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Saving on a disney vacation series epcot

This is part of an ongoing guest post series on Disney World Savings, written by a life long Disney lover.

EPCOT seems to get a bad wrap from some Disney goers, but I’ve always found it very entertaining.  I think part of it is coming to EPCOT with the proper expectations for your experience there.  Let’s look at what to do here to keep building value into your vacation.


Epcot is actually an acronym that stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  There are fewer rides, but it is a beautiful park and has incredible food.  There are lots of interesting exhibits and interactive activities as well.  Epcot also features several festivals throughout the year such as the International Food & Wine festival, International Flower & Garden festival, and more.  Here’s the full list of Disney World special events.

Tips for Epcot

Like I said, Epcot has the best food.  The world showcase offers a cornucopia of flavors from 11 different countries including: UK, France, Morocco, Japan, America, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, Mexico, and Canada.  My favorite restaurant is Tutto Italia Ristorante, but there are SO many good options to choose from.  The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway is another favorite.  This is a wonderful restaurant for kids and grown ups.  You’ll get a picture with a princess and get a visit at your table from one as well.  The food really makes this experience.  Now, not all restaurants on the World Showcase are tasty.  I’ve heard sub par reviews for America (just fast food stuff) and Germany (all you can eat buffet).  I found China to be good, but not unique and France to be tasty, but very heavy.  For quick service I highly recommend Mexico, The Land, Morocco, and Japan.  The Land might be my all time favorite due to the variety, amount of food you get, and family tradition.  My go-to is the sandwich shop.  Take a look at all the Epcot dining options.

Entrances to the Park

Epcot is also a very large park.  There are actually two entrances/exits, and walking from one to the other is pretty darn good exercise.  The first entrance brings you right in front of Spaceship Earth (the big golf ball).  The other entrance brings you in between France and England in the World Showcase.  This second entrance/exit is what you’ll most likely use if you are staying at the Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin, or Yacht Club resorts.  You may also want to take advantage of this entrance/exit if you are going to or coming from Hollywood Studios.  There is a ferry to take you to Hollywood Studios or you may walk (I recommend walking because the Boardwalk is beautiful).

Epcot Rides

There are certainly not as many rides in Epcot as the other parks, but they are still enjoyable.  Soarin’ and Test Track are incredibly popular and have huge wait times even during value season.  The cause for big lines at all times is that these are really the only two big rides in the park.  I enjoy all the rides listed below as well, but these are by far the two most popular.  I recommend grabbing a Fast Pass for both rides as soon as possible or riding it during Extra Magic Hours.

Most Popular Rides (longest wait):
Test Track
Mission to Mars

Other Good Rides to Do:
Spaceship Earth
Universe of Energy
Living with the Land

You can take a look at the full list of Epcot attractions and choose your own favorites!

Fireworks Shows

“Illuminations” is the firework show that Epcot has every night at 9 pm.  Naturally, it’s amazing and it’s a must see.  You’ll want to arrive to the World Showcase Lagoon at least 30 minutes early to get really good seats.  There are a number of great locations, but my favorite is watching it from France.  You may ask how you can get good seats to a firework show, but there is also a massive LED lit globe that floats in the center of the lagoon.  You’ll be able to see the fireworks from just about anywhere, but you’ll need a good seat to get a good view of the globe. You may ask which firework show is better, Illuminations or Wishes?  My answer seems to change every time I seem them as they are both fantastic.

Epcot may not be as “flashy” as the other parks, but you really can have a lot of fun here.

What tips and tricks do you have for navigating EPCOT?

Tune in tomorrow for a guide to Hollywood Studios.

    • Lora

      If you’re doing Epcot with kids, start in England and walk towards Mexico. Most of the rides and fun exhibits in each country start in Germany and are in the countries leading towards Mexico. If you get all the fun rides done in the first half, some kids might be bored by the time you get to England.

      Also, the best fish & chips I’ve ever had was from the quick service counter next to the Rose Pub in England. We get it every time we go!

    • tanya

      Epcot is the best park for getting pictures with the characters in my opinion. Mickey, Minnie, etc are inside for pictures all day, and you can see most of the princesses throughout the world showcase.

    • Bev

      I went to Epcot this summer. I enjoy all the shops in the World Showcase. The Test Track is closed for construction, I believe until early December.

      • Lauren

        Yep, re-opens December 6th

    • Lauren

      To save on lunch, my husband and I get the nachos in Mexico and share them. It’s a huge serving, and plenty for two of us. And really yummy!

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        Love those nachos. That’s one of our favorite things to do too!

    • Lauren

      Missing two very significant rides here if you are taking young children: 1. The Seas with Nemo and Friends (a ride in a clam shell starring Nemo), 2. Gran Fiesta Tour (this is a boat ride starring Donald Duck with lots of music).
      We also can spend 30 min to an hour inside The Seas watching the dolphins, manatees, turtles, and other fish and sea creatures.
      Also don’t forget Innoventions, which is a great place to drop off your middle schoolers and high schoolers for awhile. They can spend hours playing with the games and interactive exhibits. Also inside the Innoventions East building is “Sum of all Thrills,” which is a robotic simulator that lets you build your own roller coaster and then ride it. Innoventions West has video games to play.
      Lastly, a slight correction: There is no ride called “Mission to Mars”. It’s called “Mission: Space.”
      If you like steak, do Le Cellier in Canada, the fillet is totally worth the splurge, it’s do die for (and the best free pretzel bread I’ve ever had), though we don’t bring our 1 1/2 year old and 3 1/2 year old here with us, because it’s the kind of splurge where we really want to enjoy it and relax by ourselves.
      If you like Japanese steakhouses where they cook in front of you, Teppan Edo in Japan is amazing!!

    • mightymousemom

      One of my all time Disney favorites is at Epcot at Christmas time. Go and see the Candlelite Processional! It is beautiful and first rate, with entertainers (last year we saw Blair Underwood) who narrarate the Christmas Story with wonderful singers and a top notch orchestra. My children loved it, but I was dazzled and touched (this was a spiritual lift)! I am going back this year and paying a little extra for dinner at an Epcot restuarant with priority seating to this event. Otherwise, if you are there do the stand by seating (no extra charge) and see the event as part of your park entrance. You will love it!

    • Susie

      Much to my surprise, this was my sons favorite park on our first visit to Disney. They were 6 & 7 at the time. They loved the imagination pavilion. We all loved the nightly fireworks show, illuminations. Mom and dad got to sit and see an old 80’s rock group performing in the America section as the kids slept through it!

    • yappy

      When I was little, I did not like EPCOT at all. However, since becoming an adult, it is by far my favorite. Over the years, Disney has listened to customers comments and they have improved the park. I am a mother of 4. All of my children are very different (from the thrill seekers to the overly scared and anxious, and the infant). EPCOT has something for all. Mission:Space is an intense ride for those that do not get motion sickness very easily. It has 2 choices for riders (intense and more moderate). I rode the intense version of the ride during the preview times prior to its opening. You are in the cockpit of a space shuttle and you feel G-forces as well as weightlessness. It was quite an experience that I will never forget (however it is too extreme for me to ever experience again!)
      For the younger children, Innovations keep them occupied for long periods of time. They get hands on experience at a variety of things. They learn in a fun manner (very much like in a children’s museum). Afterwards, the free coke sampling area is a fun place to let the kids sample many different kinds of sodas that are popular around the world (many of which the kids will not like), they learn that all countries serve different things and people have very different tastes.
      For a child with special needs, there is an area in Innovations called “Kim Possible”. You swipe your day ticket and receive a mission to complete. It tells you to report to a certain area to pick up your mission and phone. Children (and adults) wonder around the world showcase following the instructions given through the phone to solve a case. Upon completion of the case a small prize is given (example: a tea bag from England). It is a wonderful alternative for children afraid of rides, or who are unable to ride.
      The dining plan is also a good option for tweens and teens with large appetites. Children under (9 I believe) must order from the kids menu, however the older children get to eat adult meals. The sit down buffet restaurants are great and introduce children to authentic cuisine from other cultures (much of which I would not have risked a lot of money for just a try). It is also worth checking into about the sit down meals. We did not choose to have a sit down meal each day, therefore at the end of our stay we still had 1 sit down meal each. We inquired about the rules, and we were told that at any time we could have changed out the sit down meal for 2 quick serve meals. It was a wonderful option! We also asked many times about what items were considered snacks at each food establishment (especially at EPCOT world showcase). We were amazed at what we were able to get as a “snack”!

      • lfleming

        An update on the “Kim Possible Experience”: It is no longer Kim Possible. It has been changed to Phineas and Ferb. My boys are NOT special needs and they LOVE this. They were 9, 10, and 12 when they did Kim P and are 11, 12, and 14 now and really enjoyed the P and F experience. My husband and I enjoyed roaming the countries while the boys were off solving these mysteries. Each mystery stays within one country until it’s completion.

      • wowdisney

        Hi, thanks for the info!!
        Where is the sit down buffet restaurant…is it closer to one of the countries?

    • CW

      One ride error – its NOT “Mission to Mars”, its called Mission Space, developed in conjunction with NASA. And if there’s any chance you could get motion sick, go on the GREEN, less intense side. The centrifuge doesnt spin, you still experience the ride though. :)

    • CT

      One of our favorite times of the year, along with the Candlelight Processional, is the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival! It runs from the end of Sept to the second week of Nov. Some tips – as it can get very expensive…
      After the first few days, search the blogs for a list of foods with prices. I copy and paste it into a document, print it, and circle what each of us would want to eat. Anything that two or more people like, just get one and share the sample. Make yourself a budget. My husband and I do not drink alcohol, which saves a ton of money, but if you do drink I suggest picking maybe 1-3 drinks to keep your costs down. Carry bottled water into the park, especially since Sept and Oct can still be brutally hot in FL. We almost melted the first week of Oct! Usually we make it halfway around the festival/lake and we are absolutely stuffed! So if you are staying all day, consider the first half your lunch, and doing the second half at dinner time. That way, no dining reservations are needed! My husband and I generally spend $70 total for both of us, which would be close to normal to what a quick lunch and a sit down dinner would cost in EPCOT anyways.

    • Victoria

      Yes this is definitely very out of date and is missing a lot of information! Journey to Imagination with Figment is an EPCOT staple, the meet and greet with the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) is the only place you can wait in one line for all 5 characters in an air conditioned building, and the dining experience at Norway that is described here is available only with the character dining option. For dinner, you will not find the princesses here. However, you will find Belle and Beast and Marie from Aristocats in France, Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco, Pooh and friends, Alice, and Mary Poppins in Great Britain, Mulan in China, and many more characters without much of a wait at all. EPCOT is quickly becoming a favorite for families, whereas most have tossed it aside as a park for adults. don’t miss out on the free beverages at Club Cool…and take my advice: avoid the Beverly!
      -Former employee of “the Mouse” and avid Disney lover :o)

      • Sue

        Maybe I am misreading your post but I reserved a dinner at Norway’s Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and it says that dinner is “character dining” and that we will receive a picture with a princess upon arriving and ” Also adding to the regal scene are the Disney Princesses, leading ladies and friends who visit diners at their tables to share a smile, give autographs and pose for pictures.” Quoted from the DWD website. Are you saying that there are NOT princesses here for dinner??? For dinner, you will not find the princesses here (quoted from your post)

        • Victoria

          I do apologize, Sue! As of March of this year, the country of Norway has officially given up rights to the Norway pavilion and therefore the princess dinner is absolutely both permitted and is a nightly character dining option. Thanks for catching me up on that! :o)

    • lfleming

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned the different street shows and performances in front of the contries. England has a comedy act. Japan has acrobats. China has drummers. etc. All of the times are listed on the sheet you can pick up with the park map at the front gate. The thing to be careful of in this park is that the front half opens before the countries and closes earlief than the countries. It is easy to get caught half way around the world and then realize you better run to Mission Space before it closes. Make sure you have covered the front of the park before you enter the world showcase.
      If you have the food plan, it is fun to use one meal in each country and share it with the family so that all can have a taste of that countries cuisine. We have 5 in our family, so we can sample five different quick service meals. If you use a snack in France you can get amazing pastries that are huge.
      And even if you are not a Michael Jackson fan you need to see Captain Eo. It is a 4D experience that is a lot of fun for everyone…..it may be slightly scarey for the super young.

    • Shawna

      I LOVE EPCOT, it is such a relaxing park and HUGE. Everything is spaced out so I don’t feel so crowded as I do at the MK. The lines for the rides weren’t bad at all either; the longest ones were Soarin and Test Track but we got fast passes so not that big of a deal. We took my 10 yr old son there for the 1st time last year and he LOVED it. We are heading back to Disney in 5 wks and he asked specifically if he could go back to EPCOT. I was very suprised as I’ve always heard it’s not a great park for kids. We did all the rides and he had a blast w/ the Kim Possible Experience (it’s changed now to Agent Perry from Phines and Ferb). I think he must’ve ate about 5 egg rolls from China. The food was FABULOUS. We ate at China, England and Morrocco. And they have these chocolate covered bananas w/ nuts at the stands around the park…..hol-ee cow they’re good. Can’t wait to go back.