Having a Ball At Epcot: Family 2018 Disney World Vacation (Part 6)

I have to tell you–I love Epcot!  I know some of the rides are a little older, but I prefer to think of them as “classic.”  I really mean that!  Because we stayed at the Beach Club, we could literally walk into the back of Epcot in about five minutes.  Because of this, we spent many nights watching their fantastic fireworks.  But we did more than just the fireworks, as you’re about to find out …

Rides

Spaceship Earth — We did this both in the summer of 2017 and 2018.  I love it, but it’s definitely dated compared to newer attractions.  This ride takes place in the giant Epcot “ball.”  As you work your way up, you experience the history of our planet with special care given to our technological advances.  My nine-year-old and I find it to be a charming, educational ride, but it’s certainly not thrilling in the conventional sense.  I consider it a “must experience.” It’s the Epcot ball–you have to do it!

Living With the Land — Again, this is more educational than anything, but the slow boat ride is incredibly informative.  It details how different parts of the world grew food in the past and offers actual examples of cutting edge advances in farming techniques.  I personally found these innovations amazing.  For example, they showed how we can use fish farms and hydroponics to utilize the same space.  I also loved how they showed that many crops can be planted on pillars, thereby reducing the use of large fields.  I’m not sure how much our little ones enjoyed the actual ride, but my wife and I were very impressed by the educational aspect of it.

Soarin’ Around the World — I had to beg my nine-year-old to do this with me, and once she did, she loved it!  I think we rode it four or five times, mostly in that last hour before the park closed.  I personally would rate this as a “must experience” at Epcot.  In this ride, there are three rows of seats.  You strap in, and then the rows move out and up over a pit.  The row in front of us moved above us, and the row in front of them were at the very top.  You face a large screen which commences to take you through the skies on an adventure across the entire world.  Your row dips forward and back, simulating the feel of sitting in a hang glider.  It even blows wind in your face with accompanying scents.  You’ll see several wonders of the world with the ride coming to an end during the fireworks at Epcot.  I couldn’t get enough of this ride, and neither could my daughter.  I’d never ridden it before, and our first time enjoying it together felt absolutely magical.

Journey Into Imagination With Figment — Okay, this one was just weird.  I guess the little dragon guiding you through the ride is named Figment.  It briefly refers to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Flubber, and the Dexter Riley movies.  (I had to look that one up.)  It’s a strange ride about trying to determine the best way to utilize our imagination.  I’d skip this one.  None of us got much of a kick out of it, though it did have a nice gift shop at the end.  I would like to say, though, that the workers at the ride were incredibly nice and friendly.  That could be because we were literally the only ones on it.  (This was the last hour before closing.)

The Seas With Nemo and Friends Attraction — I didn’t actually ride this one, but my six-year-old adored it.  My wife rode it with her countless times.  My wife tells me you ride in a clam much like Under the Sea with very similar attributes.  Lots of neat scenery and video from the movies.  She tells me it’s a fun experience for the little ones.  Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

Gran Fietsta tour Starring the Three Caballeros — We found this little boat ride while in “Mexico” at the World Showcase.  It’s very similar to “It’s a Small World” except that it takes you throughout the country of Mexico.  It features puppets, beautiful architecture, and a musical video found on screens throughout starring Donald Duck, Panchito, and Jose Carioca–the Three Caballeros!  It’s a cute, engaging slow-moving boat ride that truly delighted us.  In fact, because it had such a short line, as soon as we got off we moved to get right back into line.  When we told a “cast member” (remember, this is how Disney refers to its workers), she moved us right to the front!  It’s kind of hard to find, but definitely worth the effort.

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Frozen Ever After — This was a HUGE hit with my six-year-old, and probably the most daring ride she’s ever done.  She thought she was big stuff!  It was a very fun ride.  You ride in a boat through several moments from the movie.  The ride is fairly tame, but there is a thrilling moment when you go downhill backwards.  The scenery is intricate and beautiful, and the music, of course, titillates.  Be aware, though, the ride ends fairly quickly.  I would definitely use your “Fast Pass” on this one.  The lines were consistently very long.  We got in line with 30 minutes to closing and had to wait about 40 minutes.  Of course, if you’re in line when the park closes, they let you finish out the ride.

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Attractions 

Illuminations: Reflections Of Earth — These are the fireworks that go off every night before closing.  We watched them from the World Showcase, which is the back part of Epcot.  They weren’t as extravagant as Magic Kingdom’s, but they were better than virtually any other fireworks show you’ll see!  Best of all?  We had plenty of room to get a great view.  At Magic Kingdom, you are packed together no matter where you stand for the fireworks.  At Epcot, this wasn’t the case.  Like I said, because Beach Club was only a five minute walk from the back of Epcot, we took in the fireworks often and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival — We love movies, especially Disney and Pixar movies.  This short little festival included rumbling chairs, smells, and even some splashes of water!  Though all of the shorts are in 3-D, Get a Horse proved the best 3-D I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was perfect!  The other two shorts included Piper and Feast.  We’d seen them all before, but the 3-D made them feel fresh.  And, like I said, Get a Horse was insanely seamless.  Seriously.

Turtle Talk With Crush — My wife and I did this with the kids in 2017 and then my wife did it again with my youngest this latest trip.  It’s actually pretty cool and worth experiencing no matter what your age.  You sit in front of a giant screen.  Pretty soon, Crush from Finding Nemo appears.  He talks a bit about ocean conservation, but he somehow also interacts with the audience.  He actually asks the audience questions, then replies to their responses.  It’s pretty amazing because he physically points in the direction of people he’s interacting with, his mouth moves in accordance with the people’s names he saying–it’s quite a sight to behold.

Canada — Yes, you read that right–Canada!  Again, Canada is part of the World Showcase and it was super cool.  There was a great castle to view from the outside, a lovely garden, a small mountain, and even a totem pole!  Also, we took in a short film called O Canada!  Hosted by the always-hilarious Martin Short, this movie is basically a promotional piece to get you to visit Canada.  Let me tell you–it worked!  I learned more about Canada and saw more of Canada during this little movie than ever in my whole life!  Now I’m itching to pay the land up north a visit!

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World Showcase — Just in general, we were excited to explore this entire back half of Epcot.  Our girls weren’t terribly interested in it, but my wife and I could have spent a whole day wandering around this area.  We didn’t actually enter many of the locales, but we promised ourselves that one day we would.  If just walking by on the path awed us, imagine what the interior would do!

We didn’t do nearly everything there is to do at Epcot, but we did about as much as we could at this stage of our daughters’ lives.  I’m hoping there will come a day when they are willing to do Test Track and Mission: Space with me.  We met many of the characters, but I’m going to write a separate entry on that because we met a lot of them.  Maybe all of them?  Surely all of them.  Thanks for reading!  Magic Kingdom will be up next!

By the way, most of the above photographs were taken by my wife, Kristen.  I wanted to give credit where credit is due!

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)

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