The second theme park to open at Walt Disney World did so on October 1, 1982 and features two distinct lands for your enjoyment. Future World showcases technological advances in history and also has an eye towards to the progress and hope of the future. World Showcase displays 11 of the world’s nations and offers insight into their cultures and celebration of their diversity. The size of Epcot can certainly be intimidating and with so much to see and to explore, be sure to avoid the following 10 mistakes!
10 – Avoid the weenie at park opening – Walt Disney famously described the visual centerpieces of his parks as “weenies.” In Epcot, that weenie is Spaceship Earth. If you arrive early in the day, be sure to avoid it. Lines can balloon as people see the crowds and think they’re missing out on something. Come back to Spaceship Earth later in the morning or the afternoon and you can usually board the ride with a minimal wait time.
9 – Be aware of the tiered FastPass system – unlike Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Epcot (and Hollywood Studios) separates their FastPasses into two tiers allowing you to select one premier attraction and two other attractions. What this means for you at Epcot: you have to choose between Soarin’ and Test Track (or Living with the Land). Test Track and Soarin’ are the most popular attractions at Epcot with wait times consistently over an hour. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, but make sure to arrive at the park early for rope drop (or stay late for Extra Magic Hours) to do the other attraction. They are both fantastic and certainly worth doing!
8 – Know that there is a second entrance/exit – due to its immense size and shape, Epcot has two entrances/exits. There is the main gate where guests using their car, Disney buses, and the Monorail will enter from. However, the second entrance, located in the World Showcase between France and England, allows guests who are staying at Crescent Lake resorts (Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club, Swan, and Dolphin) or traveling from Hollywood Studios to enter. It is a great secret to get in or out of the park easily during busy times. You can also take a relaxing Friendship Boat ride if you don’t want to walk.
7 – Restaurants are popular – even though Epcot has a HUGE amount of restaurants, most of them are extremely popular, so it might be difficult to get a table as a walk-up guest. Take advantage of a Disney perk if staying on site and make an ADR when visiting Epcot. It is hard to pick a favorite between all that is there, so make sure to do some research before picking your cuisine!
6 – Explore the countries – I’ll admit that I am guilty of ignoring a lot of the countries pavilions when visiting Epcot. Imagineers took a lot of time designing the pavilions to be authentic reproductions of the host nations. There are great shops, details, and cultural presentations if you take your time to explore them. Impressions de France showcases French culture and after the movie, you can partake in some delicious ice cream. In Germany, you can discover a holiday-themed store to get a Christmas ornament as a keepsake from your trip. These are just a few of the treasures for you to discover!
5 – Illuminations is very popular – Disney can do fireworks presentations very well! At Epcot, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the nighttime fireworks show. It is a very popular show and if you want good seating (or standing), you need to suss out those places about 45 minutes in advance. My favorite place to watch the fireworks from is the elevated area in the Canada Pavilion. Check out “Top 8 Places to View Illuminations At Epcot.”
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4 – Drinking Around the World – like it or not, this has become a pastime at Epcot. If you are traveling with your family and don’t want to encounter those partaking in this ritual, try and go to Epcot during the week when crowds are lighter. If you are someone who wants to try this, you must do it responsibly. Disney will ask you to leave the park if you get too rowdy or if you get sick. Be sure to drink water during your journey, eat plenty of food, and pace yourself. I made the mistake of attempting to do this in 5 hours (I was not successful). World Showcase opens at 11 AM every day, so if you start then and take your time, it shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish successfully and safely.
3 – Want to meet a princess? – when people think of meeting princesses at Disney World, they generally think of the Magic Kingdom. However, Epcot offers a lot of opportunities to meet the princesses (and often with far less lines). Scattered throughout World Showcase, guests can meet Mulan (China), Snow White (Germany), Belle (France), Aurora (France), Jasmine (Morocco), Alice (England), and Mary Poppins (England). You can also meet a variety of princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway during their princess dining meals.
2 – Much to enjoy – if your trip itinerary allows, I would highly recommend that you spend two days at Epcot (or at least a day and a half). If it easy to miss a lot of Epcot if you try to accomplish it in less time. You’ll miss a lot of the food from the countries of World Showcase and a lot of the cultural presentations that they put on. Try and experience at least some time at night – the countries of World Showcase look wonderful all lit up and Future World takes on a new character alight, as well.
1 – Cruising by the Refreshment Port – above everything else, I am a foodie. Recently, Epcot has added an amazing culinary treat at the Refreshment Port (located on your right hand side as you head towards Canada): the cronut. This pastry is a doughnut-shaped croissant with cinnamon sugar topping. You can get it a la mode as well. Be sure to ask how fresh they are and wait for a fresh one if they are older than 5 minutes. You’ll be happy that you did.
Epcot can be a tough park to conquer, but if you follow this ten tips, you’ll be sure to avoid a lot of pitfalls and mistakes. Which is your favorite?
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