Taking a single day to explore Epcot is a monumental challenge. You may want to include the park in additional plans to fully enjoy it. However, due to the nature and flow of the park, it’s a very easy place to get around in just a few hours despite its size. Follow this one day Epcot touring plan to maximize a single day in this unique and dynamic theme park.
Although Epcot is transforming and retheming over half of the park, there is still plenty to do in Epcot during construction. Despite some of the construction walls, there are very few closures currently that will affect you. Right now Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is in progress, as is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France Pavilion. The major section of construction to look out for is in Future World South after you pass Spaceship Earth. Club Cool, Fountain View, and the Character Spot are all removed as part of Disney’s plan to revitalize the park with a permanent festival center and a Moana walkthrough attraction. For more on what is coming to Disney World read What is New at Disney World in 2020!
Extra Magic Hours
Epcot is traditionally open from 9:00 to 9:00. This is a tight squeeze if you want to do everything in as much depth as possible. There are two days out of the week where Epcot extends its hours. Tuesday is the best time to go to Epcot because you get two extra hours in the evening. Combined with breakfast, which we will get to later, that is time well saved. It enables you to explore more of the World Showcase without feeling rushed. It also ensures that you can see Illuminations and not miss out on any major attractions.
The very first thing you see when you enter Epcot is Spaceship Earth. People equate it to Cinderella Castle, but it’s more like the train station because it is right there. This is the first ride you see, and so a lot of people will line up for it at the beginning of the day. World Showcase is mostly closed for the first two hours of park operation, so Future World becomes a holding pen until 11:00 when crowds can disperse. After 11:00 The wait time for Spaceship Earth dwindle considerably. It is also a Tier 2 Fastpass attraction.
You have a chance to select three attractions to use a Fastpass for 30-60 days before you check-in at your hotel. You can prioritize the E-tickets in Future World East, or you can go where there is more to do and get it done early in the day. Future World East is lovely at night and a good way to end the day before leaving the park.
Fastpass+ lets you pick one ride from a tier 1 category and two rides from a tier 2 category. After you have used those, you can make new Fastpass selections one at a time. Frozen is a popular Tier 1 attraction, but the line gets shorter at the end of the day. However, you can always secure another Fastpass later on.
Frozen is an awkward first choice because it is pretty deep into the park and far from the other attractions. Test Track is not ideal either, although you could quickly knock out two major attractions by following it up with Mission Space. The Fastpass queue for Test Track skips an interactive car design experience that impacts features of the ride. The purpose of Test Track is to test your cars’ design.
You also should be aware that the first ride or two will not even need Fastpass, because the line is not fully formed yet. It’s best to have Fastpasses scheduled a little bit later in the morning so you can make the best use of time. Future World West is an ideal first stop in the morning because there are three pavilions to visit, and they are not just single attraction pavilions like the ones in Future World East. Soarin’ is the tier one attraction, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Journey into Imagination with Figment are tier 2. Living with the Land should be your first attraction before any lines are formed.
For more on Fastpass read Deciphering Epcot Fastpass+ Tiers. Or if you totally forget about them read What to do Without a FastPass at Epcot.
Throughout most of the year, there is a festival of some sort at Epcot. Flower and Garden, and Food and Wine are the biggest, but there is also Festival of the Holidays and Festival of the Arts. Each Festival has workshops, Seminars, Demos, and Tastings. They also all feature outdoor kitchens with food and beverage pairing all over the park. At the entrance of the park, before you do anything else, pick up a festival passport to guide you on your journey.
Self Guided Tour
Epcot has a very nice flow to it, especially when you get to the World Showcase. You control the pace and the level of exploration. Each pavilion is full of shops and dining experiences. Many of them have attractions in the form of a show. Two even have boat rides. The shows run continuously and are under 20 minutes in length, so they do not take much time if you stay aware of the schedule.
In addition to the rides and shows, there are hidden galleries in a few of the pavilions to discover. The Stave Church in Norway is all about Mythology. China has a Shanghai Disneyland exhibit near the waiting area for the Circle-Vision 360 film Reflections of China. There is an American Heritage Gallery in the American Adventure Pavilion with Native American artwork. Japan has a gallery dedicated to the “cute culture” of Kawaii. Finally, Morocco has a gallery featuring the Art of Adornment. You can spend as little or as much time as you like in each pavilion. It can be a fast couple of hours if you are short on time, but it will usually take between 5 and 10 hours.
Starting the day with breakfast before you go to the park is a good way to save time, but you can also get in before the park opens with an early reservation at the Garden Grill in the Land Pavilion. The rotating restaurant overlooks the pavilion and the Living with the Land boat ride. They serve family-style breakfast with Farmer Mickey and his friends. After breakfast, you can ride Living with the land and start using your Fatpasses throughout Future World West.
Before you venture into the World Showcase. Think about where you want to have dinner. That will help you know which side of the World Showcase you want to end on. Pavilions ideal for a quick service dinner is Mexico and China on the east side and the United Kingdom, France, or Morocco on the West Side.
The best table service dining by location is in Mexico, Norway, China, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. The best places for lunch are Germany, Italy, Japan, and Morocco.
Future World East
As you make your way around the World Showcase make time to revisit Future World before you leave the park. Keep looking for Fastpasses for Frozen Ever After, Spaceship Earth and Mission Space. If you visit during the evening Extra Magic Hours, you can take your time in World Showcase and have plenty of time for Future World after the fireworks. Ending the Night at Future World East after a full day of exploring Epcot is the perfect cap to an incredible day.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!
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