Epcot

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Epcot Entrance Music

A 4-Year-Old In Disney's Epcot Center, Likes And Dislikes

My family and extended family went to the Walt Disney Resorts in Florida for the Holiday Season this year. Epcot Center is a favorite of many of the family members but I was concerned. What do I do with the four year old and the two year old?

To begin with, Disney actually has a listing of Epcot attractions with a description and suggested ages but of course, I didn't know about it until I began to write this piece. So I suggest you check their page and I will add my own notes as mom to two little girls as well.

Journey into Imagination with Figment was very well received. My four year old had been on several rides at this point and was leery of anything that involved dark. However she liked the ride and the little purple dragon. There was a moment when everything went dark and Figment was set free; it involved a puff of air in the dark and I was worried we were going to loose her to tears, but the dragon reappeared and she recovered. At the end of the ride she declared she liked Figment. Whew!

The ride lets you off and you enter into a sensory area within the Imagination! Pavilion. Sound and Sight were the two areas my girls kept returning to. On the floor is a game that involves musical instruments to step on. The musical instruments light up and the girls step and the sound is heard. Both my girls rather enjoyed this and I must admit I did too. My four year old's other favorite was "conducting" music with Figment. By placing her arm inside a a movement sensing window she could make musical notes by waving up or down and back and forth. We spent quite a bit of time playing with this.

Another favorite was Innovations. Here the four year old and I played in the "Test the Limits" lab for at least 20 minutes. The lab is described as "Test the Limits Lab - Treat yourself to a safety test where you are invited to shatter, drop and impact some of the products Underwriters Laboratories-a non-profit, product safety organization-test every day" on the Epcot Center Attractions Web Site. My daughter found it great fun to stomp on the floor pad to slam the door, pull the rope to try to shatter the t.v. and drop barrels on the hard hat. She also made paper from prepared pulp and when it was dry stamped it with green ink and a Jiminy Cricket stamp.

My husband wanted to see what was new in the Living With the Land area. I was not expecting the two smaller girls to find this particularly interesting but felt that it would at least not frighten them. I was pleasantly surprised in that they did like it. Particularly at the end of the boat ride; the ride includes a green house area with hydroponics. While my girls did not have any interest in the science behind the hydroponics they were very interesting in identifying all the fruits on the plants.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a ride that leads into the aquarium. The line just getting onto the ride winds under the building and is decorated to look like an underwater excursion complete with a fishing boat on the ceiling. "Don't touch the butt, " my elementary aged kids yelled quoting from the movie Finding Nemo. The ride is in a sea clam shell shaped car and includes scenes from the movie. The ride ends with an entrance into the aquarium where we spent quite a bit of time watching the dolphin swim, finding a large turtle and even sharks.

We did not make it through all of the World Showcase Exhibits offered at Epcot Center. We did find Mexico's representation to be very fun. Both girls loved the "Gran Fiesta Tour" boat ride through the fiesta as hosted by the three caballeros. It was not at all frightening and it was very pretty and entertaining. My four year old requested it over and over again and we rode it several times. Even though it was a busy season at the Disney Resorts the line for the Mexico ride moved quickly.

I found the Norway Pavilion quite wonderful. The shopping there included gear from well known Helly Hansen and Dale of Norway and prices were comparable to shopping outside of a theme park. I was pleased to find a lovely Dale of Norway sweater for my son at typical Dale of Norway prices. We did ride the Maelstrom ride which proved too much for the younger girls. It is a little scary. It is dark, includes a simulated thunder storm, and trolls, and a relatively small (but scary to them) fall. I would recommend it for elementary school kids and older. Also in Norway we had reservations for lunch with the princesses at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. The food was very good, my husband enjoyed his traditional meatballs and I recommend the open chicken sandwich, a children's menu is also provided. Desert was wonderful and the princesses did not disappoint.

We returned the next day for lunch at the Germany Pavilion with reservations in the Biergarten Restaurant. Here again the food was better than I anticipated theme park food would be. There was something for everyone at the buffet and plenty of preschool and toddler friendly options. We were served by a very polite staff and enjoyed the music from the oompha band described as: "Oktoberfest Musikanten show, a 6-person musical group that performs traditional Bavarian music with singing, dancing, yodeling and more at the Biergarten Restaurant" by the web site. Our dinner here was Christmas Eve and the stage was decorated. The band included several Christmas Songs including "O Tannenbaum" and "Kling Glockchen, " gold coins were passed out to children and the Christmas Tree was lit by a child ringing the bell. While the band played my preschooler joined several other children who were dancing along. Also in Germany are many wonderful shops with sweets and toys.

We did visit the China Pavilion. The reflections of China show was beautiful filled with art, poetry and showing both historical and modern China. The preschoolers found the show interesting; they also enjoyed the acrobats and the monkey story teller. I recommend knowing the schedule for the acrobats appearance and finding a viewing location as it gets crowded quickly and becomes hard for the kids to be able to see.

Overall I recommend limiting your time in Epcot to one day with preschoolers unless you have an unusually patient child or plan to return to previously discovered favorites. Let them spend time in the exploration centers. They are learning and having fun so don't rush them along to the next thing. Allow time for a good meal with entertainment in one of the many restaurants. Give your child some time to meet and greet with Disney Characters who do make appearances in Epcot's park. Mulan makes appearances in China's Pavilion. Snow White makes appearances in Germany's Pavilion. We found Mikey Mouse, Pluto, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy all in one central location. While my 4 year old will tell you immediately that her favorite park is The Magic Kingdom, she did enjoy her time in Epcot as well.


By Cailin Yates - I am a wife, mother to 5, artist, and Arbonne International Independent Consultant. My interests focus on child development, animal psychology and development, art, and skin care. I have inverted psoriasis...  

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