• What is... Epcot?

    What is... Epcot?

    Luiz Alberto H.

    Created: Jan 02, 2024

    Last Updated: Jan 11, 2024

    What is... Epcot?

    Welcome to the best theme park for eating and shopping.

    Much like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is safe to say that Epcot has been receiving a ton of attention and love in the past few years. I still remember way back in the early 2000s when Epcot was basically known for the “giant white ball” and the World Showcase, where you could visit attractions and browse stores based on several countries around the globe. Guess what? You can still do that but, oh boy, I am happy to say that much has changed in the past decade.

    Top 3 must see attractions

    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
    • Test Track
    • Spaceship Earth

    Disney Epcot Spaceship Earth.jpg

    Epcot now has a bunch of must-go rides that rank amongst the most fun in Disney World. Do you want a chill dark ride that basically any children will love? Frozen Ever After opened back in 2016 and it’s a great way to see Elsa, Anna and Olaf (and, of course, sing Let it Go whenever you want). Journey of Water opened in October 2023, an interactive track-ride based on Moana where you can enjoy beautiful views and experience the magic of water through an artificial tropical forest. Remmy’s Ratatouille Adventure, from 2016, is a fun 4D dark ride that both adults and children can enjoy. Oh, there is also Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which launched in 2022. I will talk a lot about this one in the next section, so let’s just say for now that it is pretty good.

    Epcot also ranks amongst the best theme parks if you want to take a stroll and enjoy the atmosphere. The park is basically divided into two areas: World Celebration, where you find the majority of rides like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spaceship Earth; and the World Showcase, where you can explore stores and attractions based on real countries.

    So, what exactly is the World Showcase? Imagine a huge 1.2 mile walking circle surrounding a beautiful lake. Now imagine this same circle populated with eleven countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico. The World Showcase is basically a celebration of different cultures. Every country listed above has its own store where you can buy gifts based on that specific culture, eat food that you wouldn’t find anywhere else and sometimes go on rides and attend live performances that have something to do with that country. For example, Frozen Ever After is located in Norway, while Remmy’s Ratatouille Adventure is in France.

    More than that, there are awesome opportunities to meet Disney characters and take pictures while visiting the World Showcase. Once again, characters can be found in countries they are related to. Expect Elsa and Anna to be in Norway, while Mulan will be waiting for you in China. Kids love the chance to take pictures with their favorite characters and the country-specific rides are also very popular with them, especially since they are all pretty chill and made for the whole family. 

    Just keep in mind that the World Showcase is big. You will be walking around a lot while going from store to store, which can be a problem for some young guests or people with disabilities.

    This is overall a great park that you can easily spend two days just experiencing everything it has to offer. The World Showcase alone can take an entire day, so I would definitely recommend coming here twice if that’s your first time in Epcot. With that said, it’s time for some ratings!

    Disney Epcot Spaceship Earth ball.jpg


    Rating: 8/10

    Just one thing: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Seriously, this is the best ride in Florida, at least taking into consideration all the Disney parks, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and Sea World. I am not only stating my personal opinion, but both critics and guest reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy are overwhelmingly positive. This is simply a very fun indoor roller coaster that manages to be incredibly comfortable, fast, not-bumpy, energetic and overall amazing. Two thumbs up.

    At the time of this writing, you can only come here through a Virtual Queue or by buying and individual Lightning Lane, so here is Epcot tip#1: on the day of your visit to Epcot, make sure to log in the My Disney Experience app a few minutes before 7am and try to get a spot for you and your family/friends in the Virtual Queue. Start reloading the Virtual Queue page moments before 7am and don’t stop until you are in. You might also want to buy a Lightning Lane pass for it so you can ride it a second time on the same day. I say it’s worth it.

    Now that we talked about Cosmic Rewind, we can move on to the next topic.

    Disney Epcot Guardians Galaxy Cosmic Rewind 1.jpg

    Just kidding! Epcot isn’t just about a top tier indoor roller coaster. Test Track is a classic by this point, a fun ride that simulates the test procedures on a typical Chevrolet  before sending you on an outdoor track at 65mph. Soarin’ is a flight motion simulator that doesn’t have any unexpected turns or twists: it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the scenery that ranges from wild animals running somewhere in Africa to the beautiful tropical forests in South America.

    You won’t find any outdoor roller coasters or a drop tower that will make you sweat. As far as rides go, I’d say that Epcot is more about quality than sheer quantity. The few must go rides are really well made and deserve your attention, so you should visit them more than once. This certainly applies to Cosmic Rewind, Test Track and Soarin’. Kids, however, will love Frozen Ever After and Remmy Ratatouille’s Adventure, so you might spend more time than usual at the World Showcase if you have young guests in your party. It’s normal for your ride itinerary to change a bit if you have children in your group, but I do think that the changes are even more drastic when we are talking about Epcot. 

    Oh yeah! You also need to ride Spaceship Earth at least once. Remember the “giant white ball” we talked about earlier? Yeah, this is one of the most classic rides in the entire world, a trip through the history of mankind with a lot of animatronics. Going to Epcot and not experiencing Spaceship Earth is probably a Disney-sin, so make sure to make time for it. Also, it’s fun!

    Disney Epcot Test Track 1.jpg


    Rating: 10/10

    That’s an easy ten! We are talking about a theme park which makes traveling around the globe extremely fun (and fast). It’s the only place in the universe where a few steps can take you from Italy to Germany. The journey and the sense of discovery as you make your way through different cultures is also an unforgettable adventure.

    Want a good example of the World Showcase experience? Sure. You make your way through Canada, learn more about Ice Hockey, browse a store that sells Canadian snacks and bottles of maple syrup and even take a picture with grizzly bears (wait, they are people in costumes… thankfully). Once done, you only need to walk a little bit to arrive in the United Kingdom. Then it’s your chance to buy a Beatles t-shirt, browse the Premier League team’s jerseys and drink a cold beer at an English pub. You can basically walk around the entire globe in an hour or two!

    Epcot is extremely atmospheric, and that’s mostly because of the World Showcase. Each country does a great job bringing you to a specific culture and making it feel like you are visiting a different part of our world. The area of Morocco, for example, is organized like an open market in Marrakesh, with small kiosks selling carpets and beautiful hand made sculptures. Japan, on the other hand, has a huge store which not only sells a bunch of products based on anime and videogames, but also a handful of candies and beverages that you would only find by visiting the Land of the Rising Sun. Add all that to the fact that you can find Disney characters standing by the different countries and you are in for a good time.

    If that’s still not enough, Epcot is probably the theme park that has the most visual changes during seasons. During early spring, you can spot the beautiful gardens featuring trees and plants sculpted to look like Disney characters. There are also several occasions where festivals and special events will happen inside Epcot, which often features brand new kiosks selling drinks and food for a limited time.

    Yeah, the atmosphere gets a ten for the World Showcase alone, but there is nothing wrong with the World Celebration. As expected from theme parks across Florida, the streets are clean and the employees are extremely helpful. Oh, fun fact: every employee that works operating rides or behind the counter in the World Showcase was actually born in the country they are representing. Neat.

    Disney Epcot France.jpg

    Kid Friendliness

    Rating: 9/10

    I really think Epcot is great for children for basically three reasons: one, it’s possible to explore the World Showcase and find cool new stuff they haven’t seen anywhere else, all the while they learn about a new culture. Two, there are a great number of rides with low or no height requirements, which makes it easier for an entire family to experience the park together. Three, there is a huge roster of characters in costume that you can find during specific times. Those characters include Cinderella, Snow White, Alice, Belle, Mulan, Elsa, Peter Pan and also some names you probably had no idea even existed.

    For young children, there are several rides they can go without worrying about height or getting scared. Most of them are dark rides with fun special effects, like Frozen Ever After, Remmy Ratatouille’s Adventure and Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Even guests around six or seven years old are probably tall enough to try Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which has a height requirement of only 42". In fact, the highest height requirement is 44" and belongs to Mission: Space, specifically the orange sector. This is a *deep breath* centrifuge-based-space-motion-simulator with intense g-forces. You know what’s funny? Most kids love this, while a lot of adults call this the most intense ride in all Disney parks. 

    I also really like that some rides in Epcot aren’t just about entertaining you, but also teaching kids something new with value. This is true for Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land, which is a boat ride that teaches us about the importance of agriculture and taking care of the environment around us. 

    Let’s check the ideal age ranges for kids at Epcot:

    • 0-5 years old: amazing, probably just as good as the Magic Kingdom. Remember to bring a stroller and take your time in the World Showcase going from country to country. Snap pictures, meet & greet awesome characters and enjoy.
    • 6-9 years old: very good age range for Epcot. Kids around this age will enjoy both the dark rides like Frozen Ever After and will probably have a good time in Test Track and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Highly, highly recommended. 
    • 10-14 years old: Kids at this age range are a little more difficult to decipher. They might not enjoy the World Showcase that much, and think they are too old for most of the dark rides. They will, however, really love Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Test Track. They can also have a good time in Mission: Space, especially the intense orange sector. 
    • 15+ years old: I think Hollywood Studios is the best theme park for this age range, but Epcot is also a good choice. Kids at this age range will still love Cosmic Rewind (well, any human being will love it, honestly) and Test Track. They might also find new interests while visiting the World Showcase and even do some shopping.

    Disney Epcot Soarin.jpg


    Rating: 10/10

    Another perfect ten! I would give it an eleven if I could. It’s also easy to explain why, so here it goes: Epcot has a staggering amount of restaurants available, Epcot has some of the best restaurants in all theme parks and Epcot offers an incredible amount of variety when it comes to food. When you come here, make sure to have lunch and dinner at the World Showcase, especially in different countries to check out their cuisine. You can find anything from the best steaks you will ever have to fresh, mouthwatering seafood.

    Each country usually has two main restaurants - a fancy one and a quick-service option. This means that, on the World Showcase alone, you have more than twenty restaurants that cover a wide range of tastes and diets! I am not even counting the kiosks that serve specific food and drinks, which are always good if you want to try something quick and fast from a place of your choice. Do keep in mind that there is probably a chance you need to make a reservation weeks, maybe months in advance, for some of the fancy options available. They do get packed!

    So, what exactly can you eat during your visit? The Cellier Steakhouse is perfect for those that love meat, as it offers one of the best Filet Mignons I’ve ever had. Teppan Edo located in Japan keeps the Chef right by your table, preparing food in front of your eyes and serving a selection of steak, chicken and grilled vegetables directly to your dish. Of course that you can eat pizza and pasta in Italy, specifically at the Tutto Italia Ristorante. Want the best dessert in all Epcot? Check out France and look out for the delicious chocolate éclairs.

    Seriously, it wasn’t a good idea to talk about food in Epcot while I’m still on a diet, so I will jump to the next topic for now.

    Disney Epcot restaurant France.jpg

    Ride Queues

    Rating: 7/10

    Hey, good news! Ride queues aren’t that bad in Epcot, at least for a regular day. Just keep in mind that we are talking about a Disney World theme park, so waiting in line for thirty minutes is usually expected for most attractions. There are, however, a few tips I can give here which can make your visit feel more special and certainly optimize your time as you move from ride to ride.

    As I said before, remember that you can only go to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind if you use the Virtual Queue or if you buy an individual Lightning Pass. You are still going to go through a physical queue, but, from my experience, you won’t need to wait a long time in line: I’d say around twenty to thirty minutes if you queued through the Virtual Queue, and less than that if you used a Lightning Pass.

    Rides like Test Track are one of the main attractions you can find at Epcot, so expect queue times to be around 60 min. Here is a pro tip: Test Track has one of the most effective single rider lines in all Disney theme parks. It moves fast and there is a good chance you will enter the same vehicle with a family member or friend. My recommendation is to enter the standard queue for the first time with your party, then try the single rider line once you want to ride again.

    Most of the rides aimed at kids get packed very easily, especially Frozen Ever After and Remy Ratatouille’s Adventure. The latter is a recent addition to the park and a fun 4D dark ride that anyone can enjoy, which explains the popularity. The former is… well… Frozen. You can build a ride about staying still on a block of concrete and it would still get very crowded. I’d say it’s common to see 60 min+ for both attractions, and they can soar to 120 min during peak times.

    Disney Epcot China.jpg

    One last tip! It’s a good idea to leave Spaceship Earth for the late afternoon or evening. The lines can get really long as soon as the park opens, but you can usually walk right in after 6pm. There is also the fact that the “giant white ball” looks amazing at night full of colors and blinking lights.

    Just remember that, as is the case with all Disney parks, it might be a good idea to buy a Disney Genie+ to skip lines and optimize your time. The only ride not included in Disney Genie+ at Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, but the service is still great and very useful for the remaining attractions. 

    Come read about more theme parks in the "What is..." series!

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