Falling In Love With Epcot Again!

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Fall In Love With Epcot

At the Walt Disney World Resort, Epcot attracts Guests from all over the world to enjoy such Annual Events like Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. New in 2017, Epcot will celebrate visual, culinary and performing arts with Epcot International Festival of the Arts debuting January 13, 2017 through February 20, 2017. Epcot even brings the magic of the holiday season alive with Holidays Around the World and Candlelight Processional. These special events are our favorite times to visit Epcot as a family.

During other times of the year, when these annual events are not taking place, I must admit our family usually spends a half-day at Epcot. We park hop between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot since it is a convenient and pleasant boat ride from Epcot’s World Showcase to the front entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On shorter trips, when we have to pick between Disney’s Four (4) Theme Parks and Two (2) Water Parks, we find ourselves visiting Magic Kingdom over Epcot especially with our young children traveling with us.

However, after our most recent visit to Walt Disney World, our entire family (including Grandma and our children ages 4 and 7) had a renewed excitement for Epcot. There were no annual events going on during this trip. It was Epcot in its purist state with Future World and the World Showcase being the focus of our day without the added fanfare from festivals. We were energized and fell in love with Epcot all over again. The combination of new experiences that opened in Summer 2016 with our classic favorites resulted in our day at Epcot being one of our most memorable days of our entire trip! Our children are already looking forward to going back to Epcot during our next Walt Disney World vacation and putting Epcot on their list of favorites.

So what was it that made such an impression on us this trip, when we’ve been fortunate to visit Epcot so many times? Why this renewed excitement for Epcot during an off-peak time to visit?

Here are our Top 5 Experiences that got us excited about Epcot again:

#1 Norway Pavilion Re-imagined

While the new Frozen Ever After ride seemed to get a lot of attention when it debuted, what caught our eye was all the detail put into the newly re-imagined Norway Pavilion. I was especially mesmerized by the artistry and craftsmanship put into Royal Sommerhus which is the new home for Anna and Elsa’s Meet and Greet. You are transported to a quaint Norwegian summer cabin.

Entrance to Anna & Elsa's Meet and Greet at Royal Sommerhus in Epcot
Entrance to Anna & Elsa’s Meet and Greet at Royal Sommerhus
The walkway leading up to Anna & Elsa's summer home - Royal Sommerhus in Epcot.
The walkway leading up to Anna & Elsa’s summer home. The gardens, roof and building exterior instill a quaint feeling just before entering this Norwegian-style cabin.
Inside Royal Sommerhus in Epcot. Discover detailed carvings of the two sisters (Anna & Elsa) and beautiful Norwegian rose painting.
As you step into Royal Sommerhus, your eye is drawn to the detailed carvings of the two sisters and the beautiful Norwegian rose painting in warm hues. It makes you feel at home.
Tapestries in Royal Sommerhus - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
As you make your way through the home, you discover visually beautiful tapestries that are artwork in themselves.
Royal Sommerhus Rose Painting and Violins - Epcot's Norway Pavlion
With Disney-quality creativity and imagination, the whimsy and detail is found on every shelf, on the ceilings and where ever your eye may glance. It tells a story.
Inside Royal Sommerhus - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
The personal touches, like a painting of Anna & Elsa with their parents as children and the decorated staircase, are so inviting you want to spend the night or stay for dinner. (Maybe some day Disney?!?!)

Your walk through Royal Sommerhus leads you to the sisters who are wonderful hostesses and make you feel welcome in their home. When we arrived early in the morning, just after the park opened, we walked right in with little wait. We got to spend some extra time with the Princesses talking about everything from chocolate, broccoli and their stunning summer home. They were charming!

Anna at Royal Sommerhus - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Anna at Royal Sommerhus. Notice the sunflower on the rug and sunburst rose painting on the doors. The snow topped mountains backdrop make for a memorable Character Meet and Greet experience.
Elsa at Royal Sommerhus - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Elsa at Royal Sommerhus. Notice the snowflake on the rug and in the rose painting on the door.  Each sister has their own personality reflected in their Meet and Greet area.
Anna and Elsa's summer home at Royal Sommerhus - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
The front exterior of Anna & Elsa’s summer home – Royal Sommerhus. The window boxes, delicate curtains in the window, carved shutters and adorned door add to the charm of this wonderful addition to Epcot.

After meeting Anna & Elsa, we rode Frozen Ever After through the stand-by line and then jumped back on again using our FastPass. For Frozen fans, this is definitely a great use of Epcot’s Tier 1 FastPass. When you compare the smaller sized Viking-themed boats to the number of Guests that can fit in the multiple Soarin’ theaters, a Frozen Ever After FastPass is a great pick for those with this attraction on their “Wish List”.  Even comparing Frozen Ever After to Test Track, which is also a Tier 1 FastPass at Epcot, you can benefit from shorter wait times going through Test Track’s Single Rider line. This is great for families with children old enough to ride alone.

With a FastPass, you benefit from shorter wait times to ride the attraction, but you bypass some of the fun and creative details only found in the stand-by line.

Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Step inside Oaken’s Trading Post for his Summer Snow Day Blowout and be greeted by Oaken through the Sauna window.

Frozen Ever After is one of those rides where pictures and video don’t do it justice in my opinion. The entire experience from the time you enter the attraction to the time you exit is something you need to see in person to appreciate. What brought this attraction to life was watching it through the eyes of our children. They were wide-eyed throughout the entire experience in complete wonder.

Frozen Ever After Boarding Area - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Frozen Ever After Boarding Area – Epcot’s Norway Pavilion
Olaf and Sven - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
What better way to be greeted as you embark on your Viking vessel through the Frozen Ever After attraction – Olaf and Sven.

 

Anna and Kristoff - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Anna and Kristoff
Sven being his silly self. Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Sven being his silly self. What a character!
Elsa - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
This iconic moment of Elsa when she sings “Let It Go!”.
Marshmallow Snow Monster and Snowgies - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Marshmallow Snow Monster and Snowgies
Arendelle Castle - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Arendelle Castle with snowflake shaped fireworks over head.
Sisterly Love between Anna and Elsa along with Olaf - Frozen Ever After - Epcot's Norway Pavilion
Sisterly Love between Anna and Elsa along with Olaf

#2 Eating Around The World

Epcot World Showcase is the perfect place to get creative with dining entitlements for those on one of the Disney Dining Plans. Use Quick Service and Snack Credits to sample foods from around the world. Split different food items so everyone can get a delicious taste of each country’s culinary delights. Some of our favorites:

Kringla Bakeri - Epcot Norway Pavilion
Kringla Bakeri – Epcot Norway Pavilion
Cinnamon Loaf at Kringla Bakeri - Epcot Norway Pavilion
Cinnamon Loaf at Kringla Bakeri
School Bread at Kringla Bakeri - Epcot Norway Pavilion
School Bread at Kringla Bakeri
Sweet Pretzel with Chocolate at Kringla Bakeri - Epcot Norway Pavilion
Sweet Pretzel with Chocolate at Kringla Bakeri
Karamell Kuche - Epcot Germany Pavilion
Karamell Kuche – Epcot Germany Pavilion
Yummy treats found inside Karamell Kuche - Epcot Germany Pavilion
Yummy treats found inside Karamell Kuche
Chocolate Covered Pineapple and Carmel Apple getting sliced at Karamell Kuche - Epcot Germany Pavilion
Looking to Share? Ask to have your treat cut up for you to enjoy. It is finger-licking good!
L'Artisan des Glaces - Epcot France Pavilion
L’Artisan des Glaces – Epcot France Pavilion
Ice Cream and Sorbet Flavors at L'Artisan des Glaces - Epcot France Pavilion
Ice Cream and Sorbet Flavors at L’Artisan des Glaces
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie - Epcot France Pavilion
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie – Epcot France Pavilion
An assortment of sweet snack items at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie - Epcot France Pavilion
An assortment of sweet snack items at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
Fresh baguette sandwiches, salads and more at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie - Epcot France Pavilion
Fresh baguette sandwiches, salads and more at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie

There are so many unique restaurants both in theming and in their menu options for a Table Service meal. It’s hard to choose where to dine. My love of Italian food from my maternal grandparents always brings me back to the Italy Pavilion.

Via Napoli - Epcot Italy Pavilion
Via Napoli – Epcot Italy Pavilion
The Pizza Ovens at Via Napoli - Epcot Italy Pavilion
The Pizza Ovens at Via Napoli
"Family Style" House Salad at Via Napoli - Epcot Italy Pavilion
“Family Style” House Salad
Wood Fired Authentic Individual Size Pizzas - Via Napoli - Epcot Italy Pavilion
Wood Fired Authentic Individual Size Pizzas

And, we enjoyed dining in France to celebrate Grandma’s birthday. We were immersed in the culture listening to our waiter from France speak to my mother (a retired French teacher) in French throughout the meal and singing “Bon Anniversaire” (Happy Birthday). Those simple moments made for a wonderful birthday memory.

Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
Les Chefs de France – Epcot France Pavilion
French Onion Soup - Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
French Onion Soup topped with Gruyere cheese
Filet de boeuf at Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
Grilled tenderloin of beef with green peppercorn sauce potato au gratin and green beans.
Filet de Saumon at Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
Broiled Salmon with rice pilaf, asparagus and dill beurre blanc sauce
Boeuf Bourguignon, polenta cremeuse at Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
Beef short ribs braised in Cabernet with baby onions and carrots, served with creamy polenta
Gateau au Chocolat at Les Chefs de France - Epcot France Pavilion
Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Sauce, and Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

#3. Soarin’ Around the World

Soarin' Around the World - Epcot Future World
Soarin’ Around the World – Epcot Future World

Soar in a hang glider over the beauty and wonders found around the world. The sights, sounds and smells make this an adventure not to miss. The entrance to the attraction and boarding area has a fresh look which adds to the theming and visual experience before you take flight.

#4. Epcot Character Spot

We love the addition of Inside Out’s Joy and Sadness to the Character Spot along with Baymax. Take time to look at all the details around the Meet and Greet area which bring these animated characters to life.

Joy & Sadness from Inside Out at the Character Spot - Epcot Future World
Joy & Sadness from Inside Out at the Character Spot
Baymax from Big Hero 6 - Meet and Greet at the Character Spot - Epcot Future World
While we enjoyed meeting Baymax from Big Hero 6 up close and personal, this side view of the entire Meet and Greet area is just cool!

#5. Kidcot Fun Stops – Have Passport Will Travel!

Kidcot Fun Stop - Epcot World Showcase
Kidcot Fun Stop – Epcot World Showcase

While this is not new to Epcot, this was the first trip when we made time to experience these craft stops. Our kids had the best time exploring the Pavilions looking for the Kidcot Fun Stops. We turned it into a geography and cultural adventure. The wonder found within and behind the walls of each country sparked our children’s curiosity and interest. With the World Showcase highlighting eleven countries, it is a great opportunity to celebrate and learn from the representatives located in the country’s pavilions. Experience authentic cuisine, entertainment and architecture.

Japan Kidcot Fun Stop - Epcot World Showcase
Japan Kidcot Fun Stop – Epcot World Showcase
Morocco Kidcot Fun Stop - Epcot World Showcase
Morocco Kidcot Fun Stop – Epcot World Showcase
Epcot World Showcase Passport
The Epcot Passport is designed to enhance and enrich your visit to Epcot World Showcase. Experience the dream of world travel through an appreciation & celebration of world cultures and people. Collect passport stamps from each country and take note of what you learn & see.

We fell in love with Epcot again! There wasn’t a festival going on or a special event that brought us to Epcot this time. It was a “regular day” and yet we found ourselves enjoying a full day at Epcot with our entire family from the youngest at 4 years old to Grandma.

While these Top 5 Experiences were the highlights from this trip, the classic Epcot attractions are still favorites that made it a memorable day at Epcot:

So the next time you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, make time for Epcot! Take in your favorite attraction whether new or a classic. Meet some of your favorite characters. Immerse yourself in each country’s culture through its pavilions, art, shopping, culinary delights & detail around every corner. Talk to the Cast Members and representatives in each country. Ask them about their country, their home. While the energy around Epcot comes alive during its Annual Events, we had a new excitement for this Theme Park after visiting during an off-peak time. We fell in love with Epcot again. It is an adventure for all ages. Come experience it for yourself!

Epcot World Showcase - Looking out over France entering the World Showcase from Epcot's International Gateway
Epcot World Showcase – Looking out over France entering the World Showcase from Epcot’s International Gateway
Epcot Future World at Night
Epcot Future World at Night

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