Epcot was the second park to open at Walt Disney World, on October 1, 1982, and was originally called Epcot Center. It cost $1.4 billion dollars to build and took three years to complete. It is twice the size of Magic Kingdom and is almost like two parks in one, with Future World on one side of the park and the World Showcase on the other. Here are 6 secrets about Disney’s Epcot that you may not know.
6. Two Entrances
There are two entrances to Epcot. The first one is the front gate, where the majority of guests enter the park, and where Disney transportation drops resort guests off. This entrance is near Spaceship Earth and is closest to Future World. The second entrance is called The International Gateway. It is located between France and the United Kingdom pavilions in the World Showcase. This entrance is ideal for guests staying at any of the Epcot area resorts, which is in walking distance to the park. If you’re going to resort hop at the hotels in the area, or take a break from the park and dine at one of the resort restaurants, the International Gateway is a great entrance to use and makes for a beautiful walk.
5. Breakfast in the Park
Guests can gain entrance a little bit early into the park if they have a breakfast reservation. The Garden Grill starts taking breakfast reservations at 8am, and so does Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. The World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am, but the breakfast reservation at Akershus is an exception to the opening time. Both The Garden Grill and Akershus have the added bonus of offering character dining experiences, where guests can meet classic Disney characters and princesses. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in the France pavilion also opens a little earlier at 9am, and guests can get delicious pastries for breakfast.
4. Food & Wine Festival
The Food & Wine Festival is an extremely popular and wonderful event at Epcot. If you are going to tackle the Food & Wine Festival, it’s best to do so with a plan. If you can avoid going on a weekend, do so. The festival is notoriously busy and can get a little rowdy on the weekends. A weekday visit may make for a more enjoyable festival visit. Plan to get to the World Showcase right at 11am, as lines get long quickly. It’s also a good idea to get a map, check out the menus for the Marketplace locations, and make a list of which snacks you simply must have. Having a plan of attack will save you a lot of time once you arrive. If you are on the dining plan, you can trade in your quick service credit for three snacks, but this does have to be done all in one transaction. This can also save you some money if there are a number of snacks you’d like to try at the festival.
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3. Friendship Boats
The Friendship Boats transport guests across the World Showcase Lagoon. There are two routes and launches (the World Showcase Plaza to Morocco, or Germany). They won’t save you travel time, but they will give you a different perspective of the World Showcase, they’re relaxing, they have air conditioning, and they’re simply a lovely way to travel. If you’re not in a hurry, take a break from walking around the lagoon, and travel across it!
2. Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is the icon of the park, as well as a fascinating attraction of the park. Here’s a little tip about Spaceship Earth, if you find yourself in Future World and it’s raining, run over to Spaceship Earth. The structure features gutters behind the tiles which collect the rainwater, which is then sent down the six legs holding the sphere, from there the water flows into the World Showcase Lagoon. This also makes it a dry place to hang out until the rain stops.
1. Eat Late
One of the best things to do at Epcot is finish the day off with seeing Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. To get a good viewing spot, and a seat, you have to claim your spot about 45 minutes before show time. There is an alternative way to snag a great spot to see Illuminations, and add to your firework viewing experience at Epcot. Make a late dining reservation at one of the restaurants in the World Showcase with a view of the World Showcase Lagoon. This allows you to have some dessert, a drink and a comfortable seat while watching the show. Some of the restaurants with a great view are Nine Dragons, Rose & Crown or La Hacienda. Disney can’t guarantee a table near the windows with optimal viewing for the nighttime spectacular, but it’s worth a shot, and it never hurts to mention it when checking in.