Must Do Attractions – Epcot
Although Epcot is my favorite park it has significantly fewer attractions than it’s big brother the Magic Kingdom. That did not make my decisions any easier in determining my top five must do attractions. Both Future World and the World Showcase areas are up for consideration and I just had to make some sacrifices in my choices. I think ultimately I will surprise many of you on not only which five I chose but the order.
Coming in at number five I chose Soarin’ which is in the Land Pavilion of Future World West. I easily could have put this up at number four but the film is in such poor condition at this point we can only hope the rumors of new film are true. Having said that, Soarin’ is still a contender as is. It has an original concept and staged vehicle system that sweeps you up in front of a concave screen. With the seats tilting and fans blowing at you the simulation is near perfect of hang gliding over the diverse and beautiful landscapes of California. If it weren’t for those annoying dust spots that is. The smells of the rivers and the orange groves provide a credibility often not enjoyed in a theme park attraction. It may need work, but it is still makes my top five list of attractions in Epcot.
Oh Test Track how I love thee, let me count the ways. I guess I’m giving it a four. I can remember a time when this attraction would have been in the pole position but over time thrills became only a small portion of what to me creates a great attraction. Not that I do not think Test Track is great, of course it is, but it lacks in some theming and story. I do find the attraction thrilling particularly the final portion where the car breaks the barrier and rides 66 mph on the outside track. If they could clean up the interior portion this thing very well could push up a spot or even two. I am probably in the minority at preferring the old theme and interior to the current version. The current version to me just took away some story, merged in some tron like features and added unnecessary gadgetry. Where as the old story supplied some humor and more creative sets. Guess this is a pretty harsh review for what is my fourth favorite must do in Epcot.
At the number three position is one of Epcot’s best kept secrets, The Sum of All Thrills presented by Raytheon. This attraction is hidden in INNOVENTIONS East and is typically only a 20 minute wait. Pretty amazing since the attraction is not designed for turnover. It may not have a facade or a fancy queue and story but it makes up for that two fold in its interactivity, technology, and execution. You begin with doing a lot of math but do not worry its all fun and you are not aware of just how much math is going on. You are basically designing a roller coaster using all of your math skills, in most cases, ones you never knew you had. You can make the experience as intense or as tame as you wish and you will ultimately be scored for it’s efficiency. One thing to keep in mind while you are creating this thing is you will be actually riding it after. An important lesson if you aren’t the biggest inversion geek. Once you have completed your design you will be asked to empty your pockets into a locker and be placed into a 1 or 2 person simulator where you get to see the fruits of your labor. It is a tight cage, and claustrophobic people would probably be better off not going through the experience. The simulator is mounted on a KUKA arm which basically can swing you into every possible position fluently to mimic the attraction you just experienced. As I said up front, the attraction lacks a story but brings back some of the founding principles of what Epcot originally stood for, mainly edutainment. It also revitalizes a small section of INNOVENTIONS which really, REALLY needs it.
If my number one attraction didn’t burn in my mind every time I hear the word vacation, this might have knocked it off. The American Adventure at the American pavilion in the world showcase provides not only edutainment but also is known to cause great pride in any American who watches it. Even if you do not call America home, it is inspiring and enjoyable for most any age and interest. The sets for the attraction actually roll up from the underneath in the basement which gives it some geek factor points as well. It is a patriotic presentation using animatronics, musical scores, and projected scenes and effects. The foundation of the nation is told primarily by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. If you want to be even more impressed or inspired, take a look at the show time schedule. Often there is a drum and fife performance that ends just prior to the voices of liberty in the American Adventure rotunda , which ends just prior to the show. If you do not get sentimental after witnessing the three in a row you my friend are a monster.
I know I am on vacation when I can smell Rome burning. Admittedly I would prefer to roll back to any of the prior versions of the attraction but Spaceship Earth even in its current state is the apex predator of this park. Fastpass+ has had a poor effect on the line here but then again the way they tier the rides in this park you can spare the reservation on it. Spaceship Earth does for humanity what the American Adventure does for the country. Here, however, we get to ride rather than watch from a theater seat. Our story as passengers aboard a spaceship hurling through space begins from a platform like any other omnimover. Seen after seen in chronological order is presented using dazzling sets with beautiful animatronics. A photo is snapped at you as the attraction begins and just prior to exiting the attraction is where it gets put to use. You will answer a few questions in regard to how you would like to see the future. The attraction will create a short animated movie starring you. The attraction is recognized as the parks icon and is definitely the weenie you gravitate toward as you enter the park. The giant sphere supported by three legs was designed in conjunction with sci fi writer Ray Bradbury. The fifteen minute rest off your feet in the air conditioning should be enough to convince you to take the ride. If you need more excuse, this is a classic demonstration of not only what Epcot signifies but all of Walt Disney World and Walt’s vision.
To sum it up, here are my top 5 must do attractions in Epcot:
5 – Soarin’
4 – Test Track
3 – Sum of All Thrills
2 – American Adventure
1 – Spaceship Earth
Epcot has been my favorite park for many years, but it is currently in need of some real work. Not the kind of work that includes Anna and Elsa either. The last significant thing in the park was in 2005 with the addition of Soarin’ to my memory. I can’t consider the overlay in Test Track to be significant. I hope this trend does not continue, as this park has so much potential and is so beautiful. It would be a shame if WDI ignores this park for much longer.