Ultimate Guide To Epcot at Disney World

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Experimental. Prototype. Community. Of. Tomorrow. That’s what Walt Disney originally called Epcot when he came up with the idea back in 1966. Today Epcot is a fantastic park where you can explore several countries from around the world an immerse yourself in their culture as well as experience some great rides in Future World. My family loves to spend 2 days at this park so that we don’t miss any of our favorite things.

What Is Epcot Known For?

Epcot is known for new technology and learning. At it’s heart that’s what it was always meant to be. Walt Disney himself said “It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems”. Nowadays we know it for it’s wonderful festivals that happen throughout the year.

Daily Operation and Hours

Generally, throughout the year, Epcot theme park opens Future World at 9 am with the World showcase opening at 11 am. The entire park closes at 9 pm. Hours may vary depending on extra magic hours. You’ll need to plan accordingly to whatever the park hours are if you plan on using the extra magic hours.

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Getting Tickets

Just like for any park, you can buy your theme park tickets with your package if staying on property, or at the gate.

If you are going to be going to the parks for 10 days or more in a year you can also save some money at Disney World by getting an annual pass.

How Many Days Do You Need At Epcot?

Although technically you can do this park in one day, I’ve always felt that two days is really the only way to go do and see everything at this park. There aren’t too many attractions here but Epcot is absolutely huge and exhausting. On a side note, locals tend to flood the park on Saturday’s, so if you only have one day at Epcot then Sunday or Monday would work pretty well. But if you’re planning a week-long itinerary I would do Future World on a Monday and World Showcase on a Thursday.

1-Day & 2-Day Touring Plan

No matter if you have one day at this park or two, I would rope drop test track or save it as a finale.
If you only have one day at Epcot consider it first and tour the park in a figure eight pattern.
Lately cast members have been letting people in about half an hour early to avoid bottlenecking at the entrance. So catch the first bus or arrive a good hour before opening time so that you can head straight to Test Track first.

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From there you can tour the rest of future world counter-clockwise; hitting Mission Space second, followed by Spaceship Earth then The Seas, The Land and Imagination. From there I would tour World Showcase clockwise starting in Mexico and ending in France.

Only having one day may mean you’ll have to skip a film or two or you might not make it all the way around. But I like this pattern now because impressions to France is usually only showing for the last hour of the day and it is of course a classic.

During the daytime hours the Beauty and The Beast Sing Along is shown inside the theater instead. I also think this plan works well when it comes to dining because the back corner of world showcase offers fantastic dinner options whether you are looking for quick service or table service.

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On day one in future world you can again either start or end with test track. If you find yourself arriving here later in the day because you’re park hopping or enjoying some pool time at your hotel then you can start your tour at Spaceship Earth followed by The Seas, The Land and Imagination.

Which means that you can end with the two thrill rides and even make a quick stop at mouse gear to pick up some souvenirs before exiting.

On day two I really like to start by entering the park by the International Gateway entrance between the United Kingdom and France. This will naturally work well if you’re staying at the Yacht and Beach Club or a hotel on the Skyliner route like the Riviera. Because Disney’s newest transportation system will take you directly to this entrance.

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You can even park at Hollywood Studios to utilize this back entrance. You can do both Hollywood Studios and Epcot in one day like this or simply start here and enjoy a really nice long breakfast at a hotel. This will allow you to enter the back half of the park before most guests reach the countries and you’ll have some areas all to yourself.

Traveling To and From Epcot

One of the nicest features is that Epcot happens to be on the monorail loop. So if you are staying at a resort that is directly on the loop like the Contemporary Resort or The Polynesian, then you will find it very handy.

The new Disney Skyliner has a stop right in Epcot at the International Gateway making getting to and from this park that much easier for guests staying at the resorts that are on the Skyliner route.

Also, a lot of guests don’t know that you can travel on foot between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Yes, they are really that close. In fact, you can travel on foot in about 15 to 20 minutes.

Of course, you can take the boat, but it can be slower and you may have a long wait during busy times.

The path can be found near the United Kingdom pavilion. Just head toward the Beach Club, and then continue past the Swan and Dolphin, and then on to Hollywood Studios. It’s one of the nicest quiet walks you can take in all of Disney World!

Epcot Map

If you need a map to help you get around Epcot, I just happen to have one right here for you. If you click on the map it will bring up not only the entire Epcot map but the entire guidebook for Epcot as well.

epcot theme parks map

Check out our Disney World maps and guides section for more.

Rides and Attractions at Epcot

Future World

The front of the park is known as Future World. There you will find the latest technology and some great Disney park attractions.

Test Track – My favorite ride in Future World is Test Track where you hop into a car that you design and is put through the tests to see how it fairs in handling, speed, efficiency, and maneuverability. This ride is a nice switch-up and definitely worth using a FastPass for.

Soarin’ Around the World – Second on my list is Soarin’. Aboard a hang glider, you can sail around the world to experience the sights and smells from some really beautiful countries. This ride is like nothing I have ever done. I was amazed that you really can smell the scents from the country you are flying thru. Absolutely FastPass worthy!

The Seas with Nemo and Friends  – My daughter can’t miss The Seas with Nemo and Friends when we are in Future World either, she also loves checking out the huge fish tanks in The Seas as well. You shouldn’t need a FastPass for this, and your kids should thoroughly enjoy it.

The American Adventure – The American Adventure is an animatronics stage show that walks you through defining points in American history. If you are a patriotic American, then this is for you. This show has been around for quite some time, but we still enjoy it. You shouldn’t need a FastPass for this one either.

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Spaceship Earth – Built-in 1982, Spaceship Earth is the first attraction you come to at Epcot and it’s also the most iconic it’s the symbol of the park! It’s just an incredibly imposing structure 180 feet tall and took 26 months to build.

But what is the ride? You ride a time machine back to the stone age with the cavemen and you go all the way through time up to the current day in the information age.

This is truly one of the best rides in Epcot. But don’t bother using a FastPass for Spaceship Earth. Instead, wait until later in the day. It seems like earlier in the day it is much much busier.

Frozen Ever After  –If you or your kids love the movie Frozen, then this boat ride in Epcot’s Norway pavilion is perfect for you! Definitely worth doing even if you aren’t a big fan of the films purely for the awesome animatronics and experience itself. If you want to get on this ride and don’t want to wait a long time then you will need to book a FastPass as soon as possible. We’ve seen the wait time for this ride as much as 2 hours!

Gran Fiesta Tour – This boat ride is fun to do, especially if you get some rain while you are at Epcot. It’s in the Mexico pavilion and allows you to go on a journey with the Three Caballeros who are searching for Donald Duck.

This ride has been around for a while and personally, we would like to see it replaced with a Coco themed ride. We hear that it may be a possibility in the near future as well.

Turtle Talk with Crush – There’s a lot of humor here that will go right over your kid’s heads. But it does give them a chance to interact with Crush from Finding Nemo which is pretty cool. You shouldn’t need a FastPass here and even if you do we wouldn’t suggest using one on it unless your kids are REALLY into Finding Nemo or Crush.

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Mission: Space – If you like simulator thrill rides that will have you crash landing on Mars, then this is perfect for you. There are two epic versions of this ride. The green side which is less intense, with no spinning or the orange side which is more intense with a lot of spinning.  You shouldn’t need a FastPass for this, but it’s also not one of our personal favorites either way.

Living with the Land – This is a relaxing boat ride that gives you a glimpse of the future of agriculture. This is an educational ride and is interesting, but you might hear some bored moans from the little ones. You shouldn’t need a FastPass for this if you decide to do it and out of all of the offerings at Epcot, this is probably one of our least favorites as a family.

Reflections of China – This is perfect for a rainy day and is a 360 film all about China, which can be found in the China pavilion. It is a beautiful film which is narrated in a really authentic way. However, if you have small children, then Reflections of China won’t be a favorite, I’m just warning you.

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Epcot World Showcase

The Epcot World Showcase is a lagoon surrounded by 11 countries that are filled with wonderful sights, sounds, and food! You can use the boats in the lagoon as quick and relaxing transportation or you can walk around the entire lagoon to each country. Which is what we usually end up doing.

The World Showcase has 11 different pavilions touching on the traditions, food, and shopping from each country. Including…

  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • China
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • United States
  • Japan
  • Morocco
  • France
  • The United Kingdom
  • Canada

The World Showcase is a great way to experience the culture and foods from countries that you may have never visited.

There are not many rides in the world showcase but you can find a few. The grand fiesta tour found in Mexico will take you on a boat ride to see what adventures the Three Caballeros will go on while looking for Donald Duck.

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In Norway, you can take a ride through the fjords along with Anna & Elsa on Frozen Ever After.

Reflections of China is a 360* movie exploring China’s history and it gives you something really neat to do on a rainy day.

The American Adventure is a great stage show about American history and is the host pavilion for The World Showcase.

You can also see an excellent new show at the Canada Pavillion called “Canada Far and Wide”, which is a wonderful journey through the country of Canada on a full 360-degree display.

There is also a Beauty and The Beast Sing-along, located in the France Pavillion. Which is absolutely wonderful if you happen to have littler kids!

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Relaxation Stations

Relaxation Stations are dedicated zones where guests can come in and take off their mask for a quick break. Epcot has three stations, two of them are in world showcase and one is in future world. There is one in each section of the park that’s outside; but the third station is located indoors.

The one indoor relaxation station is located at the Norway pavilion inside Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. This is normally the park’s princess character meal, but that is not offered at the moment whether you’re comfortable or not going mask-free inside it’s worth a stop here just to check out this restaurant or maybe catch some air conditioning.

A lot of guests tend to dine here over Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom because of the price point. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still expensive but it’s a little bit cheaper. So if that’s something you’ve considered in the past then this will give you an idea of what to expect.

The two remaining relaxation stations are outside. One is the seating area for Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK, which provides a nice lagoon side view of world showcase. The second is in between Mission Space and Test Track.

Characters & Entertainment

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The American Gardens Theater is still home to great musical entertainment. This is where you’ll find Mariachi Cobre from Mexico, The Voices of Liberty and a few other musical acts. The accapella group from the American Adventure singing classic tunes from the Disney songbook.

Over in Canada you’ll find the Jammitors performing on the Mill Stage a few times throughout the day as well. They are a long running percussion group that uses things like trash cans, wooden spoons and buckets to make their performances extra interesting.

Showtimes for all of these change regularly, so make sure you check your My Disney Experience App to make sure you are planning accordingly.

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Epcot Cavalcades

Cavalcades happen sporadically throughout the day between 11AM and about 4:30. Epcot has two cavalcades that tour the World Showcase area clockwise. So if you are in the front half of the park you will not see these.

Mickey and Friends World Tour – Featuring Mickey and Minnie along with Pluto.

Princess Procession – You’ll see Disney Princesses from around the world like Aurora, Belle and Jasmine.

Other Princess Pop Ups

Out of all four parks, Epcot is where you are most likely to see characters at a distance currently. These are not as regular, but are some appearances that I have noted during our trips.

Anna and Elsa – Front of Royal Summerhaus

Alice and Mary Poppins – Garden Behind The Tea shop

Joy (From Inside Out), Chip and Dale and Winnie The Pooh – Future World, between The Land and Imagination.

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Daily Events at Epcot

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is the nightly fireworks show currently. However, it is expected to end in the summer of 2019 to make way for a new nighttime firework experience.

There are always mixed emotions when there is change. Many people were upset when Wishes at the Magic Kingdom was replaced with Happily Ever After, but now after seeing it, those same people love Happily Ever After even more.

We know Disney will do it right and bring something bigger and better for its guests to enjoy.

Dining at Epcot

There are two great restaurants in the front of the park, Coral reef, a table service restaurant featuring fish tanks, and the Electric Umbrella which is a quick-service restaurant providing good food that everyone will enjoy.

However, if I were you I would head to the countries for my meals. you have 11 countries to choose from to try new and exciting dishes. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Germany pavilion and pick up some Werther’s caramel-covered popcorn while you are there! You can thank me later. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad meal at Epcot.

Oh, and by the way, if you plan on visiting Epcot make sure you know where to find the best coffee in the park. It could make for a long day otherwise.

Shopping at Epcot

In the front of the park, there is ‘Mouse Gears’, for me, it’s my favorite one-stop-shop to get anything that I am looking for. Each country in the World Showcase also has its own gift shops for special gifts from that land.

Once you pass through the United Kingdom in the World Showcase, you can go up the hill and down the hill to the World Traveller for all of your bandaids, medicine and such. They also have a plethora of souvenirs and pin trading from around the world.

I would send you directly to the source for a full list of the shops in Walt Disney World’s Epcot (there are a lot of them)

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Special Events at Epcot

Epcot is known for its festivals throughout the year. While you are here make sure you check out my in-depth breakdown on which Epcot festival is best.

International Festival of the Arts, running mid-January through February. We experienced this festival on our last trip and we were pleasantly surprised. We really didn’t know what to expect and we love seeing the beautiful artwork and they had some fantastic music groups playing as well.

International Flower & Garden Festival runs from March through June. This is by far the prettiest festival. The work that goes into creating such beautiful topiaries of your favorite character is breathtaking!

International Food and Wine Festival runs Late August through Mid November. You will have so many yummy treats and drinks to try from around the world it may not be possible to try them all. This was mine and my husbands’ first experience with a festival back in 2005. We were on an anniversary trip and had such a good time trying everything. To this day one of my favorite wines is Rosa Regale that I tried for the first time there in Italy. Every trip since when we go past Italy I have to stop and get a glass.

International Festival of the Holidays runs Mid November through the end of December. Christmas comes alive when Epcot starts up the Holiday Festival. You will experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Holidays from around the world like never before.

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Is Epcot Fun For Adults?

Of all the parks Epcot offers some of the best adult beverages that you can enjoy in the parks as well as some fine shopping in the World Showcase which is geared more toward adults.

Personally, it’s one of my favorite places because the rides are not directed necessarily at littler kids as you might find at Magic Kingdom.

Coming Soon To Epcot

Epcot is getting a new indoor roller coaster themed after Guardians of the Galaxy. It is sure to be out of this world and I am super excited to try it out as a fan of the movies. This is expected to open in 2021.

Along with the new ride in 2021, Epcot is also getting a new Space-themed restaurant set between Test Track and Mission: SPACE.

Coming in 2020 to France you will be able to ride along on a 4D adventure in Paris from Remy’s point of view.

Other Epcot Articles and Tips

Epcot FastPass+ Strategies And Tips
Complete Guide : Epcot Festival Of The Arts
Epcot Flower And Garden Festival Guide
Epcot Food And Wine Festival Guide (Dates, Value & Updates)
Guide To Epcot’s Festival Of The Holidays
How To Get From Epcot To Hollywood Studios
What Is The Best Place To Get Coffee In Epcot?

Conclusion

Walt Disney World’s Epcot, in my opinion, is a park where you need 2 good solid days to see everything. With so many things to see and do it can be really tough to fit that all in one day. It has become my #2 park to visit and I am always excited to visit. It seems like each time we go we choose a different time of year so that we can experience all of their cool festivals.

Click here to read more about other Disney World theme parks.