The Ultimate Epcot Guide for a Magical Disney Vacation

Here's everything you need to know about visiting Disney World's Epcot theme park, from the best rides and restaurants to festivals and more.

Spaceship Earth Beacon of Magic
Photo: Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Originally conceptualized as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, the perfect city of the future dreamt up by Walt Disney himself, Epcot is now a Disney World theme park celebrating human achievement and culture. With the combination of internationally inspired pavilions and a focus on innovation and technology, the theme park feels like a permanent world's fair, and it's a must-visit if you're traveling to Orlando. We've rounded up our top Epcot tips and tricks in this guide, with everything you need to know for a magical experience.

The front half of the park, once referred to as Future World, is now segmented into three distinct sections: World Nature, World Celebration, and World Discovery. Beyond that, surrounding a picturesque lagoon is World Showcase, made up of 11 pavilions representing countries across the globe. Pavilions for Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the U.S., Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada feature iconic architecture, delicious food and drinks, artwork, entertainment, merchandise, and more from their country, providing the unique opportunity to explore the cultures of 11 destinations in the course of one day. Of course, with so much to ride, eat, see, and do, you could spend at least one full day at Epcot, and some guests staying for a week opt to visit more than once, coming back another afternoon to take advantage of the restaurants and entertainment.

Disney uses a dynamic ticket pricing system, so the exact ticket cost will depend on the dates you plan to visit. Disney still requires guests to have valid park reservations, in addition to tickets to enter the parks. To find up-to-date park hours and show times, visit the Disney World website.

Planning a trip to Disney World's Epcot theme park? Here's everything you need to know for a magical vacation, from the best restaurants and rides at Epcot to details about the park's fan-favorite festivals.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT
Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Best Epcot Rides

Epcot's attractions range from slow-moving rides through time and space to fast-paced adventures with beloved Disney characters. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, the newest Epcot ride, is an all-ages trackless dark ride located in the France pavilion that follows "Ratatouille" hero Remy for a culinary adventure. This is one of two rides at Epcot eligible for the paid individual Lightning Lane (more on that below).

Frozen Ever After is a dark boat ride (suitable for all ages) featuring characters and music from the hit movie, Frozen. This attraction is cheerful and adorable, but the queues can get quite long, so we recommend visiting first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, or opting for the paid individual Lightning Lane to save time in line for this attraction.

Soarin' Around the World takes guests on a multisensory flight around some of the world's most incredible sights, over the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, and more. Guests can create their own concept car and test it out on the exciting family-friendly Test Track in World Discovery, too.

Other Epcot rides include slow dark ride Journey Into Imagination With Figment, space flight simulator Mission: Space (which comes in two intensities: tame green and much more thrilling orange), Spaceship Earth inside the park's iconic ball, calm and educational Living With the Land, kid-friendly The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, located inside the Mexico pavilion's pyramid.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is opening in World Discovery this summer — the enclosed coaster promises innovative technology and thrills for all ages.

Wonders of Xandar Pavilion at EPCOT
Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Epcot Genie+ Lightning Lane Attractions

During normal park hours, guests can pay to use Disney Genie+ (the ride reservation system that replaced the free FastPass+) and access the Lightning Lane entrances for shorter queues at attractions such as Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Living With the Land, Mission: Space — Green, Mission: Space — Orange, Soarin' Around the World, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, The Seas With Nemo & Friends, and Turtle Talk With Crush. Additionally, guests can pay another fee per person (which varies depending on the day) to access the Individual Lightning Lane entrances for Frozen Ever After and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. If you plan to use Genie+ to maximize ride time, book time slots (early!) for major attractions like Test Track and Soarin' Around the World and ride less popular attractions like Living With the Land between reservations.

Best Epcot Restaurants

Epcot is home to some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World, offering everything from character meals to out-of-this-world immersive experiences to international fine dining. There's something for every taste and budget, with casual stands, quick-service eateries, and table-service options. You could spend days eating around the world, stopping for tacos in Mexico, beer and pretzels in Germany, pizza in Italy, fish and chips in the U.K., and the list goes on. With so many great options that go beyond your typical theme park fare of chicken nuggets and sandwiches, it can be hard to pick, so we're highlighting some of the best World Showcase restaurants as a starting point. And wherever you plan to eat, dining reservations are highly recommended at any table-service Disney World restaurant.

Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany pavilion has a festive atmosphere that feels like Oktoberfest every day. San Angel Inn Restaurante, located inside the Mexico pavilion, serves up Mexican dishes and drinks in a beautiful location with a view of the pavilion's indoor boat ride. And nearby La Cava del Tequila is a fan-favorite spot for its range of cocktails, including the famous avocado margarita. Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada offers a fine-dining experience complete with a popular cheddar cheese soup, poutine, and steaks. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie is a quick, delicious stop for a French pastry or sandwich. Teppan Edo in Japan has hibachi cooked on tableside grills, plus sushi. And in Italy, Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria has favorites like pasta and delicious pizzas that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Interior view of Epcot's Space 220 Restuarant
Courtesy of Walt Disney World

And while World Showcase gets most of the love for the variety of dining experiences available, there are plenty of fantastic choices at the front of the park, too. Coral Reef Restaurant gives guests the opportunity to dine with the fishes, with views into a living reef. Garden Grill Restaurant offers character dining (featuring Chip, Dale, and more classic characters) with family-style service. And the newest dining addition to the area, Space 220, is an immersive experience that takes guests up above the Earth via a space elevator for an out-of-this-world meal unlike anything you'll find elsewhere, with themed dishes and cocktails.

Epcot Experiences and Nighttime Spectacular

Epcot goes beyond rides and restaurants, with experiences that make the park well worth at least one full day of your Disney vacation. Around World Showcase, spot performers, short films, and artwork from countries around the world, and in World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature, find fun play areas, aquariums with a variety of marine life, and more. And throughout the park, you can see beloved Disney characters posing for photos and waving to guests.

"Harmonious," a nighttime spectacular that debuted in October 2021 for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration, is the perfect way to end a day at Epcot. The show combines floating screens, fountains, lasers, lights, fireworks, and Disney music for a dazzling, must-see event. And of course, Epcot's fan-favorite festivals provide even more magic, depending on the season.

Epcot Festivals

There are four major events on Epcot's festival calendar: Epcot International Festival of the Arts, Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Throughout the year, the park transforms with themed food and drink kiosks, festive decor, limited-edition merchandise, and plenty of live entertainment.

For Festival of the Arts, the first festival of the year held in January and February, expect to find a focus on visual, performing, and culinary arts, with Broadway performances, hands-on art activities, galleries with pieces available for purchase, and unique food and drinks. Next up is Flower & Garden Festival, held from March to June. This is arguably the most beautiful festival, with gardens and topiaries featuring favorite Disney characters popping up around the park, along with outdoor kitchens serving limited-time treats. Food & Wine typically occurs from summer to mid-November, with a focus on delicious food and beverages from around the globe. And finally, the holiday season is celebrated with the Festival of the Holidays, which includes seasonal eats from around the world, global traditions, and the beloved Candlelight Processional featuring celebrity narrators, a 50-piece orchestra, and a choir. With so much to see, eat, and do, Epcot festivals are a crowd favorite, especially fun for adult guests.

France Pavilion Expansion at EPCOT
Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Drinking at Epcot

Maybe you've heard about "drinking around the world," where theme park guests try a beverage from every country represented in Epcot's World Showcase. While this endeavor is best split across a couple of days or shared among friends, it does highlight just how extensive the alcoholic (and nonalcoholic) beverage offerings have become. Guest can try tequilas in Mexico, sake in Japan, beer in Germany, moonshine cocktails in the American Adventure, and much more. Tasting your way through international beer, wines, cocktails, and mocktails is a fun way to spend an evening at Epcot, and it's even more exciting during the festivals, when booths offer limited-time drinks and snacks.

Epcot Extended Hours

If you're determined to make the most of your ride time without spending hours in line, try and get to the parks early (and take advantage of early entry if you're staying at one of the eligible hotels). If you're staying on site at a deluxe resort, plan to visit on a night that offers exclusive extended evening hours at Epcot. (You can find the list of eligible hotels and dates on the Disney World website.)

Disney World Hotels Near Epcot

There are several hotels in the Epcot resort area: Disney's Riviera Resort, Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Walt Disney World Dolphin, Walt Disney World Swan, and the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve. Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas, Disney's Beach Club Resort, and Disney's Yacht Club Resort are closest to the park, a short walk from the International Gateway entrance at the back of the park. With a great pool, beautiful rooms, and an airy, upscale feel, Yacht Club is a top pick among Epcot area hotels.

Getting to Epcot

Disney World offers complimentary transportation for hotel guests going to the theme parks. Epcot is accessible via bus, boat, Skyliner, and monorail, so depending on where you're staying, there are several ways to get there. If you opt to drive, standard parking starts at $25 per day.

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