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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Check out our Disney World maps and guides section for more.
Rides and Attractions at Epcot
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.
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.
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.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure – If you have kids I highly suggest this. Basically, it’s a scavenger hunt where you use your phone as you walk through World Showcase. Kids have been known to get bored in World Showcase due to lack of things for them to do, albeit not mine. But it happens, so you might find this handy. It’s even fun for adults honestly!
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.
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…
- United States
- The United Kingdom
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.
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.
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 their 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. While only the brave will stop at Club Cool to get a drink of the Beverly (you’ve been warned!), 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)
Special Events at Epcot
Epcot is known for its festivals throughout the year. Just to give you a bit of a sampling…
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.
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.
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.