Best Epcot Ride Guide & FAQ

When did Epcot open?

Epcot opened on October 24, 1982 as EPCOT Center as Walt Disney World’s second park. It is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom Park, standing at 305 acres. On opening day, 9 out of 11 countries were featured in the World Showcase, Spaceship Earth was open, The Land Pavilion was completed, as well as Living with the Land. Since then 83 rides, attractions, pavilions, or shows have opened (some closed now).

Epcot Park Logo | Walt Disney World, FL

What does Epcot stand for?

Epcot is an acronym for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. On opening day, then CEO and Chairman E. Cardon Walker dedicated the park with the following:

To all those who come to this Place of Joy, Hope, and Friendship

WELCOME

Epcot is sinspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

May EPCOT Center entertain, inform, and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.

E. Cardon Walker
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Walt Disney Productions
October, 24, 1982

What was Walt Disney’s original plan for Epcot?

Walt Disney had a dream of a planned community where 20k people could live, work, and play under the development of the Disney corporation. Much of his idea for the city centered on modernism and futurism where they could control transportation, building, and crime. This was based off of his experience in building and running Disneyland and the World’s Fair.

His plan was a Disney Airport, a Welcome Center, an industrial park for American corporations to build the technology of the future, the city where people would live, and a park for play on the far end of the land he bought.

Unfortunately, Walt passed before he could see his plan through. Luckily for us, his brother Roy stepped in and completed the Magic Kingdom. After his brother passed, E. Cardon Walker was able to complete what we now know as Epcot!

Epcot Concept Art | Fountain and Epcot Ball

What is all the construction for?

Epcot is undergoing the largest park transformation in the history of Disney. What comes out as a finished product will be unlike anything we have ever seen from any Disney park. New attractions, events, restaurants, and landscaping is transforming Epcot from a forgotten time capsule, to a theme park of the future!

When will all the construction be done?

Walt Disney World is rushing quite a few construction projects in the next 2 years in anticipation of their 50th Anniversary Celebration event in 2021. Some aspects of this Epcot construction will be done as early as June 2020, while others are going to be over a year out into Summer 2021. One thing is for sure, it will all be worth it!

What time does Epcot open?

Epcot opens at 9:00 AM ET every single day and closes at 9:00 PM ET every single day. The World Showcase is different in that it opens at 11:00 AM ET. The front of the park up to Norway and the French pavilions is available from 9:00-11:00 AM.

Outside of the normal operating hours, guests who stay on Walt Disney World property have access to Extra Magic Hours. These are an extra hour or two before or after normal operating times. These rotate throughout the week between the parks. You will have to check your My Disney Experience app for a full schedule of Extra Magic Hours.

Disney Skyliner Epcot Station Concept Art

What are the best ways to get to Epcot?

Epcot is one of two parks connected by the all new Disney Skyliner. This unique to the United States transportation system moves guests at 11 mph and 60 feet in the air. It features stations at Hollywood Studios, Caribbean Beach Resort, Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts, Riviera Resort, and Epcot! The gondola system is continuously moving so it is one of the faster ways to get around the Walt Disney World complex.

If you’re traveling from the Magic Kingdom Park or Resort Area, you can arrive via Monorail. This system was constructed in 1971 at just the Magic Kingdom Resort area, and expanded to the Epcot park in 1982. With over 150,000 daily riders, you’re sure to get around the grounds at a fast pace.

The third way to get to get to Epcot is via the Walt Disney World bus system. Every on-site resort has a bus that will go to Epcot. The drop off is right outside the front gate for easy access to security, and then you’re on your way into the park!

If you’re not staying on property, Epcot has a massive parking lot that you can park in for $25 per day, or $45 per day for preferred parking. This puts you a little closer to the front. If you don’t want to pay the premium, they do have trams that run from the front to the back so that you don’t have to walk a ton to get in.

Is there a hotel at Epcot?

There is not a hotel inside the park at Epcot, but you can stay within walking distance at the Boardwalk Resort, Swan & Dolphin Resort, or Yacht & Beach Club Resort. The 3 hotels are on Crescent Lake and back up to the World Showcase with their own entrance to the park. This is an easy way to get in if you hate dealing with traffic. It is also right where the Skyliner drops its passengers.

The 4 lands at Epcot | World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, World Showcase

What are the different lands at Epcot?

At the end of it’s current transformation, Epcot will be divided into 4 lands, or worlds. They are World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase. These 4 worlds are all dedicated to the original idea of Epcot to learn something. While each has unique shopping areas, restaurants, and rides, they are also devoted to learning what they’re named after!

Epcot Front Entrance/World Celebration Concept Art

World Celebration

World Celebration is the front entrance of Epcot and houses Spaceship Earth, a new pavilion for live events, a completely redone entrance plaza (bye bye Leave A Legacy), and an overall atmosphere of connecting people with each other and celebrating what makes human life great!

Live Event Pavilion Concept Art | Epcot, Walt Disney World

Spaceship Earth is currently undergoing ride improvements and a new script so it is temporarily closed. The center where Mouse Gears, Starbucks, Club Cool, and the Character Meet & Greet Spot were are also closed with guests being redirected around either side of the Epcot ball. This is all being refurbished for the 2021 Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Guardians of the Galaxy Roller Coaster Concept Art | Epcot, Walt Disney World

World Discovery

World Discovery is all about the sciences, technology, and space adventure. This world will house Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Mission: SPACE, Test Track, the new PLAY! Pavilion, and the all new Space 220 restaurant.

Space 220 Restaurant Concept Art | World Discovery, Epcot

The Space 220 restaurant will feature a “ride” 220 miles above Earth to a unique dining experience featuring daytime and nighttime views of Earth. This will be achieved through VR and TV screens where you would typically find windows.

PLAY! Pavilion Concept Art | Epcot, Walt Disney World, FL

The PLAY! Pavilion is modeled after a futuristic city where guests will be dropped into an interactive metropolis filled with games, experiences, activities, and characters. Edna Mode is the big centerpiece story line of the attraction.

World Celebration & World Nature Concept Art | Epcot, Walt Disney World

World Nature

World Nature is dedicated to the beauty, awe, and balance of the natural world. What is currently The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends (and Turtle Talk with Crush) will be under this new world, as well as a new Moana attraction, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana.

Moana Attraction Concept Art | World Nature, Epcot

The first ever Moana inspired attraction will provide a magical, living water that guests can interact with. This water will have a life of its own, just like the movie. Here, guests will learn all about the importance of the natural water cycle.

World Showcase

World Showcase is not getting a renovation like the rest of the lands. This has been a mainstay at the park since its opening in 1982. As of now there are no announcements for a new pavilion but all the usual suspects are rumored (Brazil, South Africa, Israel) to be coming soon.

Epcot's World Showcase | HarmonioUS Show Concept Art

Several pavilions themselves will be getting updates that include a Ratatouille inspired ride in France, new table and quick-service restaurant in France, a Mary Poppins attraction in the United Kingdom, a completely seamless 360-degree screen journey across China in the Chinese pavilion, and a new nighttime spectacular “HarmonioUS” that will feature massive floating set pieces, LED panels, moving fountains, lights, fireworks, lasers, and more!

Soarin' Around the World Ride Photo from Walt Disney World

What are the best rides at Epcot?

A loaded question for sure, but there are lots of “best” rides at Epcot. Some of my favorites include Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World, and Spaceship Earth. Coming this summer 2020, will be a Ratatouille themed ride similar to Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios and the Ratatouille themed ride at Disneyland Paris. Summer 2021 will feature the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind we mentioned before. Other top rides at Epcot include The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Mission: SPACE, and Frozen Ever After.

2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts at the front of the park

What are all the festivals at Epcot?

Epcot holds 4 festivals a year: International Festival of the Arts, International Flower & Garden Festival, International Food & Wine Festival, and International Festival of the Holidays. The 4 festivals incorporate different themes into both the front of the park and the World Showcase with the individual countries.

International Festival of the Arts

The Festival of the Arts is a month long celebration of artists and features the Disney on Broadway concert series. It also features sculptures, hand-drawings, and culinary arts on display for guests.

International Flower & Garden Festival

The Flower & Garden Festival runs for 3 months in the Spring and celebrates the culture of Disney with impressive topiaries. The entire park is filled with fresh flowers and plants and really brightens the atmosphere. Disney chefs put together an impressive themed menu as well.

International Food & Wine Festival

The Food & Wine Festival runs for 3 months in the late Summer into Fall and features the most impressive culinary collection of the 3 festivals. Disney brings in more country booths in the World Showcase and puts out quite the menu for each one. This is typically the busiest festival and for good reason (it is also our favorite). Past festivals have featured booths with cuisines from Ireland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, Belgium, India, Greece, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

International Festival of the Holidays

The Festival of the Holidays runs from mid-November into the Christmas season. This festival celebrates all the winter holidays of the world (specifically Christmas) and features plenty of gingerbread cookie, hot cocoa, and eggnog themed options on the menu.

What are all the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase?

The World Showcase features 11 countries around a beautiful lagoon that turns into a magical firework, light, and water display at night. Each of the 11 countries boast actual traditions from their respective homes as well as delicious restaurant and drink options. The 11 countries are Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. There is also a 12th “unofficial” country labeled “The African Outpost” that features drinks and snacks. One of the most fun things people do at the World Showcase is “Drinking Around the World” where you get a drink at each country (be advised, please mix in water and food!!).

Biergarten Restaurant, Germany Pavilion | Epcot, Walt Disney World

What’s the best place to eat at Epcot?

Everywhere is the best place to eat at Epcot when there are over 40 world class restaurants. If you really want some top picks, we recommend Biergarten Restaurant in Germany, La Hacienda de San Angel in Mexico, or Chefs de France. Here is a list of all the restaurants in Epcot! If you need help making reservations, be sure to reference our dining reservations guide.

Closing Thoughts

That’s all! I hope you were able to follow all of that and if you’re still here we’d love to hear your thoughts on our review and guide to Epcot. If you think we missed something that should be in here, put in the comments below. If you haven’t signed up to get alerted when we release a new post do that now so you never miss a thing!

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Mitchell Tomczak

Mitchell Tomczak

I'm 26 years old and I've been to Disney over 10 times in my life. 3 of those have been as an adult and twice with Megan! I love learning about the mystery behind the magic, Walt's life, and what's coming to Disney down the line! If I can share that with you, I'm doing my job!

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