Epcot arrival strategy with kids

I’m trying to finalize our plan for Epcot in early May. I was thinking we’d RD Soarin’ first, then hit the character spot before our Living with the Land FP at 10:15. Will doing characters before Soarin’ slow us down too much? I think my kids will love being greeted by characters on our first day of their first trip to Disney. I was trying to avoid any unnecessary backtracking since the park is so huge.

After watching the TP RD Epcot video, I decided I didn’t want to plan on RDing Test Track since it has reliability issues, but I do hope to work it in. Is that a bad idea? (We did our Tier 1 FP for Frozen.) My Disney TA thought we might have a chance at a 4th FP for Test Track (in her experience, she has had some success at that) or we can just do it single rider in the afternoon if we have time. I’ve never ridden it so I’d hate to skip it, but I’m trying not to run us back and forth across the park ragged on our first day, too. I am also guessing on what my kids will want to ride since we’ve never been to Disney with them and the trip is still a surprise waiting to be revealed in a few weeks, so I can’t ask them yet what they think they’ll ride.

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How old are your kids? Single rider is 7 and older. I think you’ll probably be able to pick up TT as a 4th - what time will you be tapping into your 3rd? The earlier the better.

I’ve never done the character spot so I can’t comment. I did do Baymax around 8.30pm and it was a 5-10 minute wait, so maybe doing them on the way out would work if the morning doesn’t (if you’re not doing Illuminations - we don’t).

Our kids will be 9, 7, and 4. We will have to do Rider Switch several times with my tiny 4 year old who is 37" tall. Right now we have our 3rd FP at Spaceship Earth at 2:35. I know that’s kind of late to be getting anymore FP after that, and I’m already trying to figure out how to adjust it so it doesn’t get in the way of our World Showcase time starting after our Frozen FP at 1:10. We only have 1 day at Epcot, and we aren’t planning to keep the kids there till the fireworks, so I understand we may ultimately have to leave some things out. It just gives us a reason to come back when the kids are older and braver, right?


I’m planning a similar approach for our Epcot day, although it’s also EMH so an earlier start. I’m planning to RD Soarin’, hit the Seas with Nemo and Turtle Talk, and then do Character Spot and Joy/Sadness within the first 2 hours. I’ve read that the Character Spot wait time is usually minimal in the first two hours of the day as people head off to the big rides.

Also, if you’re stretched for time, you could always ride Soarin’ and get the RS pass, but not do the second ride. Then, come back right after your Living with the Land FP for ride #2 since you’ll already be in the building.


I have no advice but we are planning a trip in Sept. and I’m already obsessing over which rides, FP’s, etc. (hence, why I’m here reading this!)
But my kids are almost exact ages of yours, they don’t know about the trip and probably won’t til closer and we’re doing a park a day!
I think we may have EMH on the day I want us to go to Epcot.
I’d love to hear how your trip goes and hear any suggestions.

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Also interested in what everyone says…my kids will be 4.5, turning 7 on the trip, and almost 9 when we go in December. Also a surprise trip, so trying to guess what they might like is so hard! I’m with you, @cheryl2911…lurking and planning and obsessing so early!

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I would RD soarin. Hands down. Then do character spot. The few extra steps will pay dividends in the long run. Agree with above, do it in the first 2 hours. If you rope drop soarin, you can probably knock out both in the first hour.

Now - Rope drop means getting there BEFORE the park opens. On a 9am open, plan to be there 45min-1 hr early so you can get queues up. My last Epcot visit, they were letting people in before I got there at 8:45.


That sounds reasonable. It is hard to tell how many steps between attractions from the map, and I haven’t been to WDW as an adult, so I don’t remember exactly where things are and how far apart they are, plus some things have changed in 20 years.

Thanks for the reminder about Rope Drop being 1 hr early. That is one reason i avoided EMH in our plans. I didn’t think we could get all 6 of us up, fed, and on the bus by 7 am! Is 1 hour early pretty standard for every park, or do you have more wiggle room with certain ones?

MK allows people on Main Street at 8am on a 9am open. RD happens immediately after the stage show.
AK folks are saying several hours before official rope drop if you want to ride FOP without a FPP.
HS I have no idea.

We are staying at BW in a few weeks, so will use international gateway. Planning to RD FEA, then head to Soarin’, with FPP for TT later.

I agree with SillySamsMom: RD Soarin’ and arrive at least 30-40 mins before opening.

We were there two weeks ago and here’s what we’ve done:
Arrive at park at 08:20
09:01 - 09:22 : Soarin’ (we were in the first theater)
09:25 - 09:28 : Meet Baymax
09:29 - 09:52 : Meet Joy & Sadness

Living with the Land isn’t a very popular ride.
Is changing your Living with the Land FP+ for Character Spot a possibility (09:30 - 10:30 would be great) ?
If you can place you Spaceship Earth FP+ earlier, you should be able to get a 4th FP+ for TT.


Thankfully we have FPP for FOP so we won’t have to deal with that mess. We will probably RD Navi River though. Is it all the same crowd until it splits for the different rides once you get to Pandora?

I may look at adjusting FPP, but right now we have our Spaceship Earth scheduled to be the last thing we do before leaving the park around 4 or so. I know that leaving it that way rules out a 4th FPP…

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Ha, also following for RD advice for Epcot w kids. After watching the TP video (really wish TT didn’t break down the day they did it!!) I think we’re going to go for Soarin, too, then TT. But my kids are 2 and 6 and we’re going with my parents and just realized that we should try to send one part of the group with the 2 year old to TT, get a ride swap, and then let my 6 year old ride when he’s out of Soarin. I think I need more coffee before trying to figure this out…

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I actually think it’s good it was down when they did the video, because it is the reality quite often! It happened to us last year. We did Soarin’ right after a PPO ADR at Garden Grill and then headed to TT, but it was down - for a long time.

DH and DS6 ended up waiting in a LONG standby line once it reopened (and I went to drink margaritas with a sleeping DD1 in Mexico).

I should add that DS6 was thoroughly unimpressed by TT. He really enjoyed designing the car, but thought the ride was meh. And overall, he said it wasn’t worth the wait.

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I appreciate hearing that missing TT will not be a huge deal if we can’t get to it. Epcot is our first park day and my kids have only been to Sea World and a carnival or two, so I really don’t know how they’ll take to the big rides at WDW. We will definitely plan to RD Soarin’ and hopefully that will set a good tone for everything else.

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Recent liner reports indicate you might have a hard time doing this. Some CM are requiring all members of the party to be present in order to reduce a RS. Doesn’t hurt to try but I would caution against relying on it as part of your strategy.