Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at Epcot
MickeyBlog wants you to enjoy your dream vacation to Walt Disney World. We understand that visualizing a park visit isn’t easy, though. Last month, we started an ongoing series about rookie mistakes to avoid at Walt Disney World. As part of that series, we’ve evaluating issues on a park by park basis. We started with the most trafficked theme park in the world, Magic Kingdom. Today, we’re moving to the second-most popular gate at Walt Disney World. Here are five rookie mistakes to avoid at Epcot.
You Didn’t Book FastPasses
Okay, all of the rookie mistakes listed here are problematic, but THIS ONE is potentially the worst. Epcot has a strange sort of feast or famine attractions system in place. The most popular rides at this gate aka the ones with the longest line queues run out of FastPasses. For example, Frozen Ever After rarely has FastPasses available the day of the park visit. It runs through its allotment as much as 45 days in advance.
When you stay onsite at Walt Disney World, that’s not a problem. You can book 60 days ahead of time (thank you, MickeyTravels agents!). When you fail to book FastPasses ahead of time, however, your Frozen-loving children are due for heartbreak.
This issue isn’t just for Frozen Ever After, either. Soarin’ Around the World and Test Track have similar issues in that they are hugely trafficked rides. Their FastPasses sell out regularly. When you don’t book FastPasses ahead of time, you run the risk of missing out on some of the best attractions at Epcot. Please don’t make this rookie mistake. Sixty days prior to your Walt Disney World visit, load MyDisneyExperience (MDE) on your smart device and book FastPass reservations for every day of your Disney visit.
The one pro tip that I can offer if you’re too late is that MDE can still save you once you’re onsite. Check the app several times an hour to see if someone cancels a FastPass. If so, you can swoop in and book it for your party. You can easily check availability while you wait in line for a different attraction. It’ll even make the line feel like it goes faster.
You Didn’t Understand the Divide in Epcot
Epcot has a front and a back. I know that this statement is difficult to conceptualize until you’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s absolutely true, though. When you take a bus or monorail to Epcot, you’re going to enter the front gates of the park. The first major attraction that you’ll see is Spaceship Earth, the giant golf ball that’s the park’s signature landmark. It’s the key indicator that you’re in the front of the park, also known as Future World.
Should you take a boat to Epcot, you’ll enter from the back. This part of the park is the World Showcase, the 11 pavilions that comprise Walt Disney’s desired daily World’s Fair. The entirety of the World Showcase is a circle around a body of water, the World Showcase Lagoon. This lagoon is where IllumiNations plays each night. If you’re close to this lake, you’re in the World Showcase.
Why does this division matter to a rookie? Well, the place that you enter the park determines how you navigate it. It also spills into a second possible mistake…
You Crisscrossed the Park a Lot
The World Showcase stretches 1.2 miles in a circle. While Disney offers Friendship Boats that transport guests across the water, you’ll travel from Canada to Morocco (the pavilions, of course). You’re not saving a lot of walking in the process, and that’s now your only option. Disney historically offered another boat from Mexico to Germany, but they haven’t run it lately. As such, you can accidentally walk yourself into exhaustion at the World Showcase.
Let’s say that you visit the Mexico Pavilion for a ride on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. Afterward, you make the extremely smart choice to have lunch at Teppan Edo. Then, you walk over to the Norway Pavilion for a character meeting with Anna and Elsa.
Those plans sound great in theory. In execution, Norway and Mexico are beside each other (Disney didn’t care about international geography when they built the World Showcase), and Japan is almost straight across the park. In the course of an hour or so, you’d have to traverse almost the entire World Showcase twice to do all three activities.
With a bit of strategy, you’d know to pair Anna and Elsa or Frozen Ever After with any activities at the Mexico Pavilion. You’d also attempt to line up visits to China, Germany, Italy, and the American Adventure consecutively. You save a lot of wear and tear with this strategy. And that’s just the World Showcase.
The most foolish approach to Epcot is to schedule back-to-back FastPasses for Spaceship Earth and Frozen Ever After. You literally have to walk from the front of Epcot to the back-left side of the World Showcase. It’s needless aggravation.
Thankfully, you can avoid mistakes like these. Simply study a map of Epcot and familiarize yourself with the various attractions. This map does a great job of representing scale. It should give you a good idea of what to expect at Epcot.
You Ate Too Much
The food at Epcot is exquisite. Seriously, no amount of compliments would be enough for cuisine available at the World Showcase. You could spend a month at Epcot and never eat at the same place. That’s doubly true if you visit during one of the showcase events such as the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The food kiosks at these events are like pop-up restaurants with flavor profiles built by some of the finest chefs on the planet. Epcot is Foodie Heaven.
What’s the problem? Well, you know the maxim, “Too much of a good thing.”? Yeah, overindulging at Epcot can lead to problems. Let’s say that you go to Biergarten Restaurant to enjoy their otherworldly buffet. You’re going to eat a lot, and you’re going to smile the entire time because the food there is impeccable.
Now, let’s say that you want to ride Test Track. Forget the poor combination of food in your belly and a roller coaster going 65 miles per hour for a moment. Let’s just talk about the walk. It’s a haul for the reason mentioned in the previous two sections. You’re heading from the back of the World Showcase to one of the side portions of Future World. And you’re doing that with a belly full of brat and beer.
The term ‘food coma’ is an exaggeration, but there are places at Epcot where you can and likely will eat too much. You need to allow for that when you plan your day. Don’t pick activities that require a lot of movement.
My family usually plans to shop right after meals. That way, we’re not hungry and don’t feel tempted by the snacks at the stores. We’re also not doing anything fast-paced that might make us sick. Several World Showcase pavilions have entertainment such as movies and shows. The post-meal period is a great time for enjoy these attractions. Several underrated rides at Epcot are also gentle enough that you can enjoy them after eating.
You Drank Too Much
This issue is different from the one above. It’s the same concern you have any time that you and your friends head to a club or go bar hopping. You want to have a great time, and social drinking is a part of the process. Sometimes, you have too much to drink. Hey, it happens.
The difference is that most bars are in the same general area. Even if you do wind up inebriated, you’re a short walk away from a comfy chair where you can sit down, have a bit to eat, and sober up. Alternately, you’re always an Uber away from home. At Epcot, that’s not true.
Even if you’re staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort or Disney’s Beach Club Resort, two of my favorite properties onsite, the walk from a World Showcase bar to your hotel room isn’t short. Depending on where you’re drinking, you may have to walk a mile or more, presumably in a zigzag pattern as you try to hold down the contents of your stomach. It’s not the most pleasant of times, even if you are at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t drink at Epcot. In fact, that’s kind of crazy. I just wrote an article celebrating the best watering holes at Walt Disney World and think you’d have a wonderful time at any of them. My point is that you should err on the side of caution. Don’t overfill your cup or buy another round when you’re already feeling tipsy.
You want to enjoy your vacation…and you also want other park guests to enjoy theirs. Protein spills aren’t pleasant for anybody. Plus, some unfortunate cast member has to clean up after you. Eat, drink, and be merry at Epcot, but also be respectful of others.