As Walt Disney World’s “second gate,” Epcot has a special place in the hearts of long time visitors. This is a park where the imagination of tomorrow meets world culture to create an environment unlike anything else.
Casual guests might feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities Epcot has in store, especially in they visit during the Flower and Garden or Food and Wine Festivals. Whenever you visit, here are 7 things that Disney insiders know to do at Epcot.
7. Eat breakfast at the France Pavilion: In general, World Showcase opens at 11:00 am, even though Future World typically opens at 9:00 am. But there is an exception. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie opens before the rest of World Showcase, at 9:00 am, and it’s an amazing place to get a quick breakfast! There is a wide variety of pastries to pair with a latte (or a mimosa, no judgment here). Les Halles gets pretty crowded later in the day, as people gather there for desserts and quick service meals. But getting there in the morning means you can enjoy the France pavilion in a laid back atmosphere. In my most recent breakfast at Les Halles, we were the only family in the restaurant for about half an hour, and it was Spring Break!
6. Single Rider Line for Test Track: Test Track (along with Soarin’) is one of the longest queues in Epcot. Luckily for you, guests can wait in the Single Rider Line, thus opening up a Tier 1 Fastpass for Soarin’. There is no guarantee that you will ride with your party, but you will get through the queue much faster than the standby line.
5. Dining Reservation and Illumination Viewing: Illuminations: Reflections of Earth can be seen from just about anywhere around the World Showcase lagoon. But wouldn’t you rather be able to sit and enjoy some dinner while you wait for and watch the show? There are several restaurants that have Illuminations viewing: Rose and Crown Pub (UK), La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico), Bistro de Paris (France), and Tokyo Dining (Japan). You’ll want to book your reservation (as far out as you can, but 180 days before is best) for around 7:30 (assuming a 9:00 pm showing). When you check in for your reservation, let the host know that you’re willing to wait for a window table (patio table at Rose and Crown). I usually only wait about 30 minutes when I ask for a patio table at Rose and Crown.
4. Drink/ Snack Around the World: World Showcase has so much to offer in the way of food and drink. Spend a day hitting all the countries, and sampling the drinks and snacks from the various pavilions. A lot of folks have heard about drinking around the world, where guests try one alcoholic drink from every pavilon. But you should also do it with snacks! Start early in the day, and pace yourself so you don’t embarrass yourself later in the day.
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3. Hit the Countries Early: World Showcase opens at 11:00 am, and by early afternoon, the World Showcase promenade will be filling up with guests. Head over to World Showcase as early as you can to avoid the crowds.
2. Hop For Dinner: Epcot, and World Showcase in particular, has some incredible restaurants. Insiders know they can hop here for dinner, and then go on with other evening plans. Whether you’re coming from another park, or your hotel, park hopping to Epcot for dinner is always a good choice. After dinner, you can choose to stay in Epcot to enjoy the evening entertainment, you could hop over to another park, or return to your hotel. Guests staying in one of the Boardwalk area hotels will find this option especially convenient.
1. Shop After Illuminations: Epcot typically closes right as Illuminations begins. That means that all of the attractions will close their queues (folks already in the queue can stay). But it does not mean all the stores are closed. Mouse Gear, the huge store in Future World, does not close with the rest of the park. You can shop while the rest of the guests clear out of the park. Shopping after park close saves you a lot of time because you a) won’t use regular park time during the day and b) won’t get stuck in the long lines for buses or the monorail. Think of this time as your own personal extra magic hour! Guests not staying on property will also have the added advantage of not lugging their souvenirs around all day.