Top 10 Tips for Making the Most Out of a Visit to Epcot

Everyone tours the Walt Disney World theme parks in their own way. Some people swear by rope drop, while others prefer to arrive later and avoid the early morning crowds. And everyone has their "must do" and "must see" rides and attractions at each park.

Today we're going to share our top tips for Epcot. We'll be talking about FastPasses, dining, characters, and special events you might want to consider when making travel plans to Epcot.

And so without further ado, we present the Walt Disney World For Grownups Top 10 Epcot Touring Tips.

1. FastPass+: Up until recently this would be the "Soarin' Sprint" tip where we would tell you to get to Epcot at rope drop, gather all the tickets for your group and run to Soarin' to get your FastPasses. Now thanks to MyMagic+ and the FastPass+ system, we're going to tell you to schedule your FastPass for Soarin' before you get to the park.

It should be noted here that Epcot has a tiered FastPass+ system, which means you can choose one attraction in "Group A" (including Soarin', Maelstrom, and Test Track) and two from "Group B" (including Mission Space, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends).

Our suggestion: FastPass+ Soarin', Mission Space, and one other attraction, use the single rider line in Test Track, and hit Maelstrom soon after World Showcase opens. And if Spaceship Earth is busy in the early morning (before 11 a.m.) hit it later in the afternoon or evening.

2. Kidcot Stops: If you're traveling with kids, you'll want to take advantage of the Kidcot Stops in each World Showcase pavilion. The kids will receive a cardboard figure at the first stop and they can decorate them with markers and get them stamped by the cast members in each pavilion.

In Morocco, China, and Japan the cast members also take a moment to write your child's name in that country's native alphabet. The cardboard figures are a great FREE souvenir for the kids and stopping at the Kidcot Stops gives everyone a chance to rest their feet for a few minutes.

Kids love the Kidcot StopsKids love the Kidcot Stops

3. Friendship Boats: Speaking of resting your feet, when you're faced with the option of walking from one end of World Showcase to another in the summer heat we suggest hopping on a Friendship Boat instead.

There are four Friendship Boat docks within the World Showcase. You can board near Mexico and travel to the dock at the Germany Pavilion, or you can board near Canada and travel to the dock at the Morocco Pavilion.

4. Dine at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: If your little princesses want to dine with Disney royalty, make a reservation to dine at Akershus in Norway. If you're on the Disney Dining Plan a meal at Akershus will only "cost" one table service credit, while a meal at Cinderella's Royal Table is two credits.

At Akershus you'll get a one-on-one meet-and-greet with Belle, complete with photos that are included in the price, and the food is pretty good too. Princesses include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Jasmine, and Ariel. Our friends at the Disney Food Blog have a review of lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

[As a side note, wouldn't it be wonderful if they changed the meet-and-greet to Anna and Elsa? Of course then this would be an ADR that would be nearly impossible to book. But still, it's a nice dream.]

Dine with Disney royalty at Akershus in NorwayDine with Disney royalty at Akershus in Norway

5. The Characters:
Speaking of princesses and the like, did you know Epcot is a great place to find many popular Disney characters? You'll find different characters around Future World, including in the Epcot Character Spot. Look for Chip 'n' Dale behind Innoventions, and you'll find Duffy near Showcase Plaza.

And as you tour World Showcase look for Snow White in Germany, Belle, Beast, and Princess Aurora in France, Jasmine and Aladdin in Morocco, Mulan in China, and Donald Duck near Mexico. In the United Kingdom you can often find Mary Poppins or Alice outside, while Pooh and friends hold court inside The Toy Soldier.

6. Taste Beverly: No trip to Epcot is complete without a stop at Club Cool. It's the place to sample Coca-Cola products from around the world, including the infamous Beverly. This bubbly and bitter drink hails from Italy and it's always fun to watch the unsuspecting guest take a gulp of Beverly.

The face on a "Beverly newbie" is a great photo opportunity; just have something sweet on hand as a chaser. We also love Club Cool because it's FREE!

You just have to try Beverly at Club Cool!You just have to try Beverly at Club Cool!

7. Stay for IllumiNations: No day at Epcot would be complete without a viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. This nightly show tells the story of the past, present, and future of Earth through flames, fireworks, and lasers. The nighttime spectacular features the Inferno Barge, a liquid propane mechanism that launches balls of fire into the night sky and the 35,000 pound Earth Globe which is the world's first sphere display system.

And listen closely to the narration of IllumiNations. The voice you here is none other than Jim Cummings, the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and other Disney characters.

8. Annual Events: If you have a flexible travel schedule, consider planning your Walt Disney World vacation during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (each spring) or the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (each fall).

The Flower & Garden Festival features millions of blooming flowers and plants, and this year's festival featured Outdoor Kitchen food kiosks for the second year in a row. The Food & Wine Festival is a food-lovers paradise with more than two dozen Marketplace Booths, taste seminars, and more. Both are must-do events!

Epcot is in full bloom during the Flower & Garden Festival: [body]Epcot is in full bloom during the Flower & Garden Festival: [body]

9. Shopping around the World:
World Showcase is one of the best shopping destinations at the Walt Disney World Resort. Some of the best pavilions for shopping are Germany, France, and Italy. We especially love Die Weihnachts Ecke in Germany where you can find the "famous" glass pickle Christmas ornaments.

And you can't pass up Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan which is truly a retail wonderland.

Of course, you'll also find everything you didn't know you needed at MouseGear in Future World.

10. The things you just can't miss: There are so many things to see and do at Epcot there's no way to do it all in just one day. But if we had to give a list of "must do" attractions we would recommend: Spaceship Earth, Soarin', Test Track, Mission Space, Maelstrom, Living with the Land, and The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. The American Adventure is definitely a "must see" show.

And we would recommend stopping in France and sipping on a Grand Marnier Slush while nibbling on something delicious from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie.

Grand Marnier and Grey Goose slushes in FranceGrand Marnier and Grey Goose slushes in France

Of course there are many more things to do, see, and eat while you're at Epcot but we'll have to save those for another post.

What are you top touring tips when you're visiting Epcot? Do you have a must-do ride or must-see show? Is there somewhere you always stop to eat when you're at the park? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Thanks to our friends at the Disney Food Blog for use of their photos!

Wendy wrote on Mon, 04/07/2014 - 23:49:

Wendy's picture

Our newest favorite "must do" at Epcot is La Cava del Tequila in the Mexican Pavillion. The margaritas are great and a tequila flight is a must. A little further around the world and you have to stop at Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar for a glass of fine Italian wine. I like to finish with a glass of port from England. I can sip it while I sit and wait for Illuminations.

Donna wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 00:21:

Donna's picture

For the adults you must go to Italy - Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. Ask for the sofas. I recommend a cheese board and a glass of your favorite wine.

Zoe wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 01:10:

Zoe's picture

Great article and worth printing. Thank you so much, learned some new Epcot ideas I was not aware of.

Cheryl wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 08:30:

Cheryl's picture

Here are a couple of my favorite Epcot foods I found that I must consume each visit. The Fountainview Espresso and Bakery (the name might be different now) has this Creme Brulee that is out of this world delicious. And the iced Green Tea drink at the counter service place in the back of China really is wonderful and refreshing.

Matt C wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 11:01:

Matt C's picture

You had me at Grey Goose slushes!

Carol wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 18:33:

Carol's picture

Don't miss the Voices of Liberty in the U.S. Bldg....or Candlelight Processional - between Thanksgiving and Christmas.Great celebrity readers of the Christmas Story, local choirs and orchestras...just the best!!!

Carol wrote on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 20:37:

Carol's picture

Check out the Crown & Rose Pub in the United Kingdom for an air-conditioned break with a real drink.

Donna S. wrote on Tue, 04/22/2014 - 13:02:

Donna S.'s picture

Two wonderful dinner options are Teppan Edo in Japan (hibachi style cooking) and Le Cellier (steak) in Canada. I also love the three Circlevision "movies" - in Canada, China, and France.

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