steak are fab and their pretzel breadsticks with maple sugar butter is nothing short of magical.
It’s totally worth going with your kids, I just recommend bringing some toys/games to keep them entertained. Also, some table service restaurants are more pricy than others, but we've found if you go for lunch and order apps/salads/sides you can get a really filling meal without the mega high price point :) My order at Le Cellier is Beef Bourguignon Poutine, Wedge Salad, and a side of mushroom risotto... and now excuse me while I try to book a reservation because my mouth is watering. :)
TIP - Every table service restaurant provides kids with a few crayons and a coloring sheet/activity menu to enjoy while they wait. It's always a crowd pleaser :)
TIP - we rarely bring a tablet to Disney for Tallulah because there‘s just so much for her to see and do, but if we have a really nice dinner on the books and Michael and I want to dine like Europeans, take our time and enjoy it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some iPad time ;) but of course, do what's best for you and your crew!
Okay now that this has turned into a Le Cellier appreciation post, I better wrap it up :)
All in all, even though Epcot can be crowded and filled with groups, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings, it is absolutely worth visiting with your family. Everyone will find plenty to enjoy if you pace yourself and enjoy exploration without a major agenda. Plus if you start in World Showcase and end your day in the front of the park, you'll be working against the standard crowd flow and will likely run into lower waits and less stress. :)
I hope you and your crew have a blast exploring and enjoying all that Epcot has to offer!
Do you have a favorite Epcot restaurant?