Our Epcot itinerary details strategy for a perfect day in Walt Disney World’s second theme park. It offers a step-by-step touring plan to minimize time waiting in lines for rides, avoiding crowds, seeing shows, dining at the best restaurants, and enjoying World Showcase’s atmosphere. (Updated May 24, 2021.)
This Epcot itinerary has been overhauled following the phased reopening of Walt Disney World and refreshed several times since, with the most recent update ahead of the Summer 2021 tourist season. There are a number of reasons for the changes, with the biggest being the temporary suspension of FastPass+ (here’s when we think it might return). This has caused changes in guest behavior, and certain attractions now have longer and shorter wait times than before.
We visit Epcot at least once per week “for the sake of research” (really it’s to wander around World Showcase and eat, but we’ll call it research!), monitoring wait times, testing various approaches, and fine-tuning our strategy as crowds have progressively increased during that time. This is the revised reopened Epcot itinerary we’ve devised as a result…
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.
In addition to all of the post-reopening changes, Epcot is also in the midst of a massive transformation. On the plus side, this has already resulted in some fun new offerings. That will be even truer in Fall 2021 when Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens and the new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious, debuts. While not back yet, we’re also optimistic that the Epcot Forever fireworks will return by mid-July 2021.
The downside is the sea of construction walls. Epcot’s central spine is closed off, which means you need to choose to go left or right at rope drop. The purpose of all this construction is to eliminate Future World and replace 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).
With all of that in mind, let’s cover the 1-day Epcot touring plan…
Trek to Test Track – Your ‘rope drop dash’ attraction should be Test Track, which means taking a left at Spaceship Earth and navigating that maze of construction walls when entering Epcot. (Note: Test Track frequently breaks down, so if it’s not open to start the day, quickly move on to step two–don’t wait for it.)
Test Track consistently has the longest line throughout the day at EPCOT, so without FastPass+ or Single Rider, it’s best to either start or finish your day here.
Navigate to Norway – The second-most popular attraction at Epcot right now is Frozen Ever After, which is located in World Showcase’s Norway/Arendelle pavilion.
In our extensive post-reopening experience, there’s about a 50/50 chance that Frozen Ever After will have a posted wait time of 30 minutes or less. So long as the line is not already to the China pavilion, do it now. If the line looks too long, you can wait until the very end of the night. (Unless you already skipped Test Track.)
Maneuver to Mexico – In the past, we never would’ve recommended prioritizing the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride or the Mexico pavilion as a whole. However, there is now sometimes a line just to enter the building due to capacity limitations, so this move makes sense during this time of ‘temporary abnormal.’
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. For once, you have an excuse to booze at breakfast: it offers a strategic advantage–both locations will have longer lines later.
Cross to Canada – Beatles v. Stones. Coke v. Pepsi. Orange v. Lime. Canada v. 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 and Mexico, double back and head to Canada, continuing around World Showcase in that direction.
_______ 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.
Meal Time at the Muppet Meatery – One of the best counter service restaurants in Epcot is the brand-new 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.)
If you have the time, it’s worth noting that World Showcase has a ton of great table service restaurants. Doing sit-down meals for lunch and dinner is a solid idea if you can swing it.
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 Pit Stops – If it’s ‘Festival Season’ at Epcot (which basically encompasses the entire year save for the middle of summer), you should stop to enjoy either the food & drink booths or special offerings during these events.
The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs now through July 5, 2021. After that, the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will run from July 15 until November 20, 2021. Almost immediately after that, EPCOT Festival of the Holidays starts (usually the weekend of Thanksgiving) and continues through the end of December. Our favorite of these is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which runs in January and February.
Back to the Future World – Once you’ve “finished” World Showcase, bounce back to 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 late afternoon.
Order of attractions doesn’t make a huge difference in Future World (with one big exception), but our recommended approach is:
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Mission: Space
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Living with the Land
- Soarin’ Around the World
That involves a bit of backtracking, but there’s really no way around that. Most importantly, it puts Soarin’ Around the World last, which is the attraction that will have the longest line earlier in the day. By early evening, Soarin’s line should be relatively short. At the Seas, make sure to check out the aquatic life, especially the manatees. Manatees rule.
After that, it’s back to World Showcase to finish your evening…
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.)
Dinner in Morocco – In an ideal scenario, you’d book an Advance Dining Reservation in World Showcase right at park closing time to extend your day in the park. Some of the best restaurants in Epcot are located in the Morocco pavilion…unfortunately, two of our favorites (Restaurant Marrakesh and Tangierine Cafe) currently are not open.
Instead, opt for Spice Road Table, which is our top pick in Epcot right now for both 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.
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. You can read our full Epcot 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.
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!
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!