A Twentysomething’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Epcot
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Walt Disney World is a truly magical place, but going as a twentysomething can be intimidating. Luckily for you, I’ve created a 4-part series to surviving Walt Disney World in your 20s. In this guide, I provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to make it through a day at Epcot.
Epcot opened in 1982 with the aim of celebrating the human experience, such as technological innovations and international cultures. Epcot was originally supposed to be an experimental community (which you can learn more about on the PeopleMover in Magic Kingdom). The community idea was scrapped, though, when Disney could not figure out how to maintain it.
Epcot is HUGE, spanning over 300 acres with a giant lake in the middle. The park is split into two sections: Future World (at the front of the park) and the World Showcase (around the lake). Epcot hosts a number of annual events, so try to plan your visit to correspond with these! The events are the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, and, my favorite, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
As Disney is always trying to remain current, Epcot is going through some renovations! Recently, Ellen’s Energy Adventure at World of Energy closed to make way for a Guardians of the Galaxy themed roller coaster. A Ratatouille ride is also in the works in the France section of the World Showcase.
In this section of this guide, I’ll outline all the rides in Epcot. Future World and World Showcase are totally different, as one is aimed at technology and the other aimed at culture. The majority of the rides in Epcot are currently located in Future World, but with expansions planned, that might change in the future!
Future World is a big loop that’s home to rides that focus on modern technology! The very first thing you’ll see when headed into the park is Spaceship Earth. This slow-moving ride is located inside of the giant golf ball looking structure at the park entrance. Spaceship Earth pays homage to the technological innovations that humans have relied on since our beginning.
Next is The Seas with Nemo & Friends, an indoor ride that takes you through Nemo’s Big Blue World. The Seas lets you out in the aquarium area, where you can take all the time you want to explore Disney’s recreation of our oceans.
After the Seas is the Land, which features two indoor rides. First is Living With the Land, a 20ish minute boat ride that takes you through some of Walt Disney World’s greenhouses and teaches you about sustainability. The second is one of the most popular rides in the park: Soarin’ Arorund the World. Soarin’ takes you up into the air for a simulated wind gliding experience. On your journey, you’ll see, smell, and feel like you’re actually in some of the most popular sites in the world.
Journey into the Imagination with Figment is an indoor (read “air-conditioned”) ride that begins with a trip through the five senses. Figment then comes along and hijacks the ride to showcase the importance of imagination! This line is rarely long, so don’t waste a Fastpass+ on it.
On the other side of the Future World circle are two rides that focus on transportation. First is Mission Space, which is basically one of those astronaut training modules that spins really fast while also showing you awesome space views. The other is Test Track, where the rider goes through the motions of being a crash test dummy. Get a Fastpass+ for Test Track if you can, as it tends to have one of the longest lines in the park!
There are currently only two rides in the World Showcase. The first is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, which is a boat ride located inside the Mexican Pavilion. This ride features festive music and singing birds, including Donald Duck.
Next is Frozen Ever After. Frozen is a log ride that takes visitors through Arendelle during the Official Summer Snow Day. This attraction is the same track as the Malestrom ride that once stood in the same location. You’ll likely get a little wet, so plan accordingly.
Epcot character meets are set apart from the other parks because characters are mostly out in the open in Epcot! You’ll be walking around World Showcase and then BAM there’s a character just chillin on the sidewalk. The open air character encounters tend to have much shorter lines than characters in buildings, which is great! As always, check the My Disney Experience app to find out when your faves will be making appearances.
Epcot is home to the most popular pair of sisters around: Anna and Elsa. You can find Anna and Elsa in their summer home in Norway. The sisters are indoors, so they are around all day and the line can get long. Anna and Elsa aren’t the only princesses in the World Showcase. Belle hangs out in France, Mulan in China, Jasmine in Morocco, and Snow White in Germany.
England is another popular character meeting spot. Alice typically hangs out in front of the tea shop at certain times of day. You can find Mary Poppins tucked away behind the shops in her carousel gear. Make sure you bring your own camera for Mary, as she doesn’t usually have a Photopass attendant with her.
The classic Disney bunch is scattered around Epcot. Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy are at the Character Spot in Future World. Daisy is at the Legacy Plaza West, which is also in Future World. Donald is decked out in his sombrero in the Mexican Pavilion and Pluto is at the Friendship Ambassador Gazebo in World Showcase.
Some Pixar friends call Epcot home! Baymax hangs out at Hiro’s Workshop and Joy and Sadness are at Headquarters. Hiro’s Workshop and Headquarters are both indoor meeting spots in Future World.
There are a variety of shows in Epcot! Shows range from live music to pop-up entertainment to films to stage shows. In all the times I have been to Epcot, I have never been able to catch all the shows in a single day. The My Disney Experience app lists showtimes.
There are currently 6 music-centered shows at Epcot. The most unique show, in my opinion, is Matsuriza. Matsuriza is a show in the Japan Pavilion that combines Taiko drums with dancing. It is a sight to see (and hear)! If you’re wanting to see a band, head to British Revolution or Rose and Crown. In Mexico, hear the Mariachi Cobre. America is home to the Voices of Liberty a-capella group. Finally, JAMMitors of Epcot, a percussion group, are in Future World.
Some “pop-up”, street-performer type shows are also around the World Showcase. Sergio, a master juggler, sets up shop in Italy and is fun for everyone to see! The Norway Vikings of Norway will try to recruit you for a journey. In China, the Jeweled Dragon Acrobatics wow viewers with stunts. Finally, the French Serveur Amusant acrobatic group stacks chairs, but in a cool way.
Epcot currently has 4 film presentations. The Pixar Short Film Festival showcases various Pixar shorts in Future World. Reflections of China features aerial shots of China in a panoramic theater. Impressions de France puts the spotlight on French culture, particularly the regions of the country where wines and cheeses are produced. Finally, O Canada is narrated by Martin Short and shows viewers the best our northern neighbors have to offer.
There are 3 “stage” shows. Turtle Talk with Crush lets visitors get up close and personal with the animated turtle in The Seas. If picked, guests can ask Crush questions! The American Adventure combines video, animatronics, and music to guide viewers through American History. The American Adventure show is led by historical figures, including Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, and Mark Twain. The newest show is Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live. I have not been able to see the Guardians show yet (it’s super new!), but I’ve heard that it’s a dance and sing-a-long show.
While World Showcase doesn’t have a ton of rides, it does have an abundance of delicious places to eat! There are some food options in Future World, but I will be ignoring all of them in this guide because none hold a candle to the options in World Showcase (sorry, not sorry). In this guide, I will ONLY be outlining food options that are available all year – I won’t get in to the pop-ups that are open during the various festivals.
The World Showcase has an abundance of kiosks, which are great places to grab snacks. Joffrey’s is a Disney staple (and a chain) but holy moly the giant donuts make for a great sweet treat in the middle of the day. The Italy Pavilion boasts Gelati, a quick service dessert stand that serves gelato and tiramisu. The Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway has sandwiches and pastries – so much sweet bread. Sommerfest in Germany serves delicious strudel and black forest cake. Crepes de Chefs de France has just about every type of crepe you could ever want. Finally, the Kabuki Cafe in the Japan Pavilion has shaved ice and sushi.
The cuisine available in the World Showcase corresponds to the countries in the showcase. In Germany, you can gorge yourself on German buffet at the Biergarten Restaurant (schnitzel, yum!). Grab fast-casual Chinese food at the Lotus Blossom Cafe in the China Pavilion. La Hacienda de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion has delicious Mexican food and avocado margaritas! Finally, the Tangierine Cafe boasts schwarma that keeps you drooling.
One of the things that makes Epcot one of the more “adult” Disney parks is the abundance of alcoholic beverages around the park. Some people choose to take advantage of this and “Drink Around the World” of World Showcase. If you do choose to do this, please only do it if you are 21 or older, hydrate throughout, and know that it will get expensive. Many of the adult beverages that you can purchase are at random drink stands around the park! Other than the beverage carts, here are some of my favorites.
First up is Block & Haus in the America Pavilion is a haven for craft beer lovers! I recommend trying the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, though I might be biased. Next is the Tutto Gusto Wine Bar in the Italy Pavilion, which houses over 200 bottles of Italian wine! If the above mentioned avocado margarita doesn’t scratch your margarita itch, head to Choza de Margarita. Choza de Margarita has 7 different types of margarita (3 on the rocks, 4 frozen) for you to try. Finally, Les Vins des Chefs de France is home to champagnes, wines, and specialty cocktails that you can enjoy while relaxing and people watching in the France Pavilion.
Every night, Epcot shoots off the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show over World Showcase Lagoon. Areas closest to the lagoon are the best for viewing. I usually try to watch the show from the Morocco side of the World Showcase Pavilion.
Epcot connects to Disney’s Boardwalk by a short walkway. The Boardwalk is a shopping and entertainment center that is similar to Disney Springs, only smaller. You can catch live music, a magic show, find sports bars, and more at the Boardwalk.
What’s your favorite part of Epcot? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, check out my guides to Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom before you go!