by Wishes Diva
When planning your first trip, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming! There is so much to do and so much to see, and often so little time to fit it all in! It can be hard to know where to start, so I have compiled my top five tips for first-timers visiting EPCOT in hopes that it can serve as a starting point for your trip planning! If you are completely new to EPCOT you can read more about all the park has to offer here in my EPCOT A-Z article!
1. Take advantage of the numerous character meet and greets across the park. Not only does EPCOT offer your typical Mickey and Friends character spots, you can see many different and unique characters at this park! There are places to meet characters in Future World as well as World Showcase. In Future World you can find Baymax, Joy & Sadness, Pluto and Ralph & Vanelope to name a few. As you head back toward World Showcase you can find Daisy near the entrance at World Showcase Plaza. Back in World Showcase you can find several different characters in the country areas. Anna & Elsa meet in Norway, Belle is in France and Mulan is in China! You can also find Jasmine in Morocco, Snow White in Germany and Donald Duck in Mexico! As you can see there are tons of great character experiences in EPCOT that are a definite must-do!
2. Plan your FastPasses. Fast Passes are crucial to success in any park, in my opinion. EPCOT’s Fast Pass options are tiered like some of the other parks, which means you can only get either Soarin’ or Test Track as your Tier 1 options. My advice is to FP Soarin and rope drop Test Track. What this means, is get a fast pass for Soarin’, and get there at park open to do Test Track. In my experience I have found that this is the most successful way to do both attractions without extensive waits. (Plus the cell phone service is spotty down in the Soarin’ queue line so that makes for a very boring wait!)
3. Don’t miss the authentic shopping experiences around World Showcase. Each country around the World Showcase area of EPCOT has their own authentic shopping experiences. In my opinion these shops are as close as you can get to visiting each country without leaving the US! Some of my favorite shops are the ones in Morocco and China. Morrocco’s shops have incredible fabrics in their clothing that are so fun to look at. In China they have knick-knacks that line the tables in the store. There are also plenty of authentic food places that you’ll want to check out around World Showcase too! For more information on the dining options at EPCOT take a look around our site for tons of great information!
4. Scope out your place to watch the night entertainment early. Currently at EPCOT they are in a transition for their evening entertainment. The long running Illuminations:Reflections of Earth night time show is coming to an end. Disney recently announced that September 30th will be the last showing of Illuminations. While the new permanent show is being worked on, Disney will have EPCOT Forever to replace it starting October 1. EPCOT Forever will continue into 2020 and no specific date has been set for the new show set to come afterwards. All of that being said, it is important to scope out your spot for the show early. There are lots of great viewing areas around World Showcase, but also some that are not so great. My favorite places to stand are in the area between Norway and China, just past the small island in the World Showcase lagoon. The other spot I like is between Norway and Mexico. In the past I have found these two areas to be the best. However, with the new shows, this could definitely change! Either way you’ll want to find your spot fairly early. What my family likes to do is find our spot and then take turns going to get a snack while we wait. The gelato from the little stand is Italy is a family favorite!
5. Wait to hit Mouse Gear (shopping) until you’re on the way out. At most of the parks, the major shopping areas stay open until after the park attractions have closed. Especially at EPCOT, with World Showcase being such a large area to walk through, we always wait to shop for Disney souvenirs until we are on our way out. There are several advantages to doing this. First of all, you have had the chance to look around at other shopping places during the day and should have a really good idea of what you may want to finally purchase! The other benefit to this is you don’t have to worry about carrying around bags all day, or coordinating sending them to the front of the park. Now you do have the option to send things back to your resort if you’re staying on property, as long as it’s not your last day of vacation! Mouse Gear is one of my favorite places to shop. I feel like they have a huge selection for the whole family without being overwhelming with choices. I also tend to like their adult clothing options better than some of the other park shopping! I always stop in on my way out of the park to pick up some fun souvenirs!
These five tips should help you as you begin planning for your EPCOT visit. This park has so much to offer, from characters to rides and immersive experiences from different countries. My hope is that you can use these tips to make your vacation extra magical.