Disney’s EPCOT park is one of the most unique experiences in Disney’s lineup. Due to this, there is often confusion surrounding what the park is about, if it has rides, what the festivals are for, and what the World Showcase is.
Fortunately, we have all the answers and the inside scoop about Walt Disney World’s EPCOT.
Is the EPCOT Park Part of Disney?
With such a different name than other Disney parks, many people wonder if Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Park is part of the Disney park system. The answer is yes. Not only is it a member of the 4-park line up, it was the second park to be constructed at Disney.
EPCOT was originally built around two different, but somewhat unified concepts: the world in which we live now and the impact of technology on that environment, and the many cultures that make up our broad universe of peoples here on earth. Both of these concepts were explored through 2 distinct areas of the park: Future World and The World Showcase.
Currently, EPCOT park is undergoing many changes, including alterations to the overall theme. The old future world half of the park will now be split into 3 distinct sections, or “neighborhoods,” as Disney calls them.
These will be World Discovery, World Nature, and World Celebration. These are in addition to the World Showcase portion of the park.
The new changes to the EPCOT park mostly take place inside the World celebration section, which is currently being completely remodeled. Additionally, inside World Discovery, a new thrill ride has been added, which we will discuss below.
How Many EPCOT Park Countries Are There?
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT park features a section called World Showcase, where various countries around the world are on display through beautifully crafted pavilions. In each of these country’s pavilions, you can shop, dine, explore and learn.
Inside the EPCOT park, there are 11 different countries featured. These include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
When Walt Disney World’s EPCOT opened, there were only 9 countries: Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. A few years later, the Norway pavilion was added, and Morocco was added a few years after that, bringing us to our current 11.
During initial construction of the EPCOT park, Disney Imagineers planned for many more countries. A phase 2 was scheduled for the World Showcase, which would add Venezuela, Equatorial Africa, Spain, and Israel.
Unfortunately, due to the costs associated with building pavilions and the related experiences, as well as EPCOT’s sponsorship model, which required the showcased countries to foot much of the construction bill, these countries pulled out.
There is currently space in the World showcase for 6 additional countries, but there are no current plans to add more. Also, many of these spaces are used for various things, such as drink and food kiosks, event buildings, and even a train display.
World Showcase Countries of the EPCOT Park
The EPCOT park Mexico pavilion is located inside of a Mayan themed pyramid structure. Once inside, you will find yourself in a forever nighttime “outdoor” open air market.
The Mexico Pavilion also hosts a themed boat ride called the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros and includes two Mexican restaurants, one counter service, and one sit down (San Angel Inn Restaurante), a tequila bar, as well as many shopping kiosks with Mexican themed souvenirs.
These days Norway is a very popular country inside of the EPCOT park. The Norway pavilion features a Frozen themed boat ride, which takes you through the world of Frozen on a slow paced journey, featuring everyone’s favorite sister due. The ride also features one rather unexpected drop. The Norway pavilion also features an Anna and Elsa meet and greet location, a princess character dining spot with Norwegian themed restaurant (called Akershus Royal Banquet Hall), and Kringla Bakeri og Kafe which is a Norwegian bakery. Meals at Akershus Royal feature character visits with several Disney princesses).
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The China pavilion inside of the EPCOT park is brilliantly themed to be a replica of the Temple of Heaven, and features a picturesque Chinese garden space where guests can relax. Also onside, you will find a 360 degree circle vision movie title the “Reflections of China.” Additionally, the China pavilion has fun shops with unique souvenirs, a small replica version of the terracotta soldiers, and two Chinese restaurants, one counter service, and one table service.
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT pavilion for Germany features one of our favorite dining experiences in the resort. Biergarten is a buffet style restaurant with German offerings such as sausages, assorted unique soups and salads, and German inspired desserts. The restaurant is themed to an outdoor Oktoberfest experience, complete with a show, and of course, a hearty sampling of beer.
The Germany pavilion is highly themed to a German village and features many shopping locations, and an additional counter service dining opportunity, called Sommerfest.The Germany pavilion also features an elaborate miniature train display with working trains next door. This experience is entertaining for all ages.
The Italy pavilion inside the EPCOT park is absolutely beautiful. You will find yourself immersed in the architecture and the flowers that surround it. A large belltower stands in the center of the square, and is a replica of the Italian belltower found in St. Mark’s Square.
Inside the lively Italian plaza, street performers can be found. After watching the performers, head into one of the many shops, or dine at one of the three dining options which include: Tutto Italia Restaurant, a table service restaurant with traditional Italian offerings, Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, another table service restaurant with traditional pizzas and pasta, and the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, which serves small plates and an extensive wine selection.
The American Adventure: The Center of EPCOT Parks World Showcase
The American Adventure is the pavilion which covers the United States inside the EPCOT park. This pavilion explains the history of our country with an inspiring animatronic and video show heralding America’s spirit of independence.
Also inside the colonial inspired mansion are historical artwork displays, the Voices of Liberty singing group, and quotations from those who helped make America great. The Regal Eagle Smokehouse can be found here as well, which is a beloved BBQ quick service restaurant. Three additional food kiosks serve options such as turkey legs, craft beers, pretzels, and funnel cakes.
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT park features a Japan pavilion in its World Showcase lineup. Japan boasts a large pagoda building which is a replica of a Horyugi Temple, surrounded by picturesque gardens.
In the pavilion, you will find the most diverse, eclectic, and fun shopping in all of the World Showcase. For dining, Takumi-Tei is a fine dining Japanese experience. Teppan Edo is a hibachi style restaurant and an entertainment show as your food is cooked in front of you.
Tokyo Dining serves delectable Japanese offerings of sushi, sashimi, noodles, tempura, and meat dishes. Katsura Grill is the only quick service dining inside the EPCOT park’s Japan pavilion. It serves sushi, salads, and teriyaki meals.
The Morocco pavilion is unique in the fact that its construction utilized the most native craftsmen from its perspective country. The tower is themed to, and a replica of, a prayer tower from the 12th century. The bazaar features fun and unique shops, and a art gallery with authentic exhibits which are forever changing.
For dining, Morocco has the Spice Road Tables which serves small plates with Mediterranean flair, a table service option called Restaurant Marrakesh, and a quick service restaurant called Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina.
The EPCOT park features another very busy pavilion, the France pavilion. France features many world class restaurants and bakeries inside its elaborately themed exteriors.
Beyond the manicured gardens along the river, you will find Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This trackless ride takes guests on a wacky ride through Remy’s restaurant. The ride is considered a modern 4 dimensional experience, with 3D screens and further elements such as movement, wind, and even water used to created added authenticity to the experience.
A footbridge connects the EPCOT park’s second entrance with the France and United Kingdom pavilion. One of the first things you will see and smell as you enter the UK pavilion is the fish and chips stand. This stand is always bustling, but it is a fan favorite that is worth the wait.
Also in the entrance to the pavilion, Mary Poppins, and occasionally Alice from Alice in Wonderland, can be found beside a traditional styled English cottage. Soon, the cottage exterior and gardens blend to the bustling streets of England, where you may find street performers acting out comedic skits.
Beyond fish and chips, stop by the Rose and Crown for a variety of beers and eats such as cottage pie and bangers and mash.
The last country inside Walt Disney World’s EPCOT is Canada. The Canadian pavilion contains the Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 movie. The movie can be found near the centerpiece of the pavilion, a large towering building themed to the Chateau Laurier in Ottowa.
Throughout the entire pavilion, beautiful gardens provide many photo ops for guests. Shopping options sell maple flavored candies and other items. The Canada pavilion is also known for its handmade ornaments.
Le Cellier is Canada’s only dining location, and is a beloved favorite. If you manage to get a reservation, be sure to try one of their steaks, and maybe even some Cheddar Cheese Soup.
The EPCOT Park Events and Festivals
At one point, the EPCOT park was seen as a park celebrating the world and its future, with a festival or two to celebrate its themes. Today, EPCOT is known as the festival park. It seems that there is always a festival happening, because there is.
There are four main festivals that occur at various times throughout the year in EPCOT , and they draw in a lot of nighttime crowds. All the festivals offer special food, drinks, concerts, and more.
Disney World EPCOT Food and Wine Festival
The Food and Wine Festival inside the EPCOT park is the oldest festival in Disney history. However, the beloved event did not originate as an EPCOT park experience. Instead, the Food and Wine Festival debuted in 1981, inside Disney Springs. It wasn’t until 1996 that the Food and Wine Festival moved to EPCOT.
Since the Food and Wine Festival serves food and drinks from around the world, it feels quite at home in the World Showcase. In addition to endless diverse food and drink offerings, the festival celebrates musicians with a variety of concerts. The Eat to the Beat concert series features a bevy of musical stars, performing right at EPCOT. Best of all, attendance at these events is included in the cost of your EPCOT theme park ticket, though seating is limited and available on a first-come-first-seated basis.
One way to ensure a spot is to opt for the Eat to the Beat dining package. This special offering allows guests to book an advanced dining reservation for a meal of their choice from a variety of EPCOT restaurants, and guarantees a reserved seat at an Eat the Beat concert at the American Gardens Theater in EPCOT.
The EPCOT park’s Food and Wine Festival typically takes place between mid July and mid November each year.
EPCOT Park’s International Festival of the Holidays
As the Food and Wine Festival ends, it’s time to celebrate the holidays, and yes, EPCOT has a festival for that. From the end of November to the end of December, the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays occurs inside the World Showcase in EPCOT. The festival serves to educate and celebrate holidays around the world.
Special holiday foods and beverages are available at booths at each country, and holiday gifts and souvenirs can be found as well. Costumed storytellers are also featured, telling the story of the holidays from the perspectives of the various countries they represent.
The crown jewel of the Festival of the Holidays is the beloved Candlelight Processional. In this stunning and moving performance, celebrity narrators tell the Biblical story of Christmas. Intermixed with the story are hopeful and positive songs performed by a live orchestra and choir.
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts
Beating back the post-holiday doldrums, EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts pops up to liven up the shorter days of winter. The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is the newest festival in the EPCOT park lineup, beginning in 2017, and was designed to celebrate all types of art, and artists. The festival shares visual art, culinary art, and performing arts.
Throughout the World Showcase during this festival, guests can find delicious food offerings, live concerts and impromptu performances, as well as art galleries.
EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival
The Flower and Garden Festival was the first festival to debut inside of EPCOT. Unlike many of the other festivals, the Flower and Garden Festival sees changes throughout the entire park, rather than just the World Showcase.
During the festival, Disney themed topiaries and expertly manicured gardens can be found throughout the entire park. Topiary numbers can reach as high as 100. Often, you will find gardeners taking care of the topiaries and gardens, and guests can ask questions they may have.
A butterfly garden can also be visited while inside the park. Here, guests can see and take photos of the beautiful creatures. But, be prepared, some may even land on you.
Outdoor kitchens are a new addition to the Flower and Garden Festival inside the EPCOT park. These offer diverse small plate options, as well as many drinks, both alcoholic, and non alcoholic.
The EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival typically takes place between March and July each year.
EPCOT Park Future World and World Discovery
As discussed above, at one point the EPCOT park was divided into two sections, Future World, and the World Showcase. Future World was then split into Future World East and West.
Today, this Future World section is split into 3 distinct sections: World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature.
World Discovery is the land to the left of the main hub of the EPCOT park, and is themed to science, technology, and space. It features Test Track, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Mission Space.
World Discovery contains all of the thrill rides in EPCOT, as well as the unique Space 220 restaurant.
World Celebration is the main hub of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT. When you enter the park on this side, you will walk through World Celebration.
As of todays date, in October 2022, World Celebration is under massive construction. This section is designed to celebrate new experiences and connect guests to the world around them. It also serves as a bridge to connect the World showcase to the remainder of the park.
World Celebration features Spaceship Earth, the park’s icon, Connections Eatery, Club Cool, the Creations Shop, the Disney and Pixar Film Festival, and Journey into Imagination with Figment.
New things are planned for this section once construction is complete, but many changes have been made, and details are unconfirmed.
The World Nature section of the park serves to celebrate nature, and teach how to preserve it. Here, you will find the Land pavilion, which features Soarin’, and a boat ride which celebrates the land that feeds us and keeps us alive, Living with the Land.
Inside the Seas building, you’ll find a Nemo dark ride, and endless aquariums and fish exhibits. The aquariums have dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, rays, corals, and many smaller fish. There is also a manatee rescue and rehab center.
Soon, a new water themed walkthrough attraction, featuring Moana, will debut in this section of the EPCOT park. The attraction is slated as a walkthrough maze where guests can interact and learn from magical and interactive water to between understand the water cycle. It is expected to open in late 2023.
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Rides
The EPCOT park has less rides than you would find in Magic Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios, but many are thrilling and fun.
Epcot’s thrill rides are Test Track, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Mission Space. In Test Tack, you designs a sim car and test it on a literal test track. In Cosmic Rewind, you join the Guardians of the Galaxy to take the cosmic generator back from a common enemy, and fly through space as you do so. Mission Space is an intense simulator ride which takes guest on a mission to mars.
Additional EPCOT rides are Journey into the Imagination with Figment, Soarin’, Living with the Land, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Spaceship Earth.
EPCOT Extended Hours
If you are looking for extra hours inside of the EPCOT park, you will need to be a Disney World Resort guest. All Disney World resort guests are welcome into the parks, including EPCOT 30 minutes prior to opening to board the rides.
Additionally, deluxe resort guests have opportunities to attend the Extended Evening Hours in select parks on select dates. These allow deluxe resort guests to stay in the designated park an additional 2 hours after closing.
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