Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seeing "the World" Tip #3: Epcot Really is for Kids! (Part 1 - Future World)

The 21st Century Begins.....
Epcot...Walt Disney World's second theme park opened on October 1, 1982, exactly 11 years after the Magic Kingdom first opened its gates.  Since then, the park has been beloved by many adults, but has never replaced the Magic Kingdom as the most popular Walt Disney World park.  Why?  Since its opening all those years ago, the park has had a reputation of being too educational and too boring for children.  In fact, when the park first opened, management was insistent that there be no meet and greets with Disney characters in the park. That didn't last long, but still, Walt Disney World employees had a hard time convincing parents that the park would be fun for children.  Which brings us to the Epcot of today.  Many changes have been made to the park to make it more "kid friendly."  I'm going to be your tour guide for these changes, with the hope that they will help you plan some activities for your children at Epcot.

Innoventions is one of the areas of the park that has gone through some huge changes since I first went to Epcot.  What was once essentially a giant free arcade is now a place filled with fun activities for people to learn about physics, banking, the latest in eco-friendly technology and a plethora of other subjects.  While some of the attractions in Innoventions are admitedly dated, there are many must-dos in the two buildings, including:
Storm Struck - This 3D movie teaches us about weatherproofing our homes.  Even some of the adults in the audience learn a thing or two in this attraction.
The Great Piggy Bank Adventure - This trio of mini-games will help your children learn about the importance of saving money in a fun and simple way.
Sum of All Thrills - This attraction allows you to build your own cyber roller coaster, then ride it.  But the best part is that it utilized KUKA robotics (the same technology used in the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure).  The KUKA arm makes the experience much more realistic than many other roller coaster simulators.  You also learn a bit about the physics of building a roller coaster along the way.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Mine, Mine!  The seagulls wait anxiously to greet you at The Seas With Nemo and Friends

The Living Seas pavillion was updated a few years ago with a new Finding Nemo theme.  The Seas with Nemo and Friends utilizes the characters from the popular film to teach children about the ocean and its many creatures.  In addition to featuring one of the largest aquarium tanks in the country, The Seas with Nemo and Friends also features several smaller exhibits where children can learn about manatees and sharks.  There is also an exhibit dedicated to the real-life counterparts of the film's stars, where guests can see Clownfish (Nemo), Royal Blue Tangs (Dory), Starfish (Peach) and other favorites from the film.  There are also two attractions in the building.  The first is a dark-ride in which Nemo has gone missing again, and Marlin and Dory must set off to find him.  The ride takes guests through several familiar scenes from the film, including the jelly fish swarm and the EAC.  The second is Turtle Talk with Crush, featuring the impressive Living Character technology.  This show allows children in the audience to actually talk to Crush, the (totally awesome) turtle from the film.  The show is very funny and very popular, so expect a short wait to enjoy it.

Mission: Space - Advanced Training

Do you have a younger child who is too small or unwilling to give Mission: Space a try, but still wants to get in on some of the intergallactic fun?  Advanced Training at Mission: Space is a fun play area for kids featuring an indoor playground, kiosks to send ecards from space to friends, and a fun video game experience sure to keep kids entertained.  To find Advanced Training, just go through the Mission: Space gift shop.  And if you are waiting for other members of your party to exit the ride, don't worry.  The Advanced Training area also serves as the ride exit.  Due to the attraction's relative proximity to Test Track, this would also be a great place to meet if some members of your party do not wish to (or can't) ride that attraction as well.

Join me again next Thursday when I discuss kid-friendly activities around the World Showcase, including the Kidcot stations and the Agent P World Showcase Adventure!

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