Epcot

Sunday, 20 February 2011 20:55

Epcot LogoAt Epcot, you can visit Mexico, France, and China, all in the same afternoon; survive a crash test in an experimental car; fly over California with the breeze in your hair; and learn all about human achievement and international cooperation.

Walt Disney World's second theme park opened October 1, 1982, as EPCOT Center, the Magic Kingdom theme park being first.  Often thought of a "permanent world's fair", Epcot has two distinct areas, Future World and World Showcase.  This park is located in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort.  It is in close proximity to several luxurious hotels as well as the dining and entertainment district called Disney's BoardWalk.

World Showcase features eleven different countries, which focuses on authentic food and merchandise, each one hosted by citizens of that country.  You won't want to miss the incredibly cheesy but fun Mexico ride, or the Maelstrom ride at the Norway pavilion.

Future World comprises many different attractions, each and every one highlighting one aspect of human progress. The "future" in this case isn't the fantasy of the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, but the promise of a future in which communication, imagination, and conservation have become mankind's foremost values. Test Track and Mission: SPACE are the most thrilling of the attractions. The most recent addition is Soarin', a simulated hang-gliding adventure by means of Californian landscapes.

Epcot is at times derided as an "educational park", and although it's maybe one of the most cerebral of the four theme parks, it's all presented in the usual entertaining Disney style. It is true that Epcot may possibly appeal a lot more to adults and older children, but young ones aren't specifically left out; they'll take pleasure in the character greetings and the Kidcot Fun Stops as well as the much more colorful and character-filled rides like The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

Just outside Epcot's International Gateway is Disney's BoardWalk, a nightlife and shopping area themed as a mid-Atlantic beach community.

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The History of EPCOT

The title EPCOT was at first an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, Walt Disney's last and most exciting project.  His grand vision for EPCOT was to the real centerpiece of Disney World-a dwelling, working city with 20,000 citizens employing essentially the most modern improvements in urban planning, transportation, and technology.  The rest of Disney World, even the Magic Kingdom, would exist only to draw people in to see EPCOT as well as the guarantee it held for the future.

Walt died in 1966, and though the renamed Walt Disney World and its Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, EPCOT was no longer to be carried through.  The vision was just too big, too ambitious, for someone else other than Walt himself to complete.  With Walt Disney World being highly successful, the firm shortly commenced developing ideas for a second theme park, and naturally turned to Walt's initial vision for inspiration.  When two competing proposals-one for the set of pavilions highlighting the historical past and potential of human progress, and the other for a worldwide plaza that showcased cultures and cooperation-became the major candidates, a person pushed the two scale designs together to form a blended park.  EPCOT Center was born.

The name which the park opened in 1982, was meant to display that the new park exhibited the ideals that were to be with the core, or center, of Walt's EPCOT.  The park was renamed in 1994 to Epcot '94, then to Epcot '95 a year later.  The yearly numbering scheme reflected the "world's fair" concept, however it inhibited steady branding, so in 1996 the park became just "Epcot".

While the original EPCOT concept might now seem a bit far-fetched, today's Epcot is committed to creating the brighter tomorrow that Walt Disney had forseen.

Check out more facts about Epcot here.

EPCOT Video Gallery

Here is a small gallery of EPCOT videos that we're sure you'll enjoy. We'll add some regularly, but you can always find the largest collection of EPCOT videos on the web on our video section.

Holiday time at Epcot is so beautiful! Take a look:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling to Future World and World Showcase

Epcot's two areas have differnet hours of operation.  Future World usually opens at 9AM, and World Showcase at 11AM.  If you're heading to Akershus in Norway for the Princess Breakfast, you can arrive early for your meal.  Despite being in World Showcase, the International Gateway opens at the same time as the main entrance; if you arrive through there, you will be able to walk past the United Kingdom and Canada on your way to Future World.

Travel by Car

Epcot is in the center of the Walt Disney World property, just where Walt had planned EPCOT to be.  You will take World Drive or I-4 to Epcot Center Drive and follow the signs for the parking lot.  Parking is $14.00 per car.  Once you pay for parking at any of the theme parks for that day, you can go and park at another one without having to pay again.  Disney resort guests can park for free.  You will have to have your "Key to the World" card at the toll gate for this access.

Epcot does not have a street address that you can use in a GPS.  Therefore, we have included the Epcot map below to help you with Epcot Driving Directions or Epcot Directions.

From Address:

If you're going to Disney's BoardWalk, you can park for free at the BoardWalk Inn or BoardWalk Villas.

Travel using Disney Transportation

From Hollywood Studios and Epcot-area resorts

Disney's Hollywood Studios, the BoardWalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Swan and Dolphin and Epcot are all connected by the Friendship ferries that travel and stop at all these locations. There is also a wide walking path that you can take to enter.  Either way, you will enter Epcot through its back entrance: the International Gateway, located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in World Showcase.  You can also hop on a bus from Hollywood Studios that will take you to Epcot's main gate.

From the Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts

From the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian, take the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).  One other option is to take the ferry from the Magic Kingdom, or walk from the Grand Floridian or Polynesian to the TTC.  You will then board the Epcot monorail, which runs between the TTC and the Epcot main entrance.  When taking this means of transportation, the monorail will take a little loop in the park before arriving at the station.  This will give you a great view of Future World and World Showcase.

From the Wilderness Lodge and Shades of Green, neither are connected to the monorail, you can walk to the TTC.   Both of these routes take about 10 minutes, and the walk from Shades of Green goes via the Polynesian Resort.  However, alternately and more convenient is to take the direct Epcot bus.

From other on-property resorts

From resorts not close to Epcot or the Magic Kingdom, simply go to your resort's bus stop and wait for the Epcot bus.  You will be dropped off at the entrance of Epcot.

From Animal Kingdom

From Animal Kingdom, take the direct bus to Epcot.

From Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney does not have a direct route with the buses to the parks; you will need to take a bus to any resort, then go from that resort to Epcot by bus. The best option here might be to take the bus to the Beach Club Resort, which is the closest to Epcot, then you will take the Friendship ferries or the walking path to the International Gateway.  Another option is to walk or take the boat to the Saratoga Springs Resort, then hop on a bus to Epcot.

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Epcot

Epcot Map

Epcot might be the easiest of the parks to get around, because it's very open. The only drawback to this is that the pavilions are spread out; it can be a long walk from one side of the park to the other.  Spaceship Earth is visible from anywhere in the park and provides a convenient orientation mark.

From the main gates of Epcot is Future World.  Spaceship Earth will be directly in front of you.  If you make your way clockwise, you will pass the Universe of Energy pavilion, Mission: Space, Test Track and then you will cross over to the right side.  You will find the Imagination! pavilion, The Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Innoventions. 

In order to get to the World Showcase area from the main gate, you will walk past Spaceship Earth and through Innoventions Plaza.  Straight ahead of you will be the World Showcase Lagoon  with all of the eleven nations encircling it.  Going clockwise from here you will see the pavilions in this order: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.  The International Gateway, Epcot's "back entrance", is between France and the United Kingdom; exit through here if you would like to go to the BoardWalk area or on to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The World Showcase Lagoon has a circumference of roughly a mile.  If you do not wish to walk around the whole area, there are two Friendship ferries (yes, just like the ones you took to get here from Hollywood Studios or the resorts).  There are two boarding areas near the entrance to the World Showcase area.  One will travel toward the Morocco pavilion, the other will take you to Germany.  You can board from those locations as well, to travel back to the entrance.

What to See and Do

When it opened, Epcot had no thrill rides at all.  Although that is changing, you'll find that the majority of attractions are still fairly mild. That's not to say they're not worth doing, but you're in the wrong park if you just want to get your heart racing.  Epcot does have two high-octane thrill rides, Test Track and Mission: SPACE, while the Maelstrom and Soarin' offer excitement in smaller doses.

Fastpasses are available for Captain EO, Mission: SPACE, Soarin', and Test Track in Future World.  In the World Showcase area you can get a fastpass for Maelstrom.  Soarin' is possibly the most popular ride in the park; and you should get a Fastpass for this ride.  My suggestion would be to get one upon arriving and then you can assure yourself time to ride it.  Test Track and Mission: SPACE are adjacent to each other, so your best bet there (if they're crowded) is to get a Fastpass for one of them and wait in line at the other; by the time you're done with that ride, hopefully your Fastpass time has arrived for the first one.

For parade and stage show performance times, which change daily, please see the Guide Map and the Times Guide that you can pick up at the entrance and food stands around the park.  You can also check the Wait Times Board in Innoventions Plaza, which will give you current wait times for rides and show times for shows, as well as the current Fastpass return times.

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Future World

Future World is an almost park-like setting, with broad expanses of grass and/or water separating the impressively large pavilions. Each pavilion is a monument to one area of human innovation, from communication and imagination to energy and transportation.  Inside the pavilions you will find some combination of a showcase ride, a theater presentation, and/or an activity area with a number of smaller hands-on exhibits.  Each pavilion can be done in 30–90 minutes, depending on how busy the park is.

Check the Times Guide to see when and where the JAMMitors will be playing—they're a percussion ensemble disguised as janitors, using their trash cans as drums.

Imagination!  The name says it all; the possibilities of imagination are on display here. This pavilion represents the concepts of new ideas to the progress of humanity.  Make sure to look for the jumping fountains and the backwards waterfall outside.

Journey Into Imagination with Figment- This ride stars Eric Idle and the iconic purple dragon named Figment.  The ride is much improved since its 1999 revamp, but still pales compared to the original 1982 ride.  The ride is well suited for little ones to explore using their imagination.

ImageWorks - This is an interactive play area that you will enter as you are at exiting the Journey Into Imagination with Figment ride, allowing you to put into practice some of the imaginative ideas you saw in the ride.  You'll explore the senses of sight and sound, using your imagination to create something new.

Honey I Shrunk the Audience - A 3-D movie based on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids films, with some extra special effects involved to simulate the titular audience-shrinking.  The effects are harmless but effective; if you have an aversion to rodents, make sure you lift your feet when the mice come on the screen. Rick Moranis and Eric Idle star.  This attraction is closed temporarily to make way for Captain EO.

Captain EO - The classic 3-D short film that played in the pavilion's theater from 1986–1994 made a return engagement in Summer 2010.  It's a musical science fiction adventure starring the late Michael Jackson.  It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola, produced by George Lucas, and features a host of Disney-designed alien creatures.  It's not yet known when this return engagement will end.  

Innoventions

Divided into two buildings, Innoventions East and Innoventions West, this pavilion is located in the middle of Future World, with the fabulous Fountain of Nations in its central plaza.  The buildings contain an ever-changing series of hands-on exhibits featuring the latest in cutting-edge technology and how it's finding its way into every aspect of our lives.  The exact items you'll see depend on which companies are exhibiting at the time.   This area is really popular with kids, as there are a lot of fun things to do!

Fountain of Nations (Innoventions Plaza). This large show fountain was christened in 1982 with water from 22 different nations.  Every 15 minutes, it presents one of several music-synchronized shows; its powerful jets spray water up to 150 feet in the air.  Watch out if it is windy, you may get sprayed!

The Land

Perhaps the pavilion that most closely resembles Walt's original EPCOT concept is The Land.  The Land is not just a set of theme park attractions. The rear of the pavilion is actually a large working greenhouse, and it grows much of the food served at the pavilion's restaurants (and some items for other restaurants throughout Walt Disney World).  The greenhouses are also working toward finding new techniques of agriculture.

Behind the Seeds (walking tour) - ☎ +1 407 939-8687.  A one-hour guided walking tour through the greenhouses.  This tour is more informative than the Living with the Land boat ride, but there is a fee for this.  Adults $16, children (3-9) $12

The Circle of Life - A movie about conservation, starring The Lion King characters Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon.  It might teach kids a thing or two, and it has a bit of humor to keep parents happy.

Living with the Land - A slow-moving educational boat ride through Disney's hydroponic and aeroponic greenhouses, with an underlying message of how we can live in peace and harmony with the land.

Soarin' - A simulated aerial flight over California by way of the feeling of hang gliding.  This is a must do attraction!

Mission:SPACE

Mission: SPACE - A centrifugal flight simulator lets you feel what it would be like to train for a journey to Mars.  You and the others in your capsule have tasks to do during the flight.  The spinning of the centrifuge is effective at generating g-forces, but it can bring on motion sickness (bags are available).  It helps if you keep your head back against the headrest and focus on the images on the screen, which show straight-line acceleration; looking away removes the visual cues and makes it feel more like rotation.  If you really want to avoid the spinning and the g-forces, look for the "Green Team" queue, you will be put in a capsule that doesn't spin; it's still a fun ride but not as thrilling.  Gary Sinise is your mission controller.   

Advanced Training Lab - Have fun with this interactive area of games and displays that highlight some of the challenges and innovations of space exploration. Mission: SPACE Race is especially fun, with teams racing their spacecraft back to Earth using teamwork.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

This pavilion houses a huge aquarium, which was once the largest in the world.   The aquarium staff is engaged in research that is helping to maintain marine environments and protect ecosystems around the world. 

The Seas with Nemo & Friends - This is a slow-moving, relaxing ride; the finale uses state-of-the-art display technology to show characters from Disney's Finding Nemo movie swimming with real fish.  After the ride, you'll head into the Sea Base area.  

Sea Base - This is a representation of an underwater base and serves as the primary viewing location for the main aquarium.  There are numerous exhibits and displays typical of what can be found in other aquarium buildings.  One of the best sights in the aquarium is from a circular platform that sticks out into the tank, so you're surrounded by fish on almost all sides.  Aquarium staff give presentations periodically, including dolphin training sessions.  

Turtle Talk with Crush (inside Sea Base) -  This is an interactive show that features Crush from the Finding Nemo movie.   Kids get to ask Crush questions, and he responds in real time.  Lots of fun, especially for young kids, and it is very popular.

Spaceship Earth

Yes, the ride really does go all the way up to the top inside that giant "golf ball", or big ball as our family calls it,  geodesic sphere that is the image of Epcot. This pavilion is centrally located because its focus is on human communication, without which all of the other innovations in Future World would be meaningless.

Spaceship Earth - This dark ride through the history of communication was revamped in 2007 with new scenes and new narration by Dame Judi Dench.  It is still very similar to the orginal ride that was implemented from the park opening in 1982. 

Project Tomorrow - After riding Spaceship Earth, you'll end up here.  This area is filled with several inventive games based on technology from communications company Siemens AG, which sponsors the pavilion.  

Test Track

Test Track - Get an idea of what it might feel like to be a crash-test dummy in this very unique thrill ride.  Your test vehicle gets put through its paces, making sure it is safe for all to drive.  This ride is perfectly safe, but the 60 mph (100 km/h) speed your car gets up to feels a lot faster.  Lots of fun and very popular - you will want to get a Fastpass for this attraction.   There is a single-rider line that is available if you don't mind your group getting split up.

Universe of Energy

The construction of this pavilion exemplifies its message regarding the importance of energy; as you can see there are solar panels on top.

Ellen's Energy Adventure - Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Alex Trebek and Jamie Lee Curtis are all incorporated into this attraction.  You will learn about the importance of energy on this ride.

Here is a complete list of Epcot attractions.

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World Showcase

World Showcase is located at the back of the park, with pavilions representing eleven countries from around the world.  They are all themed with their particular culture from the food to the architecture.  Most of the pavilions have some sort of attraction, be it a ride or a film (or both), to showcase that country's unique features.  The most fun about touring the countries are sampling the authentic food, conversing with the cast members who come from each nation, and wandering through the cute shops.

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Mexico

The Mexican pavilion is dominated by a pyramid, loosely modeled right after the pre-Columbian pyramid in Teotihuacan known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, dating back to 150-200 CE.  Its use is still a mystery, but more than 200 sacrificial burials have been discovered around the initial temple.  The head in the mythical serpent creature Quetzalcoatl continues to be included with this replica along the entrance stairs.  Inside of the pyramid gives the feeling of being in nighttime atmosphere with stars twinkling, some Spanish-era colonial buildings, a restaurant, as well as a marketplace with numerous Mexican items for sale.

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros - The latest, much-needed update to this mild boat ride are the characters from the 1944 Disney movie The Three Caballeros.  Join Panchito and José Carioca for this fun as they search all of Mexico looking for Donald Duck, the last member in the trio, that has been distracted by all of the commotion and gone missing.

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Norway

This area is built as a square representing a few Norwegian towns. The fortress-like restaurant building is modeled and named after the Akershus fortress in Oslo, guarding the sea approach to the city.  There is a replica of the Stave Church from Gol, Norway.  The original is one of only a few surviving ancient wooden churches left in the world.

Maelstrom - Ride a Viking boat through Norway's storybook lands with Vikings, cursing trolls and oil platforms!  The ships are loosely modeled after those sailed by Eric The Red, who colonized Greenland and was pivatol to the Vikings' discovery of North America, which happened five centuries before Christopher Columbus.  You can enjoy a short film afterwards.

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China

Walk through the large Paifang gate.  These gates were used in ancient China to mark entry into a new division (called Fang in Chinese), and this one is a replica of one in Beijing's summer palaces.  In the courtyard, there is a large Temple of Heaven in Beijing; it was used by the emperors to pray for a good harvest.  The 12 columns supporting the roof depict the 12 months of the Chinese year, and the four columns in the center represent the four seasons.  Many of the little buildings are representaions of the Forbidden City, also in Beijing.  The Chinese gardens are one of the most peaceful spots in Epcot.

Reflections of China - A Circle-Vision 360, 14 minute travel movie of China's most well-known sights including Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.  

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Germany

Germany is a federation of 16 states, each with its own distinct culture and identity.  The architecture of the German pavilion reflects styles from various regions of the country; for example, the Biergarten restaurant is Bavarian, but the statue of St. George slaying the dragon represents the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.  The influence of German architecture on Disney parks goes all the way back to 1955; Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, commissioned in 1869 by King Ludwig II, was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.

There are no rides here, and the only show is the band, Oktoberfest Musikanten, inside the Biergarten, but there's plenty of shopping to be had.

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Italy

The Italian pavilion is a scaled-down replica of St. Mark's Square in Venice, right down to the bell tower (one-fifth scale).  You will also see the gondolas floating in World Showcase Lagoon.  The original Doge's Palace makes heavy use of marble; Disney recreated the effect with fiberglass.  Along with the Venetian architecture, a stucco building with a tile roof represents Tuscany.

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The American Adventure

The American Adventure pavilion is housed in a building inspired by the colonial period of the 18th century.  Inside you will be serenaded from The Voices of Liberty chorus who perform daily.

The American Adventure - It turns out that the best show in World Showcase is the one for the host nation.  This inspirational and informative presentation combines film and Audio-Animatronics to take you through every era of American history, with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain as your hosts.

America Gardens Theater - Straight across from the main building, on the shores of the lagoon, is this amphitheater, where you may find a performance going on while visiting.  Check your Times Guide for details.

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Japan

Mitsukoshi, a Japanese retailer founded in 1673, is the sponsor of the Japan pavilion.  Start your visit by walking through the Torii gate.  In Japan you walk through these gates before coming into a Shinto shrine, to mark the passing into the spiritual world.  The five-story Goju-no-to Pagoda was inspired by the Horyuji Temple in Nara, Japan's ancient capital.  It is named after the five Chinese elements, but built in five stories to represent the 5 Japanese elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void.  You will find Japanese inspired gardens and a koi fish pond.

Bijutsu-Kan Gallery - Inside this replica of the White Heron Castle, designed to be similar to the famous Himeji castle in Japan you will find exhibits that are ever-changing relating to Japanese culture.  The current exhibit is "Spirit Beasts: From Ancient Stories to Anime Stars", which traces the influence of ancient Japanese folklore on today's anime and manga.  

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Morocco

Morocco pavilion is the only one sponsored by a government.  King Hassan II was heavily involved in the construction, and he dispatched native craftsmen to build the pavilion. The minaret (or tower) towering over the area is a recreation of the unique Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakech, which has influenced thousands of church towers across Europe.  In Muslim countries, priests call for prayers (fard) from these towers five times a day.  The pavilion also holds a small recreation of parts of the Chellah necropolis, a burial place in Rabat that is really an ancient Roman structure.  There is also a replica of the Nejjarine fountain in Fez, a very elaborate mosaic fountain.   Also from Fez, the evenly-tiled Bab Boujouloud gate marks the border between the old town (the Medina) and the new town.  Inside the Medina, there is a bustling market place, or bazaar.  Because many of the structures, even as replicas, signifies great religious beliefs to Muslims, the buildings are not light during the IllumiNations show.

Gallery of Arts and History - This gallery features exhibits of Moroccan science, music and technology.  

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France

The French pavilion reminds you of a Parisian street scene, complete with a miniature Eiffel Tower that uses forced perspective to appear as if it's off in the distance.  Designed to represent Paris during La Belle Epoque, this area features many of the typical Parisian images—a sidewalk cafe, beautiful fountains and distinctive architecture.  There's a park, next to the International Gateway canal, based on Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

You may see Serveur Amusant performing in France.  Check your Times Guide for showings.

Impressions de France - A travel movie through the French countryside with a classical music soundtrack.  

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United Kingdom

The streets of the United Kingdom area contains one building for each century of British history.  The largest structure, a recreation of the royal Hampton Court Palace in southwest London, is a massive patchwork of different periods' architecture, since it was successively expanded to compete with the French palace of Versailles.  Look around to find the adorable little thatched roof house which is a model of Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Anne was the wife of William Shakespeare.  There is also a traditional hedge maze, patterned after the the Somerleyton Hall Maze in Lowestoft, that dates back to 1846.  Don't miss the iconic red British phone booths too!

Keep an eye out for the World Showcase Players, who perform a version Arthur's Quest for the Holy Grail which is an audience-participation comedy sketch.

The United Kingdom stage is where you'll find The British Revolution, a Beatles tribute band. Check the Times Guide for the schedule.

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Canada

The Canada pavilion contains mountains, Indian wood carvings, and the (fake) hotel that all represent various regions of Canada.  Victoria Gardens was inspired by Butchart Gardens in Victoria in British Columbia, while the Hotel du Canada features a 19th-century chateau-style design.  Near the base of the hotel is a village-like scene that recalls the Maritime Provinces.  The totem pole was carved in 1998 by David Boxley, working "on-stage" in front of guests at the Canadan pavilion.

O Canada! - A Circle-Vision 360 movie narrated by Martin Short, named after Canada's national anthem.  

Between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions is the stage for Off Kilter, a hard-driving Celtic rock band with kilts and a bagpiper.  Check your Times Guide for the time they play.

Here is a complete list of Epcot entertainment.

Tours

There are a number of tours that get you out of the normal guest areas and up close and personal with the aquarium and its inhabitants. Call +1 407 WDW-TOUR (939-8687) to book a tour.

DiveQuest - This is a special opportunity for certified SCUBA divers only.  This is the tour that allows you to swim amongst the fish, sharks, turtles, etc.  That also means you become part of the show, as the people inside Sea Base and in the Coral Reef restaurant will be watching you.  All diving equipment is provided; but you may bring your own dive mask.  This is a 3 hour experience, with approximately 40 minutes of which is in the water. You must be 10 or older and have proof of SCUBA certification.  Children who are ages 10-14 that are SCUBA certified must be accompanied by a SCUBA certified adult.  $175/person

Dolphins in Depth - Learn about the aquarium's dolphin population, including how they are trained and the research that's going on to learn more about them.  Then get waist-deep in the aquarium for a chance to interact with the dolphins themselves (though contact is not guaranteed; the dolphins can choose whether or not to participate).  Wetsuits are provided for this 3 hour experience.   You must be 13 or older.  $194/person

Seas Aqua Tour - This is a rare chance to snorkel along the surface of the 5.7 gallon saltwater tank.  You will have the opportunity to learn about the dozens of species in residence, and then view them up-close as you swim with them.  The snorkel system uses supplied air; instruction and wetsuits provided.  This experience lasts 2.5 hours, 30 minutes of which is in the water.  You must be 8 or older to enjoy this experience.  $140/person

Here is a link for more Epcot tours.

Parkwide

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth - At park closing, enjoy this extravagant display of fireworks, lasers, fountains and electric lighting over the World Showcase Lagoon.  

Kidcot Fun Stops - Designed for preschoolers, there are 13 of these stations throughout the park where the little ones can create a memory to take home.  Each World Showcase pavilion, plus one at The Land and one at The Seas with Nemo & Friends have these stations.  Kids can meet cast members from around the world and decorate paper-puppets of Duffy the Disney Bear with elements specific to each location.

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure - An interactive adventure that is designed to be both entertaining and educational.  Use your official "Kimmunicator" (look for the kiosks throughout the park) to receive messages from Kim and her Team Possible to help with your task: save the world from villains in one of the seven World Showcase pavilions (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France, United Kingdom)  

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Annual Events

Epcot is home to two annual festivals, several concert series, and an annual holiday presentation.

Candlelight Processional (at the America Gardens Theater in World Showcase) - November 25 - Dec. 30, 2011.   Every night a celebrity narrator reads the Christmas story accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a choir.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (parkwide) Mar 2 - May 15, 2011.  With millions of flowers on display Epcot is a sight to see in the spring.  Check out the butterfly garden, attend horticultural demonstrations and instructional programs, and new this year is the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden display.  Almost every pavilion has a special event or feature during the festival.  Weekend nights, the Flower Power Concert Series at the America Gardens Theater features classic rock and pop musicians from the 60s and 70s.  Click on the link to see the full schedule.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (World Showcase) - September 30 - November 13, 2011.  The centerpiece of this festival is the international marketplace and promenade, with more than 25 kiosks all serving dishes and drinks from six continents.  You can attend seminars, demonstrations, wine tastings and lots of shopping are also available throughout the festival.  Click on the link to see the full schedule.

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (at the America Gardens Theater in World Showcase) June 12 - July 30, 2011.  Tribute bands take the stage, each for a week or two of three shows nightly, to play the hits of favorite artists from previous years.  Click on the link to see the full schedule.

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Shopping

If you like to shop, World Showcase is the perfect place for you to find international merchandise.  Every pavilion sells authentic items that are imported from their country.  There is a nice selection of Genuine German cuckoo clocks, Canadian maple syrup, Japanese kimonos, Mexican leathers, Italian wines—and that is not even close to all that you will find.

In each pavilion, you will find what look like separate shops from the outside; but you can check out at any register inside.  Germany, Morocco, France, and the UK have the most extensive shopping complexes.

Karamell-Küche (Germany pavilion) - This brand-new sweets shop sells caramel treats.  Operated by Storck, makers of Werther's caramels, this is the only standalone Werther's retail location in the world.  

Mitsukoshi (Japan pavilion) Japan's 325-year-old giant retail store has this one location in North America.  You will find toys, cosmetics, clothing, housewares, and even food—everything you'd expect from a department store, all items are imported from Japan.  

Some World Showcase stores, including Mitsukoshi, sell real knives and swords.  These stores are required to ship these types of purchases to your home (free to U.S. addresses).

The Art of Disney (Innoventions West) - A store for Disney art lovers; illustrations, paintings and sculptures.

Mouse Gear (inside Innoventions East) - This may be the largest single store outside of Downtown Disney.  Lots of souvenirs to be found here.

Here is the complete list of Epcot shopping.

Dining

As with their shopping options, the international dining choices are amazing.  Each of the World Showcase pavilions (except the United States) has a table service restaurant, that features authentic dishes prepared by chefs that are native to that particular country.  A few of the restaurants "aound the world" have live entertainment, such as belly dancing in the Morocco pavilion or teppanyaki cooking in the Japan pavilion.   Advance Dining Reservations are highly recommended, at least for evening dining, because of their popularity.

For reservations you can call the main Disney Dining number at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463) or hop on the internet at Disneyworld.com/reservations.

Counter Service

Boulangerie Patisserie (France pavilion) - This bakery presents an array of fresh-baked pastries and treats.  Ham and cheese sandwiches and quiche are available if you want more of a meal.

La Cantina de San Angel (Mexico pavilion) - At La Cantina you will find the simple, authentic Mexican tacos foods like tacos and nachos.

Electric Umbrella (Innoventions East) - You will have a choice of burgers, chicken and salads at the Electric Umbrella.  This restaurant has affords a high capacity.

Kringla Bakeri og Cafe (Norway pavilion) - Primarily a bakery, but you can also find sandwiches here like peanut butter and jelly for the kids.  This is a favorite stop on every trip!

Liberty Inn (The American Adventure) - This restaurant represents Americans fast-food restaurant.   Burgers, chicken, and pulled pork are supplemented by veggie burgers and at least one kosher option.

Lotus Blossom Cafe (China pavilion) - Potstickers, egg rolls, fried rice, etc.

Sunshine Seasons (The Land) - Sunsine Seasons is a huge food court with a wide variety of selections and a large number of seating options.  Choose from Asian entrees, soup & salad, sandwiches, grill items, and baked goods.  The fruits and vegetables come right out of The Land's greenhouses. 

Tangierine Café (Morocco pavilion) - Mediterranean specialties: wraps featuring lamb and chicken, hummus, couscous on side, and falafel.

Yakitori House (Japan pavilion) - A few Japanese classics here: teriyaki chicken, sukiyaki beef, California rolls, and combinations thereof.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop (United Kingdom pavilion) - If you are looking for some good fried fish and chips, you will find it here.  The only seating here is outside and not much of it.

Table Service

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway pavilion) - This is your best chance to see the Disney Princesses, but you will need to make a reservation. The Princess Storybook meals are very popular.  Don't count on Cinderella showing up (she's usually at her Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom), but any of the other Princesses might be on hand to chat and pose for pictures. The food is served family-style.

Biergarten (Germany pavilion) - It's eternally Oktoberfest inside the Biergarten, where you will find a German all-you-can-eat buffet.  The German food choices are numerous.  Grab a plate and a beer, and sit down for some really fun entertainment onstage; have fun singing along!   Note that this is not your typical quiet, relaxing meal.

Bistro de Paris (France pavilion) - This French restaurant is probably the most upscale experience in all of the Disney parks (this excludes the resorts).  The menu is more limited than at Chefs de France, but there is an extensive wine list.

Le Cellier (Canada pavilion) - This restaurant has a reputation for drawing people in.  The seating is limited and the food is wonderful!  You must make a reservation for this restaurant way in advance of your stay. 

Chefs de France (France pavilion) - This is the less "fancy" French restaurant, but that's only in comparison to the Bistro above.  Your table is outfitted with white linen, fine French entrees, and a detailed wine list; the food is just a bit more straightforward.  Remy from Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille, may just come and visit you at your table too!

Coral Reef (The Seas with Nemo and Friends) - The entrance for the Coral Reef restaurant is at the right side of the building.  If you would like to watch the fish from the aquariums and watch an occasional diver - this is the place for you.

Garden Grill (The Land) - This restaurant is very unique in that is slowly spins (you can't even tell) as you eat allowing you to view scenes from Living with Land boat ride.  The meal is served family style all-you-can-eat.  The meal consists of, as the old saying goes, "meat and potatoes" type foods.  You will get a chance to see Chip 'n' Dale, Farmer Mickey and Pluto.  It is a great way to visit with the characters and have a nice meal too!

La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico pavilion) - Fresh taco shells and salsas (including tomato, pepper, and mango salsas) lend authenticity to this brand new restaurant.  It is a very popular place to dine at night, as you will get a great view of the lagoon and IllumiNations.  

Nine Dragons Restaurant (China pavilion) - This restaurant features authentic cuisines from Szechuan to Mandarin styles from China.  It is a very quiet, relaxing place to eat; especially at lunch.

Restaurant Marrakesh (Morocco pavilion) - You will find kebabs and couscous that are the specialties here. 

Rose & Crown Pub & Dining (United Kingdom pavilion) -  You will find all of the English meals that are popular in the United Kingdom on the menu.  This is a popular place around closing time, as the outdoor patio has great views of IllumiNations.  

San Angel Inn Restaurante (Mexico pavilion) -  The atmosphere at this restaurant gives off an outside cafe feel complete with spanish buildings and twinkling lights.  The menu has a wide variety of entrees with traditional Mexican flare.

Teppan Edo (Japan pavilion) - This is a teppanyaki steakhouse, chefs will grill up your meal right at your table and also provide some entertainment.  They're friendly and will like visiting with you as they show off their skills.

Tutto Italia Ristorante (Italy pavilion) - The name means "all of Italy", and this describes the cuisine you will find here.  From heavy bolognese sauces of the north to the lighter oil and garlic of the south.  This is probably the best Italian restaurant on the property and is quite popular.

Via Napoli Ristorante E Pizzeria (Italy pavilion) - This new eatery serves excellent wood-fired pizza prepared in the traditional Neapolitan style—right down to the hand-made mozzarella, the mineral content of the water, and the flour that is imported right from Naples.  Look for the sculpted faces on the three pizza ovens that are named after Italy's three active volcanoes: Etna, Vesuvio, and Stromboli.

Epcot dining complete. Menus are available too.

Drink

Some Epcot visitors enjoy an unofficial adventure known as "Drinking Around the World" where they sample alcohol from each of the eleven countries. From Mexican margaritas to German beer to French wines, there's no shortage of variety here.

All of the table service restaurants in the World Showcase pavilions serve alcoholic beverages that are native to that country.  Some World Showcase gift shops (such as Weinkeller in the Germany pavilion) sell alcohol in bottles; your selection will be put in a gift box and sealed if you want to take it out of the park.  You can arrange for shipping to your hotel room or back home if you don't want to carry it around.

For non-alcoholic beverages you can stop in at Club Cool in Innoventions, which gives away free samples of products marketed internationally by Coca-Cola.


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 December 2011 14:51
 
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