EPCOT 101 – Everything You Need to Know
Before Walt Disney died, he stated his vision for a better tomorrow. He dreamt of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT), a hybrid capitalist utopia.
After he passed away, nobody else at Disney could achieve his vision, not even his older brother, Roy.
Still, the idea of EPCOT resonated with Imagineers, the people who carried the Disney torch after Uncle Walt left us. So, we got a version of EPCOT anyway.
In this introduction to EPCOT 101, we’ll talk about all the reasons why I believe it’s the best of all Disney theme parks.
The EPCOT we have today in no way resembles the one Walt Disney planned. But it’s still incredible!
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Imagineers constructed several remarkable structures called pavilions.
Each of them stretches the boundaries of creativity with its stunning architectural design.
You’ll recognize places like the Imagination! pavilion and The Land long before you reach them.
Of course, the structure that stands out the most is Spaceship Earth, the signature landmark at EPCOT. This place weighs eight tons and never gets anyone wet.
The brilliant design ensures that rain never falls on guests standing in line for the ride.
Another significant part of EPCOT is how it marries two visions. First, the front of the park fits closer with the conventional concept of a theme park.
At the back of EPCOT, you’ll discover all the pavilions of the World Showcase. These places represent the daily World’s Fair idea that Uncle Walt had in the 1960s.
You may think that a theme park and a series of international pavilions seem like a mismatch. But, surprisingly, they mesh together quite nicely.
You can decide what you want to do during your visit merely by picking on which side of the park you want to hang out!
About “Future World”
Let’s start with the bad news. Future World no longer exists per se. Instead, Disney has split one gigantic themed land into three smaller ones.
The new locations are World Discovery, World Nature, and World Celebration. In truth, EPCOT’s front half hasn’t changed much, though.
Park officials have added some new restaurants and shops. Plus, an E-ticket attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, is right around the corner.
Most of the pavilions from the early days of EPCOT remain in some form. You won’t know much about the ones that are gone, either. I’m talking about Wonders of Life and Innoventions
Places like The Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and Spaceship Earth remain intact and close (enough) to their original styles.
So, the impressive architecture remains, and even more improvements are coming soon.
For example, a Moana living water feature similar to the one in the movie will debut within the next year or so.
About the World Showcase
This place is excellent. I’ll say more about it, but that’s the Occam’s Razor here. EVERYONE loves the World Showcase.
Here, you’ll find 11 different pavilions, 10 of which highlight international cultures.
Some of them, like the Morocco pavilion, will blow you away with their authenticity.
That’s because Morocco’s king commissioned, paid for, and worked on the project!
Meanwhile, the Japan pavilion operates the only Mitsukoshi Department Store in North America.
We’re talking about a business that dates back to 1673 (!), and they built one at EPCOT!
People take World Showcase pavilions seriously.
Speaking of which, Disney didn’t shortchange the architectural design here, either. You’ll find Mayan ruins, the Eiffel Tower, and an authentic Chinese temple replica here.
Inside the remarkable buildings, you’ll discover stores and shops that serve and sell merchandise and cuisine from the various countries.
You can load up on Dr. Who and Rolling Stones merchandise at the United Kingdom pavilion. Then, you can walk over to the Italy pavilion for pizza and wine.
The fact that you can do this at a place that’s 1.3 miles big is insane! You WILL want to hang out at the World Showcase a lot!
About the Attractions
EPCOT operates plenty of rides, including the two I’ve already mentioned. The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Spaceship Earth are both pavilions and rides.
Meanwhile, four other EPCOT attractions tower above the rest in terms of crowds and popularity.
The Big Four are Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ Around the World, and Test Track. All of them live up to the hype as E-ticket attractions.
Meanwhile, EPCOT hosts several shows, a sing-along or two, and some Circlevision-360 movies.
You won’t ever lack for entertainment options at EPCOT. Better yet, the lines at this park rarely even approach the waits elsewhere at Walt Disney World.
I always tell people that they’ll get the best bang for the buck at EPCOT.
About the Festivals
On top of the other stuff, EPCOT hosts four annual festivals. The shortest ones are the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays and the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.
You’ll find these from late November through early February, with a gap of a few days in between them.
The longer events are also the more storied ones. For example, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival rivals the Aspen event as America’s most famous food & wine exhibition.
Disney usually hosts this festival during the summer and into the early fall. However, it lasted longer than usual during the pandemic, which may be a permanent change.
Disney trivia buffs know that the oldest of all festivals is the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. It runs throughout the spring and sometimes into early summer.
While each festival comes with its own unique events, they all feature the same selling points. Of course, I’m referencing the food kitchens.
EPCOT opens 15+ pop-up dining kiosks that sell unique menu items for the duration of the festival.
You’ll find entrees, desserts, and alcoholic beverages at low prices. As such, the festivals represent a great way to end well while saving on your food budget.
When you have the option, you should visit Walt Disney World at a time when EPCOT is hosting a festival. It’ll add so much to your trip.
About the Meals
The final point to make here plays into what I’ve already said. The various pavilions and festival food kitchens exemplify an overriding aspect of EPCOT.
I mean the food and drinks!
The World Showcase aspect of EPCOT has turned it into THE best place in Orlando for eating well.
Depending on your mood, you can choose Chinese, Mexican, or Italian food and wash it down with German beer or French wine.
The 11 pavilions host at least one if not two more restaurants each. So, you’ll have your choice of more than 20 places to eat and drink.
Since everything is so close, nobody has to compromise while traveling in a group, either.
You can stop at multiple places and keep everyone happy! Of course, that’s doubly true during festivals as well.
Friends, EPCOT embodies Walt Disney’s lasting vision for a place for people of all ages to hang out together and enjoy each other’s company and the world around them. It’s the absolute best.