A Visit to Epcot-Walt Disney World
Written by Staff Writer – 02/08/08
EPCOT is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” and was Walt Disney’s intention to make it a futuristic planned residential community. However, it instead became the second of Disney World’s four main theme parks in Orlando. EPCOT is by far Disney World’s most educational park, but it’s lots of fun too.
The first thing you need to know about EPCOT is that it’s split into two main areas and each area has different hours of operation (see reference section below). Upon entering EPCOT, you first encounter Future World. Future World is made up of several sub-areas, all focusing on science, technology and innovation. The second major area is called World Showcase. It too is made up of sub-areas, each representing a different country.
Generally speaking, children will prefer Future World, so families will want to focus the majority of their time here. That’s not to say children won’t benefit from the educational experience of World Showcase — just don’t expect them to last for hours there.
Future World is separated into several distinct areas. Here we’ll take a brief look at each area.
Probably the best attraction at EPCOT is Soarin’, a ride on which you’ll experience the beautiful scenery of California. You’ll actually feel as though you’re soaring high above the ground in a hang glider. You’ll believe you’re about to dip your toes in the ocean and you’ll smell the Californian orange groves. Though this isn’t a thrill ride, you will feel the motion and there is a 40” minimum height requirement. Don’t miss it!!
The Land area also features the Living with The Land boat ride – we recommend this attraction. You’ll learn about new technologies for growing food and protecting the environment. Also within The Land area, the Circle of Life film, featuring the cast of the Lion King, will teach you about the environment.
The main attraction of the Imagination section is the 3-D Honey I Shrunk the Audience presentation. This 3-D movie features the original cast from Honey I Shrunk the Kids and, of course, when one of the Professor’s experiments goes awry, the audience, including you, will be shrunk.
Also at Imagination, the little ones will enjoy the Journey into Your Imagination, where a tour tests your senses, led by Figment the Dragon. Imagination also features a neat water fountain.
Innoventions East includes a “smart” house with unique technologies; Innoventions West features video games of tomorrow. The kids will love this part!
On this ride, Epcot’s most intense, you’ll ride through space like an astronaut via simulator technology developed by NASA. There is a 44” minimum height requirement for this ride.
This attraction is located in Epcot’s trademark geosphere (the gigantic silver “golf ball”). Inside you’ll take a journey through the history of communications.
The Living Seas
The main attraction of this section is the 5.7 million gallon aquarium and the Coral Reef Restaurant.
Universe of Energy
This area features Ellen’s Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres. It’s one of the longer attractions at 32 minutes and the subject matter isn’t the most exciting (fossil fuels), but Ellen is very funny, making this a recommended attraction.
Wonders of Life
This area includes The Making of Me, a film about reproduction starring Martin Short; Body Wars, where you’ll discover the immune system; and Cranium Command, where you’ll learn about the brain in a humorous way.
At the Test Track, you can drive a six-passenger convertible on a realistic track. There is a 40” minimum height requirement for this ride.
World Showcase is a huge circle comprised of 11 different pavilions, each representing a different country of the world. The circle surrounds a large lake, making the experience less congested than you may think, and more beautiful. Within each section, you’ll practically feel as though you’re visiting that country. The architecture, landscaping, shops, attractions and restaurants portray each country’s unique charms. Many of the pavilions feature live entertainment as well.
In the Mexico area you’ll enter a pavilion that houses a Mexican marketplace, a restaurant overlooking an indoor lagoon and a somewhat silly boat ride attraction featuring the Three Caballeros cartoon characters.
The main attraction at the Norway pavilion is Maelstrom, a Viking ship ride. You’ll find a Norwegian restaurant as well as a bakery.
The China pavilion features the 360 film, “Reflections of China”, which is a beautiful representation of China’s landscape and history. Outside the pavilion, you may catch the Dragon Legend Acrobats.
There isn’t a large-scale attraction at the Germany pavilion, but you will find a variety of German architecture, both buffet-style and quick-service restaurants and a model train miniature German village
As with Germany, the Italy pavilion does not host a large-scale attraction. This pavilion features a bell tower, Venetian bridges and an Italian restaurant.
The entrance to this pavilion is an authentic Japanese pagoda. The main attraction here is the Matsuriza drummers.
This pavilion is our top pick for World Showcase due to the fabulous 360 film, narrated by Martin Short, representing the varied Canadian cities and landscapes. Canada also features one of the top restaurants, the Le Cellier Steakhouse.
At the France pavilion you’ll enjoy a panoramic film representing the cities of France, two restaurants and street performers. However, the best part of this pavilion would have to be the wonderful aromas coming from the French bakery, Boulangerie Pátisserie
This pavilion features a shopping plaza, the Restaurant Marrakesh, and the Mo’Rockin musical show.
The U.S. pavilion is a large colonial style building. In the lobby area, a costumed singing group entertains with patriotic songs while you wait for the next seating for the American Adventure attraction. This feature is a ‘lesson’ in American history using wax-type figures, including Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and others. We felt that the show was too long, the figures a bit creepy and, considering the available technology, a bit amateur. In addition, the historical content placed too much, very-biased, emphasis on America’s various war efforts. The treatment of what would be rather sensitive topics to some non-US visitors, was handled in a very biased and callous way.
The highlight at the United Kingdom pavilion is the Beatles tribute band that plays most days. The Rose & Crown pub has both indoor and outdoor dining and is a top spot for viewing EPCOT’s evening fireworks.
Within World Showcase, each country’s pavilion typically features at least one main restaurant and one quick-service option offering cuisine representative of that country. Other EPCOT dining options are as follows:
Future World offers a couple of choices for quick-service dining. The Electric Umbrella Restaurant, located at Innovations East, serves hamburgers, salads, wraps, chicken tenders and some side items and desserts. The Sunshine Season Food Fair, located in The Land section, is a food court consisting of a grill section, an Asian noodle section, soups & salads section and a variety of side items and desserts.
Coral Reef Restaurant (The Living Seas)
At the Coral Reef Restaurant, every table has a view of the huge aquarium. They serve primarily seafood, but meat and vegetarian options are also available. This restaurant is located at The Living Seas section of Future World.
A princess’s dream is found at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion. In The Land section of Future World, you may find Mickey Mouse and friends at the rotating Garden Grill Restaurant.
Within World Showcase, each country’s pavilion includes shopping opportunities representative of that country. Additionally, each of the major sections of Future World has shopping sections. Located at Innovations East, there is a huge store, named Mouse Gear, which sells a wide variety of Disney gifts and souvenirs.
Web Attraction Info
The current standard price for a one-day ticket is $71 for anyone over 9 years of age and $60 for children 3-9 years. Multi-day passes reduce the per-day rate. Check Disney’s website for promotional discounts, multi-day and multi-park discounts, and Florida resident pricing.
Future World is typically open from 9am until 7pm and World Showcase is typically open from 11am until 9pm. On certain days, EPCOT participates in the Extra Magic Hours program for those staying at a Disney resort.