The UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour is a 4-hour walking tour of Epcot, which includes backstage looks at the park, a visit to a VIP lounge, priority attraction access, and information about Walt Disney’s vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. In this post, we’ll review our experience on the tour, and assess whether it’s worth your time and money.
At the outset, I want to know that the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour is subject to change. What we experienced on our tour differs pretty dramatically from what friends told us they did only a couple of years ago. I know at one point, stops into the upstairs ImageWorks and backstage at Universe of Energy were part of the tour, and those aspects have been cut out of necessity. While the backstage areas can change, you typically go into one VIP sponsor lounge, have priority access to two Future World attractions, and receive a souvenir pin at the end of the tour.
The tour did not start out well. The introduction in Innoventions lasted nearly 30 minutes, and focused heavily on generic Walt Disney history. Oswald, Mickey, and animation all were discussed heavily, with maybe a couple minutes left for Walt’s dream of E.P.C.O.T.
I get that the modern Walt Disney Company leans heavily on its founder and his accomplishments to tug at the emotional heartstrings and maintain brand goodwill. However, around 20 minutes of this introduction had absolutely nothing to do with EPCOT. It’s all neat info (that most people taking the tour probably already know), but it’s unrelated to the subject matter of the tour, and frankly, immaterial.
Not once were the names Marty Sklar, Herb Ryman, John Hench, Tony Baxter, Tom Fitzgerald, George McGinnis, Dick Nunis, Card Walker, and the countless others who made the dream of EPCOT a reality mentioned during this introduction. To my recollection, the only name mentioned aside from Walt Disney during the entire tour was Ray Bradbury.
This is no knock on our tour guide. She was friendly, personable, and clearly enthusiastic about her role. I’m sure this is part of the tour guide spiel, and doubt she had any hand in writing that. Rather, I’m saying it’s a bad spiel, and generic information that belongs in another tour (or no tour at all).
This genericism set the tone for the first half of the tour. We walked around Future World (on-stage), while our guide shared information and facts about Future World. This was a fairly even balance between present-day and the past. Aside from walking around, we rode Spaceship Earth and visited Coral Reef Restaurant pre-opening in the first half of the tour.
Some of the “facts” we were told on the tour were a bit questionable, which is par for the course with these Disney tours. I’m guessing there’s a script for the tour, plus an official fact sheet from which the guides can pull at their discretion, plus improvisational word-of-mouth tidbits shared among Cast Members. Even the parts that were accurate were not all that interesting or insightful. You’d learn more about the creation of EPCOT Center by watching this.
Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on the historical and informative aspects of the tour. We’ve done countless D23 seminars, several of which have been specific to EPCOT. We are probably not the typical guests who take this tour. Then again, who is? Much of what was presented felt like it was geared towards someone who was visiting Epcot for the very first time.
Since UnDISCOVERed Future World is not marketed as a VIP offering that bypasses lines, I’m guessing it’s primarily taken by fans who are interested in the origins, development, and construction of the park, and want a look behind the scenes. I mean, that’s exactly how Disney describes the tour. Even if you’ve never done an EPCOT-centric D23 event, you’re going to know a lot of what’s covered in the first half of the tour.
About halfway through the tour, we stopped in the Land pavilion for a 20 minute break. During that time, Sarah and I got breakfast at Sunshine Seasons.
The tour’s second half was its turning point. From the Land, we went backstage, walking back by Journey into Imagination and Canada before heading inside to see the maintenance bay for Imagination, and also the facilities where 3D glasses are cleaned. This was awesome to see, and also interesting.
From there, we criss-crossed Future World, heading to the HP lounge in Mission: Space before going backstage at Test Track, and then bypassing the line to ride Test Track. (Pictured here is the General Motors Lounge from a previous visit.)
All of this was cool, interesting, and contained neat visuals. Riding Test Track took very little time, so it was a welcome addition to the tour. (By contrast, riding Spaceship Earth was time consuming and something I’d rather do on my own.)
After that, we headed backstage again into the Cast Services building, and spent a good amount of time in the wardrobe department. Without a doubt, this was the highlight of the tour. We saw hundreds of different costumes, makeup, and a room where Cast was working on creating new costumes.
The interior of this area was filled with old Audio Animatronics, including Figment! I spent the entire time we were in there with my head darting around, looking at the different figures. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed on the backstage portions of the tour, so I don’t have any images of this coolness. (The above photo is from a few years ago during the launch of MagicBands when Figment was out.)
Our time in that particular room was too short (I could’ve spent all day in there), but it’s an active work environment, so it’s totally understandable that we had to get in and out quickly–I’m just happy we got to go in at all.
We also walked through a hallway filled with murals painted by different departments from Epcot for the Millennium Celebration. At least half of these featured Figment (YES!) and several of them were beautifully-done. I loved this, as it showcased the creativity of front-of-line Cast Members. (I also love the 1990s artistic sensibilities.)
All in all, the Cast Services building was a huge highlight of the tour. I think we spent around 30 to 45 minutes in that building, which was a good chunk of the tour, but not nearly enough given everything it held. For us, this was the redeeming element of the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour.
Overall, the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour was a mixed bag. The normal price is currently $69 (we got 15% off with an AP discount), which is way too high for the quality of the tour. With that said, my main issue with the tour is not the price, but the time. My opinion of the tour would be higher if it were the same cost, with the first half cut entirely. It feels like interesting backstage areas have been cut from the tour (namely, Universe of Energy) because they’re no longer accessible, but rather than swapping in something equally interesting, the solution has just been for tour guides to spiel and walk on-stage. Frankly, I can walk around on-stage at Epcot and read from Wikipedia on my own time. The second half of the tour was much stronger, and is almost enough to get us to recommend it. If both halves of the tour were that good, we’d have nothing but praise for the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour. As it stands, the current offering is uneven and just okay. To that end, we’d recommend the exceptional Behind the Seeds at Epcot over the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour.
Have you done the UnDISCOVERed Future World Tour? What did you think of the experience? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!