How to Make the Most of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT with Preschoolers and Young Children

Linnea Bailey Avatar
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT entrance, as seen during the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival.

Upon arriving at EPCOT for our first family trip to Walt Disney World, my kids made a beeline for Norway.

And who can blame them? It was where I most wanted to go, too.

With its cozy bakery, traditional village and giant wooden troll sculpture, the Norway Pavilion (part of the park’s beloved World Showcase) felt magical — especially since my little ones are huge Frozen fans. Within minutes, my four-year-old son’s eyes lit up as he spotted one of his favorite Disney characters.

“It’s OLAF!” he shouted, giggling in wonder as the friendly snowman waved at him.

My kids were smitten. As they grinned for photos with Frozen’s Olaf, Anna and Elsa, I knew that EPCOT was the perfect vacation destination for their age group (ages 4, 4 and 7).

Here’s what we learned on our family trip, and everything you need to know to make a trip to EPCOT with young kids unforgettable.

Take pictures at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT
With Frozen’s Anna, Olaf and Elsa at the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT. Photo credit: Linnea Bailey

Travel Around The World at EPCOT’s World Showcase

My favorite part about EPCOT has always been the opportunity to “travel” around the world.

It’s a chance to shop for beautiful jewelry in a bustling bazaar in Morocco or take a peaceful stroll beside lotus ponds and a traditional garden in China. With 11 countries in the World Showcase, a trip to EPCOT provided us with an incredible opportunity to experience other places and cultures together as a family.

Some pavilions have kid-friendly rides, too; at the Norway Pavilion, we screeched in delight as the Frozen Ever After boat ride took us on a journey through Frozen’s Arendelle. At the Mexico Pavilion, my kiddos thoroughly enjoyed the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, a gentle water ride that follows the adventures of Donald Duck and his friends. We promised the kids we’d try the 4D ride experience Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at the France Pavilion next time we visit.

A great activity for younger kids is the Kidcot Fun Stops, a free experience that offers little ones the chance to collect fun activity cards and talk with cast members from each country throughout the World Showcase.

Read More: The Secrets to Disney Pin Trading: Tips, Tricks & How to Get Started

Enjoy performances while having dinner at the EPCOT.
A performance during dinner at EPCOT’s Biergarten Restaurant at the Germany Pavilion. Photo credit: Linnea Bailey

Dine Around the World at EPCOT

We adored dining at EPCOT. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we returned two more evenings after visiting Disney’s other theme parks to sample a different country’s cuisine each night. I highly recommend park hopper tickets for this reason. EPCOT in the evening is spectacular.

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After a long day at the Magic Kingdom, we took a quick Monorail ride to EPCOT to Germany’s Biergarten Restaurant, where we ate a delicious buffet dinner of traditional German fare. The interior of the restaurant is designed to feel like a Bavarian village, complete with a running watermill, biergarten-style tables and a German Polka band performing on a central stage. We pretended we were in Germany for Oktoberfest as our children danced to the band’s oompah beat.

The next day after Animal Kingdom, we arrived at EPCOT for a meal at the France Pavilion’s Chefs de France, a charming cafe that felt as if we were in the heart of Paris. We dined on sauteed shrimp and scallops and savored a plate of imported cheeses and charcuterie, while the kids enjoyed a huge serving of macaroni baked with cream and gruyere cheese. We shared a swan-shaped French cream puff for dessert.

For families looking to meet Disney princesses, Norway’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offers the chance to try Norwegian cuisine and meet Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Show White and Mulan, among others.

Since we were there during the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, we admired the popular Beauty and the Beast topiaries after our dinner in France, which were beautifully lit up at night. I’d love to return during the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival when I hear the food offerings are exemplary and there are added scavenger hunts and other fun activities for kids.

Fireworks showing Luminous The Symphony of Us at EPCOT.
EPCOT’s new fireworks show Luminous The Symphony of Us. Photo credit: Matt Shostrane, courtesy of Disney

Catch EPCOT’s New Fireworks Show: Luminous The Symphony of Us

If there was ever a fireworks show that’s perfect for kids of all ages, it’s EPCOT’s new fireworks show Luminous The Symphony of Us.

The placement of the show over the park’s World Showcase Lagoon is perfect, because it ensures that everyone has a great spot to view the show. Popular viewing spots include the open-air deck at La Cantina de San Angel at the Mexico Pavilion, the World Showcase Plaza or the International Gateway Bridge.

SheBuysTravel Tip: We watched from a waterfront deck near the Germany Pavilion. The sightlines were amazing!

A friend gave us special glasses that made the fireworks appear to have Mickey Mouse shapes shimmering around them, and my seven-year-old kept them on for the duration of the show. Meanwhile, her four-year-old brother was completely enchanted with the show, no glasses necessary: the synchronous music, fountains, lights and fireworks were dazzling.

The kids ran around with Frozen-themed light-up bubble wands after the show, happy as can be. Of all the Disney parks’ fireworks shows, this one was by far my favorite for young children.

A Moana inspired walkthrough play area Journey of Water at EPCOT.
The walkthrough play area Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana at EPCOT. Photo credit: Amy Smith, courtesy of Disney

Visit Kid-Friendly Rides and Experiences at EPCOT

There are so many rides and experiences at EPCOT that are perfect for young kids. The park’s flagship attraction Spaceship Earth (inside the iconic giant sphere) offers the chance to travel through time to learn about moments of innovation throughout history.

Families with small children will especially enjoy the walkthrough play area Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana. This self-guided outdoor trail allows kids to interact with water in new ways as they explore and play in water along the way.

Other great experiences for young kids at EPCOT include The Seas with Nemo and Friends (a slow and gentle ride based on Disney and Pixar’s Finding Nemo) and Turtle Talk with Crush, a live and interactive show that offers kids the chance to ask questions directly to their favorite sea turtle from the movie.

Living With The Land and Journey Into Imagination with Figment are also great slow rides for little ones, with no height requirement. For older siblings, Soarin’ Around The World, Mission: SPACE, Test Track and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind are all thrill-seeking options.

EPCOT's Lightning Lane entry allows guests to bypass long lines for certain experiences.
Lightning Lane entry allows guests to bypass long lines for certain experiences (such as EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth). Photo credit: Kent Phillips, courtesy of Disney

How to Skip the Lines and Get the Best Photos at EPCOT

If you’re planning to do rides with young kids at EPCOT, Lightning Lanes are worth the money. Lightning Lane entry allows you to bypass an attraction’s line and join a separate (much shorter) line for certain experiences. Some Lightning Lane entrances can be purchased through Disney Genie+ service, while others can be purchased individually.

However you buy them, Lightning Lane access will allow you to skip waiting in long lines – something that made our Disney experience much better when traveling with young children.

Another service that improved our experience at Disney was renting strollers for our kids. We initially rented one double stroller for our two preschoolers, but our seven-year-old soon made it clear that she, too, needed a break. The two double strollers allowed us to push around the kids (and our backpack) without complaint.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The SheBuysTravel guide to renting strollers at Walt Disney World has essential info for families on this topic, including how to make yours stand out in a crowded buggy parking lot.

Last but not least: if you want great photos of your Disney vacation, Disney PhotoPass is awesome. The service allows you to have professional photos taken at locations throughout Disney’s theme parks, and the Memory Maker option allows you to pay one price for all of them. Disney’s MagicBand+ made this especially easy, allowing each photographer to simply scan my band to have the photos instantly appear in the My Disney Experience app on my phone.

The Disney Skyliner is one of the transportation options to EPCOT.
The Disney Skyliner is one of the transportation options that connects EPCOT with certain Disney resort hotels and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo credit: David Roark, courtesy of Disney

Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Details

Disney’s EPCOT is located near Orlando at 200 Epcot Center Drive in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32821.

The park is 30 minutes by car or charter bus from either the Orlando International Airport, the Orlando Brightline station or the Orlando Amtrak station. Parking is free for guests of Disney resort hotels (and select annual passholders); all other vehicles will pay a daily parking fee that starts at $30 per day.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you’re staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you won’t need a car to get to EPCOT. It’s a huge perk of booking one of the Disney on-property resort hotels like Art of Animation, where we stayed. Transportation via Skyliner, bus and Monorail is complimentary, with private Minnie Van transportation available via Lyft in a whimsical red and white polka-dotted “Minnie” van (for a nominal fee).

We didn’t drive at all during our trip; we took a Brightline high-speed passenger train from our home in South Florida to the station at the Orlando International Airport, then took the Mears Connect charter bus service to our Disney resort hotel (and then the reverse on the way home). I’d recommend it to anyone.

Linnea Bailey is an award-winning journalist based in South Florida. Her recent freelance work can be found in Southern Living, The Palm Beach Post, Florida Weekly, art&culture magazine, The Palm Beaches Blog and more. A former newspaper reporter, she now owns a communications company in West Palm Beach. Linnea is an active member of The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Travel Writers Alliance.
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