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. Subscribe here to our free weekly email of theme park news to participate in the next ranking survey.

Rides

New For 2022

Top Recommendations

  1. Spaceship Earth
    Dark ride through world history, located in the giant geosphere at the heart of World Celebration.
    Spaceship Earth
  2. 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).
    Mission: Space
  3. Soarin' Around the World
    Flying theater ride above famous world landmarks, located in The Land pavilion in World Nature. Height requirement: 40 inches
    Soarin' Around the World
  4. 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.
  5. 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, Living With the Land indoor farming tour boat ride, 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.

Shows

Top Recommendations

  1. The American Adventure
    Audio Animatronic show about American history, in World Showcase
    The American Adventure
    Animatronic Ben Franklin and Mark Twain host Disney's The American Adventure. Photo by Robert Niles.
  2. 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]
    Impressions de France
  3. Harmonious
    Harmonious celebrates the world's musical cultures through 15 Disney songs in a nighttime spectacular on the World Showcase lagoon.
  4. Turtle Talk With Crush
    Interactive media shows in The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion

Other notable shows include 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. You also will find live entertainment playing the American Gardens Theatre many evenings. Check the show schedule in the park.

Restaurants

Top 10

  1. Le Cellier Steakhouse ★ ★ ★
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Canada pavilion
  2. Les Chefs de France ★ ★
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World's Showcase's France pavilion. [Run by the Bocuse family]
  3. Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
    Table service pizzeria serving lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Italy pavilion. [Run by Patina Group]
    Pizza at Via Napoli
  4. Biergarten Restaurant
    Oktoberfest show with family-style dining for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Germany pavilion
  5. Coral Reef
    Table service in The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion
  6. Tokyo Dining
    Table service for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Japan pavilion
  7. Garden Grill Restaurant
    Character dining with Chip 'n' Dale in a rotating restaurant overlooking the Listen to the Land ride
  8. Teppan Edo
    Teppanyaki for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's Japan pavilion
  9. Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room
    Table service dining and bar for lunch and dinner in World Showcase's United Kingdom pavilion

Other notable table-service restaurants include Space 220, a Patina Group restaurant next to Mission: Space that uses giant screen "windows" to simulate dining 220 miles above the planet; San Angel Inn Restaurante, La Hacienda San Angel, La Cantina San Angel, and La Cava de Tequila in World Showcase's Mexico pavilion; and Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion.

For counter service, Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in France, Katsura Grill in Japan, and Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom are recommended by many readers.

Map & Directions

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

Best Time to Visit Disney World?

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:

  • late April through the week before Memorial Day
  • after the middle of August through September
  • late October and early November

Large crowds will fill the parks on runDisney weekends:

  • November 3 - 6, 2022
  • January 4 - 8, 2023
  • February 23 - 26, 2023
  • April 13 - 16, 2023

In addition, crowd levels are high during:

  • any holiday week
  • President's Day week through Spring Break in mid-April
  • the week of Thanksgiving through New Year's week

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.

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:

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.

Walt Disney World News