Growing up in the 80s and early 90s, I eagerly anticipated my family’s bi-yearly trips to Walt Disney World. However, my excitement was always a bit dampened by my parents’ insistence that we visit Epcot for at least one day of our trip. To me, Disney World was synonymous with Magic Kingdom and I couldn’t understand why my parents wanted to go to “boring” and “educational” Epcot. Sure, Spaceship Earth was mildly entertaining, and you could get your 35mm film at the camera shop right beneath it, but I wanted to go on what I considered real rides. And I was just not interested in seeing the different countries in Epcot World Showcase. To this day, my childhood memories of World Showcase consist of lots and lots of walking and then waiting while my parents browsed the shops, especially the ones with lots of breakable things that I couldn’t touch.
Even as a young adult traveling to Disney World without my family, this feeling about Epcot persisted. And while I expanded my personal definition of Disney World to include Hollywood Studios and even Animal Kingdom, Epcot just wasn’t on my list.
Then, something changed. Around 2006 my husband and I stayed at one of the Epcot resorts for the first time. We stayed at the Boardwalk Inn, which is walking distance to Epcot. While Magic Kingdom was still the big draw for me, to get there I had to walk through Epcot and take the monorail. As result, my exposure to Epcot increased tremendously and I realized that there are some cool rides there, like Test Track, SOARIN’ and Mission: Space. But what really sealed the deal for me was realizing the variety of food, as well as alcoholic drinks, that were available at Epcot’s World Showcase. During this trip I also realized that a Park Hopper ticket was a must, and we often went to one park for the day, Epcot for dinner, and then walked back to the resort on the Boardwalk.
From then on, Epcot became my second favorite park, and we began staying at the Epcot resorts on future trips. Epcot was the first park we took our each of our daughters to, and their very first ride was The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Today, both of my kids cite Spaceship Earth as one of their favorite rides, I think due to the feature that wasn’t around when I was young: it takes your picture and provides a customized “story” at the end of the ride. Further, Duffy the Disney Bear, who used to meet near the entrance to World Showcase, was one of the first characters my daughters met, and really liked. My kids have also really enjoyed the Duffy Kidcot stations in World Showcase, making our walk around the Showcase feel a little less long for them.
Over the past 10+ years, my husband, my daughters and I have made some wonderful memories at Epcot. We have a Leave a Legacy tile, and in 2014 we became part of the Disney Vacation Club with Disney’s Beach Club Villas asour home resort, guaranteeing even more memories at Epcot in the future.
I know a lot of people talk about Epcot needing an update, (especially Future World), and maybe they are right. But many of the things in Future World that I enjoy now actually weren’t around when I was a child. And the food and drink at World Showcase just wasn’t relevant to me until I became an adult. So for me, my experience at Epcot as a child in the 80s and 90s vs. today is night and day, and I enjoy it more every time I visit!
What do you think? Has your perspective on Epcot changed over the years?