When Walt Disney first presented his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, he envisioned a working city utopia where people could live, work and play without ever having to leave. Mr. Disney died before the opening of Magic Kingdom and without his guidance, the company elected not to make attempts at running an actual city. EPCOT was put on hold and did not open until 1982. It’s not quite what Walt described in his original plan, but we have no doubt that he’d be pleased with the outcome all the same. The park is indeed as Walt put it ” a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.” In that same spirit we present 10 Experience’s Disney Veterans Love at EPCOT.
10. Tasting What’s New at Club Cool
Sponsored by the Coca-Cola company, Club Cool is an exhibit where you can get a few sips of soda for free. Situated just prior to Innovations West, guest can drink up on soft drink flavors from around the world and shop for Coca Cola merchandise. There are 8 flavors from Greece, Thailand, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Peru, Zimbabwe and Italy that are offered year round. However; from time to time Club Cool will introduce additional flavors for a limited time. So, if you happen to find yourself in need of a cool down, walk on in and grab a cup. There’s no limit to how much you can drink and it’s FREE!
9. The Pre-view via Monorail
There’s always anticipation and excitement when heading to a Disney park. Waiting to get inside the gates can sometime feel like an eternity when all you want to do is lay eyes on that bless ed icon welcoming you to your magical day. One of my favorite things about a day at EPCOT is arriving by monorail. Boarding at the Ticket and Transportation Center, the monorail takes you from the Magic Kingdom area on a 5 minute ride across Walt Disney World property. Prior to pulling into the off-load station, the monorail makes a grand journey around the park giving a preview of Future World and World Showcase. There’s even narration about several attractions during the tour. Since the monorail continues in a single one-direction loop, you can only see the park pre-view upon arrival. So, when heading to EPCOT, skip the bus from your resort. Add a little extra magic and take the monorail.
8. International Flower & Garden Festival
Whether you were born with a green thumb or struggle to keep plastic plants alive, everyone enjoys the splendor of EPCOT’s International Flower & Garden Festival. Each spring, the park blooms with enchanting topiaries of Disney characters and themed flower and garden displays. During your visit enjoy special activities where you can take in gardening tips and techniques you can use at home. There’s also a concert series featuring live performances.
7. Sum Of All Thrills
Unbeknownst to a lot of vacationers, there is a place where you can design your very own 4D robotic simulator thrill ride. No, I’m not talking about CyberSpace Mountain (located at Disney Quest). Just inside the Innovations Pavilion is the Raytheon presented Sum Of All Thrills. Lover’s of science and math are sure to get a rise at this attraction. Here you can put your engineering know how to the test and go as gentle or as crazy as you might imagine. Choose your velocity and height; add in some corkscrews, dive rolls paired with high-definition video, audio and motion and you’ve got yourself the most interactive ride on property. So go ahead and put your skills to the test . H ow mild or wild you ride is up to you!
6. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – and A Nap
Alright let me explain this one. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a Disney veteran’s favorite for two reasons: To start, everyone loves Ellen; she’s hilarious. This attraction takes you, Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy on an adventure of primeval times when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The story-line focuses on Ellen’s inability to beat her former college roommate, who she calls “Stupid Judy” (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) in a match of science focused Jeopardy. So its a cute and quirky ride to give you a few laughs. The second, and maybe even primary reason Disney vets love this attraction so much is because of how long the ride itself is… 30 minutes. Yup, you read that right. This is a half-hour long attraction. It is one of the slowest and longest rides on property. In case you were wondering the other is The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios. You ride in tram like vehicles that take you through surround cinema and the different scenes of Ellen’s dream. The trams are large as are the rows in each. It is rare to not have a row to yourself, or at least for you and your party. Even still, the rows are large enough that there is always enough room to (brace yourself) stretch out and take a nap! There, I said it. It’s true! While we love the attraction itself, we Disney vets are guilty of utilizing this ride for a battery recharge. If we see a rain coming, we run inside to take cover — the rain never lasts longer than the ride time. So there you have it, Disney veterans learn science best when they are asleep. So the next time you happen to be on Ellen’s Energy Adventure, look for a Disney vet. They’ll be the one stretched out using their park bag as a pillow.
5. Character Meet & Greets
You might assume that the best place to meet Disney characters is at The Magic Kingdom. Here’s a Disney fact: the BEST place to meet and greet the MOST characters in a single day is at EPCOT! Not only does EPCOT house the Character Spot where you can meet the beloved Fabulous Five but EPCOT is also the place to meet other Disney favorites like Chip & Dale, Mary Poppins, Alice from Alice in Wonderland and even Baymax from Big Hero 6. EPCOT has the most concentrated availability of Disney characters of all the parks! Once you arrive have a look at the times guide or the My Disney Experience mobile app for specific character meeting times. Don’t forget your autograph books!
4. Spaceship Earth
This shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m going to say it anyhow to ensure we are all on the same page. It is not a golf ball; it is a geosphere. Mathematically speaking it is a complete sphere composed of 11,520 isosceles triangles forming 3 , 840 points supported by three pairs of legs. Because it has points versus divots it is not a golf ball. Now that we’ve got that fact out of the way; one of the best things about a day at EPCOT is riding Spaceship Earth. Inside you board your time machine and glide off back to the start of recorded history. Lifelike animantronics give an awe inspiring lesson traveling from from when man lived and wrote on cave walls to the Renaissance period and forward to life as we know it today. The total ride time is about 16 minutes and offers an impressive look at human communication, technology and the limitless possibilities of the future.
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3. Soaring – in the Front Row
If you have ever wondered what it might be like to fly or hang-glide then you need to take a ride on Soaring. This attraction uses a 180-degree IMAX projection dome and aerial footage that reproduces the flight of hang-gliding. You will feel the air on your face and smell what you see as you soar from one location to the next. Be delighted as you fly 40 feet up surrounded by amazing panoramic views. If you want to do it like a Disney pro, request to be seated in the front row. Each theater houses three “gliders” with three rows of 10 seats. If you find you’re being directed to the 2nd or 3rd rows, you can politely ask the cast member to allow you to move to the next door or offer to wait for the next screening. The front row goes up the highest and offers the only unobstructed views (without the dangling feet of rows in front of you). If you are super lucky, you’ll get the front row of the center door for the ultimate experience.
2. International Food & Wine Festival
Each Fall, EPCOT transforms where tons of flavors and dining experiences are revealed across the park. This annual festival celebrates the love of culture and the cuisines that make the m unique. Tempt your palate as you indulge in fresh food, wines and craft beers from around the world. Immerse yourself in marriages of culinary demonstrations, mixology seminars and tasting events as you embark on a globe-trotting tour of tasty specialties from all over the world . While you are tasting and drinking, enjoy the sounds of the “Eat to the Beat” concert series where popular artist perform throughout the festival. It’s Disney, it’s Food and it’s Wine. What else could you possibly need?
1. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
Known to Disney veterans as simply “Illuminations” this nighttime spectacular shows the past, present and hope of the future while celebrating the spirit of humanity. Each and every night (weather permitting) the lights around World Showcase are dimmed and the sky is lit bright with fireworks and flames erupting from the World Showcase lagoon. As the story continues, the illuminated surface of a massive globe shows human achievements and the history of humanity. In a final and epic finale white com et fireworks soar towards the sky as the globe transforms to reveal a symbolic torch of human dreams. A chorus of angelic voices soars across the the whole lagoon as everyone erupts in a celebration of mankind illuminated in lights. An absolutely perfect ending, to an absolutely perfect day.. and night.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!