Disney’s Epcot for Tweens and Teens
Teenagers and Pre-Teens love EPCOT . Even though there are few thrill rides at the park most of the attractions (especially the ones in Future World) really target what 11 to 16-year-olds are learning in school. Of all the theme parks EPCOT is the one that caters to the entire family.
If you are traveling with teenagers we suggest looking into renting one of our Disney World pool homes. As you well know, teenagers like their space and that is what these homes offer…lots of space. The average Orlando vacation homes near Disney World is over 1500 square feet.
Your preteens and teens will be interested primarily in rides. Here are the rides they shouldn’t miss, arranged in order of importance.
It comes as no surprise that the rides to get busy the fastest in the morning are the thrill rides. Visit those either first or last or use Genie+ for them (see below). Spaceship Earth is closest to the entrance, so it gets a line in the morning. Skip that for now, and come back later, and there will be no line.
For film-based attractions, you may have to wait for one cycle before the next film begins. Rides that are the most popular and draw large crowds are generally Frozen, Remy, Test Track, Soarin’, and the new Cosmic Rewind.
Be sure that you prioritize your choices.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind – a Roller Coaster that spins. The height requirement is 42”. Dark coaster with flashing lights and fun music. Can cause motion sickness.
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure– a dark ride that is trackless that takes you through Ratatouille from the POV of a rat.
- Frozen Ever After – a dark ride on a boat following Elsa and Anna, telling the story of Frozen. Small drop.
- Test Track – an automobile testing facility, including a high-speed loop in the open air. Almost like a roller coaster but with individual cars. Height requirement of 40”
- Soarin’ – a hang gliding simulator with a height requirement of 40”.
- Mission Space – a simulator of a mission to mars that uses high-speed spinning to generate positive and negative g-forces. Very intense (which many kids love; others won’t). Height requirement of 44”
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends – an Omnimover dark ride that re-tells the Nemo story with a combination of sets and films, often using innovative effects.
- Journey Into Imagination With Figment – a stop-and-go dark ride with middling special effects and a largely uninteresting storyline for adults and older children alike.
- Spaceship Earth – a classic Omnimover attraction with music and robotic performers. It lasts longer than most rides at other amusement parks (including the Magic Kingdom).
- Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros – A boat ride through Mexican history and sights with Donald Duck, Panchito and Jose Carioca. This is a slow-moving ride with a musical finale.
- Turtle Talk with Crush – a live interaction, along the lines of a stage show, with an animated character on the screen. Humor is highlighted in this fun but short interaction with Crush. Older preschoolers get a lot out of this.
- Living with the Land – an automated boat ride through simulated ecosystems and futuristic greenhouses. The line moves quickly, and there are lots to look at, but the material isn’t gripping for most adults or older children.
- Reflections of China – a film projected in 360 degrees on screens all around you. The innovative presentation will be engaging, and the constantly-shifting imagery may keep kids involved for the whole 20-minute movie. Audiences have to stand, however, which can grow tiresome. No lines to speak of.
- Canada Far and Wide– another 360-degree film, paced slower. No lines are common.
- American Adventure – a stage show of robotic performers tracing American history over 30 minutes. This attraction is notorious for encouraging naps in comfortable chairs since the pace of the show is sometimes quite slow. Many infants fall asleep, so be wary of noise if your child fusses when tired.
- Impression de France – this tour of France uses three giant side-by-side screens for 180 degrees. Audiences can at least sit this time, and the chairs are so comfortable, that napping becomes a danger. The soundtrack of classical music is wonderful for adults, but at times too loud for tykes.
There are several smaller entertainment experiences at Epcot localized to smaller venues, especially in the country pavilions of World Showcase. Great if you need a break or wish to take in a particular kind of cultural offering. One consistent crowd-pleaser is the troupe of gymnasts at the China pavilion. The discounted Disney World Tickets, while they are still quite expensive you get a lot for your money. A Disney vacation is well worth it.
The major entertainment of the day occurs late at night: the Harmonious fireworks, which explode over the central lagoon of World Showcase. Simply put, do not miss this show. The decentralized nature of this show means you can view from anywhere around the lagoon, but choose a spot where you can see the projections, or else your view of the fireworks may be slightly obscured. You may wish to start finding a spot 30 minutes (or even 60 minutes) before show time if having a prime seat is important for you.
Epcot is the park at Disney World with the most dining options. If you just want something quick, there’s fast food at Electric Umbrella and healthier options in the Land pavilion. In World Showcase, just about every country pavilion has a counter-service option, so you can really explore different tastes during your visit, and you’ll regret it if you don’t sample as many as possible. Being adventurous is half the fun of exploring Epcot.
The park is rife with table service options—almost every country pavilion has one. All are decent, though they have different pricing levels. At the top end, the Bistro in France and Le Cellier steakhouse in Canada enjoy the best reputations, and you’ll find the atmosphere of Mexico’s La Cantina de San Angel hard to beat. All of the options, though, are decent. Character dining can be found in Norway and the Garden Grill at the Land pavilion.
Reservations for all table service restaurants are a must, and are available on a rolling 180-day schedule (simply call 407-WDW-DINE). Many of these restaurants fill up their available seats weeks before the date
In addition to the Character Dining mentioned above, you can find costumed characters that simply walk around (check with a Cast Member to locate the schedule for any particular character). Additionally, there are some structured character meeting areas:
Figment – the former icon of Epcot, this purple dragon was invented just for Epcot and can still be met at the top of the Imagination pavilion.
Disney characters by land – the country of origin for the original story serves as the greeting place for numerous Disney characters, such as Belle in France, Snow White in Germany, Mushu in China, and so on. These characters are not always present, though, so you may wish to check for schedules.
Article on where to see characters at EPCOT.
At all the character interactions, as well as key photogenic locations, you may run across park workers offering to take your picture and “put it on a card.” This is a free service and ideal for vacationers. On your first such encounter, you’ll get a card. On all future encounters, hand over the card and they’ll swipe it, making sure that whatever photos are taken get added to your account. When you return home after your vacation, you can view the pictures online, and order prints of any that you desire, with no pressure whatsoever.
Here are a few experiences that don’t draw nearly as many crowds, but may be of paramount importance to your particular child (pick and choose as your preferences dictate):
Living Seas aquarium – When visiting the Seas with Nemo, don’t forget to head upstairs and spend time ogling the enormous fish tank, at one time the largest in the world.
Mission Space Advanced Training Lab – play a mildly engaging video game that uses teamwork to pit one side of the room against the other.
Interactive play zones at the Imagination pavilion – make music by waving your arms and simply jump on carpeted tiles that make special effects noises. For older children, the better attraction may be the free photo postcards you can email from this area.
Video postcard emails at Mission Space – record yourself being loony and send an email to someone (or yourself), who can then view it online.
Germany outdoor train set – watch this garden-scale miniature train set navigate the scale model German villages and mountainous countryside. It may not hold your interest for long, but it’s neat to see once.
Fuel for Thought and the Car Showroom – As much a corporate advertisement for GM as anything else, these areas at the exit to Test Track at least have some theming and some things to read, and are ideal air-conditioned places to wait for Test Track riders to finish.