Overlooked Attractions at Epcot

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 23, 2010 Issue #583 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.


More than a few years ago, AllEars® ran a series of features on what we called "Overlooked Attractions" around the parks and resorts. You know, those little things that actually make you detour from your beeline to the thrill rides, the additional touches that demonstrate Disney's well-known attention to detail and make the World the fascinating place that it is.

So much has changed at Walt Disney World over the last few years, that we realized that our overlooked attractions lists have themselves been overlooked -- it's time to revisit these articles and update them. I started a few months ago by updating the Overlooked Attractions in the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. This week, I'm continuing the series, focusing on my favorites located in Epcot.

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GETTING ALL WET
IN FUTURE WORLD...
AND MORE!

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You've probably ridden "Living with the Land" in the Land pavilion at least a few times. But did you know there's a one-hour walking tour called "Behind the Seeds" that will take you into the Greenhouse area you only get to pass by on the boat ride? A Disney horticulturist -- most likely a graduate student doing some research project -- will explain the various growing methods used there, as well as hydroponics, pest management, farm fishing and more. They'll also answer questions and show you the plants and fish "up close and personal." Epcot admission is required, of course, and an additional fee. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance. Same day tour sign-up downstairs at The Land pavilion, near the entrance to Soarin'.

"Whimsical ways with water" almost seems to be a theme throughout Future World, and that theme begins with Epcot's famous Dancing Fountain. The "Fountain of Nations Water Ballet" is located directly across from the Fountainview Cafe (on the plaza behind Spaceship Earth ). A viewing location? From the middle of the Epcot logo that's embedded in the cement to the south of the fountain (toward World Showcase). At night, special lighting changes the shows dramatically, so make sure to check this out after dark, too!

Continuing with the water theme, did you ever stop to notice the beautiful fountain outside the Imagination pavilion? If you have, maybe you've observed that it's slightly out of the ordinary -- it's actually a *reverse* waterfall, with the water flowing up! Just watch it!

Nearby, outside the Captain EO attraction, you'll find a whimsical "leap fountain," where the water jumps from "pad" to "pad." It's not a play fountain, but children (and sometimes adults) can be seen trying to catch the water as it leaps around.

As you're crossing the walkway from Future World to World Showcase, you'll spy special lights and spouts built into the concrete on your right. You may not give this area a second thought, but upon closer inspection you'll discover a spontaneous water fountain that sends water 20' straight up into the air. On hot days especially it's the perfect spot for kids (and adults) to cool down. There's another Magic Water Fountain on the east side of Future World, in between Innoventions East and Mission: Space. (Note that these fountains may not be operational during times of water shortages.)

The path leading to Test Track has a beautiful Butterfly Garden that features plantings designed to entice the winged beauties. It's a quiet spot not too far from Cool Wash misting station on the way toward World Showcase.

Feeling homesick? Or do you think the folks back home are missing *you*? You can let them know how you're doing by emailing them a FREE video postcard of yourself from Mission: Space! As you exit the attraction's shop on your left you'll see a curtained-off area -- pop in there to film your short, silly message (only video, no audio from you) and send it off to whoever you'd like to make jealous. Y ou can even send an email to yourself, so you can reflect on your happy times once you're back home! (You can send a similar video greeting from Spaceship Earth -- as you exit the ride, you'll see several stands that will allow you to transmit the images captured while you were in your ride vehicle.)

Epcot's World Showcase is well-known for its multi-cultural live performances, but there are also several performers scheduled in Future World that you don't want to miss! The Jammitors, rhythmic musicians dressed like janitors playing trash cans, can also be found in the Plaza periodically. Check your Epcot guide map for show times.

If you happen to be in Innoventions Plaza at night, be sure to look DOWN! The walkway is laced with fiberoptics that light up and slowly fade away, enchanting children and adults.

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BROADENING HORIZONS
IN WORLD SHOWCASE

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Kids may initially think World Showcase is going to be a big snooze for them, but you can encourage their active participation in learning about the various countries by getting them a World Showcase Passport. The passports are sold for around $10 at most stores and carts throughout Epcot, and include a set of country stamps and a big "I'm a World Showcase Traveler" button. As you visit the WS pavilions, your child can have Cast Members at the KIDCOT stations (see description below) stamp the passport and write something in his/her native language.

Did you ever see those brightly colored KIDCOT signs and wonder what they were for? Well, each pavilion in World Showcase (and a few in Future World now, too) features a KIDCOT station specially for the youngsters in your group. At these stations, which usually operate only in the afternoons, there is a small table manned by Cast Members from the various countries. They will talk with children about their native land, engage them in a craft, stamp their World Showcase Passports if they have one, and sign a personal message in the language of the country.

Did you know that you can actually go INTO the Stave Church that sits in the front of the Norway pavilion? Inside there's an exhibit on Vikings. Or did you know that the UK pavilion has a "Secret Garden?" (Follow the path along the side of the Rose & Crown Pub and you'll find the nice little area to sit there by the lagoon. This area will sometimes be reserved in the evenings for private parties.)

Don't forget to examine the architecture and sights around all the country pavilions, especially those that don't have attractions that draw you away. For example, in the rear of the United Kingdom pavilion, back by the gazebo where the Beatles-inspired group British Invasion performs, is a small parklet with a hedgerow maze. In the Italy pavilion on the lagoon side, be sure to cross over the little bridge to get a closer look at the authentic Venetian gondolas moored there. In Japan, don't miss the quiet calm of the koi pond on the way up to the Yakitori House restaurant.

It would be hard to choose which live performers in World Showcase are the best, but it's safe to say that everyone has their favorites. Try to see as many of them as you can, which probably means you'll need to make multiple visits to Epcot! Whatever you do, DON'T rush by these performers -- you'll be missing something truly special!

The improvisational World Showcase Players perform at both the UK and France pavilions and every show is different! The British Invasion in the UK pavilion will make you forget that the Beatles broke up 30 years ago, and the Celtic rock band Off Kilter, in the Canada pavilion, can make a bagpipe lover out of anyone. The vocal group Voices of Liberty in the America pavilion are superb. And if you crave something more exotic, don't miss the Taiko drummers in Japan, or the belly dancer over in the Morocco pavilion.

In the Germany pavilion, where it's eternally Oktoberfest, try to be near the clock tower as it strikes the hour. Watch the Hummel figurines that come out and dance around the clock, and listen to the tune of the glockenspiel -- it was specially written for the Epcot pavilion.

Children especially enjoy the Miniature Train and Village set up next to the German pavilion. Originally put up during a Flower and Garden Festival years ago, the village proved so popular it was made a permanent fixture. Be sure to look at it carefully -- the details are changed according to the season! Last week it was still decked out for the Food and Wine Festival.

Finally, one of my absolute favorite "overlooked" things to do in Epcot is to just BE there -- especially after IllumiNations, when the park has closed and the crowds start to stream to the exits. Just find a bench where you can sit and do a little people-watching, and just generally soak up the atmosphere. To my mind, Epcot at night, dimly lit with music playing in the background, is truly magical.

Whew! See what you've missed if you haven't been taking the time to stop and look around? There are *so* many other spots located around Epcot that offer the opportunity to make a magical memory. They're there waiting for you -- all you have to do is look for them!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Do you have a favorite "overlooked attraction" in Epcot that *I* overlooked? Let us know!
http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm

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RELATED LINKS

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Overlooked Attractions in the Magic Kingdom (2010 edition):
http://allears.net/ae/issue559.htm

Overlooked Attractions in Disney's Hollywood Studios (2010 edition):
http://allears.net/ae/issue564.htm

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra Martin Koma, AllEars.Net's Senior Editor, fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit there -- when she was 35! She's lost count of how often she's returned to her Laughing Place in the ensuing (16!) years, but knows that she still isn't tired of it. (And doubts she ever will be.) Read more of her writing for AllEars® here: http://allears.net/btp/dkoma.htm


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Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.