Since it’s opening, Epcot has been a fan-favorite Disney World park, with its unique offerings and more “grown-up” feel. There is 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, out Epcot guide 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!

(Looking for other park guides? We also have guides for Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.)

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, though; you’ll have to change monorails at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). But this is super easy and still so convenient! (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

Most 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 educational and technological. There are two main halves of the park: the front of Epcot where we have World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature; and the back half where we have World Showcase

World Discovery

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)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

World Celebration

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

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 (slow, dark ride located in The Imagination pavilion)
  • ImageWorks: The What-If Labs (interactive elements located in The Imagination pavilion)
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (show next to The Imagination pavilion)

World Showcase

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:

  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Morocco
  • Japan
  • The American Adventure (USA)
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • China
  • Norway
  • Mexico

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)
  • Meet Anna and Elsa at Royal Sommerhus (meet and greet 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)
Epcot Germany Pavilion

Kidcot

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 special souvenir cards with a sticker. You can also get a little luggage-themed plastic bag to keep them all in. It’s a small thing, but making a point to stop at the Kidcot stops in each country can really help kids move through World Showcase! On our trip in 2021, our kiddo got really into picking up the cards and it kept her from getting bored. Plus, looking for the Kidcot stops in each country can be a fun scavenger hunt in and of itself.

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!


Cinderella Castle

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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.

To use Genie+ after you purchase it, 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 at no cost. Genie+ costs money.

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*
  • Frozen Ever After (until August 7, 2022)*
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (May 31-August 7, 2022)

There are also rides that offer Individual Lightning Lanes. You can purchase these whether or not you purchase Genie+.

  • Frozen Ever After (currently being offered in regular Genie+ until August 7, 2022)
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (offered in regular Genie+ from May 31-August 7, 2022)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

If you are using Genie+ at Epcot, we recommend getting your first one forTest Track, or Soarin’, as these are some of the most popular rides. Then we would rope drop either Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, or another Lightning Lane ride. 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. There are less rides in Epcot and usually plenty of time to most of them in a day. However, with the addition of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, one of the most popular rides on-property in 2022, it does seem like Genie Plus may make more sense than it did previously.

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, especially if you have a good rope drop strategy.

How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

The newest ride in Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This is a dark roller coaster with new innovative ride technology (the cars rotate while you are moving forward!). When Cosmic Rewind first opens, there will be two options for riding it:

  1. Virtual Queue
  2. Individual Lightning Lane Purchase

To join the Virtual Queue, you will need to have a Park Reservation for Epcot. You will then use the My Disney Experience app to join the queue at the appropriate time. The Virtual Queue for Cosmic Rewind will be distributed three times daily, and each one has some specific requirements.

  • 7:00 a.m. (Must have a Park Pass for that day in Epcot, but can join the Virtual Queue from anywhere.)
  • 1:00 p.m. (Must be inside Epcot to join the Virtual Queue.)
  • 6:00 p.m. (Virtual Queue only available for guests staying in Deluxe Resorts on days when Epcot has Extended Evening Hours.)

Note that Disney has been known to change Virtual Queue drop times, so check your My Disney Experience app before your trip to Epcot.

If you can’t join the Virtual Queue, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is also available as an Individual Lightning Lane purchase. This price will range from $14-$17. If you plan on purchases this Lightning Lane, we recommend doing so as soon as you can in the morning, because this is likely to sell out quickly.

Where to Meet Characters at Epcot

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 on the day of your visit.

Epcot Character Meet and Greets

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.

In the front of the park, there are several places to either meet or wave to characters. As construction is ongoing in the front half of Epcot, these locations may be subject to change.

  • Goofy & Pluto are at the front of the park near the entrance.
  • Mickey Mouse is in the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.
  • Joy and Vanellope von Schweetz are in ImageWorks in the Imagination Pavilion.
  • Winnie the Pooh can often be spotted outside near the Imagination Pavilion.
  • Minnie Mouse is in the Gazebo at the front of World Showcase Lagoon.
  • Daisy Duck is in World Celebration toward World Discovery.

Throughout World Showcase there are also areas to meet some favorite characters:

  • Alice (UK)
  • Mary Poppins (UK)
  • Belle (France)
  • Princess Aurora (France)
  • Snow White (Germany)
  • Mulan (China)
  • Donald Duck (Mexico)

And if you want to meet Elsa and Anna, you can find them at their Royal Sommerhus in Norway. (This is one character meet and greet that often has a somewhat long line.)

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.

Note: Garden Grill is the only character meal currently operating in Epcot.

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 Outdoor Entertainment

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 drummers in Japan 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.

And note that while a lot of fun outdoor entertainment has returned to Epcot in 2022, there are still some offerings that have yet to return.

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

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.

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.

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! I especially love Les Halles and Yorkshire County Fish Shop! Here are the Quick Service restaurants available at Epcot.

The Land Pavilion

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 more below) there will be so many food kiosks you might have a hard time making a decision about what you want to eat!

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.

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. 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 2022, the Food and Wine Festival will run from July 14 to November 19.

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 fireworks 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 (also in the three Disney World Parks, with each park featuring different characters).

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.

Upcoming Attractions:

  • Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana (walk though attraction, opening 2022)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (ride, opening May 27, 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. Also, even when World Showcase is not open, it is really lovely to walk through when it is empty in the morning!
  • 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.