Visitors to Walt Disney World are faced with a dilemma when starting their vacations: Where do I start? By default, most people start their vacations with a visit to the Magic Kingdom for no reason at all, well, no good one. Personally, I have found that making Epcot your first theme park visit on your Disney World vacation makes for a much better visit to Epcot, and a much better vacation overall. Now, Epcot is my favorite theme park, and if you ask my kids where they would want to spend a day at Disney, it would almost unanimously be Epcot, mostly because we always make it our first stop, and partly because they are my kids and have been forced to love it.
Three Reasons to make Epcot your First Stop
- Overstimulation – By spending your first day in the Magic Kingdom, your family is completely over Disney stimulated. They are bombarded with rides and characters and parades and shows and fireworks from the moment they walk into the park until you head home after midnight. They then mentally come to expect this from all four Disney theme parks, and the other parks are really not like that, and Epcot couldn’t be further from that experience. Many of my clients say their kids just don’t like Epcot, but that is because they visit after three straight days of the Magic Kingdom and expect more of the same. By starting at Epcot, you set the stimulation bar low and you enjoy the park for what it has to offer, which makes for a fantastic experience and a fantastic day.
- Decent Closing Time – Regardless of the time of year, Epcot closes at exactly the same time every night, 9 PM. Well, technically the fireworks show Illuminations starts at 9 PM every night, then the park closes. Since it is your first day of vacation, 9 PM is a perfect closing time. You have a nice dinner, ride a few more rides, watch the fireworks and are home and in bed by 10 PM. While I love that the Magic Kingdom is open late at time, it isn’t optimal for the start of your vacation. On my last Disney World vacation, I stayed in the Magic Kingdom until 3 AM. It was awesome and basically empty, however, it completely ruined the next day for me, we all slept until mid-afternoon, and just was not worth it. Plus I hate leaving a park early, it feels like you are missing out. Much better to have a decent closing time so you can be back out and at another park first thing.
- Dining Options – One of my favorite features of Epcot is all of the dining options you are provided in the park (plus even more near by) due to the country dining locations in the World Showcase. Why is this important? On your first day, you are going to want a nice, decent place to sit down and relax for dinner. Your poor feet are not used to this, and will need a break. Consider going to the Biergarten in Germany or Chefs de France for a great dinner, or maybe even Tokyo Dining in Japan or Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco for a fun tasty dinner. Epcot is a fantastic place to take your kids to a nice restaurant and dine on something you may not be able to find at home. Epcot restaurants are used to kids every day, all day, so your kids will be welcome and treated with respect. DO NOT book a character meal this first day (remember #1 above), pick one of the World Showcase options and enjoy!
There are my three reasons why you should make Epcot your first stop on your next Disney vacation. Where do you stop first and why?