Although the Disney parks in general were better than expected, this park was the real surprise and it’s like two parks in one; one half has the various rides and Disney attractions whilst the second half consists of a number Country Pavilions where you can experience some local attractions from each country as well as souvenirs and food too. We only spent 1 day at the park and managed to have a go on all of the rides we liked (at least once) and also visit the country pavilions at the rear of the park.
You can view more information about this park here and some of the attractions we visited at Disney Epcot are as follows:
- Test Track
- Spaceship Earth
- Mission: Space
- Mission: Space Advanced Training Lab
- Captain EO
- Country Pavilions (Germany, Japan, UK, etc)
- Imagination! Pavilion
If I had to limit myself to my top favourites they would be: Soarin; Test Track; Spaceship Earth; Mission: Space and the country pavilions (Germany and the UK).
Soarin’ – According to Disney: “Soarin’ is a multi-sensory attraction for big kids, teens and adults in Epcot theme park that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over the Golden State of California”. This is quite a unique ride and uses a wide-angle cinema display, hydraulics, fans and even water jets to simulate flying and “soaring” above the clouds. I have to say that quite enjoyed it, the only fly in the ointment is that there are many sets of simulators on at the same time and if you left or right you can see the others. There are a number of landmarks that you will be shown on the big cinema screen such as :
- San Francisco
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Redwood Creek
- Napa Valley
- Lake Tahoe
- Yosemite National Park
- Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park
- San Diego
- Los Angeles
Test Track – The ride is a simulated excursion through the rigorous testing procedures that General Motors uses to evaluate its vehicles, culminating in a high-speed drive around the exterior of the attraction. You can read more at Wikipedia as the Disney site does not say much as it is currentley being refurbished.
Spaceship Earth is a 16 minute slow moving ride through time and space, this is situated inside the signature icon of Epcot – the giant golf-ball (as above). As you go through the ride you are asked questions about how you would like your future to be and from your answers shows what this would look like. Your picture is taken and can be sent to any email address after the ride too. Although this is not an extreme ride it is quite enjoyable and looks like they have got some great people to do the commentary in any language or accent you like; I think the UK voice is Dame Judy Dench!
Mission: SPACE – this is a simulated mission in space with 2 options open to you depending on how extreme you want the ride to be.
This ride utilizes a multiple-arm centrifuge that spins and tilts to simulate the illusion of speed and gravitational forces. This is accompanied with realistic sounds from overhead and vivid video images that add to the experience of the simulation. Before the ride you (who are an astronaut in training) and are given the choice to be a part of the Orange Team or the Green Team.
The Orange Team is the more extreme ride (or “training session”) and you will experience forces up to 2.4G — more than twice the force of the Earth’s gravitational pull. The Green Team has a less intense experience and is exactly the same as the orange ride except without the simulated G forces.
The orange ride should be avoided if you have recently eaten and/or if you are prone to Motion sickness. Although I went on the orange ride without any problems , I had to use the green ride when my nephew wanted a go.
World showcase – Country Pavilions; there are 11 country pavilions in Epcot these are as follows: United States; Canada; China; France; Germany; Italy; Japan; Mexico; Morocco; Norway and United Kingdom. Some of them also have ancillary attractions too (such as France, Canada and the US). The countries are staffed with people from the relevant country in question and you could hear the local language being spoken in the different countries however they all spoke excellent English (American?) too. Although I enjoyed going through all of the different “countries” there were a few that stood out for me, these are as follows:
The German Country Pavilion reminded me of the few years that I lived in Germany. It was naturally more picturesque than the current German architecture and did look like it was out of a movie set (think Heidi meets where Eagles Dare – what a great name for a film :)), and to be fair I have seen a lot of places in Germany that look like this. This is where we had our lunch – Bratwurst and Sauerkraut in a hot-dog bun. Which was OK, something we did note was that each Country Pavilion had 2 restaurants: on was for the cheaper fast-food kind of place, the other a proper restaurant that made food to order and charged more.
The United Kingdom: Country Pavilion was nice to have towards the end of the holiday as I was beginning to feel a bit home-sick, there are certain things that you just cannot get in the US although being charged $4 for a flake was a bit of a rip-off; one of the UK staff agreed with me too :). I always wonder what the US thinks of the British as some of the TV shows and Films have a very incorrect view although this is happening less and less. The local cuisine was Fish ‘n’ Chips but we decided against this as it did seem a tadd expensive and there was a very large queue too.