Last week I gave a brief overview of how the Kilpatrick clan tackles the Magic Kingdom. This week we’re talking about another beast entirely: Epcot. On the surface you may think Epcot is a couple of thrill rides and a few countries to walk through. No big deal. Scratch that surface and you’ll find a totally different experience, one that can keep you exploring for days.
Epcot has basically two different sections: Future World and World Showcase. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, I don’t think it’s imperative you get there early unless you’re absolutely dying to ride the biggest E ticket attractions, Soarin’ and Test Track. Even then, Test Track has a single rider line so Epcot is, in many ways, the best place to start on one of those days when you sleep in.
But don’t sleep in too late! Soarin’ is a different ride experience where you’ll hang glide over California. It’s a one of a kind ride you won’t want to miss. Epcot is also a good place for those who aren’t necessarily thrill-seekers since the vast majority of attractions don’t have height limits—there’s plenty to dowith the kids if you only know where to look. Spaceship Earth is a ride through our history of communication (thank the Phoenicians for me, please) and Ellen’s Universe of Energy is a great place to hang out in the air conditioning on a crowded day. Both of my children have napped on that one while I enjoyed Ellen’s antics. Agricultural enthusiasts will like Living with the Land while kids will especially enjoy The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. Meanwhile, over at the World Showcase, all of the rides are kid friendly—just watch out for the trolls in Norway for the littlest ones.
Two other things to remember that are especially good for the kids: character dining and the nightly show, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. If you’re looking for a good place to meet the princesses, you’ll meet several at Akershus. Looking for Mickey and friends? Try the Garden Grill. Do make reservations well in advance of your trip, though, since seating fills up quickly. What better way to cap off your day than with Epcot’s nightly show of Illuminations. Epcot’s “fireworks” show is centered on the World Showcase Lagoon which means you can find some good spots to see it from just about anywhere. I think my favorite spot so far is next to Norway.
But, Sally, I took my kids to Epcot, and they were bored to tears. Well, that’s because Epcot is really for the adults. One of my absolute favorite pastimes iseating and drinking my way through World Showcase. I skip lunch or supper—sometimes both—and share snacks with Ryan all the way through.( I recommend starting with Canada, though. Bad things can happen when you start with the tequila over in Mexico.) Some of our favorites include the cheddar cheese soup in Canada, fish and chips (and beer) in the UK, ham and cheese croissant (and wine or Grey Goose slush) in France, lamb and couscous (and Casabeer and sangria) in Morocco, pizza (and wine) in Italy, sake in Japan, the Werther’s shop (and beer) in Germany, pot stickers in China, school bread in Norway, and at this point who cares what there is to eat in Mexico? No, seriously, I love the Nachos…and the Dos Equis. But the best? La cava de tequila. Pomegranate margarita, people. A word of caution: don’t actually try to eat and drink all of this on the same day. Just don’t. And, yes, I left out a lot. It’s okay. You won’t hit them all—unless you have several good friends to share and share alike.
Now, I love Epcot but I love, love, love the Food & Wine Festival. It’s like international binging on steroids. You could easily spend a week and never leave Epcot. In addition to all of the usual pavilions, Epcot sets up over 25 booths with even more countries, places like South Africa (filet mignon, sweet potatoes, and Shiraz), Argentina, Poland, and Belgium. There are even booths dedicated to simple things like dessert, cheese, and beer. Basically, each of the booths offers a small sample of food and beverage from the country in question. Most of the prices are reasonable, but at around $5 per sample you can run up a billquickly, so be sure to budget for any eating sprees. If you want to keep yourself to a budget you can purchase a wrist band gift card and load it with the amount of money you want to spend—it’s a handy little thing if you want to sample the wares without having to constantly reach for your wallet.
In addition to eating until they have to roll you back to the hotel, you can also have a special gourmet dinner (some of these are at restaurants outsideEpcot), attend a cooking seminar or a wine tasting class, attend a concert, or even experience a special party like Party for the Senses. While Party for the Senses and the special gourmet dinners are expensive, the seminars and booths themselves usually are not. The concerts? Free. You can basically make the Food and Wine experience just as cheap or expensive as you would like for it to be. Want to find out more? This web site has some great info you can explore to find out more including maps, menus, and the concert line up. http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/events/index.htm)
Oh, I almost forgot! Reservations. Dining reservations go quickly on a regular day, so make sure you think ahead if you want a formal sit-down meal. You’ll also need to make reservations for any class or seminar that’s a must see. That said, if you have neither the time nor the inclination to make reservations, make sure you start each Food & Wine day at the Welcome Center. You can ask which seminars and classes have availability and/or browse the book store and stroll through the wine cellar and souvenir shop.
Wow. I almost need an Alka-Seltzer just thinking about it. I’m actually going to be attending Food & Wine briefly at the end of September when I go for the Tower of Terror Ten Miler. Speaking of, did you know there’s the Wine & Wine Half Marathon? You could burn enough calories to earn your trip around the world if you run that one.
Any other questions? If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does….
In the meantime, get ready for Disney’s Hollywood Studios!