Our Guide to EPCOT For Beginners is essential for first-time visitors and experienced travelers to Walt Disney World. A lot is happening at EPCOT, including renovations throughout the park and new or soon-to-open attractions. Remember, even if you have visited EPCOT, there are many changes to how you plan your vacation in 2023. Our Guide to EPCOT has been updated for 2023 with all the latest planning guidance.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to Epcot
A lot has changed recently at EPCOT. In addition to new attractions, many of our regular tips and tricks on planning your Walt Disney World Vacation are no longer valid. However, one thing that has not changed is the need to plan your time at EPCOT.
- Epcot The Basics, including the history of the park. Plus just, why is it called Epcot? Plus, what are the new changes happening to the park?
- Planning Your Visit to Epcot All the essential knowledge
- 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 best EPCOT Tips & Tricks.
- World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery everything you need to know about the Area that used to be called Future World
- 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. However, recently the spelling EPCOT seems to have returned. The park is represented by Spaceship Earth, a giant sphere that also serves as an attraction of the same name.
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.
After Walt’s death, his vision for Epcot was not developed but became the name of the 2nd theme park. A model of Walt’s original vision can be seen 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.
Transformation of Epcot
Before Walt Disney World’s closure, a multi-year Transformation of Epcot had started. Unfortunately, the ambitious plans were delayed, and several projects were postponed or downgraded. However, the transformation is continuing, and construction is happening throughout EPCOT. The majority of the transformation will be complete in late 2023.
As part of the development, Future World has been transformed into three new neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery. Throughout this area, considerable development is happening to achieve this vision.
Follow the link to learn more about the Transformation of Epcot.
Planning Your Visit to EPCOT
To experience EPCOT, you should spend time planning your visit. As a rule, I don’t think any park in Walt Disney World is a One-Day Park. However, EPCOT probably is the exception to the rule.
First-time visitors probably should spend two days at EPCOT, but you can manage to do most of the main attractions in one day. You won’t be able to explore the World Showcase fully but should manage to do most of the Big Attractions.
Traditional key booking windows at Walt Disney World, including how you make dining reservations, have changed in recent years. This section will guide you through all the Essential Epcot knowledge you require to enjoy your vacation.
EPCOT Park Hours
Park hours usually get published about six months in advance. Unlike the other parks, Epcot’s opening time rarely alters after initial announcements. Check My Disney Experience for the latest information.
EPCOT is undergoing massive change, and it is almost inevitable there will be some refurbishments and closures whenever you visit. Check My Disney Experience for the latest information.
Disney Park Pass Reservation System
Just turning up at EPCOT is no longer possible. A park reservation system is in place. Guests must present their park reservation and a valid park ticket to access their first park daily. Guests who do not have either will be refused entry, including if they have a dining reservation.
To learn more about the Disney Park Pass System, visit our dedicated Guide.
Park Hopper tickets allow guests to visit more than one park at Walt Disney World daily.
Guests still need to make a Disney Park Pass Reservation for their first park each day, and they must enter this park before trying to enter another. Guests can then enter a second park during Park Hopper Hours.
Visit our Guide to Park Hopping to learn more.
Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours.
Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours greatly benefit onsite guests; both are available at EPCOT.
Early Theme Park Entry is the replacement for Extra Magic Hours. All Walt Disney World Resort guests, and other select hotels, can gain 30-minute early entry to any theme park each day. However, you will need a Disney Park Pass.
Extended Evening Hours are only available for guests staying at Deluxe Resorts. Guests at one of these resorts can enjoy extended evening hours in EPCOT on select nights. A valid Disney Park Pass is also essential for guests taking advantage of Extended Evening Hours. However, guests may visit with a Park Hopper option as long as the park where they made their reservation has been visited earlier in the day.
Extended evening hours are typically held at EPCOT on Mondays.
Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.
Disney Genie+ is the paid replacement for FastPass+, but it isn’t cheap, costing up to $29 a day per person. Purchasing Disney Genie+ allows you to book reservations for the Lightning Lane at select attractions in EPCOT. The Lightning lane will enable you to join a shorter line than the regular standby line.
Some of the most popular attractions at EPCOT are unavailable on Disney Genie+. An individual fee of up to $25 is required to access the lightning lane for these attractions.
The list of rides has changed several times since the introduction of Individual Lightning Lanes, but currently, only one attraction in EPCOT attracts this fee:
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Visit our guide to learn more about Individual Lightning Lanes and Disney Genie+.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind does not have a regular standby line; instead, guests must request a place in the Virtual Queue via My Disney Experience.
Guests must have valid admission and a theme park reservation to join the virtual queue. There are two daily opportunities to request to join the virtual queue
- 7:00 AM (Guests do not need to be in the park when they join but must have a theme park reservation for EPCOT)
- 1:00 PM (Guests must be in EPCOT to join the virtual queue)
An additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue will be available at 6:00 PM during extended evening theme park hours.
You will be notified on your phone when it is your turn to board. Unfortunately, a Virtual Line reservation does not guarantee you can board.
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 alone. 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 and are enforced rigidly. At EPCOT, these are:
- Mission Space Orange at least 44″
- Mission Space Green at least 40″
- Test Track at least 40″
- Soarin at least 40″
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at least 42″.
If the kids are too small, you can use a rider switch to allow the rest of the party 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.
Park Wi-Fi and My Disney Experience.
Online access is essential when visiting Walt Disney World. Don’t even consider entering EPCOT in 2023 without access to Wi-Fi.
Having access to WiFi allows you to access My Disney Experience. My Disney Experience is a free online guide to Walt Disney World that allows guests to plan their vacations. Through this free service, you can:
- Keep track of your plans & reservations, including those of your family & friends.
- Make Disney Genie, Virtual Line, Dining, and Ticket Reservations
- Order in advance food at select Quick Service Locations.
- Access maps, wait times, showtimes, park hours, and essential information via the app.
- Check on all the latest resort changes, including any closed attractions.
Walt Disney World encourages all guests to have downloaded the latest version of My Disney Experience on their mobile devices before entering parks. Also, they recommend having location services and notifications enabled.
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 plenty of characters are also 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 will likely move again soon. Make sure you have access to the My Disney Experience App to find where all the characters are.
After your initial research, you will want to write down your vacation plans. Our Free Walt Disney World Planners are a great resource to help create a perfect EPCOT Plan.
Our Planners include new sections for the latest changes at Walt Disney World, including Disney Genie+ and Early Morning Magic. Our Free 2023 Walt Disney World Planners will ensure you miss nothing when visiting EPCOT.
We have redesigned these planners for 2023; make sure you download this free resource.
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.
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
World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature
This area was previously known as Future World and is the site of most current construction. The original expansion plans for EPCOT have been massively reduced, and the opening of Journey of Water and Communicore Hall later this year will signify the last of the currently planned changes.
Future World is now split into three lands:
- World Celebration offers new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them.
- World Discovery brings stories about science, technology, and intergalactic adventure to life.
- World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world.
World Celebration is the redesigned park’s entrance. The area will be completed in the Fall of 2023 and feature different gardens that change with the seasons. It will also be home to the new Communicore Plaza and Communicore Hall. Communicore Hall will be the new site to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. World Celebration will also host the park’s festivals. Finally, there will be a new area called Dreamers Point, an overlook featuring a statue of Walt Disney called “Walt the Dreamer.”
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. A post-ride exhibit is called Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future. Spaceship Earth was to undergo a transformation, but this transformation has been postponed.
Figment, the mischievous cartoon dragon, stars in Journey into Imagination with Figment. This is a fun dark ride experience. However, my children have 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 it. Joy and Vanellope currently meet in this area.
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
On Test Track guests get to design their own car and then test it on a simulated 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 attractions 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; it also closes whenever there is inclement weather. After the ride, there is an interactive area for guests to enjoy, including making an advertisement for your new vehicle.
Mission Space is a simulator ride that is meant to replicate what an astronaut might feel in space. I don’t get Mission Space…It just feels a bit odd and not very enjoyable. I am happy to give it a miss if the time is tight.
A new Space Themed restaurant, Space 220, has been built adjacent to the attraction. I’m pleased to say the restaurant is significantly better than the ride, and you should not miss it.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, in the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, is my favorite current attraction in Walt Disney World. It was initially slated to open in 2021 but eventually opened on May 27, 2022. The indoor coaster stars the Guardians of the Galaxy cast, including Rocket and Groot. The fast-spinning coaster has fantastic effects and a sensational random soundtrack. The ride is popular for a good reason. Don’t forget to book a Virtual Line Reservation or pay for an Individual Lightning Lane.
Guests ride Clamobiles and 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 seems to enjoy the show.
There are three attractions inside the Land Pavilion in the World Nature area.
Soarin’ Around the World is a hand gliding motion simulator that takes guests over various regions of the world. The attraction used to be one of EPCOT’s most popular but waits are usually fairly manageable on most days.
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 where you will visit various greenhouses and learn about future agriculture innovations. Unfortunately, many of these future agricultural innovations 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 agricultural equivalent of the Sinclair C5? Living with the Land will not appeal to many children and is rumored for a long overdue update.
Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana opens in Late 2023. This interactive outdoor trail offers a chance to play and interact with water as it travels from the sky to the oceans and back again.
World Showcase is a permanent world fair containing 11 pavilions, each representing a country. The pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon, where the nightly EPCOT Forever occurs. A new firework show is scheduled to open in late-2023.
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, but despite rumors, there has been no confirmation of additions to World Showcase.
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 also a great entrance if you want to be one of the first guests to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
The Mexico pavilion includes the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, a “Small World type ride” featuring Donald Duck. There had been 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 popular Frozen Ever After dark ride. This ride is exceptionally popular and waits can be long if you do not use Disney Genie+.
Norway is also the only place at Walt Disney World to 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 called “Wondrous China” had been announced, but it seems to have been canceled.
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 pavilion’s exit 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 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. The pavilion is currently in a state of change following financial difficulties for the previous operator.
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 a 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.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opened in Epcot on October 1st, 2021. The attraction is in 3D and uses a trackless ride system. During the ride, you shrink to the size of a rat and cause mayhem in Gustav’s kitchen.
The United Kingdom is designed to look like a traditional English village, which never existed. There are some interesting gardens and several shops in the pavilion. In addition, there are usually some live bands entertaining guests. However, there is little to do in this pavilion apart from relax.
A future Mary Poppins attraction was planned but has now been canceled.
The Canada pavilion is designed to remind guests of the Canadian outdoors. The outstanding landscaping includes a canyon, a waterfall, gardens, and totem poles.
Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 debuted in January 2020. The film features narration by Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.
Dining and 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, unique dining experiences will suit any budget.
There are multiple Quick Service Locations and Food Carts throughout Epcot. Those located in World Showcase serve traditional food from the country you are in. During the various EPCOT Festivals, there are additional counters serving different specialty treats.
Unlike the Magic Kingdom, where alcohol is limited, EPCOT serves specialty drinks in many locations. 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
- La Crêperie de Paris new Creperie in the France Pavilion. Read Our Review.
- Coral Reef Restaurant is Located at the Seas pavilion. 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(currently closed)
- Rose & Crown Dining Room British Pub Food read our review.
- San Angel Inn Restaurante Mexican
- Spice Road Table Mediterranean. Read our review. Now serves small plates.
- Takumi-Tei is a 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 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.
- Space 220 is EPCOT’s newest restaurant and arguably the most popular venue. It should not be missed.
Epcot’s restaurants fill up, and standby lines, if they exist, can be very long. Obtaining an Advanced Dining Reservation is highly recommended.
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 that do not hold a festival at Epcot.
There are four annual festivals, each offering unique entertainment, food, and drink. Festivals are returning to their previous form in 2023 but with extended dates.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is an annual celebration of food and drinks worldwide. 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 are over 30 Global Marketplaces serving specialty Drinks and Food. 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 appear regularly included Billy Ocean, Tiffany, 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.
Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of Christmas in the Candlelight Processional. A 50-piece orchestra and choir accompany the narrator.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts starts the Epcot year by celebrating food, art & entertainment. The festival is the newest of the Epcot Festivals, and previous highlights have 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 in the spring is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Highlights include:
- Outdoor kitchens encircling World Showcase offer 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, and we will update this guide regularly with all the latest information. However, to ensure you have the newest information, check our Walt Disney World News & Rumors section.
To learn more about Walt Disney World, visit our 2023 Guide to Walt Disney World.