By Chelle Koster Walton

Bring the family to Epcot with these handy tips for kids of different ages.

With its geographical and futuristic focus, Epcot naturally fits 'tweens, teens and adults best. If you have a multi-park pass, however, don't be afraid to make a stop at Epcot with your pre- and grade-schoolers. In fact, when crowds swell mid-day at Magic Kingdom, hopping on the monorail to Epcot is a smart option. The park consists of two parts, Future World and World Showcase (the latter of which usually opens and closes later than the former).

Pre-Schooler Favorites

Begin at "The Land" exhibit with breakfast in the revolving Garden Grill Restaurant. Visitors of all ages love looking at the creatures in "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" aquarium.

Expect loud noises, creepy crawlies and startling 3-D effects at "Captain EO," a fun show but potentially intimidating for the small and timid. Consider "Journey Into Imagination" instead.

In World Showcase, most young children will like the whimsical shops, the toy train village in Germany and Norway's "Maelstrom" ride. Cartoon characters stroll the foreign streets and Kidcot Fun Stops provide hands-on activities relative to the different nations represented. Also in Norway, kids can dine with their favorite Disney heroines during the Disney Princess Storybook Dining experience.

Grade-School Winners

"Spaceship Earth," takes grade-schoolers from Cro-Magnon etchings on cave walls to sophisticated computer systems in a 16-minute ride.
The interactive "Project Tomorrow" features exciting technology. They learn about enviro-friendly farming on the popular "Living with the Land" boat ride. 

They'll like the robotic dinosaurs in the "Universe of Energy," although other parts of the 45-minute show may lose their attention. Take advantage of the interactive opportunities at "Innoventions."

Speed demons in the family will head first for "Test Track." The track simulates performance tests that new cars must endure, including bumps, bank turns, braking and speeds of up to 60 mph – the thrill portion, which is screamingly fun (but possibly too much fun for the youngest in this age group).

World Showcase, with its 11 different countries in microcosm, virtually takes kids to the places they've learned about in school. They'll especially like the sometimes-dizzying "Circle-Vision 360°" movie presentations in Canada and China.

It's all about noise and excitement at this age, so stay for the nighttime "IllumiNations" laser and fireworks show.

Terrific for 'Tweens, Teens and Upwards

What adults love most about Epcot is food and shopping. At "The Seas" Coral Reef Restaurant, you get a sea-life view with dinner. In World Showcase, you can dine divinely and genuinely in France, Japan and Mexico. Shops carry imported goods from each of the represented countries. The romantic "Gran Fiesta Tour" boat ride in Mexico is a favorite for couples.

Adults may be also interested in the park's special tours, such as one through the revolutionary greenhouse. In World Showcase, pay attention to the day's schedule to witness culture shows in many of the lands, which usually star native performers.

Adults also will enjoy browsing the National Treasures gallery, which opened in 2004. Other art galleries can be found in the pavilions of Mexico, Norway, China, Japan and Morocco.

Older children love the interactive games throughout Epcot and, in Future World, can understand and fully appreciate presentations such as "Universe of Energy" and the high-impact attraction "Mission: SPACE" which features a realistic interactive, adrenaline-inducing voyage to Mars, complete with some serious G-forces. This extreme experience isn't for the timid and carries a 44-inch height requirement.


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