EPCOT gets so much hate and I for one don’t get it. Of course, EPCOT is my favorite park, so maybe that is why I don’t understand it. EPCOT was the 2nd theme park at Walt Disney World and opened on October 1st, 1982.
Now EPCOT is currently going through a transformation. The front of the park will soon have three unique areas that will be known as World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration. I for one welcome the upcoming changes and think it makes the park more desirable to many guests.
Let’s take a good look at everything that is offered at EPCOT. This complete guide to EPCOT will cover the rides, lands, shows, food, and of course, the festivals. Be sure to check out some of our other EPCOT posts like Everything Great About EPCOT, Everything that Sucks about EPCOT, and EPCOT quick-service ranked.
When you think of EPCOT I bet you don’t really think of the rides. However, you would be mistaken for discounting the rides here. Two amazingly good rides call EPCOT home (Test Track, Soarn’). Also, one of the most popular rides in all of Walt Disney World, call EPCOT home (Frozen ever after). Currently there are 9 rides (February 2021) with two new rides coming soon (Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure).
Spaceship Earth is the Icon of the Park and is a fun dark ride that is 15-minutes long and takes you through the history of communication from the beginning of mankind into today (well like 2000). It is due to get an update but it has been pushed back with no known start date as of yet.
Soarin’ Around the World is a fun simulated hang gliding ride around the world. Visit many different locations around the world and take in the sights and smells of those areas. If you are scared of heights you may want to skip this one.
Feel the wind in your hair as you go from 0 to 65 on Test Track. This is a highly popular and fun ride that lets you see what kinds of test prototype vehicles go through.
The most popular ride at EPCOT has got to be Frozen Ever After. This dark boat ride replaced Maelstrom and takes you through the story of Frozen. Some people just can’t seem to Let it Go.
Other rides at EPCOT include Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and Mission Space.
EPCOT is really two parks in one. You have World Showcase (Countries around the world) and Future World. Now the park is currently in the middle of a massive redesign. Due to this some might consider EPCOT a half day park, but I completely disagree. While many of the shops and dining might be gone, the rides are still up and running.
Like I said just a minute ago, Future World is currently in the middle of a massive re-imagining. Soon it will be broken into 3 different areas: World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature. All of your favorite rides will still be in these new areas along with a few new attractions.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be a new roller coaster (and only roller coaster in EPCOT) in the World Discovery area. Also coming to the World Discovery area is Space 220. This is a new restaurant that will make you think you are dining 220 miles above earth. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to that. I just hope the food will be as good as the views.
Journey of Water is a new attraction coming to the new World Nature area. This walk through attraction is based on the movie Moana. Both the Land and Seas pavilions will also be incorporated into the World Nature area.
World Discovery is the area in the middle of the park. Sadly it seems like the biggest thing that was coming was cut due to funding and the Coronavirus pandemic. We will just have to wait and see what ends up happening to this area. Don’t worry though, the iconic “Golf Ball” will not be going anywhere. However, it should be getting a re-imagining soon and updated to cover the last 20 to 30 years of human communication.
World Showcase is the back half of the park which includes the countries of the World (11 of them at least). This is and has always been one of my favorite areas in all of Walt Disney World. I have traveled to a couple of the countries in the World Showcase back when I was younger. My ex-wife also lived in Norway for a time being when she was younger as well.
I tell you this to let you know that it does give you a little glimpse of how the country does feel. At least that was my experience and hers too. Below you will find a brief overview of each country and what they have to offer.
The Mesoamerican Pyramid is the highlight of the Mexico Pavilion. Inside you will find Three Caballeros ride. Plenty of shopping with plenty of authentic Mexican souvenirs. Inside you will also be able to dine at San Angel Inn which is the table service restaurant in Mexico.
Here you will find your fair share of Mexican fare including Pescado A La Veracruzana, tacos, and steak. As you enjoy your meal, you will see a little section of the Three Caballeros ride passing you by. Of course, inside the pyramid you can find Tequila.
Along the walkway you will find a small shop and La Cantina de San Angel. This quick service location is a great place to get your taco fix while walking around the world.
Donald Duck can usually be seen in the Mexico pavilion (before covid). A band would also sometimes be playing. Plan on spending 30 minutes to an hour in the pavilion. Another tip is the inside of the pyramid is covered and has AC which makes it a great stop in the middle of the day or during those famous Florida rain storms.
Vikings, Norse Gods, and …. Queen Elsa? Yep that pretty much sums up what you can find in the Norway Pavilion. However, the scenery is beautiful.
Two of the most popular attractions can be found here. Frozen Ever After is the wildly popular dark ride based off the movie Frozen. The other popular attraction is a character meet and greet. Here you will find Elsa and Anna.
The store in Norway has gone down hill the last couple of years in my opinion. I want to find authentic merchandise not a ton of Disney IP. I can find frozen merch everywhere but where can I purchase authentic Norwegian merchandise? Other than in Norway, I just don’t know.
Norway is home to two food locations. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe is the quick service location offering fan favorite Troll Horn. You can also get a Viking Coffee for your drinking trip around the world.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is the table service meal in Norway. This is a princess character meal. Many people will book this character meal if they can not get a table at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom or if they don’t want to pay the added cost for it.
The China Pavilion is one of my favorite pavilions based on look. The design is incredible. The pictures you can take are amazing. Hands down, one of the best pavilions to get your photo taken in. You might even be able to fool your friends at home that you actually visited somewhere in China.
Shopping for authentic Chinese merchandise is easy in this Pavilion. I do feel like China and Japan also have the biggest stores. I just really enjoy walking through and “window” shopping here. You just don’t know what you may find.
Nine Dragons Restaurant is the table service location in the China Pavilion at EPCOT. You will find what you would expect from a chinese sit down location. They offer fried rice, kung pao chicken, spring rolls and more. All at a much higher price than you will find back home or even around Orlando. Lotus Blossom Cafe is the quick service location. Here you can grab your combo, egg rolls, and a Plum Wine.
The Germany Pavilion is another beautiful designed pavilion in EPCOT. I just love the feel and look of the courtyard area. Plus where else can you get das boot (do you remember the movie Beerfest?).
The shopping in Germany is amazing but definitely geared more towards the adults in the park. However, children will love the smells coming from Karamell-Küche, the delicious bakery in Germany. Be sure to check out Volkskunst while you are there too.
The Germany Pavilion has a quick service and table service location. Sommerfest is the quick service location where you can get a jumbo pretzel (bigger than your head) or bratwurst. Biergarten Restaurant is the much loved Bavarian buffet. This table service location is a great place for kids since there is nothing really crazy offered and they can get a good feel for the type of food found in Germany.
If i were to rank the pavilions in EPCOT, Italy would come dead last. The shops don’t impress me. The theming while beautiful, seemed out of place. However, the food here is good. But HEY, who really doesn’t like italian food? Can you really go wrong with pizza?
Italy is home to two table service restaurants but doesn’t have a quick service location. Tutto Italia Ristorante is the fancier of two table service restaurants in the Italy pavilion. They offer up items like Vodka Penne, Spaghetti, chicken parm, and other Italian favorites. Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is the other table service location here. However, unless you enjoy spending $21-$26 for a pizza (for one person, $50 for a pizza that serves 3-4 people) I would skip this place. There is a pizza window however. So you can grab a slice if you are in the mood for some pizza.
The American Pavilion is perhaps my least favorite and I usually pass right by it. It is themed after colonial America and since I live close by where America was born (Philadelphia), this area doesn’t really appeal to me. It looks beautiful but I can see the real thing anytime I like.
Now a reason to stop off in the American Pavilion has got to be one of the newest quick-service locations at Walt Disney World. Regal Eagle Smokehouse is a BBQ quick-service location that is giving Flame Tree BBQ over at Animal Kingdom a run for the title of best Disney BBQ location. Here you will find a bunch of different BBQ styles for you to choose from. They have Texas brisket, North Carolina pork butt, South Carolina smoked sausage, Kansas City chicken, or Memphis ribs. You can’t go wrong with any of those.
If you are snacking around the world be sure to stop off at the funnel cake stand or you can grab a smoked turkey leg. I don’t know what the appeal is of that but we all like different things.
For entertainment the American Adventure theater is the place you would go. Inside you will see a 29 minute show that goes over the history of the United States. It is a nice escape from the midday heat.
The Japan Pavilion is another one of the most picturesque pavilions around the World Showcase. Another thing it has going for it is the shopping. While you will find Disney IP in the pavilion, it blends in much better and is not all in your face. Also where else can you get a real pearl that you watch them take out? You can either get it set in some jewelry or take it home. It is definitely something unique. Other great gifts include, chopsticks, bonsai trees, Calligraphy brushes, Japanese fans, and much more.
The Japan Pavilion has 4 dining locations to choose from. The quick-service location Katsura Grill has you covered if you want to get your sushi fix. But if you are looking for a better sushi experience you must go to Takumi-Tei, the newest dining location in Japan. Beside sushi, you can order a $120 steak. Teppan Edo is a hibachi style restaurant and is usually one of the highest rated in EPCOT. Tokyo Dining is the third table service location in the Japan Pavilion. Here you can find your traditional Japanese fare at a reasonable Disney price.
It is a tough call for me to decide which pavilion is my least favorite. It really is between Morocco and Italy. The scenery is beautiful like all of the pavilions. However, that is just about it. Plus there seems to be issues currently (Feb 2021) with the dining locations and shops.
It will be interesting to see what happens to this pavilion in the future. For now it’s a nice place to snap a photo and move one.
A lot is happening in the France Pavilion. A new ride (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure) and dining location focusing on crepes. Both sound like must-see, not to be missed attractions. France was always one of the more popular locations and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
This pavilion has two different shows that it offers. However, both are shown in the same theatre. You have the traditional film that shows all the beauty that is the country of France. Plus, now they have a Beauty and the Beast sing along. Catch both shows or only one. Either way you can’t go wrong.
While the shopping here is good. It is not an experience like it is in the Japan and China Pavilions. Besides the new ride the other main draw here is Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles. This is a quick service location that serves delicious pastries and sandwiches. It is my daughter’s favorite place to grab food from in all of Disney World. I never had anything from here that I didn’t enjoy. L’Artisan des Glaces is a wonderful place in EPCOT to get your ice cream fix. Just grab extra napkins. That stuff melts quick in the Florida Sun.
Monsieur Paul is one of the two table service locations in the France Pavilion. This is an expensive place to eat at. The cheapest entree starts at $40 and a prix fixe dinner starts at $90. If you are looking for a fancy french dinner this is the place for you.
Chefs de France is the other table service location that offers great French flavors for a more reasonable price. You can’t go wrong with having dinner at either location.
The British architecture here gives you a great feel of being over in the UK. That is unless you visit in the summer. It doesn’t get that hot and humid there. The shopping here is pretty good with plenty of little shops and unique things to see. Mary Poppins and Alice (Alice in Wonderland) can be found around the Pavilion.
Those that plan on drinking around the world usually like to end their trip with the UK and Canada Pavilions since you can get something you are a little more used to. The Rose and Crown Pub is a great place to grab a drink from. You can also get your fish and chips here as well. Speaking of fish and chips, Yorkshire County Fish shop is your go to in all of Orlando for fish and chips. They always come hot piping hot and delicious.
If you are having a craving for some scotch eggs or bangers and mash, a table at Rose and Crown is for you. The Rose and Crown is the table service location in the United Kingdom Pavilion. To me it is one of the better table service locations at Walt Disney World. Plus who doesn’t want an Irish coffee before you head back to your resort?
For years I didn’t realize how big this pavilion was. You really have to do a little walking to find some of the more beautiful and interesting parts of this pavilion. The big draw here is the table service location.
Le Cellier is a top rated dining location in EPCOT and across WDW. The steaks are amazing and the poutine is incredible. Don’t worry if you want poutine you can find it at the Refreshment Port right outside of the pavilion. It’s not as good as what you will get in Le Cellier but it still hits the spot.
We just covered many of the dining options available in EPCOT at the 11 different pavilions around the World Showcase but there are more. EPCOT has the most food options in Walt Disney World.
A new table service restaurant is coming to EPCOT called Space 220. The place sounds amazing with an out of this world dining experience. Currently (2/2021) not much is known about this restaurant but we are eagerly awaiting.
Garden Grill is a character meal with Chip & Dale and is served family style. Personally, I like breakfast but you can’t go wrong at any time of the day. Coral Reef is the other sit down restaurant in EPCOT. Is there anything better than dining “underwater”? The food here is good and the atmosphere is amazing.
For your quick service dining and snack needs you have a couple of choices to choose from. Sunshine Seasons offers your typical theme park food. Things like salads, burgers, and even salmon. The Refreshment Port is another location that offers poutine (fries with gravy). Depending on the time of year you can find a few different varieties. Numerous snack carts can be found all around EPCOT. Here you will find your mickey ice cream bars, pretzels, sodas, and the like.
EPCOT is known for its festivals. Nowadays it seems like they always have a festival going on. From Festival of the Arts to Food & Wine. It’s hard to miss a festival going on at EPCOT. But that’s a good thing. The food offered at the different festivals are amazing and worth a visit just for that.
Each festival also has its own unique set of merchandise including, shirts, cups, magic bands, pins, and more. Some have a very limited number and you can have something none of your friends or family has. Plus most of the merch can only be found at EPCOT and only during the festival. So if you see something you like grab it. It might not be there when you return from your trip around the world.
Festival of the Arts
The Festival of the Arts is usually held in January and February. As you would guess its main focus is on the Arts. You will find plenty of artwork around EPCOT. Of course, they also have food booths.
The food booths for Festival of the Arts are called Food studios and offer amazing, unique, tasty, and wonderful food choices. The main draw here is the presentation of the food. They are so colorful. Notable options include Deconstructed BLT, beef wellington, Sushi Donut, and much, much more. The drinks are also appealing to the eyes.
Flower and Garden Festival
Flower and Garden is usually held from March till May but has been extended for 2021 to July 5th. EPCOT is full of flowers and topiaries all around the park. It makes for some really interesting and unique photo ops.
Outdoor Kitchens (food booths) can be found all around the World Showcase and offer many tasty food and drinks. While the presentations are nothing like Festival of the Arts. The food is just as delicious. Typically you will find 17 different food booths around. Notable favorites include Seared Scallops, grilled street corn, potato pancakes, and numerous beer flights.
Perhaps one of the best things about the Flower and Garden Festival is it is a sign of spring. Who doesn’t love spring? Plus the weather in March and April is beautiful.
Food and Wine Festival
Food and Wine is probably the most popular of the festivals held at EPCOT each year. It is normally held from late August to early November. As you would guess it is all about the food. It’s what kicked off the other festivals having many unique food offerings.
Favorites at the Food and Wine festival include Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup, Le Cellier Beef Filet, Kalua Pork Sliders, ribeye tacos, and many more. Too many to list. I can’t remember one thing that I had that I didn’t enjoy. Even my picky daughter liked what she tried.
Festival of the Holidays
Festival of the Holidays is held from late November through December in EPCOT. During this festival you will get a little feel for how the different countries around the World Showcase celebrate the holiday season. Of course, like every other EPCOT festival you will find food booths or Holiday Kitchens as they are called for this event.
Just because there aren’t as many food booths as Food and Wine doesn’t mean what is offered is bad. There are plenty of delicious and common and unique items offered. Plus I feel that there are more sweet treats offered at this festival than at the others. Notable items include Bûche de Noël au Caramel, small plate of turkey dinner, Frozen Hot Chocolate Martini, and plenty of other delicious, sweet treats.
A visit to EPCOT is a must. While you can see and do most everything in a day. You really need at least two to enjoy it all. If you park hop, EPCOT makes a great park to swing by in the afternoon. Grab snacks and drinks to end your day. I can’t think of a better way to end a day at Disney. Can you?
Where does EPCOT rank out of the four Disney World theme parks? Is it at the top like me? Let us know in the comments below. Also let us know what your favorite festival or food is at EPCOT.
Planning a Disney World vacation? Check out our Complete Guide to Animal Kingdom. Also check out the different WDW rides with videos. It really helps you get a few for what their rides are like so you know if your family can handle them.