By Melissa Fegely
At twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot is a sizable park filled with limitless opportunities for adventure. Once known as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Epcot is organized in two separate sections. Future World is themed to highlight new ideas and innovations in technology, communications, and the natural sciences. Visit Future World from park opening until 7 pm, and a few attractions remain open until 9:00 pm. World Showcase, the other wonderful half of Epcot, highlights the culture, cuisine, and architecture of 11 distinct countries situated around the picturesque lagoon. Start strolling through the World Showcase at 11 am, with a few places open earlier for breakfast. A quick glance at an Epcot map show a lot of exciting attractions, restaurants, and characters to squeeze in. If you’re visiting during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival or the International Food and Wine Festival, there’s even more excitement awaiting you. Start off your day at Epcot with a great plan and a good pair of shoes, and the memories will be priceless. Here are a few solid tips to get you started on your next visit to this place filled with creativity, wonder, beauty, and thrills.
1. The right time for Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship Earth interactively tells the history of communications inside the gigantic geodesic silver sphere. The line grows when the park first opens since it’s situated right at the entrance to the park. A smart idea is to save your FastPass+ and take a trip through time in the late afternoon when most guests are in other areas of Epcot or getting ready for dinner.
Who doesn’t want a picture with a favorite character or beautiful princess? The character meet-and-greets are scattered throughout the park, but lines form pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a few other options to get that great remembrance of your visit. Visit the Character Spot in Future World for an air-conditioned visit with favorite Disney friends like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto. If you want to meet a princess, consider dining at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Located in Norway, this table service restaurant lets you meet several of the popular princesses like Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, or Jasmine. A recent addition to Norway is the Royal Sommerhus. This is home to none other than Anna and Elsa from Frozen, who meet guests all day for photo opportunities.
3. Take it slow. Epcot is a deceptively big park.
Trying to cover the entire area in one day is doable, but not advisable. Consider taking two days to enjoy both Future World and the World Showcase areas. Another good plan of action is to take advantage of the Friendship boat shuttles. One boat transports guests from Canada to Morocco and back again, and the other takes guests from Germany to Mexico and back again.
4. Experience Test Track at night.
Hop on Test Track after the sun goes down and get ready for a thrilling ride. After you design your car and take it through the paces of the road test inside, it quickly accelerates and speeds out the doors to the open track. Racing around the track at night at over 60 miles per hour is definitely a more intense experience. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of how beautiful Epcot looks at night as your car zips around the curves.
5. Enjoy a meal in the World Showcase.
The pavilions of the World Showcase have amazing table service restaurants that reflect the cuisines from all over the world. If you have your mind set on eating at a particular restaurant, make sure you have an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). Many of the eateries are very popular and there may not be room for walk-up patrons. Another way to enjoy a nice meal here is to check out the counter service options. Each country represented has a counter service alternative that offers a comparable menu. I’ve had many great meals at these smaller eateries with a smaller bill too.
6. Plan a trip during an Epcot festival.
Consider planning a visit to Epcot in the spring or fall and experience the fabulous festivals. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival takes place during select weeks in the spring and delights guests with amazing character-themed topiaries, innovative gardening and flower displays, a butterfly house, food and drink kiosks around the World Showcase, and exclusive merchandise. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival draws crowds for several weeks in the fall to check out a global marketplace of mouthwatering food, tasty desserts, and creative drinks. Both festivals also include a lineup of popular musical groups that perform nightly in the America Gardens Theatre, and both events are not-to-miss.