Epcot

Epcot

Epcot opened as Walt Disney World's second theme park on October 1, 1982 and is in the midst of a park-wide transformation project. Epcot is also big on food festivals, which now run almost every week of the year, starting with the Festival of the Arts in January, then continuing with the Flower & Garden Festival in the spring, followed by the Food & Wine Festival in late summer through fall, wrapping up with the Festival of the Holidays in November and December.

Our recommendations below come from our annual survey of Theme Park Insider newsletter subscribers. Locations with star ratings ranked especially highly among our readers. Click here to subscribe to our free, twice-weekly email of theme park news and to participate in the next ranking survey.

Rides

New for 2021

  • Remy's Ratatouille Adventure
    Shrink to Remy's size for a chase through a Paris kitchen on this trackless dark ride in World Showcase's France pavilion.

Top Recommendations

  1. Soarin' Around the World
    Flying theater ride above famous world landmarks, located in The Land pavilion in World Nature. Height requirement: 40 inches
  2. Spaceship Earth
    Dark ride through world history, located in the giant geosphere at the heart of World Celebration.
  3. Mission: Space
    Centrifuge ride in World Discovery that simulates a Mission to Mars. Height requirement: 44 inches for the Orange Mission (which simulates weightlessness) and 40 inches for the Green Mission (which does not).
  4. Test Track
    High-speed track ride/simulated factory tour in World Discovery. Height requirement: 40 inches

Other notable attractions include The Seas with Nemo and Friends aquarium tour, Listen to the Land indoor farming tour, and Journey Into the Imagination with Figment dark ride in World Nature; the Gran Fiesta Tour indoor boat ride in World Showcase's Mexico pavilion, and the Frozen Ever After indoor boat ride in the Norway pavilion.

Opening in summer 2022 will be Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, an indoor roller coaster with rotating cars in the former Universe of Energy pavilion in World Discovery.

Shows

New for 2021

  • Harmonious
    Harmonious celebrates the world's musical cultures through 15 Disney songs in a nighttime spectacular on the World Showcase lagoon.

Top Recommendations

  1. Impressions de France
    Movie in World Showcase's France pavilion [Check showtimes as this shares a theater with the Beauty and the Beast Sing Along]
  2. The American Adventure
    Audio Animatronic show about American history, in World Showcase

Other notable shows include Turtle Talk With Crush in The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion, Awesome Planet in The Land, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 in World Showcase's Canada pavilion, Beauty and the Beast Sing Along in France, and Reflections of China in World Showcase's China pavilion.

Dining

Top 10

  1. Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria ★ ★ ★
    Table service pizzeria serving lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Italy pavilion. [Run by Patina Group]
  2. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall ★ ★
    Character dining with Disney princesses for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in World Showcase's Norway pavilion
    Read Russell Meyer's review of Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
  3. Le Cellier Steakhouse
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Canada pavilion
  4. San Angel Inn Restaurante
    Table service for lunch and dinner next to Gran Fiesta Tour in World Showcase's Mexico pyramid.
  5. Chefs de France
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World's Showcase's France pavilion. [Run by the Bocuse family]
  6. Biergarten Restaurant
    Oktoberfest show with family-style dining for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Germany pavilion
  7. Garden Grill Restaurant
    Character dining with Chip 'n' Dale in a rotating restaurant overlooking the Listen to the Land ride
  8. Restaurant Marrakesh
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Morocco pavilion.
  9. Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room
    Table service dining and bar for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's United Kingdom pavilion
  10. Teppan Edo
    Teppanyaki for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Japan pavilion

Also recommended:

  • La Cantina San Angel
    Counter service outside in World Showcase's Mexico pavilion
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
    Lounge inside World Showcase's Italy pavilion [Run by Patina Group]
  • Spice Road Table
    Lounge next to the World Showcase lagoon in the Morocco pavilion
  • La Hacienda San Angel
    Table service dining for dinner next to the World Showcase lagoon in the Mexico pavilion
  • Yorkshire Country Fish Shop
    Counter service chippy in the United Kingdom pavilion

New for 2021: Space 220, a Patina Group restaurant next to Mission Space that uses giant screen "windows" to simulate dining 220 miles above the planet, in Earth orbit. Prix fixe menu.

Map

Epcot is part of the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort, located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida – about 24 miles from Orlando International Airport.

Strategy

The Walt Disney World Resort now requires that all guests make date-specific reservations in advance to visit its theme parks. You can see which dates are available to reserve on Disney's "Park Pass" availability calendar.

Dates are listed up to about 15 months in advance, and reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, Disney maintains separate pools of available reservations each day for its annual passholders and its on-site hotel guests, as well as for regular ticket holders. So if a specific date is "sold out" for annual passholders, it might still be available for regular ticket holders.

If you want to visit more than one Walt Disney World theme park on a single day, you will need a "Park Hopper" ticket. You will make a reservation for the park you visit first on each date, then you can park hop to other parks starting at 2pm that day.

Once you have selected the dates you wish to visit and made your Disney Park Pass reservations, you may want to make dining reservations in advance of your visit, as well. Reservations can be made via the Disney World website, and each date's reservations open 60 days in advance, at about 5:45am Eastern Time. Disney's on-site hotel guests may make reservations for their entire stay (up to 10 days) starting 60 days before their check-in date. That gives Disney's on-site hotel guests an advantage in making reservations for the most popular restaurants.

Disney's hotel guests also get 30 minutes of early access to each of the resort's four theme parks every day. So hotel guests should plan on an early start each morning to take advantage of empty queues. Unfortunately for guests staying off site, this new early admission policy means that they no longer have any opportunity to be the first to enter any Walt Disney World theme park in the morning.

As for planning your day, Walt Disney World now offers a new tool on its official My Disney Experience app to create a custom itinerary for each day of your visit. In addition, Disney offers two ways for its theme park guests to pay to access shorter wait times for many popular attractions. You can learn more about these options in our posts:

The new Remy's Ratatouille Adventure ride uses a virtual queue, so plan to try to enter that via the My Disney Experience app at exactly 7am the morning you visit. If you do not get into the virtual queue, buying an Individual Lightning Lane access might be your only way to get on to the attraction. Definitely try for the free virtual queue before paying for Lighting Lane access, though.

Otherwise, do not follow the herd and ride Spaceship Earth as soon as you enter the park. That line drops significantly later in the afternoon, as does Soarin'. Choose instead to go for Frozen Ever After first thing and definitely before 11am, then maybe Test Track, whose line tends to be consistent after 11am for the rest of the day. Read our guide to Disney Genie for more advice on how to use Disney's app to avoid long wait times in the park.

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