As I write this, J and I have just returned from an amazing family holiday to Florida. We spent most of our time exploring the wonders of Disney World including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach and Disney Springs which has given us incredible memories to treasure forever.
We were lucky enough to visit Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival. This meant that there were extra parks, displays and attractions which we really enjoyed. Epcot is the park that felt the most spacious and is definitely the most beautiful with floral displays everywhere and a large lake in the middle. J loved having the extra space to run around and stretch his legs. I definitely think that the Flower and Garden Festival enhanced a visit to Epcot.
Before we arrived, I was a little apprehensive about how J would find Epcot as there weren’t lots of rides for younger children. I was, however, really looking forward to taking him on the Frozen Ever After ride and because the queues were so long and we couldn’t get a fastpass we headed there straight away. It says on the signs that the World Showcase (where the ride is based in Norway) doesn’t open until later than Future World, but Frozen Ever After was open. The queue was only about 10 minutes long and the ride was brilliant! J loved it initially and was laughing with glee as the boat we were riding in went on the mini log flume style slides. He also loved seeing Olaf and listening to the beautiful singing. However, it all went rather wrong as we neared the end of the ride and fireworks sound effects occurred. J started shaking an crying. We were quickly off of the ride and he calmed down in the shop and I hoped that maybe all would be okay, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
We had three fastpasses booked. The first was at The Seas with Nemo and Friends. This was an inside ride which was lovely and not scary at all, but J was shaking the whole way around and wanted to get off the ride. The second fastpass was Journey into the Imagination with Figment. I asked three members of staff if there was anything scary, any loud noises etc. They all reassured me that there was not. They were wrong. It started off really well as the man on the entrance had told J there was nothing to worry about and J was happy to go in. However, he was less keen once we entered a dark tunnel on the ride, but then the cute little dragon, Figment, arrived and J found him really funny and he started laughing and relaxing. We thought we had put Frozen Ever After behind us when a really loud bang accompanied with a gush of air occurred and made us all jump which led to poor J sobbing and that was the end of us trying any more rides at Epcot. As it happens, I am really glad that we didn’t go on our third fastpass ride, Living with the Land, as again the lady had earlier assured us that there was absolutely nothing scary at all, but I later discovered there is a simulated thunder storm which would have terrified J.
We did still enjoy some of Epcot’s other attractions though. J loved the aquarium which housed turtles, sharks, dolphins (I am not a fan of seeing dolphins in captivity so I was disappointed to see that Disney still has dolphins), manatees, stingrays and fish. He also enjoyed some of the International Flower and Garden Festival extras including a lovely play area for children where we spent a relaxing hour in the shade. J also loved the butterfly house and he stroked two butterflies which really surprised me. He was so gentle with them. He was also fascinated with all the chrysalises especially the one that was turning into a butterfly.
We went on a boat trip across the lake from Future World to Morocco in the World Showcase. J really enjoyed this and it gave us a short rest and break from the heat. Once there, we wondered back to ‘Mickey’s Golf Ball’ via France, the UK and Canada. The World Showcase is a great place to eat and drink and has an abundance of restaurants and cafes to sample food from around the world. As an adult I can imagine this is a great place to spend an afternoon and evening before watching the fireworks over the lake. However, not so great with a 3 year old! We enjoyed wondering around looking at the topiary characters that were part of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and trying not to notice the people sat in the beer garden of the Rose and Crown.
J’s favourite Epcot experiences were character meetings, especially Pluto. We stumbled upon Mickey’s favourite pooch on the way to see Mexican Donald Duck. Pluto was friendly, funny and gave each child lots of time and attention. J was absolutely smitten and even now regularly comes out with, “Pluto’s so funny isn’t he mummy.” For hubby, who is a huge fan of Donald Duck, meeting Mexican Donald in his bright and colourful outfit was a real highlight. Donald was so friendly and loved posing for lots of photos with everyone, so we had lots of fabulous Memory Maker photos to take home. We also got to meet Daisy Duck. She was tucked away near the entrance and everyone was walking past without even noticing her, so the queue was really short. She was probably the best Disney character that we met in terms of understanding little children. Daisy bent down and waited patiently for J to warm up to her. She was so warm and friendly that even a very shy and nervous J was giving her a cuddle in no time and showing her his Daisy car. J left feeling very happy and excited to have met Daisy Duck.
We had a mixed experience at Epcot, which was a shame, however, on the whole we felt it had enough to do with little children for a day and that although J didn’t enjoy the rides, most children would love all the rides we tried and several more, such as Turtle Talk with Crush, Sea Base and Bruce’s Shark World in The Living Seas; the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival and ImageWorks and Innoventions in FutureWorld; Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico. There are also lots of characters for the children to meet and greet and this is probably the best way to visit the World Showcase where Donald, Anna and Elsa, Belle, Mary Poppins and Snow White among others can be met. The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival gave J more to look at and interact with so I am really glad that we went while it was on. We still felt though that Epcot was the most grown up park and the least enjoyable to visit with younger children.
Have you been to Epcot with children?
Did they enjoy it as much as the other parks?