The second gate at Walt Disney World is Epcot. It features to very different experiences for guests to enjoy. The first is Future World which focuses on the wonders of the natural world and the hope for what the future may have in store for us. The second is World Showcase which features countries from around the planet and displays the culture of each of the nations. There is much to see and do at Epcot, so on your next trip, be sure to employ some of these ten tips to simplify your trip!
10 – Rope Drop Is Your Friend – we all know that Magic Kingdom is the most popular park and gets the largest crowds. Use this to your advantage and arrive before park opening at Epcot. This will allow you to experience a lot of what Future World has to offer before World Showcase opens. Combined with our next tip, you’ll understand why you’ll want to be there early.
9 – FastPasses Are Essential – Epcot uses a tiered distribution system for FastPasses, meaning that you have to make a “premier” selection from more popular attractions and then select the remaining two from less popular ones. Because of this, guests can only select Test Track OR Soarin’ from the FastPass system. If you arrive at rope drop, you’ll be able to experience the one you don’t get a FastPass without a big line. You’ll definitely want to use your Tier 1 FastPass on either Soarin’ or Test Track as both consistently have lines in excess of 90 minutes.
8 – Research Your Dining Options – with 11 nations comprising World Showcase, there are A LOT of restaurants to choose from. Before your trip (and ideally, before your ADR window opens up), take a look at the menus of the restaurants so you can decide on where you want to dine. Also, don’t forget that Future World has two table service restaurants that are very good and worth considering!
7 – Consider Spending More Than a Day – between two large, themed lands, the 11 nations of World Showcase, and a huge variety of entertainment and attractions, you will want to consider spending more than a day at Epcot. This way you can experience your favorite rides more than once, discover multiple restaurants, and soak in all of the details and experiences that Epcot can offer!
6 – Don’t Forget About the Second Entrance – guests coming from Hollywood Studios or one of the Epcot resorts should remember that there is an entrance to Epcot at the International Gateway located between France and the United Kingdom. We love using this entrance because we are decidedly World Showcase fans and it is never as crowded as the main entrance in front of Spaceship Earth!
5 – Grab a Times Guide – located with the maps of the park, the Times Guide is often overlooked. You’ll want to grab one of these because it offers so much important information about the park and when things open and close, but for families traveling with small children who want to meet some of their favorite Disney characters, it includes all the information you need to find Mickey and his pals, as well as a selection of Disney princesses throughout World Showcase!
4 – Use the Extra Magic Hours – Extra Magic Hours are great to experience at Epcot because it allows you to get an extra ride or two on Soarin’ or Test Track, but gives you time to experience and appreciate the smaller details you may overlook on a typical day there. You can stroll through the shops in the United Kingdom, discover the depth of the Morocco Pavilion, or enjoy sitting in front of the fountain in the Germany Pavilion. Some of our favorite memories at Disney come from lazily strolling around the World Showcase Lagoon without any plans.
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3 – Special Events – if you are visiting during the spring when Epcot is awash with topiaries for the Flower and Garden Festival or during the fall when the Food and Wine Festival takes over, know that crowds will increase significantly during the weekends. If your vacation allows, consider visiting during the week when crowds are much smaller and when you will have a better experience. Be sure to check out the specialty events that are held in conjunction with these events. They do sometimes cost extra, but they are definitely worth the money!
2 – Understand You Can’t Do It All – we recommend spending more than a day at Epcot because you can’t do it all. Even with more than a day there, there is no way that you can sample all of the food and eat at every restaurant that make whet your appetite. Some of the fun in going to Epcot is finding something for you to experience on your next trip!
1 – Find a Good Spot for IllumiNations – the nightly fireworks show, IllumiNations, is very popular and guests begin lining the fence around World Showcase Lagoon at least an hour in advance. Be aware of this if you want a really good viewing location. There are still many other places to enjoy the fireworks from if those spots are all full – one of our favorites is from the elevated portion of the Canada Pavilion.
We love visiting Epcot and having two completely different experiences in the same day, but with so much to do, it can be an overwhelming experience. Use these tips and it will make your next trip to Epcot much easier and much more enjoyable!
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!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper