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EPCOT Theme Park Guide – Walt Disney World

EPCOT, Walt Disney World’s second-oldest theme park and “a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”

EPCOT Park Walt Disney World

After almost 40 years, EPCOT park is still a celebration of human achievement brought together in Future World and World Showcase, and the 4th-most popular theme park in the world.

Even though its vision has changed since the park’s opening, it continues to entertain in ways other theme parks can’t. There is something so comforting and majestic about watching Spaceship Earth from across the lagoon, and we still love strolling around World Showcase, through all 11 unique countries.

In this post, we’ll share with you everything there is to know about EPCOT in Disney World, including all the attractions, restaurants, shows, characters and what you need to prepare for your visit.

Even though EPCOT is in a state of flux at the moment, it’s still well worth a visit during your trip and shouldn’t be skipped. Rides like Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth are musts.

Not to mention all the time you’ll want to spend in all the amazing countries like Japan, France, Germany and Mexico.

Future World at EPCOT

We’ll share with you the history of the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World, help you get tickets, parking and let you discover all the different pavilions in Future World and World Showcase.

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Overview

  • Location: Walt Disney World, Bay Lake, Florida, United States
  • Opened: October 1, 1982
  • Future World Pavilions: 9
  • World Showcase Countries: 11
  • Attractions: 21
  • Restaurants: 42
  • Status: Operating
  • Operated By: Walt Disney World Resort
  • Park Capacity: 110,000

What is EPCOT?

EPCOT Center opens October 1982

EPCOT is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake near Orlando, Florida, USA. It was the second theme park built at the resort and is themed after human achievement through technological innovation and international culture.

Disney’s EPOCT Center opened on October 1, 1982. It has a unique design and is actually 2 theme parks built into one with two completely separate areas, each with smaller subareas called pavilions.

The two themed areas are called Future World and World Showcase (though Future World will soon be split into 3 separate areas). EPCOT has 20 different pavilions with over 20 different attractions, 51 restaurants, and numerous shops and entertainment options.

Originally, EPCOT was planned by Walt Disney himself to be a prototype of a utopian city of the future. This city would be on the cutting edge of American enterprise and have an urban city center, schools, residential areas and more.

Walt’s concept of EPCOT however was abandoned after his death in 1966, and the project developed into a second theme park at Walt Disney World to go along with the Magic Kingdom.

Where is EPCOT Located?

EPCOT entrance and turnstiles

EPCOT is one of the 4 theme parks at The Walt Disney World Resort. Some people get confused about the parks, but it is not Disney World itself, but part of the larger resort.

When looking at a map of Walt Disney World, EPCOT is almost in the exact middle of the property. The official EPCOT address is: 1200 Epcot Resort Blvd. Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

To the East of EPCOT is the Disney Springs area. To the North, Disney’s Magic Kingdom. To the West are the EPCOT-area hotels. And to the South is Hollywood Studios and nearby Disney World Resort Hotels.

What does Epcot Stand for?

The acronym EPCOT stands for “Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow,” and is the name Walt Disney gave to his utopian city of the future.

When the park opened in 1982, it’s official name was “EPCOT Center.” That name continued until 1994 when “Center” was dropped from the title and it became just “Epcot.”

You also may have noticed the name Epcot is sometimes capitalized and sometimes not. From 1994 to 2019 it was written as “Epcot.” Then ahead of the major changes coming to the park, Disney announced it would now be written in all caps as “EPCOT.”

EPCOT had been using the same logo as its symbol for 23 years until Disney recently shared the new logo for the park, as well as new logos for the various pavilions.

Here is the current official EPCOT park logo:

Epcot Logo

The font is identical to the original EPCOT Center logo, just without the word “Center” included.

Here is the old EPCOT logo that was in use from 1996 – 2019:

Epcot logo 1996 to 2019

We also mentioned that there are new individual logos for each pavilion throughout the park:

Epcot Logos D23 Expo
photo by The Dis

The logos all have an old-school in look and feel, and we absolutely LOVE them! They bring us back to the original EPCOT.

What is EPCOT known for?

All Walt Disney World theme parks are known for something. When you think of the Magic Kingdom you think of characters and fantasy. Hollywood Studios, movies and the film industry. Animal Kingdom is obviously themed around nature and animals.

What about EPCOT? What is it known for?

EPCOT was created around the idea of human achievement and ingenuity, science, and technology. While those messages are not emphasized nearly as much as they were in years past, they are still woven into the park’s attractions.

Spaceship Earth Michelangelo scene

Of course when you think of EPCOT you think of Spaceship Earth, the iconic geodesic sphere located at the front of Future World. EPCOT is also known for the 11 countries around World Showcase Lagoon with their themed dining and shopping areas.

In recent years, EPCOT has become the “Festival Park” in Disney World. There are 4 seasonal festivals in the park which last for 9 months out of the year. These festivals attract foodies and many locals who come to EPCOT as the “weekend hang-out spot.”

Is EPCOT Closing?

With all the construction currently going on in the park, one might wonder if EPCOT is closing. The answer to that is no.

Disney has no plans to close EPCOT, even temporarily. And no matter how inconvenient the construction is, the park will remain open throughout.

Buying Tickets

Journey Into Imagination! pavilion EPCOT

The first thing you need to do to go to EPCOT is buy park tickets. That requires figuring out how many days to go for.

At this time we recommend visiting EPCOT for one day during your trip. There is a lot of construction going on and there just isn’t as much to do as there is at the Magic Kingdom for example.

Of course, this depends on what type of group is visiting. One day is enough if you have kids, who will see all the interesting attractions in half a day.

If you are only with adults, and you like food festivals, and taking in some of the sites and cultural attractions the park has to offer, then you might want to consider visiting EPCOT for two days.

You might want to consider purchasing a Park Hopper Ticket which allows you to visit multiple parks in one day. That could come in handy with EPCOT if you are staying at one of the nearby hotels.

We love to go to a different park or stay at the pool during the day, then head to EPCOT for dinner, and we do this multiple times each trip.

United Kingdom EPCOT World Showcase

(Park Hopper Tickets are temporarily unavailable at the moment).

Both Single and Multi-Day tickets are available to purchase dates for 2020 or 2021. Tickets are available right now through December 31, 2021.

Disney World park tickets use dynamic pricing which means the cost changes depending on the date you go. If you want to save money, go in the off-season when ticket prices are cheaper. The closer you go to a holiday, the higher ticket prices will be.

The best place to buy tickets is a trusted reseller or the official Disney World website. Be careful when buying third-party tickets to EPCOT. Some resellers even offer discount tickets that cannot be used.

How Much Does Epcot Cost?

Morocco Pavilion EPCOT

EPCOT is a wonderful place to visit, but like all Disney Parks, it isn’t cheap.

Ticket prices vary depending on the exact day you want to visit. 1-Day Disney World theme park tickets range from $109 to $159 per day, depending on when you go.

Tickets aren’t your only cost when visiting EPCOT however. You also have to consider food, shopping and parking costs.

Food costs vary greatly based on how much you eat and if you prefer sit-down meals or counter service. Prices for food in EPCOT can range anywhere from $40 to $100 or more per person per day.

If you have a car, standard parking is $25 per car or motorcycle.

If you are going to EPCOT for the whole day, you should easily plan on spending $150 to $200 per person.

Park Pass Reservations

Disney Park Pass Reservation confirmation Screenshot EPCOT

Right now, all Disney World theme parks need not only regular tickets to get in, but also an advanced reservation to the park.

The Disney Park Pass Reservation System was implemented recently due to the current health restrictions and helps Disney manage the crowds and keeps them from exceeding the new capacity limits.

Park reservations can be made on the Disney World website, but again, you’ll need to have a valid park admission before making a park reservation.

Read our post on How to Make Disney World Park Reservations for a detailed walkthrough on the new system.

Park Hours

The Seas with Nemo characters

EPCOT park hours are usually very steady and don’t change that much throughout the year. However, during special events, holidays or when Extra Magic Hours are running hours can fluctuate some.

Again, knowing if these events are happening is crucial to planning your day.

Normal Schedule – On most days, EPCOT opens at 9:00 am and often closes at 9:00 pm. Occasionally it has later closings at 10:00 pm or 11:00 depending on the season.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Future World and World Showcase have different hours, and they aren’t both always open at the same time. Here is a typical schedule:

  • Future World Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
  • World Showcase Hours: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm

Even though World Showcase doesn’t officially open until 11:00 am most days, some parts of it are open at 9:00 am such as Frozen Ever After in Norway and Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in France.

EPCOT fireworks

Holidays and Busy Days – EPCOT times can vary during the holidays and the busy season.

Extra Magic Hours – EPCOT usually runs Extra Magic Hours on Tuesday Mornings and Thursday Evenings.

  • Morning Extra Magic Hours: from 8:00 am to 9:00 am
  • Evening Extra Magic Hours: from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Special Events – Hours also vary when EPCOT is running a Disney After Hours event or another special event.

Phased Reopening Period – During this reopening period, EPCOT hours have been greatly reduced with later openings and earlier closing times than usual.

The typical EPCOT park hours vary greatly right now and are from 11:00 am or 12:00 pm through 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm. Weekends and holidays usually close at 9:00 or 10:00 pm.

Check the official Walt Disney World park schedule for the latest EPCOT Hours.

Future World

EPCOT park hours

The front half of EPCOT is called Future World and it is where the park’s main entrance is located. It is divided into 2 areas: Future World East and Future World West.

The overall theme of Future World is science, technology, and human achievement, which are separated and explored through its various pavilions. Each pavilion has a distinct architectural style and design.

The attractions in Future World are themed to the ocean, the land, space, transportation, imagination, communication, energy, and the environment.

Future World East

  • Mission: Space – The former home of Horizons, this pavilion focuses on space exploration. The motion simulator attraction Mission: Space is located here, as well as a space-themed restaurant.
  • The Odyssey Events Pavilion – The Odyssey pavilion has served many purposes through the years and is now the home of an EPCOT preview exhibit showing all the new projects coming to the park.
  • Spaceship Earth – Located at the front of the park, this 180-foot geodesic sphere is the symbol of EPCOT. It also houses a classic dark ride attraction that takes people through the history of human communication.
  • Test Track – The former location of the World of Motion pavilion and current home to the thrilling high-speed car ride Test Track. It also includes an exhibit for General Motors in the post-ride area.
  • Wonders of Life (changing into Play! Pavilion) – This pavilion has been mostly closed for years now and only used as an EPCOT Festival Center. It is being transformed into the Play! pavilion, a new interactive area with attractions and activities.
EPCOT Future World Mission: Space

Future World West

  • Imagination! – A fun look at one of the more underrated senses, imagination. Here you’ll find Journey Into Imagination with Figment and the Disney & Pixar Short Films Festival.
  • The Land – Focuses on the study of agriculture, ecology, and humans’ interaction with the planet Earth. It’s home to 3 attractions: Soarin’ Around the World, Living with the Land, and Awesome Planet.
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends – Originally called “The Living Seas,” this pavilion focuses on ocean life and exploration. It features a Nemo-themed omnimover ride, Turtle Talk with Crush, and one of the largest saltwater tanks in the world.
The Land Pavilion EPCOT

Future World Renaming

After decades with the same name, EPCOT’s Future World is being split into 3 separately themed neighborhoods and eliminating the Future World name.

World Celebration – This area will be where the current center of Future World is located. It includes the EPCOT entrance, Spaceship Earth, and the former location of the Innoventions buildings.

It will house various stores and dining locations, and will be the home to the new EPCOT festival center. Disney was planning a 3-story festival center called “Dreamer’s Point,” but it is unsure whether that project is going ahead as originally planned.

World Discovery – The former location of Future World East. According to Disney, it will be an area with “stories about spaces, science, technology and intergalactic adventure comes to life.”

Test Track, Mission: Space, the Play! Pavilion, and the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster will all be located here.

World Nature – The former location of Future World West. Disney says this area will be about “understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world.”

The Land, Imagination! and The Seas with Nemo & Friends will all be located in World Nature, as well as the new Moana attraction, Journey of Water.

World Showcase

EPCOT World Showcase Morocco Pavilion

World Showcase is the other half of EPCOT and consists of 11 countries, each uniquely-themed to represent that specific country. Think of it as a sort of permanent world’s fair that’s always on display.

The 11 pavilions are located around the large man-made World Showcase Lagoon and are connected by a large walkway called World Showcase Promenade. The entire perimeter of World Showcase Lagoon is 1.2 miles (1.8 km) long.

List of World Showcase countries in order (Clockwise from Future World):

  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • China
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • American Adventure
  • Japan
  • Morocco
  • France
  • U.K.
  • Canada

Each of the 11 countries in World Showcase contains attractions, restaurants, and shops specific to that country and representing that country’s culture and cuisine.

To make things more realistic, Disney hires citizens of those countries to work inside that pavilion, giving it a truly authentic look and feel.

Rides & Attractions

EPCOT Rides and Attractions

With 22 attractions, EPCOT doesn’t have the most rides in Walt Disney World, but there are definitely some rides you do not want to skip. Most of the best rides are located at the front of the park in Future World, and you’ll definitely spend a good amount of time riding Test Track, Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth.

Known more for its dining and shops than for traditional rides, World Showcase still has a lot to offer guests. While most of the attractions are geared toward adults, Disney has slowly been adding more kid-friendly attractions into World Showcase, with more coming in the near future.

Here is a list of all the EPCOT attractions grouped by area:

Future World

Future World East

Future World West

  • Awesome Planet
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

World Showcase

  • Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along (France)
  • Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 (Canada)
  • Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase AdventureComing in 2021
  • Frozen Ever After (Norway)
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (Mexico)
  • Impressions de France (France)
  • Kidcot Fun Stops (Every pavilion)
  • Reflections of China (China)
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (France)Coming in 2021
  • The American Adventure (America)

EPCOT Must Do’s

EPCOT Must Do Attractions

There sure are a lot of attractions to enjoy in EPCOT, but which are the best ones? What are the ones you absolutely must do when you visit. Here are some of our favorites:

Future World East

Spaceship Earth – The very first attraction you run into when you enter EPCOT is one of our absolute favorites, Spaceship Earth. Yeah, there is an actual ride inside that huge geodesic sphere, and one of the few classics that remain from opening day.

This is a 15-minute long dark ride taking through through the history of human communication from prehistoric times all the way down the the 21st century. Everything about this ride is fantastic, from the musical score to the narration by Judy Dench, and timeless scenes.

EPCOT Spaceship Earth ride

Mission: Space – Discover the thrill of space travel and what it’s like to be an astronaut in this centrifugal space simulator. We guarantee you’ve never feel G-forces like this before. Choose between the Green or Orange version depending on how intense you wan the ride to be.

Test Track – While not nearly as good as the first version of this attraction, you still can’t visit EPCOT without going on Test Track. Find out what the testing process is like on new cars and take a spin around the circuit at speeds in excess of 60 mph.

Future World West

Soarin’ Around the World – One of the best rides in Disney World, Soarin’ simulates what it’s like to hang-glide over some of the most famous and picturesque locations in the world. Visit Paris, the Taj Mahal, Fiji, The Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, the African Savanas, and more.

EPCOT Journey Into Imagination

Living with the Land – Definitely one of the more low-key rides in EPCOT, Living with the Land brings you on an informative boat ride around the world and shows you how scientists are coming up with new solutions to sustain the Earth’s growing population.

You also get to see first-hand the techniques used by Disney’s horticulturists and some of the produce grown for restaurants in the park.

Journey Into Imagination with Figment – We know it’s a shell of the beloved original attraction, but we always have to stop in and see Figment when in the park. Learn about the five senses and see what kind of trouble this loveable purple dragon gets into.

World Showcase

Frozen Ever After Entrance in EPCOT

Frozen Ever After – Fans of the Disney classic will not want to miss this dark boat ride in the Norway pavilion. Join Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and friends on a trip through the Scandinavian countryside and into Arendelle.

Impressions de France – Our favorite of all the EPCOT movies is the captivating look at France and the French culture in Impressions de France. Whether it’s taking a hot-air balloon over the Loire Valley, visit castles in the French countryside or the bustling streets of Paris, we never get tired of this film.

The American Adventure – Take a trip through the American history with Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. You’ll also enjoy the American Heritage Gallery in the lobby with incredible African-American art and history on display.

FastPass+

*Disney has temporarily suspended use of the FastPass+ system at the Disney World parks until further notice.

If you are going to EPCOT, you definitely need to take advantage of FastPass+. This is a service that comes free with your theme park admission and allows you to make reservations for rides ahead of time and then “skip” the lines for those attractions.

Link your ticket purchase to your account to schedule FastPass selections in advance. Guests can have up to 3 FastPass+ reservations in advance, which are then redeemed in hour-long return windows when it’s your turn to ride.

FastPass+ in EPCOT

You can make your FastPass+ reservations using the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone, and reservations can be made between 30 days and 60 days ahead of time. We highly recommend you make FastPass+ reservations as soon as you can, especially for the more popular rides.

The following are the Tier 1 FastPass+ selections at EPCOT:

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Test Track
  • Soarin’ Around the World

The difficult thing about FastPass+ at EPCOT is only one Tier 1 selection can be made ahead of time per day, so you will have to choose one out of the above 3 and do the stand-by queue for the other two.

Make sure one of your 3 selections includes one of the above attractions as most of the other rides at EPCOT don’t even need a FastPass+ reservation.

Entertainment

EPCOT Entertainment

Just like in any Disney theme park, entertainment options are numerous in EPCOT. Between the concerts, character meets, street performers and epic fireworks shows, there is more to experience than can be done on just one trip.

*Many of the regular EPCOT entertainment like fireworks shows, stage shows, and character meets are temporarily suspended.

Fireworks

EPCOT Forever – Fireworks shows at the end of the night are always one of the highlights of any day at EPCOT. After a 20-year run, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth has come to an end and EPCOT Forever is the current fireworks show in the park.

EPCOT Fireworks in Japan Pavilion

When it opened in 2019, EPCOT Forever became one of the biggest fireworks shows Disney has ever created. It pays homage to the EPCOT of old and features a soundtrack with music from original attractions like Horizons, Journey Into Imagination, Universe of Energy and more.

EPCOT Forever is only a hold-over show and the new permanent fireworks show has yet to debut. Disney Harmonious will debut sometime in 2021 and it will be the most elaborate fireworks display Disney has ever had!

Street Performers and Musical Acts

  • British Revolution (United Kingdom) A cover band of the most popular British rock groups of all time. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and more are covered.
  • Entertainment at Canada Mill Stage (Canada) This is a revolving door of live music groups acts. The last group to play here was Alberta Bound.
  • JAMMitors – Have you ever seen musical theme park custodians? This high-energy group uses their trash can drum sets to play songs, and they throw some humor in too.
  • Jeweled Dragon Acrobats (China) – These amazing performers will take your breath away when you see the high-flying stunts they pull off.
  • Mariachi Cobre (Mexico) – A wonderful traditional 12-piece mariachi band playing classic Mexican melodies.
  • Matsuriza (Japan) – Traditional Taiko, a form of Japanese drumming. Performances include dramatic dances.
  • Rose & Crown Pub Musician (United Kingdom) – Great songs inspired by the British pubs.
  • Sergio (Italy) – This Italian mime puts on a show and gets the whole crowd in on the act.
  • Serveur Amusant (France) – This duo of performers is a staple in the France pavilion. Another set of acrobats that will leave you speechless.
  • Viva Mexico (Mexico) – Traditional Mexican music group. Performs with Mariachi Cobre is not playing.
  • Voices of Liberty (American Adventure) – Step in the American Adventure and listen to this 1800s eight-person a cappella group singing patriotic melodies. The acoustic setting in the rotunda is the perfect location for their harmonies.
Serveur Amusant in EPCOT

Many of the regular street performers and musical acts are not appearing in the park at this time. However, the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre can be found at the America Gardens Theatre on a daily basis.

Character Cavalcades

Disney has temporarily introduced all-new Character Cavalcades to the parks right now as a replacement for regular parades. This way you can still enjoy your favorite characters in the parks.

The Disney character cavalcades in the parks are processions of Disney characters that walk by in an organized way and greet guests from a safe distance.

Goofy Character Cavalcade EPCOT

Here are the current Character Cavalcades at EPCOT:

  • Frozen Promenade – Anna and Elsa make their way down World Showcase Promenade, Anna from her caravan and Elsa on foot.
  • Mickey & Friends World Tour – Goofy leads the way here with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in a travel-themed Rolls Royce and Pluto following not too far behind.
  • Princess Promenade – Princesses like Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine and more ride along in a horse-driven caravan greeting guests.

There are also special Christmas Character Cavalcades going on during the holiday season:

  • Santa Claus Promenade

Check out our complete guide to Character Cavalcades at Disney World for more details on them in all the parks.

Characters

  • Alice in Wonderland (United Kingdom)
  • Anna and Elsa at Royal Sommerhus (Norway)
  • Belle (France)
  • Daisy Duck (American Adventure)
  • Donald Duck (Mexico)
  • Goofy (near Spaceship Earth)
  • Joy (Imagination! pavilion)
  • Mary Poppins (United Kingdom)
  • Mickey Mouse at Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (Imagination! pavilion)
  • Mulan (China)
  • Princess Jasmine (Morocco)
  • Ralph and Venellope Inside Image Works (Imagination! pavilion)
  • Snow White (Germany)
  • Winnie the Pooh (United Kingdom)
Characters in EPCOT

Characters have become more and more popular at EPCOT in recent years and on a daily basis there are as many character meets here as there are in any of the Disney World theme parks and they can be found in almost every pavilion.

Dining

Maybe more so than in any Walt Disney World theme park, EPCOT is known for its food and drinks. Nothing is better than a stroll around World Showcase Lagoon and dining at one of its dozens of authentically-themed restaurants.

EPCOT Dining and Restaurants

No matter if you are looking for a sit-down meal or something on the go, this park has you covered. You might even just spend the whole day snacking around World Showcase enjoying the best snacks at EPCOT.

Here are lists of all the restaurants, food stands, snack carts, bars, and lounges in EPCOT.

Quick Service Dining

  • Electric Umbrella – (Closed)
  • Katsura Grill – (Japan)
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – (Norway)
  • La Cantina de San Angel – (Mexico)
  • Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie(France)
  • Lotus Blossom Cafe – (China)
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue(American Adventure)
  • Refreshment Outpost – (between China and Germany)
  • Refreshment Port – (Canada)
  • Sommerfest – (Germany)
  • Sunshine Seasons – (Future World West)
  • Traveler’s Café – (Starbucks)
  • Tangierine Café(Morocco)
  • Yorkshire County Fish Shop – (United Kingdom)
EPCOT Quick Service Dining

It’s super easy to find a quick and cheap meal in EPCOT as there are a plethora of options with 14 quick service dining locations. The nice thing about it is that most of them are really good too!

Quick service meals come in handy when you don’t want to waste too much time with a sit-down meal and want to get back to the attractions as soon as possible.

Our favorite quick s