Epcot: Whole Day, Half Day or Skip it?

Out of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, Epcot seems to be the one that I often hear potential clients with kids unsure if they want to send an entire day exploring until I share all there is to offer. The reality is that there is a lot to see and do, plus exciting things coming soon! The park is divided up into “Future World East”, “Future World West” and “World Showcase”.

Always have to have a picture in front of Spaceship Earth

When you enter the park you can’t miss Spaceship Earth (a.k.a. the big ball) which has a nice slow ride through the sphere that takes you through the history of innovation. From here, head into “Future World East” to find exciting rides for the thrill seekers in your family. Test Track allows riders to design their own virtual concept vehicle and then take it through hairpin turns, hills and straightaways. On Mission Space, choose from two intensity levels and head into space on this NASA – style training of a simulated space launch.

When you get to Future World West, you won’t want to miss out on meeting some of your favorite characters like Baymax, Joy & Sadness or Mickey & Pals. One of our favorite things to do here is to explore The Seas with Nemo and Friends where you can ride a “clamobile” through a few of your favorite Nemo scenes, have a conversation with Crush in Turtle Talk with Crush or explore the SeaBase which is a 5.7 million gallon aquarium. If you want a little more excitement, visit The Land where you can soar around the world on Soarin as you fly, feel the wind on your face and see the world from a different view. If that’s not your speed, The Land also has greenhouses where some of the food for WDW is grown and on Living with the Land you can take a nice relaxing boat ride and check this out. While you’re here, be sure to make a reservation for Garden Grill and enjoy a family style dinner with Chip & Dale and friends. The younger kids in the family will enjoy Imagination! with Figment as they explore the imagination and visit an interactive area.

World Showcase represents 11 countries and each one boasts food, drinks, souvenirs and a Kidcot area where kids can interact with cast members from the country to learn more. Visit Mexico and take a boat ride with the 3 Caballeros or take a tour of scenes from Frozen in Norway on Frozen Ever After. Explore China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. You also will often find some of your favorite characters in their home country like Anna & Elsa, Aladdin & Jasmine, Belle, Snow White and Mulan.

Even with all of this, construction has already begun on new experiences like the much anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy ride that is scheduled to open in 2021. This will be one of the worlds largest enclosed roller coasters and will keep guests fully immersed in the story from launch to finish. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is currently under construction in the France Pavilion and will be a 4D experience where you will shrink down to the size of Remy as you scurry through Gusteau’s Kitchen.

Epcot also has live performances, special events throughout the year and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. What do you think, could you family enjoy an entire day at Epcot?


New Extra, Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks Includes Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open Aug. 29, 2019, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. At 14 acres, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever, transporting guests to live their own Star Wars adventures in Black Spire Outpost, a village on the remote planet of Batuu, full of unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Guests can become part of the story as they sample galactic food and beverages, explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. (Disney Parks)

Guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels have the opportunity to enjoy select attractions in at least one of our four theme parks, before or after regular operating hours, as part of the Extra Magic Hours benefit. It has been announced that guests staying at these hotels this fall will have more opportunities to take advantage of this Extra Magic Hours benefit with Extra, Extra Magic Hours at our theme parks!

The Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit will include expanded daily offerings at three of the theme parks, which includes more time to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, as well as other experiences at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks. Here’s the details: 

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Daily from Sept. 1-Nov. 2, the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6-9 a.m., including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land attractions and select other attractions. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences subject to capacity. (Please note that on Aug. 29-31, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 a.m. for all Guests. There will not be Extra, Extra Magic Hours on those days.) 
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park — Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from Aug. 29-Nov. 2, from 7-8 a.m., featuring Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park (same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).
  • Magic Kingdom Park —Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from Aug. 29-Nov. 2, from 7-8 a.m., featuring favorite attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (same as today’s morning Extra Magic Hours offerings).

Extra Magic Hours will also continue to be available on select days at Epcot.

If you are visiting this fall, please note that the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit at the Walt Disney World Resort requires a valid theme park admission and hotel ID.  Guests without the Park Hopper Option or Park Hopper Plus Option must spend the day at the same park where they’d like to enjoy the Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit. Also, not all Walt Disney World attractions are available with the Extra Magic Hours benefit. Park hours and available attractions are subject to change without notice. *Applicable theme park, days and times of operation, attraction and service availability may vary and are subject to change without notice. Subject to capacity and cancellation. 

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From Butterflies to Dinosaurs!

Our Spring Break came late this year so we just finished up having some much needed family adventures. We are lucky to live in an area that gives us lots of opportunities for day trips where within a few hours we can be in several different cities. I thought I’d share two of the adventures that are fun places to check out with the kids.

The first road trip was to Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory to check out their “Butterflies of Ecuador” exhibit. For a small fee, guests get to go into the exhibit and see the butterflies in free flight. They have over 12,000 total in the exhibit. Guests are given small cards with a scent that attracts the butterflies, kids of all ages enjoy trying to get one to land on their card (or on them). There are also tons of beautiful plants and flowers to see so if you go, take the time and stroll through the rest of the building, you won’t be disappointed. This was a lot of fun and a nice easy way to start off our week. If you are interested in seeing the butterflies, Krohn Conservatory has this exhibit open until June 16, 2019.

The next part of our road trip took us to Indianapolis to visit the Indianapolis Children’s Museum which is one of our favorite places to go. This museum is 5 stories of interaction, fun and education. There is something there for kids of all ages and they change out some of the exhibits so there is often new things to see. One of our favorite places is the lower level where the dinosaurs are located. From “Bucky the Teenage T Rex” to “Leonardo: the mummified dinosaur” there is so much to see and learn. They have interactive stations for little kids up to big kids and there are always workers there to show you what they are working on behind the scenes and answer questions. If your kid is a dinosaur lover this is definitely a place they will want to visit! They also have areas that focus on kids in history, stories from our community, space, science, archaeology and currently “Paw Patrol” for younger kids and “American Pop” for the older kids to explore pop culture through the years… kiddo was mortified that I was excited that they had a New Kids on the Block poster on display, who says mom’s have to grow up, right?. New this year is the “Sports Experience” which has multiple sports and activities for the kids to play (we didn’t to do this part because we ran out of time). If Indianapolis isn’t too far from you, I would highly recommend taking your kids. Give yourself plenty of time to explore and play, this is easily a place where you could spend the whole day.

This clock in the main area of the museum runs off of water, it is one of the coolest clocks we have seen.

Whatever your ideal way to spend time with your family is, remember to be in the moment and enjoy spending time together. Summer is coming fast and I’ll need some family friendly places to check out so we don’t all go stir crazy. Leave a comment of your favorite family friendly places to explore.