Epcot was first opened in 1982, and was originally called Epcot Center. Walt Disney’s second theme park, it changed from Epcot Center to the simpler EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) in 1993, and has been providing endless amounts of high-tech fun and incredible cultural experiences ever since.
Epcot is split into two distinct realms connected by a large bridge. The first realm is Future World, which has attractions based around science and innovation. Here you can ride Mission: SPACE and feel like you’re an astronaut in outer space with simulated weightlessness and real 2.4G acceleration.
The second realm is World Showcase, which lets you explore 11 countries in one day! Travel the globe, taking in the dining, shopping and entertainment each of the 11 countries has on offer as you go.
Experience the thrill of the attractions, interact with the futuristic games, browse the many shops, and taste all the different cuisine of the world. There’s a lot of Epcot fun to be had in one day, so here are some highlights you definitely won’t want to miss.
Things to do
With so much going on in Epcot, you’ll want to start planning your time way before your holiday starts. But don’t forget to pick up your guide to Epcot when you arrive too, as this’ll tell you when and where you need to be to experience awesome displays from all around the world. We’ve listed the ones we think you shouldn’t miss, but you’ll find countless more going on in all the World Showcase zones throughout the day and night.
- British Revolution: Feeling a little homesick? Then head to the United Kingdom zone in the World Showcase to hear the best of British rock. A four-piece band entertains the audience with crowd-pleasers from Queen, The Who and the Rolling Stones.
- Jeweled Dragon Acrobats: An acrobatic show that’ll have your jaw-dropping. Performers from China balance, twist, turn and bend in a show of amazing strength and agility. Takes place hourly in the World Showcase.
- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth: A fireworks spectacular that takes place on the World Showcase Lagoon. Follow the journey of planet Earth: past, present and future through lights, music and fire. Your family can be part of the show too with these “Made With Magic” must-haves: a Mickey Ears Hat, Minnie Mouse Headband, Mickey Mouse Glove and Sorcerer Mickey Mouse Wand – all programmed to light up at key moments around World Showcase. You may just recognise the narrator too, as it’s Jim Cummings, the voice behind Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and many other Disney Characters.
The fantastic thing about Epcot is you can make it your mission to eat in a new country every single day of your holiday, should you want to. There are so many incredible places to dine; it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. Why not book a Character Dining experience? These take place in certain restaurants at a particular time and allow you to meet the stars whilst enjoying a delicious meal at the same time. Below are just a few places we’ll think you’ll enjoy, so pick your favourites and be sure to make a reservation well in advance of your holiday starting.
- Boulangerie Patisserie: Pop in for breakfast at this popular French bakery serving sweet treats, savoury snacks and gourmet coffee. Although the World Showcase isn’t open during breakfast hours, this breakfast hotspot still is.
- Gelati: Where else would you go to get the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted other than this delicious parlour in Italy?
- Joy of Tea: Missing a good cup of tea? Look out for the pagoda-style tea house in the World Showcase. You can choose from a huge selection of delicious blends from around the world.
- Promenade Refreshments: As you walk from World Showcase to Future World, you should stop to stock up on snacks before your next adventure. Popcorn, crisps and other treats are available here; hot and cold, sweet and savoury – the list is endless.
Food on the go
- Electric Umbrella: A great place to stop in Future World and fill up on your Park food favourites. There are plenty of seating areas indoors and drinks fountains with unlimited refills.
- Liberty Inn: Choose this air-conditioned restaurant to escape the heat of the Florida sun. Enjoy casual fast-food dining for the whole family, located in the American Adventure zone.
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop: If it’s a taste of home that you want, make sure you head here. Not only does the food taste great, but fish and chips is the only dish on the menu.
Waiter service restaurants
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: Set in a medieval castle, the Queen is holding a feast for everyone. Take your seats for either a character breakfast, lunch or dinner and you’ll meet everyone from Ariel to Aurora, Mulan to Mary Poppins.
- The Garden Grill: Meet with Chip ‘n’ Dale, Mickey Mouse and Pluto for a home grown feast, as the restaurant slowly rotates help yourself to a hearty buffet full of seasonal produce and meet your favourite characters.
- Coral Reef Restaurant: You’ll certainly feel like you’re ‘under the sea’ when you eat here. Giant panoramic windows ensure all diners get a great view of over 4,000 sea creatures that live in the aquarium. Naturally, fish is on the menu, but there are other meat dishes available and a special menu for kids too.
- Monsieur Paul: For a truly gourmet dining experience, head to the France Pavilion. This restaurant is great for classic French cuisine such as filet mignon, duck or escargot. If you’re lucky enough to get a table near the window, you may be able to watch the IllumiNations show from there.
- Teppan Edo Restaurant: It’s worth experiencing Japanese Teppan-yaki style cooking not only for the food, but also for the skill and entertainment of the chefs who prepare your food at your table. Kids are catered for and they’ll certainly be entertained too.
Epcot might not be the biggest Disney Park, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need any help seeking out all of your favourite Disney Characters as you go about your day, as it spans more than 300 acres. Each Character has its own favourite place that it likes to hang out, whether that be in a particular restaurant or area of the Park, so take a look below at where you’ll be able to find them to ensure you don’t miss out on that all important autograph and photo.
- Daisy Duck: Legacy Plaza West
- Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy: Epcot Character Spot
- Donald Duck: Mexico
- Mulan: China
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Germany
- Jasmine and Aladdin: Morocco
- Belle: France
- Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins: United Kingdom
- Anna and Elsa: Norway
It would probably be easier to tell you what type of shops you won’t find in Epcot; there are that many to browse. You’ll find every kind of gift shop and clothes shop known to man and you’ll never be short of somewhere to buy themed souvenirs from all the different countries that you can visit in around the World Showcase.
- Souk-al-Magreb: Stop inside to find a host of arabic inspired gifts, from Persian rugs to ornate glass lanterns. Don’t miss the hidden Mickey on the shop door on your way in.
- Stein Haus: Ranging from the simple to intricate, pick yourself up a beer stein, they make excellent gifts for friends back home. If your budget stretches you can buy yourself a stein with a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall attached to it.
- Sportman’s Shoppe: In the UK Pavilion, you can buy unique gifts related to sport and the UK.
- Plaza de los Amigos: Head to the Mexico Pavilion, reminiscent of an open-air market, here you’ll find pinatas, sombreros and other Latino-styled handicrafts.
- Karamell-Kuche: A haven for anyone with a sweet tooth. Set foot inside and you’ll be hit by the smell of caramel and chocolate, and one of the best standalone locations to sample the variety of Werther’s Original Caramel flavours.