Epcot – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

Epcot was the second park built at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It opened on October 1, 1982, eleven years after Magic Kingdom first opened its gates. Its centerpiece is the iconic silver globe of Spaceship Earth.

Epcot is split into four sections: Future World West, Future World East, Showcase Plaza and World Showcase.

The Fletcher family at Epcot

But Epcot was conceived far before its  construction and opening. Walt Disney himself started the plan for the park. Here is a quote from him on what his vision of Epcot was.

EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.

Epcot is spread out over 300 acres. It is roughly twice the size of Magic Kingdom. It is dedicated to international culture and the technological advancement of the human race. There is a lot to learn in this park, but the presentation makes it fun!

Epcot has two entrances. The main entrance is at the northern most tip of the park. Then there is the International Gateway entrance that is a pedestrian entrance only. It is walking distance from the Boardwalk and Beach & Yacht Club resorts. The entrance enters the park between the France and United Kingdom pavilions. This makes any of those places a great place to stay if you are primarily going to be visiting Epcot, like in the case of the Food & Wine Festival or for the Flower & Garden Festvial.

In my opinion, Epcot really shines during the Food and Wine Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival.

Attractions

Epcot MapUsually you can get through all of the ride attractions at Epcot in one day. The current rides are Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Test Track, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Soarin’ and Living With the Land.

The longest waits will currently be for Test Track, which was re-imagined a few years ago, and Soarin’ which is a lot of folk’s favorite, including my own.

Soarin’ puts you on a hang glider and sails you through the California countryside. It is a unique experience. It really does feel like you are flying and this feeling is really enhanced by the cool breeze that is blown over you coupled with the scents that are piped in while in flight. Wait until you smell what it’s like to fly over an orange grove.

Most of the other ride’s wait times will be short. We usually try to hit the “main” ride in the area that we are in then hit the other rides and attractions in that area that have short wait times. For instance, we will get a FastPass+ for Soarin’. After we ride it we will then hit Living with the Land, The Circle of Life and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

Then we almost always take a bit of time to checkout the aquarium and go see Turtle Talk with Crush which is an interactive show where your young ones can really talk with Crush, the turtle, from Nemo. Just be prepared to hear the word “dude” a lot.

There are a few shows that are on the longer side and younger children may find themselves getting board in the middle of them. One such show is Ellen’s Energy Adventure.

Here are all of the attractions at Epcot:

Entrance

  • Spaceship Earth

Future World East

  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • Mission: Space
  • Advance Training Lab
  • Test Track
  • Innovations East & West
  • The Sum of All Thrills
  • Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World

Future World West

  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Soarin’
  • Living with the Land
  • The Circle of Life
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Captain EO
  • ImageWorks
  • Club Cool

April, Kaelynn and Iris on Test Track at Epcot

One thing worth mentioning that is not really a ride or show but I think is a really neat attraction is Club Cool. You can get a bunch of free soda there. That’s right. I said free soda. The really neat part is that it is not soda that you would typically find in the United States. There are stations set up for different countries and each will have between four and seven different offerings. Some of them are really tasty, some of them have an interesting flavor and some of them taste just plain weird. It’s definitely worth checking out and it’s a really great place to get a cold drink (or 10) on a hot day.

A note on Mission: Space: This ride has two levels, green and red. If you are at all prone to motion sickness, stick with green. This ride is great but it spins to stimulate gravity and lack there of. It is also has tight quarters to give it the true feeling that you are inside of a space craft. If you are claustrophobic, you may want to sit this one out. April will only do the green side but she is mildly claustrophobic so she often opts to sit this one out while I take the kids on it, who all love it.

Mural in Maelstrom at Epcot The World Showcase is primarily comprised of dining but you will find a few smaller attractions there as well. One that recently closed was Maelstrom in Norway. I loved that ride and was truly sad to see it go but I’m excited about what is coming. It has been closed to make way for a new ride featuring the cast of Frozen. April and I have been told that we look like the man and woman in the mural that was painted on the far wall of the ride’s line cue.

Here is what Disney has to say about the upcoming attraction that will be opening in 2016.

“Frozen Ever After,” is an adventure fit for the entire family that will take guests through the kingdom of Arendelle. The fantastic Disney storytelling combined with new technology and favorite moments and music from the film will make guests feel like they stepped into the magical world of “Frozen.”

Dining

If you have read any of my writings about the dining at Disney World you know that I am a huge fan of eating at Epcot. This park is head and shoulders above the rest of the parks with regards to eating, and I love to eat. It is a major part of my vacations. Most of the best restaurants can be found in the World Showcase, but we really love Coral Reef which is in Future World West.

Future World East

  • Electric Umbrella

Future World West

  • Fountain View
  • Coral Reef Restaurant
  • Sunshine Seasons
  • Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at The Garden Grill
  • Refreshments Port
  • Promenade Refreshments

World Showcase Dining

Mexico

  • San Angel Inn Restaurante
  • La Hacienda de San Angel
  • La Cantina de San Angel
  • La Cava del Tequila

Norway

  • Princess Sotrybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (a great place to meet a lot of princesses)
  • Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

China

  • Nine Dragons Restaurant
  • Lotus Blossom Cafe

Germany

  • Biergarten Restaurant
  • Sommerfest

Italy

  • Tutto Italia Ristorante
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
  • Via Napoli Ristorante & Pizzeria

America

  • Liberty INn
  • Fife & Drum Tavern

Japan

  • Teppan Edo
  • Tokyo Dining
  • Katsura Grill
  • Kabuki Cafe

Morocco

  • Restaurant Marrakesh
  • Tangierine Cafe
  • Spice Road Table

France

  • Chefs de France
  • Monsieur Paul
  • Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie
  • L’Artisan des Glaces

United Kingdom

  • Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
  • Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Canada

  • O Canada!
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse

 

The Food & Wine Festival

If you are a foode like April and me, you will really enjoy a day at Epcot while the Food & Wine Festival is taking place. This event takes place each fall and is one of many great reasons to visit during this time of year.

Food & Wine Festival Display by Jimmy G is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Food & Wine Festival Display by Jimmy G is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During this event many of the restaurants set up booths and sell small portions of their signature dishes. The cost for most of them is right around $5. For example in 2015 in Canada you can get Le Cellier Steakhouse’s Cheddar Cheese Soup for $4.25 and their wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce for $7.50.

This is a great time to get adventurous and try something lavish like croissant aux escargots with garlic and parsley in France. That’s snails, folks. If you’ve never tried it give it a whirl. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised. It will set you back $5.50.

Traditional Kjøttkaker by Edward Russell is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Traditional Kjøttkaker by Edward Russell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

April and I love to walk around the World Showcase and sample food and wine or beer from each different country. It takes a while because it really is a lot of food. Last year we made it around the entire World Showcase for around $50. That is really an economical way to try a lot of the different cuisine Epcot has to offer.

International Flower & Garden Festival

The Flower & Garden Festival is another great time to visit Epcot. If you are anything like me, and love your flowers and gardens, this event will surely captivate you.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by zannaland is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by zannaland is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The way they make the Disney characters come to life is really spectacular. It really is some botanical awesomeness that these pictures do not do justice. All of the gardens around Epcot spring to more life than usual, and they are already pretty impressive when the Flower & Garden Festival is not taking place. You will find Mickey, Minnie and lots of other Disney characters postured throughout the entire park.

Mickie and Minnie by Chris Murray is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Mickie and Minnie by Chris Murray is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Whatever you do, you do not want to miss Illuminations at Epcot. It is probably a coin toss between this and Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios to determine what my favorite nighttime show is.

Illuminations by Christian Lambert is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Illuminations by Christian Lambert is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Illuminations showcases the past, present and future of earth in a captivating fireworks and laser light show display. It truly is awe inspiring. If you have to take a break during the day and come back to the park due to tired little (or bigger) ones, I highly recommend that you do that. This is probably at the top of my “do not miss” list for Epcot.

9 Replies to “Epcot – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”

    1. Hey David, I know that most theme parks are not for everyone, but Epcot is really a different animal. If you love food and drink, this is the park for you. Thanks for your note and thanks for stopping by.

  1. Wow! This is a great review! My husband and I are in the middle of planning a trip to Florida to visit Disney World. Being Southern Californian’s, we get to enjoy Disneyland all year long but we have never been to Disney World. I will definitely be referring back to your page as we get closer!

    And too bad we will miss the Food and Wine festival. That is certainly a great reason to visit in the fall! Thank you for spelling out the Magic for us!

    1. Hey Heather, April (my wife) is from southern California. I dragged her to the east coast, kicking and screaming. 🙂

      She grew up going to Disneyland, and from what she remembers, Disney World is far more expansive and really a different experience. A lot has changed at Disneyland since her childhood, though, and we are planning a trip there soon.

      I’m glad you got some value out of my post. I’m sure you are going to have a great time.

  2. As a fireworks lover myself, i have definitely made a mental note to visit EPCOT.
    I actually visited the park a few years back, but never encountered any of the attractions you mentioned.
    Do you know the rate at which attractions change?

    1. They do change but not very often. For instance, Mission: Space was opened in October of 2003. Prior to that it was an attraction called Horizons that was an anamitronic attraction that was a vision of how we might develop technologically. The rides at Epcot have been fairly static for the past five or six years. The only exception is Maelstrom which, as I mentioned in the post, has closed to make way for a new Frozen attraction.

  3. Hi Christian, Wow that was some review! I don’t care for theme parks or rides, and to be honest, I’ve always lumped Epcot in with the whole Disney World thing which never interested me. My husband and I lived in Florida for a few years, and never gave a thought to going anywhere near Orlando. Perhaps if I had seen your review, I might have re-considered.

    1. Hi Hindy, you and your husband should consider visiting Epcot if you find yourself anywhere near it. Even though Disney calls them theme parks, there really is a lot more to them. Epcot, for me, is mostly about the food. I also love their aquarium. I could watch the dolphins and manatees swim for hours. Also, if you are into botany at all, the gardens there are superb and definitely worth looking at during the Flower & Garden Festival.

      Thanks for your note.

  4. Hi Christian. Wow, this is such a comprehensive review. I am going to print this article out before I visit Florida to help me plan my visit to Epcot. Thank you for saving people’s time with this article!
    David

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