We tackled the World Showcase over two days, spending about seven hours total touring this part of EPCOT. My first visit to EPCOT was when I had just turned thirteen and the World Showcase was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Zoe and Felix were younger during our trip ( 9 and 7) and they have traveled many places, so they seemed to find this part of WDW to be far less impressive.
I think another issue was waiting until late in the trip to visit the World Showcase. The World Showcase does not have very many attractions and is more of an educational experience, which is hard to do after visiting the other parks and going on so many thrilling rides. I think they would have enjoyed it a lot more, if we had done this first.
We toured clockwise, starting with Mexico.
The Gran Fiesta Tour is a gentle boat ride that features The Three Caballeros and highlights various aspects of Mexican culture. It's cute and has similarities to the Magic Kingdom's It's a Small World. After going on rides in the other parks, the Gran Fiesta Tour was a little boring for Zoe and Felix. Oddly enough, when we showed the kids videos of WDW attractions as we were planning the trip, Zoe was really excited for the Gran Fiesta Tour, which surprised us.
To keep the kids engaged in our trip around the World Showcase, we purchased passports. Each country has a "Kidcot Fun Stop," where an employee from that country stamps their passports and will write a message in that country's language. Educational and fun! There are also coloring and crafts at the stations. The passport was a relatively inexpensive souvenir that the kids loved.
Zoe and Felix are from Sweden and they were a little disappointed that EPCOT doesn't have a Swedish pavilion, but Norway was a good second-runner up.
One of the most popular WDW rides during our visit was the new Frozen Ever After Ride. We skipped it and somehow managed to visit the Norway pavilion (which isn't very big) and avoid the kids noticing that there was a Frozen ride. We just couldn't manage to snag a fast-pass and the queue was longer than we were willing to wait. The kids were excited enough to see trolls in the shop and to meet people from Norway. It was cool for them to see actual people from each country working in their respective pavilions.
China was a big hit for having the best toys, primarily the marionettes ( which we resisted buying- we were firm in our resolve during this trip!) We did not see the film on China, but I do highly recommend it. It's beautiful, but we didn't think the kids would have the patience for it. We were rushing through the pavilions to keep them engaged.
Although not officially a pavilion, the kids loved the African Outpost, essentially a refreshment stand with Coke products and drums.
Germany was my favorite pavilion as a kid, but I think that's because my favorite souvenir, a pair of crystal earrings, were purchased here. I'm not sure it made a huge impression on Zoe and Felix. We were wilting from the heat at this point.
Our goal for the first half of Future World was to end in Italy, where we cool off by having a sit-down meal at the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. We like this restaurant, because you don't need a reservation and it seems to be less busy than other EPCOT restaurants. They also have an amazing lasagna!
The World Showcase is a big loop, so if you break your touring into multiple days, you will need to overlap. The only other option is to take the Friendship Boats, which have a route that cuts across the lake. I think it's faster to walk. We walked, but we walked clockwise on the same route as the first trip, so that we could begin our day in the American pavilion and not spoil seeing other countries, before actually visiting them.
I insisted on seeing The American Adventure, a show that combines animatronics with film, highlighting moments from American History. I love this attraction. Dan and the kids found it boring. I'm hoping that a little of the History sunk in for the kids.
Bring your postcards, letters, even bills (why not?) and mail them at the turn of the century mail box.
Admittedly, our second day of touring the World Showcase was met with less enthusiasm. It was scorching hot, we had to walk extra just to pick up from where we left off, and the family ( except me) was grumpy after sitting through The American Adventure. So onto Japan!
Hands down, the Japan pavilion has the best souvenirs, including a large Sanrio section. It has has an amazing Teppanyaki restaurant, which we did not eat at this visit. I think she is no longer there, but they used to have this woman who made incredible animals out of candy. Japan is just fun. I can't wait to visit the real Japan one day.
Morocco is the pavilion that makes you most feel like you're in another world. The kids were wide-eyed as we walked around. It has cool architecture.
Personally, I think the France pavilion is the least interesting. Although, I think the idea of Paris being a glamorous city is so ingrained, that the kids were super excited when they saw the Eiffel Tower. We also sprung for ice cream. Can't go wrong with ice cream.
We knew that the United Kingdom was going to be a big hit, since Dan is from England and as a family, it's where we have spent most of our vacations. Of course, the outrageous inflation on Dairy Milk bars, meant that we would wait until our Christmas trip to England for our precious Cadbury! We tried to get the kids to tell the employee at the Kidcot station that they're half-English, but they got shy.
Finally, we made it to our last country, Canada! We did watch O Canada, a circle-vision film hosted by Martin Short. It's fun, educational, and has air-conditioning. A year later, the kids would get to visit Canada for the first time, when our Alaskan cruise stopped at Victoria Island ( those trip reports are coming later this year).
The World Showcase was not a huge hit with the kids. If I could re-do this portion of the trip, I'd do things differently. First, we would have done at least some of the countries early on our ten day vacation, rather than saving these two days until the end and squeezing it in. I'd probably do some of the touring at night, when the temperatures are cooler. I would have insisted that we saw Illuminations and I'd probably splurge on a premium viewing experience. It might have been fun to buy candy or a treat in each pavilion to sample food from each country.
Have you visited EPCOT with young children? Do you have any great tips?