Thursday, March 8, 2012


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Here are lots of Disney world planning advice for families headed to Epcot. Learn what there is to do at Epcot, Epcot tips, the best Epcot restaurants, and Epcot touring plan.
Epcot Planning Tips - Everything you need to know to plan your Disney World trip. Great Disney vacation tips, touring plan, best Fastpass+, tips and tricks, and more

Grab your passport because today you are headed to Disney’s Epcot where you will  travel through 11 different countries and get a chance to tinker with some cool innovations, learn a little history, explore outer space, and of course ride some amazingly themed rides in the process.

You really need 1 full day to see it all. Sadly many people overlook this wonderful park. But those that go are always impressed with the rides, dining, character interactions, and beauty of this special Disney World Park.

Note: Characters are in teal below.

Post Revised & Updated September 2016


EPCOT has the most amazing restaurants. So plan to use your dining credits at this park; make sure you have reservations as far in advance as you possibly (See dining recommendations here).

Epcot is 300 acres so there is a lot of walking. You want to be strategic since you will not be able to do a lot of cutting back and forth with the large lake in the middle.

The following is my suggested Epcot touring Plan:

Epcot Touring Plan

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall best character dining 
Princess Storybook Breakfast at Akershus - I highly recommend this character meal. Not only is the building beautiful and the food delicious, this is THE BEST place to see all the Princesses without spending all day waiting in various lines! I highly suggest making reservations 180 days in advance and snatching up the slot for 1 hour before the park opens to not “waste” any park time.

You will meet 5 princesses including Belle. The other princesses are subject to change but usually include Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel with human legs.

Test Track Ride at Epcot

Test Track
I would start by day by heading left to the popular thrill ride Test Track.  This ride allows you to design your own car and then see how your car fairs in different challenges. You must be 40” tall to ride.

HINT: There is a really fun water splash area just outside this ride where kids can get cooled off with their own test car. Great for little ones waiting. You can also go through the exit of the ride & see GM cars and watch part of a plant in action.

Mission Space in Epcot Disney World

Mission Space – This is a really fun ride where you get to feel the thrill of blasting into outer space as a “real” astronaut with a designated job (including buttons to push). The front will close practically on your lap giving you tight quarters just like real astronauts (hope you’re not claustrophobic) You need to be 44” tall to ride.

Finding Nemo Ride

The Seas with Nemo  & Friends – You will know you are almost there because you will hear the seagulls saying, “Mine, Mine” like in the movie. You will make your way through a very cool (and a little dark) line. Then you will board the continuously going clam shell that will take you through the story of Finding Nemo. It uses screens and live fish so beautifully blended it is a really unique ride.
When you get off the ride take some time to browse at the 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank. Getting here early means you will get to watch the fish get fed (which means they are extra active). The are some truly spectacular fish!

Hint: There is a super cute photo op inside a shark. Before you start looking at the fish see when the next Turtle Talk with Crush is so you can use your time wisely.

Turtle Talk with Crust at Epcot Disney World

Turtle Talk with Crush -  This is a continuously running 15 minute live, interactive show. In this VERY cool show with a computer generated Crush who will actually interact with your kids.

Now make your way to the Living with Land Pavilion to see The Circle of Life movie (20 minutes about conservation, if time permits).

Disney World Epcot Review
(Image of Soarin is from WEDway Radio)

Soarin  (Fastpass 11:20 am) – This is a very popular ride for good reason! You will sit in your assigned row, buckle, up, and put any hats/sunglasses/loose shoes in the storage pocket. Then the ride lifts row after row until you are all facing this JUMBO screen. You will feel like you are soaring above California (as the ride moves you to feel the surge and pipes in smells too).

Hint: This ride will be updated in early 2016 to be Soarin Around the World - can't wait!

Living with the Land Ride at Epcot Disney World

Living with the Land Ride – I wasn't sure that I was going to care for this 14 minute boat ride, but I actually thought it was very interesting and would do it again next visit.  You will sail through various different habitats and then into my favorite part – Disney’s own greenhouse. They have some very unique and interesting way of growing things that was very cool. And if you are planning on eating at one of my recommended restaurants (The Garden Grill) the food for that restaurant is all grown right in this greenhouse!

imagination with figment ride at epcot in disney world

Journey Into the Imagination with Figment – My kids love this silly ride and ask to go on it 3x in a row! You will be stretched to use your imagination with the help of the friendly purple dragon Figment. Everyone is welcome to ride although smaller kids may get a little frightened by the dark or loud music. 

Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot  (Fastpass 12:30 pm) – This is my favorite place to meet Mickey and friends. The reason I like it so much is you will get to meet 3 (formerly 5) classic characters all at once; plus while you wait in your air conditioned line you get to watch cartoons.

At this point it is about 1 pm and I bet you are hungry! I suggest you eat a little something in each country as you make your way around the world (Snacking Around the World at Epcot). Don’t forget to make reservations for one of Epcot’s fabulous restaurants for dinner.

 Hint: You can meet Chip and Dale and Goofy just outside under the awning.

Canada – As you walk by Canada you will see larger than life Totem Poles and have the opportunity to see O Canada!, an 18-minute, 360-degree film.

united Kingdom epcot disney world

United Kingdom -  You’ll know your in the United Kingdom by the cobblestone streets and red telephone booths. Your kids may enjoy the short hedge maze.

Hint: You can meet Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, and Winnie the Pooh in this area.

France area in Epcot Disney World

France – Enjoy some quiet places to sit around the fountain area in France. The small meandering streets lead to shopping, Impressions de France movie, and some delicious food.

Hint: Belle and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty can be seen in this area.

Disney 2013 - Beth 1628

Morocco – Get lost in the stunning architecture, wander through the market for a truly unique experience. Both the table service and quick serve meal in this area offer a delicious, unique food for a memorable meal.

Hint: Aladdin & Jasmine are found in Morocco, but be warned they have VERY long lines.

Japan Pavillion in Epcot Magic Kingdom

Japan – Explore the tranquil rock garden or catch a thrilled performance from the Matsuriza Japanese taiko drummers.

Hint: For a truly unique and memorable souvenir let kids pick their own clam to get a pearl made into a necklace. It is a souvenir my daughter loves that will grow with her.

USA Pavillion Epcot Disney World

USA – At first, I thought it was funny to see a spot dedicated to USA, but it depicts a wonderful historical America.  Kids will enjoy the Fife & Drum performance followed by the stunning vocal talents of Voice of Liberty. Then take in very well done 30 minute show featuring 35 animatronic figures telling the story of America.

Italy – Now stroll through the replica of Venice, see the gondolas along the lake, and make sure to enjoy a delicious Gelati by the fountain. You may also catch the Italian clowns performing on the ‘streets’ in Italy.

Germany Pavillion in Epcot Disney World

Germany – I think Germany is particularly striking. If you are not eating at the Biergarten why not grab a delicious pretzel, take in the scenery, and listen to the Oktoberfest Musikanten perform (Note: if you do lunch at the Biergarten you will have already seen this performance.)

Hint:  Snow White poses here by the wishing well. 

China Pavillion in Epcot Disney World

China -  This area is stunningly beautiful with bright colors and beautiful roof lines.  Enjoy a special 13 minutes look at China in Reflections of China, a 360 degree show. As you exit you will get a chance to see some amazing Chinese artifacts sure to impress especially the boys in your family. If times work with your visit the acrobats are really amazing and fun to watch!

Hint:  You can find Mulan in this area throughout the day.

Norway Pavillion Epcot Disney World 
Norway -  You may have already walked by this beautiful area to eat with the princesses, but if not you will want to make sure and take in the beauty. Previously this was home to the very popular ride Maelstrom, but is currently closed as it makes way for the new Frozen Ride opening early 2016. 

Three Caballeros Mexican Donald Ride in Epcot Disney World

Mexico – The Aztec pyramid itself is gorgeous to look at and grab a picture by. There are various dining options including snacks and either sit-down or table service restaurants. Around the pyramid you will find a 12-piece Mexican Mariachi band playing on and off throughout the day and Mexico Donald. Inside you will find Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, a fun boat ride for everyone in the family that shows clips from the 1944 Disney movie The Three Caballeros. It is a fun silly ride.

It is probably around 4pm and it is time to make sure you get over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure if you are planning on riding as it closes at 5pm. This attraction about fossil fuels combines a movie featuring Ellen Degenerous and a Jeopardy dream with a ‘ride’ seeing some non-threatening dinosaurs; it takes 45 minutes. I think it is cute and worth doing once, but if you are pressed for time you aren't missing too much.

Hint: There is VERY limited seating during the initial 8 minute movie and they do not allow you to sit on the floor


Spaceship Earth – I think this ride is cool because you actually go up in the ball! It is a continuously loading ride where everyone can ride. The 16 minute ride will take you though history (invention of printing press and other important discoveries). I think it is pretty cool & interesting. The ride uses animatronic figures. When you get to the top you tip back and go back down the ball while you can use the computer screen in your vehicle.

Innovations – If you have time before your dinner reservations you may want to take some time to play with some really cool innovations. There are lots of cool things and fun buttons to explore.

Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot Disney World

Go ahead and repeat any favorite ride or area of the park until your dinner reservations. Our favorites are The Garden Grill, Biergarten, and Nine Dragons. You can read more about them in my Top 5 Disney World Character Dining and 12 Must Try Disney Restaurants.

Walt Disney World Gallery Photo

Illuminations – Illuminations is a beautiful show and display of fireworks at Epcot. One of my favorite parts is there is no bad place to see it; anywhere around the lake is a great spot making it easy to stroll up last minute for a great view.

Epcot Touring Plan for Families

And just in case you don’t want to print of this whole page to get a balanced 1 day at Animal Kingdom Schedule for families. Includes at a glance attraction list, suggested order, height requirements, character locations, and helpful tidbits.


Disney World Planning


  1. Thank you so much for your tips. They have been great to read. We are leaving for our first Disney trip in one week. We are only going to Magic Kingdom this time...but I definitely made out our itenerary based on your wonderful tips. We are so excited! Thanks for taking the time to post your insight, as it will help us to get the most out of our trip! :)

  2. My two sons were not tall enough to ride Soarin so my hubby and I ride swap with my daughter. But, I took the boys on the Living with the Land ride. I love that ride and my hubby is not a fan and the boys liked the boat so it is a win, win for everyone. I have loved your Disney series. We have gone to Disney every year since 2001, but you still have some great tips even for us seasoned pros.

  3. Thanks for sharing..I’ll definitely keep them in mind when planning our next trip.

  4. Great tips! It will help us to get the most out of our trip..Thanks for sharing.

  5. These are great tips and I can't wait to take my little one when he is older!
    btw: I think you have a typo on the size of Epcot, I think it is supposed to be 300 acres, rather than 300 sq. miles. 300 acres is roughly 0.5 square mile. :)

  6. I'm sort of an Epcot snob, if you will. I have been many, many times. There is some amazing parts to the France pavilion. The shop that houses perfume alone, is enough to drive me wild! I could stay for hours on end smelling all the lovely fragrances. There is also a movie called Impressions de France that I would not dream of missing. Don't forget to grab a delightful napoleon from gorgeous French girls at the patisserie! For grown up's there is a place to grab a glass of wine, too!

  7. Hi Beth! Thanks for your blog! It has inspired our family to go to WDW this December. I am trying to figure out the best Epcot itinerary. We have 2 daughters- the older will be nearly 3 (2 weeks from turning 3- we thought we would go before we have to pay for her ticket!) and the younger will be nearly 1. We will be going to Epcot for 1 day. I can choose between an hour early magic hours or 3 hours late magic hours (the day before we leave). Our priorities are to see the characters and we'd also like to do the Akershus princess meal. Should we go on the day with early magic hours to see the characters right away and then eat breakfast at Akerhus after? Does that sound reasonable? A lot of characters crammed in! Any other Epcot tips for our family of 4 would be appreciated.

  8. Mary,
    So glad you are going to Disney! You are going to have a WONDERFUL time! Such fun for the whole family & precious memories to last a lifetime!
    With children that early I would think the 3 hours extra in the evening (9pm-midnight) might be too late for your girls. I honestly wouldn't worry about magic hours at Epcot - the park is easy to do in one day at low traffic. When are you going? I highly suggest getting reservations at Akershus for the princess breakfast 1 hour before the park opens at 9am (so usually 8am). This way your girls will be fresh, and if their like mine they are early risers! Their dresses will be clean and no one will be tired or cranky yet. Then make your way to see the Fab 5 in Innovations - one line for 5 characters! Again, you will get them all in while your girls are clean & happy =-) Then just go around the park probably counter clockwise with the age of your girls. Hope that helps =-)

  9. Hi again Beth,

    Yes, very helpful!

    We are going Dec 15-22. According to this crowd calculator, it will be moderate-minus crowds: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/06/29/disney-world-crowds-in-2012-3/

    We are going to Epcot on Friday the 21st- that is just how everything else worked out. There are LATE magic hours, but, as you noted, we'll probably be in bed. I was able to make an Akerhus reservation, but not until 50 min AFTER the park opens. Do you think we'll be able to see the Fab 5 in Innovations before breakfast? How far is the walk? If not, it is OK. We'll be coming back- hopefully in 2 years :) I've just had to accept that because our trip was booked less than 4 months beforehand, there are some things aren't going to be ideal.

    I have a new question- has your family gone to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue? I am thinking of making a reservation for our first night there. I've heard such wonderful things! We aren't planning any parks that day. We are scheduled to land at 3pm, and I can get a reservation for the 6:15pm show. Do you think that we'd be too rushed? Since we're staying at a WDW resort, we could go straight there since our luggage is being delivered for us. Thoughts?

    Thanks again!

    Also, you mention that Fantasmic is one of your two favorite shows. What is your other favorite show?

  10. I think I've read most of your posts in one night! We leave in 7days for my 3rd visit but are going with friends who have never been! Of all the blogs about Disney I like the way you share how to plan each day! We are very excited to go to MNSSHP for the first time! Thanks for letting me refresh my mind but the review on Epcot is especially helpful as we've never fully tackled the world showcase. That is a MUST for this trip!

  11. Another really cool thing to do in Japan (I hear it's also available at Downtown Disney, but I've never seen it there) is to "Pick a Pearl", where you pick an oyster, and they open it and you get the pearl inside. You can buy a necklace there for them to set it in for an additional $20+, but I just bought a necklace where the pearl goes into Cinderella's Carriage for $6 on eBay - much cheaper that way!

    Have you been to EPCOT since November 2012? The new Test Track is super cool (even better than the crash test dummies! :)), and if lines don't exceed 40ish minutes, I would recommend waiting it out in the regular standby line because you get to design the car you "drive" once you actually get to the ride!

    Lastly, one of my FAVORITE things to do at EPCOT is the Food & Wine Festival (minus the wine lol). I love going to the different country stands to try foods I wouldn't have otherwise tried (escargot!) and getting stamps in my passport. :)

    1. My daughter Minnie is excited to do the pearl thing there this year! What a good idea do get a necklace on Ebay before hand.

      My son is so excited to try the new test track!!

      I have heard the food & wine festival is amazing. Epcot has the BEST food!
      Beth =)

  12. Hello. I love your blog! Thank you for all the great info. Question: when you write about the character "tips" are those just events we may "happen upon" or are there lines with set hours for those characters around the world? Any advice on how to increase chances of seeing/finding characters? Thank you!

    1. Those are the characters currently out and about you may see. Exact times can be found in your times guide during your visit. Times change different seasons, but those are who you can plan on seeing. =)