EPCOT is one of the best theme parks in the world; and fortunately, it is quite possible to see the highlights of EPCOT in only one day. In order to pull this off, however, it is important to have a plan. Many first-timers arrive with only a vague idea of what to see and do, and end up spending most of the day wandering aimlessly.
While it is important to customize your schedule to your own needs and desires, a few tips and tricks will apply to virtually everyone. It is highly recommended that you keep the following suggestions in mind.
- Purchase your Disney World tickets in advance. This is the single best way to save time. Lines are extremely long at the ticket booths in the mornings.
- Do not ride Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball) first. As it is the first ride that you come to, the line tends to be extremely long just after opening. Visit the rest of Future World first, and then return to Spaceship Earth before heading to World Showcase.
- Virtually every attraction in Future World is housed inside a very large pavilion with many secondary attractions. Set time limits for each pavilion based on your level of interest in the topic. Locals have been known to spend an entire day in a single pavilion, so if you want to see everything, be aware of time.
- Mission Space is separated into two sides, Orange and Green. Which you visit will be dependent on your physical condition and level of thrills desired. Both sides are completely identical, except that Green is significantly less intense than the Orange side. Read up on the attraction, including descriptions and health warnings, prior to your visit, and decide in advance which side is appropriate for you. This will prevent wasting time in line for the wrong side. There is no need to ride both sides.
- Use FASTPASS carefully. Soarin ‘ and Test Track are the two best FASTPASS attractions in the park.
- Eat at counter service restaurants to save time. Excellent counter service versions of the full-service restaurants are available throughout the World Showcase.
- Do not leave the park during the day. Spots for a midday recharge abound throughout Epcot. Grab a snack and watch the street performers in the World Showcase, watch manatees swim in The Seas with Nemo and Friends, or take a free Behind the Seeds tour of The Land.
- World Showcase opens two hours after Future World, and is the only half of the park from which you can view the Illuminations nighttime show. As a general rule, Future World closes two hours prior to official park closing. However, the most popular Future World attractions remain open, often with reduced wait times. Be sure to get back to the World Showcase for Illuminations, which takes place right at park close.
- Pack a rain poncho. Rain is extremely common in central Florida, and most park guests are unprepared. Appropriate rain gear will allow you to continue your park tour while taking advantage of reduced wait times.
- Be sure not to miss the street entertainment in the World Showcase. Particular recommendations are the World Showcase Players, Off Kilter, and the British Invasion.
- Whether you choose to see the show at the American Adventure or not, be sure to catch the preshow. The Voices of Liberty, performing in the main lobby for 20 minutes prior to each show, are one of Epcot’s true highlights.
- Free concerts by well known artists take place at the America Gardens Theater across from the American Adventure pavilion. Find out if someone you want to see is playing on the day of your visit, and plan to wait as much as an hour in line. Alternatively, you can watch the concerts from behind the seating area, although your view will be somewhat obstructed.
- If time is short, you can see a sampling of each country by simply strolling around the World Showcase Lagoon. Each country’s main show is worth seeing, but the pavilions are well designed and representative of the country.
- People tend to gather more than an hour prior to Illuminations to save the best spots. However, it is possible to walk up just before show time for a decent, if not excellent, spot. The show is viewable from all around the lagoon. Alternatively, buy a snack from one of the small shops (Norway is a favorite) and enjoy the show from the shop’s outdoor seating area.
- Unlike in the Magic Kingdom , the shops at Epcot tend to close just after park closing (with the exception of the large shops just inside the park entrance). Plan some shopping time into your day.
Although Epcot is one of the largest Walt Disney World parks in terms of square footage, it is possible to see the highlights in one day. Realize that you will not be able to see everything, and focus on having fun with the things you do see. This is your Disney World vacation , so do not get so caught up in a schedule that you forget to enjoy it. Research the attractions in advance, and follow the tips and tricks above, and you will find that one day is plenty of time for an enjoyable visit to Epcot.