Epcot, or E.P.C.O.T., an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, was originally intended to be the heart of Walt Disney’s “Florida Project”. After he died in 1966, these plans were put on hold for a time. The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 and was thought of as an east coast Disneyland. When the Disney Imagineers later revisited the idea of Epcot, Walt’s original idea seemed out of reach. What came of those early meetings is what we know today as Epcot, a unique theme park that touts the idea of “edutainment”- education while entertaining. Epcot consists of two main “lands”; Future World, with its iconic Spaceship Earth and World Showcase, a sort of permanent World’s Fair. No trip to Disney World is complete without a day, or better yet, two days at Epcot. Parents of small children, never fear, Disney has done a good job of making this “adult park” fun for the little ones too. You can find your favorite Disney characters throughout the park and other activities and attractions that will be enjoyed by the whole family. As you plan your Disney World trip, here is a timeline to follow for your Epcot day(s).
1) 180 days out – One of the most fun and interesting things to do at Epcot is dining. Epcot has over a dozen sit-down restaurants and just as many counter-service restaurants. Many of these are extremely popular. You can make ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) for table-service restaurants as far out as 180 days from your trip. Families will love Coral Reef, where you can view the massive aquarium at the Living Seas, while enjoying lunch or dinner. You should also give serious consideration to eating in one of the 11 different countries represented in World Showcase. It’s a great way to enjoy ethnic food, while being (temporarily) transported to a foreign land. To insure you get the restaurants you want, book your dining reservations as soon as possible.
2) 60 days out – If you are staying at a Disney resort hotel, be sure to book your Fastpass+ reservations 60 days out (or 30 days if you’re staying offsite or you are a day guest). The Epcot fastpass choices are in tiers, so you’ll have to make some tough choices. Nevertheless, it’s important to have your 3 fastpasses, so you can avoid long waits.
3) Arrival – The timing of your visit will play a big part in when you should arrive at the front gates for your day at Epcot. If you are visiting during a busy time (basically when kids are out of school), consider arriving 30 minutes or more prior to official opening. That will insure that you are ahead of the crowds, which will be especially important as you tour Future World. *Be aware, World Showcase does not open until 11:00 am, except for a couple dining venues. If you are going during a cooler, less busy time of year, you can arrive later, especially if you have your 3 fastpass reservations.
4) Basic plan – Your basic touring plan should be to enjoy Future World in the morning until about lunch time. You should allow 3-4 hours for this section of the park. Epcot is quite large geographically and will require a lot of walking. If you’re able, plan to eat lunch 1:00-2:00 pm to avoid the crowds. During the summer, you’ll be glad to find an air-conditioned place to sit and relax. If you are eating lunch in World Showcase, enjoy the many shops, shows and other unique things around World Showcase. Again, if you are visiting during the summer, consider returning to your hotel for a swim and/or nap, with plans to return to Epcot later. If that is not possible, spend as much of your afternoon inside to avoid the extreme heat and humidity (and probably a rain shower). Make dinner plans between 5:00-8:00 pm, continuing to enjoy touring World Showcase or any Future World attractions you may have missed. By 8:00 pm, you should be scouting out a place to watch Illumination: Reflections of Earth, a spectacular nighttime fireworks, lasers, lights and music show. Anywhere around World Showcase will be fine. You can even make Illuminations one of your Fastpass reservations, allowing your party reserved seats. The show begins at 9:00 pm.
5) Shopping – Be sure to allow some time to visit the many shops around Epcot. One of the most popular shopping destinations in all of Walt Disney World is MouseGear, in Future World. Also, keep in mind the many shops in World Showcase feature unique items from around the world.
6) Leaving Epcot – After Illuminations, instead of rushing out with the hordes of guests, consider holding back a little to enjoy your surroundings. Although the Disney castmembers will direct you generally toward the exits, you can still take your time. Epcot is beautiful at night! You can also get some great nighttime pictures as you exit the park.
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