EPCOT opened as Walt Disney World's second theme park on October 1, 1982, inspired by the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow that Walt Disney envisioned for what became the Walt Disney World Resort.
EPCOT today is 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.
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Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana: This walk through exhibit in World Nature will open later this year.
A new World Showcase Lagoon nighttime spectacular will debut late in 2023, replacing Harmonious. The EPCOT Forever show has returned for the 2023 summer season.
In World Showcase's Japan pavilion, a new restaurant, Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya, will open in the former Tokyo Dining space this summer.
EPCOT features table service and some walk-up counter service restaurants throughout its World Showcase national pavilions. Festival marketplaces also serve themed food and drinks during EPCOT's many festivals throughout the year.
EPCOT is part of the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort, located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida – about 24 miles from Orlando International Airport.
Note that Disney no longer provides free Disney's Magical Express bus service to and from the Orlando airport for its hotel guests.
If you are renting a car while visiting Orlando, you can save on toll road fees by getting a Visitor Toll Pass at the Orlando airport rather than renting a toll transponder from your rental car company: Toll Discounts Return for Orlando Theme Park Visitors
Disney's theme park ticket prices vary by day, so you can use Disney's pricing calendar [scroll down] to see which days have the highest expected crowds. The lower the price for a ticket, the smaller the expected crowd that day.
In general, you will find the lightest crowd levels at the Walt Disney World theme parks during these periods:
Large crowds will fill the parks on runDisney weekends:
In addition, crowd levels are high during:
Whenever you plan to visit, you must make date-specific reservations in advance to use your tickets. You can see which dates are open to reserve on Disney's "Park Pass" availability calendar. See the next section, below, for more advice on planning your Walt Disney World visit.
The Walt Disney World Resort requires that most 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. Annual passholders also may visit any park after 2pm without a reservation, with the exception of the Magic Kingdom on weekends.
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:
If Guardians of the Galaxy is using a virtual queue, 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, you might consider buying Individual Lightning Lane access, if there is no standby queue option. 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.