This Epcot touring plan details our itinerary for a perfect day in Walt Disney World’s second theme park. It offers step-by-step strategy to minimize time waiting in lines for rides, avoiding crowds, seeing shows, dining at the best restaurants, and enjoying World Showcase’s atmosphere. (Updated October 12, 2019.)
This post continues our series of Walt Disney World Park Itineraries & Touring Plans designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do in an ideal day at the park?” We view Epcot as Walt Disney World’s best “atmosphere park” and there have been full days when we’ve done barely any attractions at Epcot, instead just meandering around, enjoying World Showcase.
We regularly update this 1-day Epcot itinerary with new restaurants, attractions, seasonal events, etc., and strategy is tweaked as necessary. Right now, that’s really important, as Epcot is in the midst of a massive transformation that will eliminate Future World and replacing it with 3 new neighborhoods. Suffice to say, there are construction walls all over at the front of the park, leading many readers to ask: “Should You Skip Epcot?” (which we answer in that post).
If you do opt to visit Epcot right now, start by consulting our When to Visit Walt Disney World post to determine how bad crowds might be during your visit or to plan your visit during a time when the park isn’t busy. For our ride ratings and reviews of each attractions, read our comprehensive Best Epcot Attractions & Ride Guide post. Skip whatever doesn’t sound like it’ll appeal to you.
The first thing you need to consider before even arriving to Epcot for the day is FastPass+ selections. Epcot uses a tiered system for FastPass+, we typically recommend Frozen Ever After, Misson: Space, and Spaceship Earth as the top choices. See our Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney Worldif you want more info about this system or alternative recommendations.
With all of that in mind, let’s cover the 1-day Epcot touring plan…
Racin’ Around the World – If you were able to score a Frozen Ever After FastPass+ (and we really hope you were!), your rope drop mission should be racing through Epcot to get to The Land pavilion to experience Soarin’ Around the World as quickly as possible.
Most people who were unable to get Frozen Ever After FastPass+ will be racing that direction–and you should too if you were unable to get it–so this race won’t be insanely competitive, but it’s still important to head there straight-away to avoid a long wait for Soarin’ Around the World, and so you can get to your second attraction as soon as possible. If you aren’t able to do Soarin’ first thing, its crowds tend to die down right before/during Epcot Forever.
Test Track Single Rider – Like we said at the beginning, part of this guide is about an efficient plan of attack. The most efficient way to experience the “Big 3” at Epcot is going to require doing Test Track via the Single Rider line, or else being prepared for a modest (30+ minute) wait for it.
If you’re unwilling to do Test Track via Single Rider, head here before Soarin’ Around the World. (Or get a Test Track FastPass–our FastPass+ recommendations above assumed you’d do Test Track via Single Rider.) You can also consult our Epcot Morning Strategy & Rope Drop Tipspost for several alternatives options when it comes to the Big 3.
Breakfast: ___ Bakery – After all that racing around, it’s time to reward yourself with some breakfast. And, what better for breakfast while on vacation than dessert?! (On vacation, dessert is basically one of the four food groups!)
Some of our Top 5 Bakeries at Walt Disney World are breakfast options in Epcot, and that includes Kringla Bakeri og Kafe now that Frozen Ever After has debuted. We’d recommend grabbing a decadent breakfast here before or after Frozen Ever After. Alternatively, you can never go wrong with Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in World Showcase’s France pavilion.
Early Morning Attractions: Future World West – Once you’ve used your FastPass+, do Journey into Imagination, Living with the Land, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. At the Seas, make sure to check out the aquatic life, especially the manatees. Manatees rule.
FastPass+ Attractions – We highly recommend scheduling your FastPass+ for Epcot all before 1 p.m., so you’re eligible to get more FastPass+ (and can potentially snag something strong like Test Track or Epcot Forever). With that in mind, knock these attractions out now. An ideal Frozen Ever After FastPass+ time is right before lunch.
Lunch: Sunshine Seasons – Despite World Showcase being renowned for its dining options, we think the best counter service restaurant in Epcot is actually Sunshine Seasons (read our Sunshine Seasons Review). It has tons of variety, including healthier options, plus some delicious desserts. My tip: request a double order of the mashed potatoes instead of other sides. Mashed potatoes are way better for you than any other vegetables, anyway. That’s just science.
Post-Lunch Future World Clean-Up: Before leaving Future World, make sure to do whatever attractions remain. Now that the morning rush had ended, it’d be a good time to do Spaceship Earth, assuming you haven’t already done it via FastPass+.
It’d also be a good time to do Mission: Space or to check out Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience, which is a preview center (of sorts) for what Epcot will become once its overhaul is completed. Or, perhaps you want to wander around Future World and gawk at the construction. We don’t judge.
_______ Around the World – The distance around World Showcase is roughly 1.25 miles. If you follow this plan, that means you’ll be walking at least 2.5 miles (you’re likely to walk over 10 miles in a day at Walt Disney World, so this is nothing), as this is going to call for 2 laps around World Showcase. It’s worth it.
During this first lap, we suggest trying Drinking Around the World or Snacking Around the World. Or try both for a different form of the “Dopey Challenge.” We recommend a snack or drink at every stop for the balanced approach, but hats off if you can do more.
Around the World Pit Stops – If it’s ‘Festival Season’ at Epcot (which runs from the end of August through the end of May, pretty much uninterrupted), you should stop to enjoy either the food & drink booths or special offerings during these events. Our favorite of these is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, but each event is compelling in its own way.
Regardless of what special event is happening, you should start your tour of World Showcase in Mexico. To break up your day, we highly recommend hitting Gran Fiesta Tour and some of the CircleVision films along the way as “intermissions” from the World Showcase stroll. You should also spend some time going deep into the countries, as there are many quiet spots with beautiful details waiting to be stumbled upon.
American Adventure & Impressions de France – Yes, these two attractions could be listed among the others as recommended intermissions, but they are so important that they need to be set apart from the rest. American Adventure is a powerful Audio Animatronics show montage stage featuring key moments in American history. It made my list of the Top 10 Disney Theme Park Attractions, and missing it would be distinctly unpatriotic.
Conversely, the act of praising a French attraction may also be distinctly unpatriotic if you still call your fries “Freedom Fries,” but such is life. Impressions de France is the attraction we experience most in Epcot, and is one of our picks for “Underrated Walt Disney World Experiences.” The score is hauntingly beautiful, and the imagery as you swoop through different parts of France is stunning. (Note: Impressions de France is closed until January 2020.)
Dinner: Restaurant Marrakesh or Tangierine Cafe – Both of these are restaurants located in the Morocco pavilion, and both are exceptional. If they sound like they’re outside your comfort zone, we’d encourage you to try them anywhere–both are surprisingly approachable.
Epcot Forever…For Now – After dinner, it should be about time to grab a spot along World Showcase lagoon for Epcot Forever, the interim nighttime spectacular that runs October 2019 through (roughly) Summer 2020. At that time, HarmonioUS, the permanent nighttime spectacular, will debut.
Epcot Forever has garnered mixed reviews (including from us), but it’s worth seeing for yourself. The kites alone are worth the effort, and the rest might resonate with you, too. FastPass+ viewing area is solid if you’re willing to skip the Soarin’ FastPass–but it’s not necessary.
As we cover in our Best Epcot Forever Fireworks Viewing Locations(which includes a map of great spots), it’s not as essential that you get a waterfront view right along the railing for this new nighttime spectacular. In fact, we cover a couple of last-minute locations in that guide that offer great and somewhat secluded views!
Epcot Forever Post Show: World Showcase Stroll – Since the restaurants in World Showcase make dining reservations until park closing and it takes some guests over an hour after park closing to finish their meals, you have over an hour to linger and slowly make your way out of the park after the fireworks end.
Take full advantage of this with a leisurely walk out of the park. Trust us, it’s worth it. You can read our full Epcot Fireworks Post Show Stroll post for tips on this awesome way to end your night in Epcot.
If you’re able to do even 75% of the things on our Epcot touring plan, you are pretty much assured of having an excellent day in Epcot. If you do have two or more days to enjoy Epcot, or want to experience other attractions besides those we’ve listed, make sure to check out our Epcot Park & Attractions Guide, which rates and reviews all attractions. Also make sure to look at our Walt Disney World Dining Reviews Index to get an idea of where else to eat.
What would you include in your ideal day in Epcot? Any tips of your own to add, or things you’d recommend that this itinerary is missing? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World, what do you plan on doing? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!