We headed to Epcot on day 3 of our Disney World family vacation and I was pleasantly surprised at just how much my girls loved it. Epcot, in fact, ended up being one of their favorite parks. We covered so much territory and so many cultures I could write even more than I have, but I’ll just hit the highlights. And you can’t read highlights about Epcot without mentioning food!
I’d made lunch reservations for Via Napoli back in December after reading several incredible reviews of Epcot’s newest Italian restaurant. We arrived at the park mid-morning and started working our way around the countries as we headed toward Italy.
Our first Disney princess we spied was beautiful Mulan from China. She was gracious and friendly and the girls loved meeting her. My girls are well past the Disney Princess age, but this was one princess they could relate to. Girl power rules! Speaking of girl power, as I was fumbling around in my bag for my camera because PRINCESS SIGHTING! I somehow managed to pop the button on my shorts. So classy ya’ll!
The girls with Mulan. They had a great conversation about Nashville!
In all seriousness, here’s a great travel tip for you if you head to Disney in early March. Epcot’s annual International Flower & Garden Festival‘s official kick off date was March 7 but we were in the park March 4 and all of the incredible character topiaries were already on display. We may have missed the related festival events, but we got to see these topiary masterpieces minus the extra crowds. And every time you avoid huge crowds at Disney an angel gets her mouse ears, or something like that.
Yes it’s Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen as you’ve never seen them before. This seriously cracked me up.
The weather was also absolutely picture perfect. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.
Donald and Daisy in flower form.
We logged plenty of walking time before our 11:30 lunch reservations at Via Napoli. The restaurant had just opened for the day for lunch and our food was absolutely incredible. The oven fired pizza was amazing and so was the ambiance. Even though we felt like we’d been transported to Italy, the subtle Disney touches that keep that magic going were there. The balsamic oil in vinegar for dipping bread was even artfully added in the shape of Mickey’s iconic face and ears by our server. Via Napoli is definitely one of my must do dining experiences at Epcot.
Are we in Italy? Because it sure feels like it.
Reservations are a must for Via Napoli, one of our favorite dining experiences at Epcot.
After lunch we explored more of the country expo areas but we eventually made our way to Soarin’. We didn’t have a Fast Pass (they were gone by the time we arrived) but we decided it was well worth the 40-minute wait and it was. Soarin’ simulates hanggliding and you really feel like you are flying thanks to the biggest movie screen I’ve ever seen. This was the longest wait for a ride we encountered during our 5-day vacation but as I mentioned, it was well worth it!
Speaking of Fast Passes, as luck would have it we struck up a conversation with a couple as we were leaving Soarin’ and they just happened to be leaving the park for the day so they gave us their THREE Fast Passes to Fast Track. Cha ching! We headed over to Fast Track and while hubby and the girls basically walked right in, I wandered over to the Fast Pass dispenser and grabbed four more for later in the evening as I really wanted to ride Fast Track. It ended up being one of our favorite rides, ranked up with Soarin’ in the top 3.
More topiary cuteness near England. Pooh!
After I snagged four Fast Passes to Test Track with our park tickets I trotted over to Mission Space to check out the wait time, which was less than 10 minutes. Miss C (my 9-year-old) and the hubby opted for the more intense ride, while Miss A and I opted for the less intense version. Maybe because every sign at every turn warned against claustrophobia and motion sickness, but I wasn’t so keen on Mission Space. The girls loved it, though, especially Miss C.
Mission Space, one of the coolest ride exteriors at Epcot.
We ended up circling back around to the World Showcase area and headed into Mexico where we rode the Gran Fiesta Tour inside the giant Mexico pavillion. It was honestly a tad hokey, but was a pleasant change from Future World and all of the space and technology theme attractions. An added bonus was spying Donald Duck in a full on sombrero! Photo op and autograph time again. We also rode another indoor ride, Maelstrom, a Viking inspired ride in Norway.
All the walking was making us thirsty and hungry so after wandering around aimlessly in Germany looking for beer (only half way kidding!) we headed to the Japanese Pavillion for dinner as I’d read that it was a good choice for a quick service meal (remember, we were on the dining plan). We sat outside by a beautiful koi fish pond and enjoyed a live show not far from Katsura Grill at dusk. Really pretty amazing scenery.
We walked around even more (I wish I’d worn a pedometer) and ended up closing the evening with The Seas with Nemo & Friends, a sweet ride suited for really young kids, Turtle Talk With Crush, and then finally used our fast passes for Test Track, which I loved! This was hubby and the girls’ second time on Test Track and my first. It’s a thrilling fast vehicle simulation ride (that sped up to 60 MPH) and another must do, along with Soarin’. It’s a 5-minute ride and I highly recommend grabbing a Fast Pass for either it or Soarin’ as soon as you arrive in Epcot.
I don’t have photos to do it justice, but Epcot closes with the 14-minute IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks and laser show and it was a highlight of our trip. We honestly liked it even more than Wishes at Magic Kingdom. The show and music were incredible!
Next post: Return to the Magic Kingdom and dinner at the Grand Floridian with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and those wacky wicked stepsisters.