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Guide to Epcot

Updated on August 6, 2013

Guide To Epcot

Welcome to my unofficial guide to EPCOT at Walt Disney World, Florida.

If you are planning a trip to Florida this lens will give you the must have information to allow you to plan your trip effectively.

All the main attractions at EPCOT are included so that you can decide what you want to see and what you may want to give a miss so that you get the most value out of your trip.

EPCOT

EPCOT was originally intended to display a model city based on a dream or vision that Walt Disney had for the future way of Living. EPCOT actually stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

Nowadays EPCOT is split in to 2 distinct areas, and you can easily spend a full day in each.

You enter the park in the area known as Future World. This opens when the park opens in the morning and is generally open until park closing. Future World is aimed at providing excitement and a view of what the future has to offer us. See the Future World section below for more information on this part of Epcot.

The area around the lake is known as World Showcase, this is completely different to Future World and celebrates some the the traditional values of our current world. It is set up as an opportunity for different countries to exhibit the best of their country to visitors. This part of EPCOT does not usually open until 11:00am. See the World Showcase section below for more information on this part of Epcot.

Disney recognised that Epcot did not have a reputation as being a fun place for kids. So in recent years they have put a lot of effort into changing this and have introduced many elements that will now make the theme park much more enjoyable for children without compromising the original theme of the park.

Get a guide book before you go.

All these guide books come highly recommended. UK Buyers click on the UK Buyers Links to save money on postage.

The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World 2008 (Complete Walt Disney World)
The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World 2008 (Complete Walt Disney World)

UK Buyers click on this Link The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World

 
Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando 2008 (Frommer's Complete Guides)
Frommer's Walt Disney World & Orlando 2008 (Frommer's Complete Guides)

UK Buyers click on this Link Walt Disney World and Orlando

 
Birnbaum's Disney Cruise Line 2008
Birnbaum's Disney Cruise Line 2008

UK Buyers click on this Link BIRNBAUM'S DISNEY CRUISE LINE 2008

 
Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2008
Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Dining Guide 2008

UK Buyers click on this Link BIRNBAUM'S WALT DISNEY WORLD DINING GUIDE 2008

 

My Disney Guides

Check out these great Theme Park Guides

Magic Kingdom Guide     Epcot Guide     Animal Kingdom   Hollywood Studios

Adventureland                 Epcot Dining

Frontierland                     World Showcase

Liberty Square

Fantasyland

Tomorrowland

Mickey's Toontown Fair

Main Street USA

Future World

What is Future World made up of?

Future World is aimed at showing visitors where the future lies in different aspects of our lives. To do this the world is split into a number of different pavilions or areas. These are individually covered below.

Some of the pavilions are sponsored by some large corporations but this does not distract from the enjoyment in any way.

There are a lot of rides in this area and certainly all the bigger more popular rides are here rather than in World Showcase.

As you progress from the entrance to Future World you will pass through the "Leave a Legacy" area. Take a few moments to look at the plaques that are created by those who have left a legacy. You can do the same if you wish by visiting the 'Leave a Legacy' kiosk.

The main areas of Future World are:

Spaceship Earth

Universe of Energy

Mission Space

Test Track

Innoventions

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

The Land

Imagination!

You can read more on these below.

There are other areas within Future World which are worth visiting.

Pin Traders

In the Central Plaza just beyond Spaceship Earth there is the Pin Traders kiosk which is worth a visit for any Pin Traders looking for the latest Pins.

Water Fountains

The water fountains in the Central Plaza are overlooked by many visitors. They are worth watching as they dance to the music, and are also a great way to cool off on a hot day, just stand where the water is drifting on the breeze.

Cold Station

Coca-Cola Sponsored Cold Station in the Central Plaza. This is located to the west side of the Fountains and allows you to sample Coca-Cola products from around the world. You can help yourself to as much as you want. It is dispensed into small paper cups from a number of machines. A great way to get a refreshing free drink, the kids will love it, just beware of some of the flavours!

Kidcot stops

Most people think that the Kidcot Stops are only in the countries of World Showcase. There are a couple of extra Kidcot stops in Future World where kids can decorate their Free masks, be sure not to miss these two stops.

There are also many other shopping and eating opportunities around Future World.

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is inside the giant ball as you enter Future World. The Mickey hand and wand were added for the Millennium celebrations and were removed during 2007.

You can't miss the giant ball and whilst it is very popular with the associated long lines, it is amazing how many people just walk straight past.

The intention of Spaceship Earth is to show the history of the human race on Earth.

It has been overhauled recently and was not open when I last visited, I will give an update after my next visit. The Mickey hand and 'EPCOT' logo that were added for the Millennium celebrations have now been removed.

Update: The ride is basically the same with some minor improvements. There are now video screens in you car as you travel which you use to select your language and have your picture taken. It then shows a cartoon of you at the end after you have answered a few questions.

Basically the ride is a slow continuous loading ride suitable for people of all ages.

A good time to ride is on your way out of the park, especially if you are leaving whilst illuminations is on.

Length of Ride : 13 minutes 26 seconds

Guests in wheelchairs must be able to transfer from their wheelchairs into the ride vehicle.

My daughter's verdict : Good but I want to get to the better rides.

If you want to check out Spaceship Earth before you visit then take a look at this video.

Universe of Energy

This show tells the story of the creation of today's fossil energy resources.

The show starts every 17 minutes and lasts for 8 minutes. This is followed by a ride which lasts for 37 minutes.

Once you are in the cars there is no easy way out, so if young children may need a restroom break make sure to make the visit before joining the line.

This ride ranks low on my list of attractions and if time is short I would recommend giving this a miss.

Length of ride: 45 minutes

Guests in wheelchairs must be able to transfer from their wheelchairs into a regular wheelchair.

Take a look at this video for a quick preview.

Mission Space

Mission Space is one of the best rides at EPCOT, and must rank highly in all of the Disney rides in Florida.

You are on a mission to Mars in a 4 man space rocket. Each of the 4 Crew members has a role to play during the Mission and specific tasks to complete.

There are 2 levels of intensity, and this should be considered carefully before you decide which one to go on. The intensity levels are determined by colors, either Orange or Green.

Disney introduced the lower intensity option after concerns at the number of people who were ill on the ride, leaving deposits to be cleaned up. There are 13 warning notices of the level of intensity of the ride as you make your way to the launch pad and these should be heeded.

The easier Green option is great for kids and individuals who do not want to experience the full intensity of the original ride. You should be aware that this can still be unsettling for some people. There are sick bags provided in the capsules.

The Orange ride is the original ride where you can experience the full intensity. This is a great ride for those who want to go on it.

One tip is to concentrate on the video screen in front of you. Don't take your eyes away or close them as this can cause you to become disorientated or dizzy.

Essentially the ride puts you in a centrifuge to experience the full G force of a space launch and then the sensation of weightlessness whilst in Space.

There is a good lead up and introduction whilst you are in the line and there is a lot to do once you exit the ride in the post ride area.

For those that do not want to ride, you can go into the post ride area via the shop whilst you friends and family are doing the ride.

Length of ride: 5 minutes 38 seconds

FastPass is available and worth using.

Guests in Wheelchairs must be able to transfer.

Minimum ride height - 112cm.

Take a look at the video for an impression of the ride. You really have to ride Mission Space to understand the full effects.

Test Track

Test Track is another excellent ride experience not to be missed and in my opinion is the best ride at Epcot.

You enter the Pavilion and go through the laboratory testing area. This is interesting and can be very educational as well. It can be quite a long line if you don't have a fastpass, but there is so much to look at and see that you don't mind the wait.

Once you get to the top of the stairs you enter a briefing room where you watch a short video presentation that introduces you to the tests that you will be experiencing.

You then enter a garage where you climb into the car, 3 abreast, 6 to a car. Buckle up and off you go. There is a Hill climb, Twisty Bends, Suspension test, ABS Braking demo, Environmental tests, Hot, Cold and Corrosive! You then get the crash barrier test and if you survive that you can head for the high speed circuit.

There is an extensive post ride area sponsored by GM which is good if you have the time.

You can get a picture of your ride put on to your photopass if you have one. If not ask a castmember for a photopass.

Length of ride: 5 minutes 4 seconds

Fastpass is available but quickly dispenses the whole days tickets.

Disabled Guests must transfer from their wheelchair.

Tip: Get there early and pick up a FastPass, then join the regular line which should still be quite short. By the time you have been on the ride your FastPass will be ready to use and you can go straight on again.

For a full preview of Test Track including some of the pre show, take a look at this great video.

Innoventions

Innoventions seems to be the area where anything that won't fit anywhere else is put. You can easily spend half a day in these areas, especially if you have children with you.

Essentially it is a showcase of future ideas and technology. This area is a generally treated as a sponsor area so this means the attractions do change quite regularly.

There are lots of interactive things to do, even send an electronic video postcard to the folks back home.

The Firehouse is a particularly good attraction for families and allows you to play a game of 'find the fire hazard' in an educational way. Our kids love it and would play all day if we let them.

Keep an eye on showtimes for some of the not so well publisied attractions in this area as some are very good.

Attached to Innoventions you will find a meet and greet area where you can get your character photographs and autographs.

As the buildings are air conditioned it can be a great place to spend an hour or two in the middle of the day or if it is raining.

Check out this video but be sure to have your sound turned on. You will hear some of the music that is played constantly while you are in Innoventions.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a slow ride through a huge aquarium.

Kids will love it. They can ride in a clam shell shaped car and get to see Nemo and all his friends swimming around with real aquatic life.

Upon exiting the ride you end up in a large aquarium area with lots of different activities to keep you or the kids occupied for a while.

Also in this area you will find TURTLE TALK WITH CRUSH.

This is a great show aimed specifically at the kids. They all sit in front of a large screen.

Crush appears swimming on the screen and talks with the children. It is extremely clever, Crush looks at the person he is talking to and it is a two way conversation. If your child wants to speak with him make sure they have a good question ready before you go in.

Each session with Crush lasts 10minutes.

Tip: If your child wants to speak with Crush make sure that they have something that makes them easily distiguishable from the rest of the children. For example a bright t-shirt, hat or similar garment.

Check out his video preview of Turtle Talk with Crush.

The Land

Soarin' - Living with the Land - The Circle of Life

The Land is a large pavilion with a huge amount in it. The most popular attraction is Soarin'.

SOARIN'

This is a ride that Disney have brought over from California. Whilst it is a superb ride it is a shame that they have used the same film footage and did not film something new for the Florida attraction.

The queues for this ride can be unbearably long and it is best to either use FastPass or go early or very late in the day. Disney have recently introduced some new interactive overhead screens in the waiting areas. These are similar to Wii or Playstation Eyetoy in that they detect movement to allow the game to be controlled rathre than a control pad. This is a good move.

When you enter the huge auditorium and take a seat in what could be a huge multi-person hang-glider. Once everybody is seated, the seats move forwards and upwards so that everybody has an unobscured close view of the screen.

The screen is huge and almost your complete peripheral vision is filled with the picture. This along with the motion of your seat and the wind effects make the whole experience totally enjoyable.

Length of Ride: 5minutes.

Fastpass is available and should be used if you can.

Guests must transfer from wheelchairs.

Minimum ride height - 102cm

LIVING WITH THE LAND

This is a boat ride that passes through green houses and introduces things like hydroponics.

It is a good ride and very educational, however I feel it is getting a bit dated now and would not be surprised to see it replaced in the not too distant future.

Younger children will soon become bored if you don't add to the automated naration.

Length of ride: 13minutes 50seconds

Disabled guests must be able to transfer to a regular wheelchair.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

This is a 20minute film featuring the characters from The Lion King. It is an educational film about the environment.

A good film which kids and adults will enjoy. A lot of people miss this because the entry is low key and dated, but it is well worth seeing.

This short video will give you a preview of Soarin'.

Imagination

JOURNEY INTO IMAGINATION WITH FIGMENT HONEY I SHRUNK THE AUDIENCE

Imagination is sponsored by Kodak. There are 2 main features in this pavilion.

JOURNEY INTO IMAGINATION WITH FIGMENT

This is a great ride through the senses of sight, sound and smell. Young children will enjoy it and soon become Figment fans.

This is often overlooked as it is in the shadow of Honey I Shrunk the Audience and many people give it a miss. Queues are rarely long.

Figment is a purple dragan who has a disruptive nature and makes the whole presentation work.

Length of ride: 7minutes 20seconds

HONEY I SHRUNK THE AUDIENCE

This is a show based on the 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' film. As is suggested by the title, in this show it is the audience that is shrunk. 3D effects really work in this show and make it something special. There are also some extra 4D effects thrown in for good measure.

Length of Show: 18minutes

This is the preview show for Honey I Shrunk the Audience, that is the show that you get to watch while you are waiting for the theatre doors to open.

World Showcase

World Showcase is a great place to casually wander around eleven countries of the world.

Each country pavilion showcases a country giving you an impression of the local culture.

Most of the showcases have an attraction of some description and all showcases have one or more dining venues.

You can easliy spend a whole day going around World Showcase so you need to plan this in carefully. Ask yourself if your holiday schedule allows you a day in World Showcase or do you need to restrict the time that you spend there.

Kidcot Stops are present in each country. These are great places for your children to visit. Whilst at the Kidcot Stop they can create and decorate a mask, this is free, and they can collect an emblem to dangle from the mask at each country they visit. The Cast Members in these areas are from the country that they represent so this is a great opportunity for your children to meet them and find out more about the Cast Member's home country.

You can also buy an Epcot Passport in any of the many outlets. You can then get this stamped in all the countries you visit and ask the Cast Member to write a message. Most will write something in their own language. On special occasions ask them to write you a special message, for example Happy Birthday

I am going to add links to lenses for each of the countries as I create them. This will take a little time so be sure to check back here to see how far around the world I have travelled.

To get an idea of what the World Showcase is all about check out this video.

Mexico

Mexico is the first Country you come to if you work your way clockwise around World Showcase.

Set in Pyramid you find yourself entering a Mexican Market Place.

There are many Mexican themed items available to purchase. Whilst you look around the Market place the kids can call in to the KidCot Stop which is to the left of the Market as you enter.

You can take a ride on the Boat ride that shows you the many different sides of Mexico and then if you wish you can dine in the San Angel Inn Restaurant.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on this restaurant.

Check out this video to decide if you want to go and see more of Mexico.

Norway

The Norway Pavilion is great for kids as it has a Viking Ship adventure playground. Smaller children will play for ages on this, but the older ones will soon get bored and be looking to move on.

The rest of the Norway Pavilion is based on a Norwegian town square. There is a replica of a 14th century fort and a stave church.

There is also the Maelstrom boat ride which is quite good and this is followed by a video showing in the theatre before you exit in to the back of the shop. The video is worth watching if you have not seen it before, but once you have seen it you will probably want to by-pass it if you visit Maelstrom again.

You can eat at Akershus which provides Princess themed character dining. Alternatively if you want a snack you can visit Kringla Bakeri og Kafe.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on these dining options.

See a bit more of Norway with this preview.

China

The architecture at China is well worth taking time to admire. As you enter the China Pavilion you will pass through a triple arched gate based on the Temple of Heaven at Beijing.

To the left as you enter is the Lotus Blossom Cafe which is a great place for a Chinese snack. As you proceed beyond the Cafe you will enter a vast shop selling all manner of Chinese items. The Kidcot Stop is also in this area. Leave the kids here to do their masks while you have a look around.

To the right as you enter through the gateway is Wonders of China, this is a full 360 circle vision film featuring some great views of China.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on the dining options in China.

This video of the Chinese Acrobats wil give you a taste of what is on offer at the China pavilion.

Germany

Typical German buildings form a square in the centre of the German Pavilion. These buildings are designed to replicate some of the varying architechure to be found in the different regions of Germany. Every hour the clock tower will chime out a melody on a glockenspiel.

There is the usual shopping options with the chance to buy many German products including German beers.

As you leave Germany, heading for Italy, it is worth taking time to look at the model railway.

Eating options at German include the Sommerfest counter service sandwich restaurant and the Biergarten which has a more extensive menu.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on this restaurant.

Get a preview with these scenes of Germany.

Italy

The center piece of the Italy Pavilion is the Bell Tower. This stands 83 feet tall and is a replica of one in St Mark's Square.

The main building is a replica of Doge's Palace and this houses some Italian shopping outlets. To the side of this is the central plaza which is home to various types of street entertainment.

Towards the rear of the Italy Pavilion is a superb Italian restaurant. This is currently being refurbish so has limited offerings.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on this restaurant.

Check out this video if you want to see a bit more of the Italy Pavilion.

United States of America

At the centre of World Showcase is the United States Of America Pavilion. When you reach this point you know you are halfway around the world.

The main building is a Colonial style mansion, built, unusually for Disney, from real bricks. This houses the Liberty Hall counter service food outlet and the entrance to The American Adventure attraction.

There are also regular events in the courtyard at the front of the mansion, you need to check locally to find out what is happening on any given day.

Opposite the USA Pavilion is the American Gardens Theatre which is home to many outdoor live shows such as the Candlelight Processional.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on the Liberty Hall food outlet.

This video will give you a taste of what is on offer at the USA pavilion.

Japan

Like China, Japan features its eastern architechure throughout its pavilion. The biggest element of this being a pagoda which is a replica of a 7th Century Horyuji Temple.

The Japanese gardens around the pagoda are also fantastically detailed and feature large Kio Carp fish in the ornamental ponds.

Behind the pagoda is the White Heron Castle which houses many items of Japanese art and a display of tin toys. The Kidcot Stop is in this area.

The dining options in the Japan Pavilion are great, check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information.

Check out this video if you want to see a little more of what Japan has to offer.

Morocco

As you enter the Moroccan Pavilion you really could believe that you were in a small part of Moroccow. The narrow alleys, terracotta tiles and mosaic art are all true to the native country.

There is a marketplace to visit and explore, in which you will also find the Kidcot Stop. You can also watch exotic belly dancers perform as you listen to the Moroccan musicians.

You can have a taste of Moroccan food at the Restaurant Marrakesh or try the counter service at the Moorish Cafe.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on these restaurants.

Play this video if you want to see a bit more about Morocco.

France

The France pavilion is immediately recognisable by the replica Eiffel Tower. This is a 1/10th scale model or the original. Interestingly you can not actually get to the tower as it is located behind the pavilion.

The front of the France Pavilion will be familiar to those who have visited Paris. It is designed to replicate the splendor of the Seine waterfront. The rest of the buildings in the pavilion follow a similar theme.

There is a selection of French shops and a film show, but the best attraction here is probably the street performers who can be seen as various times throughout the day performing near the front of the pavilion.

France is also home to another of the great Epcot A la Carte Restaurants. Chefs de France is certainly worth trying and if you are looking for something even more upmarket then you may want to try the Bistro de Paris

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on these restaurants.

This video shows one of the street performers that you can see at the France pavilion.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom pavilion is modeled on a quaint English village scene. There are many details to see such as the traditional red telephone box. Hidden behind the main buildings there is a beautiful English garden which houses a small stage.

The stage area is home to a group of players who will perform at various times throughout the day. Check the local schedule for times. These performers also put on a street shop along the lines of a stand up comedy show which will usually include some audience participation.

England, Scotland and Wales all have their own shopping areas with the Kidcot Stop being located in the rear of the England shop. You can buy all sorts of local produce from these outlets.

Dining is provided in the form of a traditional British pub, the Rose and Crown and a counter service Fish and Chip shop, both are worth trying. You can also watch the Illuminations show from the veranda of the Rose and Crown if you are lucky enough to get a waterside table.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on these restaurants.

This video shows the small stage area to the rear of the United Kingdom pavilion.

Canada

A large part of the Canada pavilion is based on the Canadian Rockies with the rest being devoted to some amazing gardens.

Within the Rockies there are towering rock faces with gushing waterfalls and wooden trellis pathways winding between them. In the front of the Pavilion is a large chateau that was modeled on the Laurier Chateau in Ottawa.

Follow the path past the chateau and through the rockies to the end and you will reach the 'O Canada' film show. this is a 360 Circle Vision show that entices you to visit Canada by showing you the best of its scenery and diverse culture.

Outside there is also a musical show performed by a band donning kilts and playing bagpies as well as the more normal guitars and drums. This is certainly a show worth listening to during the day.

There is a large Canadian shopping outlet where you can purchase anything from Maple syrup to Ice Hockey shirts.

Canada is also home to one of Epcot's best restaurants, Le Cellier. This is a restaurant built in to, as the name suggests, the Cellar of a large Canadian Chateau.

You approach the restaurant through some fantastic gardens which are certainly worth taking a look at especially if you are waiting for a table at the restaurant.

Check out my Epcot Dining Lens for more information on this restaurant.

To get a taste of the 'Off Kilter' show at the Canada Pavilion check out this video.

Want to know more about Epcot?

Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World, The
Imagineering Field Guide to Epcot at Walt Disney World, The

UK Buyers click this link The Imagineering Field Guide to EPCOT at Walt Disney World: An Imagineer's-Eye Tour

 
The Disneylands That Never Were
The Disneylands That Never Were

UK Buyers click this link The Disneylands That Never Were

 
Walt Disney and the Quest for Community (Design & the Built Environment)
Walt Disney and the Quest for Community (Design & the Built Environment)

UK Buyers click this link Walt Disney and the Quest for Community (Design and the Built Environment)

 

Disney Trading Pins

Many of the pictures you see in my Disney Lenses are of Disney Trading Pins.

Lots of the picture so of the Disney Trading Pins have come from a great site that has pictures of probably 99% of all the pins ever issued. If you want to see more try visiting www.pinpics.com.

If you want to know more about Disney Trading Pins you can either visit my lens on this subject at Disney Pin Lens. Or you can visit my daughters site at Disney Pin Collector.

Disney Trading Pins

If you like the Disney Trading Pins you could start you own collection, or add to an existing collection with some of these.

Disney Videos

If you are staying in a villa, travelling by car or have a portabel DVD player it can be a good idea to get the kids a couple of Disney videos for them to enjoy on the road trip, on the flight or simply while you are taking a shower. Here is a selection of the many that are available.

More Trading Pins

If you are planning a trip to Disney, you may want to take some trading pins with you to trade with Cast Members or other Pin Traders. Check out these bulk buys for cheaper pins to trade. Alternatively check out my Disney Pin Trading Lens

Did you enjoy this lens? Was it worth me making the effort to create it? Let me know what you think of it. Have I got something wrong or missed something out? Or do you have some interesting information to add? Use this form to let me and everybody else know what you want to say. If you did enjoy this lens and would like to help others find it then please give it a star rating using the scale at the top of the page. Thank you for your feedback.

Let me know what you think of this lens. - Leave some feedback

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great information.

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Keep up the good work!!