Okay. I know this might be an unpopular Disney opinion, but Epcot might be my least favorite park. Sorry! But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it still (it really is just that I love the other parks more). There’s so much to do in Epcot (and it always seems to be changing!). From exploring World Showcase and sampling so much delicious food, to riding some of my favorite classic rides and new ones too, this guide to Epcot will walk you through everything you need to know about visiting Epcot.
We’ll cover how to get to Epcot, rides, food, plus some tips and tricks to make your visit to Epcot a success. So let’s get started!
Getting To Epcot
Depending on where you are staying, there are lots of different ways to get to Epcot. In fact, every single Disney World transportation option has a way to get you to Epcot. Let’s Break them down.
Taking the Monorail to Epcot
Epcot is on the monorail line, which is super convenient to guests in the monorail Magic Kingdom Resorts — The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, and The Contemporary. You won’t be able to get to Epcot directly from your resort; you’ll have to change monorails at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). (Tip: If you are staying at the Polynesian, just walk to the TTC!)
This also makes it pretty easy to park hop to Epcot from Magic Kingdom. Just hop on the monorail to the TTC, then switch to the Epcot monorail.
Taking the Skyliner to Epcot
Some Disney resorts make access to Epcot easy with the Skyliner.
If you are staying at Disney’s Riviera Resort or Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, you can take the Skyliner directly to Epcot. If you are staying at Disney’s Art of Animation or Disney’s Pop Century Resort, you can take the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach and then change to the Epcot Skyliner.
Taking the Bus to Epcot
Many Disney resorts offer bus transportation to Epcot. Check the bus schedule at your resort and/or the My Disney Experience app. Buses run regularly before park open and after park close. Note that resorts with Skyliner access to Epcot have had bus transportation available more infrequently.
Also note that Boardwalk area resorts (from which you can walk to Epcot) do not offer bus transportation to Epcot. These include Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Boardwalk Resort, and Swan and Dolphin Resort.
Walking to Epcot
If you are staying in a Boardwalk area resort — Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Boardwalk Resort, and Swan and Dolphin Resort — you can easily walk to Epcot and access the park via the International Gateway (i.e. the back entrance). And a bonus is that this entrance tends to be A LOT less crowded than the front entrance!
Taking a Boat to Epcot
If you are staying in one of the Boardwalk area resorts you can also take the Friendship Boat to Epcot. These boats travel to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot from the surrounding resorts. If you choose to take a boat, note that you may have other boat stops before you get to Epcot. The Friendship Boats will drop you off at the International Gateway entrance.
Driving the Epcot
You can also drive to Epcot. If you’re staying at a Disney resort and have paid for parking at your resort, you will not have to pay for parking at Epcot. Otherwise parking is $25. Annual passholders do not have to pay for parking.
Getting Around Epcot
Epcot is a huge park at 300 acres, so get ready to walk.
Luckily, there is some additional transportation within Epcot. Friendship Boats (a different set than the ones you can use to get to the park) can ferry you across World Showcase Lagoon. These boats travel between Canada and Morocco and between Mexico and Germany. Both the Canada and Mexico Friendship Boat docks are located just before you enter the country’s pavilion from the front of the park.
Guide to Epcot Rides and Attractions
Walt Disney’s original vision of Epcot was of a futuristic city living and working together with advanced technology. In fact, the name Epcot comes from “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”
While Disney’s original vision for the park is not exactly what we have, the focus of Epcot remains both educationally and technologically focused. There are two main halves of the park: the front of it where we have World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature; and the back half where we have World Showcase
In 2021, the old Future World was split into three different sections. World Discovery is to your left when you enter the park, and focuses on science and technology.
World Discovery Rides and Attractions
- Mission: SPACE (thrill ride)
- Test Track (thrill ride)
World Celebration is the center part of the front section of Epcot. In 2022 it is very much under construction, but it promises future attractions like the Play! Pavilion and Journey of Water inspired by Moana.
World Celebration Rides and Attractions
- Spaceship Earth (slow, dark ride located in the park’s icon)
World Nature is located to the right when you are walking in the park, and is home to many favorite rides like Soarin’ and Nemo. It focuses, of course, on the natural world around us. There are three big buildings or “pavilions” in World Nature: The Seas, The Land, and The Imagination Pavilion.
World Nature Rides and Attractions
- The Seas aquarium
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends (ride located in the aquarium)
- Turtle Talk with Crush (interactive show located in the aquarium)
- Soarin’ Around the World (mild thrill ride located in The Land)
- Living with the Land (slow boat ride located in The Land)
- Journey into Imagination with Figment (ride located in The Imagination pavilion)
- ImageWorks: The What-If Labs (interactive elements located in The Imagination pavilion)
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (show by The Imagination pavilion)
World Showcase is located around World Showcase Lagoon, and is full restaurants, shops, and cultural experiences from around the world — along with a few rides.
There are 11 countries in Epcot:
- United Kingdom
- The American Adventure (USA)
While not officially a pavilion, there is also a small area called The Outpost that is Africa themed.
Be aware that most of these countries do not have rides, but there are three: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in France, Frozen Ever After in Norway, and Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico.
The main attraction of World Showcase is exploring the countries of the world, sampling the food, shopping, and seeing cultural displays.
World Showcase Rides and Attractions
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (ride located in Mexico)
- Frozen Ever After (ride located in Norway)
- Reflections of China (film located in China)
- The American Adventure (show located in the American Adventure pavilion)
- Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along (film located in France)
- Impressions de France (film located in France)
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (ride located in France)
- Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 (film located in Canada)
If you are traveling with kids, you might be interested in checking out the Kidcot stops in each World Showcase country. Let’s be honest…the World Showcase isn’t the most exciting thing for kids (I remember being bored out of my mind when I was a kid). Kidcot is a way to make traveling through each country a little more fun for kids.
Kidcot stops in each country provide free activities and take-home goodies for kids, including travelers cards and stickers for each country. Kids will have a chance to learn a bit about each country and get a special signature on their travel card from a cast member. Plus, looking for the Kidcot stops in each country can be a fun scavenger hunt in and of itself. The My Disney Experience app also shows locations for each stop.
Note that with COVID-19, the Kidcot experience has been modified. There aren’t activities, but you can still pick up a special card with a sticker in each country!
Other World Showcase Scavenger Hunts
Throughout the year, especially in association with Epcot festivals (more on those below), other scavenger hunts are offered. However, these scavenger hunts are NOT free. You’ll need to buy a map and stickers at one of the gift shops at the front of the park. When you complete the scavenger hunt (which usually involves looking for a specific character in each country) you get a prize though!
Are you planning your first trip to Disney World? Get a 9 step checklist with our complete planning guide!
How to Use Genie+ at Epcot
What is Genie+?
Genie+ is a new system that replaces the old Fastpass system. But now you have to pay for it at $15 per day per ticket. If you purchase Genie+ you can book Lightning Lane return times for popular rides. There are also two rides per park that have Individual Lightning Lanes, that come at a separate charge.
Note that right now, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure also has a virtual queue that all guests can attempt to book at 7:00 a.m. on the day of their visit.
Otherwise, all rides also provide standby lines in addition to Lightning Lanes.
To use Genie+ you will book your first Lightning Lane at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of your visit. After that, you can book your next Lightning Lane when you check into your first one or two hours after you booked your previous one (or two hours after the park opens if you are still in the morning hours).
Note that Genie Plus is not the same as Genie. Disney Genie is a planning tool that is available to everyone within the My Disney Experience app.
Using Genie+ in Epcot
Before your visit, make sure you get in the app and play with the features. You can go to “My Day” and then “Tip Board” to see what rides are available in each park, how long the standby lines are, and what Lightning Lane times tend to get booked quickly.
Here are the rides that are have Lightning Lanes with Genie+ in Epcot (an asterisk note a particularly popular ride where Lightning Lanes will be most useful):
- Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Mission: SPACE
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Soarin’ Around the World*
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track*
There are also two rides that offer Individual Lightning Lanes. You can purchase these whether or not you purchase Genie+.
- Frozen Ever After
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
If you are using Genie+ at Epcot, we recommend getting your first one for Test Track or Soarin’ as these are some of the most popular rides. Then we would rope drop either Frozen Ever After or the Lightning Lane we didn’t get. Also, don’t forget that Test Track has a single rider line which can also save you time!
Between your Lightning Lane reservation times, you can pick rides that have lower waits and enjoy exploring World Showcase. There is a lot to do and see in Epcot not involving rides!
Do I Need Genie Plus for Epcot?
In our opinion, Genie+ really isn’t necessarily for Epcot. To me, you would be better off booking one of the Individual Lightning Lanes. There just aren’t as many rides to do at Epcot, and it is pretty easy to get to all the rides during the day.
Of course, if you want to get Genie+ it will be useful. But if you are trying to save money and be judicious with what money you spend on line skipping, Genie+ in Epcot is probably one of the benefits you need the least.
Where to Meet Characters at Epcot
COVID-19 Note: Traditional character meet and greets are currently closed. Instead, there are socially distanced character opportunities in several spots throughout the park.
The fun thing about characters in Epcot is that you get to meet them in their home countries. This means you’ll see Belle in France, Alice and Pooh and the United Kingdom, and Mulan in China. In addition to opportunities like these, there are also places to meet classic characters. And I love that Epcot is where you can meet Minnie and Mickey in their classic outfits!
So let’s break down where you can see characters in Epcot. Note that this information is always subject to change, and the best way to guarantee that you can meet your favorite character is to check the times in Epcot on the My Disney Experience app.
Socially Distanced Meet and Greets
Characters in Epcot can be found at socially distanced meet and greets, where you can wave at and speak to characters from a distance. Some characters include:
- Mickey & Minnie at the front of the park near Spaceship Earth
- Goofy & Pluto at the front of the park near Spaceship Earth
- Elsa and Anna in Norway
- Alice in the United Kingdom
- Pooh near the Imagination Pavilion
- Joy (from Inside Out) near the Imagination Pavilion
Epcot Character Meals
Character meals are a great way to meet multiple characters at once while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Epcot has two main character meals: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Garden Grill.
COVID -19 Note: Garden Grill is the only character meal currently operating in Epcot and is doing so in a modified manner.
Garden Grill is located the The Land pavilion. This restaurant rotates, a fun feature that shows you different spots of The Land pavilion. Characters here include Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is located in Norway and features Disney princesses. Characters you might see include Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White. Akershus is a great option if you want to be first in line of Frozen Ever After; book your breakfast before park opening (yes! they have times before the park opens!) and then you’ll be ready to jump in the ride line. (Note: Akershus is currently closed.)
Epcot Character Meet and Greets
COVID-19 Notes: Traditional meet and greets are currently unavailable. However, these are some of the meet and greet options available before COVID-19, and we’re hoping to see them return to the parks in the future!
Epcot has a lot of characters who make regular appearances throughout the day. If you want to meet a specific character, you’ll want to check your times guide or My Disney Experience app to see when characters will be out.
The Epcot Character Spot was usually the place to meet and headliner characters. However, with this area of the park under construction, details of how you will be able to meet these characters in the future is yet to be announced. Here you would previously find Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. There was also another character meet and greet area with Joy, Sadness, and Baymax.
Throughout World Showcase there are also areas to meet some favorite characters:
- Winnie the Pooh (UK)
- Alice (UK)
- Mary Poppins (UK)
- Belle (France)
- Jasmine (Morocco)
- Snow White (Germany)
- Mulan (China)
- Anna and Elsa (Norway — this is a character meet and greet spot with a long line that runs pretty continuously rather than in staggered times)
- Donald Duck (Mexico)
Note that while all of these “meet and greets” haven’t officially returned, I have seen some of these characters in their spots waving to guests.
Epcot Outdoor Entertainment
COVID-19 Note: Current Epcot outdoor entertainment options are limited. It’s best to check your times guide or My Disney Experience app to see what is available when you plan to visit.
Epcot usually has tons of outdoor entertainment options to choose from, with various small performances occurring in almost every country throughout the day. From the acrobats in China to the mariachi band in Mexico, there is always something going on. Check your times guide or My Disney Experience app to see when performances are occurring during your visit.
Epcot also has a nighttime fireworks spectacular. Its newest show, HarmonioUS debuted October 1, 2021. This fun and upbeat show takes place on World Showcase Lagoon.
Guide to Epcot Restaurants and Dining
COVID-19 Note: Not all dining options are currently available. Be sure to check before your trip to see what will be open during your visit.
If you are a foodie, Epcot is the place to be. Honestly it would be impossible to cover all the possible dining options in Epcot. Every country has specialty restaurants, and when there is a festival going on (more on that below) there are more food options than you will know what to do with.
Let’s just cover the restaurant highlights here. There are great table service and quick service restaurants in Epcot, and here we’re just going to give you a quick list with each restaurant’s location and any food notes that might be helpful, plus they are all linked to their official site so you can easily find menus and available times.
Guide to Epcot Table Service Restaurants
Table service dining restaurants are traditional sit-down restaurants. And in Disney, of course, they can be on the pricey side. Epcot has so many great options to choose from though.
- Space 220 (located in World Discovery)
- Coral Reef Restaurant (seafood, located in The Seas pavilion)
- Garden Grill Restaurant (American cuisine, located in The Land pavilion)
- Le Cellier Steakhouse (Canada)
- Rose and Crown Dining Room (United Kingdom)
- Monsieur Paul Restaurant (France)
- Chefs de France (France)
- Spice Road Table (Morocco)
- Restaurant Marrakesh (Morocco)
- Takumi-Tei (Japan)
- Teppan Edo Restaurant (Japan – Hibachi grill)
- Tokyo Dining (Japan – sushi)
- Tutto Italia Ristorante (Italy)
- Tutto Gusto (Italy – wine bar with small plates next to Tutto Italia)
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (Italy)
- Biergarten Restaurant (Germany)
- Nine Dragons Restaurant (China)
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway)
- La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico)
- San Angel Inn Restaurante (Mexico)
Guide to Epcot Quick Service Restaurants
Quick Service, or Counter Service, restaurants are more like fast food — you order at a counter and take your food to your table. But many of these restaurants don’t skimp on quality! Here are the Quick Service restaurants available at Epcot.
- Sunshine Seasons (The Land pavilion)
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop (United Kingdom – fish and chips)
- Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie (France)
- La Creperie de Paris (France)
- Tangierine Cafe (Morocco)
- Katsura Grill (Japan)
- Regal Eagle Smokehouse (American Adventure – BBQ)
- Pizza al Taglio (pizza window in Italy)
- Sommerfest (Germany)
- Lotus Blossom Cafe (China)
- La Cantina de San Angel (Mexico)
Guide to Epcot Quick Service Snacks
Counter Service snack locations are small stands with limited food options, usually a couple of specialty items. This isn’t an exhaustive list either; aside from these options, you’ll find other kiosks and drink stands around the park. And during a festival (see below) there will be so many food kiosks you might have a hard time making a decision about what you want to eat!
- Traveler’s Cafe (near Canada – Starbucks location)
- Popcorn in Canada
- Refreshment Port (near Canada)
- L’Artisan des Glaces (France – ice cream)
- Crepes de Chefs de France
- Oasis Sweets & Sips (Morocco)
- Kabuki Cafe (Japan – shaved ice)
- Fife and Drum Tavern (The American Adventure)
- Funnel Cake (The American Adventure)
- Gelateria Toscana (Italy)
- Karamell-Küche (Germany – everything caramel)
- Refreshment Outpost (Outpost)
- Joy of Tea (China)
- Kingla Bakeri og Kafe (Norway)
Epcot also has a good variety of drink carts where you can get beer, cocktails and other drinks from around the world. In addition to what is listed below, you’ll find other drinks through the park, like beer stands in Germany and Norway.
- Cool Wash (Future World, near Test Track)
- UK Beer Cart (United Kingdom)
- Les Vins des Chefs de France
- Block & Hans (The American Adventure – beer stand)
- Choz de Margarita (Mexico)
- La Cava del Tequila (Mexico)
Special Events at Epcot
I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far in a guide to Epcot without talking in detail about the festivals yet, because their yearly festivals are a BIG attraction for this theme park.
Throughout the year, Epcot holds several different festivals that include specialty food stands, entertainment, and other fun activities. They occur seasonally, and usually last for months at a time.
Festival of the Arts
In 2022, Festival of the Arts runs from January 14 to February 21. It celebrates art in all kinds of forms: culinary art, visual art, and performance art. When you visit, be sure to pick up a Festival of the Arts passport to see all the special offerings. Here are a few things you’ll find during Epcot’s Festival of the Arts:
- Food booths focused on artistically stunning food
- Special performances (usually located in The American Adventure and World Showplace, which is located between Canada and the UK)
- Special artists booths, where you can purchase art
- Animation Academy (learn to draw a favorite character)
- Interactive Wall Mural (a fun opportunity to participate in art)
- Special photo ops that have you step into a painting
- Festival of the Arts merchandise
Festival of the Arts is Epcot’s newest festival, starting in 2017. There’s so much to do here though, and it highlights Epcot in a fun and unique way. Plus, it gives the parks a little something special during those early winter months.
Flower and Garden Festival
One of the most popular festivals at Epcot, the International Flower and Garden Festival takes place in the spring, usually early March through early June. (In 2022, the Flower and Garden Festival will be running from March 2 to July 4.)
Here you’ll find a celebration of all things plants, from the food offered to the beloved topiaries dotting the park. Here’s a sampling of some of the special things you’ll find during Flower and Garden Festival.
- Special food booths with garden focused food
- Live concerts and music
- Character topiaries
- Special Flower and Garden Festival merchandise
Be sure to pick up a Festival Passport on your way into the park to check out all the latest offerings during your trip.
Food and Wine Festival
For foodies visiting Disney, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a dream. This festival runs in the fall, usually late August to mid-November. In 2021, the festival ran even longer: July 15 to November 20. (Dates for 2022 are still TBA.)
Here you’ll find specialty food and beverages from around the world (including a lot of countries that aren’t otherwise featured in World Showcase) as well as some fun entertainment. Here’s a few things you can usually expect (but be sure to pick up a Festival Passport when you arrive to see what’s being offered).
- Food booths from around the world, featuring special food and drink
- Premium dining events with celebrity chefs (this is an extra cost/ticket)
- Special outdoor entertainment and concerts
- Culinary demonstrations and seminars
- Special festival merchandise
Festival of the Holidays
Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays runs during the Christmas holiday season, late November to late December (In 2021, it ran from November 26 to December 30). As with the other festivals, you’ll find special food booths and entertainment. Here’s a sampling of what you can expect.
- Special holiday food booths
- Candlelight Processional (a popular nightly show)
- Holiday Cookie Stroll
- Holiday Storytellers in World Showcase countries
- Special concerts and entertainment
As with the other festivals, a Festival Passport will give you the best information for what’s being offered during your visit.
Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebrations at Epcot
On October 1, 2021, Walt Disney World began celebrating its 50th anniversary. The special events and attractions during this 50th celebration will last 18 months, although some continue beyond that as permanent fixtures (like the new show HarmoniUS). Here’s what you can expect to find at Epcot.
- HarmoniUS, Epcot’s new fireworks show from World Showcase Lagoon.
- New lights on Spaceship Earth, turning it into a “Beacon of Magic.”
- Fab 50 Character Statues will be found in Epcot (as well as the other three Disney World Parks).
Epcot Current Closures and Upcoming Attractions
Be aware that during 2022, much of the front of the park is under construction, and paths are being re-routed. So be aware of that as you are trying to find your way around.
- Meet Anna and Elsa at Royal Sommerhus (currently closed, also a modified meet and greet is taking place outside)
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana (walk though attraction, opening 2021)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (ride, opening summer 2022)
- Play! Pavilion (opening sometime in 2022?)
Epcot Tips and Tricks
- Know the park hours before you go! When Epcot opens before 11:00 a.m., just the front of the park is open. World Showcase opens at 11. There are exceptions though! The Frozen Ride, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Les Halles in France open with the rest of the park.
- Don’t forget about the International Gateway entrance! This park entrance opens at the same time as the front entrance, and can be especially convenient if you are staying at a nearby Boardwalk resort.
- Be prepared to walk! Epcot is a huge park and will require a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes! (Really this goes for any park, but I feel like Epcot has a special way of tiring your feet out!)
- Know about the levels on Mission: SPACE. There are two levels here, making the ride accessible to more ages. The Orange level is SUPER intense (maybe the most intense ride at Disney), while the Green level is mild and family-friendly.
- Be sure to explore off the beaten path in World Showcase! There is so much to see in each country. The galleries often get overlooked but are definitely worth it! Plus they make a great place to cool down from the heat.
- World Showcase scavenger hunts are often going on throughout the year, so stop in at a gift shop or kiosk at the front of the park and ask a cast member about them!
- Visit Club Cool for a crazy drink. Club Cool is an Epcot icon. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, you can try all kinds of different soda flavors from around the world, including the infamous Beverly.