When Walt Disney first thought about the Environmental Prototype for the Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) he had visions of a place where people could understand the world better, glimpse the future and have fun doing it and I like to think that Walt and his team have delivered on this vision. But, they have also made the perfect Disney theme park for visiting with babies and toddlers. In fact it is our recommendation as the place to start your Disney adventures when visiting Orlando and Disney World for the first time with Babies and Toddlers.
In this article we outline the reasons why we think it is a great park for babies and toddlers and provide you with great tips for how to make the most of your trip to Disney EPCOT.
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Top of the list for reasons why EPCOT is great for babies and toddlers is the fantastic baby centre (or Baby Center as it is known in America). It is a wonderful, and thankfully air conditioned, area to take your kids to cool off away from the crowds, have a nappy changed and also a great place to nurse and feed the little ones.
It is clean, tidy and has lots of very comfortable changing tables with plenty of room and makes a welcome change from the usual fold out tables or small spaces in the toilets.
Additionally, the baby change centres are well looked after by at least one cast member at all times and they stock a range of helpful baby products including food, nappies and nappy creams in case you forgot or run out during your visit. For example, during one of our visits to Disney Travelbetter Girl got a horrible case of nappy rash that our cream wasn't touching but we were able to get an alternative from the baby centre that did the job well.
The EPCOT baby centre also provides an area for toddlers (and older kids) to chill out, relax and watch a classic Disney cartoon for a few minutes or even all the way through. This can be great way to give them some downtime to recharge, help get them off to sleep and also provide some entertainment while you nurse or feed a baby.
To make the most of the baby centre make sure you find it on the park map and we recommend you pay an early visit just so you know where it is. This way you can include it in your thinking of what to do when in the park by thinking about the times you might want to be back at the baby centre. For instance in EPCOT you may choose to go on Test Track and Mission to Mars close to feeding time as these attractions are close to the baby centre.
The baby centre is well sign posted in the park but just in case you have trouble you can find it in EPCOT just before the World Showcase lake. As you approach the lake with Spaceship Earth behind you the baby centre is off to the left and can be reached by a walkway bridge takng you diagonally away from the main approach to the lake. Then to return to World Showcase you just take the right hand walkway from the baby centre door and you are quickly in Mexico and have the chance to meet Donald Duck. Simply reverse the directions if you are coming from Mexico and looking for the baby centre.
Here is a map from Spaceship Earth to the Babay Centre at EPCOT.
Toddlers and babies love to learn through tactile play (touch) and the innvoation centres and other areas at EPCOT includes many areas where the little ones can get hands on with buttons to push and levers to pull.
Update: While this fire engine is no longer at EPCOT :-( there is still plenty of stuff for kids to get hands on with and learn a bit about science at the same time such as Colortopia at Innoventions and the What If Imagination Labs at Future World.
Video from ThemeParkHD of the What If Labs at EPCOT
Whether this is actually true or just an effect of the way the park is designed with lots of large flowing walk ways I am not sure. But EPCOT always feels less crowded than the other parks making it easier to get about with the little ones and manoeuvre their push chairs or prams.
EPCOT provides lots of opportunities to meet your favourite Disney characters including Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. Plus, the queueing times are much shorter than at the other parks in our experience.
Currently at EPCOT you can meet the following Disney Characters
While Magic Kingdom is very focussed on young kids it can be a bit too focussed and as an adult you can find yourself getting a bit fed up on some of the rides. Granted it is great to see the little ones enjoying them but you do pay a lot for the tickets and need some enjoyment to and this is where EPCOT is great.
EPCOT has a great selection of interesting and fun rides for the whole family to enjoy. Not just the little ones and not just the adults but the whole family together and often in a comfortable vehicle where you can all sit together or near each other.
It is also a great place to start getting the kids into the rides because so many of them are fun without too much high speed and thrills.
The family friendly rides at EPCOT include:
World showcase at EPCOT is a fun attraction that provides rides, shows, music and food from different parts of the world to enable people to experience a taste of other countries without actually leaving Orlando.
And so this is just as interesting for young children as for adults, Disney have the Kid Cot Fun Stop for kids to complete as they go round. This is a wooden teddy bear that you take to a special desk in each country and a cast member orginally from that country will draw a symbol or word on your teddy from that country as a keep sake for you and stamp it to show you visited the country. The cast member will often do a pin trade as well if you ask.
The other major plus point for World Showcase is that it is a great place to walk with your pushchair while the baby and/or kids take a nap. You can take you time walking through admiring the views and watching some of the open air shows. Get a refreshing drink, including a beer, grab a snack that you don't have to share and even enjoy a conversation with your other half while the kids sleep.
If you take your time then the walk can last an hour which is a good nap time. Or at least it is for the light sleeping Travelbetter kids.
We really like the The Coral Reef Restaurant. Not for the food, it is nice but nothing special for the price, but for the view. One side of the rstaurant looks into the EPCOT aquarium through giant glass walls and having dinner while watching all the sea creatures is really something special that the whole family enjoy. Especially shark spotting.
Now for the sneaky part which makes it a great place to visit at EPCOT with kids. To give yourself a chance to eat your dinner slowly and enjoyably like a normal person, rather than shovelling it down as fast as you can as a parent of a baby or toddler, ask the kids to count how many fish they see, and then to spot a turtle, and then a shark and so on and so on.....Also, babies will be mesmerised by the giant aquarium and give you some peace.
Over by Mission Space and Test Track is a fun little area of interactive fountains that kids can play in and cool down.
The splash pad is the little disc in the centre of the picture.
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