Epcot is the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World. It opened as EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982, and spans 300 acres, more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom. The acronym stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”. It is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, technological innovation and international culture, and is often referred to as a “permanent World’s Fair.” In 2014, the park hosted approximately 11.45 million guests, ranking it the third most visited theme park in North America. The park icon is Spaceship Earth, a geodesic sphere that also serves as a popular attraction. Here are 24 tips and secrets for enjoying this spectacular park!
1) 2 For 1 – Epcot is really two theme parks in one. As you enter the front gates, you are in Future World, where you can experience thrill rides, informative exhibits and other forms of “edutainment”. The back of the park is known as World showcase, where 11 different countries from around the world are represented. You can experience the cuisine, culture and people of each country as you walk around the beautiful World Showcase lagoon.
2) Native Cast Members – The cast members (Disney-speak for employees) in World Showcase are native to their respective countries. This presents a wonderful opportunity to learn from and interact with these cast members.
3) Fireworks – Every evening after dark, around World Showcase lagoon, Epcot presents Illuminations, a spectacular fireworks, laser, lights and music show, celebrating the achievements of mankind.
4) Cool Off – In Future World, at Club Cool, you can sample Coke products from around the world for free. This is a great way to get a cool refreshing treat, but be warned: try Italy’s Beverly at your own risk. It is extremely bitter.
5) Multiple Entrances – There is another entrance to Epcot, in World Showcase between France and the United Kingdom, called the International Gateway. This entrance is especially convenient for guests staying at any of the Epcot-area hotels.
6) Times Guide – Future World opens at 9:00 am, while World Showcase opens at 11:00 am. There are a couple of exceptions to this. You can have breakfast with the Disney princesses in Norway or enjoy breakfast items from the bakery in France.
7) New Frozen Attraction – In Norway, construction is ongoing for a new Frozen attraction and a meet and greet.
8) FREE Photo – If you are a Disney Visa cardholder, you can receive a free 5×7 photo with Disney characters, in Innovention West.
9) Monorail – Epcot and the Magic Kingdom are several miles apart, but are connected by the Disney World monorail system. To make the entire trip, you will have to transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center, near the Magic Kingdom.
10) Special Events – Epcot hosts several special events during the year. In the spring, you can enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival. In the fall, Epcot showcases food and wines from around the world, during the Food and Wine Festival. During the holidays, be sure to catch the Candlelight Processional, a celebration of the Christmas story.
11) Test Track – At Test Track in Future World, guests can shorten their wait in line by joining the single rider queue. If you don’t mind riding alone or being split up from your party, your wait time will be dramatically reduced.
12) Japan Pavilion – On the lower level of the Japan pavilion in World Showcase, be sure to check out Mitsukoshi, a department store selling candy, chopsticks, toys, and even Japanese swords! Your child can choose an oyster with a pearl in it. The cast member will clean it for you and put it in a cute box. Your kids will love it!
13) Dining Options – Each country in World Showcase has at least one sit-down restaurant and one counter service restaurant. While most selections have been Americanized to a degree, this is a fun way to experience other cultures.
14) Unique Shopping – The shops in World Showcase are NOT your typical Disney souvenir shops! You can find unique items in each country, from perfumes in France, to hockey jerseys in Canada, to trolls in Norway! Take time to explore each country-you may be surprised by what you find.
15) Epcot Is For Kids – Did someone tell you your kids won’t like Epcot? Think again! Try the Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, or Gran Fiesta Tour – starring the Three Caballeros. These will be big hits with both kids and kids at heart. As you tour World Showcase, stop at the Kidcot stations for your kids to do a unique activity that will keep them interested all the way around!
16) Disney Art – Are you a fan or collector of Disney art? In Future World, stop by the Art of Disney, and be amazed!
17) MouseGear – One of the most popular Disney gift shops is MouseGear, in Future World. The selections are myriad, but hold on to your kids. It’s a big place!
18) Wait Times – If you are wondering what the wait times are for the most popular attractions, check the tip board in Future World.
19) Don’t Miss Out! – Overlooked attractions you might enjoy? In Future World, be sure to watch the Fountain of Nations water show. In World Showcase, don’t miss the spectacular Voices of Liberty singers, in the American pavilion.
20) Energy is An Adventure! – Looking for a place to cool off in the summer? Try Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Living with the Land, Innoventions, the travelogue movies in China, France and Canada or the American Adventure. Edutainment at its best!
21) Do you like Starbucks? – There’s one conveniently located in Future World.
22) Food Court Advantage – For a top-notch food court, try Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion.
23) Fantastic Dining Options – In addition to dining with the Disney princesses in Norway, Mickey and friends will entertain you while you enjoy a great meal in the Garden Grill restaurant. Much of the food you will enjoy was grown right there in Epcot. You can see where you food was grown by riding the Living With the Land attraction.
24) Concerts – Several times each year, Epcot hosts live concerts in the American Gardens theater. Entry is included with your park admission.
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!