EPCOT … Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. "Huh?" you ask. World Showcase, specifically at EPCOT, was part of Walt's vision to create a global community where Disney guests could experience the sights and sounds of different countries around the world. So, yes, EPCOT is very different than Magic Kingdom, and you may have even seen a popular myth floating around that suggests, "EPCOT is an adult park and not fun for the kids." But the Frog Family would beg to differ. EPCOT's World Showcase is fun for the whole family, even for the littlest tadpoles!
What Exactly Is World Showcase?
We're so glad you asked! EPCOT comprises different lands or four distinct neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Nature, World Discovery and World Showcase. When you first enter the park, you'll be greeted by the iconic geospheric ball. That's the Spaceship Earth attraction, and it's located in the World Celebration section of the park. (The front area of the park was formerly named Future World, divided into East and West.)
World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery are where most of the attractions are located, including the headliners, Soarin' Around the World, Test Track and the brand-new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. These three areas of the park celebrate science, technology, nature and imagination!
World Showcase, however, is the focus of this post. It is located just beyond the front section of the park and situated around a beautiful 40-acre lagoon. World Showcase is a world’s fair of 11 pavilions: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Each pavilion replicates famous world landmarks or architecture, and you'll find yourself immersed in each country's history, culture and cuisine upon your visit.
As we mentioned above, most ride attractions are located in the first half of the park, so you may wonder how you’ll keep the tadpoles entertained while exploring World Showcase. You might have more questions if you plan on attending one of the four EPCOT festivals hosted throughout the year — EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival and EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. We toadally understand! Read on to find out everything World Showcase offers and how to make the most of your time there with the tadpoles in tow!
Setting Expectations with Kids in Advance
We suggest that you let your tadpoles know how EPCOT is set up in advance so they will understand what to expect. Because they won't be hoppin' from attraction to attraction, like they would at Magic Kingdom, you'll want to let them know what other exciting things they'll experience instead. We've had great success by presenting this as an adventure. It goes a little something like this, "Guess what?! We get to go on a fun Disney adventure! Today, we're going to be explorers! We're going to discover new and different places from around the world. We'll experience new sights and sounds, try yummy food, watch cool performers and see Disney characters!" This works like a charm and gets them super pumped for the day ahead.
There are three rides located around World Showcase: Remy's Ratatouille Adventure in France, Frozen Ever After in Norway and The Grand Fiesta Tour: Starring the Three Caballeros in Mexico. If your day involves riding the attractions, be honest about when your tadpoles can expect this during the day. This will save your sanity, so they aren't constantly asking about going on the next ride. We've got a few park touring tips below that will also help!
EPCOT World Showcase Activities for Kids
Character greetings: Did you know that EPCOT has a ton of Disney characters to meet? World Showcase, specifically, is unique because you'll get to see characters in their countries of origin, such as Anna and Elsa in Norway or Mulan in China. As of April 18, traditional character greetings are back, and you can hug and ask for autographs again! You can check showtimes in the Entertainment section of the My Disney Experience app.
Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet in the Norway Pavilion: This is currently unavailable, but we mention it here because more and more dining options continue to reopen. This character dining experience typically offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. At least four different princesses make an appearance here at any given time. You're going to want to keep your eye out for this one to return. We are hopful that it will be back soon!
Kidcot Fun Stop Stations: These stations are located at each of the World Showcase pavilions. Be on the lookout for the Kidcot signs. Your tadpoles will be given a Ziploc bag "suitcase" and a traveler card from each country. There's usually a sticker and an opportunity to color with markers, too! Disney has announced that beginning in August 2022, the Cultural Representative Program would be returning! That means that your tadpoles will be able to speak with an international cast member and learn about the county they represent. The attending cast member might also sign the card and write a few words in their native language. So cool! You can begin collecting Kidcot cards at any of the pavilions, and you can start and stop at your leisure. If you collect all 11 cards, visit a Kidcot Fun Stop to claim your prize (shh ... it's usually a unique postcard from Mickey).
Frog Family Tip: If you don't have time to color the cards during your EPCOT day, save them for something to do while waiting in line for an attraction, Disney transportation or for your meal at a restaurant. These are also great to take back to your resort as a wonderful FREE souvenir. Also, be sure to toss a small pack of washable markers in your park bag. (No crayons ... they will melt in the Orlando heat! You'll thank us later.)
Festival Scavenger Hunts: As part of each festival, EPCOT offers an exciting scavenger hunt.
- Festival of the Arts: Figment's Brush with the Masters
- Flower & Garden Festival: Spike's Pollen-Nation Exploration
- Food & Wine Festival: Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak
- Festival of the Holidays: Olaf's Holiday Tradition Expedition
To participate, you can purchase a map at Creations Shop, Disney Traders or World Travelers merchandise locations. These are usually around $9 to $10 (passholder and DVC discounts apply). Then, as you make your way around World Showcase, you'll place a sticker on the coordinating spot on the map when you find that festival's specific character. Then, after you're done, you can return to any of the merchandise locations listed above to claim a prize! Prizes vary for each hunt but are always a welcomed treat.
Frog Family Tip: You can complete as little or as much of the scavenger hunt as possible. There's no pressure to finish. Feel free to pick up the prize when you purchase the map. This will save you time, and you can give it to your tadpoles when it works best for your family.
World Showcase is home to some of the most beautiful gardens you will ever see! This is especially true during the Flower & Garden Festival. You and your tadpoles will love finding the Disney character topiaries found throughout EPCOT. Many gardens are educational and interactive, such as the "Encanto"-inspired garden in the Morocco Pavilion (during Flower & Garden Festival). We also love the English garden in the United Kingdom Pavilion. It's even more exciting when Alice or Mary Poppins is there! Our top favorite is the Butterfly House, available during the Flower & Garden Festival. Inside, there are colorful blooms and live butterflies. Tadpoles will learn about the butterfly's lifecycle and even see butterflies hatching out of their chrysalis before their eyes!
EPCOT World Showcase Pavilions: What's Available for Kids?
- The Mexico Pavilion is a gorgeous pavilion home to the giant Mexican pyramid. Inside the pyramid is where you'll find the Kidcot station. The pavilion also has some fantastic restaurants, yummy margaritas for the parent frogs, and one of our favorite attractions, The Gran Fiesta Tour: Starring the Three Caballeros.
- The Gran Fiesta Tour is a dark boat ride, but it's anything but scary. It's a fiesta featuring Donald Duck and his pals, Jose and Panchito! This attraction is underrated as there is no height requirement, and the wait times are usually relatively low. We love the fireworks toward the end, and keep a close watch for hidden Mickeys.
- You can also meet Donald Duck in his sombrero! He is usually staked outside of the pyramid (on the side closest to Norway).
- "Frozen" lovers rejoice! Norway is home to the headliner attraction, Frozen Ever After. This sweet attraction takes you on a journey to visit Elsa and her friends on a Summer Snow Day. This is also a dark boat ride with no height requirement. There is a small drop, and you might get slightly wet, but nothing that will slow down your day. Unlike the rest of World Showcase, which opens at 11 a.m., this pavilion will open when the park does. We suggest riding this attraction first thing in the morning or snagging a Genie+ reservation, as wait times will soar throughout the day.
- At Royal Summerhus, you can meet Elsa and Anna. This greeting location is available all day from park open to close.
- Make a stop at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe to fuel up! This yummy bakery serves Norwegian pastries, sandwiches, coffee and beer. We recommend the School Bread for kids of all ages. It's usually adorned with an adorable Olaf too.
- The China Pavilion is filled with lovely gardens and unique shopping experiences. Our tadpoles love to stop by to play with marionette puppets and sample tasty treats. A family favorite is the egg rolls from the Lotus Blossom Cafe.
- Inside the beautiful temple, you can watch the Circle-Vision movie that documents scenes from China. Just be aware that you will stand while watching the show.
- Be on the lookout for Mulan! She makes appearances here throughout the day.
- If you have train lovers, you'll want to make a stop at the model train. We love all of the magical Disney details, and, if you look close, you will notice that the little town also has coordinating festival banners!
- Our tadpoles enjoy dining at The Biergarten Restaurant. The atmosphere is so much fun! The Jumbo pretzel is also a fan favorite and easily shareable. We think it tastes better than a Mickey pretzel!
- At Karamell-Küche, your tadpoles will get a kick out of watching the famous caramel popcorn being made. We think it's delicious too! We buy a bag to snack on while we're at EPCOT and snag one or two of the prepacked bags to take home with us. The Carmel Butter Bar is delicious as well.
- Snow White makes appearances at this pavilion. She greets guests at her wishing well, which is found next to the entrance of Karamell-Küche.
- Our family feels like we're exploring the streets of Venice while we're in the Italy Pavilion. So naturally, we can't pass through without making a stop for pizza! Our absolute favorite restaurant is Via Napoli. Dare we say, it has the best pizza on Disney World property. If you're not looking for a sit-down meal, you can typically grab a slice of Sicilian-style pizza from the window to the left of Via Napoli. There are adorable bistro tables set about the pavilion, and it is an excellent area to relax and catch your breath.
- Don't miss Sergio, the Italian mime and master juggler! He always draws a crowd, and kids of all ages delight in watching him perform his tricks. He may even pick your tadpole from out of the crowd to help him with his act. You can find the showtimes listed in the My Disney Experience app.
The American Adventure
- The America Gardens Theatre hosts performers all year long, particularly during the festivals. The EPCOT Candlelight Processional is held here during the holiday season. During the Festival of the Arts, you can see famous Disney on Broadway stars. Plus there's a full concert series during both the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine festivals. You'll want to check the schedule to know if there's someone you'll want to see while you're visiting.
- Your tadpoles can receive an American history lesson at the American Adventure. This is a 30-minute show that highlights important events and people throughout America's history. There's even an incredible Ben Franklin animatronic. While most of the film's content may be over the littlest tadpole's heads, it makes for a great place to catch a seat and some cold air conditioning!
- Listen to the Voices of Liberty singing a capella, as their voices fill the rotunda in the American Adventure pavilion.
- There are amazing sights and sounds around every corner of the Japan Pavilion, from the architecture to the traditional Japanese gardens and large koi pond.
- The merchandise location is one of our favorites. This is a massive hit for the anime and Pokémon fans in your life. There's also a large selection of Japanese candy and soda. We feel super adventurous trying out these novel treats, but we think you'll be just as hoppy snagging a shaved iced cone while watching the Matsurza drummers. They will have you feeling the thunder of the Taiko in no time!
- This pavilion gets my vote for being one of the most detailed and beautiful areas in World Showcase. We love to explore the winding walkways and the nooks and crannies of the space. The Kidcot station is tucked away in the back of the pavilion and makes for a nice reprieve from the heat. Nursing moms will find a quiet seating area at the very back of the pavilion, and it's also an excellent place for stroller naps.
- The Fez House has a tiled water fountain, which is a popular photo spot. It also makes a great place to let tadpoles wander and blow off some steam without worrying about bumping into other Disney guests.
- Jasmine greets guests in the pavilion! You can find showtimes in the Entertainment section of the My Disney Experience app. We suggest arriving a few minutes early to beat the crowds.
- The Spice Road Table is always a winner — you'll want to try the housemade hummus and tapas. Yum!
- One of the newest attractions, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, is here! This attraction is a 4-D experience where you'll feel as though you've been shrunk down to the size of a mouse. You'll be scurrying alongside Remy through the sights of Paris. If this attraction is on your must-do list, we suggest riding this first thing in the morning or purchasing it as an Individual Lightning Lane selection, as the demand is high for this ride.
- Belle and Aurora both make appearances here. They will pose for photos and sign autographs near the bridge to International Gateway.
- Tadpoles will also enjoy the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along film. This is another excellent place to take a break in the day and cool off from the hot Orlando sun.
- Be sure to check out the ice cream from L’Artisan des Glaces! It's one of our favorite tadpole-friendly snacks. You can also find a bunch of pastries in Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie or sweet and savory crepes at La Crêperie de Paris.
- Keep an eye out for Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins! They can both be found in either the English Gardens or the gazebo.
- We also see lots of tadpoles exploring the hedge maze. Alice always tells us to keep watch for the White Rabbit! We never know when he'll make an appearance.
- Your family will also enjoy snapping a few pictures in the red phone booths and snacking on some delicious fish & chips.
- Canda is a spacious pavilion that is lovely to stroll through. The landscaping of the Victoria Gardens is breathtaking with blooming flowers. The Kidcot station is down the winding path to Le Cellier Steakhouse, and out of all the stations, our tadpoles seem to spend the most time here. Your tadpoles will love checking out the massive waterfall and the Canada Far and Wide Circle-Vision theatre show.
- Don't forget to nab the maple popcorn here. It's always a hit and still counts as a $2.25 popcorn bucket refill even though it's a specialty flavor!
Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular
A day at EPCOT wouldn't be complete without ending the day with the new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious. The show takes place in the center of the World Showcase Lagoon each night. You can view this from anywhere around the lagoon, but we have a few favorite viewing areas.
Additional Tips for Navigating World Showcase with Kids
Bring Your Own or Rent a Stroller
World Showcase spans over 1.2 miles, so there's no doubt that you'll be covering a lot of ground. We highly recommend the use of a stroller! If your tadpole can fit into a stroller, bring your own or get a rental. We promise nobody will judge and your entire family will be so much hoppier for it! Stroller rentals can be found at the front entrance near Spaceship Earth or the International Gateway Entrance in World Showcase. For more info and tips, check out our guide about using strollers at Disney World.
Have a Touring Plan
The best time to visit World Showcase with kids is during the day. If you plan on riding Remy's Ratatouille Adventure or Frozen Ever After, we recommend riding these attractions as soon as the park opens. If your family prefers to sleep in, it may be worth snagging an individual Lightning Lane selection or Genie+ reservation for these attractions so you don't find yourself in lengthy wait times. Keep in mind that you'll want to at least have one person in your party up at 7 a.m. to try and secure times for these as Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane reservation times fill up quickly. As an alternative, keep in mind that wait times will drop during popular meal times and the fireworks.
Take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry (If Staying On-Site)
If you're a Disney Resort guest, you're eligible for Early Theme Park Entry. We recently tested these early hours out at EPCOT, and we were able to ride Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After and Test Track by 9:30 a.m. If you used a similar strategy, you would have a bunch of time left over to grab breakfast and then be ready to explore World Showcase by 11 a.m. when it fully opens.
Know Where Bathrooms, Baby Care Stations and First Aid Are Located
When traveling with tadpoles, knowing bathroom locations, Baby Care Centers and First Aid stations is essential. Bathrooms are located in the American Adventure, Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan Pavilions. Keep this little list handy, so you'll know where to run when your little ones say they have to go!
If you need baby care items or looking for a private place to feed or change your tadpole, you'll want to head to the Baby Care Center at the Odyssey Pavillion. You'll find the first-aid station here too.
Do you plan on taking your tadpoles on a World Showcase adventure? Let us know what you're excited to experience! If you have more suggestions or have questions, please let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!