Epcot Itinerary (A Local’s Perfect 1 Day Touring Planner)
When it comes to building an Epcot itinerary, you only need a loose touring plan. The park is divided into the “front” (World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature) and the “back” (World Showcase). The two sections of the park are very different in atmosphere and offerings, so it is like you’re visiting two parks in one. Even with so much to see, Epcot can easily be visited during a single day.
Epcot has a reputation for being Walt Disney World’s park that is mostly geared towards adults. As an adult and Orlando area local, I thoroughly enjoy the attractions and drink options throughout the park. This Epcot itinerary includes all the best stops for adults and children alike.
One heads up before we dive in: Epcot is currently going through massive renovations. Some of the new offerings, like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride, have already opened. You may also notice new names for the different parts of the park. Future World East is now World Discovery and Future World West is now World Celebration and World Nature.
Additionally, some locations have not reopened since closing for the pandemic. We will update our 1-day Epcot itinerary once the new and returning locations are open!
👉 More than one day at Walt Disney World? I have a Disney World itinerary that covers all the theme parks and entertainment offerings!
Table of Contents
- 1-Day Epcot Itinerary
- Specific Epcot Itineraries
- Best Hotels for Visiting Epcot
- Epcot Itinerary Planning Tips
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1-Day Epcot Itinerary
I think that there is no need to arrive early for the rope drop. Epcot has less than 20 attractions and many of the Epcot attractions are can-miss shows or rides. Guests staying at certain Disney resort hotels can take advantage of the early theme park entry privileges to get a couple of rides in before park opening.
When you first enter Epcot, I recommend heading to the left and going straight to ride Test Track before the wait times get too long. This is an iconic attraction that should be at the top of every Epcot touring plan. Older kids and adults will enjoy designing their own car and hitting 65 miles per hour on Test Track.
If you have time or are interested, head to Mission: SPACE after you get off Test Track. Mission: SPACE is an intense g-force experience, but there is also a milder version for kids or those with health conditions.
World Discovery will be getting two new attractions, PLAY! and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, soon. Keep an eye on the Walt Disney World website for opening dates.
Worlds Celebration and Nature
Before heading back to World Showcase, check out the rest of the area previously known as Future World West. Back towards the main entrance, you’ll find Spaceship Earth. This attraction is located inside the park’s iconic ball.
Continuing to the other side of Epcot, you’ll enter into World Nature (previously The Land and The Seas). If there is no line, hop onto The Seas with Nemo & Friends attraction to bring you into the SeaBase aquarium. You can skip the ride by heading to the entrance doors on the left side of the building. Once inside, kids can meet Crush and his friends at Turtle Talk.
After exiting the aquarium, you’ll head to The Land pavilion. Inside, you must ride Soarin’ Around the World! This fun ride gives you a birds-eye view of famous locations across the globe.
Also inside The Land, you can find my favorite ride, Living with the Land. Unless you love gardening or just want to sit down for a bit, you can easily skip this boat ride through Disney’s greenhouses. However, you’ll be impressed to know that the greenhouses produce food that is served at restaurants across the Walt Disney World property.
Lunch (or Not)
When it comes to Epcot, I typically recommend skipping a sit-down meal. Instead, enjoy the various snack stands throughout the World Showcase. You can enjoy cuisines from a dozen countries plus the additional food stands. Some of the snack stands are permanent structures and others will only be open during festivals.
If you would prefer to enjoy a table-service meal during your visit, I recommend La Crêperie de Paris in France for delicious savory galettes and sweet crepes. The prix fixe option allows you to choose a beverage, appetizer, savory crepe, and sweet crepe for a reasonable price.
My favorite buffet at Epcot is the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany. Enjoy traditional German specialties while celebrating Oktoberfest with an authentic Polka band. Make sure you raise your stein and sing along!
The majority of your Epcot touring plan will take place around the World Showcase lagoon. One of the biggest debates among Disney fans is whether to go left and start in the Mexico pavilion or to go right and start in the Canada pavilion. Personally, I choose Canada every time.
👉 Pro Tip: If you are eating or drinking around the World Showcase, I recommend planning ahead. Use the My Disney Experience app to look at the food and drink offerings around the park. This helps you make it to all your can’t-miss items without being too full.
In the Canada pavilion, you will find Le Cellier, a delicious steakhouse, and the Canada Far and Wide show. If you’re a fan of Schitt’s Creek, you’ll love the 360-degree show’s narration by Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. Otherwise, the show is a great excuse to enjoy some air conditioning.
Next up is my favorite country in the World Showcase, the United Kingdom. I always stop at the Rose & Crown Pub to enjoy a cider and sing along with the pianist. In addition to the pub, there is a table-service restaurant, fish and chips stand, and an outdoor drink stand. I like to take my food and drink down to one of the tables along the water. You’ll also find plenty of English souvenirs in the shops and kids will love running through the hedge maze in the back.
With a new addition in 2021, including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, France is now one of the largest countries in the World Showcase. Make sure you ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure during your 1-day Epcot touring plan! All ages will enjoy this 3D ride. There are three restaurants, an ice cream shop, a wine bar, the Impressions de France film show, and a pastry shop within the France pavilion.
Unfortunately, many of the offerings in the Morocco pavilion have been closed since the start of the pandemic. Spice Road Table is a restaurant and bar with seating next to the water. I recommend grabbing a glass (or pitcher) of sangria here and enjoying some lounge snacks.
If you love to window shop, the Japan pavilion is the place for you! The shops have a wide variety of items from snacks to anime characters to fresh pearls. If you can’t snag a reservation for hibachi and sushi at Teppan Edo (the table-service restaurant), enjoy similar cuisine for a better price at the quick service location, Katsura Grill.
I typically skip past the American Adventure pavilion. There is a multi-media show and you can catch a performance by the famous Voices of Liberty group. For food and drink, the Regal Eagle Smokehouse has beers and barbeque. There is also an open-air theater in the American Adventure where festival concerts and special events take place. If you are wanting to catch a show, get in line early because the seating regularly fills up.
Italy is one of the most beautiful pavilions in the World Showcase. The shops have high-quality Italian goods like perfume and decorative masks. There are a couple of restaurants and bars to choose from. I recommend visiting the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar for its calm atmosphere and extensive drink menu.
Beer lovers can rejoice as they head into the Germany pavilion. The Walt Disney Company has smartly chosen to offer multiple drink stands within this country. In addition, you can eat at the Biergarten Restaurant buffet or grab a sweet treat from the Karamell-Kuche shop. I love to visit a small bar (the Weinkeller) that is tucked in the back to the left of the restaurant for a glass of wine, liquor, or cider.
Like Japan, the China pavilion is another country with lots to see! The shops are filled with authentic merchandise. Reflections of China is a 360-degree film. Inside the pavilion, you can find a quick-service restaurant and a table-service restaurant serving mouthwatering Chinese cuisine.
The next country is Norway, one of my favorites. If you can’t make it to Scandinavia to visit an authentic stave church, Disney offers you a beautiful replica. At the entrance of Norway, you can enter a small version of the Gol Stave Church (the original is housed at a museum in Oslo). Stop by the Kringla Bakeri for some pastries and you can’t miss Frozen Ever After. This ride takes you on a Viking ship through Arendelle.
Now, you’ll finish up in many people’s favorite stop in the World Showcase, the Mexico pavilion. The biggest attractions in Mexico are the margaritas and the food options. I firmly believe that you can’t drink around the World Showcase without stopping in La Cava del Tequila. While the bar used to be a hidden gem, it is a fan favorite now. You can expect a longer wait and smaller portions than before, but the margaritas are still just as delicious.
For groups with kids or those looking to rest a bit, the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros will take you on a boat ride through Mexico. Two of my favorite restaurants in Epcot are the San Angel Inn Restaurante (inside the pyramid) and La Hacienda de San Angel (along the lagoon).
Dinner and After Dark
If you’ve spent the afternoon snacking and drinking around the World Showcase, you might not be in the mood for dinner. If you are up for a meal, I always recommend La Hacienda de San Angel in Mexico. This Epcot restaurant is located on the lagoon and has floor-to-ceiling windows. It is the perfect location to watch the nighttime spectacular show, Harmonious.
Since the show usually takes place as the park is closing, you’ll want to get one of the later reservation times. Spice Road Table in Morocco and Rose & Crown Dining Room in the United Kingdom are other on-the-water restaurant options.
Around dusk, you’ll start to see a lot of families heading out of the pack. Oftentimes, the wait times for all the rides will decrease. If you don’t mind missing the nighttime show, you can end your day at Epcot by getting on as many of the popular rides as possible.
Typically, Disney cuts off the lines at the end of park hours, so you could potentially fit in favorites like Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Journey into Imagination in the last hour of the day.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas ($$$, central location), Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts ($$$, best pool at Disney), WDW Swan and Dolphin Hotels ($$, fantastic amenities)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Coral Reef Restaurant ($$), La Hacienda de San Angel ($$), Biergarten Restaurant ($$$), La Crêperie de Paris ($$), Le Cellier Steakhouse ($$$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: La Cava del Tequila ($), Rose & Crown Pub ($), Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar ($)
Specific Epcot Itineraries
Epcot Itinerary With Young Kids
The first half of the Epcot itinerary is great for children. All ages can enjoy Spaceship Earth, Journey into Imagination, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Soarin’ Around the World. Older kids or adrenaline junkies may also love Test Track and Mission: SPACE.
Historically, the World Showcase has been a “boring” area for children. The food, drinks, and shops are mostly geared toward adult guests. Disney has done their best to mitigate this by adding a couple of activities.
Kidcot Fun Stops can be found inside each country pavilion (check the Epcot map for locations). Each stop has a fun activity for kids related to a specific country. Additionally, Epcot has been including scavenger hunts geared toward kids for each festival throughout the year.
Kids probably won’t enjoy the shows in China, the American Adventure, France, and Canada. With the addition of Donald Duck and his friends, the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico is a calm but silly ride. Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure let your kids jump into their favorite movies.
My biggest tip for visiting all of the Disney parks with kids is to not overdo it. When families visit Epcot, they have the opportunity to enjoy some fun rides, eat delicious food, and explore several cultures. This fun day can easily be derailed by hot and overtired children. Let the kids choose some activities and foods that they want to try. Take plenty of breaks and find air conditioning when you can.
👉 Read Next: 21 Things to Do in Orlando With Kids
Drinking Around the World Epcot Itinerary
For an adult-focused Epcot itinerary, you’re probably interested in drinking around the World Showcase. This is a pretty easy activity. You just need to get a drink from each country around the lagoon. Some of the libation offerings around the World Showcase are permanent and others will rotate throughout the year.
One of my recommendations for people who want to drink around the world but don’t typically consume that much alcohol is to stick to one type of drink. Every country has at least one wine and one beer option. Additionally, if you’re going as a group, you can share drinks instead of finishing each one yourself.
Some of the best drinks around the World Showcase include:
- 🇲🇽 🍊 Margaritas from La Cava del Tequila in Mexico (specifically the Blood Orange Margarita)
- 🇳🇴 ☕ Frozen Viking Coffee from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway
- 🇨🇳 🍵 Tipsy Ducks in Love or Canto Loopy from Joy of Tea in China
- 🇩🇪 🍇 Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen from Sommerfest in Germany
- 🇮🇹 🍸 Limoncello Cocktail from the Donkey Cart in Italy
- 🇺🇸 🍃 Frozen Mint Julep from Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the American Adventure
- 🇯🇵 🍺 Frozen Kirin Ichiban from Kabuki Cafe in Japan
- 🇲🇦 🍷 House-made Sangria from Spice Road Table in Morocco
- 🇫🇷 🧃 Orange Slush from Les Vins des Chefs de France in France
- 🇬🇧 🍻 Pub Blends from Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom
- 🇨🇦 🍎 Ottawa Apple from the Popcorn Stand in Canada
It goes without saying, but please drink responsibly during your day at Epcot. Make sure you are eating enough and drinking plenty of water, especially if your Disney World vacation takes place in the heat of summer. You don’t want to have to end your trip through the World Showcase early.
Festival Fanatic Epcot Itinerary
Throughout most of the year, you can find yourself visiting during an Epcot festival:
- 🎨 Festival of the Arts (January-February)
- 🌸 Flower & Garden Festival (Spring)
- 🍷 Food & Wine Festival (Fall)
- ✨ Festival of the Holidays (November-December)
During the festivals, you can find limited-time food, drink, and entertainment offerings. Specifically, permanent and temporary outdoor kitchens are utilized throughout the World Showcase. In addition to the usual snack selections in each country, you’ll be able to try food and drinks from festival-themed stands.
Use the My Disney Experience app to see the location and menus for the outdoor kitchens. You can also find showtimes for specialty entertainment. Merchandise locations have themed souvenirs for each festival.
Best Hotels for Visiting Epcot
The best hotels for visiting Epcot are all located around Disney’s Boardwalk. These Walt Disney World Resort hotels have quick access to the back entrance of Epcot, known as International Gateway, and are all great choices for staying in Orlando when Epcot is your priority park.
The International Gateway entrance is located between the United Kingdom and France in the World Showcase. You can catch a boat or the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios and some of the Disney Resort hotels from the International Gateway.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas have hotel rooms and suites along a picturesque waterfront promenade. The carousel-themed main pool has a fun water slide and pool bar. Along the boardwalk, you can enjoy shopping and restaurants.
Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts
Across the water from the Boardwalk Inn, you’ll find Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. The two resorts are connected and share pools and a convention center. The main pool for the Yacht and Beach Clubs is the best pool on Disney property. It has a huge waterslide and a sand-bottom area. The pool is so large that it is technically considered a water park! Between the two resorts, you also have plenty of dining options.
WDW Swan and Dolphin Hotels
The Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve hotels are part of the Marriott collection. There are a handful of hotels not owned by Disney that are located on Disney property, but these hotels have the best location. You can use and collect Marriott Bonvoy loyalty points for your stay. Most importantly, you can access Disney’s extensive transportation network thanks to the boats, Skyliner, and back entrance to Epcot.
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Epcot Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip #1 – Pace Yourself
Pace yourself in every facet of your Epcot itinerary. There is no need to rush to the rope drop at the park opening. While there is a lot to see and do, you can easily fit in your favorite attractions during a single day at Epcot. Additionally, don’t overdo it with food and drinks. Only get your favorite dishes and split drinks with others in your group.
📅 Read Next: When is the best time of year to visit Disney?
Tip #2 – Don’t Backtrack
The World Showcase is a loop and easiest to travel in one direction. If you have Lightning Lane or dining reservations, try to plan your Epcot touring plan so you don’t have to backtrack. Most people choose to go clockwise by starting in Mexico, but you’ll see guests traveling in both directions. It can be a long walk around the lagoon, so you can stroll and enjoy yourself more by only going around the circle once.
Tip #3 – Use Epcot’s Back Entrance
If you are staying at the following hotels, you can easily access the back entrance to Epcot.
- Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts
- WDW Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve hotels
- Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
You may need to take a boat or the Skyliner to get to the International Gateway. The buses tend to be the slowest transportation on the property, so save yourself the headache of a slow commute and the busy main entrance.
Tip #4 – Disney Tools
Disney has a few tools that can make planning your Epcot itinerary easier. The Walt Disney World website and My Disney Experience app list attraction wait times, dining reservations, entertainment showtimes, and more. To expedite your wait times, consider purchasing Disney Genie+ to reserve Lightning Lane (previously FastPass) for the most popular attractions, like Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Visiting Disney World can mean a lot of planning, but this 1-day Epcot itinerary can make planning a bit easier for you. Now you can enjoy your day enjoying rides, eating international snacks, and sitting back with a refreshing beverage.
📚 Related Reading: For more Disney theme park planning advice, check out our other itineraries:
6-Day Disney World Itinerary
1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary
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