Monday, June 27, 2016

Beat The Heat in Walt Disney World: Epcot

Today's post in the series of "How to Beat the Heat" takes us the the second theme park established at Walt Disney World: Epcot.  

Epcot is probably my favorite Walt Disney World Theme Park.  The thrilling rides and the rides made for all ages (even the tiny tots!), fun entertainment, delicious restaurants and unique shopping experiences all combine into one truly great theme park.  Lets get to the point of this post: beating the heat while visiting Epcot!  As I did with my Magic Kingdom post on the same topic, I broke it down into sections of the park. So lets go visit Epcot!

Future World East
Head to the ‘giant golf ball’, officially known as, Spaceship Earth.  On this ride the Dame Judy Dench hosts you on a time-travel journey, teaching you about the history of communication throughout time.  Plus it is a long ride, but definitely not the longest Epcot ride, clocking in at 15 minutes. While some of the wait for this attraction is outside, if you time it right the ball will provide excellent shade! 

After you come back to the modern age, spend some time visiting the Project Tomorrow area.  This is an interactive area that has games and displays suitable for all ages.  (Tip: Epcot has a few of these interactive areas which is good during the summer because you can stay here for as long as you’d like!) (Bonus tip: these areas are also great for when kids are done being confined to a stroller - lots of space to run around and get their hands on things!)

Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  Ellen and her friend Bill Nye the Science Guy give us with a long 45-minute break from the Florida heat!  Yes this ride needs an update, but since it is such a great place to sit down. relax and cool off (maybe even let the kiddos take a nap) I'm okay with the 'oldness' of it. (Note: the actual ride is just 37 minutes, the other 8 minutes are from the pre-show movie).

Test Track. This high-speed thrill ride not only offers an interactive queue that is important to the ride, the majority of the time in line is spent inside! YAY!  Plus your wait is rewarded with an amazing and fun ride!  After you disembark your Test Track vehicle, there is another interactive, 'after the attraction' area, also in the A/C, where you can have more fun with the car you've designed and see the newest cars from Chevrolet - you can even get in them!  Tip: If you find yourself in like outside, take turns running over to the cool-zone area sponsored by Coca-Cola.
My personal car creation.

Advance Training Lab after Mission Space.  If you're like me, and you by-pass the ride because it is too intense, head to the interactive area after the ride (are you seeing an Epcot theme?)  If you are a thrill seekers, this ride is definitely for you! Did you know it is the only ride in the Orlando area that provides 'get-sick' bags? True story.  This is also a great option when you want a break from the heat as the queue, the entire ride and then the after-the-ride experience is all indoors. 

Splash zone area!  This fun water spot is great for cooling off on hot days and can be found in-between Test Track and Mission Space.

Innoventions East.  Another hidden gem of Epcot – often overlooked as guests hurriedly rush to the next ride.  This area has activities and exhibits that are science related - so the science geek in my loves it.  If you by-pass it, you’ll miss the opportunity to design your very own roller coaster and clim aboard a simulator to take it for a spin in!  There is also this wind tunnel that simulates gale-force winds which is also a really cool and unique experience.

Epcot Character Spot.  Want to meet Joy and Sadness from the Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out? Or perhaps meet the healthcare companion Baymax?  Maybe you're a Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy kind of person.  Well this is the place to meet these Disney characters! And you get to meet these characters in air conditioned rooms! (Note: characters are subject to change).
Who doesn't want a hug from Baymax?

Mouse Gear. Possibly my favorite Disney Store on property. It is a huge Disney store but not the biggest!  I can get lost in this store for a very long time while finding some unique Disney products - I'll blame the amount of time I spend in here on the air conditioning and the cool stuff!

Future World West

The Seas with Nemo and Friends. I love everything about this ride; from the queue theming to the ride itself to the after-ride area it is a must-do for my Walt Disney World vacations.  I love it even more so in the summer though because it’s so cold in this building - as as you walk up to the doors you're greeted with an icy blast of air! 
Mine! Mine! Mine! Cold air is mine!

The Nemo after-the-ride area is a large aquarium area.  There are lots of different tanks featuring fun and different aquatic life for you to see - from seahorses to huge fish to manatees to sharks and sting rays this area provides entertainment for a long time!  Also, be sure to visit the Turtle Talk with Crush this summer and you'll get to see some of Dory's new friends from Finding Dory! (Tip: this is also a great area for kids who have grown tired of sitting in their stroller!)
Spend time in the aquarium after you visit Nemo - so many neat things to see - when the sun is out in Orlando!

Soarin. I’ve not had a chance to see the new version, Soarin’ Around the World since its June 17th debut ,and I won’t get a chance until September (hopefully, fingers crossed!) but the older version was so great, this new version has to be too! Bonus: The ENTIRE queue for Soarin’ is inside! Plus there are games to keep you entertained while you wait which makes this ride a high ranking option when it is hot out!

Sunshine Seasons. This Quick-Service restaurant is in the Land Pavilion, along with Soarin.  This Quick-Service location is in my top two favorites resort-wide (both of them happen to be in Epcot and this is one of them).  Sunshine Season has a variety of choices - you can get a salad, fresh deli sandwich, fresh soups, Chinese food, and roasted chicken meals.  I love that most of the offers at Sunshine Seasons are healthy and all are super yummy!
Each balloon in The Land Pavilion represents a season!
Journey Into Imagination with Figment.  This is a cute ride for all ages (but focused towards little ones) and has been a favorite of mine since I was a tiny tot myself.  This is a good option when it is hot out because it normally has little, to no wait making all of the queue indoors so you're walking in the A/C and the ride is in the A/C.  Plus Figment is cute.

World Showcase:
The best part of Epcot! Yummy restaurant and snack options, history lessons, great shopping, delicious drinks for the adults, and lots of Character Meet and Greet opportunities!

Canada.  O Canada! provides a great, unique and funny break for the heat! Plus this pavilion is gorgeous and fun to walk through – the waterfalls might splash you if you’re lucky! If you're really lucky, you were able to score an Advance Dining Reservation at Le Cellier Steakhouse. This restaurant is dark and cozy and a perfect way to cool off while having a top-notch steak dinner.

United Kingdom.  This pavilion has cute shops, all United Kingdom themed, to stroll through when it is hot out.  My favorite being the tea shop!  Once the sun starts to set check out the, The British Revolution band that plays British hits (think Beatle's and Rolling Stone's tunes) in the back corner of this pavilion.  It is great entertainment and is another spot for kids to get some energy out by dancing (and big kids too!).

France.  The prettiest movie in all of World Showcase is Impressions de France plus it is 20-minutes long!  Another way to avoid the heat is by grabbing a bite to eat at my other favorite Epcot Quick-Service location: Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.  Here you can order some of the "World's" most delectable sandwiches and pastries.  After your meal, stop at L’Artisan des Glaces for some homemade ice cream that is going to knock-your-socks-off, in a good way!  The France Pavilion is also home to one of my favorite Walt Disney World Table Service locations – Chefs de France.  A restaurant that has forever changed my view about salmon and macaroni and cheese.  Plus, this restaurant is so pretty I love to sit here and enjoy a meal when the weather is hot (and when it isn't).

Morocco. Stepping into this pavilion really feels like you’ve been transported to another country.  I really enjoy the Table-Service restaurant Spice Road Table, a tapas restaurant (they have full-sized dishes as well) but request to sit indoors because half of this restaurant is outside! Tip: Save your shopping for after the sun goes down as the have open doors making these stores hot during the day. 

Japan. The Japan Pavilion is home to Mitsukoshi, a store full of Japanese treasures. Here you can buy Hello Kitty trinkets, a sushi set, a kimono, Japanese food and drinks. You can watch, or participate in, the Pick-A-Pearl experience and cheer along for some good fun! There are two Japanese Table-Service restaurants - Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo - both favorites of mine.  Teppan Edo is a teppanyaki style restaurant and Toyko Dining offers more sushi and bento boxes fair and both offer a break from the heat.

America. Most of the things to do at the American pavilion is outside - making it a great stop once the sun goes down.  When the sun is up, stop at The American Adventure which provides a 30-minute break from the heat which is great for the history buff or for kids that need a nap!
History lesson and a break from the heat!

Italy.  If you're really hot, get dinner at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria.  This is the coldest restaurant I’ve ever eaten in on Walt Disney World property. We almost froze while having a meal here last November. So if you’re over-heating and hungry, this place is for you!

Germany. The Biergarten Restaurant is permanently set at a dusk evening during a German Oktoberfest celebration.  Being from the Cincinnati area the German food, German beer and the German entertainment at this Epcot Table-Service restaurant is something that I truly enjoy and appreciate.  Plus shopping in this pavilion's shops is fun – I love checking out the German stuffed animals and Christmas tree ornaments while munching on some freshly made caramel treats!
Step inside for some Oktoberfest fun!

China.  The one place I find relief from the heat is sitting down and watching the film, Reflection of China, which provides a 14-minute break from the heat.  And right now, there is a new exhibit featuring the newest Disney Theme Park: Shanghai Disneyland!
Air conditioning and Shanghai Disney!
Norway. Like, Soarin' Around the World, I've not had a chance to ride Frozen Ever After so if it is worth waiting in the heat, is yet to be determined. After seeing the long wait times, I would either try and get a FastPass+ for it though.

Mexico.  The majority of this pavilion is inside making it a truly favorite spot of mine to stop when the Florida heat is taking it’s toll.  When you walk into the pavilion it is set at dusk and the air is cool! This pavilion offers many this for you do to!  You can shop for clothing, glassware, food and other Mexican trinkets. Grab a margarita from La Cava de Tequila and you won't be disappointed. If you're hungry have a bite to eat at San Angel Inn (my dad's favorite restaurant on property). The Kidcot Mexico stop is also indoors! 
Step inside the Mexican Temple for air conditioned fun!
Aside from shopping and good eats and drinks in the Mexico pavilion there is a fun and cute ride featuring Donald Duck that is good for all ages: The Grand Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros.
It is always a party with Donald Duck!

Things to do when the Sun goes down in Epcot:
These are the things I like to do around Epcot when the sun starts to set and it gets cooler out:
Epcot at night!
Living with the Land. I love this ride. But it takes place in a greenhouse so, like all greenhouses, they are naturally warm. When it is Florida middle-of-summer warm outside, it is even hotter on this greenhouse ride.  

The African Outpost. This section of World Showcase is FUN – lots of fun drums for kids of all ages to bang on to make some music or to just go crazy with.  But since the drums area all out-doors bring your kids to this area once the sun starts to set so they can have fun.

China. The shops in this pavilion always tend to be on the warmer side to me, I think they need more A/C, so I don't shop here until the heat breaks.

Concert at America Gardens Pavilion.  This outdoor venue usually has a nighttime concert full of high-energy fun that isn't to be missed!

IllumiNations. This is Epcot's nightly fireworks show that is held over the World Showcase Lagoon.  I love this night show - the music, the fireworks and light show make this a must-see every time I visit Epcot for a perfect way to end my day.
IllumiNations: A Reflection of Earth!

After IllumiNations, I suggest observing the Fountains of Nations, they are so pretty! After you're done and on your way out of the park, take a look down at the sidewalk! It is pretty cool!

What do you think? What is your favorite places to cool off in Epcot when it is hot out? Let me know!
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