Planning the Perfect Day at Epcot
All four theme parks at Walt Disney World are triumphs. You’ll celebrate an unforgettable vacation day at any of them, especially when you plan right. Starting with this article, MickeyBlog wants to offer you a series of day planners for the various parks, pro tips that will help less experienced Mickey Travelers. Our site wants you to have the best time possible on your trip, so we’re putting together a few itineraries you can use. We’ll start with Epcot since it has a lot of nuance. Here’s our guide to the perfect Epcot single-day visit.
Start the Day Early
In a previous article, I stressed the importance of Rope Drop. It’s a strategy wherein you arrive at the park minutes before the scheduled opening. By doing so, you’re one of the first people to enter, giving you a better chance to ride something popular before a crowd forms.
Before I discuss rope drop tips, I want to stress that another option can improve your Epcot day that much more. When you stay at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn or Disney’s Beach Club Resort, you’ll be only a few hundred feet away from the back entrance to Epcot. It’s called the International Gateway, and it can make a huge difference in your early morning strategies.
Since most people reading this won’t stay at these two resorts, I’ve written the guide from the front entrance perspective. I’ll point out a couple of instances where International Gateway users have different options at the end of the piece, though.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you DO want to arrive in time for Rope Drop. Failure to do so will lessen your chances at riding all of Epcot’s best attractions. The ones with the longest lines are Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ Around the World, and Test Track. You’ll want to ride all of them. Otherwise, you’ll leave the park feeling disappointed.
At Rope Drop, I suggest that you head straight to Soarin’ Around the World. You can use the mapping feature on My Disney Experience to get precise directions. It’s in the middle of the park, almost to the World Showcase. So, the walk is significant. I suggest this, because you want to walk past all the people who see Spaceship Earth and decide to ride it. Since it’s the first thing at the park entrance…and kind of hard to miss, early morning guests tend to flock to it. We’ll come back when it’s less crowded.
Easy Morning Rides
The beauty of Future World at Epcot is that many of its attractions have short line queues. They’re also fun rides. My expectation is that someone who shows up at park opening will have ridden Soarin’ Around the World by 10 a.m.
Since you’re already in the pavilion called The Land, you might as well get in line for Living with the Land. It’s on the same floor as Soarin’, and the exit to that attraction is close to the entrance for Living with the Land.
This ride takes about 20 minutes, as it’s a boat ride that’s half food production history and half scientific demonstration of revolutionary food cultivation techniques. Generally, I suggest that people ride it when they’re tired after a hot day with lots of walking, but you won’t have this issue using the guide. It’s intended to prevent exhaustion.
Once you exit The Land pavilion, you’ll then want to choose your next attraction, and a great one is directly to your left. The Seas with Nemo & Friends is an aquatic pavilion that’s child-friendly and fascinating to walk through. Start with the ride of the same name.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends is an Omnimover attraction that takes place in a dark environment. It’s also air-conditioned to a high degree to mimic an underwater experience. This too is a great attraction to escape a hot day, but it’s also an uplifting ride that’s great at any point during the day.
Once you’re done with the ride, you have two options. One is to ride it again, which is a valid choice. The other is to explore the pavilion to learn more about what Epcot used to call The Living Seas. As far as edutainment goes, this building is the gold standard. Plus, you can watch an interactive show called Turtle Talk with Crash. It’s Epcot’s answer to Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and just as delightful.
Time for Lunch!
With three attractions in the books, you have some options. Since you got such an early start, however, you’re probably ready to think about lunch. From where you are at in the park, I’m going to recommend a bit of a hike at this point. I’m also going to give you a suggestion for a shortcut.
Pull up your map and head over to the World Showcase. You’ll see boats in the waters of World Showcase Lagoon. On the Canada Pavilion side, you can ride one of these Friendship Boats to the Morocco Pavilion area. Here, you can eat an exotic lunch at Tangierine Café. If that sounds too spicy, walk past Japan and America to the Italy Pavilion. Here, you can eat one of the tastiest pizzas ever at Via Napoli Pizzeria e Ristorante.
Are You Ready to Get Frozen?
Once you’ve had your meal, your next destination is the Norway Pavilion. Your goals here are twofold. You’ll want to ride Frozen Ever After, the crown jewel of Epcot, and you’ll also want to meet Elsa and Anna at Royal Sommerhus. There will be long lines for both. If the character meeting doesn’t interest you, skip it and save yourself about 45 minutes of park time for other stuff. I’m presuming that you arrive at Norway in the 1 p.m range and then depart between 3 and 4 p.m.
Here’s where things get interesting. At the Norway Pavilion, you’re almost back to Future World. You’re also at a time of day when the parks get less crowded. Now is the time to hit the stuff that you skipped earlier.
Back to the Future…World
Your first destination, presuming that it interests you, is Mission: Space. You’ll actually walk past Test Track to get there, but that’s an intentional choice. Mission: Space should have no line of note since it’s not a popular ride. Once you’re done there, head back to Test Track. Depending on the size of the line, you may need to choose Single Rider. Designing a car at Test Track is a ton of fun, so use your best judgment on whether the wait is short enough.
Once you depart from Test Track, you’re facing Spaceship Earth, and there’s a convenient walkway ahead of you. Follow this path and then turn as the giant Golf Ball gets closer. You really can’t miss the line for Spaceship Earth, and it should be empty by this point. The ride itself does take about 15 minutes, and so you’re chewing up 30-45 minutes in the process.
With one exception, you’ve now ridden everything at Epcot. Should you want to finish your list, head back to the area near The Land. You’re looking for the Imagination! Pavilion, a visually stimulating building that you’ll notice from far away. The primary attraction here is Journey into Imagination with Figment, which isn’t the greatest. You might as well cross it off while you’re there, though.
Dinner and a Show
By my estimate, it’s probably around 7 p.m. at this point. You’re likely sweaty and tired after a busy park day. I suggest that you head back to the World Showcase to eat a delicious Table Service dinner. My suggestion would be Rose & Crown at the United Kingdom Pavilion or Teppan Edo at the Japan Pavilion. Both provide delicious meals that you’ll remember long after you’ve left Walt Disney World.
The one presumption I’ve made here is that you’re not visiting on a day when Epcot has an exhibition underway. The World Showcase actually has food kiosks open more often than not. If you’re fortunate to visit during one of these events, you should consider noshing on several of these foods instead. It’s probably cheaper and definitely more novel.
Wherever you choose to eat, it should be in the World Showcase. You want to be in the area where the award-winning IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth presentation begins. This nightly fireworks display has dominated the Golden Ticket Awards for many years now due to its beauty and pageantry.
Anyone who has seen the fireworks before could take a different strategy. The line queues for most major attractions thin out as people jostle for IllumiNations positioning. You could use this opportunity to re-ride some of your favorites from the day. If that’s your choice, head back to Future World and admire the short lines. You’ll also be closer to the main exit, buses, and monorails when the park closes.
Other Useful Info
Here are a couple of miscellaneous notes about your park day. The best snacks are at the Canada Pavilion (popcorn) and France Pavilion (all sorts of sugary sweets), the best beer is at the Germany Pavilion and Canada Pavilion, and the best wine is at the Italy Pavilion. Electric Umbrella is a sneaky good counter service restaurant in Future World if you don’t want to trek to the back of the park.
For travelers entering through the International Gateway, you can head straight to Frozen Ever After at rope drop. There are two caveats to this. The first one is that for some reason that passes understanding, you can’t go right as you enter the World Showcase. Instead, you’ll have to walk the long way, which is about a mile from the International Gateway entrance to the Norway Pavilion.
The other caveat is that while you’re spending 10 minutes walking a mile, the people entering from Future World are likely to beat you to the front of the line. You still shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes for Frozen Ever After, however, and that’s a great opportunity, all things considered.
Later in the day, you’ll have extra time at the point where I suggested an extended stop at the Norway Pavilion. You should be able to ride all the attractions at The Land Pavilion and The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion plus maybe work in the Imagination! Pavilion, too. Then, you’ll have extra time to do some shopping, which is important.
Future World has one of the best overall stores at Walt Disney World, Mouse Gear. When staying at an official Disney resort, you can ship any merchandise that you buy here straight to your room, alleviating you of the aggravation of carrying it around all day, too. It’s another great reason why you should always stay onsite. Talk to a MickeyTravels agent to book your trip at the lowest possible price. They may even find you a good rate for BoardWalk or Beach Club, thereby enabling morning access to the International Gateway!
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, fill out the form below!