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How To Plan A Day At Epcot

I have such fond memories of visiting Disney’s EPCOT as a child. Meeting Figment, watching a Chinese dragon sculpted from sugar in the World Showcase and journeying through the iconic golf ball.  After our amazing roadtrip in St. Augustine, Savannah and Charleston, we returned to Orlando to hit the Parks.  As we were staying on site at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, we had access to ‘extended magic hours’ so I aligned our park visits accordingly.  First on our list was the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow  aka EPCOT. Walt Disney’s hope was that it was to be a “real city that would ‘never cease to be a blueprint of the future”. When I visited EPCOT in the ’80s it did seem rather futuristic. Nowadays it has more of a retro vibe to it but for those who visited as a child, you will love the nostaliga of the place.

How should I organise my EPCOT Fastpasses?

In case you weren’t aware of the FastPass+ system, these allow you to reserve access various theme park attractions, character greetings, shows in advance. There is no additional cost to use FastPass+ service―it is included with your theme park admission. It’s very easy to select your FastPasses, simply link park admission to your Disney account. If you are staying at a Resort hotel then you can start selecting 60 days prior to check-in, all other guests, have 30 days in advance.

It certainly pays to be on the ball with this.  The system for each day opens from 7am EST which was quite easy for me to do from Hong Kong.  In advance of this you need to be prepared.  Think about what your family wants to do, rider height restrictions any dining reservations you have or other activities planned.  WDW Prep School has an excellent article on how to plan your FastPasses.

EPCOT has a tiered system.  You can choose 1 ride from Group A and then 2 from Group B. It’s best to organise your FastPasses for between 10.30 to 1.30pm. Once you have completed your allocated 3 rides, you can then start booking more, one by one.  Make sure you download the My Disney app to do this.

I selected ‘Soarin’ from Group A (highly recommend you do this as it’s one of the most popular (and best) rides) and ‘Turtle Talk With Crush’ and ‘Spaceship Earth’ from Group B.

The FastPass+ system is not only clever but democratic. It means that at the very least for 3 rides/experiences you won’t have to wait too long. If you have a MagicBand (RFID bracelet which you can also use for payment etc) then you simply tap it when it’s your time to go on the ride.

The MyDisney app

There is free WIFI throughout the Parks, although you will need to keep logging on and off. Make sure you have enough battery in your phone!  You must download the My Disney Experience app, which is very handy. Not only does it give you all your own FastPass+ booking info, park and show times, it also gives you a live update of waiting times on the rides.

How much time to spend at EPCOT?

I had originally planned to spend two days in Epcot but we ended up with only one day. We visited on a Saturday in mid July around 10am and surprisingly the park seemed far more empty than I’d anticipated.  As the afternoon went on, the queue times also got shorter. Pack water, snacks, hat and sunscreen.

Our EPCOT experience

Jetlag & Mayhem are 8 and 5. Miss Mayhem is still scared of most things.  Miss Jetlag wants to go on terrifying rides!

Get to EPCOT on opening and run straight to Soarin’ or Test Track (check the height restriction), depending on which one you got a FastPass+ for.

The Seas Pavilion

We started our day with ‘The Seas With Nemo & Friends’, (no height restriction) which had no queue. The ride is very sweet and perfect for young kids. When you’ve finished the ride, you exit into SeaBase where there’s an aquarium.  We never made it to ‘Turtle Talk With Crush’ which is next door but my sister said it was fun.

The Land Pavilion

We then walked to the Land Pavilion and saw there was no queue for ‘Living In the Land’. This is a boat tour through greenhouses and the focus is more on the educational rather than the adrenalin induced fun.  That said we all loved seeing the enormous lemons and Mickey-shaped pumpkins!  We also spied a few people on the ‘Behind The Seeds’ tour, where you can visit the greenhouses and fish farm up close.  This costs additional $.

The Land is home to Soarin’, our FAVOURITE ride at EPCOT. This is an incredible 4d immersive experience, where you feel as if you are hangliding through the wonders of the world from the Great Wall of China to Iguacu Falls. Note there’s a 40in height restriction.

The Imagination! Pavilion

About 30 years ago, I fell in love with Figment, a mischievous purple dragon who is the figurehead behind Imagination Pavilion. ‘Journey Through The Imagination’ is a whimsical ride through the Imagination Institute and has barely changed since I first saw it. We all loved it and there’s no height restriction.  After the ride, you walk straight into ImageWorks, an interactive play area which definitely needs updating.

The Imagination! Pavilion is also home to a surprise hit, the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival.  Not only were the 4D films entertaining and insight into the Pixar history interesting, you also get some welcome blasts of aircon.

Spaceship Earth Pavilion

Nothing symbolises EPCOT more than the big golf ball that is Spaceship Earth.  A lot of people do this ride (no height restriction) on entering the Park as it’s the first thing they see. Which actually means queues are far shorter later in the afternoon. We all loved this ride which was filled with nostalgia for me (much like most of EPCOT).

After the ride has finished, you can exit into the Innoventions lab, a fun interactive science and technology space.

Where did we eat at EPCOT?

WDW Prep School has a comprehensive list of the pros & cons of every EPCOT restaurant.

We ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavilion which had lots of different options for the family, including healthy (yes it’s not all about fries). We also grabbed a few snacks around the park.  Dining in the parks can get expensive so do bring your own snacks and water bottle. You can refill the water all over EPCOT.

Final Thoughts on EPCOT

We had planned to spend two days at EPCOT which is why we never got round to seeing the World Showcase (and the Frozen ride).  In the end it didn’t matter as we did the Frozen Singalong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was brilliant.  I certainly think one day at EPCOT is enough, especially if you manage to get a FastPass+ for Soarin’ which was one of our favourite rides of all the Parks.

We also didn’t stay for the 9pm Illuminations as Jetlag & Mayhem were too knackered. I usually stress myself out if we haven’t ticked off every single attraction/show on the list. Yet what I realise with Disney World is that I will most definitely be back….

 

For more Epcot tips check out

10 Tips for Visiting EPCOT with Kids

 

 

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