Disney World’s Epcot is perhaps the most unique of the four Florida parks. Epcot celebrates the theme of human achievement through its rides and attractions that highlight technological innovation and international culture. Based on a Walt Disney prototype, Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The park opened in 1982, and has since flourished into one of the most visited theme parks in North America. Epcot’s rides and attractions are unique in nature, and some of the best at Disney World.
Epcot has two sections: Future World, and the World Showcase. Future World is where you’ll find the most rides (Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Test Track, Imagination!, Soarin’, The Seas With Nemo & Friends, etc.). Coming in 2021, Future World will also feature Guardians of the Galaxy, and Moana themed attractions.
Set further back in the park around the lagoon is The World Showcase. This is also where you’ll find the firework spectacular, and Epcot Forever each night. Countries featured in the showcase include: Mexico, Norway, Africa, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, Canada, France, and the UK.
Epcot truly has something for everyone. From meeting Elsa & Anna, to the ‘unofficial drinking around the world challenge’, to exquisite international cuisines. There are so many things to try in just one day. Check out the must see rides, their FastPass+ tiers, attractions, and dining experiences below.
Best Epcot Rides and Attractions
Below you’ll find what our insiders consider to be the five best rides and attractions at Epcot. We highly recommend you read through this list before you visit Epcot. You don’t want to miss these!
Soarin’ is fairly new to Disney World, opening back in 2005. The ride is a re-imagined version of its original in California’s Disneyland. It is rated as one of the best rides in all four of the parks. The ride itself sends you quite literally soaring across the world. Soarin’ lifts you up in front of a gigantic theater screen large enough to feel like you’re hanging out of a low lying airplane. Invigorate your senses with scents of the mountains, oceans, and fields of orange trees. It’s truly a wholesome experience.
Even though you feel like you’re airborne, your seat lifts only a story or so off the ground. The motions of the ride are gentle, and so the flight requires a simple seat-belt for safety. The height requirement is only 40 inches. Anyone who is afraid of heights might want to check out a YouTube video of the ride before hopping on. It truly is a stunning view, but part of the magic is feeling like you’re gliding through the sky.
The queue for the ride is pretty interactive, with big screens on the walls along the length of the wait. The line for Soarin’ is usually long, averaging 45 minutes to an hour depending on what time of year it is. You can expect much longer wait times if the weather’s bad, as the entire experience is indoors.
Depending on your travel party, Soarin’ could be a good use of your tier 1 FastPass+. If you’re traveling with little princesses who love Frozen, the line for Frozen Ever After could surpass that of Soarin’. If Elsa & Anna aren’t on your radar, Soarin’ is the move, especially because Test Track offers a single-rider line.
Protip: One of the best hidden dining gems is located in the same building as Soarin’. Garden Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is operated by chefs from a local culinary school. The food is exceptional for such a setup, and a must-try after your flight.
2. Frozen Ever After
Frozen ever after is located in Norway around the World Showcase. It rides the same track that the old Nordic adventure ride used before Elsa & Anna made their debut. Safe for all ages and heights, the water ride moves slowly, but does feature a few small drops. The experience is also predominantly in the darkness. With that being said, your boat will take you through a frozen willow forest, Troll Valley, and the North Mountain while featuring the most popular tunes of the Disney movie.
Everything about the experience is detail-oriented. The queue is mostly indoors (with overflow through Norway), and sets the scene of the small village in which the movie takes place. On the actual boat ride, the characters faces are actually screens. This creates an extremely realistic interaction with the crew, especially during Elsa’s ‘Let it Go’ scene.
The wait time for Frozen Ever After is typically well over an hour. With a limited amount of riders per hour, they’re usually operating at maximum capacity, making it common for ride breakdowns. Make sure to check the app or ask a crew member for the wait time, and if the ride is up and running before heading all the way back to Norway (it’s a bit of a hike from the front of the park). If this is a must-do ride for your travel party, it’s worth reserving a FastPass+.
Protip: Check out the bakery in Norway (Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe) before you get in line if you choose not to use your tier 1, because you’re bound to need a snack. Try the schoolbread!
3. Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is arguably the most iconic ride in Epcot. Built inside the geometric ball itself, although it’s been a favorite for many years, rumor has it that it’s due to undergo a transformation in the next few years to make it more current. The Spaceship Earth we know and love is a dark and relaxing journey through life as we know it (shortened to 15 minutes). Sitting in 2×2 cars, riders start in prehistoric times, and move forward to learn about the evolution of modern day communication and technology. Commentated in the language of your choice the whole way through, the soothing ride features Michelangelo painting the Sistine chapel, Rome burning, and cavemen drawing on stone wall.
On the trip back down the reality, riders can use the interactive screen in front of them to design their own future. By smiling for the camera and answering a few questions, a personalized clip ends the ride on a mysterious note of wondering what comes next in the chapter of life and innovation. Once off the ride, you enter a large area of games and attractions that test your wit, speed, adaptability and ingenuity. Honestly, it’s easy to spend a half hour in the post-ride area. Riders of all ages and heights are welcome to experience evolution.
Make sure to time out your riding time to skip the lines. Because the Epcot ball is located at the front of the park, many visitors get on line first thing in the morning. Try to wait until midday to revisit the ball. You usually won’t have to use a FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth if you move around the park strategically.
4. Test Track
Test Track is a relatively newer ride to Disney’s Epcot, and has already undergone considerable renovation. Getting to test drive a car has never been so fun, and on this ride you get to design your own. Geared to fuel your imagination, the wait line is filled with futuristic Chevrolet designs for when the time comes to create your vehicle. Before entering your car, you’re prompted in front of a design board to choose from different options and styles to see how your design holds up against the test track.
Your 6-passenger car will travel up and down rough terrain, accelerate down straightaways, maneuver around sharp curves, and ride 3-story high hills. The highlight of the experience is when the car breaks into the outdoor track sitting up in the air, reaching 65 mph (with no top on the car it feels considerably faster). When the track is lit up, this is an especially fun experience!
After the ride, you’re shuffled into a Chevrolet showcase where you can take a look at some of the latest releases in real time. The souvenir shops is also pretty cool if you’re into cars. Guests must be 40” to ride, but there’s nothing scary about the ride aside from the speed. There is one instance where it “tests the breaks” and a truck pops out of the dark on your left, but of course, the breaks work. Wait times can be well over an hour, but it’s also one of the few rides that has a “single-rider” line that moves along considerably faster. If you’re okay with riding separate from the rest of the people in your party, use your FastPass+ on another tier 1.
5. The World Showcase
Exploring Epcot’s World Showcase can take a day in itself to see everything. Featuring eleven different countries, it’s a more relaxing section of the Disney Park. It includes scenic areas, unique food and drink options, boat rides, gift shops, and attractions.
The countries blend together seamlessly and although they’re situated quite literally next to each other, they all have native building designs, horticulture, scents, and even accents (since the employees come from whichever land they work in). Epcot is home to a few different annual festivals, including International Festival of the Arts, International Flower & Garden Festival, International Food & Wine Festival, and the International Festival of Holidays. You can also find special celebrations happening around the countries on different dates:
- January 26 – Chinese New Year
- May 5 – Children’s Day in Japan
- May 5 – Cinco De Mayo
- May 17 – Norway Constitution Day
- July 1 – Canada Day
- October 3 – German Reunification Day
- November 5 – United Kingdom’s Guy Fawkes Day
- November 18 – Morocco Independence Day
Drinking Around the World
Drinking around the world is another unofficial right of passage if you’re 21+ and visiting the World Showcase. By no means a challenge for the faint of heart, it can be a great experience if you take it in stride. Because there are eleven countries, it’s a smart idea to get one drink at each country and split them between you and a friend (totaling 5.5 drinks each rather than 11). A few must-trys include a Black and Tan from Rose & Crown Dining Room in the UK Pavilion, a Buffalo Trace Frozen Coke from the Liberty Inn in the U.S Pavilion, a Grapefruit Hefeweizen in the Germany Pavilion, a Viking Coffee from Norway’s bakery, and of course a visit to the Tequila bar in Mexico.
When it comes to eating around the World Showcase, the options are plentiful. Just about each country has a sit down restaurant and a quick pit stop for small fares. The countries are extremely popular destinations for dinner, so reservations are a must, sometimes even months ahead of time. Favorites include: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria for authentic woodfired pizza, the German family-style buffet at the Biergarten, and La Hacienda de San Angel for authentic Mexican.
New Epcot Rides, Attractions, and Updates
The most recent change in Epcot is the new fireworks show, Forever Epcot, previously known as Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Epcot Forever is an interim show that’s started October 1, 2019 and runs through 2020 until the newest nighttime spectacular, HarmonioUS, is ready for release.
In the coming years you can expect to find a Mary Poppins attraction in the United Kingdom Pavilion, ratatouille Adventure in France, a Beauty and the Beast sing-along show in France, an updated version of “O Canada!”, and a new 360-degree video in China’s Pavillion. One of the most dramatic anticipated changes is the entrance way to the park, which will be re-named “Dreamer’s Point”.
Moana fans will be happy to find an attraction inspired by the movie featuring waterways and interactive learning experiences about the natural water cycle. Last but certainly not least, as mentioned before, multiple Guardians of the Galaxy themed attractions are set to open by 2020.