Planning a Day in Epcot With Toddlersby Kylie Chamberlin, contributing writer
At first look, Epcot might seem like an older child park. In fact, I know of many families who skip Epcot until their children are older, even elementary-school age. However, with some planning and preparation, Epcot can be a magical experience with your toddler.
There are so many great things to do in Epcot with toddlers, but keep in mind that the park can be overwhelming, even for adults. It's important for families to remember it's alright to relax, sit, people-watch, and just take your time to feel and experience Epcot at a toddler's pace. I see too many families hurrying from one thing to the next and missing the special feel and experience Epcot has to offer.
Thinking about your toddler's needs before planning the day is key. Will you need to go back to your hotel to accommodate an afternoon or mid-morning nap? When are the best times to try to eat? Try to keep your toddler on a small schedule, at least, to avoid meltdowns and allow plenty of rest time, as well.
It's also important to pack a bag with the essentials. This isn't a time to try to condition yourself to carry a playroom on your back or in your stroller, but be sure to have sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, diapers, wipes, sippy cup, and whatever else your toddler will need to be comfortable. Don't panic if you forget something. The Baby Care Center, located near the Mexico Pavilion, sells food, diapers, formula, and other necessities, such as baby Tylenol, as well as offering a quiet and air-conditioned place for families to change or feed. They have an oven, a seating area with a television, a sink, and many other conveniences that are a life saver when traveling with toddlers.
In Future World, toddlers with a little more attention span, or who enjoy movies or shows, might enjoy the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival. The ImageWorks "What If" Labs and the Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment attraction are also somethings toddlers can enjoy, though Journey Into Your Imagination does have some dark moments, which some toddlers might find scary. While "What If" Labs are geared for a little older children, most toddlers will still have fun exploring and trying the activities.
Innoventions is also geared for a slightly older child, but many activities are easily adapted for toddlers. It's also an air-conditioned place where toddlers can walk, run, play and burn off a little energy if they are antsy after sitting in strollers.
Another attraction toddlers can enjoy, since there is no height requirement, is Living With the Land. Keep in mind that it is a slow ride, and while you look at plants and produce (including a huge Mickey-shaped pumpkin) it might only be appropriate for the toddler who doesn't mind sitting and looking around, or one with a longer attention span than most.
Ellen's Energy Adventure is great for any height. It is a slow-moving ride, though it has many "scary" elements, such as dinosaurs, darkness, and loud noises.
The Seas With Nemo and Friends is aimed at the younger set. While there is one part of the ride where it is dark and a fish jumps out, the attraction has lots of singing, bright colors and, of course, Nemo and Friends. The Seas and the Sea Base are excellent options for toddlers, who can look at the fish, stingrays, sharks, and other aquatic creatures. Turtle Talk With Crush is geared for the child who enjoys interacting and talking back to Crush, but most toddlers, even those who aren't quite verbal yet, will enjoy it.
In the World Showcase, there are plenty of toddler-friendly options. The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in Mexico is a fun, silly ride with lots of bright colors and music. Young Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fans will enjoy seeing Donald, as well.
The KidCot Fun Stops are a great activity for toddlers in the World Showcase. They will get the opportunity to talk to a cast member in each country, get a stamp, and color. When I traveled with a toddler (not mine, but a relative), he really enjoyed the interaction of the KidCot fun stops and even wanted to go around the World Showcase to "do it again" as soon as we were done.
American Adventure, O Canada!, and Impressions de France are attractions for any height, though they might not hold the attention of toddlers. Curious toddlers will enjoy exploring each country and seeing the gardens, buildings, shops, and elements at each country.
Epcot entertainment also offers a lot to interest toddlers. The JAMMitors put on shows in Future World East at various times throughout the day and make music using custodial items (or kitchen or gardening items, seasonally). While toddlers might not understand the banter, they enjoy seeing the JAMMitors play unconventional instruments and sing. They can be loud, so if your toddler is sensitive to noise, you might want to stand a little farther away or skip it. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is the "good night kiss" at the park, and toddlers who enjoy fireworks, and don't mind darkness or loud noises, will love it.
World Showcase entertainment you might want to enjoy with your toddler includes Mariachi Cobre (a mariachi band in Mexico), Sergio in Italy, and the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China.
Epcot also offers a lot of character meet and greets. If your toddler enjoys meeting characters, it's great to check out Epcot Character Spot, especially for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fans. Mickey and his friends also meet guests at Legacy Plaza West. In the World Showcase, Mulan, Mary Poppins, Donald (in a sombrero), Snow White, and Alice meet friends. Some other characters can be found sometimes wandering around the World Showcase, so it pays to check the daily guide when you get to the park.
Overall, Epcot is a great park for families, and there is much more for toddlers to do at this park than most guests realize.