Walt Disney World guests are starting to return to the magic! The parks have undergone some changes if you haven’t visited since they reopening in summer 2020. It is important to know what to expect when you arrive at the park so you can minimize disappointment and prepare yourself to have a fun and safe time! Here are a few things to know before you head to EPCOT!
1. Spaceship Earth Remains Open
When the parks closed in March 2020, Imagineering had already set a closing date for Spaceship Earth for May for a scheduled two-year rehabilitation and refurbishment as part of a re-imagining of the attraction. As the parks remained shuttered through the spring and into the summer, Imagineers took a hard look at the schedule and the post-Covid world and decided to leave Spaceship Earth open. Guests can still experience this attraction with no further information from Disney on if/when it it go back on the refurbishment list.
2. International Gateway Open
With enhanced screening procedures for guests entering the parks, guests should schedule some additional time to get through the gates, but Epcot still has two gates to serve guests. The main gate allows guests into Future World while guests arriving from the Crescent Lake area or via the Skyliner will be pleased to know that the International Gateway entrance is open and lets guests enter into World Showcase between the United Kingdom and France.
3. Character Interactions Are Different
Disney has slowly been reintroducing characters to the parks and creating ways for guests to be able to interact with them while maintaining appropriate social distancing. For example, instead of greeting guests at their tables at Garden Grill, Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale walk around the interior ring of the restaurant and wave to guests and will pose for photos while maintaining social distancing. The face characters that are usually dotting the World Showcase Promenade are still visible to guests as they travel around World Showcase in a character parade.
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4. No Engineering at Test Track
One of our favorite parts of riding Test Track is building a wacky and zany car to see how well it will do with power and efficiency. However, given the nature of the Covid-19 virus, guests are no longer able to design their own car. Regardless of our car design, we still love hurdling towards the final curve of the track at 65 MPH, so we are confident that guests will still have a good time!
5. La Cava To Go
Some guests enjoy heading into the Mexico Pavilion and finding a table at La Cava del Tequila and enjoying a delicious margarita and some snacks; however, guests are only able to get their drinks to go at this point in time. You can still grab a great drink, but will just have to enjoy it while you are walking around.
6, Extended Festivals
Disney is welcoming back guests and enticing people to Epcot with an extended Festivals. One of our complaints in recent years are the HUGE crowds that accompany the Festivals, so guests visiting a festival now will be able to enjoy smaller crowds along with great food and drink!
7. New Stuff Slow Down
The new attractions and experiences that are coming to Epcot were paused while the parks initially re-opened. Some of the projects that are further along will continue to completion like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (opening October 1, 2021), while others will take longer to reach their completion or may be re-shuffled into Disney’s plans. For example, the Mary Poppins experience in the United Kingdom has been paused while focus is put on attractions and experiences already in motion.
8. Strolling the Promenade While Eating & Drinking Is Back!
Slowly but surely we’re seeing a more relaxed approach to Disney’s previous COVID-19 guidelines. You can now remove your mask when outdoors at Walt Disney World. Masks are currently required indoors only or while in an attraction queue. The great news about that is you can now stroll the promenade around the World Showcase… eating and drinking as you please!
9. No Concert Series
No concert series are currently available, however, given the reduced capacity of the parks, as well as restrictions of crowds being able to congregate, Disney offers various entertainment options at Epcot throughout the festival.
10. Must Have a Disney Park Pass
Last but not least, you’ll want to ensure you have a Disney Park Pass for the select day you hope to visit. If you’re looking for EPCOT to be the first park you visit for the day, you’ll need a park pass to enter. Once park hopping begins after 2pm, you can look via the MyDisneyExperience App for availability to hop to the next park.
We’ve heard it said that a bad day at Disney beats a good day anywhere else and we are confident that is true. Even with these restrictions, Disney has always championed the guest experience and will constantly be innovating how guests can enjoy their time at Epcot until things can return to normal!