Let’s talk more about our trip to DisneyWorld. I’ve already shared details on how we planned our trip as well as our three non-stop days in Magic Kingdom. Let’s talk distant lands and a giant golf ball!
It’s easy to find something to love about each park inside DisneyWorld. For me, Epcot is where I’d choose to go if my husband and I had a day to ourselves there. Of course, we still had a ton of fun with the kiddos (and completely wore them out)!
I lost count of how many times we rode Journey Into Imagination with Figment. The Bean was SO into this ride. Meanwhile, I have no idea who Figment actually is. Is he from a movie? Is he just the mascot of this area of Epcot? I know I can Google these things.
This ride was good for the kids though. It’s a continuous boarding ride so even if the line is long, you’re still inching forward the entire time you wait. There are a few surprising moments during the ride (loud sounds, gusts of air) but nothing too alarming. Young kids will find Figment hilarious, though if we’re being honest, his voice made me a little nuts. (Tip: Unless you’re going to be in a rush, this ride probably isn’t worth using a Fast Pass for. There’s a lot of room inside to wait, so you’ll at least be in a temperature-controlled environment.)
We also spent a fair amount of time on The Seas With Nemo and Friends. It’s similar to Figment and so many other rides in that you board continuously and slowly ride through various Nemo-related scenes. The colors used on this ride are breathtaking and we all enjoyed it. (Tip: The ride empties into an aquarium. If you’re on a schedule with kids, build in some extra time to check out this space. It’s beautiful and we saw quite a few kids—ours included—expressing disappointment to leave.)
And then there’s Frozen Ever After. This is in the Norway Pavilion where the Maelstrom used to be. Both kids enjoyed this ride. We are huge Frozen fans and so even though we had to wait a bit to board, it was totally worth it to watch their faces light up. (Tip: There are two drops in this ride. One happens when you’re backwards. If your child is apprehensive of any drops, be aware of this and prepare them as you see fit.)
Ugh, I had to restrain myself when writing about Frozen Ever After in that last paragraph. The kids enjoyed it for sure, but OH MY GOSH I LOVED IT. My husband enjoyed it, but I actually teared up. It was SO WELL DONE. I’m sorry if you feel like I’m shouting at you, but I just don’t know how else to convey my love for this ride. IT MADE ME FEEL FEELINGS OF JOY. IT WAS SO GOOD.
My husband’s favorite ride at Epcot was Test Track. This ride is a super-fun thrill ride if you’re a grown-ass man (or woman, or maybe not even fully grown. I don’t know, you do you). Here’s a tip though: Just because your five-year-old daughter is tall enough to ride it doesn’t mean she should. Epcot was the first park we went to just after arriving at DisneyWorld and Test Track was our first Fast Pass. WHAT WERE WE THINKING? When T came off that ride with Bean, she was wrapped around him crying. She’s been on a coaster at Kings Island and was excited to try another one but Test Track was definitely more intense than T or I remembered and it frightened her. Our sweet girl recovered fine, but it was a little bit of a sad start to the trip.
As far as our final favorite… I’m going to go with the margaritas. We stopped at Choza de Margarita in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion. My husband got a classic margarita on the rocks and I got some amazing frozen concoction that blended three different margarita flavors. In the midst of so many things targeted and planned specifically to appeal to our kiddos, this was a delicious treat.
Other Things We Rode
After the Test Track fiasco, we stuck mostly to Figment and Nemo. With some coaxing though, we managed to get both kids on Spaceship Earth. We had a Fast Pass and were able to board pretty quickly. I think this ride is going under refurbishments pretty soon, and I also think that’s a good idea. We got stuck for about 10 minutes near the end of the ride. It wasn’t a big deal for us, but the kids were getting antsy by the time we started moving again. Both kids also enjoyed the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. It’s kind of hidden away in the back of the Mexico Pavilion.
What We Thought We’d Ride…
We had Fast Passes for Mission: SPACE. I was pretty jazzed to take Bean on this ride, but… the Fast Pass was for right after Test Track. I managed to convince her to enter the building with me. We then stood through the briefing, we were assigned spots, we waited, and then she requested that we leave. I think it was just too much too soon, and that’s ok.
T and I also harbored hopes that we might find a chance to ride Soarin’. However, we didn’t have Fast Passes and the kids couldn’t go on it, so we were relying on finding a window with a short standby wait. The opportunity never presented itself.
What We Knew Better Than To Try
Part of being smart at DisneyWorld with kids is understanding limitations. Wandering through the World Showcase slowly while enjoying various food and drinks sounds like a dream. I’d amble through shops and catch a few shows. Do you think this happened?
(I’m pausing so you can imagine a terrible storm with a lot of yelling and crying.)
There you go. That’s what it would’ve been like to try and work our way slowly through the World Showcase with the two kids after a full morning of running around. We did walk all the way around World Showcase Lagoon, but we only stopped a few times after passing through Mexico and Norway—once to purchase a Christmas present for my mother-in-law and once to pick up some pastries in the France Pavilion.
In Future World there’s also a Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival that I think we could’ve enjoyed. However, it was located close to the Figment ride, so convincing our daughter to choose movies over that was going to be a hard sell. Pass.
Who Did We Meet? What Did We See?
Our first evening in Epcot, my husband noticed a small sign for Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz. The kids were a little intimidated during this meet-and-greet, but I chalk it up to it being the first one we stopped at.
On our full day at the park, we entered not too long after it opened and found the character spot for Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, which was a great way to start the day.
Later, we had lunch at Akershus (more on that below) and the main point of this is that it’s character dining, specifically princesses. When we entered the building, Belle was waiting in an alcove for a photo with people as they came in. We got that and then were shown to our seats. During the meal, we were visited by Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel and Cinderella. Regardless of our thoughts on the food, this felt worth the money. Both kids were thrilled to have so many visitors. Toward the end of the meal, the princesses led a parade. Dude wasn’t old enough to join in, but the Bean went for a quick trip around the restaurant with Ariel.
After leaving lunch, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Anna and Elsa had just started their character meet-and-greet and the wait time was under 30 minutes, so we jumped at the chance. Hoo boy. These photos just get me. While all of the princesses are kind and sweet, the girl playing Anna was in another league. Our daughter still talks about their conversation and our son literally walked around saying “Ahhhh-naaaaa” for weeks afterwards.
Finally, we also happened upon a location where Santa and Mrs. Claus were expected in the next 10 minutes. We decided to wait for them. That Christmas photo will always be special!
What We Ate
We snacked on granola bars on our way into the park and then grabbed a cheese and fruit bowl from a stand near (what else?) the Figment ride. I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh everything tasted and it was perfect to tide us over before lunch.
Just 90 minutes later, we were seated at Akershus, which, again, we booked primarily the princess experience. As far as the food goes, it was good. It was better than fine, but it wasn’t amazing. I definitely felt like we were paying for the experience in addition to the food. I had salmon and I believe it was around $65. The kids split some macaroni and cheese and I assume my husband had some kind of red meat dish.
After lunch and the Anna and Elsa meeting, we grabbed margarita from Choza de Margarita. They were so refreshing, and honestly, strong 😉 I drank mine very slowly, but it was tough because it tasted so good.
We later stopped at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. I still remember the joy of walking into this place during my first Disney trip in 2000. My mom and I went in and were stunned by the beauty of these desserts. We shared a chocolate croissant and I was hooked. I don’t know why, but Disney croissants taste better than any other I’ve ever had. (In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ve never been to France.) It was a special experience to walk into Les Halles with my daughter.
We got two croissants, and I also thought I’d get a couple of macarons since they’re a kid-friendly size. I glanced quickly at the price board and saw that they were ONLY 75 CENTS. WHAT? TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! I decided to order four. My eyes failed me in this case though. They were actually $5.75 each and totally enormous, with raspberries and a lime cream filling. Between those four cookies and the croissants, we spent $34 on pastries.
Money well spent.
How We Made It Special
We planned on lunch at Akershus being the “big moment” for Epcot. It definitely made an impact, but I think the moments that will stand out to me when I look back are a little smaller. Walking into Les Halles with our daughter and thinking about my mom. Stopping to buy mouse ears for me and Bean the first night there. Seeing Dude break out in giggles when Figment spins in a circle. Cheers-ing with my husband as we sipped margaritas while the kids happily snacked on some popcorn in the stroller.
I guess when you go to DisneyWorld, it’s all bound to be pretty special. The big moments can be incredible, but the little moments are often what leave the warmest glow in your heart.*
*That might be the sappiest closing I’ve ever written. It sounds like something Snow White would say.