Epcot or Apricot (as our daughter kept calling it) was the first park we visited on our Disney vacation. Epcot has a stereotype of being an “adult” park – and that is how I remembered it (from 25 years ago when I was there last – gosh, that makes me feel old). Our experience at this park with young kids somewhat still fit that label – I would love to enjoy food and wine from around the World and leisurely wander the park with no children – but Epcot has come a long way in 25 years and there is still plenty to fill your day with young kids.
We arrived at Epcot approximately 40 minutes before the park was to open at 9 am. There were a lot of people already there waiting and the line ups were long – but Disney runs like a well oiled machine and they moved everyone a long really quickly.
As Epcot was our first park, meeting Mickey was top on our list to start off our magical trip. Our first stop was the Epcot Character Spot – here we met Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. All of the characters were exceptional with their interactions and our kiddos were in complete awe. There are also restaurants in all of the parks and select hotels where you can meet characters while eating – regardless of how you choose to meet characters during your experience – if you have little ones this is a must!
Next we headed to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa and go on Frozen Ever After. While waiting for the characters the kids enjoyed a Berry Cream Puff from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – they enjoyed it so much that I had one upset kiddo when I took just one strawberry off the top – lesson learned. The characters were lovely and we had one completely mesmerized with Elsa. We had a fast pass for the Frozen ride and I would recommend snagging one if you can because the ride has extremely long wait times. The Frozen ride was well themed and a lot of fun – if the wait wasn’t so long we would have rode it again.
After visiting Norway, we did a little exploring as we headed to Japan for our 12:00 lunch reservation. One thing I would like to point out – if you are hoping to explore tastes from Around the World at the kiosks in every country – most of them don’t open until 11 and some 11:30. We were a little disappointed and wish we knew this sooner as our lunch dining didn’t leave our bellies much room to try other things in Epcot.
For lunch we had reservations at Teppan Edo, a Japanese table service restaurant where the chef cooks on the grill right in front of you (Teppanyaki style). The kids loved that they could watch the chef cook and were amazed by the onion volcano. I ordered the Julienne Beef (we all tried a different type of protein) it was so tender and flavorful – I would highly recommend it. The kids used chopsticks and were very entertained while waiting for their food. The portions were large (especially for the children) we left with very full bellies and food still on our plates. I would definitely eat here again but not before I try a few other places at Epcot first – I hear there are many that are out of this world!
After lunch, we picked up some caramel corn at Karamell Kuche for a snack for later and explored other countries in Epcot as well. Our daughter picked a pearl from Japan for her souvenir – a really neat (and a little pricey) experience – but a souvenir that she will cherish for a long time. In China, they had their names written in Chinese at the Kidcot Fun Stop. Our next stop was Test Track. We knew this was one we couldn’t miss for the sake of our 4 year old, so we all embraced the 70 min wait. The line (like most in Disney) was very interactive so they weren’t too bored. My son is still talking about that ride and that he loves Epcot the most because of Test Track – so I would endure the long wait again if we ever return.
At this point the kids were pretty tired (remember, we drove for two whole days prior and this was our first day there) – so we started to head out around 4 and met Pluto close to the exit (one of the highlights of their day). One of the Cast Member’s informed us that Epcot is the biggest park (size wise) so it made sense that we were all exhausted from the walking. There is so much to do in Epcot and I know we didn’t even see a quarter of it but we adored it nonetheless. It was a lovely, yet not overwhelming, first park day at Disney to ease them into the rides and the magic and we have memories that will last for years to come.