Epcot for Seniors
Walt Disney World has a well-deserved reputation as a family destination. Pirates and princesses, huggable life-sized mice, and plenty of rides for children ensure that families will continue to flock to the parks. However, this may leave those whose children are grown with the impression that Disney holds nothing for them.
In reality, this is simply not true. Epcot is an excellent destination for guests of all ages. Senior citizens will find a wealth of activities that they can truly enjoy. The park is quite large, so wear comfortable shoes. ECVs and wheelchairs are available to rent if anyone in your party has difficulty with walking. Also be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, as you will be spending a lot of time outside.
Special Note: Be Prepared EPCOT is a very large theme park and most guests will average over 5 to 7 miles walked each day. You might want to consider using splitting EPCOT up into 2 days (2 day EPCOT Touring Plan). Most seniors really like to book one of our Disney condos which gives them much more room to spread out after a long day at EPCOT.
Epcot is divided into two main sections (click here for a list of EPCOT Attractions): Future World and the World Showcase. Future World focuses on technological advances that will be arriving in the near future, as well as a history of technological breakthroughs that have shaped our world. The World Showcase is a World’s Fair-style celebration of world culture. Both areas hold attractions that may be of interest to seniors.
The icon for Epcot, and the first thing you will encounter on your arrival, is Spaceship Earth, known affectionately as the giant golf ball. Be sure to experience this attraction. It is a slow-moving dark ride that takes you through the history of communication from the dawn of man through the global communication of today. There is generally little wait, and the long ride provides an excellent opportunity to beat the heat, as well as providing a very well-done, interesting, and informative attraction.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends has newly reopened after an extensive rehab. Though the Finding Nemo overlay makes the exhibit more child-friendly, the massive aquariums provide an excellent look at a variety of ocean life. If you are at all interested in marine life, be sure to spend plenty of time here.
*Fun Fact* The Seas is considered the world’s sixth largest ocean.
Do not miss The Land. This pavilion was expanded dramatically in 2005 with the addition of Soarin’. This new attraction provides guests with a phenomenal flyover of California. The movement is quite gentle, just an initial lift followed by a slight swaying of the seats in tandem with the film. Sights, sounds, movement, and even smell combine for a truly amazing experience.
*Tip* The front row provides far superior seating. In every other row, you can see the feet of the guests in front of you, so ask to wait for the front row.
Also inside The Land pavilion, be sure to take the boat ride. This guided tour takes you through many of Disney’s greenhouses. Some are dedicated to research, while others provide some of the food served throughout the resort. Keep an eye out for the Mickey Pumpkins!
*Tip* If you are interested in learning more, walking tours are given throughout the day. Make your reservations in advance.
Mission: Space and Test Track are thrill rides, housed next door to each other. Test Track puts you in the middle of a GM proving ground, riding in a convertible through a variety of extreme test conditions. Reaching top speeds of 65 mph on an outside loop, Test Track is the fastest ride on Disney property.
Mission: Space offers two different experiences, the Orange Side and the Green Side. Please read the health restrictions carefully, and utilize the side that is appropriate for you. The two experiences are identical, with one major exception. The Orange Side adds centrifugal force, spinning rapidly to create G forces. This gives an experience similar to that of actual astronauts. However, it can also aggravate pre-existing health conditions. Be certain that you know which side you should ride.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure stars Ellen DeGeneres of TV fame in a look at our use of natural resources. Your solar powered ride vehicle will take you back in time to come face to face with dinosaurs, and then propel you forward for a look at the renewable energy sources of today.
Pavilions of eleven nations ring the lagoon in the back half of the park. Each is staffed by citizens of its country, who come to Disney on year-long contracts. They are always happy to discuss their homeland with you, or to let you practice your language skills.
Each pavilion is laid out in a similar manner. One major attraction, often a boat ride or a film presentation, is surrounded by shops, eateries, and entertainment. Street performers are common, from acrobats to mimes to strength ballet.
An entire day could easily be spent making your way slowly around the World Showcase. Be sure to visit the shops. Many are arranged as outdoor straw markets or bazaars, and all carry products that are specific to the country represented.
Although all of the entertainment is top-quality and definitely worth seeing, a few performers stand out as true must-sees. One is the preshow group at the American Adventure. Housed in the lower level of the main show building, the Voices of Liberty is an a cappella singing group. They perform classic folk and patriotic songs, and their show is truly spectacular. Do not miss them.
For those who love the Beatles, be sure to catch the British Invasion in the UK. From a slight distance, they could truly be the Fab Four. The show takes place several times a day in the gazebo, and is guaranteed to get your feet tapping and your head bobbing.
The World Showcase Players appear several times daily, and the show travels between the UK and Italy pavilions. Check your Times Guide (show schedule) to see where and when they will appear. This comedy troupe selects audience members to appear in hilarious renditions of classic stories such as Romeo and “Edna”. The show is a lot of fun.
Be sure to catch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. This nighttime fireworks and laser extravaganza takes place nightly at park closing. Arrive early for a front row view (from anywhere around the lagoon). Or enjoy dessert and coffee at one of the outdoor snack stands while enjoying a somewhat obstructed but still incredible view.
Part of the fun of Epcot is discovering the hidden secrets. More than any other park except Animal Kingdom, Epcot is full of small pathways and out-of-the-way surprises. This park is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Simply purchasing an exotic dessert and sitting on a bench to watch the world go by is a pleasant way to pass the time. Prepare to cover a lot of distance, dress appropriately for the weather, and plan a relaxing day. You will be truly surprised at the fun you will have.
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