EPCOT Crowd Report: Weekend Roulette

It’s time for another EPCOT weekend crowd report, this time with our experience on a Friday afternoon and evening. In this Walt Disney World photo report, we cover wait times, lines in Future World, congestion in World Showcase, strategy, and thoughts on our visit.

You might recall that we did this earlier in the month and shared the visit in our EPCOT Photo Report: Stay Away on Weekends. The title there pretty much says it all. That was our worst day at Walt Disney World thus far since the parks reopened with long wait times, party crews, and just a generally unpleasant atmosphere.

We’ve subsequently followed our own advice, avoiding EPCOT on Fridays through Sundays. Our visits Mondays through Thursdays have remained lovely, albeit with growing crowds (just like every other park). After witnessing and observing lower wait time trends this week, we decided to once again play ‘weekend roulette’ and visit EPCOT on a Friday. Thankfully the gamble paid off, as our experience was nothing like the one we had a few weeks ago…

Let’s start with a brief discussion of crowds. Across the board, wait times were lower this week at Walt Disney World than any other week in October. We discussed this in our Magic Kingdom Crowd Report: Least Busy Weekday and offered several possibilities why we think this might be happening.

In the comments and on our Facebook page, readers suggested potential alternatives for the crowd lull, including a lack of school breaks. The former is definitely a possible partial explanation, especially when it comes to Florida and the South. We’ve definitely seen crowd spikes as a result of school districts having long weekends.

Still, that wouldn’t explain the lack of midweek crowds during what would normally be a busy stretch in the lead-up to Halloween. The fact is that we cannot fully account for the decrease this week via historical trends or currently observable patterns. As should be clear by now, it’s impossible to make sense of everything in this era of temporary abnormal.

It remains unclear whether this is the start of an attendance pullback due to pent-up demand being exhausted and increased travel trepidation, or the calm before the holiday storm. For all we know, the lower crowds could’ve been caused by a butterfly at Busch Gardens. We will likely know by November 6, 2020 (not if it was caused by a butterfly–whether it’s the beginning of a new trend or an anomaly). That should be the start of a 10-day stretch of higher crowd levels.

In the here and now, we couldn’t resist visiting EPCOT on a Friday for a couple of reasons that made us willing to tempt fate with the crowds. First, conditions were ideal for moon viewing and photography.

Second, a cold front arrived, meaning temperatures in the low 70s throughout the day and high 60s in the evening. As native Midwesterners, we far prefer cold weather to heat & humidity (making Florida the truly ideal choice to call home!) so we make sure to take full advantage whenever the temperature drops to hospitable levels.

The good news for the maybe 1 or 2 of you reading this who are locals without Halloween plans is that all of this will remain true tonight and EPCOT still has Disney Park Pass availability for today.

In fact, tonight will arguably be better. It’s a full Hunter’s Blue Moon, which should make for particularly spooky atmosphere. The weather is once again nice. EPCOT doesn’t close until 10 pm. Something to consider!

In terms of wait times, we never saw anything above an hour.

Test Track was the longest, with a mid-afternoon posted wait time of 60 minutes. Even that didn’t have its queue spilling out the front entrance and into the overflow queue, meaning it probably wasn’t that bad.

Other mid-tier Future World attractions were all walk-ons or close to it by the time we arrived.

This includes Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination, and the Seas with Nemo & Friends.

Spaceship Earth had a posted 15 minute wait, but its line only had a couple of switchbacks under the geodesic sphere.

Not quite a walk-on, but probably not more than a 5-10 minute wait in actuality.

Aside from Test Track, the only attraction with an actual wait was Soarin: Around the World with a posted 20 minute wait.

This was still significantly shorter than the midweek wait times we’ve encountered at Soarin’ the last couple of visits in mid-October.

As with Magic Kingdom, a lot of extra “please wait here” markers have been added around EPCOT.

I’m not even sure which attraction these are for…and I hope to never find out.

Walkways around Future World were largely devoid of guests from mid-afternoon on.

This is significant given the number of pinch-points and maze of construction walls that will exist around EPCOT for the next couple years.

Speaking of construction, not many noticeable changes on that front.

The marquees for both Space 220 Restaurant and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are up, albeit mostly concealed from the view of guests. The roof remains nearly finished on Play Pavilion. Progress is slowly but surely being made in the Central Spine, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and the new fountain. The pace of work we’ve observed doesn’t make any seem like they’re exactly “high priority” projects.

On a positive note, in our never-ending quest to deliver only the hardest hitting investigative journalism, I’ve continued thoroughly researching restrooms at Walt Disney World.

Despite absolutely no one asking about it, I’m sure you will all be elated to know that our Top 10 Toilets at Walt Disney World List remains (scientifically) accurate. Journey into Imagination is still the undisputed champ!

The ideal strategy for both World Showcase and Future World remains pretty “simple” as long as you don’t mind a bit of extra walking. We cover the steps in our recently-updated 1-Day EPCOT Itinerary.

Most crowds will start in the front and work their way to the back of the park, so this one simple thing will improve your experience and reduce discomfort pretty dramatically. However, on a delightful day like this, we wanted to enjoy the evening ambiance of World Showcase.

Fortunately, World Showcase was also relatively mellow. You can compare the above photo side by side with one from our earlier “Stay Away” report and see a noticeable difference.

There were still some obnoxious drinking crews and worse rule compliance than any other area of Walt Disney World, but it was dramatically better than our last weekend visit. Totally tolerable–no major issues. (Back to hitting the numbers discussed in our Face Mask Compliance at Walt Disney World Update.)

Along with Mexico (plus France and Germany to a lesser extent), this area of the United Kingdom normally sees the worst congestion when World Showcase gets busy.

Given that it was a pleasant Friday night, what we see here is not bad at all!

One of the upsides of visiting on a Friday through Sunday is that more dining options are open at EPCOT.

There are some Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplaces only open those days, as well as a handful of counter service windows and snack spots.

This is mildly amusing because, even on a normal weekday, EPCOT has so many more culinary choices than every other park at Walt Disney World right now.

Guess it just goes to show why so many guests visit EPCOT–truly Walt Disney World’s dining park. We had a delicious but unconventional “dinner” at Karamell-Küche (more on that very soon), but could’ve dined pretty much anywhere thanks to walk-up wait list availability.

On a related note, both Tutto Italia and Via Napoli are now offering outdoor dining. As indoor dining is the single highest-risk thing you can do at Walt Disney World right now (aside from eating any of the “food” served by the Italy booth), we hope that more guests start taking advantage of this now that the weather is improving.

The one catch with regard to Via Napoli is that the outdoor seating area closes before the main dining room. No clue why, but go earlier in the day if you want to dine outside.

Ultimately, this visit to EPCOT was practically perfect. The weather and moon played a big role, and obviously those are not under Walt Disney World’s control, but the atmosphere of the park was also great. Wait times were manageable and crowds were at just the right level to give EPCOT a palpable energy.

We hesitate to draw too strong of conclusions based on this one visit. My hope is that even if crowds do pick back up, we’re mostly out of the “fall party season” at EPCOT, which is the big thing that drags down the experience. All things considered, EPCOT has really improved in the last several months, coming alive with people, reopened dining options, and more. This afternoon and evening visit now has us really looking forward to the Taste of EPCOT Festival of the Holidays, which kicks off our favorite 4 month stretch of the year at EPCOT during which the two best events occur. We can’t wait!

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

Have you visited EPCOT on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in the last few weeks? What was your experience? If you’ve also been on a weekday, how did they compare? Excited for nicer weather or the start of Festival of the Holidays? Do you agree or disagree with any of our thoughts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

13 Responses to “EPCOT Crowd Report: Weekend Roulette”
  1. DebC November 5, 2020
  2. ANdrea November 1, 2020
  3. Michael October 31, 2020
  4. Nancy October 31, 2020
  5. DebC October 31, 2020
    • Tom Bricker October 31, 2020
  6. MomOTwins October 31, 2020
    • Tom Bricker October 31, 2020
  7. will October 31, 2020
    • Tom Bricker October 31, 2020
  8. Drew October 31, 2020
    • Tom Bricker October 31, 2020
    • Beth November 5, 2020

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