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Exploring Epcot (Orlando, Florida): Tickets/Reservations, Parking, and Rides

I know I said we were only going to do one Amusement Park while in Orlando, and we chose Universal Studios. However, someone gifted us with tickets to Epcot (Thank you!!!) and we were able to go to explore Disney’s Epcot.

The boys had a blast. Ben and I had researched the rides and the different attractions/food in World Showcase and had a game plan all laid out. We wanted to get there around 10:00 am (park opened at 11:00) so that we could get a closer parking spot. Parking was $25 for standard parking and $45-50 for premium. However, because we got there so early, we were only a few rows from the entrance even with parking in the standard lot. Parking was also staggered to help maintain social distancing.

Another win of going early, was that even though the park officially opened at 11:00, they let everyone in around 10:15am. We were on Test Track by 10:30 and The Seas at 10:50am.

It was a great experience walking through the park. Due to the limited capacity, ride times were much shorter. Our longest wait was about 1/2 hour. The Frozen line in Norway was longer, but we didn’t go on that one.

Disney allows you bring in snacks and water (no glass, no heating or refrigeration) and backpacks. We brought several bottles of water, as it was going to be really warm (88℉ was the high!). Water fountains were open, so we could refill our water bottles. We were also able to get a cup of ice water in Canada and France. Mexico told us they were only selling bottles of water.

There was a lot of construction walls up for coming new attractions. I know that Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy were being built.

Epcot was gearing up for their International Flower & Garden Festival, so we also got to see lots of really cool flower displays.

There were currently not any of the nightly firework shows at any of the Disney parks, so once we had ridden and seen what was on our list we headed out.

We were all pretty tired at the end of the day. We got to the park at a little after 10:00 am and left around 7:00 pm (closed at 8:00pm). We managed to get in 17,701 steps for the day at Epcot.

COVID:

To enter the park, you had to go through temperature screening. Masks were required and it was stated that if you did not comply you could be asked to leave. I did see several staff members telling people that the nose had to be covered as well. Disney did a great job of marking social distancing lines/markers on the ground and on large outdoor benches. There were hand sanitizer stations available at ride entrances and exits. However, we noticed a lot of them were out or were too slow to keep up with the stream of people. A pump/manual style type probably would have been better. (Universal Studios gave everyone a squirt of sanitizer before they were allowed on a ride.)

RIDES & SHOWS:

The first ride we went on was Test track, as we read it was one of the more popular lines and often had longer lines. Because we were so early, there wasn’t much of a line and we got on before the park even officially opened! The interactive piece at the beginning of the ride where you can design your own car was shut off, so we missed having the fun of designing your own car and testing it against the track. The line inside was air conditioned and had some neat concept cars to look at while you waited. We were in line for maybe 15 minutes. It was still a fun ride. The outside track got up to about 63 miles per hour, although Ben pointed out that I drove faster than that on the way over to Epcot.

We headed to The Seas because they have a really neat aquarium at the end of the ride. The wait was short, maybe 5 minutes. The queue line was made to look like a beach scene and parts of it looked like you were underwater. Even the handrails were made to look old and rusty! The ride was ok, it was a little boring. Part of it was that we had the ride stop on us for “technical difficulties”. However, at one point in the ride you get to see parts of an actual aquarium and the Nemo characters are projected onto the glass to seem like they are in the aquarium as well, which was really neat. The aquarium at the end was worth the ride though. We got to see different kinds of fish, a dolphin, manatees, sharks, moray eels, and a sea turtle. (Nick was very happy he got to see a sea turtle. He has been asking for a turtle for a pet for a while now.)

We headed back towards the front of the park to the iconic Epcot globe to ride Spaceship Earth. It was a 20 minute wait. It was a little bit of a dated ride (opened in 1982, last renovated in 2007, per WiKi). The beginning of the ride was dark and was hard to see some of the graphics. It was still kind of neat, definitely more of an educational ride. Will liked the animatronics during the middle of the ride. At the end of the ride, you descend through the globe. Instead of lap belts to descend through the ball, the cars turn around backwards on the hilly descent. At one point, we got stuck going down for “technical” issues, so I was very glad we were backwards and not leaning forwards at an angle. There was an interactive screen in the car was fun during the descent. The interactive exhibits and screens at the end of the ride were not available (due to COVID).

Our next ride, which was one of our favorites, was Soarin’ Around The World. This one had a long, boring queue. There was a trivia game on the My Disney Experience app to play while you waited in line. This ride had about a 30 minute wait. Staff members working the ride wore pilot type uniforms. It was worth wait. You entered the room and there was a huge screen in front. There were 2 sections of seating, with 3 rows of seats in each section. Each row of seats lifted off the ground to make you feel like you were flying (paragliding). Ben and Will were in front of us when we sat down, so we could see their feet dangling above us. It did make you feel like you were moving, so they warned it could cause motion sickness. You flew over Egypt, the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Sydney, Africa, and ended at Disney’s Epcot.

After Soarin’, we headed over to Living With The Land, since they were in the same building. It was about a 5 minute wait and was a boat ride. There were plastic sheets between rows of seats in the boat. It was interesting, more of an educational ride. You got to see a really cool greenhouse and fish farm. Disney paired with the USDA to study ways to grow crops in harsher climates, etc. They use the items grown here in the Land’s restaurants. There was a Behind the Seeds tour, but it was closed currently.

VIDEO: Clips From Living With The Land ride

We headed over to World Showcase and stopped in Mexico first. We went to the Grand Fiesta Tours ride. The app stated it was a 10 minute wait, but was really a 20 minute wait (10 minutes of the wait were outside). We also got to see Pluto, Goofy, Mickey and Minnie drive by while we waited. Inside, the building had a few exhibits to see and then you were right in the middle of a market/town. It was a little confusing where the line started at this point. As you moved further in, the lines were very tight width wise. There were row dividers in place, however not a lot of spacing was enforced inside. This one was our least favorite ride. We were on for only a few minutes when the sound went off. Boats were still moving, but very slowly. They claimed the boats went back online at the very end, but we all ran into each other, which was very jarring. They did not let people stay on and go again even though ride didn’t work for 90% of our time on it. I’m not sure if they shut it down completely or not, as there were still people waiting in line outside.

We headed over to China next. We watched the show Reflections of China. You were in a large room with a 360-degree screen. It is a standing show, although there are row dividers to lean on. They had rows closed to keep social distancing, as well as placement markers on the floor. It was some interesting propaganda, but showed some beautiful views. It showed how diverse China’s landscape is and motivated Ben and Will to want to go to China.

Reflections of China Theater Room and waiting room

We stopped at Canada and watched their show Far and Wide. It also had a 360-degree screen.

Our final ride was Journey into Imagination with Figment. It was ok, not one I would ride again. Younger kids would probably enjoy it.

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