The symbol of Epcot looks like a giant golf ball, which houses the Spaceship Earth ride. Disney updated this ride a few years ago and it's now narrated by Dame Judi Dench. The ride consists of continual cars. Though there might be a line, be aware that they load the cars right inside the door, so don't let the line scare you away.
Epcot is divided into two parts: Future World and World Showcase.
I'll start with Future World.
Future World used to be the idea to showcase the future of technology in their buildings. But technology advanced so quickly that they weren't able to keep up, so it's continually evolving.
There are two sides to Future World, when you walk into Epcot, and move past Spaceship Earth, and go to the right through Innovations West you will come out to The Seas, The Land, and Imagination!. Make sure you stop in the Coca-Cola store to sample the Coke products from around the world--it's near the HUGE fountain in the center of the plaza that periodically does a musically choreographed show. Uh, be warned about Beverly from Italy and the one from Japan . . . try it, but be warned . . .
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends--there's a short ride in a clammobile to the center of the building. There's a monster aquarium, manatees, Turtle Talk with Crush, and a variety of other things to look at.
- The Land -- has Soarin'--GET YOUR FAST PASS! or be prepared to wait in a long line. This ride is like hang gliding over California. And Living with the Land, a boat ride through Disney greenhouses, plus one show called The Circle of Life.
- Imagination! --Figment the dinosaur takes you on a short journey, and Captain Eo--Yes, my friends, Michael Jackson lives again in this show. This area needs some serious updating. Most visitors simply walk past it, so there's never a line.
- Ellen's Energy Adventure--it's a dated show, but it keeps you out of the Florida heat for 45 minutes. Just be sure to use the toilet prior to going inside--there are no potty breaks!
- Mission: SPACE -- This is a seriously awesome ride! Don't let the fact there are a gazillion warnings about it. One mission, but two different intensities. Basically, you are in a giant centrifuge and are spun around, BUT don't let this scare you because you don't feel the spinning as much as you feel the pressure and weightlessness of space. I've ridden in both, more intense and less intense, and you don't lose any sense of the ride when you ride the less intense one . . . plus the line is usually not at long! My hubs tends to become disoriented with spinning rides, but the less intense one didn't bother him.
- Test Track -- I loved Test Track before they updated it, and haven't ridden it since they changed it last year. I hope it's still as much fun!
I love World Showcase! You can drink your way around the world, or play along with Agent P's World Showcase Adventures. If you don't know who Agent P is, then you need to watch more TV!
For the most part the countries are restaurants, stores and maybe a ride. Noshing away through the lands is a great way to try food from other countries. Many of the sit down restaurants require reservations if you plan to eat there during the premium hours of 5 PM - 8 PM.
Several countries have small demonstrations throughout the day.
For example: acrobats from China, or Taiko drums in Japan
Show times are posted on the Times Guide that you can pick up in addition to the map, which you can pick up after the turnstile.
Clockwise, the countries are:
- Mexico -- There are two sit down restaurants: one inside the Mayan pyramid--San Angel Inn, and the other on the lake--La Hacienda, plus one counter service. We've eaten at both restaurants, and the food is yummy! La Hacienda has a tilapia dish that I literally want to lick my plate after eating! The ride is a very slow boat ride through the different parts of Mexico. It's a good way to kill some time while waiting on a table. There are also a variety of shops inside the pyramid.
- Norway -- has one restaurant. It's 'family-style', in that dishes are brought to the table and everyone shares. The Akershus restaurant had a tough time attracting visitors--something about the pickled herring, I guess--that they made it a character dining restaurant. There are princesses galore here! We ate an early breakfast (before the park opened) and it was the only time you could see the park empty and take some great pictures! The ride is the Malstrom, and it's a fun boat ride through troll country, with one or two small drops. Of course there is the obligatory film about Norway after the ride, but you can walk right through it if you want to miss it. The store is fun, and I buy my perfume here--it's called Laila.
- China -- I love watching the Reflections of China. This is a 360 movie that takes you across China. It's a standing movie, but rails are provided to lean against since it can be disorienting. They also have a miniaturized version of the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit definitely worth looking at. The store is massive, take your time after the movie to wonder through. There are two restaurants. The Nine Dragons is a nice sit down restaurant and there is a counter service one with some fast food. Both are good, but not great.
- The Outpost -- has some Animal Kingdom type items and some wood carvers. This area covers the bridges which open to allow the Illuminations of Earth fireworks boats into the lagoon.
- Germany -- Sorry, no rides/shows in Germany . . . well, actually the Biergarten is the show. The sit down dining is a buffet with a variety of German foods, along with huge steins of beer. The tables are long tables where you better become comfortable sharing it with people who you don't know. The tables are on tiers circling around a stage, where there is music, dancing or whatever. It's a fun experience, but not to everyone's tastes. If you want a bratwurst and a beer, then simply hit the counter service at the entrance to the Biergarten. There are numerous shops to visit--make a point to go into the toy store. On your way to Italy, there is a miniature outdoor train with town and countryside for viewing.
- Italy -- Three restaurants, but we've only eaten at Tutto Italia. They change the menu quite often, so it's different every time we eat there. Sometimes it's good, sometimes just 'meh'. Though the store is chocked full of perfume and a little Murano glass, we don't stay too long because of the overpowering fragrance . . .and slightly superior attitude. Sorry, but they're worse than the France pavilion! The other side of the plaza has another store with Venetian masks--I love browsing here.
- America -- True confessions here . . . we usually just walk right past this pavilion. Unless we stop to get a beer--Sam Adams. Never saw the show. The main reason is that it's simply too long. Moving right along . . .
- Japan -- Make a point of catching the Taiko drum show. It's held outside on the steps of the Shinto temple. The store is HUGE with tons of Hello Kitty stuff and toys for boys, while the ladies can have pearls pulled from the oysters and mounted, or you can eat some totally bizarro Japanese candy. Sometimes you find something . . . interesting. The last time we were at the Japan Pavilion, we toured a tin toy exhibit, which featured toys from the past 100 years. There are two sit down places to eat: Teppan Edo--the chef entertains and cooks your food on the flat top at your table, and Tokyo Dining -- sushi, tempura (never ate there), plus a counter service place.
- Morocco -- You can get lost in the maze of shops dotting the Morocco Pavilion. We've eaten numerous times at Marrakesh. The food is good and if you time it right, you will be entertained by a belly dancer--if you are near the stage, she'll pull little kids up to dance with her.
- France -- I enjoyed the Impressions de France film--not as much as the China one, but it's nice. There are two restaurants: Chefs de France and Bistro de Paris. Chefs is cheaper, but more crowded than Bistro. The same group of chefs own both restaurants, so the quality is similar. There is also a pastry shop--Boulangerie Patisserie--where we tend to load up prior to watching the fireworks. There are a few nice shops to wander through.
- International Gateway -- after you leave France you cross a bridge: to the right takes you to the United Kingdom, while turning left exits the park where you can walk to the Boardwalk, the Swan and Dolphin hotels (turn left after you exit the park) or The Yacht and Beach Club resorts (continue straight).
- United Kingdom -- The Rose and Crown Pub is the main restaurant. Again, if you time it right, you can sit outside and watch Illuminations. When the kidlet was three, we were at the right place at the right time for the kidlet to 'start' the show with a wave of her magic wand . . . too bad that was before cameras on phones because we left our camera at the hotel. That will have to remain in our memories -- right up there with the hubs getting dragged up on stage during the Spirit of Aloha dinner show during our honeymoon. You should have seen the man dancing in a grass skirt! The various stores have changed over the years, and not necessarily for the best. I, personally, don't see the point of all the Beatles 'stuff', but that's simply a personal observation.
- Canada -- Canada's show is a standing movie in 360 degrees, nice, but doesn't seem as impressive as China. The whole of the Canadian pavilion is a shoutout to various sights in Canada, for example, the Butchart Gardens, though impressive is roughly only 1% of the real gardens on Vancouver Island. Yep, I've walked through them. The only restaurant is Le Cellier. If you want to have some of the best steak you ever ate, then you need to make reservations--make them three months in advance, if you can. You might have to settle for a late lunch or an early dinner.
Well, there are two options.
- If they are itty-bitty kiddos, there is the Kidcot area in each country. The child is given a 'mask' with a long wooden handle. The child can decorate the mask, and at each Kidcot location, they stamp the handle with a Disney country stamp, add a fob that symbolizes that country, and some of the countries will spell the child's name on the back--It's fun to see the symbols for your child's name in Chinese, Japanese or Arabic!
- If your kiddo is a little older, or you want to do this, you can register at various locations as a secret agent for Agent P. With the use of a FONE (field operative notification equipment), you will follow the clues given to you. When have tracked the clue down, many times you will be told to press a 'trigger' on the phone, activating 'something'. When you follow all the clues you can turn your phone in at various points along the way, or do another adventure. Even if you choose not to do the adventure--WATCH someone else, because you will see some fun stuff happening in each country! Check out Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the picture.
And then there's Illumination, Epcot's nighttime extravaganza. A choreographed show with lasers, video, fireworks and dancing water, accompanying a beautiful narration.
This is a MUST SEE!
And that's it for today!