Disney just introduced their “surge” pricing wherein the the entrance fees to the popular Disney Theme Parks in Florida have become more expensive. Depending on when you go there, whether it is during a peak or off-peak season, you can expect to pay anywhere from 97 USD and up for an off-peak, non-Florida resident ticket. With that being said, every single minute at the park counts, since you’ll want to experience as much as you can. Fear not, let this mini-guide tell you what to expect, and the best rides to experience! Disney’s Epcot has two parts: the front part called Future World, which features rides about technological advances, and the World Showcase, which shows you bits and pieces of cultures around the world (perfect for the curious traveler!). We’ll focus more on Future World right now, as Epcot is too big to condense in one article!
Know before you go
Epcot is a big park, so I suggest allowing at least two days to explore and experience all the rides and attractions. Every year, they have big events such as the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (happening between March 2 to May 30, 2016), and the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (from September 14 to November 14, 2016). These are the best (and also the worst) times to go, as they offer more events for you and your family, however, this also means crowds of people show up on the same day as you do! So, what do you do? First, buy your tickets online in advance and visit to the park early . This will save you a few minutes in queuing up to buy tickets at the counter. Future World opens earlier than World Showcase, so you have a few hours to explore Future World, reserve your FastPass options for the day, and maybe catch a ride or two. Second, bring a water bottle and refill it at drinking fountains located near the restrooms. This will save you a bit of money, as buying drinks and bottled water in the parks can get expensive (not to mention annoying if there are queues everywhere!).
FastPass your way through Epcot
The Fastpass is a lifesaver, and it can save you a lot of time on the rides. The logic is this: you reserve your time slot to a ride in advance, as early as 60 days online if you are a season pass holder, or a few days before if you are staying in a Disney Hotel. If you are staying in other accommodations, you can reserve your FastPass slot on the morning of your trip. You get to choose three rides and times (availability varies), and show up at the FastPass+ gate on your appointed time schedule. Below is my recommended choices for the three FastPass+ rides:
Soarin’ is a simulated hang gliding ride, flying over California views. The best spot to sit is in the front row, as you get to view the scene without other people’s legs crowding your view. Having the FastPass+ means you can easily save at least an hour on this ride that lasts around 5 minutes in total. The ride is certainly worth it though!
Spaceship Earth is a great fun ride that the whole family can enjoy. The ride lasts around 12-15 minutes, and takes a look at some of the key moments in the field of science and technology, with lots of animatronics. The ride is housed inside the iconic globe, and is the first ride that visitors see, so it gets busy very, very quickly!
Test Track is another great ride – you are going to build your own car from the various screens, and it will then be tested for speed, efficiency, maneuverability, and handling. How you fare on the track outside depends on the car you’ve built. Pretty cool, huh? Even if you have a FastPass for this ride, expect to wait at least 15 minutes to actually get on the ride, as the actual building of the car on the monitors takes 5 minutes to accomplish. Do not try to queue up here without a FastPass, it will take you more than an hour of waiting!
If you are done with your original three FastPass+ rides, you can come back to the kiosk and add another FastPass reservation, subject to available times, and also if you have enough energy left. You may opt to go do Mission Space, the Nemo ride (stay for the aquarium!), or even get preferred seats to the Illuminations Show, located at the World Showcase. It’s also recommended that you eat lunch outside of the normal hours. I would suggest eating lunch between 11am-noon, and dinner at around 6pm, simply because the queues to the restaurants can get really long, and you also don’t want to wait long hours just to eat when you could be outside exploring. If you go during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, there are many kiosks that sell food & drink, perfect for small nibbles.
A happy day indeed
I have provided you with some of the best rides within Epcot, and how to use the FastPass+, as well as the festivals and other events you should look out for while planning your Disney vacation. Epcot is the most adult-friendly of all the theme parks, and alcohol is widely available throughout the park. If you are looking for a great experience at a theme park, make Epcot your choice: not for the theme park rides, but for the great experience in and of itself.
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