Our Guide to Epcot For Beginners is an essential guide for first-time visitors & experienced travelers to Walt Disney World. Our Epcot Guide is full of hints & tips to plan your day. Our Guide to Epcot has been updated for 2020 with the latest information. A lot is happening at Epcot with a number of closures, new attractions planned and renovations occurring throughout the park.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to Epcot
Our Guide To Epcot For Beginners is a comprehensive guide full of helpful tips and tricks. The guide forms part of our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners.
- Epcot The Basics including the history of the park. Plus just why is it called Epcot?
- Epcot the Future Epcot is currently undergoing massive changes. Learn all about what you can expect over the next few years and the big new attractions coming in 2020.
- Planning Your Visit to Epcot All the essential knowledge including FastPass+, Extra Magic Hours & Rider Switch.
- Useful Information when visiting Epcot If you have a question about Epcot you will probably find the answer here.
- Epcot Tips to Have a Great Vacation Our very bet Epcot Tips & Tricks.
- Future World everything you need to know about the Epcot pavilions celebrating technical and scientific achievements
- World Showcase all the details on the Epcot permanent world fair
- Dining at Epcot Epcot is the
centerof Walt Disney World dining…find out why.
- Seasonal Festivals at Epcot all about the yearly Epcot Festivals
- Epcot News & Rumors Find out the latest information about Epcot.
Epcot The Basics
To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome.
Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.
May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may itE. Wardon Walker, October 24, 1982
instilla new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.
Epcot opened on October 1st, 1982 and was the 2nd park to open at Walt Disney World. The park covers 300 acres and is more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom.
Epcot was known as EPCOT Center until 1994 but is now commonly known as just Epcot. The park is represented by Spaceship Earth, a giant sphere that also serves as an attraction of the same name.
Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement and is currently split into two sections: Future World & World Showcase. Future World features pavilions celebrating technical and scientific achievements. The World Showcase is a permanent world fair containing 11 pavilions, each representing a country.
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 original vision can be seen by riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom.
Like all the Disney Theme Parks Epcot has many interesting facts & statistics, e.g. did you know that more than 30 tons of fruits and vegetables are grown at The Land Pavilion each year & are served in Walt Disney World restaurants?
We have created a selection of our favorite Epcot Facts which you can use to impress your friends.
Disney World is in the middle of a significant transformation of Hollywood Studios. Recently the Animal Kingdom expanded with Pandora: World of Avatar. Before that was the major expansion of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.
A refresh of Epcot had been rumored for several years and was confirmed at D23 in 2017. However, nobody expected the level of transformation that has since been announced. Further big announcements were made at D23 in 2019 and included a new Mary Poppins attraction.
The big events in 2020 at Epcot will be the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the new nighttime show “HarmonioUS”. However, there also several smaller attractions which have already opened in 2020.
2021 will be Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary and we can expect, the new thrilling coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to open.
Perhaps the most surprising news at D23 is that Future World will no longer be part of Epcot. Instead, we will have 3 neighborhoods in addition to World Showcase:
- World Celebration will offer new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them.
- World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world. It will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions. It is interesting Disney has stated this as there were rumors both The Land and The Seas would close.
- World Discovery contains stories about science, technology, and intergalactic adventure come to life.
Unfortunately, it will be impossible to avoid construction when these significant changes are made to Epcot, and a large amount of the infrastructure in Future World has already been removed. However, we think it would be a mistake to skip Epcot in 2020.
If you are visiting Epcot make sure you visit Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience at the Odyssey Pavilion to learn more about what is coming to the park.
Coming to Epcot in 2020
New shows have already opened at the Land, Canada, and France Pavilions, but there will be several big new attractions to come later in 2020.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a new Ratatouille Attraction similar to that opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in 2014. The attraction will be located in the France Pavilion with the show building being placed between Morocco and France Pavilion. The entrance for the attraction will be on the International Gateway side of the France Pavilion. An opening date of Summer 2020 has been confirmed.
Also opening in Summer 2020 in the France pavilion is the new restaurant La Crêperie de Paris. The venue will have both table- and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.
HarmonioUS will replace the temporary Epcot Forever as Epcot’s big nighttime spectacular. Disney is promising us that HarmonioUS will be the biggest show they have ever produced. The show will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
Planning Your Visit to Epcot
To experience Epcot, you should spend time planning your visit. While there have been some attraction closures in Epcot in recent times, it remains a massive park. The majority of guests will still need two days to experience the full park.
As a minimum, you should plan a day for each of Future World & World Showcase. If you have less time, you should consider carefully what are your must-do attractions.
There are key booking windows to secure dining reservations and make ride reservations at Epcot. In this section, we will guide you through all the Essential Epcot knowledge you require to enjoy your vacation.
Epcot Park Hours
Park hours usually get published about 6 months in advance. Unlike the other parks, Epcot opening time rarely alters after initial announcements. Click the link to get all the latest Walt Disney World Park Hours.
Refurbishments & Closures at Epcot
Walt Disney World is constantly changing, and it almost inevitable there will be some refurbishments & closures whenever you visit. This handy guide has all the current renovations and closures. Remember to check the My Disney Experience App for all the latest information.
FastPass+ at Epcot
FastPass+ is Disney’s attraction reservation system & allows you to book attractions in advance of your visit. It is essential you learn about the basics of FastPass+ before your visit. Failing to make FastPass+ reservations will mean longer lines and completing fewer attractions.
Before you arrive at Epcot, you can book 3 FastPass+ reservations. Epcot attractions are tiered when booking FastPass. You can book 1 attraction from Group A ride & 2 from Group B.
In Epcot Soarin, Test Track, Epcot Forever & Frozen Ever After are all in group A. All other attractions are in Group B. Expect Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to be added to Group A.
We think Epcot is one park where you need to consider your FastPass Strategy carefully. We have created an Epcot Fastpass Strategy which has tips & hints to help plan your day.
Single Rider Line at Epcot
Struggling to get a Fastpass for all your top attractions?
Test Track has a single rider line that can cut your wait if you are happy to ride on your own. Read our Guide to the Single Rider Line to find out more.
Are you big enough to ride?
Don’t create a strategy that includes all family members riding to realize too late; not all of you can. Many of the Walt Disney World attractions do carry restrictions & are enforced rigidly. At Epcot these are:
- Mission Space Orange at least 44 inches tall to ride
- Mission Space Green at least 40 inches to ride
- Test Track at least 40 inches tall to ride
- Soarin at least 40 inches tall to ride
However, if the kids are too small to ride, it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child. To find out more visit our Guide to Rider Switch.
Extra Magic Hours at Epcot
Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels & select non-Disney owned resorts can enjoy extra time in Epcot on select days. Extra Magic Hours occur either before parks open or after they close to regular guests.
If it sounds too good to be true, remember, there are 30000 hotel rooms in Walt Disney World, so that is a lot of people who can attend each day. We have created a Guide to Extra Magic Hours so you can learn more.
What about the crowds at Epcot?
At the weekend during festivals, Epcot can attract large crowds of locals. However, no matter how busy Epcot is you can still have fantastic fun & even find the odd quiet spot.
We have created a Guide to Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World which will help you beat the crowds at Epcot.
Banned at Epcot
Epcot has various rules you must follow. Click the link to find out more about what is Banned at Epcot.
Meeting Characters at 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 also plenty of characters throughout the park.
Epcot is also used as a training ground for new actors, and you will occasionally spot some rare characters at Epcot making unscheduled visits.
Characters that can only be met at Epcot include Mulan, Anna & Elsa. Our Guide To Finding Characters at Walt Disney World has plenty of helpful hints.
Epcot character locations have regularly been moving during the park expansions, and the popular Character Spot is no longer open. Make sure you have access to the My Disney Experience App to find where all the characters are.
Useful Information when visiting Epcot
Sometimes it is difficult to find the answers to all your questions before your visit to Epcot. We have grouped together a collection of the most common questions for Epcot in a new section on Modern Life is Good.
If you have a specific Epcot question the links will take you straight to the advice:
- Disabilities at Epcot
- Guest Relations at Epcot
- Available to hire at Epcot
- Accessing the Internet
- Lost & found at Epcot
- Smoking at Epcot
- Charging mobile phones at Epcot
- Payment for good at Epcot
- Epcot Baby Care Centers
- Visiting Epcot when pregnant
- Locker hire
- Epcot tours
- Translation services at Epcot
In addition, you might find our Walt Disney World Useful Information Guide has the answer if it isn’t here.
However, please note that Epcot is undergoing massive changes, and the location of services may be subject to change. Always check the My Disney Experience App for the latest information.
Epcot Tips to Have a Great Vacation
Anybody who has ever visited Epcot will have a list of tips for a future visit. Here is a selection of ours which we have learned from previous visits.
- Here are our Epcot Top Tips & Tricks
- If time is tight these are attractions at Epcot we would consider skipping.
- Here is a list of mistakes we have made when visiting Epcot.
- We recently considered what We Love & what We Hate at Epcot
Future World features pavilions celebrating technical and scientific achievements. There is currently significant construction work happening at Future World as part of the redevelopment of Epcot. Eventually, Future World will be split into 3 new neighborhoods.
To facilitate the construction, there have been closures of several attractions, and temporary relocations of other services. However, there is still plenty to do in Future World, and most guests will still require a full day to fully explore the area.
Visit our Guide to Coming Soon at Epcot to learn more about the changes.
The current pavilions in Future World are:
Spaceship Earth is one of the most recognizable structures in any theme park. Inside is a 15-minute ride that shows the advancement of human communication. There is a post-ride exhibit called Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future.
It has recently been confirmed that Spaceship Earth was to undergo a transformation. During D23 it was announced that “New narration and an entirely new musical score will focus on the moments and ideas that define the story of humanity.” It has been rumored that Spaceship Earth will close for 2 years for these renovations, but this has not been confirmed.
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.
Test Track 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 which you should consider using to save time. After the ride, there is an interactive area for guests to enjoy including making an advertisement for your new vehicle.
Test Track does close whenever there is inclement weather. In our opinion, you should try and book your FastPass for the morning to avoid afternoon storms.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Riding Clamobiles guests take an underwater trip in The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The ride includes views of a massive aquarium which you can explore further after the ride.
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.
There are 3 attractions inside The Land :
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.
A new film recently opened at Epcot’s Harvest Theater in The Land Pavilion. The theater was previously home to the Circle of Life. The new film is called Awesome Planet and was partly created by Industrial Light & Magic. The film explores the spectacular beauty, diversity and dynamic story of Earth.
Living with the Land is a narrated boat ride in which you will visit various greenhouses and learn about future agriculture innovations. Unfortunately, many of these future innovations in agriculture have been getting highlighted for over 20 years. Presumably, the future should be here by now or it just isn’t happening. Perhaps many of these innovations are the agriculture equivalent of the Sinclair C5? Living with the Land will not appeal to many children and is rumored for a long overdue update.
This is a simulator ride that is meant to replicate what an astronaut might feel in space. The ride has recently 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. I have not found the new version any more enjoyable.
A new Space Themed restaurant, Space 220, is getting built adjacent to the attraction. The restaurant was due to open in late 2019 but has now been pushed back several times. Hopefully, it will be better than the ride!
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 when younger.
ImageWorks: The What-If Labs is an interactive area you can explore after the ride. The labs are an area most adults will happily skip but kids do enjoy. Ralph and Vanellope meet in this area, and Joy has recently joined them.
The Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival is held in the former Captain EO & Honey I Shrunk the Audience Theatre. While these 3D films are pretty good they can be seen elsewhere. Is this a really
The Epcot Experience has recently opened in the Odyssey Pavilion. The Epcot Experience allows guests to preview all the upcoming attractions at Epcot.
World Showcase is a permanent world fair containing 11 pavilions each representing a country. The pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon where the new nightly Epcot Forever takes place.
The pavilions contain architecture, attractions, shops, and restaurants you would typically find in that country. Cast Members are usually citizens of the respective countries.
Theoretically, there is space for a further nine pavilions at World Showcase. There are rumors that new pavilions might be added as part of the Epcot Renovations. The most heavily rumored new pavilion is Brazil, but no announcements were made at D23.
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, by boat, and the Disney Skyliner. It is likely once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens this will become a more popular route to enter the park.
The long-running Illuminations: Reflections of Earth ended in September 2019. Epcot Forever is the replacement show for IllumiNations and opened on October 1, 2019. Epcot Forever features classic Epcot tunes with fireworks, music, lighting, lasers, and special effects kites.
However, Epcot Forever is only an interim show before the opening of “HarmonioUS” in 2020. No opening date has been announced for the new show.
The Mexico pavilion includes the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros which is a “Small World type ride” featuring Donald Duck. There are rumors that this attraction might be updated with a new Coco theme.
The majority of the pavilion is located inside the impressive pyramid. The central indoor area of the pyramid is themed as an outdoor twilight-lit Mexican village and marketplace.
The Norway Pavilion is the most recent nation to be added to World Showcase in 1988. The outside of the pavilion is a reproduction of Oslo’s Akershus Fortress.
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.
Norway is also the only place at Walt Disney World where you can meet Anna & Elsa.
You enter this pavilion through a large triple-arched gate. An impressive replication of the Temple of Heaven is the dominant feature. China includes “Reflections of China” a Circle-Vision 360° movie exploring China’s history.
A new film has been announced for the pavilion. “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across the country, filmed and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format. We expect the new film to open during 2020.
The Outpost isn’t an official Epcot pavilion but has been around since 1983. The original Epcot plans highlighted a future Equatorial Africa Pavilion in this area, but it was never developed.
The Outpost contains some African themed shopping and refreshment stops.
Germany is designed to look like a German town but with architecture from various regions. When the pavilion was initially designed Unification of Germany seemed a remote possibility.
Many small shops sell traditional German goods. There is an impressive Model Village on the exit of the pavilion towards Italy.
Italy features a plaza surrounded by a collection of buildings inspired by hallmarks of Italian architecture. The centerpiece is the superb reproduction of St Mark’s Campanile which is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
The pavilion includes several shops that sell costly gifts including Armani products, fine crystal, wines & porcelain.
The American Adventure
The United States pavilion is actually called The American Adventure. The highlight is an audio-animatronic show detailing American history. Overall there is little to see in this pavilion but the show is rather good, although perhaps a bit too patriotic!
Japan is made up of buildings surrounding a courtyard. The entrance to the courtyard features a 5-story Japanese Pagoda. Several Japanese gardens and pools decorate the pavilion. In many of the pools, you will find colorful Koi Fish.
It is home to the only remaining Mitsukoshi Department Store in the United States.
You can’t haggle in Morocco, or at least I don’t think you can. Otherwise, this pavilion is laid out to look like a traditional Moroccan market. It is one of my favorite pavilions in the World Showcase.
There are six shops in the pavilion, which you access through the various alleyways, selling gifts including leather, carpet & pottery.
France is themed to look like a Parisienne neighborhood pre World War 1. A replica of the Eiffel Tower is the highlight of the pavilion. The Eiffel Tower was reconstructed at 1/10 scale of the original and stretches 103 feet into the air. Imagineers used forced perspective to make it look bigger than it is. There are plenty of shopping and dining opportunities in this pavilion.
A panoramic film titled Impressions de France can be viewed in the pavilion which has been recently upgraded to 4k. Running in tandem in the same theater is a new Beauty & the Beast Sing-Along.
There are going to be further big changes at the France Pavilion during 2020:
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open in Summer 2020.
- La Crêperie de Paris is a new restaurant also scheduled to open in the summer.
The United Kingdom is designed to look like a traditional English village, which probably never really ever existed. There are some interesting gardens and several shops in the pavilion. In addition, there is usually some live bands entertaining guests. However, there is little to do in this pavilion apart from
A future Mary Poppins attraction has been confirmed to be opening in the United Kingdom.
The Canada pavilion is designed to remind guests of the Canadian outdoors. The landscaping is outstanding and includes a canyon, a waterfall, gardens and totem poles.
Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 is a new film that debuted in January 2020. The film features narration by Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.
Dining & Drinking at Epcot
If you are a foodie then Epcot is probably the park for you!
Epcot has the most extensive selection of dining options at Walt Disney World. From snack carts to signature dining, there is a unique dining experience that will suit any budget
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 various Epcot Festivals, there are additional counters serving different specialty treats.
Unlike the Magic Kingdom, where alcohol is still limited, Epcot has many locations serving specialty drinks. Drinking Around the World is a popular way many adults enjoy World Showcase.
The following are the current table service restaurants in Epcot:
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Norway Dining with various Princesses read our review
- Biergarten Restaurant German buffet and dinner show. Watch our video review.
- Chefs de France Good quality French cuisine read our review
- Coral Reef Restaurant Located at the Seas in Future World. Guests dine whilst watching a large aquarium. We have found Coral Reef a mixed experience in the past.
- La Hacienda de San Angel Mexican Read our review.
- Le Cellier Steakhouse Canadian Signature Steakhouse which we visited for a birthday celebration.
- Monsieur Paul Upmarket French Dining
- Nine Dragons Restaurant Chinese food.
- Restaurant Marrakesh Moroccan
- Rose & Crown Dining Room British with a very odd sounding menu. read our review.
- San Angel Inn Restaurante Mexican
- Spice Road Table Mediterranean. Read our review.
- Takumi-Tei is a new signature dining location in the Japan pavilion.
- Teppan Edo Japanese Hibachi watch chefs perform tricks as they prepare your food. Read our review.
- The Garden Grill All you can eat with Chip & Dale in the Land pavilion. Read our Guide to Walt Disney World Character Meals.
- Tokyo Dining Sushi
- Tutto Italia Ristorante Italian serving pasta & meat. I really liked Tutto Italia, but Mrs. Modernlifeisgood did not!
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria Italian Pizza. Unbelievably does not serve gluten-free pizza.
In addition, the delayed Space 220 is to open in 2020.
Epcot’s restaurants do fill up and standby lines, if they exist, can be very long. Obtaining an Advanced Dining Reservation is highly recommended. The Disney Dining Plan is widely accepted in Epcot and all venues cater to food allergies.
Our Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World has further information.
Seasonal Festivals at Epcot
Perhaps, one of the very best things about visiting Epcot is the annual festivals. No visit to Epcot is the same, and throughout the year, the park develops a temporary new look for the yearly festivals. Increasingly there are very few weeks which do not hold a festival at Epcot.
There are currently 4 annual festivals and each offers unique entertainment, food & drink.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is an annual celebration of food and drinks from around the world. In 2019 the festival was held between August 29 – November 23.
The Food & Wine Festival is one of the annual highlights at Walt Disney World and draws increasingly big crowds, especially at the weekend.
Located throughout the World Showcase there are over 30 Global Marketplaces serving specialty Drink and Food. Guests with the Disney Dining Plan can taste many of the dishes by using snack credits.
There are also appearances by celebrity chefs, seminars and culinary demonstrations. Some of these experiences carry an additional fee.
Eat to the Beat is a series of free concerts held nightly throughout the Food & Wine Festival. Acts who appeared in 2020 included Billy Ocean, Sheena Easton, and Starship.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
The final celebration of the Epcot year features the holiday traditions of the 11 World Showcase nations. Live musical productions plus seasonal food & drink make this a not to miss event. The 2019 festival was held between November 29 – December 30.
Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of Christmas in the Candlelight Processional. The narrator is accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and massed choir.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts starts the Epcot year celebrating food, art & entertainment. The festival is the newest of the Epcot Festivals, and 2020 was its 4th year. The festival returned in 2020 and was held between January 17 – February 24.
Festival highlights in 2020 included:
- Food studios celebrating the culinary arts.
- The popular Disney on Broadway Concert Series.
- International musical and variety acts.
- Performing artists including acrobats.
- Workshops led by professionals will teach different artistic techniques.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
Held annually between March & May is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Dates for 2020 are March 04 – June 01 and highlights will include:
- Outdoor kitchens encircling World Showcase offering exciting food choices plus accompanying drinks.
- The popular Garden Rocks Concert Series
- Themed gardens and wildlife habitats including a butterfly house.
- Disney themed topiaries throughout the park. Annual highlights include Belle in France along with Beast, Snow White in Germany with the Seven Dwarfs, and Anna and Elsa in Norway.
You can read more about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in our review.
Epcot News & Rumors
A lot is happening at Epcot over the next few years. We will be updating this guide regularly with all the latest information. However, to make sure you have the newest information keep checking our monthly Walt Disney World News & Rumors Updates, and our Coming Soon to Epcot section.
Our Guide to Epcot for Beginners forms part of our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. The guide is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation. The information will be useful for both first-time and repeat visitors to Walt Disney World.
In addition, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which will help with your vacation planning.