There’s been a lot of talk about the current state of Walt Disney World. As prices soar, guests are forced to pay more and more for what seems to be less and less. If you’re hoping to visit Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios, you’ll have to fork over a ton of cash, but many feel that the value is slipping quickly.
Ride malfunctions, cleanliness, long waits, and many other complaints have plagued the current state of Walt Disney World, leading some even to wash their hands of trips to the Most Magical Place on Earth altogether. So, today, we’ll be discussing the current state of one of Walt Disney World’s most iconic parks, EPCOT, based on a recent trip to give you an idea of what to expect or plan for during your next stay.
EPCOT: A World of Imagination, Innovation, and Construction
Opening in 1983, EPCOT has probably seen the most turnover out of all of Disney World’s four theme parks. Home to Spaceship Earth, World Discovery, Future World, World Nature, World Celebration, and the World Showcase, EPCOT is a favorite for Disney Adults who like to cut loose once the sun sets over Central Florida.
Despite what you’ve heard from Disney traditionalists who can’t handle the fact that Horizons is no longer at EPCOT, there’s a ton to do and see. The park is home to several rides and attractions, including Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Frozen Ever After, Soarin, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Test Track, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mission: SPACE, and much more.
EPCOT is also home to the second largest aquarium in the United States adjacent to Journey into Imagination with Figment. Of course, the sizeable iconic structure at the park’s entrance houses the incredibly iconic Spaceship Earth attraction. At the same time, you’ll also find the theme park’s newest attraction, Journey of Water, inspired by Moana, just past the park’s landmark attraction.
Although Disney World is progressing on all of the construction currently going on at EPCOT, preparing to usher in a new era of the park as World Celebration prepares to open, it’s still a bit of an unsightly mess. However, with the opening of Journey of Water, we can finally see the finish line in sight for the renovations and overhaul of the famous park’s central court area, but as of now, it’s still scrim walls galore.
World Showcase is the Star of the Show
Sure, there’s a ton to do around EPCOT’s main entrance, but the real star of the show is the World Showcase. Housing 11 different countries, guests are treated to magnificent food, drink, and merchandise from Mexico, Norway, China, Italy, Morocco, Germany, America, France, Great Britain, Japan, and Canada.
Although the World Showcase doesn’t have the clout in terms of attractions like you’ll find in World Discovery, Future World, World Nature, or the future World Celebration, there’s still much to appreciate as you navigate the eloquently designed pavilions that highlight culture architecture and delicacy from countries around the world.
Situated around a lake, guests can enjoy a nice soft pretzel and beer in Germany, school bread in Norway, fine dining locations in Italy and France, or grab smoky barbeque in America while listening to nightly performances during one of EPCOT’s many annual festivals such International Food & Wine or International Festival of the Arts. They can also shop to their heart’s delight in the many culturally inspired merchandise locations within each country.
A Culture Built Around Alcohol
Because of the culture surrounding alcohol consumption, like tequila shots at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico, EPCOT is often home to many instances that most believe are unbecoming of Disney World theme parks, including fights and ridiculous public stunts. Still, EPCOT, much like Disney Springs, remains the place to go if you want a night out on the weekend or plan on not remembering your Disney World vacation.
Festivals All Year Long
Another large draw to EPCOT all year long is its constant span of festivals that take place starting in January and ending in December. Guests in the late winter and early spring can enjoy the International Festival of the Arts at the park, followed by the International Flower & Garden Festival and the International Food & Wine Festival, ending with the International Festival of the Holidays.
These festivals are all unique in nature, offering several limited-edition food and alcohol options located around the World Showcase, as well as interactive activities and exclusive merchandise. Festivals typically come with their own mascots, so they’re a perfect time to get your hands on specialty Figment or Spike the Bee merch!
Our Recent EPCOT Visit
I typically stay away from EPCOT unless it’s earlier in the day. Friday and Saturday nights at the theme park are usually out of the question. However, this past weekend, we spent an evening dining at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada to celebrate a birthday.
As EPCOT isn’t high on my list, I hoped to take advantage of the many offerings available within the park, as who knows the next time I’ll be back. So, we made an evening of the trip. In doing so, I thought it a good opportunity to pay close attention to the status of the park and compare my experience to recent complaints from guests to Walt Disney World.
Before we got started, yes, there was someone getting sick in the bathroom. This seems to happen every time I’m at EPCOT. Despite this normal occurrence, there were a lot of things that happened during this most recent visit that left me surprised at how legitimate some of our reader’s complaints have been regarding the state of the park and its operations.
Rides: We rode three different attractions, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track; all three were delayed, had issues, or broke down while on them. Keep in mind this was in one visit, and it happens often. Test Track completely broke down, while Frozen Ever After saw multiple technical issues while waiting in the lightning lane queue (which ended up being 30 minutes), and half of the effects within Remy’s weren’t working correctly. There was no water splash, the audio wasn’t in sync with the 3D pictures, and the smell mechanics didn’t work.
Speaking of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, of course, we used a Lightning Lane for the ride as the posted wait was 130 minutes. Upon arriving in the France pavilion, we found a line wrapped all the way around the main walkway of the World Showcase. Nope, it wasn’t the stand-by line; it was the lightning lane! It seems that Disney World had oversold reservations for our timeslot. It took 52 minutes to make it through the Lightning Lane queue!
Trash: This was probably the most shocking detail. I understand that maintaining a park that sees tens of thousands of guests a day is difficult, but much like our most recent visits to Walt Disney World, EPCOT was overflowing with trash. Trash cans were full, cups, plates, forks, spoons, and knives were scattered all over the ground. We even saw a rat leave a bush to grab a quick piece of someone’s discarded turkey leg. The trash situation was shocking, to say the least!
This isn’t to say that Cast Members were simply ignoring the issue. They were trying to keep up. However, the amount of trash being thrown on the ground by guests was absurdly impossible to maintain. It’s very difficult to watch defeated-looking custodial staff continuously sweep up trash and be unable to say anything while guests throw their plates down right in front of them.
Smoke: This was something I’ve noticed is becoming more and more of an issue within Walt Disney World theme parks, but it remains highly prevalent at EPCOT. On several different occasions, I found myself walking right into someone’s cloud of vape smoke. Twice, I noticed guests tucked away in hard-to-reach spots of the World Showcase, enjoying actual tobacco-based products. In several of these instances, the vapes weren’t just flavored liquid either, if you get what I’m saying.
Food: Okay, so a little-known fact about me, I’m a sucker for school bread in Norway. It’s one of my favorite snacks to grab at EPCOT, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t available! I was heartbroken, but it was definitely understandable as the park was more crowded than usual. However, I couldn’t help but think how someone else would feel assuming they don’t travel to Walt Disney World as often as I do. Maybe that was on their “must-do” list, and all of a sudden, nope, there’s none left. What a disappointment!
So, there you have it, a Friday night at EPCOT. Of course, there were several clustered run-ins with rude guests and so on, but that’s typical as EPCOT is usually filled with people from different cultures and backgrounds. We may assume someone cutting us off while we’re talking to Creations is rude when it’s the norm where they come from.
Overall, the state of the park was an absolute shock. It was disgusting, and the mess extended out into the parking lots, busses, and monorails as well, even over into Magic Kingdom. Sadly, this has become the normal experience for many Walt Disney World guests. As parks are overrun with guests who don’t appreciate Disney for the individualistic experience they try to make for their guests, setting themselves apart from other theme parks, the problems will most likely get worse.
As for operations, Disney can’t blame that on rude guests. As they dive deeper into more expensive experiences with advanced technology, they lose their dependability. This is the problem with rides such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT, Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, or Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios.
So, tell us what you’ve seen recently; are the parks as clean as usual? Do rides break down more often?