For our vacation this year, my wife and I loaded up our kids and drove to Walt Disney World for a couple of days and then headed back through the Smoky Mountains. We decided to divide our time between Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. On our first day there, we decided to visit Epcot, which is also known as Epcot Center. We picked a great time to go because they were in the middle of their International Flower and Garden Festival. There were flowers in bloom all over the park that were beautiful and cool to see. The best part was the topiary shaped like Disney characters that were displayed all over the park. We really enjoyed our time there. Disney's Epcot Theme Park offers so many different attractions that there is something for everyone in the family. Here is a list of the top ten things to do there.
Spaceship Earth is located in Epcot’s iconic geodesic dome. The line for Spaceship Earth tends to be much shorter in the morning when you enter the park than it is later in the day. Riders climb aboard to take a trip back in time to explore how communication has changed. It starts out with cavemen and women and continues all the way through history until today. Every scene offers a glimpse in to what communication would have been like in that era by using life-like manikins that move. The narrator speaks through a speaker in each car and describes each scene. The ride takes its time as you cruise through history and lasts about 15 minutes or so, and is a good place to start your trip to Disney’s Epcot Theme Park. My kids really enjoyed riding on Spaceship Earth.
Here is a video of the Test Track Ride @ Epcot
Test Track Presented by Chevrolet
My favorite ride at Epcot Center is the Test Track Presented by Chevrolet. It is the fastest ride at any of Disney’s parks, reaching a top speed of 65 miles per hour while hugging curves that are banked at 50-degree angles. Before you hop in your test track car, you have to design it from the ground up inside the design center. There are so many different options and body shapes to choose and customize. The goal is to design the best car that you can, as you will be rated in four different categories: handling, maneuverability, fuel efficiency, and power. Once you are finished with your design, you will climb into a car and you are off to the test track. The car that you created will be tested through sharp turns, steep hills, obstacles, and finally out into the open air with the pedal to the medal. The ride is a rush and a lot of fun, especially on the outside portion. At very points throughout the ride, you will see the results of how everyone in your car did with their designs. As you reenter the building, you will see which car was the best overall. I highly recommend getting a FASTPASS for this ride, as the lines can be long. We ended up getting one, but noticed that the line looked short so we were able to go twice almost back-to-back. My kids just wanted to ride on the Test Track for the rest of the day.
Mission: Space Video
If you ever dreamed of blasting off into space, this ride is for you. Your mission is to fly and land on Mars. Each shuttle has a four-person crew that will be required to interact with the ride in order to complete the mission. As you arrive for your pre-flight briefing, you will have to choose the intensity of your training. The orange team is more intense training that includes spinning, tilting, and additional G-forces. The green team offers the same training without the spinning, etc. If you easily develop motion sickness, do not choose the orange team. In addition, if you are claustrophobic, this ride is not for you. Once you are strapped in, the area is very tight. Once the shuttle is available, strap yourself in and prepare for lift off. Actor Gary Sinise will walk everyone through the mission. He will also go over the responsibilities of each crew member. I thought that this was a great ready and a lot of fun. If I did not have my kids with me, I would have tried the blasting off with the Mission: Space orange team for the more advanced training.
Soarin' above California!
Epcot Center offers you a chance to explore the sights and sounds of California on their Soarin’ ride. You will feel like you are really hang gliding as you are lifted up to 40 feet in the air. The really cool thing about this ride is that you can also smell what you are looking at below. The ride uses a 180-degree IMAX projection dome to wow you with the beauty of California. This ride is a must if you are visiting Epcot. I would strongly advise you to get a FASTPASS for this ride early in the day because the wait times can be extremely long.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
The Seas with Nemo & Friends is a great, relaxing ride for the entire family. Climb aboard a clam and you are off to find Nemo. Disney did an amazing job with this ride of projecting Nemo and his friends into an actual aquarium that has real fish in it. After exiting the ride, there are more aquariums where you can see beautiful salt water fish that show off God’s amazing creativity. My kids really enjoyed this ride and the aquarium after it. I would strongly recommend this for families with smaller kids.
The World Showcase at Epcot Center gives everyone a chance to experience eleven different countries from around the world including China, Germany, France, Morocco, Italy, Norway, Mexico, and Canada. The Disney cast members actually come from the country that they represent to give everything more authenticity. They also did a great job in designing each area and make you feel like you have been transported to that country. In addition, many of the countries offer movies, shows, or a ride to enable you to learn more about each country. The World Showcase is the place to find food at Epcot. Each country has authentic food to eat. Most countries have both sit down restaurants and fast food restaurants. If you do plan to sit down to eat, I would recommend making reservations as they restaurants can be very busy with long lines.
If you are looking for a place to get out of the heat for awhile, blast off with Captain EO and his crew to explore a foreign world. This attraction is housed in a 3-D studio with loud digital sound and special effects. It is really well done and worth seeing. It starts out with a crash landing on an alien planet and a meeting with the Supreme Leader of the Dark Side. As things go south, Captain EO and his crew must find a way to win over the forces of evil.
Take a tour through American history by visiting the American Adventure Stage Show. The show lasts about a half hour and is worth a visit. Ben Franklin and Mark Twain walk you through all of the key moments of American history. You will hear from people like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Graham Bell, Teddy Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., and more. They will share with you about the American ideal of individualism, independence, innovation, and self-reliance. The scenes smoothly transition from one to another. Disney did an amazing job in designing the American Adventure experience.
Maelstrom is a boat ride adventure that is set in a 10th century Nordic warship. Be prepared for the rough North Sea and the waters will spin you around narrow hitting a wide variety of things. Be prepared for about a three story drop. Channel your inner Viking and climb aboard Maelstrom which is located in Epcot's World Showcase.
Reflections of Earth Fireworks Show
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
Walt Disney World Resort knows how to do firework shows. Epcot’s Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is no different. The show takes you through their interpretation of the birth of the Earth, the triumph of life, and ends telling the story of hope for our future. The great thing about the show is that it is launched from barges in the World Showcase Lagoon so you can easily see the show anywhere around the lagoon. Seeing the reflections in the water adds to the beauty of the fireworks and special effects.
We had a great time at Disney’s Epcot theme park. There is a wide variety of things to do there. My wife and my favorite part was the World Showcase. It was really cool to walk through the different areas. My kids loved the Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, Mission Space, and Spaceship Earth. My kids also enjoyed meeting Disney characters at the various Character Spots at Epcot Center.
Kristen on May 17, 2019:
might want to update again seeing as Captain EO and Maelstrom are no longer there
Eric Cramer (author) from Chicagoland on May 27, 2013:
Claudia Mitchell on May 26, 2013:
Awesome! We love Epcot, but have never been during the flower show. Boy would I love to see that. Loved the Nemo ride, but it broke down and we were right were the sea turtle said his line that begins with "Dude". We were stuck for about 40 minutes listening to that line over and over and over again until they came and walked us out. They were very helpful and gave us vouchers for a couple of things. Need to go back soon!
Eric Cramer (author) from Chicagoland on May 21, 2013:
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 20, 2013:
Thanks for the overview of this great vacation spot! There is something for everyone. Enjoyed all of the photos.