Epcot is almost two parks in one. The front half of the park is dedicated to the celebration of technology and human advancement, while the back pays tribute to world cultures in a World’s Fair style global village. Throughout the entire park, the theme is the celebration of accomplishments.
Epcot is the second largest of the four Walt Disney World theme parks in square footage (behind only Animal Kingdom), and is filled to bursting with things to see and do. Unlike the other parks, in which each ride and show is a separate entity, almost everything at Epcot is housed in a pavilion full of smaller attractions. This makes it quite easy to lose track of time and simply enjoy the day. Nevertheless, since Epcot is such a large park, it can be difficult for first time visitors to get their bearings and know where to begin. So presented here are this author’s top ten most overlooked Epcot attractions.
1) Club Cool. Near Innoventions in Future World is one of Epcot’s best kept secrets. A brilliant marketing ploy by Coca-Cola, the Club offers up samples of Coke products from around the world. The drinks are completely free and you are welcome to drink as much as you like. Be sure to try the Beverly.
2) Fiber Optic Garden. When the sun goes down, the lights come on. Epcot’s fiber optic garden is located between Innoventions and Spaceship Earth. Thousands of tiny fiber optic strands are embedded throughout the massive stone blocks that make up the walkways. They twinkle and flash and are extremely pretty to see. Keep an eye out for the Hidden Mickey within the light patterns.
3) World Showcase Players. This comedy troupe performs several shows daily in various countries around the World Showcase Lagoon. The troupe uses audience volunteers in hilarious re-tellings of famous stories (one show is called Romeo and “Edna.”) Pick up a Times Guide (show schedule) to find out their performance schedule for the day of your visit.
4) Voices of Liberty. The American Adventure show is well done and highly worth seeing. However, the preshow is truly the best part of the attraction. The Voices of Liberty is an a cappella singing group that performs classic folk songs for 20 minutes before each show. They perform under the dome in the lobby of the American Adventure building, and their show is truly spectacular.
5) Epcot after closing. If you will be visiting the Magic Kingdom on a day when it is open later than Epcot, and you have a car, take advantage of the monorail’s layout. Park your car at Epcot, then take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Monorails continue to run until about two hours after the last park closes, so enjoy your evening at the Magic Kingdom then take the monorail back to Epcot to retrieve your car. The monorail line runs through part of Epcot, offering the chance to see the park illuminated but completely devoid of guests. The view is quite beautiful.
6) British Invasion. This Beatles tribute band performs several times daily in the outdoor amphitheatre at the back of the UK pavilion. The guys are excellent performers, and if you squint just a bit, they truly look like the Fab Four themselves. The show is not to be missed.
7) Street performers. From strength ballet to mimes to acrobats, there is always something to see on the streets, particularly in the World Showcase. The performance times are listed in the daily Times Guide, but it is generally more fun to simply stroll along and stop when you hear or see something interesting going on.
8) Kidcot. If you have children, be sure to get them involved in the Kidcot programs. World Showcase Passports are available for a nominal charge at stores throughout the park. Your child can then have the passport stamped at each country around the World Showcase Lagoon. Activities also take place throughout the day at the Kidcot stops, offering children a combination of an educational experience and a chance to blow off some steam. When planning your day, keep in mind that most Kidcot activities take place during the afternoon.
9) The Land. This pavilion is now best known as the home of Soarin’, the incredibly popular new ride that simulates a flight over California. Soarin’ is terrific, and definitely not to be missed. However, guests who visit The Land simply for Soarin’ and then leave again are missing some incredible treasures. Living With the Land was the original major attraction in the pavilion, and it is still open for business. This boat ride takes guests behind the scenes of food production for Walt Disney World, as well as offering innovative solutions to the food problems of tomorrow. The Circle of Life film is also in the building, providing an entertaining approach to a serious message of conservation. The food court is designed to resemble that of an airport, and the food is quite good. The Land is also home to the Garden Grill Restaurant, which rotates slowly for an excellent look at the sets from Living With the Land.
10) El Rio del Tiempo. This boat ride through Mexico has been compared to It’s a Small World due to the presence of singing and dancing animatronic dolls. However, the ride is short but fun, passing the seating area for the San Angel Inn as well as providing a look at the Mexico of today. The ride exits into a spectacular “outdoor” bazaar at twilight.
Epcot is the second largest of the Walt Disney World parks in terms of square footage, and is packed to overflowing with interesting things to see and do. The above list is just a small sampling of Epcot’s overlooked attractions. Many locals list Epcot as their favorite park due to the ability to find something new on every visit, so wander around and keep your eyes open. Due to the sheer size of the park, it is best to plan two days at Epcot if possible. Only then will you be able to take in many of the details that set Epcot apart.