Years before Disney World opened in 1971, Walt Disney had dreamed of a futuristic planned community called the "Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow," which would be constantly introducing, testing, and demonstrating the latest innovations happening in American industry. Epcot would be, in Disney's vision, a "living blueprint of the future" where real people actually lived.
In the wake of Disney's death in 1966 and the debut of Disney World in 1971, Disney's vision of Epcot was put on hold. In the late 1970s, the Disney board deemed that a community would be unworkable, and instead decided to build an Epcot theme park that would have the feel of a World's Fair. Epcot has two distinct areas.
Future World, true to Walt Disney's vision, revolves around technology and innovation. This is where you'll find many of the popular attractions and also many interactive exhibit spaces.
World Showcase is an around-the-world tour featuring 11 pavilions from different countries, including fabulous, authentic dining experiences, and live entertainment. You'll find the Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway pavilion, along with a meet-and-greet with Anna and Elsa.
Epcot is perhaps the most underrated park at Disney World. There are some cool, under-the-radar attractions for little kids, and tweens and teens will find plenty to love.
Top Tips for Epcot
Stay nearby: If Epcot is on your priority list, consider choosing a hotel nearby. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are both accessible via water taxi to and from the Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, and the Swan and Dolphin Resorts. At Epcot, the water taxi pulls up to a back entrance of Epcot along the World Showcase near the France pavilion.
Wear comfy shoes: Epcot is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, so be prepared for a lot of walking. Consider renting a stroller even if your preschooler is getting too big for one.
Like all Disney parks, crowds build at Epcot as the day goes on. Arrive early. It pays to be an early bird and arrive at opening time (or earlier if the park has Extra Magic Hours) and you'll be able to experience the most popular rides and attractions without having to wait in line.
Use FastPass+ wisely: Before you arrive at the park, reserve times for your three top must-do attractions. FastPass+ is available for the following Epcot attractions:
- Mission: Space
- Test Track
- Frozen Ever After
Make advance lunch and dinner reservations. Epcot's World Showcase offers some of the best restaurants in Disney World, and they tend to fill up for lunch and dinner. Book a table in advance and you won't be boxed out.
Take a midday break. If you arrived early, your troops will probably start lagging sometime around lunch. Head back to your hotel for a few hours of downtime and even a nap.
Don't overlook minor attractions. Epcot has a number of very clever, cool attractions for younger kids, including Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Turtle Talk with Crush. And don't miss Spaceship Earth, the ride inside the iconic geosphere that looms over the park's entrance.
Return to the World Showcase for dinner. Did you spend lunchtime in Italy? For dinner, try France, Japan, Canada, or Mexico. Stroll through the showcase at a leisurely pace so you can enjoy watching the live entertainers, such as acrobats in China or a mime in France.
Stay for the fireworks. This is where that midday nap will come in handy. Epcot's spectacular night-time IllumiNations fireworks display is a must-see. Arrive early for a good viewing spot.
Epcot Festivals and Special Events
Visitors get some great extras at Epcot during certain times of the year.
Spring: From March to mid-May, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival brings dazzling character topiaries, flower displays, and free outdoor concerts.
Fall: In September, October and half of November, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival offers an amazing array of cuisine, chefs, wine, and tasting events.
Holidays: Epcot is also home to some of the most popular Christmas special events at Disney World, including Holidays Around the World and the Candlelight Processional.
– Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher