Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
“Walt Disney World’s n°1 place to get drunk”
It’s not easy to describe EPCOT. Some people consider it as a Disneyfied world’s fair, others just come here to get drunk and fat. One thing is sure: EPCOT definitely isn’t an ordinary theme park. It opened as EPCOT Center in 1982 and it’s currently the 7th most visited theme park on the planet. EPCOT is directly linked to the Walt Disney World Monorail System, which makes it super easy (and lots of fun) to travel between EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center.
This is probably the shortest roller coaster chapter on my website. At this time, there aren’t any roller coasters at EPCOT. However, a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster should be opening in the foreseeable future. This Vekoma ride is currently being constructed on the location of Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which closed in 2017.
EPCOT is dominated by a 55-metre tall sphere. This is one of Walt Disney World’s most famous landmarks, but it’s more than just a recognizable structure. This sphere also houses Spaceship Earth, an enormous dark ride dedicated to the evolution of communication. Fortunately, this really isn’t as boring as it sounds. Spaceship Earth features beautiful animatronics, original scenes and a world-class soundtrack. And there’s even more good news: a ride on Spaceship Earth lasts surprisingly long and queues are usually very manageable.
Spaceship Earth is the biggest dark ride at EPCOT. The park’s other dark rides are considerably smaller. There’s a short Finding Nemo attraction, Living with the Land is an educational dark ride focused on agriculture, Figment hosts a dark ride about your imagination and the Mexican area offers a little boat tour starring The Three Caballeros. Nothing too special, but it’s all very cute. And then there’s Frozen Ever After at the Norwegian pavilion. This is a medium-sized dark ride as well, but it often generates the longest wait times in the entire park. Frozen has been a success story since its 2013 release and this dark ride is no exception. Still, Disney didn’t choose the easy way and Frozen Ever After turns out to be an impressive dark ride. The animatronics move unbelievably smoothly and the Let It Go scene encompasses all the glamour I expected.
AROUND THE WORLD
Just like the other Walt Disney World parks, EPCOT is divided into several lands. Naming all those lands can be a difficult task at Hollywood Studios, but the division is a lot clearer here at EPCOT. In general, it’s safe to say that the park consists of two major parts: Future World and World Showcase. Future World is the area surrounding the main entrance and it’s home to most of the E-ticket attractions. World Showcase can be found at the shores of a huge lagoon and it features 11 pavilions dedicated to different countries. Future World may be more interesting for an attraction lover, but World Showcase definitely wins when it comes to atmosphere. It’s a wonderful feeling to take a walk around the lagoon, while admiring the architecture and trying some local delicacies. By the way… World Showcase is at its best during the International Food & Wine Festival, which takes place on an annual basis. During the festival, there are even more ways to get tipsy at EPCOT. Yay!
Wine tastings are a great way to get a glimpse of foreign cultures, but there are more ways to see the world. How about a ride on one of EPCOT’s flagship attractions? Soarin’ Around the World is located at Future World and the ride is (nearly) identical to the versions in Anaheim and Shanghai. I’ve always loved Soarin’ over California and in my opinion, the new version has the same strengths. Unfortunately, it has the same weaknesses as well. Soarin’ can be a fabulous attraction if you’re assigned the best seats, but it can be an underwhelming experience if you’re directed to the wrong seats. In that case, you’ll have to settle with a curved Eiffel Tower and a malformed Taj Mahal. Fortunately, Soarin’s legendary soundtrack remains extraordinary, no matter what seat you’re in.
EPCOT is an unusual theme park and therefore, it deserves unusual attractions. One of those unusual attractions is Mission SPACE. The ride simulates a flight to Mars and that’s quite an extraordinary experience. As Team Orange, we’re treated to strong g-forces and turbulent manoeuvres. This mission to Mars counts as Walt Disney World’s most intense attraction and it’s definitely not suited for those who suffer from motion sickness. However, there’s some kind of light version (Team Green) that doesn’t feature Mission SPACE’s most nauseating movements.
Speed plays an important role in Mission SPACE, but it’s not the park’s fastest attraction. This honour is reserved for Test Track. I mostly remember this attraction in its original form, but I know that Chevrolet has treated it to a huge makeover in 2012. Test Track’s characterizing test dummies disappeared and they made way for a virtual world full of screens and neon. The ride looks modern nowadays, but I actually preferred the old version. It felt more realistic and the added interactivity has very limited value.
WORTH A VISIT?
Love it or hate it. EPCOT is a side of Disney that most of us didn’t know. I can imagine that some people don’t like the park because of its unusual concept. EPCOT may be a little short on actual rides, but the park makes up for that with its great dining options and the wonderful atmosphere. Large parts of the park don’t feel Disney-ish, but that’s actually EPCOT’s unique selling point. It’s a different, mature kind of theme park with lots of hidden secrets. I appreciate Disney’s Animal Kingdom and I thoroughly enjoy Magic Kingdom, but EPCOT undoubtedly remains my preferred theme park at Walt Disney World.
Photo Gallery 2014 & 2017
What’s your favourite pavilion at World Showcase? Are you a member of Team Green or do you prefer Team Orange? And are you happy that Frozen Ever After is being rebuilt at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland? Share your opinion in the comments section at the bottom of this page.