1-Day EPCOT Itinerary

Our 1-day EPCOT itinerary has the best order to do everything, including the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster and Frozen Ever After boat ride. This Walt Disney World plan has step-by-step strategy to avoid waiting in long lines, beating crowds, eating and enjoying World Showcase. (Updated February 18, 2024.)

This one-day EPCOT plan has been overhauled several times in the last year, taking into account the partial-completion of World Celebration, Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, festival crowds, plus paid FastPass–but this itinerary assumes you will not be buying those line-skipping services. If you do plan on spending the extra, consult our 1-Day EPCOT Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.

Then there’s all of the construction and new additions. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure have now been open for a while now, and these big additions plus Frozen Ever After in World Showcase are all big boosts for EPCOT. Which you should prioritize is also dependent upon whether you’re coming from the Crescent Lake resorts or Skyliner gondolas and entering via International Gateway, or the front entrance. We’ll address this in the new single-day EPCOT itinerary for 2024.

Although EPCOT remains in the midst of a massive transformation, most of this is now finished. There are still some walls towards the front of the park around CommuniCore Hall and Plaza, but the gardens area is open and it’s easy to get from the front of the park to World Showcase. Otherwise, the only things that are not done have been delayed indefinitely and may never happen (Play Pavilion, Mary Poppins ride, Spaceship Earth reimagining, and more).

On a positive note, the new Luminous nighttime spectacular and Moana’s Journey of Water have debuted, Figment has also returned as a meet & greet character, and the 2024 EPCOT Festival ‘season’ is now underway. Then there’s the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which opened in the last few years and remain incredibly popular.

With all of that in mind, let’s cover the 1-day EPCOT itinerary…

Fast-Forward to (Cosmic) Rewind – On the morning of your EPCOT day, at least one person in your party will need to be awake before 7 am. This is because guests with a valid ticket and a Disney Park Pass reservation for EPCOT will be able to access the virtual queue system starting at 7 am on the day of their park visit. This is done outside the park–before you leave your resort hotel, or from literally anywhere.

The virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is popular, but not as difficult as it once was. Our How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy covers everything you need to know–like increasing your chances of success. (For reasons beyond us, this virtual queue is still in use. However, we expect it to be retired in the near future.)

If you’re unsuccessful, you can try to join the virtual queue again at 1 pm from inside the park. Pencil Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind into this itinerary whenever is convenient after your boarding group gets called. You have an hour to return to the attraction from receiving the notification that it’s your time to ride. The virtual queue is getting easier to enter, so you shouldn’t have an issue–especially with the 1 pm drop.

At this point, we always join the 1 pm virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind instead of the 7 am one, because this puts our return time in the afternoon when we’re going to be in the front of the park. This approach is not without risk, but unless you’re visiting during a peak week–think Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Easter–the 1 pm virtual queue is usually open for several minutes to several hours.

Early Entry at EPCOT – Walt Disney World is now offering Early Theme Park Entry, which allows on-site hotel guests to enter EPCOT (or any park) 30 minutes before official park opening time. Early Entry is offered at all 4 theme parks every single day of the week. This complicates strategy, especially for off-site guests. Check out our Guide to Early Theme Park Entry at Walt Disney World for more info.

If you can take advantage of this early admission and will be entering via International Gateway, we’d strongly recommend reading our recent Early Theme Park Entry at EPCOT Strategy for how to tackle the park’s headliners via standby, and why this on-site perk is better than Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at EPCOT.

The following strategy is for official park opening and the remainder of the day, meaning that it assumes you are not doing Early Entry. Modify as appropriate if you are eligible for, and taking advantage of, Early Entry…

Navigate to Norway – In the past, we would not have recommended prioritizing World Showcase, which is mostly shopping, dining, and wandering. However, there are several compelling reasons for doing so right now.

For starters, World Showcase is home to both of EPCOT’s most popular attractions that offer standby lines. There’s also the fact that most guests arrive through the front entrance and do EPCOT from front to back, meaning they do World Showcase in the afternoon. Zig when others zag, and work from back to front, which puts you on the opposite track of crowds. It’s like leaving the city during morning rush hour instead of joining the rat race into town.

This is why we start our day by heading to Frozen Ever After in World Showcase’s Norway/Arendelle pavilion. This is tied for the most popular ride at EPCOT right now, and as such, you certainly will not be the only guests heading in this direction–to the contrary, a sizable number of guests will navigate to Norway. However, it’ll be proportionally fewer than other headliners–or that’ll be going to Norway later in the day.

By the time you get back to Norway, there’s a good chance that Frozen Ever After will have a posted wait time of 45 minutes or longer. So long as you arrive right at EPCOT’s opening time, you should do it anyway. Wait times for Frozen Ever After only worsen as the day wears on, as most guests do World Showcase in the second half of the day.

Canada - Epcot - World Showcase

Cross to Canada – Beatles vs. Stones. Coke vs. Pepsi. Orange vs. Lime. Canada vs. Mexico.

Walt Disney World fans have long debated which direction is the “correct” way to start a trek around World Showcase. We’re here to inform you that the best approach is actually both. After finishing up in Norway, double back and head to Canada, continuing around World Showcase in that direction. You’ll understand why when you see the next stop…

Scurry to the Streets of Paris – The other most popular attraction in EPCOT is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which is also the newest at Walt Disney World. Due to this “new ride smell,” it is what most guests race to during Early Entry and at rope drop.

Consequently, we’ve observed an interesting phenomenon with a relative lull in wait times about an hour after park opening until around noon. This gap is basically between when the early arrivers have already finished up with the attraction but before the guests who prioritized the front of the park arrive to World Showcase. It’s still early, so this trend could change, but it intuitively makes sense and our expectation is that it’ll continue.

As such, your aim should be to arrive at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure before lunch. It may not seem like much, but knocking out these two headliners before mealtime is huge, and will set you up for an efficient afternoon.

The World Showcase is Your Oyster – Routinely viewed as the culinary epicenter of Walt Disney World, there are a number of unique restaurants in World Showcase. We think the cuisine at many of these is overrated, but it’s still worth being a bit adventurous and eating somewhere unique. Some of our favorite options include Biergarten, Teppan Edo, Spice Road Table, Via Napoli, and Chefs de France.

If you want something more approachable, one of the best counter service restaurants in EPCOT is Regal Eagle Smokehouse. It has a variety of crowd-pleasing BBQ, plus salad and even plant-based options. (We’ve eaten everything on the menu–read our Regal Eagle Smokehouse: A Review of All Foods, But Mostly BBQ Meats for thoughts on what to order.)

Alternatively, if you have to head back to the front of the park for your Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind return time, dining at the new Connections Cafe & Eatery isn’t a bad option. Both of these have very ordinary menus that are simple and straightforward, but surprisingly good.

American Adventure – Right next door to Regal Eagle Smokehouse is Epcot’s best attraction. American Adventure is a powerful Audio Animatronics show montage stage featuring key moments in American history.

American Adventure is so good that it made our list of the Top 10 Disney Theme Park Attractions. Skipping it would be distinctly unpatriotic.

_______ 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. Along the way, consider breaks for Reflections of China and Canada Far & Wide.

Around the World Pit Stops – If it’s ‘Festival Season’ at EPCOT (which basically encompasses the entire year save for a few weeks), you should stop to enjoy either the food & drink booths or special offerings during these events.

Here are the various events along with their approximate annual timeframes:

World Showcase Atmospheric Acts – It should be obvious from the above entries, but we cannot overemphasize the importance of slowing down and taking your time to enjoy World Showcase. There should be no sense of urgency for the middle portion of the day. Lines for attractions at the front of the park are at their longest, making this a great time to kill time–explore the nooks and crannies, engage with the architecture, browse shops, and–as discussed above–eat!

Most importantly, take some time to stop and see the atmospheric entertainment acts. Among other performers, this includes Voices of Liberty (American Adventure), Matsuriza Taiko Drummers (Japan), Command Performance (United Kingdom), Les Raftsmen (Canada), Sergio the Italian Clown Juggler, and more. Note that performers can (and do!) change seasonally, as do showtimes. For schedules, we highly recommend consulting the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit.

Maneuver to Mexico – Around mid-afternoon, you should notice crowds starting to build in World Showcase. Now is the time to double back towards the front of the park. On your way out, make a stop inside the Mexico pavilion to do the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride.

If you’re planning on enjoying a drink or few, now is also a good time to stop at La Cava del Tequila or Choza de Margarita for a drink. Both locations might already have lines, but those will only be worse later.

Back to the Future World – Once you’ve “finished” World Showcase, bounce back to the front of the park, formerly known as Future World. This is the counter-intuitive approach. Most guests do EPCOT from front to back, meaning the wait times for attractions at the front of the park are longest at the beginning of the day and decreasing in the afternoon.

Order of attractions doesn’t make a huge difference in Future World (with a couple of big exceptions), but our recommended approach is:

  1. Journey into Imagination with Figment
  2. Meet Figment
  3. Meet Minnie & Mickey Mouse
  4. Spaceship Earth
  5. The Seas with Nemo & Friends (make sure to check out the aquatic life, especially the majestic manatees)
  6. Living with the Land
  7. Soarin’ Over California
  8. Moana’s Journey of Water
  9. Mission: Space
  10. Test Track

That involves a bit of backtracking; feel free to reduce that if you want to minimize steps.

The first important thing is to make sure Soarin’ Over California and Test Track are towards the end. Those are the two attractions that will have the longest lines earlier in the day. By early evening, both lines should be much shorter than they were in the morning.

Moana’s Journey of Water is typically less busy in the evening, and it’s a great spot to watch the sunset and see day transition to night at EPCOT. Even if you stopped by earlier in the day, it’s worth taking a few minutes for a sunset stroll.

Dinner – After returning from the red planet in Mission: Space, head above Earth for dinner at EPCOT’s newest restaurant. See our Photos & Video Inside Space 220 Restaurant as well as our Space 220 Restaurant Review that looks at whether the food is worth the price tag.

In an ideal scenario, you’d book an Advance Dining Reservation in World Showcase about 2 hours before the fireworks, with dinner wrapping up shortly before that starts. If orbiting above Earth isn’t your speed, there are great options in World Showcase.

Spice Road Table is our top pick in World Showcase right now for cuisine and open air atmosphere. If this sounds outside your comfort zone, we’d encourage you to try it despite that–there are some surprisingly approachable menu options. If Spice Road Table doesn’t sound appealing to you consider Via Napoli, which serves the best pizza in Walt Disney World.

Impressions de France – This 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.

There are several EPCOT films, but this is the only one that’s truly a must-do. (Be sure to check out the “Tale as Old as Time” exhibit in the lobby beforehand, too.) Unfortunately, it only is shown the last 2 hours of the day, so you might not have time for both Impressions de France and the fireworks.

Fireworks Finale – EPCOT has had three different nighttime spectaculars in the last few years, with the latest being the brand-new Luminous: The Symphony of Us. This debuted late last year and should remain incredibly popular for the entirety of 2024 and into 2025. It will be much more competitive than viewing EPCOT Forever, so we recommend staking out a spot at least 30 minutes in advance.

For planning purposes, consult our Best EPCOT Fireworks Viewing Spots posts for a list of the best spots and other tips for viewing the nighttime spectaculars.

EPCOT 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 park closes. Take full advantage of this with a leisurely walk out of the park. Trust us, it’s worth it.

If you’re able to do even 75% of the things on our single-day EPCOT plan of attack, you are pretty much assured of having an excellent day in the park. 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.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

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!

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