The Four Hour Tour: Epcot
Published: April 15, 2008 at 2:34 PM
Theme Park Insider's "Four-Hour Tours" are designed to get you and your family to the top attractions in the world's top theme parks... before anyone can get tired and cranky. The attractions and restaurants selected for this tour are those in Epcot most highly rated by Theme Park Insider readers.
When to go: Epcot is one of four theme parks in the Walt Disney World Resort, located south of Orlando, Florida. All Disney World theme parks are open 365 days a year, although opening and closing times for each park varies from day-to-day.
In general, if you are traveling without kids, try to visit on a school day to avoid the largest crowds. If you need to visit during a school vacation, try to visit Epcot earlier in the week, as most visitors go to the Magic Kingdom first when visiting Walt Disney World.
If you are not staying at a Disney World hotel, avoid visiting parks on their Extra Magic Hours days, as Disney's hotel guests get into those parks early on those days, inflating wait times for visitors who arrive at the park's normal opening time.
Before you go: Buy your Walt Disney World tickets online at Disney World's website. For advice on picking the right ticket, see our guide to Disney World tickets, keeping in mind that for the Four-Hour Tour, you will *not* need the park-hopper option.
A large part of Epcot's appeal is its many wonderful full-service restaurants. Due to the popularity of Disney's Dining Plan, getting reservations at the more popular Epcot restaurants can be difficult, so we recommend that you call 1-407-WDW-DINE up to
180 90 days before your visit to make your reservations.
When you get there: Epcot is divided into two parks, Future World and World Showcase. So we've divided the tour into two parts, as well. The morning tour will cover Future World and the evening tour covers World Showcase. (This matches the operating hours for the two sections of the park, which tend to be staggered - Future World opens and closes earlier in the day, and World Showcase opens and closes later.)
Because we've split the tour for this park, each part will be shorter than the normal four hours.
As with all of our Four-Hour Tours, you must arrive at the front gate before the park opens in the morning, which typically is at 9am. When the gates open, walk to the right of the massive Spaceship Earth geosphere that dominates the park's entrance plaza and proceed toward The Land pavilion and the Soarin' ride.
1. You will be getting FastPasses, which are Disney's ride reservation tickets, for everyone in your group. That will allow you to return to Soarin' later in the morning without having to wait in a longer stand-by queue.
2. Once you have gotten your FastPasses, cut across Future World to your first ride of the day, Test Track.
3. After riding Test Track, walk next door to Mission: Space.
4. Next, head back to the entrance plaza for a ride on Spaceship Earth.
5. Then return to The Land pavilion and your final ride, Soarin'. Go to the FastPass return line, which will allow you to skip what will now be a substantial stand-by line.
6. Lunchtime! We recommend the Coral Reef Restaurant, located in The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion, next door to The Land. Since you should be able to complete the morning tour for Epcot in less than four hours, we suggest trying to get reservations for noon, assuming a 9am opening.
After lunch, you're free for the rest of the afternoon. Head back to the hotel for a nap or swim, or wander the park exploring some of the other attractions not on the tour.
If you can get away with it, try to use the "International Gateway" entrance to Epcot, located next to the Yacht and Beach Club hotels. That entrance puts you right into the World Showcase section of the park, without having to walk through Future World. If you are staying at a Disney World hotel, you can take a resort bus to the Yacht and Beach clubs, then walk to the International Gateway entrance from there. If you are driving, you can try to park at one of the Epcot area hotels, also including the Dolphin, Swan and Boardwalk hotels, though that's not always possible.
If not, though, no worries, you'll just have a longer walk through Future World from the main Epcot parking lot.
1. Start your evening with dinner reservations at the Le Cellier Restaurant in the Canada pavilion. We suggest a 6pm reservation. (If you can't get that, go a little earlier rather than later, especially if you are visiting during a busy time of year.)
2. After dinner, walk over to the France pavilion for a showing of Impressions de France.
3. Next, it's off to U.S. pavilion for The American Adventure.
4. Finish the day with the nightly performance of Epcot's Illuminations, a laser and fireworks show that takes place over and around the World Showcase lagoon.
And... you're done!
The next tour: Disney's Hollywood Studios, posted on April 16.