Often thought of as the more grownup-oriented of Walt Disney World’s four parks, EPCOT actually has a fabulous range of attractions for all ages. This park is divided into two distinctly different areas – World Showcase, featuring a cultural trip around the globe; and Future World with a mix of… well, all sorts of things. Add in some of the tastiest, most diverse Disney dining options and you’ve got a full day of must-do Disney. Here’s how to make the most of one day there.
2021 UPDATE: At this time parades, nighttime spectaculars, character greetings and playground are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Is One Day at EPCOT Enough?
EPCOT is a favorite park among Disney fans and there are many reasons why! This park has certainly grown in popularity since the release of the movies Frozen & Frozen II. EPCOT’s Norway pavilion is the place to meet Anna and Elsa and ride the famous Frozen Ever After ride.
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EPCOT also is the best place to try adult beverages from “around the world.” And EPCOT hosts several festivals each year making it a frequently visited park for annual pass holders and Florida residents. These festivals also bring in crowds from all over the world.
Many guests ride the most popular rides located near the main entrance of the park and they don’t venture around the EPCOT world to see all the incredible rides, foods and sights the rest of the park offers.
This Disney-loving, TravelingMom-approved Best 1-Day schedule for EPCOT is the key to seeing as much of the park as possible in just one day.
TravelingMom Tip: EPCOT is undergoing some major renovations, especially in Future World. But the construction shouldn’t lessen your fun in the park.
How to Make the Most of One Day at EPCOT: Laying the Groundwork
As is always true of Disney, having a plan is the best way to make the most of one day at EPCOT. You’ll want to make a few decisions and reservations ahead of time.
EPCOT: Two Different Opening Times
2021 UPDATE: Since the reopening of Disney World the opening times and rope drop have changed significantly. Below is information on how these different opening times worked BEFORE the Disney World shutdown. Visit here to see the updated park hours.
Every Disney Planning Guru will lecture you, “Start your Disney day when the park opens!” I agree this is a smart play. But if your family insists on having at least ONE leisurely morning of their vacation to sleep in… consider making it your EPCOT day.
Being there at “rope drop” at EPCOT isn’t as crucial as it is at Magic Kingdom. Plus, the World Showcase (back half of the park) doesn’t typically open until 2 hours after Future World (front half of the park).
There’s a lot of ground to cover in EPCOT, but much of it is the “mosey and experience” kind. Not the “stand in line for this ride” kind. It’s nice to have a little of the pressure taken off.
EPCOT: FastPass+ Tier 1 Choices
2021 UPDATE: FastPasses have been temporarily suspended at Walt Disney World.
There are a handful of big headliner attractions you’ll want to work into your day, and the awesome Fast Pass+ system will allow you to skip some of those lines. EPCOT uses a tiered approach to FastPass+. Although you are allowed to reserve 3 FastPass+ for your day, you can only select 1 from the Tier 1 Group of EPCOT headliner attractions:
- Frozen Ever After
- Test Track
Of these four, Frozen Ever After and Test Track currently experience the longest wait time.
When selecting a FastPass+ time, note that since Future World opens first – you’ll likely be starting your day there. In this area, the top two attractions with a long line are Test Track and Soarin’. Chat with your family about which they prefer. If your family is like mine, that won’t really solve anything… because we love them both.
Our typical approach is to get a FastPass for Test Track, and head right to Soarin’. The lines for both of these will usually only increase throughout the day. It may mean a wait at your non-FastPass choice, but both of these are well worth it.
EPCOT: Advanced Dining Reservations
2021 UPDATE: You can make dining reservations online up to 60 days in advance. It’s important to make reservations ahead of time because dining capacity is limited at this time.
Numerous mouth-watering dining options are available at EPCOT, particularly around the World Showcase. You may wish to make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation).
Got kids who love character dining experiences? You can dine on fresh farm-to-table fare with jokesters Chip & Dale at Garden Grill. of This is one my family’s absolute favorites. We get a kick out of the revolving restaurant with fantastic food served family-style. The characters who visit you right at your dinner table are a hoot.
Another great character dining option is feasting on delicious Norwegian fare along with regal Disney Princess hostesses, at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
You can’t go wrong with the amazing authentic ethnic food options offered at the various country pavilions in the World Showcase. Or if you’re looking for a quick service dining location with a nice variety and some more “American” food options, we love Sunshine Seasons in The Land. The food there is always delicious, and it offers a drool-worthy dessert case.
One Day EPCOT Schedule
Here’s my best advice on making the most of one day at EPCOT. Rather than use specific times, this schedule is laid out in the general order I recommend you approach the very best Epcot attractions throughout your day.
- Soarin’ – Hit this first! If you chose a FastPass for Soarin’… swap steps 1 and 2 and head to Test Track first instead. Note there’s a height requirement to ride of 40”.
- Test Track – Note height requirement of 40”.
- Character Spot – Meet and greet classic Disney characters. Have your camera and autograph book ready. We like this location, since waiting in just one line gives you access to meeting at least 3 characters.
- It’s never too early for a Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Gotta keep those Disney vacation batteries charged!
- The Living Seas – Tour the impressive aquarium and ride “The Seas With Nemo & Friends”.
- Spaceship Earth – If the line isn’t too long, catch Spaceship Earth. Often the wait time for this attraction is 10 minutes or less, so although I highly recommend it, I wouldn’t wait in line too long. Instead watch the wait times via the My Disney Experience app, and swing back during a slow time.
- Lunch – We typically go with the quicker (cheaper) option of a quick service dining location for lunch. Then we have an ADR for a table service restaurant in the evening, when we are ready to sit down and rest. So many excellent dining options at EPCOT! If you want ethnic food, head back to World Showcase for lunch. Otherwise I highly recommend Sunshine Seasons in The Land.
After Lunch Schedule
- Living With the Land – Particularly if you just ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons, hop on the Living With the Land ride before you head back to the World Showcase for the second half of your day. It nearly always has a short line, and is both fascinating and fun.
- World Showcase Touring – Enjoy your tour around the globe! Each country features gorgeous architecture, music, food, unique items for sales, entertainment, andCast Members from their respective homeland. It’s a feast for the senses, and so exciting to explore. Up the interest factor for little ones by watching for Kidcot Fun Stops.
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – Located in Mexico Pavilion. One of the few rides in World Showcase, this musical journey by boat is fun for kids and usually has a short line.
- Snack – Keep your strength up with one of many delicious options. My top recommendations include the legendary caramel treats at Germany’s Karamell-Küche, and the savory creations at France’s pastry shop Boulangerie Patisserie. Such an awesome use of Disney Dining snack credits!
- Frozen Ever After – Located in the Norway Pavilion. This is the hottest EPCOT attraction, based on the Disney movie Frozen. If you don’t have a FastPass+, be prepared for a wait or check out these tips for riding Frozen Ever After. Consider skipping in the unlikely event you are not a fan.
- Reflections of China – At the China Pavilion. A few of the country pavilions feature a film from their homeland. China’s is unique due to its 360 screen presentation, and is one of our favorites.
- The American Adventure – At the US Pavilion. An interesting show that offers the chance to relax in an air conditioned theatre for a spell. Listen to an animatronic Ben Franklin and Mark Twain chat about highlights from America’s history.
- Dinner – We typically have an ADR for dinner at a World Showcase restaurant, and dine a little later in the evening. Allow a good hour before the nighttime fireworks show starts. My family’s favorite is the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany, featuring a buffet and live entertainment.
TravelingMom Tip: This park is HUGE, and covers more walking distances than any of the four Disney World Parks. (Animal Kingdom is the largest by land area, but because so much of the park is reserved for the animals, requires less walking.) Even up through age 5, we rented a stroller for our kids at EPCOT. It adds to the enjoyment, and means you can leisurely tour the World Showcase the second half of your day… without your kids tiring out.