With a lifetime of Disney experience behind me, you can imagine that I have become somewhat of a go-to for friends and family looking to build their perfect Disney vacation over the years. Out of all the things people ask me, there is one topic I am asked about constantly: is EPCOT boring? The short answer is no, but let me tell you why and how to incorporate EPCOT seamlessly into your lineup without feeling disappointed.
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When you think of spending time at a theme park, you might be picturing thrill ride after thrill ride, non-stop action until someone loses their lunch. That certainly isn’t what EPCOT has to offer, though when you think about it, neither is any other Disney park. Most present a modest mix between intense attractions and more family-friendly rides, with shows and experiences mixed in-between. When it comes to Walt Disney World’s second-born theme park, it isn’t so much that it has fewer attractions, more that there are so many other experiences you can have there, which tip the ratio of interesting/exciting in favor of the more educational. But don’t be thrown off; I promise, it isn’t all learning!
The best way to approach EPCOT is as a day three park. You’ve unleashed the magic of, you guessed it, Magic Kingdom, you’ve topped it off with the excitement of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and now, on day three, you are ready for a slight change of pace. This is where EPCOT comes into its own, with an effortless balance of character-driven attractions, a global influence of food and culture as well as intriguing learning opportunities. Every moment you spend in the park will feel fresh and new compared to the sensory overload that can be the two before it. But don’t be fooled; just because your friend’s cousin has a story about going there on a school excursion doesn’t mean it is a write-off!
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The real potential of EPCOT is unlocked in how you experience it — appreciating and respecting the flow of this park, as different from all others, will benefit you more than you can imagine. If you are familiar with chopping and changing between lands to hit as many more popular rides as possible, it’s essential to know that the same tactic doesn’t work in EPCOT. You are much better off balancing out each section, one at a time, exploring everything you can. Instead of cramming those higher-intensity rides into every moment, you should be dotting them into the storyline of your day.
Being your day three park, you generally are more comfortable with a relaxed start, making EPCOT a great option if you aren’t looking for a 6 am rope drop. I like to experience this park in a clockwise motion, starting with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind — especially if you have your eye on the Orange Mission; get that one in before you eat! Then venture over to Test Track before the line gets too long. I like to get this one in early as well, as it is known for unfortunately-timed breakdowns, and that will give you more opportunities throughout the day if you miss out early on.
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash
Now it is time to calm things down with the EPCOT Experience before embarking on an adventure across the world. World Showcase represents eleven nations and includes a combination of shows, rides, extraordinary cuisine, and more. Don’t exit this area after hitting the Frozen Ever After attraction in Norway or the new Ratatouille Adventure in France. Stay and enjoy the time as you explore the regions depicted in this circular masterpiece. The Showcase is a great spot to stop for lunch, either committing to a sit-down dining experience or sharing quick-service delicacies from each nation with your group, prolonging the fun and sampling countless items. Be sure to remember the extensive beverage list also available at each stop.
Ease back into your ride time with Journey into Imagination with Figment followed by the “What If” Labs. Then it is full steam ahead to fly above the wonders of the world on Soarin’ before you board the gentle boat ride, Living with the Land. Brace yourself; this is low on the thrill scale but really fun and super interesting. Finish up this pavilion with the 10-minute film, Awesome Planet. Segway into the world of sea animals with Bruce’s Shark World, Disney Animals, Turtle Talk With Crush, the underwater world of SeaBase, and then ride your way through The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Photo by Chuck Givens on Unsplash
Now, no one has ever lost their selfie stick on an EPCOT ride (back in the day, of course), I will give you that, but there is so much to do here even though construction on the arriving attractions hasn’t finished. This park boasts a tremendous point of difference against the other Disney parks in the area. Even without the Food and Wine Festival, EPCOT’s World Showcase has unique culinary offerings that you won’t find anywhere else in the parks. With few height restrictions, many rides to choose from, and a laid-back atmosphere, EPCOT is the best Day Three park you will find.
It’s a theme park, a hands-on museum, an aquarium, a discovery zone, and a global adventure, all in one. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that if you find it boring, you are likely doing it wrong. You would have to try really hard not to enjoy learning something new every time you visit this park, which is what makes it unique and rewarding. At the same time, eating dumplings after a boat ride through Arendelle, speed testing cars before getting up close and personal with sharks, and taking in dinner over a candlelit table in Morocco isn’t exactly your traditional educational experience.
EPCOT is a one-of-a-kind way to spend a day with family and friends that you won’t be sorry you embarked on. Not to mention, this park is the perfect middle ground if you are traveling with someone that has a lower tolerance for the over-the-top Disney festivities than you do.
Later next year, this park will be home to the new Moana: Journey of Water walk-through experience, and, hopefully, the PLAY! Pavilion. Where else can you scream your lungs out on a fast-paced ride in the morning and learn about where the food you eat comes from in the afternoon?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.