Looking for some actually helpful Epcot tips and secrets? We took our time to create this guide and it’s full of some of our best stuff!
Epcot is Walt Disney World’s largest theme park and it is impossible to cover it all in one day. We recommend splitting it into two days, but that’s not always an option.
No matter how much time you plan to spend in the park, this list of 30 tips will help to make your visit to Epcot the best it can possibly be. Dive in to this extensive guide to get the most helpful advice on rides, food, navigating the park, finding attractions and other details on can’t-miss experiences!
#1. Enter Epcot Before it Opens
The best way to get into Epcot early is to book a breakfast before the park even opens. We recommend setting a reservation an hour before park opening time at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion to accomplish this. You’ll get to see the World Showcase before anyone else.
Dine on a breakfast buffet of Norwegian flare with Peppered Mackarel, Jarlsberg Cheese and various other meats and cheeses, along with traditional American breakfast selections. A big plus for families with children is that Akershus is a character dining location.
If breakfast buffets aren’t your thing, take a look at our huge list of places to get breakfast in Epcot to find the perfect choice for your group.
#2. Do Rope Drop the Right Way
If you don’t want to go the breakfast route, another great way to get in the park early is to show up for “Rope Drop” (the park opening ceremony). The line begins to form as early as an hour before the park opens, so be sure to hurry to the entrance when you come in the morning.
A lot of people like to do this to get to all the best rides with the lowest wait times possible. Try running straight to Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track then Frozen Ever After as these wait times climb pretty high later in the day.
It takes quite a while to walk to each of these so getting on all three rides will probably take a full hour or more. But it’s worth it for those who couldn’t get fastpasses or those who want to ride them multiple times.
#3. Take the Secret Entrance
Most every guests enters Epcot through the main turnstiles at the front of the park coming into Future World. Did you know you can enter Epcot through the World Showcase, as well?
This entrance is reserved for guests staying at the Boardwalk, the Swan and the Dolphin, the Yacht Club and the Beach Club. But you can also come through this way if you take a bus to one of these resorts or if you eat at one of these resorts then walk to Epcot.
It’s not necessarily any more convenient but it is faster to get through as fewer people enter this way. If you’re looking into staying on property near Epcot, get more in-depth information on Epcot resorts & hotels here.
#4. Ride the Monorail
One of the best ways for Park-Hoppers to get to Epcot is by taking the monorail from Magic Kingdom. This is a great way to experience two parks in one day, especially since Magic Kingdom stays open later than Epcot on most nights.
Here’s what we suggest you do: Park at Magic Kingdom and spend time there in the morning. Come back to the Transportation & Ticket Center and board the monorail to Epcot for lunch or dinner reservations.
Watch Illuminations in Epcot, then travel back to Magic Kingdom via monorail to enjoy additional nighttime activities and shows and to retrieve your car at the end of the night.
#5. Schedule Fastpasses Wisely
You can see our guide and ranking for Epcot’s Fastpass Tiers for the full strategy, but here’s a quick summary for those who don’t know. Epcot only allows you to book one “Tier 1” and two “Tier 2” rides in your first three fastpass reservations for the day.
We suggest you book your preferred Tier 1 at the beginning of the day, like Soarin’, followed by two Tier 2’s like Spaceship Earth and Mission Space in the morning.
You get an additional fastpass selection after you’ve used your first three, and another one after you’ve used that, so book another Tier 1 like Frozen or Test Track in this slot.
Keep in mind that all the rides, aside from Frozen, are located in Future World at the front of the park. We recommend that you book rides in the morning, walk the World Showcase at the back of the park, then book more in the late afternoon or evening.
#6. Be Prepared to Walk
As we mentioned before, Epcot is Walt Disney World’s largest theme park – the World Showcase alone is a 1.25 mile walk. If you want to see just how big Epcot really is, we broke the entire park down for you in a separate post.
So be prepared to walk with the right shoes and other comfortable clothing items, like handbags and accessories. Trust us, these are important things to consider when you pack for the marathon that is a Disney vacation.
A lot of guests get tired spending the entire day here as there are few shaded areas where you can rest. We like to take a break in Les Halles Boulangerie in the France Pavilion, spend time in the Land Pavilion or go inside the Mexico pyramid to cool off and hang out.
#7. Get Free Drinks
Every Disney guest should know how to get free drinks, especially if they’re trying to do Disney on a budget during their vacation. It’ll definitely save you money each day if you know what to do.
Update: In Epcot specifically, you used to have have access to free sodas at Club Cool. These fountain drinks only served small samplings at a time, but you could try all of them for free or bring a larger cup to fill and take with you. Unfortunately, Club Cool was closed on September 8, 2019.
For water drinkers, ask for a cup of ice water, which is available for free at any walk-up counter or quick service restaurant in every Walt Disney World park. They also have water fountains you can use for refills.
#8. Find Allergy-Friendly Food Options
Guests with specific food allergies should note which dining locations will accommodate you. While most places will have menu items that naturally fit the bill, we’ve listed the ones that expressly provide allergy-friendly options.
For lunch, try these quick service options: Liberty Inn in the American Adventure Pavilion or Electric Umbrella in Future World. Both have extensive menus that include allergy-friendly options for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy allergies.
For dinner, go to Coral Reef in the Seas pavilion, Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada, Rose & Crown Dining Room in the United Kingdom, Tutto Italia Ristorante in Italy or Biergarten in Germany. Each of these places take dining reservations and offer allergy-friendly menus upon request.
#9. Best Time to See the World Showcase
When coming to Epcot, don’t make the mistake of seeing the World Showcase only at night or only during the day. There are so many things to do here and the entertainment and scenery varies from day to night.
During the day, you’ll enjoy seeing live entertainment in each individual country, like the mariachi band in Mexico, the flag throwers in Italy or the chair climber in France.
At sunset, the World Showcase glows with the last light of day – the golden hour for pictures. You’ll want to take one last walk around, possibly with drink in hand, to catch the beauty of each pavilion lit up at nighttime.
#10. Book Dinner at Park Closing Time
If you’re one to squeeze every last drop out of your vacation, you’ll appreciate this tip. Just like booking breakfast before the park opens to get in early, booking dinner at park close allows you to leave late.
What we suggest you do is book a reservation at a restaurant with a view like Les Chefs de France, La Hacienda de San Angel or Tokyo Dining to catch a view of Illuminations from your dinner table. Here are some other suggestions on Epcot dining if you feel another option would be better suited for you.
Make sure you’ve done everything you wanted to do before getting to your reservation as the rest of the park will be closed when you get out of the restaurant. The walk back to the front of the park is always a breeze and makes for great pictures with the empty pavilions.
#11. Get the Best Seats on Soarin’ Around the World
Most people will know from photos or from experience that Soarin’ Around the World is a simulated hang glider IMAX theatre experience. It’s got three different mechanical lift systems, with 87 available seats.
With so many seats to choose from, you should which to request from the castmember. Our favorite is Class B, Row 2: it puts you directly at the center of the screen for optimal viewing. Class A has a left-hand, curved view of the screen and Class C has a right-hand, curved view of the screen.
For guests with a fear of heights, ask to sit on Row 3, which is the lowest to the ground for the flight. Guests who want an unobstructed view (rows 2 and 3 see feet dangling above them) ask for Row 1.
#12. Get Shorter Wait Times on Test Track
Getting fastpasses for Test Track can be challenging as it’s one of the top 3 rides in Epcot. Wait times often climb to over an hour on the busiest days.
If you don’t have a Fastpass, skip the line quickly by using the Single Rider lane. Oftentimes, this line is far shorter and a party of two is likely to get on the same vehicle together.
#13. Mission Space has Two Levels
Mission Space (not to be confused with Spaceship Earth, inside the “Epcot Ball“) is by far the most intense ride on Walt Disney World property, reaching up to 2.5 Gs at the liftoff portion of the ride.
Therefore, Imagineers saw fit to create two different ride experiences with varying levels intensity. More sensitive guests can choose the Green Mission that is family-friendly with smaller movements and no spinning.
More adventurous guests can choose the Orange Mission which spins to create G-Force for a life-like simulation of a launching and landing space shuttle. The Orange Mission is what makes Mission Space one of our Top 7 Rides for Adults in Epcot.
#14. Catch a Free Concert
Did you know that Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre hosts live concerts throughout the year? According to the season or festival, you can catch anything from headliner bands to cover bands, Broadway performances to celebrity guests.
During the Food & Wine Festival, Epcot hosts big name artists like Plain White T’s, MercyMe, Kenny G, Boyz II Men and Hanson. You can reserve VIP seating for these shows when you book a dining package.
Our favorite show at the America Gardens Theatre is the Candlelight Processional at Christmas. Local high school choirs sing traditional holiday songs nightly with Disney’s Voices of Liberty. The best part is that the Christmas story is narrated by a celebrity like Neil Patrick Harris or Whoopi Goldberg.
#15. Don’t Skip The Seas
The Seas with Nemo & Friends is very easy to miss as most guests take the path from the entrance through Future World straight to the World Showcase. The Seas pavilion is located just north of the Land pavilion.
This wondrous building is home to thousands of sea creatures and is one of the largest saltwater aquariums in the world. You can see and learn more about dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, rays, manatees and loads of different fish.
Some of the coolest features of this oceanic exhibit are Turtle Talk with Crush (an interactive show where Crush answers your questions), The Seas with Nemo & Friends (a ride perfect for families) and Epcot Seas Adventures – Dive Quests.
#16. Meet Characters
Epcot is so widely known for it’s excellent dining options that some guests don’t realize that you can still meet beloved characters at this park.
In Future World, Mickey, Minnie and Friends have a special meet and greet location called the Epcot Character Spot. You can also meet Joy and Sadness from the movie Inside Out at the Headquarters building and see Baymax in Hiro’s Workshop.
Go to the Imagination pavilion for the chance to meet Ralph and Vanellope at ImageWorks. In the World Showcase, you can meet a lot of the Disney Princesses in their home countries, like Elsa in Norway, Mulan in China and Jasmine in Morocco.
#17. Best Breakfast in Epcot
Epcot has loads of restaurants to choose from, but it’s helpful to know which ones are worth it, especially if you have a limited time to spend here on your vacation. Here are our top picks for breakfast to start your day:
The best table service breakfast is at Garden Grill, a character dining location with family-style meals that are all-you-can-eat. It’s located in the Land and serves delicious scrambled eggs, hash browns, sticky buns and more.
For a fast meal, get the best quick service breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie, one of our top picks for restaurants in Epcot. Period. This French bakery has excellent selections from ham and cheese sandwiches to scrumptious pastries.
#18. Escape the Rain
Florida weather patterns are extremely unpredictable, so it’s well worth it for you to be prepared for all kinds of weather when you visit Disney.
In the winter time guests will be surprised at how cold it can get, especially at night through January and February. In the summer, come equipped for hot, humid weather and random downpours.
You can escape the rain by having the right rain gear for you and the kids, but you can also venture to these hideaways till the storm passes. We suggest you take a ride on Spaceship Earth, check out the Festival Headquarters (if it’s festival season) or get in line for Frozen Ever After.
#19. Get a History Lesson in the World Showcase
Imagineers did a great job involving not only Disney movies into the attractions at Epcot, but also the characteristics and cultures of what makes each individual country in the World Showcase so unique.
History buffs will love some of the exhibits each country has to offer. Here’s a full list of the galleries and historical shows in the World Showcase:
- the American Adventure
- American Heritage Gallery
- Bijutsu-kan Gallery
- Impressions de France
- Mexico Folk Art Gallery
- Reflections of China
- Stave Church Gallery
#20. Find the “Toothpaste” & “Bubblegum” Walls
Our insta friends will appreciate this tip. You can find the “Toothpaste” wall at the Seas with Nemo & Friends. Instead of boarding the ride, go to the far right side of the attraction where the Coral Reef Restaurant entrance is. It’s painted on the side of that wall.
The “Bubblegum” wall is a bit easier to spot since it has two locations. This one’s on either side of Spaceship Earth as you exit the ride, easily seen as you walk by into Future World.
#21. Best Quick Service in Epcot
We mentioned Les Halles for breakfast already, which also makes a great lunch if you went elsewhere for breakfast. Our other picks for best quick service meals in Epcot are Yorkshire Fish & Chips and Kringla Bakeri og Kafe.
Yorkshire Fish & Chips makes for a great snack to share with a friend or a satisfying meal for one. The fish and chips come hot and made to order with an array of condiments. Enjoy it by the water in the United Kingdom pavilion or easily eat and walk to your next destination.
Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is located in the Norway pavilion and serves delicious sandwiches, snack and desserts. We often make our way here in a pinch if we didn’t get dining reservations or grab one of their famous School Breads to eat while watching Illuminations.
#22. Get Tables in Wonderland
If you are a Florida Resident, Disney Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member, you have access to a world of savings through the Tables in Wonderland card. This little card has saved us a lot of money over the years.
It only costs $150 for passholders and DVC members and it costs $175 for Florida Residents, but saves you 20% on your total bill at all participating restaurants on Walt Disney World property.
The best part about this card is that the discount applies for up to 10 guests in your party and it includes alcohol purchases. Do note that when using this card it automatically gives an 18% tip to your waiter. But the overall savings are huge for fine dining and large parties.
#23. Best Date Night Restaurant in Epcot
The best date night restaurant in Epcot is Monsieur Paul, hands down. It ranks extremely high on our list of best Disney World restaurants for adults for this reason.
Monsieur Paul can be found up the stairs above Les Chefs de France and is only open for dinner service. It has beautifully decorated walls and tables and offers delicacies such as beef tenderloin, sea bass and escargot.
The menu changes often, but the level of service and high-quality selections are always magnifique. It’s perfect for celebrating a special occasion, especially when paired with a dining package to an Epcot concert or show at the America Gardens Theatre.
#24. Spot Painted Characters in the World Showcase
This is a relatively new experience that many guests still don’t know about. Within the last year, Epcot introduced small paintings of different supporting characters from Disney movies on the walls around the World Showcase.
It’s done in an “I Spy” sort of way, where you have to be fairly attentive to your surroundings and the details on the walls.
For instance, you can now find a painting of Mushu in China, Pascal in Germany, Lumiere in France and many more. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk through each country to see who you can spot.
#25. Best Dessert in Epcot
Dessert is a high priority when on vacation and Walt Disney World has so many options to choose from. We have a handful of favorites we rotate at Epcot, but our favorite has to be the School Bread in Norway as we mentioned before.
Second on our list is the Croque Glace from France’s Les Artisans de Glaces, a scoop of ice cream pressed in a warm brioche bun, along with chocolate eclairs and beignets with a hot cup of coffee from Les Halles.
For all you ice cream lovers, we suggest getting the Espresso Affogato in the Italy pavilion: a sweet scoop of ice cream with espresso poured over top. If you’re curious about the other unique ice cream treats here, check out our ultimate guide to ice cream in Epcot.
#26. Don’t Miss the Gran Fiesta Tour
While in Mexico, it’s easy to miss the Gran Fiesta Tour water ride at the back of the pyramid. A lot of guests don’t even realize that Mexico has a ride because it’s fairly hidden and Disney doesn’t offer fastpasses for it.
Luckily, you don’t need fastpasses because there is rarely a wait longer than 10 minutes. This is a great way to get off your feet for a bit during a long day and it’s also fun entertainment for children.
The Gran Fiesta Tour stars the Three Caballeros, which includes Donald Duck, as they travel through Mexico City to a celebration. It’s patterned similarly to It’s a Small World in Magic Kingdom and is great for all ages.
#27. Best Drinking Spot in Epcot
Our top drinking spot in Epcot is La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion. This “hole in the wall” bar looks like a cavern off to the right side of the town square inside the pyramid and has the best margaritas on Disney property.
We love the Blood Orange Margarita, and you can never go wrong with ordering the Classic Margarita. The interior beautifully showcases the traditional process of harvesting agave to make tequila and offers a secluded setting for enjoying your drinks.
This location also carries over 200 different tequilas and we recommend you pair your drink of choice with their chips and sauce trio: corn tortilla chips with queso, guacomole and salsa.
#28 – Best Children’s Activities in Epcot
Epcot is most well-known for being the park that’s best suited for adults with it’s science, history and culinary themes, but it’s actually got a lot to offer for little ones. Aside from meeting their favorite characters around the park, there are various activities kids can do.
Kidcot is an activity that gets your kids involved in each country within the World Showcase. It’s got multiple artistic stations where kids can sit with a representative of that country and create a unique souvenir to take home.
Children will most enjoy rides like Journey into Imagination with Figment, the Seas with Nemo & Friends and older kids will love the thrill of Frozen Ever After. We’ve also got an extensive list of the best kid-friendly Epcot restaurants so you can plan your day for the whole family.
#29. Drink Around the World
This popular challenge has long been a fun activity for friend groups, bachelorette parties, families and birthday celebrations. We’ve done it several times ourselves and have a few tips on how to make the day perfect.
First, we suggest you go during a festival, so you can not only experience drinks in each country, but easily get food and snacks at the special stands they set up in the World Showcase during the festival.
Second, travel the World Showcase counter clockwise – Canada is significantly dull compared to the flare and fun in Mexico. We recommend starting in Canada and ending in Mexico – preferably at La Cava. Find more Drinking Around the World tips and recommendations on our post.
#30 – Best Place to Watch Illuminations, soon-to-be Epcot Forever
The truth is that there is no one place that is the absolute best to watch Illuminations because the views around the World Showcase are exquisite almost anywhere you stand. As long as you can stand at the wall of World Showcase Lagoon, or close to it, any country will offer a great view of the show.
The best part of watching this show is that you don’t have to hold your spot for an hour just to guarantee a good view, like you would in Magic Kingdom.
For the absolute best views, get a reservation at Teppan Edo around park closing time and stand on the balcony for the fireworks. Or, we recommend booking a dining package that includes dinner and a reserved viewing area on World Showcase Lagoon.