florida vacation | part 5 - disney world: epcot

Day 5 of our trip was probably the least planned AND the one day we could have a do-over on. Many of our friends told us that Epcot was their favorite, so we decided to follow their recommendation. It definitely did not disappoint, however I was unprepared for what to expect.

Character Dining

Our "Character Dining" tips:

  1. Book in advance, if possible
  2. If you can't book in advance, check reservations a week before
  3. Be careful to make reservations in the park you plan to visit that day
  4. Eat your heart out
We started out our morning by eating breakfast at The Beach Club Resort at Cape May Cafe. This was a character dining breakfast and one that I would eat at every day. Character Dining is hard to book, but it is possible. You will always be told to book in advance.... do it, if you can. You might be surprised to find that even booking in advance is difficult. Check every day to find one at a time you want. EVERY. DAY. Another trick is looking the week before. People are required to cancel their reservations 24 hours in advance, so reservations do become available last minute. There are tons of restaurants at resorts and in the parks that offer Character Dining experiences, so keep in mind what day you'll be where, that way you don't book a restaurant you can't go to that day. We didn't purchase Park Hoppers, which meant that if we booked a Character Dining in Animal Kingdom and we were planning on going to Magic Kingdom, we wouldn't be able to go to both parks. Either we would have to stay at Animal Kingdom all day or make a reservation at a different park. Make sense? Park hopping doesn't even make sense at Disney World... it just costs extra money $$$

The Character Breakfast was definitely my favorite part. We got to see Minnie, Goofy and Donald. Sadee and Cam may have freaked out a little, but the food was heavenly and the restaurant was nice and big. We paid about $100 for breakfast for 4, including tip. Some Character Dining Experiences are more expensive then others. The least expensive ones are marked with 2 dollars signs ($$).

Our reservation worked out perfectly for walking straight over to Epcot (using the back entrance). Seriously, it was perfect! Epcot was more festive in terms of Christmas decorations and music than Magic Kingdom. For that reason alone, it made everything feel extra special.


Our "Epcot" tips:

  1. Start by visiting the countries first, instead of rides
  2. Grab little bites at each country
  3. Plan ahead to eat lunch at one country (check restaurants in advance)
  4. Head to rides about 2-3 hours prior to park closing
Epcot is split into 2 sections. By the entrance there are different activities and a few rides. We got to the park later (around 10:30am) so by the time we tried to go on Soarin', the line was already almost 2 hours. The guy running the line said the best time to ride the ride was about 1-2 hours before the firework show. For us that was at 7pm. We rode the Finding Nemo ride, explored Imagination! a little. By the lake is where you will find the different countries. There are few rides through this portion of the park, but grab a Passport and make a stop at each restaurant. In your passport, it will give you a guide for little events, food and souvenirs you can buy for each country. Again, I was totally unprepared for how this worked, but I would recommend starting with the countries. Also, in case there is any confusion, start with Canada (not Mexico). I was confused and we went backwards.

We ate little snacks along the way, Sadee had her face painted, Cam slept for a while, we ate dinner in Italy, watched a couple of performances and made it back to Soarin' around 7:30pm. My mother-in-law saved a spot by the lake for the firework show while we waited in line. We waited about an hour, rode Soarin' and made it back to the lake for the firework show. It was hands-down, THE BEST firework show ever. Cam cried the entire time (he doesn't like fireworks), but snuggled daddy while we watched and ate Pringles and applesauce.
Favorite Foods @ Epcot
  1. Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Fish & Chips)
  2. Tangierine Cafe (Baklava - may have been only for the holidays)
  3. Via Napoli - (Prosciutto e Melone Pizza) **I'm still undecided if this was worth it, because it is more expensive.
  4. Sommerfest (Bratwurst & Baked Mac & Cheese)
  5. Joy of Tea (Curry Chicken Pockets & Egg Rolls)
  6. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Rice Pudding - do not be swayed by the giant Cream Puff... it looks good, but isn't very good. You've been warned.)
  7. La Cantina de San Angel (Tacos & Empanadas)

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