Disney World’s Epcot
Epcot is a theme park at the Disney World resort in the Orlando, FL area. This one-of-a-kind park spans 305 acres and is more than twice as large as the Magic Kingdom. Spaceship earth, (or as kids say “the big ball”") is the centerpiece of Epcot and is located right in the front of the park. Epcot has a couple amazing rides and a TON of incredible food and drinks from all around the world. That mix makes Disney World’s Epcot a fun all-around park that the entire family will enjoy.
The name Epcot comes from a planned community of innovation that Walt Disney dreamed about for decades. This community would have residential areas, an urban center, and mass transportation to connect them all. That plan ultimately proved unfeasible, but the name stuck and was used in the 1970’s when Disney World began building a 2nd park in the Orlando area.
The focus of the park was to have innovation-focused attractions in the front of the park, and then the world showcase in the rear of the park. In 1982 Epcot opened after a 3 year build that cost over 1 billion dollars. During the build it was the largest construction project on earth.
In 2016 and 2017, separate announcements were made that indicated that Epcot was going to finally get the major refurbishment that fans have been hoping for. Two new attractions are coming, as well as a massive re-design of the aging front area of the park.
Layout of Epcot
Of course the first thing you notice is the “Giant Ball”! This is actually a ride, called Spaceship Earth. It’s a neat interactive ride that really sets the tempo for what you’ll experience at Epcot. Epcot has always celebrated technological innovation, and this is largely what the entire front portion of the park is about.
As you walk past Spaceship Earth, you’ll enter a large courtyard. There are two areas entitled “Innovations East” and “Innovations West”. Both of these are indoor facilities with a number of really neat exhibits, video games and activities for children. I highly recommend saving the front area for the hot part of the day.
As you approach the fountain in the middle, there are three paths to choose from. We’ll outline all three and help you determine how to structure your day at Epcot.
Future World East
Head left from the fountain and you’ll enter Future World East. There are two extremely fun rides here that your family will enjoy. The redesigned Test Track is a Disney World favorite and we highly recommend it. Mission Space is a simulation of a blast-off into space and can be extremely intense! There are two levels to choose from. If you get dizzy or sick on rides, choose the “Green Team” for a less intense experience.
Future World West
Back at the fountain, a turn right will take you to Future World West. As you head that way, you’ll notice the Epcot Character Spot. This is a great way to knock out a large number of characters at once. However if the lines are long, just skip it. (The best way to get these characters is by scheduling a character meal)
Future World West has a number of interesting rides. There are two main sections: The Land and The Seas. One of the most popular rides in Walt Disney World is Soarin’, a virtual “hang-gliding” adventure. It’s a very fun and POPULAR ride.
The World Showcase is what makes Epcot tick. You’ll notice the “World Showcase Lagoon”, a large man-made lake in the Center of the World Showcase. Surrounding the lagoon are 11 different pavilions, representing 11 nations. At each pavilion, you’ll find restaurants, gift shops, architecture, and even a few rides mixed in. As an example, Frozen Ever After, a fantastic ride based on the popular Disney film, is located in Norway.
The food at Epcot is amazing, and you won’t be able to try it all! One reason we always recommend buying the park hopper passes, is that you can come to Epcot each evening to try different restaurants. The world showcase also has beer and wine from all different parts of the world, which is certainly helpful on those hot summer days!
A word of caution regarding the World Showcase. It is a LONG walk around the world. I wouldn’t recommend heading that direction for a leisurely stroll during the mid-day. It’s hot, and while there are a number of places to cool down, children can get bored quickly in this portion of the park.
Epcot Rides & Attractions
Epcot has over 11 rides & attractions for guests to choose from. For an overview of all of these rides, please see our article on Epcot Rides & Attractions
Many people come to Epcot to eat. There are 11 pavilions in the World Showcase, each representing a different country. There are also 18 different restaurants that guests can choose from! How many have you tried? Here is a brief overview of the 18 Epcot restaurants.
Akerhaus Royal Banquet Hall - Located in Norway, this restaurant offers character dining with princesses
Biergarten - Located in Germany. Buffet style restaurant with German cuisine
Le Cellier Steakhouse - Located in Canada. Excellent Steakhouse that costs 2 Dining credits
Chefs de France - Located in France. Serves French Cuisine
Coral Reef Restaurant - Aquarium Restaurant located in the Sea area of Epcot specializing in seafood.
Garden Grill Restaurant - Unique restaurant serving many foods developed in the Living With the Land gardens.
La Hacienda de San Angel - Waterfront Mexican restaurant in the Mexico pavilion
Monsieur Paul - Fine dining French cuisine that costs 2 Dining credits.
Nine Dragons Restaurant - Chinese restaurant located in the China pavilion.
Restaurant Marrakesh - Unique Moroccan restaurant located in the Morocco pavilion.
Rose & Crown Dining Room - English style restaurant located in the United Kingdom pavilion.
San Angel Inn Restaurante - Mexican restaurant located inside the Mexican pyramid pavilion.
Spice Road Table - New tapas-style restaurant alongside the water in the Morocco pavilion.
Takumi-Tei - Upcoming Japanese restaurant in the Japan pavilion. Opening in 2019.
Teppan Edo - Hibachi-style Japanese restaurant in the Japan pavilion.
Tokyo Dining - Japanese restaurant in the Japan pavilion.
Tutto Italia - Italian restaurant in the Italy pavilion.
Via Napoli - Italian pizzeria in the Italy pavilion.
For a larger version of the Epcot Map, please click the image.
Epcot Touring Plan
Epcot only has 11 rides and is one of the easier parks to get through in one day. But it’s very large and many of the rides do have long wait times. What is the best way to tour this park? Please read our one-day Epcot touring plan. This is a free guide that will help you make the most of your visit to Epcot.
Epcot Fastpass Strategy
Epcot guests get 3 fastpasses a day. They can choose 1 fastpass from Tier 1. Tier 1 includes most of the top rides in Epcot. Guests also get 2 Tier 2 fastpasses. These fastpasses aren’t that great. I highly encouraging you to read our article on the optimal Epcot fastpass strategy. When you get the right fastpasses and have a logical touring plan, you’ll breeze your way through this fantastic park, even during the busiest of seasons.