Ten Epcot Attractions for Younger Kids at Walt Disney World
Epcot is often viewed as a park for older kids and adults. However, there are many Epcot attractions for younger children!
In fact, if you don’t pay a visit to Epcot while the kids are younger, you’ll miss out on some spectacular attractions that may no longer appeal to your brood once they are older.
With that said, I don’t want you to rush into Epcot without a plan. Utilize FastPass+, escape the park during the busiest (and often hottest) afternoon hours, and/or take breaks when needed. Epcot requires a lot of walking. A lot.
Tired feet will appreciate taking a Friendship Boat across World Showcase Lagoon.
Even with a teen, we tend to tour Epcot on two separate days. We might tackle Future World one morning, and then World Showcase on another evening. Of course, park hoppers help to break up a tiring Epcot day. There are many options for breaking up Epcot days, including touring until the International Gateway in World Showcase and then taking a boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Hop on a Friendship Boat.
If you are a one park per day family, then plan for rest stops. If you aren’t returning to your hotel for a mid-day break, then be sure to sit for small respites — Epcot has some wonderful hidden areas (the park in United Kingdom is a favorite!) where you can relax.
Hyde Park is a lovely place to relax with the family.
Future World Attractions
Touring these Future World attractions first thing in the morning or later in the day (early evening is optimal!) is a good strategy for less crowded conditions. However, since these attractions are not headliners, you may be able to visit throughout the day with little to no wait, depending on the time of year that you visit. Of course, school holidays always yield longer lines.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion
This pavilion showcases a slow-moving ride in a “clamobile”. Join Pixar friends Marlin and Dory as you search for Nemo through vibrant ocean scenes. After, explore the 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank filled with sharks, dolphins, turtles, and more species. Don’t miss my favorite area — the manatee rehabilitation room. Love those “sea cows”!
Plan to see the first show of Turtle talk with Crush. It’s not-to-be-missed for younger kids and their parents. Children will be invited to sit on the floor in the front of the theater, so that they can peer into the undersea window and vie for a better position in which to chat with Crush. Innocent questions posed by the offspring can result in memorable laughs. This show is totally cool for your dudes and dudettes!
Coca-Cola fans (and visitors looking for a free thirst-quencher ;)) can sample products from around the globe. Kids of all ages have fun sipping these tasty and some not-so-tasty (yep, I’m referring to Italy’s Beverly) beverages. What’s your favorite?!
Take a sip!
Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
Phineas and Ferb’s pet, Perry the Platypus takes on an alter ego, Agent P, in this hands-on World Showcase adventure. Kids of all ages delight in becoming secret agents to help foil arch-nemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Clues are sent to a borrowed FONE (Field Operative Notification Equipment) or a family-owned smartphone that direct newly commissioned agents to one of seven World Showcase pavilions. Each location highlights a new 30-45 minute adventure. Try one, several, or all of them!
Help Agent P save the world!
Treats, Toys, and/or Snacks in World Showcase
Look for unique treats, toys, and/or snacks in the World Showcase pavilions. On one Epcot trip, we had our son choose a different candy from each each country — a definite highlight of his vacation. Visit the shops, bakeries, ice cream shops, food stands, and restaurants for a smorgasbord of tasty edibles.
Candy in Epcot’s Japan.
Journey into Imagination
Another slow-moving ride that is perfect for guests of all ages! Dr. Nigel Channing’s sensory labs will delight your senses as you travel through this imaginative journey. Set your imagination free with the mischievous purple dragon named Figment. And, hold your nose in the Smell Lab! There’s a small interactive exhibit, ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs, that follows the ride.
Jump on squares to create different sounds at ImageWorks
Kidcot Fun Stops
Mickey Mouse travels the world with his teddy bear, Duffy. During your adventure around the globe, take a breather while watching the kids join in artistic fun at any of the eleven Kidcot Fun Stops.
Kidcot stations are fun stops in Epcot.
A Cast Member will provide a free cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear for your child to decorate and adorn with a commemorative stamp at each station. Ask the Cast Member about their home country. It’s especially fun to have them write your child’s name in their native language. By the time your World Showcase tour is over, Duffy will be completely decorated for a take home souvenir!
Take a break at Kidcot Fun Stops.
One of the most popular performances to watch with kids is in France. Gravity defying acrobats –Serveur Amusant™ — delight young minds with their balancing acts.
French acrobats amuse young audiences.
Disney characters can be found throughout Epcot. A quick look at the Times Guide (an informational sheet that you can pick up when entering the park) or on your My Disney Experience app will give you the daily schedule for character greetings. Stop by Epcot Character Spot in Future World or seek out Disney friends throughout World Showcase.
Visit characters throughout World Showcase. Don’t forget your autograph book!
World Showcase Diversions
Don’t miss the little things. These unexpected diversions can really add to your youngster’s visit to Epcot.
Watch the train in Epcot’s Germany
Check out the Koi Pond.
World Showcase Attractions
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
Young kids love the mystery of Mexico’s pyramid and the twilit Festival Marketplace inside adds to the adventure. Kids like posing for a picture wearing a sombrero, trying out the maracas, and spotting the volcano on the way to Gran Fiesta Tour.
Try a sombrero in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.
The calm and silly boat ride is inspired by The Three Caballeros, a Disney film that debuted in 1944. What kids enjoy is helping to find Donald Duck. He’s disappeared! So, José Carioca (a Brazilian parrot) and Panchito (a Mexian charro rooster) need your help to find him.
Head inside the pyramid in Epcot’s Mexico.
Frozen Ever After
Travel through Arendelle with Queen Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and other Frozen friends! A “summer snow day” is the perfect time to visit the frozen willow forest, Troll Valley, and North Mountain aboard a gently gliding boat. Along the way, you’ll hear favorite Frozen songs in this attraction at the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
Don’t leave Norway without stopping by Royal Sommerhus to meet Anna and Elsa.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
A memorable fireworks show brings guests together around World Showcase Lagoon at the end of an Epcot evening. Earth’s birth, the history of humanity, and joyful hope for the future are all celebrated in this fiery display. If your little one is unsure of loud noises, visit a nearby shop where the sound will be diminished.
If your child is afraid of loud noises, try watching IllumiNations from inside a shop.
Extra Epcot Tips
Plan a vacation during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival as the topiary arrangements add an extra layer of free fun to your family’s itinerary.
Check out the floral exhibits at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Never underestimate the allure of the Disney monorail. Take the kids for a ride on the monorail before leaving Walt Disney World!
Consider the Disney Monorail a must-do attraction!
Epcot should definitely be on your touring agenda. These attractions and others like Spaceship Earth will entertain the whole family.
What do your kids enjoy in Epcot?
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: The Masterful Aesthetics of Design, Immersion and Storytelling
Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) far surpasses the other three Walt Disney World (WDW) parks when it comes to its ability to immerse guests into the various experiences and stories that the Imagineers carefully craft. Joe Rohde’s theme park is an extraordinary achievement. Since opening in April 1998, DAK has been providing guests of all ages with multiple layers of sensory and emotional stimuli.
The lighting, landscaping, architecture, graphics, and color palette are all layered in overwhelming detail.
The level of immersion and designed detail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is unique at WDW. The only other park on Florida’s Disney property that comes close is Typhoon Lagoon. (Love that place, but for a variety of reasons, including temperature, water parks are not necessarily on my touring plan every time I visit Disney. 😉)
Astounding details are woven into the landscaping near Expedition Everest.
My first visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom occurred in January 1999, less than one year after its opening. From that excursion and onward, this park has continuously held a special place in my overall Disney experience. Although there are many criticisms leveled at DAK, some legitimate and others ridiculous (in my opinion), there is no other Disney Park in the United States that offers the range of emotional impact related to its explicitly detailed design and execution.
The Entrance and Reveal at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The experience begins at the entrance, not unlike many of the other Disney parks, however, Disney’s Animal Kingdom sets itself apart in significant ways. The necessity to walk through the Oasis to get to the Tree of Life and the remaining themed areas of DAK, works magic every time it is experienced.
The Tree of Life is the park icon for Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The fact that you cannot see any details of the park beyond the foliage and paths of the Oasis as you enter the turnstiles is unique for the parks at WDW. With Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there is no effort or any mechanism by which any aspect of the entrance to the park is a mystery. Spaceship Earth cannot be hidden. Hollywood Boulevard and several of the other themed areas at the Studios can be plainly seen even before you enter the turnstile.
Meandering pathway through the Oasis
The Magic Kingdom and the carefully designed reveal of Cinderella’s Castle is closer to what Disney’s Animal Kingdom presents. Cinderella Castle, by design, is slowly experienced as you pass under the Walt Disney Railroad Station and turn the bend into the central hub at City Hall or the Exposition Center.
Look at the details in every corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
It is a well-known fact in Disney lore that the slow reveal to Cinderella’s Castle is copied directly from Disneyland’s reveal of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Walt and his Imagineers designed the entrance to Disneyland as the overture to “the show” and a direct analogy of entering a movie theater or theatrical production. The turnstile, the archway into the lobby (City Hall area), the popcorn available immediately upon entering the “lobby” at either side, and Main Street USA rolled out as the red carpet towards the main attraction, Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Hub. The adventures of the themed lands lie beyond. This purposeful manipulation of these stimuli attracts and compels guests forward to explore.
All roads lead to amazing scenery
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is analogous to the Magic Kingdom only in that its entranceway was carefully designed to manipulate your senses and have a distinctive emotional impact on your experience. The care by which the entrance to DAK is designed is carried throughout every remaining inch of the park. Beyond anything else, this is what I admire most about the Animal Kingdom.
Stop and take in the splendid views in the Oasis.
The Story Revealed by Joe Rohde
The other, and perhaps more significant, analogy that can be drawn between the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland and DAK is that each owes its existence to the dreams of one man. Joe Rohde is unquestionably Walt Disney’s stand-in for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
View from DinoLand toward Discovery Island. Discovery Island leads to DinoLand U.S.A., Asia, Harambe, and soon… Pandora.
Walt’s passion to tell stories and provide the guest with adventure, education, and immersive experiences by careful design of every single detail of Disneyland is well documented. It can be clearly seen that Joe Rohde’s passion has always and continues to achieve the same with DAK.
Kim saw firsthand the exquisite detail that went into the Wild Africa Trek when she took part in the opening day ceremony in January 2011 with Joe Rohde in attendance (yes, I’m still jealous!).
Opening of Animal Kingdom’s Wild Africa Trek. And, there’s Joe Rohde!
The Work of Art
Over the years, I have spent many hours slowly soaking up and appreciating various details of the work of art called the Animal Kingdom. Frustratingly, I know that I have only barely scratched the surface. During any of my trips to WDW, a must do is simply wandering and admiring small chunks of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Along the Maharajah Jungle Trek, you’ll wander the ruins of an ancient palace
Joe Rohde and the Imagineers have continued to plus the park with every addition or modification made since 1998. The masterful use of aesthetics continues to astound me: Anandapur and the addition of Expedition Everest, the expansion of Harambe, and several of the modifications made to Discovery Island are just a few of these examples.
The details present in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom bring life to the mythical kingdom of Anandapur.
Animal Kingdom’s extraordinary use of design, story immersion, and details is encouraging when considering near and future development in the park.
Dino Institute in DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Some of the most salient aesthetics at DAK for me include: the ingenious use of graphic design apparent in the signage across the entire park, the wall and brickwork found within Asia, the mountaineering props and gear spread all over Anandapur, the queues for Expedition Everest and Dinosaur, the Restaurantosaurus, the entrance to Harambe, and the entire park at nighttime.
Expedition Everest looks even more mysterious at night!
DAK at night is especially wonderful to walk AND run through! Yes, Kim and I ran the Expedition Everest Challenge 5K back in 2008 and 2009!
As it was purposely designed to be, DAK’s aesthetics and artful design cannot be described well with words. Photographs do a better job, but there truly is nothing like being able to touch Disney’s Animal Kingdom in person. I am looking forward to my next visit!
The palentologists and graduate students of DinoLand’s story”live” at Restaurantosaurus.
Share your thoughts on Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the comments below. Do you have an upcoming trip planned?
Our Top Ten Walt Disney World Quotes
First time visitors to Walt Disney World will quickly pick up some of the catchy phrases that make repeat guests smile. My family was thinking of some of our favorite Walt Disney World quotes recently and these are just some of them. Here we go…!
“Off to Neverland”, Peter Pan’s Flight, Magic Kingdom
Exclaimed by Peter Pan.
Peter Pan’s Flight
“It’s A Small World”
This one may be a little TOO catchy. 😉
It’s a Small World
“Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there’s room for 1000. Any volunteers, hmmm?”, Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom
The entire transcript at Haunted Mansion is filled with memorable sayings.
“Paging Mr. Morrow—Mr. Tom Morrow.”, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Magic Kingdom
I don’t know why; this one just makes us laugh.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
“We Wants the Redhead”/”Dead Men Tell No Tales”, Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Kingdom
A classic attraction — you’ll hear some awesome oneliners on this boat ride.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
“’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”, Big Thunder Mountain, Magic Kingdom
A fun quote from the Safety Announcer.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
“Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians—they invented them.”, Spaceship Earth, Epcot
With a rich transcript, Spaceship Earth is filled with phrases that will stay with you long after the ride.
“Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas.”, Monorail, Walt Disney World Resort
Even first time visitors will be quoting this phrase by the time they reach their destination!
Please Stand Clear of the Doors
“…and it all starts with a wish!”, Wishes, Magic Kingdom
Jiminy Cricket makes me cry. 😉
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular Viewed from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”, Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom
Go ahead and sing the lyrics!
Carousel of Progress
Now, I want to plan a trip to Disney World!
Are any of your favorite quotes from WDW attractions in this list?
For many Walt Disney World fans, visiting the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Osborne Lights) in Disney’s Hollywood Studios was an annual pilgrimage.
Osborne Lights during holiday season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This holiday tradition played to guests for the last time during the 2015-16 holiday season in order to make way for the new Star Wars and Toy Story lands. New attractions can bring new fun; traditions are hard to let go.
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights History
Before debuting in WDW in 1995, Jennings and Mitzi Osborne were inspired by their young daughter (nicknamed Breezy) to begin an outdoor display at their Arkansas home in 1986. From the first 1,000 lights at their home to the eventual extravaganza that consisted of purchasing adjoining properties, the Osborne family never wavered in their dedication to light up the holiday season.
However, big problems often accompany large plans and the Osborne family dealt with disgruntled neighbors looking for relief from the traffic jams in their neighborhood. The county attempted to appease everyone by setting guidelines on the number of days and hours that the display could be lit up. When the feisty Osborne family took the case to court, the national news about the case got the attention of a project director at Walt Disney World. Already looking for a holiday event for the then-named Disney-MGM Studios, Disney became interested in bringing the lights to the park’s backlot tram tour and more specifically, Residential Street.
A deal was struck and the lights arrived on property November 4, 1995.
Tree a Osborne Family Lights
Later, the lights would be moved to the Streets of America. And keeping with the Osborne tradition of adding more lights each year, Disney added new elements each year too. One special addition was the white angel included after Jennings Osborne passed away in 2011. We also loved the Hidden Mickeys!
The Last Dance
Jennings, Mitzi, and Breezy wanted to lift people’s holiday spirits and they certainly made that happen until the lights last danced in Walt Disney World on January 6, 2016. Fortunately, current rumors have the lights possibly moving to Branson, Missouri for the 2017 holiday season.
Fun details at Osborne Lights!
My family shared many holiday seasons visiting the Osborne Lights. We first took our son when he was just a few weeks shy of turning three in December 2002. Watching our wide-eyed son take in the magic of lights was simply memorable. Often sipping hot cocoa or trying to catch “snowflakes”, we shared the walk through the lights with extended family and friends as well.
Streets of America lit up by the Osborne Family Lights
Arriving to see the lights during my training session for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel in December 2007 is one of my fondest memories. Our group of 12 walked in from backstage just as the lights went on!
The real magic of the lights is that they warmed the hearts of countless people due to the warm wishes of one spirited family.
Share your favorite memories of the Lights with us!