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Congratulations! You're going to Disney World, the Happiest Place on Earth! Now what? Do you have a plan? Do you know what to expect? Are you determined to 'see it all' - or die trying? Lesley Sawhook has been there, done that so many times that in her sleep she counts marching Mickeys, not leaping sheep. Her years of experience as a Disney mom, a Disney planner, and now a Disney Certified Travel Agent uniquely qualify her to dispense the Happiest Tips on Earth. Learn from Lesley how to have the Happiest Time at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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FROM: Happiest Tips on Earth Published Fridays

Epcot Touring Plan

Lesley continues her excellent series of Disney World touring plans with a calculated romp through Epcot, the biggest park and potentially the most challenging to "do" in a single day. But with Lesley at your side, you'll do it with ease.

I am often surprised by how many families write off Epcot and do not visit it during their Disney World stay. Epcot is viewed as a strictly educational park by many and "boring" by some. But for our family, it has become our favorite park because it is full of great rides, hands-on attractions, wonderful cultures, and amazing food.

Epcot is also one of my favorite parks because of its size. It's such a spread-out park that you can tour it easily without feeling "smooshed" by crowds. Still, there are some attractions that quickly draw big lines, and so my tips will focus on getting you to the park early and on those must-do rides ahead of everyone else.

Happiest Tip: Arrive at Rope Drop and Enjoy the Big Attractions With No Wait

Epcot is divided into Future World and World Showcase. Future World opens at 9:00 A.M., so we arrive at 8:45 A.M. for rope drop.

When the rope drops, my husband heads to Soarin' and grabs FastPasses for everyone, then we meet up at Test Track. After we've ridden Test Track, we hurry over to Mission Space, which has two lines: we opt for the milder "green" side.

As we await the return time on our FastPass for Soarin', check out Innoventions East and West. We love the new attraction "Sum of All Thrills" where you can build and ride your own roller coaster. There is also an exhibit in which you're filmed doing all sort of funny moves and then put a video game that you are able to play.

Miyuki the Candy Lady at work in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot's World Showcase

It's not a visit to the France Pavilion without a Grey Goose Slushie

While here, we grab a FastPass for a Kim Possible Mission that the kids love to do in the World Showcase (these FastPasses do not work against any other FastPasses, so you're able to get one at any time).

Then we head for Soarin' where our FastPasses quickly whisk us aboard.

Happiest Tip: Enjoy All the World Showcase Has to Offer

The rope for World Showcase drops at 11:00 A.M. After we're done riding Soarin', we go to our favorite Future World location, Club Cool, for some free Coke samples from around the World before we head to the World Showcase.

I'm never in a rush to do anything in the World Showcase, but we do typically enter on the Mexico side and walk inside the pyramid to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour. Then we walk to nearby Norway and ride Maelstrom.

I highly recommend going into the Caramel Kitche in Germany for some delicious caramel treats (try the caramel corn). Grab a Times Guide from a stand and see when performances are scheduled in the different countries. Don't miss Knights of the Round Table in Great Britain, the Muyuki the Candy Lady in Japan , Voices of Liberty in the American Adventure, and Server Amusant in France. Take your time and enjoy all the shops, foods, and atmosphere.

Happiest Tip: Swim, Dinner and Fireworks

We typically leave Epcot around 2:00 P.M. and return to our hotel for a swim, then come back for a wonderful dinner and fireworks. On our way out of the park, the line for Spaceship Earth usually has little to no line, so we enjoy that attraction as we're leaving.

To me, there is nothing better than strolling around the World Showcase at night listening to all of the music from the various countries and getting a drink (Grey Goose Slushies are my favorite ) to watch Illuminations, the nightly fireworks show, which starts each night at 9:00 P.M. We pick our spot for Illuminations around 8:30 P.M. Our favorite countries in which to watch the show are Morocco and Italy. Just grab a spot near the black fence where you can see the water and enjoy the show!

Happiest Tip: Some "OK to Miss" Attractions

I personally love every attraction in Epcot, but my family makes fun of me for liking a few of them. We'd probably skip them if it weren't for their consistently short lines. For example:

  • Journey into Imagination with Figment never has a line, even on the busiest days (my husband says there is a reason for that).
  • Ellen's Universe of Energy is - in my husband's opinion - a great place to take a nap, but I think it's fun to experience once.
  • If you're a Michael Jackson fan, the Captain EO 3-D show has returned from the 80's, so be sure to catch that as well.
  • Living with the Land is interesting for garden lovers - my kids love the boat ride, and I find it very interesting.

Epcot has so much to offer. I hope this touring plan helps you to have a great time at my favorite Disney park.

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