Walt Disney originally conceived EPCOT to be a futuristic and idealistic city and this idea evolved into a theme park, devoted to technology, innovation and culture
Epcot was originally EPCOT Centre – standing for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. The park that evolved from the original idea of a safe and innovative city (where people were safe and innovation was a priority) has an educational but fun feel. It is often seen as a more ‘grown-up’ park than Magic Kingdom, and it certainly has more learning experiences but there is plenty for kids as well. Its iconic image is the giant geodesic sphere that is the focal point of Epcot – that’s the giant golf ball in the picture.
Epcot has two mainlands, plus a great evening show called Illuminations.
Future World at Epcot
If you come into Epcot by the main entrance, you enter Future World, marked by Spaceship Earth – the huge sphere that can be seen from just about everywhere in Epcot. Here are the big hitters you won’t want to miss:
Spaceship Earth is also the name of the ride within the sphere, telling you about evolving forms of human communication. Don’t ride it first thing in the morning – go through and do something else – it’s always busiest at the start of the day.
Soarin’ – located in The Land Pavilion – located to the very right of Epcot as you enter. Sit on seats which lift you into the air and tilt slightly as you watch a film, so it feels like you’re flying through the air. This is definitely one not to miss. It is very popular and the queues get long, so a FastPass is recommended.
TestTrack. An up to 60mph car ride that takes you through a test track – i.e. different things the car is tested against, for safety. It is fun and extremely popular. Another one to FastPass, although you won’t be able to get both this and Soarin’, so pick one, and make the other you’re first ride of the day.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends – located in the Seas pavilion. This is a cute ride in a clam-mobile, taking you through the seas.
Mission Space – be one of 4 roles as you take off in a spaceship on your mission into space. Disney have split it into different intensities so you can have a lower intensity ride if you have any health problems or just prefer a lower impact ride. You make your decision right at the start and split up so you head to the right ride.
Character Spot – meet up with Mickey, Minnie and 3 more of their friends, in one go, to get photos and autographs. It can be a long wait, but you get 5 at once, which is the most you can meet with one queue, outside of a dining experience, on the property. Usually Mickey, Minnie, Stitch, Pluto and Goofy – but the characters can change.
World Showcase at Epcot
The World Showcase is set out around World Showcase Lagoon. It is made up of 10 countries – each one having (slightly stereotypical) dining options, rides, shopping, films etc based on that country. This means that Epcot has some really great restaurants. The countries represented are:
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
There’s also an Outpost, which has an African theme.
Between France and the UK is the International Gateway – a second entrance/exit to Epcot. This will bring you out onto at the top of the BoardWalk. From here you can access all the BoardWalk Hotels and the BoardWalk itself which offers yet more dining options. You can also catch a friendship boat over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
World Showcase is deceptively large and you can catch one of two boats across World Showcase Lagoon, rather than walking around it to the opposite side. It is not uncommon for people to play games ‘around the World’, e.g. having a snack at each country, buying a pressed penny for each, or ‘Drinking around the World’ which is what it says – a different drink in every country – and it doesn’t have to be alcoholic.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
IllumiNations is an extremely powerful and amazing laser, water and fireworks show, shown every night over the Showcase Lagoon. It was originally produced in 1999, as part of the Millennium celebrations, but proved to be so popular it has remained ever since. Occasionally there are small adaptations made, for instance around Christmas or for the 4th July. It features a lit up globe with images projected and the story is essentially about how we are different nations but one world. It has won a number of awards and can either be very moving, or a really good show, depending on how you see these things. It is usually very busy, with people staking out the good spots from more than an hour before. It’s up to you whether you do the same or crane your neck closer to the time! You can get a FastPass for the area at the front of the park, which grants you access to one of the best viewing spots earlier than everyone else. To get a good spot in that area you still want to get there in plenty of time.