Epcot For Beginners

Epcot opened on October 1st 1982. It covers 300 acres and is more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom. It was the 2nd Theme Park to open in Walt Disney World.

The park is represented by Spaceship Earth, a giant sphere that also serves as an attraction of the same name.

Spaceship Earth Epcot for beginners
Spaceship Earth Epcot

Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement and is split into 2 sections Future World & World Showcase. It is often described as a permanent World Fair.

Epcot was known as EPCOT Center until 1994 but is now commonly known as just Epcot.

This article was last updated January 2018 and is part of a series forming a Beginners Guide to Walt Disney World. It is still in development and will be expanded further over coming months. Please keep checking back.

Why is it called Epcot?

Epcot is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It was intended to be a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney to be built in Florida.

Following Walt’s death his vision for Epcot was not developed but it became the name of the 2nd theme park. A model of Walt’s vision can be seen by riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in Magic Kingdom.

Epcot Facts

Like all the Disney Theme Parks Epcot has many interesting facts & statistics. Read some of our favourite facts here.

Epcot Updates

Disney World is in the middle of a major transformation of Hollywood Studios. Recently Animal Kingdom expanded with  Pandora: World of Avatar. Prior to that was the major expansion of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

A refresh of Epcot has been rumoured for a number of years and was confirmed at D23. Here is what we know about the Epcot Updates

It has long been rumoured that Epcot would be next for a major update. These plans were confirmed at D23. You can read more about the planned updates here.

Planning Your Visit

To experience Epcot you should spend time planning your experience. Whilst there has been some attraction closures in Epcot in recent times it remains a massive park. The majority of guests will need 2 or even 3 days to experience the full park. As a minimum you should plan a day for each of Future World & World Showcase.

Not having a plan could mean you miss your top attractions.

Epcot for Beginners

It is important you understand about Fastpass+ before you visit and the key booking windows. Have a look at our guide to aid with the planning.

In addition Epcot attractions are tiered when booking Fastpass. You can book 1 attraction from Group A ride & 2 Group B.

In Epcot Soarin, Test Track, Illuminations & Frozen Ever After are all in group A.

Once you have used your first selections you can always try for another fastpass. Alternatively the options are the standby line or returning on another day. For Test Track you have the extra option of the Single Rider line.

Want to learn more about Fastpass+ Advanced Dining Reservations, My Disney Experience, MagicBand or MyMagic+? Read our handy guide.

We have also created a selection of Top Tips to get the most out of your day at Epcot.

Epcot for Beginners

If time is limited you might want to consider skipping these attractions.

Our Top 5 Attractions to Skip at EPCOT if you are limited with time when visiting Walt Disney World including our number one Mission Space.

Future World

Future World

Future World consists currently of 7 pavilions celebrating technical and scientific achievements. Don’t think that just 7 pavilions means you will complete in half a day. Many of the pavilions are lengthy and Future World does take a full day to explore fully.

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However; Future World will be the site for the majority of the future expansions at EPCOT. Attractions such as Innoventions have been cut significantly and Universe of Energy has recently closed.

The current pavilions in Future World are:

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is one of the most recognisable structures in any theme park. Inside is a 15 minute ride that shows the advancement of human communication.  It is a dark ride and is built on an omnimover system. There is a post ride exhibit called Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future.

Inside Spaceship Earth

Test Track

Guests get to design their own car and then test it on a simulated test track. This is the fastest ride in Walt Disney World reaching speeds of almost 65 miles per hour. The ride is great fun and one of the most popular in the park. The ride is one of the few in Disney World that has a Single Rider line consider using this to save time. After the ride there is an interactive area for guests to enjoy.

Test Track EPCOT
Test Track EPCOT

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Riding a Clamobile guests take an underwater trip with Nemo & Friends. The ride includes views of a massive aquarium which you can explore further after the ride.

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Turtle Talk with Crush is an interactive animated show where guests can ask questions to Crush from Finding Nemo. I find the animation of Turtle Talk very impressive and the entire family seem to enjoy the show.

The Land

The Land featuring Soarin around the World EPCOT
The Land

There are 3 main attraction in this pavilion.

Soarin’ Around the World is a hand gliding motion simulator that takes guests over various regions of the world. The video for Soarin was recently updated and an extra cinema was added due to the historical lengthy waits.

Living with the Land is a narrated boat ride in which you will visit various greenhouses and learn about agriculture innovations. Living with the Land will not appeal to many children and is rumoured for a potential update.

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Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable starring the cast of the Lion King. Even the biggest Lion King fans might find this video a little slow.

Innoventions

This used to consist of a huge collection of hands-on walk-through exhibits. However; the majority of attractions are now closed with no announcement yet of future plans.

The Character SPOT still remains and you can meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

Minnie Mouse at Epcot Character Spot

Guests can also meet starts from Inside Out & Baymax from Big Hero 6. Characters do change from time to time…make sure you check your park guide or app.

Baymax Epcot

Mission Space

This is a simulator ride that is meant to replicate what an astronaut might feel in space. The ride has just been updated .

I don’t get Mission Space…It just feels a bit odd and not very enjoyable. A ride I am happy to give a miss if time is tight.

A new Space Themed restaurant is getting built adjacent to the attraction. Hopefully it will be better than the ride!

EPCOT
Mission Space Epcot

Imagination

Imagination pavilion EPCOT featuring Figment Journey into Imagination
Imagination Pavilion

Figment the mischievous cartoon dragon stars in Journey into Imagination with Figment. This is a fun dark ride experience. However; my children have both found Figment to be a little scary. ImageWorks: The What-If Labs is an interactive area you can explore after the ride.

Imageworks

The former Honey I Shrunk the Audience Theatre shows Pixar shorts if you want a break from the summer sun.

World Showcase

World Showcase is a permanent world fair containing 11 pavilions each representing a country. The pavilions contain architecture, attractions, shops and restaurants you would find in that country. Staff usually are citizens of their respective countries.

The pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon where the nightly Illuminations take place. There are 11 pavilions and theoretically space for a further 9.

Epcot’s International Gateway, between the United Kingdom & France provides a less hectic additional entrance and exit for the park. It can be reached from the Epcot Resorts and by boat from Hollywood Studios.

Friendship Boat to Epcot

World Showcase could be considered the centre for Disney World Boutique Shopping and International Dining.

Please note this remains work in progress and additional information on each pavilion will be added over coming months.

  • Mexico including the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros which is a “Small World type ride” featuring Donald Duck.
Mexico Epcot

The central indoor area of the pavilion is themed as an outdoor twilight-lit Mexican village and marketplace

Meeting Donald Duck in EPCOT Mexico pavilion
Donald in Mexico
  • Norway includes the new Frozen Ever After dark ride. This ride is exceptionally popular make sure you order a Fastpass prior to arrival or expect long waits.
Frozen Ever After Norway EPCOT
Frozen Ever After

The Norway Pavilion is the most recent nation to be added to World Showcase in 1988.

Norway Epcot
  • China which includes “Reflections of China” a Circle-Vision 360° movie exploring China’s history. A new film is planned for the pavilion.
China EPCOT
China Epcot
China Epcot
  • Germany is designed to look like a German town there are numerous small shops selling traditional goods.
Germany EPCOT
Germany Epcot
  • Italy features a plaza surrounded by a collection of buildings inspired by hallmarks of Italian architecture.
Italy EPCOT World Showcase
Italy Epcot
  • United States The American Adventure is the pavilion’s actual name and features an audio-animatronic show detailing American history. Overall there is little to see in this pavilion.
American Adventure Epcot
  • Japan is made up of buildings surrounding a courtyard. The entrance to the courtyard features a Japanese Pagoda. There are several Japanese gardens and pools decorating the pavilion.
Japan EPCOT
EPCOT Japan
Japan Epcot
  • Morocco designed to look like a Moroccan market.
Morocco EPCOT
World Showcase Epcot
Morocco Epcot
  • France is themed to look like a Parisienne neighbourhood. A panoramic film titled Impressions de France can be viewed.
France EPCOT
France EPCOT

 

Having family Fun in France EPCOT
Fun in France
  • United Kingdom designed to look like a traditional English village.
United Kingdom Epcot
  • Canada designed to remind guests of the Canadian outdoors. O’Canada a 360 degree film can be viewed featuring Canadian landmarks.
Canada EPCOT
Canada Epcot
Epcot Canada

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth takes place every night prior to park closure. It features fireworks, lasers and fountains over the World Showcase Lagoon. This is a popular attraction and when the park is full you may need to reserve a spot early.

Dining & Drinking at Epcot

If you are a foodie then Epcot is probably the park for you!

There are multiple Quick Service Locations & Food Carts throughout EPCOT. Those located in World Showcase serve traditional food from the country you are at. During the Food & Wine Festival there are additional counters serving various speciality treats from around the world.

Unlike Magic Kingdom where alcohol is still limited, Epcot has many locations serving speciality drinks. Drinking around the World is a popular way many adults seem to enjoy World Showcase.

The following are the current table service restaurants in Epcot:

Please note this remains work in progress and additional information on each pavilion will be added shortly.

  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Norway Dining with various Princesses read our review
Belle Princess Storybook Dining EPCOT NOrway
Belle Princess Storybook Dining
  • Biergarten Restaurant German buffet and dinner show.

  • Chefs de France French cuisine
  • Coral Reef Restaurant At the Seas in Future World dine whilst watching large aquarium.
Aquarium in Coral Reef
  • La Hacienda de San Angel Mexican
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse Canadian Signature Steakhouse.
Le Cellier EPCOT Canada
Le Cellier
  • Monsieur Paul Upmarket French Dining
  • Nine Dragons Restaurant Chinese
  • Restaurant Marrakesh Moroccan
  • Rose & Crown Dining Room British with very odd menus. Yorkshire Pudding & Fish? Really!
  • San Angel Inn Restaurante Mexican
  • Spice Road Table Mediterranean
  • Teppan Edo Japanese Hibachi watch chefs perform tricks as they prepare your food.

  • The Garden Grill All you can eat with Chip & Dale in the Land pavilion.
  • Tokyo Dining Sushi
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante Italian
Tutto Italia Italy
Tutto Italia
  • Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria Italian Pizza

EPCOT Festivals

In recent years EPCOT have developed several festivals which have become key parts of the annual celebrations.

Food & Wine Festival

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a celebration of food and drink from around the world. Held annually from mid-September through mid-November. It draws increasingly big crowds especially at the weekend.

EPCOT for Beginners
EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

Located throughout the World Showcase there are Specialty Booths serving Drink and Food. Guests with the Disney Dining Plan can taste many of the dishes by using snack credits.

Eat to the Beat is a series of concerts held nightly throughout the Food & Wine Festival.

Eat to the Beat at the Food and Wine Festival
Wilson Phillips

Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

Held annually between March & May is the International Flower & Garden Festival. Held nightly is the Garden Rocks concert series.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts

Now in its 2nd year this festival starts the Epcot year celebrating food, art & entertainment.

Characters EPCOT

EPCOT is one of the best parks at Walt Disney World for meeting characters.

Character meals are available in the Land(Chip & Dale, Mickey) and Norway(Princesses) but there are plenty of characters throughout the park.

It is also used as a training ground for new actors and you will occasionally spot some of the rarer characters at EPCOT making unscheduled visits.

Regular characters who can be met in EPCOT include:

  • Mickey & Minnie at the Character Spot
  • Aladdin & Jasmine at Morocco
Orlando Planning
Aladdin & Jasmin
  • Anna & Elsa in Norway the only place you can meet them!
Frozen Anna and Elsa EPCOT Norway
Anna in Norway
  • Mulan in China her only regular meet.
  • Snow White Germany.
  • Alice in the United Kingdom
Meeting Alice in Wonderland Walt Disney World
Meeting Alice

Make sure you check the park guide or My Disney Experience App to check where characters are.

Read More

Learn more about Walt Disney World in our Beginners Guide.

Guide to Walt Disney World

 

This article is part of a series forming a Beginners Guide to Walt Disney World. It is still in development and will be expanded over coming months. Please keep checking back.

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