There is so much to love about Epcot. Where else can you fly on a mission to Mars, go under the sea with Nemo and friends, create and test your own automobile or window shop down a Parisian street. Coming in at 300 acres, Epcot is Walt Disney World’s second largest theme park (Animal Kingdom comes in first at 500 acres) and there is no shortage of things to see do, and explore. That’s why it pays to have a bit of a strategy. So here’s 10 of our Epcot tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your next visit.
1. Give Epcot two days. This is always my biggest tip for families on a lengthier stay. If your schedule permits, spend one day exploring all of the attractions, exhibitions and pavilions in Future World and another day strolling around the World Showcase and enjoying all of the sights and sounds of the eleven countries that have pavilions there. I find that two days at Epcot is just the right amount of time for families with slightly older children who don’t mind that the World Showcase isn’t as attraction heavy as some of the other theme parks.
2, Try Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. (Pictured) This absolutely FREE interactive family scavenger hunt is one of my favorite things to do at Epcot with my 6-year-old as I find it keeps her excited and interested when it comes to exploring the different countries in the World Showcase. Stop by the kiosk which you’ll find on Odyssey Bridge (the bridge linking Future World and the World Showcase) to sign up. Guests will use either their own cell phone or one provided at the kiosk to be lead on an adventure through World Showcase to thwart Dr. Doffenshmirtz’s evil plan of world domination. There are 7 adventures in total, each lasting 35-40 minutes and covering the following pavilions: United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Italy, China, Japan and Germany. The amazing thing about this adventure is that kids can actually alter the displays at World Showcase and make fun things happen at the push of a button. Once one adventure is finished your child can select another using the phone. Its so much fun, don’t be surprised if they want to do more than one.
3. Score an 8am reservation for Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. If you’ve got a princess fan in your family, then make Akershus Royal Banquet Hall a must-do Advanced Dining Reservation and be on the lookout for a coveted 8am dining slot. It allows you to beat the crowds by getting in an hour before Epcot opens. The breakfast is also truly magical with many Disney Princesses making an appearance including: Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Show White. Not to mention that these days, one of the biggest perks is that Akershus is located in the Norway Pavilion, the same location where you’ll find the Frozen Ever After ride as well as the Anna and Elsa meet and great. If you have an 8am reservation, that means you’ll be finishing up at 9 am right as the park opens and just need to hop over to the next building to be among the first in line to take part in all of the Frozen-themed fun. Oh and the food is pretty good to with a combination of a continental breakfast buffet and large cooked breakfast skillets brought to your table. This is a popular reservation so book as close to 180 days as possible. Costs run $35.99 to $59.99 per adult.
4. Meet an unexpected Cast of Characters. Spending an afternoon enjoying the World Showcase? Then take a peek at World Showplace (between the UK and Canada Pavilion)between 2pm – 3pm and see if any interesting characters turn up. This is a popular location for Character Training where new Cast Members try on their roles before formally heading out to the parks. If you happen to be there on a training day you’ll find many of your favorite lovable characters out to say hello and may even be lucky enough to spot a rare character or two. The beauty is that you never know who will turn up! For more information on Epcot’s Character Training check out this article.
5. Enjoy IllumiNations from one of Epcot’s amazing eateries. There are some many lovely places to have dinner at Epcot that guests are completely spoiled for choice. But did you know that with a bit of careful planning you maybe be able to nab a reservation that allows you to enjoy the evening fireworks display while you dine? Watch the pageantry from the patio at the Rose and Crown pub or dine in the elegant Monsieur Paul’s and ask for a window with a view. Scoring one of these magical reservations is definitely guaranteed to add a bit of pixie dust to your Epcot visit. My favorite is Morocco’s Spice Road Table. Not only do they have inside and outside seating with amazing views but the tapas-style menu lends itself well to having some small bites while taking in the fireworks. Check out this article for more information on dining with an Illuminations view.
6. Arrive at park opening and hit the headline attractions you don’t have a Fastpass for as soon as you arrive. Epcot does Fastpasses a little bit differently than Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom in that instead of having your pick of any three Fastpass locations throughout the park to make your bookings for, they are in categories. What this means is that guests can only book one attraction from Group A and two Fastpasses from Group B. Well, it just so happens that group A includes many of the attractions that guests would want a Fastpass for including: Soarin, Test Track and Frozen Ever After. This not only makes it a tough choice for guests but pretty much guarantees that you’ll be waiting in line for at least one major attraction during your Epcot day. That’s why its important to get to Epcot in the morning before lines start to get long and before you do anything else ride the headlining attraction you didn’t get a Fastpass for. Doing this while lines are still short means you wont have to wait as long as you would come midday.
7. Use the Test Track Single Rider line. If you group is made up just of adults or you have much older children and don’t mind splitting up, give the Single Rider Line at Test Track a go. It means that rather than sitting together with your group, individual members of your group will be asked to fill up the odd seat that may have been left vacant by odd numbered families. It also means that you won’t have to worry about using that coveted Category A Fastpass entitlement on Test Track and can instead put it toward Frozen Ever After or Soarin. Though there may be a small wait using this method, it is usually minimal.
8. Take a break from hustle and bustle by visiting an Epcot resort. Next time you’re visiting Epcot, especially if you’ll be hitting the parks for more than one day, think about visiting the Epcot resorts for a nice afternoon break. I love taking the 5 minute walk from the International Gateway entrance at Epcot and over to Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club or Boardwalk Inn. At Yacht and Beach you’ll find a fantastic character dining option at Cape May Cafe where you can cozy up to Mickey, Minnie and friends, or you can hop over to Beaches & Cream Soda Shop for a root beer float or surprise your family with the giant and comical Kitchen Sink Sundae. On the other side of the lake, you’ll find a bustling boardwalk where you can enjoy some sweet treats, hit up Club ESPN or have one of the magical libations at AbracadaBar. These resorts are so calm and tranquil compared to the bustling theme park making them a delightful afternoon retreat.
9. Schedule in a lot of time at The Seas with Nemo and Friends if visiting with small kids. There’s so much to see and do at Epcot that you’ll be anxious to try and cram it all in. However, if you are travelling with Under 5’s, the highlight for them will be by far The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Though the ride itself, including many much-loved friends from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory does not take up that much time, there is a 5.7 million gallon saltwater aquarium complete with fun hands-on exhibitions that small kids love exploring. The building also houses the Turtle Talk With Crush show that is popular with families so be sure to do both while you are there. If travelling with tiny tots, you’ll definitely want to give yourselves a wide window to enjoy all that this pavilion has to offer.
10. If you’re a Disney Visa Cardholder don’t forget your exclusive Character Meet and Greet. If you are visiting Epcot and are in proud possession of a Chase Disney Visa Credit Card, then be sure to head over to the Innovations West Pavilion for you exclusive character meet up with Mickey and friends. This meet and greet is exclusive only to Disney Visa card members which means minimal wait times. This character greeting is available to cardmembers from 1:00pm – 7:00pm daily. A valid Chase Disney Visa card is required for entry. Innoventions is currently undergoing a bit of an overhaul which has seen the closure of several exhibits including Where’s the Fire and the Great Piggy Bank. So, admittedly this Pavilion is a bit of a Ghost Town/construction site. If you have trouble finding it, please ask a Cast Member in the area who will be able to assist you. Visit this page for more details on Disney Visa Meet and Greets.
So next time you’re paying a visit to Epcot, hopefully you’ll be all that much more prepared with our 10 Tip and Tricks. Happy planning!
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