What to Do With a Toddler at Epcot
Epcot is an amazing place to spend a day, full of attractions to experience and facts to learn. From the thrills of Test Track to the beautiful and inspiring panoramic film detailing the rich landscapes of France, there’s truly no shortage of things to see and do. However, most of the attractions are definitely aimed at the older park guest, without the variety of family-friendly experiences that you would find in Magic Kingdom. While Disney has the Kidcot coloring stations in the World Showcase, there’s not a whole lot that people think toddlers will enjoy, so many people give it a pass while their kids are young. But this may not be the best move since you might be giving up visiting your favorite park, and there are options that should delight even the youngest of kids. So what can you do if you have a toddler and want to experience Epcot anyway?
Honestly, toddlers can be really easy to please (ever see a child spot a duck while at Disney?), while simultaneously being extremely difficult. They need time to process things, and really are happiest, well, toddling around. However, there’s no reason to skip out on Epcot if you have a toddler in tow, especially if you manage your expectations. While they may not be able to keep up with the Adult Touring Plan, you can still see most of what Epcot has to offer.
Here’s a list of toddler pleasing activities and attractions, in no particular order:
1.) The Seas with Nemo and Friends ride – this is an obvious, no-brainer pick. One of the few ride attractions at Epcot that accommodates children, it’s also a toddler favorite. Even the queue is a winner, making you feel like you’ve arrived at the beach. Once you arrive at the end of the queue, you board a “clam-mobile” and ride through various seas scenes, including both live fish (you actually go through a tube in the aquarium) and fancy projections making it seem like the stars from the movie are swimming in the midst of regular fish. Take a slight bit of caution for children easily scared, as there are sharks and the creepy angler fish that may startle some children. A caution for parents, too: That song will live with you LONG after you return home. Try not to listen. Once you reach the ending, you will clamber out of your clamshell, and find yourself in the aquarium viewing area, bringing us to our next toddler pleasing location…
2.) The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion – this pavilion is home to the hit-or-miss Coral Reef Restaurant, the aforementioned Nemo attraction, Turtle Talk with Crush, and an extensive aquarium viewing area. The aquarium area is cool and dark, which can be a great place for a nice little stroller nap if you’re not heading back to your resort at naptime. Beyond being a great place for nap, toddlers love spending time watching the fish, turtles, seahorses, jellyfish, sharks, dolphins, manatees, and more, and sometimes even divers exploring the tanks. Kids seem to be particularly fascinated whenever there’s people in the tank, and can spend a long time watching to see what they’ll do next.
3.) Shopping (but not buying!) – this is obviously not going to work for children who have a hard time giving something back, but if you clearly explain that you will be looking, touching, but not keeping, many kids will love the chance to look at everything up close. So much of their lives are spent being told put it down, don’t touch that, and the like that taking them to Mouse Gear (Epcot’s huge merchandise location near the front of the park) and letting them enjoy the stuffed animals for a little while is almost a relief. Mouse Gear’s plush toy area is extensive, allowing you to find a variety of options to hug, pose with for a photo, and say goodbye to (a helpful step in parting them from your toddler if they get attached to a particular one). This is also a good option for when you’re waiting on part of your party who might be experiencing an attraction that a toddler can’t, like Soarin’. Standing around in The Land Pavilion, while a great place, gets old real quickly when there’s not much to see and even fewer things to touch. This type of shopping is a great way for your child to wind down, and also allows them to touch and experience, which helps many kids reset.
4.) Meet Characters For one stop shopping the Epcot Character Spot is a somewhat obvious must-do, but is easily missed. Recently refurbished, it’s a great way to meet Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto with a reasonable wait. Even if the wait isn’t currently reasonable, a FastPass+ is frequently available for same day reservations, meaning you can get the coveted photo with Mickey Mouse without too much hassle. When your toddler meets Mickey, there will be PhotoPass Photographers who will capture the moment on both their fancy cameras or your own camera, if you prefer. For a park that is not as awash with Mickey and the gang as Magic Kingdom, this is a great place to get some face time with the main mouse. You can also usually find Stitch or Daisy at the front entrance of Epcot, Duffy just as you enter World Showcase and head toward the Mexico pavilion, and various princes and princesses at the appropriate (or appropriate-ish) country pavilion:
- Mexico – The Three Caballeros
- Norway – none except at the character meals at Restaurant Akershus
- China – Mulan
- Germany – Snow White
- Italy – Pinocchio and Geppeto
- American Adventure – sometimes Goofy
- Japan – none
- Morocco – Jasmine and Aladdin
- France – Belle and Beast, Marie
- UK – Mary Poppins, Pooh, Alice
- Canada – none
4.a) Disney’s Chase Visa offers a special Character Meet and Greet only for cardholders, located in Innoventions, which allows you to meet a random character or two without a long line. This is different from the Chase Lounge at the Food and Wine Festival, as you must have a Disney Chase Visa, not just any Chase card. While you never know who will be greeting (when you get in line, the cast members will not tell you who is greeting, presumably so that they can switch it up frequently without any fuss), you will meet a character quickly. Even when there is a line, it moves quickly, making it a good place to take toddlers for a first character introduction. Another perk for cardmembers is a free 5×7 print from your session, which you will get to pick with a voucher you receive. You will get to choose the photo (only from that session), crop the photo, add frames, and add the signatures of the characters if you like. It’s a great bonus and fun to get a free souvenir.
5.) Club Cool – this is a perfect place to stop and get a cold drink for the tired toddler, with the added bonus of a sugar energy boost without worrying about caffeine, as the options are caffeine free. Toddlers love the toddler-sized cups in which they can try various new drinks, and it’s a great place to snatch a few seconds of air-conditioning on a really hot day. While toddlers won’t really care to learn about the country of origin for the drink they’re enjoying, adults can read a little bit about each offering, and try it alongside the toddler. Some of the offerings are sugary sodas but some are either juice or juice-like, so you can try them first and decide if you want your toddler sampling. Japan’s drink is probably the best option for smaller children, as it’s more of a juice. As the machines dispense pre-portioned amounts, just get two cups and measure out an acceptable portion for your toddler to help avoid spillage.
6.) Spaceship Earth – this slow-moving attraction takes you through Epcot’s iconic sphere, and offers tons of things to point at and enjoy for a toddler. The interactive portion resulting in the personalized video at the end is a particular treat for toddlers, and is generally hilarious to watch, as if you have a lap-seated child, the camera tends to get an interesting mix of faces. The customized video at the end featuring known faces particularly please toddlers, who tend to love any videos anyway, and a video featuring people they know is even better. The relatively lengthy attraction in the semi-dark can be a good way to coax a stubborn child into a nap, but keep in mind that the trip through history takes approximately 16 minutes, so after that you’ll have to transfer a sleeping child to a stroller or continue carrying them. This attraction is a must-see on everyone’s list, so it’s a good choice that should please the toddler and the adults.
7.) Living with the Land – saving the best for last, Living with the Land is a fun and educational boat ride through a greenhouse featuring real growing fruits and vegetables, plus fish, shrimp, eels, and baby alligators. It is the rare attraction that scores consistently well across all age groups. Toddlers love boats just generally, and a boat that is going through areas with tons to see makes it even better. Adults with the toddlers will enjoy the educational aspect of the attraction, including the opportunity to look for hidden Mickeys. If you find the ride to be fascinating, there’s a follow-up tour that is offered multiple times a day, and children under 3 are free. While the children obviously can’t run around behind the scenes, the tour generally includes feeding the fish, sampling veggies, releasing bugs, and more. Adults will be interested in the facts presented, so this tour is a great whole family experience. Be sure to ask about discounts as various ones are offered.
Other Epcot attractions that score well with toddlers in our reader surveys include Gran Fiesta Tour (again – boats!), Journey into Imagination with Figment (though there’s a chasm between how much toddlers enjoy it and how much adults do – with toddlers liking it quite a bit more), and Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.
There are honestly a ton more options for a typical toddler, including a small splash pad, multiple duck or rabbit watching opportunities, interactive attractions at Innoventions, pavilions to explore, train sets to watch, and things that you wouldn’t think would interest a small child if you thought about it, but they become fascinated with anyway. The best thing to do is prioritize your Personalized Touring Plan by what you consider must-dos for the adults, and remember to also build in things to appeal to the littlest party members. If Epcot is your favorite park, seeing it through the eyes of a toddler reinvents the park anew and allows you to see things that you may have overlooked many times before.
So did this give you any ideas? Do you have any tried-and-true toddler diversions at Epcot? Any questions? Share in the comments!
22 thoughts on “What to Do With a Toddler at Epcot”
What a great article! My wife and I are taking our toddler in August for his first trip and we can’t wait! I just can’t imagine skipping Epcot (or any park, really), as there is more than enough for all ages to enjoy. We’ll be sure to make sure these are on our personalized touring plan. Thanks!
Thank you! I love Epcot, so I also wouldn’t want to miss it for any reason, so I’m all about finding ways to make it work. Whenever I “borrowed” my friend’s child for a trip to Disney, I had always gone straight to Magic Kingdom, but then I thought that there might be enough to do at Epcot, so I gave it a try… and it was his favorite! I hope you have tons of fun in August!
I highly recommend Imagination Pavilion! The ride can be a but scary- but the play areas are a hit with my kids. Also, bring a change of clothes for toddlers if it is warm- playing in the fountains is a must. My toddlers lived EPCOT because there is a lot to do and interact with a slower pace than the other parks which works well for them.
The fountains do always have tons of toddlers (and bigger kids!) enjoying the water play, no matter the weather. And I agree, I think the slower pace of Epcot works well for younger kids, who can get overstimulated with all that happens around them at the other parks.
If you rope drop the Character Spot,first family in gets to meet all the characters at once and take pictures before they separate and you get more time with each individually. though, one of the times we did this, my camera battery died, so there wasn’t much point in being first, so we let another family go in first while I charged the battery.
Wow, that sounds awesome! I have recently started to get excited about meeting the characters (I always used to avoid them completely, as it’s really stressful for me to interact with them!) so that’s a great tip I have to try! Thanks!
My daughter, who last visited at age 3, says Epcot is her favorite park. She LOVES Spaceship Earth! My son, who was 5 last time, asked to eat at Garden Grill again on our upcoming trip. They both enjoyed the Agent P activity in World Showcase and trying out the Innoventions activities.
That’s great! I haven’t eaten at Garden Grill yet as an adult (I went as a small child, but don’t remember), but I have been wanting to since everyone raves about it. I haven’t tried the Agent P with any kids yet, either, beyond my students when we went on a field trip. They loved it, but they’re also middle-schoolers who love all technology. Another thing I’ve got to try!
You mention Turtle Talk with Crush in your section on the Seas Pavilion. In your experience, how is this attraction received by toddlers?
My daughter was just 3, and my son was 1, and they loved turtle talk as much as they did the fish tanks; a lot! The next year my son was 2, and he equally enjoyed it, however, I still held him on my lap instead of letting him sit up front with his sisters.
I agree with Rosalie… they generally LOVE the attraction. Some children who get shy around strangers might find it a bit overwhelming, but it’s usually easily fixed by keeping them close or holding them. However, it’s usually very well attended by toddlers who are enjoying it, so give it a try.
For a small diversion, the hedge “maze” in the UK pavilion was really nice for my 3 year old.
That can be fun! It’s a great place to run out some energy without really disturbing anyone. Great tip!
The piggy bank game at innoventions west is my kids favorite thing at epcot. I think the fact that they can touch the pig, and then watch it ‘come to life’ is really fun for them. Very interactive. Be aware that innoventions closes earlier than the rest of the park. We promised to do it again only to learn that it was closed when we went back…
I agree. The only reason I didn’t add that to my list is it was on my LAST post… and I didn’t want to seem like I was obsessed (even though I was). I also recently tried Habit Heroes, which might be fun for slightly older toddlers. They won’t really understand what’s going on, but they get to jump around and play games, so it would be entertaining anyway. 🙂
We’ve gone with a 6 year old and twice with a 4 year old and they have all loved Epcot. Much more than I was expecting they would. Definitely don’t skip it!
I agree! It was almost a surprise how much younger kids enjoy it, but I love that they love the park that is my favorite. 🙂
While we lived in Orlando, we took our daughter to Epcot repeatedly from the time she was born until we moved. She was born in early February, so Flower and Garden was a perfect excuse for me to just get out of the house and wander while I was home on maternity leave. There was no age at which The Seas was not amazing for her, but she had an especially great time after she started walking and could run from tank to tank looking at the fish. She LOVES the fish.
We’re going back in March and she’ll have just turned 2. I can’t wait to take her to Epcot! I can’t imagine not going.
That’s amazing! I wish I lived close enough to pop over if I have extra time. I live close enough to go semi-frequently, but far enough away it takes effort to plan it out.
I hope you have tons of fun in March!
Great post! So many families with young kids and limited time to spend in the parks skip Epcot altogether, which I’m convinced is such a mistake! Epcot is my favorite park and has so much to offer people of all ages. We took my (then) two-year-old son on his first Disney vacation in September, and he loved Epcot as much as (if not more than) Magic Kingdom. We devoted two days of our five day trip to the picturesque park, and still weren’t able to fit in everything we wanted to do, even with reserved fastpasses and a detailed touring plan. By the way, I love that Touring Plans describes Epcot as (at least) a two day park.
My son’s favorite attractions were Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Gran Fiesta Tour, but what he enjoyed most were the simple things and the slower pace others have mentioned – dancing to Mariachi Cobre and British Revolution, the snacks and dining experiences (we were there during Food and Wine, and he loved sampling everything), watching the fountains, and jumping on the illuminated “sparkly” tiles at night. If there was one park he seemed less interested in than the rest, it was Animal Kingdom, although he really enjoyed Finding Nemo: the Musical and Dinoland U.S.A. (and my husband and I really love that park).
Epcot is a definite two day park, no matter the age! But I think we’ve all figured out the reason for toddlers to enjoy Epcot… the slow pace. Animal Kingdom is a great place, but it wears you out, it’s so big, and I think some of the animals are harder to spot than the average toddler is capable of doing. Around about 7 is when most kids suddenly decide that Animal Kingdom is awesome
We just visited EPCOT with our 22-month-old, and there was plenty to do. We also have a five-and-a-half-year-old (both girls), so that did speed us up. Even so, we did Spaceship Earth, Seas with Nemo, the Character Spot (which used to be better), Three Caballeros, and met Pluto and Mary Poppins. We also rode Living with the Land, and I took her on it again while my older daughter rode Soarin’ with her mom. What I love are the wider paths for the strollers. It’s much different in the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.