Ever since my first trip in the 80s Epcot has been a favorite. I can’t quite say that it is THE favorite because Magic Kingdom has so much fantasy and magic. But Epcot captures my imagination and always has something new to explore. Here are 10 questions I often get about Epcot.
10. Should I take my kids to Epcot?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. You should take your kids to Epcot. Many times I get this question from people who have never been to Epcot, so they don’t really know all of the wonderful and fun things the park has to offer for kids. If you have young children you can find several attractions geared toward them (Turtle Talk with Crush, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Gran Fiesta Tour, Frozen Ever After). Not to mention the number of characters you can meet at Epcot (princesses, Mickey & the Gang and more unusual characters like Donald is his Mexican outfit, Joy & Sadness, and Bay Max). Older kids will love the thrills at Epcot: Mission Space, Test Track & Soarin (with more to come). Many kids enjoy the live entertainment throughout the park from the Jammitors playing the drums, to the Chinese acrobats, to the interactive entertainers in France and Italy. Around World Showcase kids can participate in the KidCot stations collecting cards and stickers while interacting with Cast Members from each country. Or use the Play Disney Parks app to take on Dr. Doofenschmirtz with an Agent P mission. During the various festivals there are kid-friendly elements like playgrounds, scavenger hunts for prizes and activities like the Skittles Candy Sushi making right now with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. So—long story short, there is more than enough to keep your kids entertained for at least a full day at Epcot.
9. What time should I get to the park?
Unless there is a morning Extra Magic Hour, Epcot’s Future World opens at 9am. You will want to arrive 45 minutes or so before that time to be at the front of the pack to go to your first attraction if you are hoping to ride a headliner. Also at 9am parts of World Showcase will open like Norway to give guests more time to ride the oh-so-popular Frozen Ever After attraction (long live Maelstrom!). The remainder of World Showcase opens at 11am, so if you are hoping to be the first in to visit Festival booths during Food & Wine or Flower & Garden you can go to the “borders” a little before that time. There isn’t usually a mad rush like at the 9am opening. If you are staying in the Epcot Resort area at the Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club or Swan/Dolphin resorts you will enter through the International Gateway in World Showcase. That area normally opens around 9am with the front of the park and you will be able to walk through the UK & Canada to get to Future World.
8. How tall would you have to be to hit Spaceship Earth like a golf ball?
This is a quite interesting mathematical problem . . . figuring out how tall a person would have to be to hit the 180 foot tall Spaceship Earth (which after all, does resemble a golf ball). Luckily someone has already solved this equation for me as I am only good at Mickey Math. The golfer would have to be 7,714 feet tall. Now you can amaze your friends with this fact while drinking around the world.
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7. What is your favorite Illuminations viewing spot?
I have several favorite spots, and some of that is dictated by how early I want to stake out a spot and where I need to be after fireworks. If I really want to be close to the front of the park I may get a FastPass for that viewing area, or I’ll try to be on the Mexico/Norway side—I find fewer obstructions. If I’m staying in an Epcot resort, or I want to linger in World Showcase post Illuminations I’ll try somewhere around Italy, or if I can get down by the water in the France/UK bridge area (if there is not a private party). If I’m willing to stake out a spot early I’ll go up to the balcony outside on the second floor of the Japan pavilion. But, my favorite viewing spot so far has been on the private Illuminations cruise I took with my family. If you can add this to your vacation I recommend it—a nice relaxing cruise beforehand, pull up just in time for the show so no waiting, snacks & drinks on board, and you are right on the water with the show.
6. How many miles am I walking around the World Showcase?
I love World Showcase and I tend to walk it more than once (sometimes in a single day), especially if there is a festival going on and I want to visit booths and shops. Walking the promenade connecting the 11 World Showcase Countries will definitely help you get your steps for the day as it is a 1.2 mile stroll.
5. Can I find characters in Epcot?
While Epcot was originally designed to be more educational than just entertainment and lacked characters on opening day in 1982, Disney soon learned that everyone wants to meet Mickey—everywhere. In Epcot you can find multiple character opportunities. There is a character meal in the Land Pavilion at the Garden Grill with Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale. Aksershus in Norway has a princess meal. In Future World Character Spot features some main characters (usually Mickey, Minnie & Goofy). Across from Character Spot is another meet & greet where you can find Baymax and Joy & Sadness. Going around the World Showcase you will find characters in many of the countries that would match their stories. Mexico: Donald in a serape & sombrero; Norway: Anna & Elsa; China: Mulan; Germany: Snow White; Morocco: Aladdin & Jasmine; France: Belle & Aurora; UK: Mary Poppins, Alice, Winnie the Pooh & Friends. You will also find some “stray” characters around the park, check the times guide when you enter to see when & where to meet them.
4. What is the best place to eat in Epcot?
Anywhere. Really. Just about anywhere especially if you want table service. Epcot boasts so many good restaurants with the World Showcase pavilions, it is hard to choose. Even quick service is great here with Sunshine Seasons “food court” in Future World and each country have a quick service or snack option that is special to their culinary traditions. My family really loves Garden Grill for breakfast & characters; Via Napoli; Rose & Crown; La Cantina de San Angel; Biergarten; Kringla Bakeri og Café; Les Halles Boulangerie . . . .see, I told you anywhere is good!
3. How can I swim with the fish at the Seas with Nemo & Friends?
While it may seem like that is something you would not be allowed to do, there are actually a few tours that allow you behind the scenes and into the water at the Seas with Nemo and Friends. There is the Epcot Seas Adventures-Aqua Tour that allows guests 2.5 hours behind the scenes at the aquariums including around 30 minutes of snorkeling time in the tanks. The tour that is on my list is Epcot Seas Adventures-Dolphins in Depth tour. On this tour you learn about the dolphins, see the backstage facilities where they are cared for, and have a 30 minute interaction in the water with the dolphin residents of the Seas. If you are Scuba certified you can sign up for the Epcot Seas Adventures-DiveQuest tour. This ultimate experience allows you to be one of those divers that you see in the tanks as you are touring the pavilion. This is another 3 hour experience that includes about 40 minutes of Scuba time. To enjoy any of these adventures you want to make reservations ahead of time by calling 407-WDW-TOUR.
2. How do the FastPass Tiers work at Epcot?
Epcot’s FastPass system is a little more frustrating than others. It is separated into 2 tiers much like Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, but for most people ALL of the rides you really want are in Tier 1, and those in Tier 2 are really secondary or not needed. When you make your FastPasses (60 days in advance for Disney resort guests) you will pick 1 FastPass from the top tier and 2 FastPasses from the second tier. Top Tier FastPasses are your choice of Test Track, Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Character Spot, and Illuminations Viewing. Most people are going to want Test Track, Soarin’ or Frozen Ever After. If Frozen is not a priority for your family I recommend FastPassing Test Track where lines build quickly and riding Soarin’ as soon as the park opens (remember be there 45 minutes before that time). Tier 2 FastPasses include Turtle Talk with Crush, Spaceship Earth, Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Mission:Space, Living with the Land. The two attractions you pick from this list is really up to personal preference, but I would recommend Spaceship Earth since it is quintessential Epcot, the lines build because it is the first thing people see, and you now know how tall you have to be to hit it on the golf course. After you have used your first 3 FastPasses that you scheduled ahead of time, you can go into the app and schedule another one . . . and another after that and so on. IF a Tier 1 FastPass like Test Track is available you can make another Tier 1 at this time, even though you already had one that day. And it isn’t completely unusual to find another Tier 1 later in the day—unless it is a really busy time of year or you have a large party who want to ride together.
1. What are these Festivals Epcot hosts?
One of my favorite parts about Epcot is its seasonality. Now most of the months of the year find it hosting a special Festival. Starting in January and February with the International Festival of the Arts where you find artists, culinary kiosks with beautiful food works of art, performance art, and my favorite Disney on Broadway concerts. This is followed in the Spring with my favorite festival, the International Flower & Garden Festival. Epcot is its most beautiful at this time filled with topiaries and show gardens. Food booths line World Showcase, specially themed playgrounds for kids are in Future World, Garden Rocks concerts in the evenings, and workshops to incorporate into your home landscape. After a summer break the most popular of the festivals, the International Food & Wine Festival kicks off. Highlights are definitely the food booths around World Showcase (& now extending into Future World) featuring food & drink highlights from many countries including those in World Showcase and others. Chef demonstrations, pairings, parties, activities, workshops and concerts round out the offerings. To round out the year, the International Festival of the Holidays takes place in November and December during the winter holidays. I love this festival with the storytellers in the countries sharing that regions holiday traditions, the food booths with winter and holiday specialties, the beautiful decorations, and topped off with the Candlelight Processional at night (a reading of the Christmas Story from the Bible by a celebrity narrator and accompanied by an orchestra and mass choir). It is hard to miss some type of festival if you are visiting, but be sure to take time to really enjoy all that each one has to offer while you are in Epcot.