EPCOT used to stand for Expiramental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, though some will tell you it stands for “Every Person Comes Out Tired”. However, in recent years, it’s just known as Epcot.
Epcot is a massive park (not as large as Animal Kingdom in size, but the largest area that guests can walk). You’ll find Epcot broken into two areas — Future World and World Showcase. Let’s look at each separately.
Upon entering the park itself, the first attraction you’ll really come to is Spaceship Earth. You may know this as “The Big Ball”, and the attraction is actually inside. It’s a slow moving ride that takes you through civilization from the caveman days until the present- day and beyond. The cars move slowly, the animatronics are fun and not scary, and the narration is pleasant.
THE SEAS PAVILION
Up past Spaceship Earth, taking a right, and you’ll see The Seas, back on the right side. Inside, board a Clam Mobile for a ride through The Seas With Nemo and Friends, then step into a small auditorium to meet up with our favorite surfer terrapin, in Turtle Talk with Crush. Send the kids to the front and await a great Q&A session with Crush himself… its **totally sweet**.
And then take a tour of the massive Aquarium in The Seas Pavilion, checking out the viewing station to see everything from manatees to sharks! And if it makes you hungry, get a reservation to The Coral Reef restaurant, and see one of the largest aquariums in the country making up one entire wall!
THE LAND PAVILION
Come out of the Seas, take a walk up the hill on your right and go into The Land! First up, you’ll see the Circle of Life: An Enviromental Fable, where Timon and Pumbaa gives you a glimpse into conservation. Downstairs is the hugely popular (and rightly so!) Soarin’ Over the World, where you can board a hang glider and fly through some of the most iconic and beautiful scenes in Earth.
Living With the Land, a slow moving boat ride that sails you through a working greenhouse–you will see and learn how all the food that is grown and collected there is used all over property!
Hungry? Check out one of the best quick service spots on property at Sunshine Seasons, with great breakfast, great lunch and a great dinner (and their dessert area is delicious!). Want a little more, then try the rotating restaurant The Garden Grill! Not only do you get a table style buffet breakfast, or a country themed lunch or dinner, you can also meet Chip n Dale, Mickey and Pluto!
On the hill next to The Land, you’ll find the Journey into Imagination with Figment… Figment stars in a colorful, fun, educational, slow moving attraction full of wonder. Get the kids on this, and then do your best to get that song out of your head.
Image Works… this is an interactive attraction area after Journey Into Imagination where the kids can play. There is also a cool, interactive play area as you come out of the ride.
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival… In the theater by the Imagination Pavilion, enjoy a behind the scenes, making of short film on Pixar. It’s a great little film, and a great place to get off of your feet! Guests will be able to experience beloved Disney and Pixar animated shorts in 4D with the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.
Sum of All Thrills… This is a really fun little attraction that has gotten more and more attention over the years. Located in Innoventions, it’s a roller coaster simulator where you can build your own coaster, then actually ride it. It’s not for the claustrophobic, I can tell you that for sure… and remember when building your track, you want inversions, but it’s not all about height, it’s also about width… and go for the jet. It goes fastest of all. Height restriction 48” or 54” to go upside down.
Baymax & Judy & Nick… A meet n greet where you can get a picture with Baymax from “Big Hero 6” and Judy Hopps & Nick Wilde from “Zootopia”. Fastpasses not available.
Epcot Character Spot… You can always head to the Character Spot and get in line to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and sometimes Chip & Dale are there too. Each character(s) has their little background and picture area (across from Innoventions)
Ellen’s Energy Adventure… This attraction starts out in a 10-minute pre-show, where you’ll meet Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy and even a cameo by Jamie Lee Curtis. Then Disney invites you on a 37-minute, slow moving dream that does take us through some dark moments via the large, slowly moving forward tram, but never scary.
Mission:SPACE… It’s an adventure as you join a manned mission to Mars. The Orange Team is pretty intense, while The Green Team is a motion simulator, so while not nearly as rough, it’s still pretty rocky. Height restriction 44”
Test Track… In the line, you have the opportunity to design your own vehicle. Your “car” is saved onto a small card, which is loaded into the computer when you board your Test Track Car, and you can see how your car performs while on the ride. You’ll then ride through the testing of the car, including a fast, 60mph ride at the end.
EPCOT’S WORLD SHOWCASE
It’s also important to note that each country has its own shops, its own street shows, you’ll find characters in various countries, some have movies to show, and a couple have rides.
MEXICO… You’ll notice the big, huge pyramid there. Inside you’ll find San Angel Inn restaurant and the entrance to The Gran Fiesta Tour, where you “sail” through the Mexican sights and locations. Along the way you are joined by the Three Caballeros, which include Donald Duck. This attraction will now be open before 11a, with the rest of the park.
NORWAY… This area is most notable for its restaurant, Akershus, where they have the Princess Storybook Breakfast. The area is based on Norwegian culture.
FROZEN EVER AFTER… The brand new Frozen ride! Some of the most unbelievable animatronics and effects you can imagine fill this boat ride, as you travel through Arendelle, visiting with Olaf, Kristof, Sven, Anna & Elsa.
CHINA… Lots of artifacts, a cool Chinese garden area, and you can meet Mulan here. The restaurant is Nine Dragons, and a huge gift shop market area as well. There is also a Circle-Vision movie called “Reflections of China” that’s worth seeing—its 360 degrees around you, standing room only.
GERMANY… If you are a beer drinker, it’s a great area because Germans are known for such things. The caramel is fantastic, as are many of the sweets. They have a fun little model train area through a German village, and the restaurant is Biergarten, which is a German style buffet!
ITALY… Another cool area for the architecture, the designs, just the atmosphere. There are a couple of Italian restaurants here, including Via Napoli, which is an amazing pizzeria, as well as Tutto Italiano.
THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE… Here there are some pretty cool little shows and such, including a story time Show with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain (known as the American Adventure), and they also have another a capella vocal chorus singing songs that make you proud to be an American (known as The Voices of Liberty). The theater in this pavilion also holds The Candlelight Processional event, which you can read about at the end of this section.
JAPAN… A very traditional area with neat exhibits and one lady who makes candy right there in front of you, which honestly, is extremely cool. The gift shop is also pretty large and really cool. Part of the streets-mosphere outside features Japanese candy makers concocting candy and taffy.
MOROCCO…. You can also meet up with Aladdin and Jasmine here, though make sure you look at your times guide, because the line gets long sometimes. This is also one of the only places, if not the only place, you can go in World Showcase where you can completely immerse yourself in the pavilion. In the back of the Moroccan area, you lose any sight of the rest of the park, and are totally surrounded by the Moroccan architecture.
FRANCE… Marie from The Aristocats in France is here, and sometimes you can find Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Belle has been known to be here occasionally. There is also a CircleVision 360 film that can be enjoyed here. Two restaurants, Chef’s de France and Monsieur Paul’s also stand ready to feed you.
UNITED KINGDOM… The Rose & Crown Pub is the table service experience, and the steaks are great, the pasta is great, but of course, the big dish is Fish & Chips. And the portions are huge. Visit the shops, and watch the comedy troupe (they incorporate guests into the action, and it’s fantastic). There is a British invasion tribute band that plays all during the day, playing Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies and more, in the garden, and in that same garden is a small hedge maze that the kids can run around in while you rest your feet under the shade trees.
CANADA… Here’s the one thing you need to know about Canada. Le Cellier, one of the best steakhouses on property. Literally meaning “The Cellar”, it’s located in the bottom of The Chateau, which is where some of the shops are and a Canada movie is played. There are no windows in Le Cellier, as ambient lighting enhances the atmosphere of a steak and seafood house. You can also check out the Oh Canada film in Circlevision ™ which is always cool.
AGENT P’S WORLD SHOWCASE ADVENTURE
If you are fans of Phineas & Ferb, you’ll enjoy this little adventure. Getting a cell-phone like device when you go to one of the several sign-up stations (ask a Cast Member for locations), you can go to each pavilion and use the device to complete missions, finding things like glowing lanterns and talking statues and secret sayings to certain Cast Members.
Something else the kids might enjoy, as they can obtain passports to go around the world, and in each pavilion there are country-centric activities for each child to do. Again, ask a Cast Member for details on how to proceed.
REFLECTIONS: ILLUMINATIONS OF EARTH
Held in The World Showcase Lagoon, it premiered in October of 1999 as part of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration, but was so hugely popular, it continues to this day. The lights in the park go dim, and torches around World Showcase light up. An introduction narration comes on, and then the torches go dark at the same time. Then, the fireworks begin, followed by a huge 350,000 pound Earth Globe that is in the middle of the water, wrapped in 15,600 LED clusters, each with 12 light emitting bulbs. This is definitely a must-do for the entire family.