EPCOT, the second theme park that opened at Walt Disney World in Central Florida, is one of my favorite Disney parks and one of the best places to visit during a Disney vacation. It has the reputation of being more of an adult destination, although there are plenty of things for kids to like as well. I always recommend including at least one day at EPCOT during your family vacation. Here are some of the most exciting and best things to do in EPCOT at Disney World, regardless of your interests.
I am a former member of the planDisney Panel (formerly the Disney Moms Panel) and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own. I’ve also paid my own way many times. This post contains affiliate links (including links in the map below) and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
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The Most Exciting and Best Things to Do in EPCOT
EPCOT (formerly known as EPCOT Center) has been doing renovations and transformations, with new things being added throughout the year. Even if you’ve been to EPCOT in the past, you may find some brand-new things to experience on your next visit.
One of the newest changes is the separation of the park into four distinct “lands”. In the past, there was Future World and the World Showcase. Now, Future World has been separated into three lands: World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to have not only a valid park ticket but also a park reservation for that day. Or, you can hop to EPCOT with a park hopper ticket after 2 pm (after you’ve been to another park) assuming the park isn’t at capacity. Many guests enjoy spending the evening at EPCOT, especially if they have dinner plans there.
Ride the Attractions at EPCOT
In recent years, Walt Disney World has introduced the new Genie+ system. This system replaced the FastPass system but does come with an additional fee. It’s optional whether or not you choose to add this to your tickets. You won’t have to purchase it for every day, you can add it on for a single day of your trip.
I recommend Genie+ for the EPCOT rides if you are limited on time and aren’t on a strict budget. It definitely can help you save time during your Disney vacation. If you have Genie+, you can skip the standby line and will instead go through the lightning lane entrance.
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – located in the Mexico pavilion, this is a gentle boat ride that is great for kids.
- Frozen Ever After – Fans of the movie Frozen won’t want to miss this dark ride attraction featuring their favorite characters from the movie.
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – In one of the new rides, get shrunk down to the size of Remy on this trackless ride through a kitchen as Remy prepares dinner.
- Spaceship Earth – this classic ride in the giant EPCOT ball icon takes you through the history of civilization.
- Journey Into Imagination with Figment – Follow Figment the dragon through a tour of the Imagination Institute
- The Seas With Nemo and Friends – a great ride for kids that takes you through the storyline of the original Finding Nemo movie.
- Turtle Talk With Crush – interact with Crush from Finding Nemo in this fun show.
- Living With the Land – learn about innovative ways that food can be grown on this gentle boat ride.
- Soarin’ – You’ll feel like you are hang-gliding over the world in this hybrid movie/ride which is definitely one of the best rides at Disney World.
- Mission: Space – There are two versions of this space ride – one that is milder and is better for those prone to motion sickness and one that is more of a thrill ride.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – the newest ride at EPCOT features a reverse launch roller coaster start and is one of the most exciting rides at Walt Disney World. Right now, you’ll either need to enter the virtual queue or purchase an individual lightning lane.
- Test Track – build a SIM test car and test it out in this attraction.
Learn About International Destinations
Although I love rides, my favorite part of the theme park is the World Showcase area, where you’ll find the eleven countries in EPCOT. These countries not only offer restaurants and attractions, but they also offer you the opportunity to learn about some popular international destinations.
Currently, the eleven countries represented are the following:
- The American Adventure
- The United Kingdom
There are a number of things to do in all of these World Showcase pavilions – most of which will teach you about the culture, food, and people of their respective countries. There are movies, like Reflections of China, Impressions de France, and Canada Far and Wide, that are both entertaining and educational.
You can also see street entertainment, characters, architecture and buildings, shops, gardens, and more that are representative of the specific countries. Cast members working in the countries are typically residents of those countries, so you can also learn a lot from them.
Tour Around With Kidcot Fun Stops
If you are visiting with small children, they can still enjoy their fun at EPCOT. The Kidcot Fun Stops are a fun thing to do with kids in the World Showcase. They’ll be able to walk around to these different spots and participate in an activity themed to the specific country. There are eleven Kidcot stops – one in each country.
Sample Food and Drinks from Around the World
Ask people what they love most about EPCOT, and most will probably say the food. The World Showcase offers a number of kiosks, quick service, and table service restaurants offering popular cuisine from all of these different countries. In addition, there are also several fantastic restaurants in the other three worlds of EPCOT, including two spots in the Land pavilion offering food that was grown right there.
While I think all of the restaurants at the World Showcase are delicious, I have a few favorites:
- Le Cellier in Canada (Canadian steakhouse)
- Tutto Italia in Italy (Italian specialties)
- Via Napoli in Italy (for delicious pizza)
- Tangierine Cafe (quick service in Morocco)
- Les Halles Boulangerie – Patisserie (French pastries and quick-serve food)
Like the other Walt Disney World table service restaurants, these restaurants offer advance dining reservations. They can be very popular, so we recommend making reservations as early as possible to ensure the best availability.
Attend a Festival
EPCOT is home to several large-scale festivals throughout the year. These alone are worth visiting EPCOT on a vacation because they all have fun and unique special events. While these EPCOT festivals offer paid events (and food is an extra cost), most of the activities and events are included with your park admission. If there is a paid event you’d like to attend, but sure to make reservations as soon as you can.
The first festival of the year is the EPCOT Festival of the Arts. It features food booths as well as artist displays, seminars, shops, and more. There are also concerts held regularly in the theater in the center of the World Showcase.
Next, in the spring, is the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. This annual event features shows, flower and garden displays and seminars, and food booths. It’s a great way to celebrate spring.
The final big festival of the year is the most popular. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a beloved event celebrating the food and drinks of the world. There are many food booths, exhibits, and larger events. It’s so popular that it’s been expanded through the years to include even more weeks.
I highly recommend visiting the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival. It’s a great place to get lunch or dinner and try some samples of food from around the world. Even if you have other park plans during the day, add on the park hopper so you can visit in the evening. I do, however, think that EPCOT is a great place to visit for the entire day.
All three of these festivals have concert series with popular artists. If you really want to see one of these concerts, it’s a good idea to book one of the dining packages that include seating in the theater.
Shop ‘Til You Drop at EPCOT
I absolutely love shopping, and there are some great places to shop in EPCOT. My favorite is the Creations Shop, which replaced the popular Mouse Gear. It’s a huge shop offering a large variety of Disney merchandise.
There are also some great small shops that are part of the World Showcase. These boutiques and gift shops offer merchandise from different EPCOT countries, like jewelry, perfume, and clothing. They are a great place to shop and get a fun souvenir of your time in EPCOT.
Where to Stay for an EPCOT Visit
If you are planning on a family vacation to EPCOT, you may be wondering where to stay. While any of the Walt Disney World resort hotels and nearby independent hotels can be convenient, there are some that are better for direct access to EPCOT.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club, and Disney’s Beach Club are all within walking distance. You’ll enter through the International Gateway entrance, which is in the World Showcase between the France pavilion and the United Kingdom pavilion. It’s very convenient for any guests to EPCOT, and is often less crowded.
For more ideas on where to stay for a visit to EPCOT, look at the map (affiliate links) below: