Once upon a time, Walt Disney dreamed of building an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow in which real people would live and work. While Epcot (originally EPCOT Center) was named for that dream, it’s a far cry from a community. It has a reputation as the “educational park” among Disney World’s four theme parks, and in a sense that’s true, but it’s a great place to spend your day, and you get two parks in one for your admission charge:
You hit Future World as soon as you walk into Epcot’s main gates, and you immediately see the famous iconic globe that houses Spaceship Earth. If you make that your first ride, your belief that you’re in the “educational park” will instantly be confirmed as you go through an Audioanimatronic history of human communication.
Yes, you might learn something in Future World, but it’s a fun place, too. For example, Test Track teaches you about new car safety testing by letting you be the test dummy. Soarin’ takes you on a brief tour of California, and it’s set to the most gorgeous soundtrack you can imagine. Mission Space launches you to Mars in your choice of either a tame or intense version. You get to see Nemo and friends along with real dolphins and rescued manatees. Those are just a few of the pavillions and rides you can see in Epcot’s first section.
World Showcase opens at 11 a.m., which gives you time to work your way to its entrance at the back of Future World. Most people know this as the more “adult” part of Epcot, since the big draws are country pavillions from places like Germany, France, and China. There are two boat rides (Norway and Mexico), but for the most part you’ll find shops, restaurants, educational movies, and live cultural acts.
But don’t worry, this is Disney World, so of course there is plenty for the kids to do. There’s an activity in each country, and you can also purchase an inexpensive passport they can get stamped on all their world travels. Kids love doing Pick a Pearl in Japan, and many of the acts, like the acrobats in France and China, appeal to all ages. Best of all is Kim Possible, an interactive experience that sends your family on a secret mission with Kim and her friends to one of the World Showcase countries. Kim Possible is free; just sign up at one of the kiosks, which you can find on your park map.
World Showcase is also home to the nightly Illuminations fireworks, music, and laser show. Some of the Future World attractions close early, but if you want to catch short lines on the open ones, ride them during the show if you’ve already seen it. You’ll also avoid the post-Illuminations crowd if you’re already in Future World at closing time.
Click here to meet the Imagineers behind the Kim Possible missions at Epcot. Click here to learn more about picking a pearl. Click here to read more of my articles, and click here to follow me on Twitter. Click here to sign up for my pets newsletter if you love animals, and click here for my Pet Supplies & Product Reviews site on About.com. I’ve taken over 80 Disney cruises and can book yours and give you a special stateroom credit. Visit www.dclexpert.com.