Hello Disney fans! Welcome back to my Disney World 101 Series! This series of posts is designed to help Disney beginners navigate the ins and outs of Disney parks. My last post dealt with the ins and outs of the Magic Kingdom park. Today we’ll be talking about the second park to open at the Walt Disney World resort. Welcome to EPCOT center – also known as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow!
This park is HUGE. It is roughly 300 acres of land, making it the second largest Disney park and nearly 3 times the size of the Magic Kingdom! Because it’s so huge, I’ve broken this post up in to TWO separate articles, each one concerning one of the two main parks of the park. We’re going to start with the entrance of the park today – Future World!
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EPCOT was the brainchild of Walt himself. For years he talked about his experimental community that was far more technologically advanced than the average American household. His original idea was not for a park, but for an actual community where people could live and experience everything technology had to offer! Although he never got a chance to see the park come to fruition, Imagineers took his ideas and design to turn it in to reality in 1982.
The building of EPCOT didn’t stop there! Imagineers had also been working on an idea for a park themed around the different countries of the world. Guests could travel from country to country and sample authentic food and culture, all without leaving Florida. When they found they didn’t have enough to make two full parks, they simply pushed the models together and turned it into the EPCOT we know and love today.
EPCOT is accessible with the Disney bus system, as well as the monorail system.
EPCOT is separated into two distinct parts – Future World and World Showcase. Each of these areas are further divided into separate themed pavilions. As you walk through the park, you can clearly see how this park was birthed from two separate ideas.
The entrance of the park brings you face to face with the Spaceship Earth attraction, also known as the “Golf Ball” of Epcot. Not many people realize there is actually a ride inside the giant sphere! Spaceship Earth celebrates our journey from ancient civilizations all the way to modern society. When you exit the ride, you’ll exit through the Project Tomorrow exhibit, which has many interactive displays for kids and adults alike to help us explore the way technology is bringing us to the future. Be sure to thank the Phoenicians on your way out!
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, check out the Electric Umbrella quick service restaurant, or stop by Fountain View for a quick snack and a Starbucks coffee! In addition to great eats, the middle section of the Innovations pavilion also has character meet and greets – Mickey and pals can be found here, as well as Baymax and our friends Joy and Sadness from Inside Out! Other than that, many of the areas formerly known as Innovations East and West have been abandoned and will likely be rebranded as the park goes through a bit of a rebuilding phase.
If you turn left at the fountain in the middle of Innovations courtyard you’ll find yourself headed towards Mission: SPACE! This attraction allows you to simulate space travel, from takeoff to landing on Mars. There are two versions of the ride – green, which is meant for riders who want a tamer experience. The orange version is for riders who can handle more of a thrill and a rougher ride. When the ride first opened, it was so intense that they had to install barf bags in all the rides! Green usually has a shorter wait than orange, and I’m a chicken who has NEVER tried the orange side. As I get more prone to motion sickness as I get older, it’ll probably stay that way!
As you head towards Mission: SPACE you’ll pass the old Universe of Energy building. The ride previously held Ellen’s Energy Adventure, a ride through theater ride that starred Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ellen DeGeneres. This ride was closed recently and will be the new site of an upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. Expect more Marvel impact in the Future World area of EPCOT in the new few years!
Next to Mission: SPACE you’ll find one of my favorite attractions – Test Track. The idea behind this ride is that you’re a crash test dummy and about to undergo some major automobile safety tests! This fun, behind the scenes look at car safety testing is a fast paced thrill ride, but still tame enough for people who get nervous at the thought of roller coasters. When you first enter the ride you’ll be prompted to design your own car! You pick the wheels, engine, body and more. At certain areas of the ride, and when you disembark, you’ll see how your car fared against everyone else in your car!
The Sea with Nemo and Friends
Located in Future World, if you turn to the right when you reach the fountain in the middle of the Innovations pavilion, you’ll find The Sea With Nemo and Friends to your right when you reach the fork in the road. This interactive pavilion starts with a ride under the sea as you join Dory, Marlin and all of Nemo’s friends as they try to find him on an aquatic adventure. This is a consistently loading ride and often you can walk right on! Little kids will love it, and it’s a great escape from the hot Florida sun.
When you get off, you’ll find yourself indoors in the pavilion itself. Numerous tanks house all sorts of aquatic life. Sharks, rays, and a variety of fishes are all some of the wildlife you’ll find here. I could personally spend a ton of time just watching the aquatic creatures swim and interact with each other! Turtle Talk with Crush, an interactive show featuring everyone’s favorite turtle from down under, can be found in this pavilion. Just outside the pavilion, you’ll find fantastic seafood at Coral Reef Restaurant. One of my personal favorite restaurants, you can eat up close and personal with sharks, rays, turtles and more. A gigantic tank makes up an entire wall of the restaurant. Even if you don’t sit right up against the glass, you’ll have a good view at any section of the restaurant!
The Land Pavilion
Technology hasn’t just brought us fun new gadgets and smartphones. It’s also helped us maximize the benefits of nature! The Land pavilion is all about celebrating the Earth. Living with the Land is a fun ride through boat ride that takes you behind the scenes of EPCOT’s greenhouses and fish farms. All the food produced in Living with the Land is actually used in EPCOT, specifically at the Garden Grill restaurant and the Sunshine Seasons quick service restaurant. If you’re looking for fun character dining, Garden Grill is a hidden gem that is often easier to book than some other restaurants!
The big ticket attraction in The Land pavilion is Soarin’ Around the World. Originally known just as Soarin’, the ride took you on a tour of California, from the beaches of LA to the forests of Northern California. The reason for the California setting was due to the fact that it was a copy of Soarin’ Over California at Disney’s California Adventure. Both rides have since been overhauled. They’ve updated it by bringing new footage of Paris, Egypt, the Great Wall of China and more to the attraction. This ride often has SUPER long waits, so get a Fastpass if you can!
The Imagination! Pavilion
Next door to The Land Pavilion you’ll find The Imagination! Pavilion. This pavilion celebrates two of Disney bloggers favorite things – Pixar, and Figment the Purple Dragon!
The main attraction in this pavilion is Journey Into the Imagination with Figment. This dark ride features everyone’s favorite purple dragon Figment as he causes chaos in the Imagination Institute. Dr. Channing, played by Monty Python great Eric Idle, tries to reign Figment in before realizing that great things can come from a wild imagination. The ride exits in ImageWorks – the “What If” Lab that has many hands on activities for kids and adults to play with their imagination to the fullest!
Also in this pavilion is the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival. This attraction is a small theater that plays 3 short films during each showing, and has been upgrading to add special effects in the theater.
Next up, World Showcase!
And that about sums it up when it comes to Future World! Which Future World attraction is your favorite? For me it’s definitely a toss up between Soarin’ Around the World and Test Track! Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re looking for more help, be sure you check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. This guide is updated every year and has the best information you could possibly ask for when planning a trip to Disney. The authors also compile actual guest reviews of restaurants and attractions. So you know you’re getting an HONEST review of everything – from the resorts to the parks and everything in between! Going to Disneyland? They have a version for that too!
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