Sometimes families end up at Walt Disney World with circumstances that make it tough for kids to enjoy the well-known attractions. For my family, this happened when my daughter had her tonsils removed and her doctor said she had to stick to restricted activities for the two weeks following the surgery. Thankfully, she felt great the day after the surgery, but several days later, we all had cabin fever. Because we have annual passes, a friend suggested we try some of the low-key activities at Epcot.
We started with the KIdcot stops, where children can collect different paper tags for passports in Future World and for their masks in the World Showcase. At each stop, a cast member attaches the tag so the child can then color it. Also, in the countries, the cast members will add stamps and write the child's name in their native language. You could spend a whole day collecting and coloring at Kidcot stops, believe me. The best things about these craft projects? They're free and the wait is usually minimal.
My only complaint is that Sharpie is the Kidcot sponsor, which means kids color with the permanent markers and unintended doodling by the younger set can ruin outfits. Recently, though, crayons were added to many stations. Color me happy!
The Seas With Nemo and Friends
In addition to a Kidcot stop, this pavilion is home to a Nemo-themed ride, which is a clam buggy gliding through scenes from the popular movie. Characters are superimposed on the tanks, so riders can see the real fish as well. (There are passages that are pitch black, so be prepared if this strikes fear in your child.)
Turtle Talk with Crush offers kids the opportunity to interact with Nemo's turtle pal in real time while seated in a small theater.
In the center of the pavilion is a small circular tank. The empty chamber is used four times a day for scuba-diving demonstrations. A suited diver waits inside while it fills with 4,000 gallons of water in less than a minute. Then he and his handlers instruct the crowd in common dive signals and safety before once again draining the tank, which only takes 30 seconds. Afterward, visitors can meet the diver. My kids (and I) have always been fascinated by this demonstration. Afterward, check out the many tanks of marine life in the building.
Living With the Land
Next door to The Seas, The Land also has a Kidcot coloring table on the second floor. Its Living With the Land ride is a smooth boat ride through the history of agriculture and into Disney greenhouses. Kids seem to especially enjoy seeing how some of the food that is served at Disney is grown, especially the large vegetables and unusual methods.
A 13-minute film about environmental protection, "Circle of Life: Environmental Fable," features the stars of The Lion King. Young kids may not understand the film but will recognize the characters. Wait times are minimal, so this is a good if you have time to fill before another planned activity.
The Innoventions East and West pavilions showcase interactive exhibits from outside sponsors. Most take 15 to 20 minutes to complete. We have found the West side to be more kid-friendly.
Every time we stop by, my daughter wants to play "Where's the Fire?" presented by Liberty Mutual. Older kids learn to recognize fire hazards and younger kids how to leave their home safely in case of fire through role playing and games. Plus, there is a 30-foot firetruck on display.
My son especially likes Rockin' Robots, where visitors use a touch screen to direct robotics arms to play music, and the Video Games of the Future area.
We recently discovered the New Slap Stick Studios area, presented by Velcro. There is a short comedy show, but my kids really had fun dressing their own Velcro frogs, which they are then given to take home.
Also new is the Great Piggy Bank Adventure, which is a clever way to teach kids about saving for a rainy day. Our group included kids 8 and younger, and the explanations were over their heads. They did enjoy carrying the oversized piggy bank around with them, though.
Innovations West also includes an area where guests 16 and older can try driving Segway people-movers.
Spaceship Earth is a ride through the history of cimmunications inside the Epoct icon. With its interesting track and interactive screens, it should keep kids' attention, even if they don't understand all that is being described. This ride is slow enough for kids of all ages and abilities, who most likely will be curious to see what is inside the giant sphere.