Disney World has done a lot in recent years to expand the choice of rides at Epcot. This Disney park is probably the most misunderstood of any of the four theme parks. Each of the others has a strong idea related to it whereas Epcot has often but unfairly been seen as the one which is just a little difficult to define . Sure we know it was based on Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow but somehow the fact that Epcot has some excellent rides and attractions gets a little mixed up along the way.
So just what are the rides at Epcot?
Epcot Test Track
One of the most innovative, expensive and technologically advanced rides at Walt Disney World, Test Track is also one of the most popular. For good reason. This thrilling ride which has at it’s theme the concept of a vehicle test facility will have you test driving anti lock breaks, tight corners, collision aversion and then accelerate you to 65 miles an hour. A great ride for everyone in the family – well those over 40″ high anyway.
For more details and a video go to Epcot Test Track.
This Epcot ride made it’s debut in Disneyland California and has been a big hit in Disney World since making it to Florida on May 5th 2005. In Disneyland the ride is titled Soarin’ Over California but despite being exactly the same ride the California reference is dropped in the Florida park.
This 4 minute 40 second simulated flight ride takes guests over the amazing sights of California including Yosemite, The Wine Country, Monterey, San Francisco, San Diego and of course Disneyland.
Even though this is a simulated flight it is not a flight simulator! It is an entirely different concept with a ride mechanism which actually takes guests up into the air on a row of seats. You are safely strapped into your seat and then you ‘fly’ upwards into the air in front of a giant IMAX screen. There are 3 rows of seats and as your feet dangle in the air, the best view is on row 1 as your line of vision doesn’t have someone else’s feet in it!
This is one of those must do rights at Walt Disney World. There really isn’t anything like it at any other theme park. Truly a Disney original.
The height requirement is 40″ and young children do get an extra safety strap. Try and get a Fast Pass for this ride as lines up to 120 minutes are not unheard of. Either ride Soarin’ or Test Track as soon as you arrive at Epcot and get a Fast Pass for the other attraction.
Living with the Land
This attraction is housed in The Land Pavilion with Soarin’. That is where the similarity ends! This is unfortunately now very much a secondary attraction which can be missed if time does not permit. This used to be one of my favorite attractions, but now it just seems so dated. But if lines are not too long then it is still worth experiencing.
You will board a slow moving boat which will take you though an educational journey about advances in agricultural technology. Sounding great so far? Actually it is a lot better than that basic description suggests as it is interesting to see the acquaculture farming, the upside down tomato plants and the innovative ways of increasing food production. It is a 14 minute gentle boat ride and you may just learn something along the way.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
You can see all of your favorite characters from the Finding Nemo movie on this relatively new Epcot ride. Launched in 2007 The Seas with Nemo and Friends appeals to all ages. Guests board a slow moving clamobile and glide past the 5.7 million gallon aquarium which appears to feature Nemo and his friends. The technology on this ride is amazing and the effect combines animation with the real creatures of the sea in the huge aquarium.
There is no height requirement for The Seas with Nemo and Friends and this is definitely a feel good attraction for every member of the family.
This is of course the most recognizable ride at Epcot. At 180 feet high the iconic Spaceship Earth ride can be seen for miles around. The geodesic silver dome of Spaceship Earth takes guests on a journey through time – from the beginning of mankind to present times.
This 13 minute Epcot ride travels inside the dome in slow moving vehicles which pass animatronic scenes through the ages. Describing it isn’t easy – believe me it is better than it sounds! Definitely an Epcot attraction which has to be experienced at least once.
The usual ‘traffic’ pattern for Spaceship Earth is that guests ride it as soon as they enter the park. It is right there at the front of the park and so it is tempting to do that. But if the wait time is over 15 minutes long then think again. Try and ride it later in the day before you go into World Showcase when the lines are usually much shorter.
This is the only ride at Disney World, and possibly anywhere, to provide motion sickness bags for guests! This gives you an idea of why this Epcot ride is not quite as popular as Disney had hoped. It is a motion simulator ride which shows what an astronaut may experience on a journey to Mars.
There are 4 riders in each vehicle and everyone is assigned their own role (i.e potential buttons to press when instructed) either Commander, Navigator, Pilot or Engineer. The ride vehicle is small and if you are prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia this is a ride where you really should observe the warnings. Riders experience up to 2.5 G Force.
Mission Space is a highly intense and very unique ride. It is certainly one of the most thrilling Disney World rides. But for many it was a little too much which is why Disney opened a second non motion version of the ride. This is also quite a lot of fun and does not have the G Force of the main attraction so is suitable for more people. If you do not like enclosed spaces though avoid this one.
MIssion Space rarely has long lines, particularly for the motion simulator version so no particular tactics are needed to avoid the lines.
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
This is one of the older Epcot rides and is found in The Imagination Pavilion in Future World. This somewhat missable ride has the theme of how our imaginations play tricks on us and features the lovable Figment the dragon as our guide. Guests board a vehicle which slowly takes them through various scenes of our senses. It is suitable for all ages but some parts are dark, noisy and contain just a few surprises. If you are short on time this is one you can safely skip.
There are only a couple of rides in Epcot World Showcase but they are both definitely worth experiencing.
Located in the Norway Pavilion of World Showcase this boat will take you back in time to a place where the Vikings ruled the land. You encounter trolls, polar bears and get precariously close to the edge of a waterfall, but all ends well as you gently sail into a Norwegian village. This water ride does have a 28 foot drop close to the end which some may find a little bit scary. My youngest son has always loved it but his older brother still isn’t so keen!
Many people miss the movie about Norway at the exit of the ride. But perhaps you should pause to see it, if only once. Norway is a spectacularly beautiful country but the movie desperately needs updating.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
This is a gentle and relaxing ride housed inside the Mexico World Showcase Pavilion at Epcot which is loosely based around the 1944 movie The Three Cabelleros which featured Donald Duck. This 7 minute ride sails past the San Angel Inn Restaurante and into the history and landscape of Mexico. This Epcot ride is a lot of fun and is suitable for all ages.
As you will see it is perhaps rather unfair that Epcot is sometimes thought of as not having a large selection of rides. In fact Epcot has some of the best and most popular rides in Walt Disney World. Which one is your favorite?
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