Since Epcot is my favorite park at Walt Disney World, I’d like to think that I’m basically a professional Epcot guest. While it may seem simple to do Epcot like a pro since there are not necessarily as many attractions as some of the other parks, there is still plenty to do, which does require some planning and research:
1) Get there early
To have the most efficient day at Epcot, it is really important to arrive at the park early. This park uses a tier system for Fastpasses, which means that you cannot book a Fastpass for both Test Track and Soarin’. Because of this, I would recommend getting to the park around the time it opens (usually 9:00 AM) and going to whichever attraction you did not get a Fastpass for. By doing this, you will still be able to experience the non-Fastpass attraction with little or no wait, since the crowds will be much lighter right after park opening.
2) Visit World Showcase early
Most guests visit Future World when they arrive at the park in the morning, and move towards World Showcase later in the day. To offset the crowds in World Showcase, visiting this part of the park right after it opens would be helpful. Just keep in mind that it does open a couple of hours later than Future World, usually by 11:00 AM. Check out “10 Experiences You Can’t Miss in Epcot’s World Showcase.”
3) Eat in World Showcase
World Showcase has some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World, and I would definitely recommend choosing a table service restaurant in this area. Not only will you be able to dine in a different country, but it is also nice to break up the day and relax with some air conditioning and unique food and drinks. Epcot has little shade, but lots to see and lots of walking involved, so taking a break in World Showcase can be really helpful (and delicious!)
4) Meet the characters
Though it is not always the first place that comes to mind, Epcot is actually one of the best places to met characters at Walt Disney World. A walk around World Showcase can help you run into characters that have meet and greets in the different countries, like Snow White, Mulan, and Alice in Wonderland just to name a few. Future World is home to characters as well, primarily the classic Disney characters like Minnie, Mickey, and the chipmunks, and currently Bay Max is meeting in Future World as well.
5) Plan to spend more than one day in the park
To do everything you’ll want to get done in Epcot, at least without feeling rushed, you should spend at least two days in the park. Epcot has a lot to do besides the rides, and so a visit to this park can be a bit more time consuming than the others. A trip to Epcot also comes with a lot of walking, so being able to take your time seeing everything will not tire out as easily as rushing to see everything in one day would.
6) Visit during a special event
In my opinion, the best times to visit Epcot are during the International Food and Wine or Flower and Garden Festivals. These fun events take place every spring and fall, and they add extra kiosks, presentations, dining, photo ops, concerts, and more to the park. If visiting Epcot is a priority during your vacation, definitely check to see if planning your trip around one of these events is possible with your schedule.
7) Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours
Extra Magic Hours allow Disney resort guests to visit the parks either an hour before they open or up to two or three hours after they close to the general public on select days. Since Epcot typically closes at 9:00 PM, I always suggest taking advantage of the nights where there are Extra Magic Hours, and the park is open until 11:00 PM. A lot of guests tend to leave after Illuminations anyway, so evening Extra Magic Hours can be a good time to go back and visit anything that you might have missed during the day.
8) Do some shopping
Epcot is one of the best places to shop at Walt Disney World for a couple of reasons. World Showcase is a fun shopping destination because you are able to find tons of unique merchandise in each of the countries. In addition, Future World offers a variety of attraction specific merchandise at places like Test Track and Mission Space. And Mouse Gear is one of the largest stores in any of the parks, so you’re bound to find some great souvenirs in there as well.
9) Visit the nearby resorts
There are a number of resorts that are located within walking distance from Epcot’s World Showcase– the Boardwalk Inn, Swan and Dolphin, and Yacht and Beach Club. If you’re looking for a break from the park, or something to do after the park closes, there are lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment options over there, like the ESPN Zone, and Jellyrolls, the dueling piano bar located on the Boardwalk.
10) Stay for Illuminations (and claim a spot!)
Illuminations is one of the best nighttime shows at Walt Disney World, and it is definitely worth seeing at least once per trip. When seeing Illuminations, be sure to arrive early as World Showcase will really fill up as it gets closer to showtime, and the closer you get to the water the better your view of the globe on the lagoon will be.
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