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10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go to Epcot

By Paula K 

The second theme park at Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1982. The name Epcot was originally an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. While the park does not resemble Walt Disney’s vision of a living community, it is still pretty exciting. Here are ten things that you need to know before you head to Epcot.

10. World Showcase Opens Later, Mostly…

There are two main areas in Epcot, Future World and World Showcase. These areas are then broken up even more. Extra Magic Hours and holidays aside, Future World opens at 9:00 most mornings, while World Showcase opens two hours later. This isn’t the case for all of World Showcase, there are still places where you can grab breakfast. The popular Frozen Ever After ride also opens when Future World opens. You can go through the International Gateway entrance at the back of Epcot when the main gate opens, you don’t have to wait.

9. Arrive Early

There are three extremely popular attractions at Epcot, and you will not be able to get a FastPass+ for all of them (more on that below). Unless you love waiting in long lines, you will want to arrive at Epcot before rope drop. Study your map ahead of time, so that you will know exactly how to get to your first destination.

8. Tier One FastPass+ Is Essential!

FastPass+ is in two tiers at Epcot. You will pick one attraction from Tier One and then two from Tier Two. Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track are all, of course, Tier One attractions. If Frozen Ever After is a must-do and FastPass+ is available (they’ll be gone early), grab that instead of one of the other two. The line for Frozen Ever After will be insane in just minutes.

7. So Are Dining Reservations

Dining at Epcot is incredible! There are two signature restaurants, two popular character meals, a chance to feel like you’re dining underwater, and plenty of international delights. Do your research ahead of time, and make reservations. You can reserve your spots up to 180 days in advance.

6. Single Rider Line

Single Rider Lines are rare at Walt Disney World, but you can find one at Epcot. If you don’t mind riding with total strangers, use that for Test Track if the Standby Line is too long. If you’re with a group, it will be broken up if you’re in the Single Rider Line.

5. Visiting Mars

If you’ve ever dreamed of blasting off to Mars, you will have the opportunity in Future World. Mission: SPACE gives you and three others a chance to visit the Red Planet. You will each take on a different role; commander, engineer, navigator, or pilot. Of course something will go wrong. Mission: SPACE is intense, you’ll hit 2.5g, which will cause you to spin and turn unlike any other attraction. The ride is so intense that two different experiences are offered. Green Team is tamer than Orange Team, but it is still not for everyone. Read the ride warnings carefully, take them seriously, and don’t join either team if you hate tight spaces or you get motion sick. Mission: SPACE is a great choice for a Tier Two FastPass+ selection.

4. Live Entertainment and Characters

You can have a great time at Epcot, even if you don’t ride anything. That is because there is plenty of live entertainment throughout the park. Pick up a Times Guide when you arrive so you will know what is going on and when. You can rock out to songs from the British Invasion, be marveled by acrobatic feats, and much more. The night ends with IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. There are great viewing spots all along World Showcase. Epcot is also a great place for character greetings, especially if you love princesses. You will want to have the My Disney Experience App on your phone so that you can easily find them.

3. Drinking Around the World?

There is a game that some Walt Disney World guests who are of legal drinking age like to play that is known as Drinking Around the World. This consists of purchasing one authentic alcoholic beverage in each of the 11 World Showcase countries. Drinking Around the World is not an official Walt Disney World activity. If you plan to partake, please know your limits and drink responsibly.

2. Eating Around the World

One of the nicest parts of World Showcase is that with 11 countries represented, you can enjoy 11 different types of cuisines. Plan to order a specialty or two from each country and share it with everyone in your family or group. Eating Around the World does not have an age requirement, and you might get your kids to try something different.

1. Quick Festival Rundown

There are now three festivals held annually at Epcot. The brand new Epcot International Festival of the Arts ran four days a week for six weeks, starting on January 13, 2017. It has been renewed for 2018. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival starts in March and runs daily through late-May. The third festival is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which runs daily late-August through mid-November. While all three festivals are different, they also have similar elements. You can expect food booths, special seminars, festival-only merchandise, extra live entertainment, and more. One warning about all three festivals, Saturdays are packed, and Sundays are not much better. Plan to visit on a weekday if at all possible.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.