Review of "EPCOT"
I live with my wife and 2 youngest children in Plymouth and our aging wizard of a cat
In early August 2012 we visited EPCOT as part of our once in a lifetime holiday to Disney World, Orlando.Before leaving for Florida I had heard quite a few people saying that EPCOT was the best Disney park they had visited - including my wife and step-son both of which had visited many years ago. EPCOT was developed by Walt Disney and some of his designs are on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) to me was far from the exciting park I expected, that is not to say however that it is not worth a visit!
Staying at Disney's Port Orleans (French Quarter) gave us free parking (normally $14 for a car, higher for other vehicle types) or from our resort the opportunity of using Disney's free bus service which operates between the resorts and all their parks. Like most of the parks they are only short distances away from the resorts. Epcot can also be reached by monorail from some resorts and The Magic Kingdom - again a free service.A shuttle service runs from the car park to the entrance which depending on where you park the car can be valuable as Dinsey car parks are literally massive.
There are so many ticket prices available ranging from daily ones to the 7 day premier and 14/21 day ultimate tickets available through Virgin and other tour operators in the UK. In our case for 14 day passes they were £265 per adult and £235 per child and were combined within our holiday package. Suggestion is that you get better deals on Disney parks if you buy in the UK.Entry at all Disney parks begins with the ritual bag search (can't remember when I last saw one at Thorpe Park, Alton Towers or any other one for that matter) followed by electronic reading of your park ticket and again another ritual that you wouldn't see in the UK - the finger scan! (Only I could fail that by using the wrong finger!).
On entry you are met by EPCOT's golf ball home to a very gentle ride (Spaceship Earth) which takes you on a journey from some of the discoveries / inventions that have shaped our world. To me my first impressions though were to get the biggest golf club i could find and hit it. The ride like many others at EPCOT did not fill me with excitement or even the need to do it again.The front of the park is divided in half - Future World East & Future World West with the back of the park being a walk through countries of the world in which they call World Showcase.
Future World East Attractions:
Spaceship Earth (above)
Mission Space is a simulator in which you are grouped in a ship of 4 and your mission is to travel to Mars and touch down at the base which doesn't quite go to plan. The idea is that you are a recruit on a training mission and each crew member is assigned duties (couple of button presses each). There are 2 types of mission available green - mild version (which we went on) or Orange which is more intense and involves spins which they say could cause motion sickness to some. After my experience of the green mission I wish I'd chosen the Orange one, but with massive queues for the intense version and our need to get out of the thunderstorm that had just arrived at the park we took the safer option.Test track - the only one we couldn't try as it was closed when we reached it - whether it had been open or closed because of the thinderstorm was unknown.
Future World West Attractions:The seas with Nemo and Friends is another gentle ride where you travel through the land of (finding) Nemo in 2 seater clam shells. My daughter (8) enjoyed it and on exit there was a shop selling nemo products and photo opportunity to see the family inside the mouth of Bruce (fish are friends not food) shark. Also within the building is a Turtle talk with Crush which we didn't visit.
Soarin' was a ride we wanted to go on (the only one we really missed out on in the whole park), but with hour and a half queues and all fast pass tickets for the day issued we couldn't justify the wait - especially as by this stage we weren't convinced of how much longer we would be at the park. It is literally a birds eye view as you fly over California as though you were on a hang glider.We thought however, that while we were there we would visit two other attractions - Living with the Land and the Circle of Life. The Circle of Life is a film which switches continuously between real life and characters from The lion king (including Simba). Living with the Land is another gentle boat ride which shows innovations that are being made to deal with climate change, increased population, shortage of land etc etc. I found this particlular area a little difficult to swallow (and why I've combined both). The reason I find it difficult is that everything that we saw throughout our stay in Florida gave us totally the opposite impression - gas guzzling cars everywhere, water being wasted, no real attempt at energy saving and still using CFC's in their sprays. It just made me sick that we in the UK are expected to save energy, water and resources when no-one else does. To pretend they are eco-friendly and then expect you to accept their attempts at cure which were basically telling you that genetically modified crops are good for you was an insult. Worst still is that they sell crops they have modified in their on-site restaurant - at rather high prices!
Journey Into Imagination with Figment - another gentle ride which attempts to get you using some of your senses. There are a couple very funny moments and at the end of the ride are some hands on exhibits where you can make noises and aimed at making you think, and as ever within the parks a shop to buy Figment toys.Captain EO is the last of the attractions in the front of the park and is a short 3D movie starring Micheal Jackson as a space captain that saves the galaxy - by removing evil through song and dance. The movie had recently been reworked into 3D. Knowing some of Michael's music and dance this was not his best - but still worth watching.
The only other attraction in this part of the park is a room where you can meet Disney characters - autographs and photos.There are attractions in the World Showcase - which are mainly films, although there is one which did sound fun - Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito and Jose Carioca which was a musical boat ride.
World Showcase is designed to reflect historic buildings / scenery associated with that country - England's included red phone boxes and the fact we all live in a castle, still I didn't expect to buy my next Manchester City t-shirt from Disney - what a bonus! By the time we reached the World Showcase it was already getting dark so apart from the views and visiting some of the shops we didn't spend a great deal of time in this area. While in the England area we were entertained by an American band singing songs from Billy Idol and the legendary Bohemmian Rhapsody by Queen which we just couldn't resist singing as we were walking along - how English can you get!France included a replica of the Eiffel Tower. The countries exhibited form a semi-cicle around the lake and are Meixco, Norway, China, Germany, Canady, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France and UK (although it was based more on England).
As part of our holiday package we had a "free" Disney dining plan entitling us to 2 meals and 2 snack each per day which came in handy during our visit. Unlike other Disney parks, Epcot has a wide range of food to choose from with cafes / restauraunts available in each of the countries in the World Showcase area. (including traditional fish and chips at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop).Our first meal at the park however was at The Electric Umbrella which offered burgers and salads. It was one of many occassions that I decided to eat a salad - chicken Caesar salad to be exact which as on most other occassions was served in a bowl. Certainly if you were thinking of this as a healthy choice I think the massive burgers would be better as the salads were the size of an iceberg lettuce and seemed unconcourable!
There is also a small shop attached to an ice cream parlour within the main area which gives you an opportunity to try coca cola from about 8 countries around the world from machines using small sample cups - we missed this on our original visit but went back the following day to try.... big mistake as they were vile!Our other main meal while at Epcot was at the Lotus Flower cafe as it was part of our dining plan and our daughter was by now feeling rather fed up of nuggets and burgers and wanted something to remind of her of home. To say we did not eat all our meals and indeed needed drinks to take a way the taste was an understatement. The egg rolls were dry and tasteless as was the shrimp rice, orange chicken - in fact everything we eat. I had been warned that Chinese food in the USA was different, but there is a distinction between different and revolting!
At the end of the day Epcot has a firework and laser finale that is stunning with park lights turned off and replaced with the bear minimum outlining the various buildings around the park and especially noticiable around the lake on the World Showcase buildings. During the display a large lit up world globe travels along part of the lake.The day we chose for Epcot was because it had extra magic hours that would mean an extra 2 hours to look around. First impressions suggested we would not have stayed at the park for as long as we did, but there was enough to keep you occupied and with plenty of shops (granted a lot of it is the same) we managed a full day at the park. The biggest disppointment after deliberately deciding to stay on until the park closed was our extra magic hours were pointless as most of the attractions and shops closed at the same time as the park so we were literally left with very little to do.
If I had a limited budget or limited number of park visits personally this park would not be on my list, but my family enjoyed it. My impression of Disney parks in general (not water ones) is that they are not geared specifically at thrills seekers. The majority have the odd attraction that could be deemed that way, but definitely not Epcot. For the entry fee I would not have found this value for money.
Product Information : EPCOT
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Listed on Ciao since: 04/03/2006