Walt Disney World - Epcot, Orlando
Epcot is huge; over twice the size of the Magic Kingdom so be prepared for some walking.
Epcot was designed to be an educational and entertaining park. Epcot is divided into the World Showcase and Future World.
The World Showcase contains various Pavillions: Mexico, Norway, China, Italy, Morrocco, France, Canada, Japan, United States, Germany and United Kingdom. Each of the pavillions have restaurants, shops, educational information and people from the various countries represented. Each pavillion employs staff that are on a one year work visa from that particular country. We always have fun hopping from pavillion to pavillion enjoying the shops, attractions and food.
Future World is comprised of: Innoventions, Journey into Immagination, Living with the Land, Mission Space, Test Track, The Seas, Universe of Energy and Spaceship Earth. The attractions in Future World are fun and educational. I particularly enjoyed the Seas with Nemo, Soarin, Test Track and Mission Space.
You need at least two days(if you are adults travelling or travelling with older kids) to see everything properly. The World Shocase itself can take you over half a day if you want to see and experience everything from the food, attractions and shops. I think Epcot is lost on very young children and is better suited for older kids and adults.
The United Kingdom Pavillion is another stop along the World Showcase in Epcot. The buidlings in this pavillion depeict an architectural history from the 1500's to the 1800's. Designs representing Victorian, London, Yorkshire Manor, Tudor, Georgian, Hyde Park, Regency and Shakespearean cottage design styles are reflected in the buildings. I think the architecture in this pavillion is well done indeed.
My wife and I enjoy wandering this pavillion which has much to see and has some great shops that highlight the UK's food,toys, china, apparrel and craftsmanship. We always find something fun to buy as a souvenir of our visit.
Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room is a favorite stop for us whether it's for a meal or just a drink. I love the traditional pub grub and pub atmosphere. We've always had a good meal here with friendly service. Our last visit in february 2015; we enjoyed a nice lunch outside overlooking the lagoon. There is also a Fish & Chips takeawy window if you don't feel like having a sit down meal.
My wife is a bit of an Anglophile so she loves anything that reminds her of the UK even if it is a replica in the US. I think this is a well done pavillion in Epcot.
*The crests of the four major UK schools are in the upstairs window of the Queen's Table: Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, and Edinburgh. My wife is a Disney nut and knows little tid bits such as this in the parks.*
The China Pavillion of the World Showcase is a favorite of ours. I love the architecture, the food, the entertainment and the shopping. You really feel transported here by how well they have done the architecture and overall presentation of this pavillion.
There are several things to see and experience here: the Dragon Legend Acrobats perform some amazing stunts throughout the day for all to see; there is some nice music playing in the Temple of Heaven by traditional Chinese folk musicians, The Tomb Warrios Exhibit is very well done and work a look and the Reflections of China movie is a nice introduction to the landscapes of China.
There are two food options here: Nine Dragons which is table service meals in a beautiful setting-we love having a nice lunch here and the Lotus Blossom Cafe which is counter service. They have really good eggrolls here and Peach Mango Iced Tea.
Shopping here is quite nice with some Furniture, Kitchenware, rugs, clothing, slippers, silk, paper fans, pictures,jewelry, etc. We purchase a Chinese Zodiac tee shirt for myself and a jade elephant for our home for luck.
The Mexico Pavillion is the first pavillion on the left side when you enter the World Showcase. The first thing that you will see is the Pyramid modeled after an Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl (the god of life) at Teotihuacan. Quetzalcoatl is represented by large serpent heads along the entrance stairs.
Once inside the pyramid there is a gallery of Mexican artifacts. Once through the gallery there is a colonical style plaza that is made to look like a marketplace at night. There are several artisans in the marketplace seeling traditional Mexican craft and art. There is a boat ride called "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros!"; which stars Donald Duck, José Carioca (the parrot), and Panchito (the Mexican charro rooster) from the 1944 Disney film The Three Caballeros. Personally I find this attraction a bit racist and am ashamed of it.
There are three dining options in the Mexico Pavillion. The San Angel Inn is located inside the pyramid overlooking the boat ride; this is a table service restaurant. La Cava del Tequila served margaritas, tequila and some tasty guacamole. Hacienda de San Angel is a quickservice restaurant that serves some tasty items such as empanadas, churros and nachos.
This is a good pavillion except for the boat ride and I always enjoy some tasty Mexican fare.
Perhaps the most unexciting attraction in the whole WDW Empire, Living With the Land offers certain advantages including a slow airconditioned ride of 14 minutes duration with essentially no wait time. In concept, it probably most approaches the original lofty intellectual ideals of Walt Disney (not that much of an oxymoron despite the mouse), depicting the advances in agricultural technology across a broad spectrum of categories. For adults and older children, this ride can be an interesting learning experience if not a highlight of a WDW visit.
The dark portion of the trip shows agricultural approaches and man's relationship with a variety of relatively unfriendly ecosystems including a rain forest and a desert. After passing through an aquarium featuring food fishes from tilapia to bass to shrimp, plus alligators for the children, part two is the greenhouse ride featuring plants grown with environmentally practises. Some are quite exotic, others famous such as a tomato tree which has produced some 30000+ tomatoes. An interesting journey, a welcome break.
SOARIN' is one of the more popular attractions in EPCOT, a lot of fun on a 5 minute simulated hang gliding trip featuring the most scenic views of California. Passengers are seated in comfortable and pleasantly wide seats in three rows of about 10 which are then raised and stacked vertically in front of a large concave movie screen on which aerial views are projected. The rows of seats are synchronized with the film to simulate pitching and swaying from side to side, although the only actual motion is vertical. Surprisingly realistic imitation of flight. Feet dangle - on looking up one can see the feet of the passengers in the row above.
Iconic scenic views include San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, desert and waterfall scenes, Los Angeles, Yosemite National Park and conclude with a trip to Disneyland for a flight over Cinderella's Castle and a Fireworks show. A favorite ride - the grandchildren loved this one.
The popular test track attraction is being renovated during 2012. As previously conceived since opening in 1999, the queue wends its way through a sophisticated testing facility for assorted car parts and functions ( image 2 ), before passengers were loaded into individual test cars. The track first went through assorted tests including rough road, heat and wind chambers, and acceleration and braking tests before going outside the building for a speed test on an open air track with banked curves. At 65 mph, Test Track was amongst the fastest Disney rides.
Still operated in conjunction with General Motors but now branded with the Chevrolet name, the new ride will be more interactive. Visitors will apparently select design features for the car they occupy and tests will be customized. The ride will be well served by keeping the 65 mph open air circuit of the building, certainly the most exciting feature.
For those with Fast Pass, the quick entrance gate is located at a distance from the standard entrance and hard to find - ask, don't search.
This attraction is a simulated motion ride of about 5.5 minutes, offering the experiences of an astronaut on a mission to Mars. Built at a cost of over $100 million dollars and sponsored by Hewlett Packard, the basic plan is an introductory film ( standing, no seating ) after which teams of four are placed in spaceship cockpits. Each member has an interactive role required - to press buttons at the appropriate time in the flight and landing sequence. Of course, should the pseudo-astronaut decline the interactive option, the computer will not even notice. Through the individual cockpit window, a film featuring space and the surface of the red planet offer what i suppose is a realistic vision of an actual flight. To increase realism, each space module has a detailed interior with multiple inert controls and buttons. With small children, we selected the green option for the flight with a lot of shaking but without the increased graviatational force experienced by those on the orange option. And after returning from Mars, a gift shop. Maybe not the best ride at WDW, but fun nonetheless.
The exterior of the Mission Space ride is quite striking. To the left facing the building, earth with a model rocket orbiting into space. To the right, a large replica of the earth's solitary moon. And centrally the large red model of Mars, through which the visitor enters.
Spaceship Earth is the iconic structure and attraction at EPCOT, the eighteen story sphere dominates the terrain. The sixteen minute dark ride is a trip from prehistoric times to the near future detailing the increasingly sophisticated advances in communication and technology. Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury wrote much of the original narration and also advised on the construction of the spaceship-like sphere as the people movers circle each floor and each era.
The scenes are superb, the audio-animatronic figures surprisingly realistic. Cave paintings, Greek theater, religious scholars, Gutenberg and the printing press, movies, computers - all and many more make their appearance in age-specific backgrounds. The narration is spoken by none less than Dame Judi Dench backed by a full orchestra and choir. Nothing chintzy about this trip. At the apex, the cars turn 180 degrees and the descent is backward - no potential for whiplash injuries at WDW. During this period an interactive computer asks passengers questions to determine what they anticipate will be the future. Exiting guests are channeled through a large windowless room featuring interactive arcade type machines and a store, designed to highlight the achievements of the current corporate sponsor, Siemens, entitled Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future, which replaced AT&T in 2004. The younger children will no doubt enjoy all the scenes along the way, but this theme ride has plenty of interest for adults as well.
The dominating sphere is pure Disney in magnitude. 165 ft across, it weighs 16 million pounds, composed of a carbon-aluminum compound on the exterior designed specifically to tolerate Florida weather. The " golf ball " is covered by 11000 triangular panels and supported by rods sunk 100 feet beneath ground level. A golfer designed to tee off would have to be about a mile tall. Detail of the exhibits is similarly pure Disney - Gutenberg's Bible is open to a page on display in a California museum and the hieroglyphics in the Egyptian scene is a direct replication of ancient Pharaonic scripts.
The second theme park at WDW opened in October 1982 and is the third most visited in the United States, sixth in the world, with close to 11 million guests per year. At 300 acres, it is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom and quite different in mission. The original Walt Disney plan was a futuristic village for 20000 inhabitants, but after his death the concept was changed to amusement park with a difference - human imagination and achievement for the basis for two large divisions. One features a World Showcase with eleven pavilions for eleven nations from France to China, all but Morocco corporate sponsored. Culture and food are the main attractions.
The second division is Future World with attractions with a base in technology and its achievements with rides covering everything from auto manufacture to agriculture. The iconic exhibit, and best, is Spaceship Earth.
Of note, EPCOT means Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, although the size of the site has brought for the alternate Every Person Comes Out Tired. The concept based rides make EPCOT a far more intellectual outing than the Magic Kingdom, although our grandchildren enjoyed much of this visit as well. And there was considerable brain-stimulation for the adults.
The park is shaped like a dumbbell - on arrival, the Monorail circles the site allowing for some interesting and beautiful pictures of the well maintained and landscaped area. Don't sit, take a look out the windows on the loop. After exiting the tram and approaching the ticket gates, the really rather spectacular World Showcase towers over the approach, quite striking really (IMAGE 1).
Everybody has a ton of advice for those going to WDW. What I generally heard was Epcot was OK, but not as kid friendly. After visiting all the parks, I think Epcot has the best mix of attractions for everyone.
For starters, hands down the best ride at any of the parks is located here - the magnificent "Soarin'", where you ride as if in a hang glider over some breathtaking sites in California. The lines for this ride can be insane, so I recommend getting here first thing in the morning (or at least secure fast passes.) Living with the Land is right next store - a slow, easy ride that goes through a number of small farms. I found this interesting (the rest of the family...not so much!)
At the Seas - both the Nemo and Turtle Talk attractions are worth a visit. Turtle Talk is interactive with the audience, and was very funny. Imagination with Figment, Spaceship Earth, and the Universe of Energy are all slow-paced rides that will keep your attention. The Innoventions buildings have a number of hands on activities that kept everyone entertained.
In the center of the park is another character spot, where you can stand in line to get time with 5 major characters from Disney. They play cartoons while you are waiting, and it's a nice A/C break if you need one.
The World showcase is definitely more conducive to an older set. There are two rides - The 3 Caballeros in Mexico and Maelstrom in Norway. Both are worth a visit. Because of the showcase, there are TONS of options for dining, though many would recommend reservations because they get so crowded.
Epcot also has access from the monorail and the International Gateway - boats that travel to Hollywood Studios and several of the hotels.
You'll need at least a full day to see it all! Epcot is a ton of fun.
EPCOT is the least "Disney-esque" but also one of the best Disney parks in Central Florida. Half inspired by science & technology and half inspired by world travel & cultures, EPCOT is an unusual breed of theme park. There are numerous rides and attractions here -- especially ones that are enjoyable yet not roller coasters (I am not a roller coaster junkie). My favorite part of the park is the World Showcase, which is divided up into small representations of different countries from all across the globe. Here, you can see replicas of each country's distinctive landmarks, sample some of their foods and even experience aspects of their culturesthrough dark rides. The gift shops are also cool, selling postcards and trinkets from their respective countries. It is a must see!
The theme park taht started it all now consists of over 7 parks. The main ones are as follows:-
Magic Kingdom - Kids favourite with rides like sapce mountains, big thunder railroad, E.T and "its a small world". Well worth waiting until the end of the day for the spectacular laser and fireworks display.
MGM Studios - For some of the more thrilling rides go here and try out the twilight zone tower of terror and aerosmiths rockin' rollercoaster.
Epcot - This is more of a thought provoking place with rides like spaceship earth and innoventions.
The other parks are mainly water parks and the Animal Kingdom (which I haven't visited).
One tip if you are taking a family is to take a picnic as the food prices are quite high and the queues long.
We easily spent 8 hours running all around Epcot. Our favorite ride was Soarin where we felt as though we were free flying hand gliding over California. We soared above the Golden Gate Bridge, wineries ... an even smelled the oranges. We should have gotten a fast track ticket to come back later; when our day was finished the ride was sold out for the day.
We enjoyed the exhibits in Future World East. I felt physically ill on my Mission Space to the Moon; we took the intense journey into space. Disney reps. in space suits prepared us for our mission. Once we disembarked we saw many interactive game and play areas before leaving through the extensive gift shop.
The test track was a lot of fun, it felt like we were walking through a Nascar Garage on our way to the ride. Our sports car whirled over hills, ice, snow ... Once we left the ride we walked through all kinds of interactive GM exhibits & an enormous gift shop.
Spaceship Earth whisked us through the large globe in the park. We were able to see ourselves in the future literally as we rode, played, explored and competed in the icon. Once off the ride we were able to E-mail pics of ourselves in the future - clever!
The World Showcases were more amazing than I remembered. We made lunch reservations by phone in advance by calling 407 WDW-DINE. Each showcase had a restaurant, cafe, shops, and attractions. We walked through Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, Canada and the United Kingdom. As you know, I love to travel and thought this exhibit would be a disappointment. In China, the staff were in costume, we walked through a temple, saw miniature Terra Cotta Soldiers ... Italy was filled with fountains, the architecture and wonderful street performers ... yes we felt like we were there. Loved the miniature Stave Church in Norway and the Maelstrom Viking Boat voyage through the Fjords.
There was so much going on throughout the park, characters greeting us, performers ... Just a wonderful day!
We love Disney ... movies to parks - and we had a great time. The weather does get hot, but we also learned a few tips ... for example, you can avoid long park entrance and bag lines at epcot by using the back entrance on the boardwalk. We also found a couple ways to save ... because it can be expensive ... we went to a gift store on 192 that the kids loved - it was so big and they had lots of great items also, we found a great company www.babycargorentals.com where we rented a stroller and saved a lot of money. Overall a blast .. definately check the entertainment schedule when you arrive and plan to get seats about 30 minutes early .. well worth the effort :)