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Brian Bennett

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Touring Epcot

Introduction

Walt Disney's dream of an Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (Epcot) showcases both technology and world culture in a unique mix of attractions and exhibits.

The night time parade called "Tapestry of Dreams" is fun to see if you can, but "Reflections on Earth" (which replaced IllumiNations in 1999) is a "must see" event, so make sure you fit Reflections into your schedule sometime during your visit.

One of the most spectacular aspects of the park, and one that is often missed by guests, is the incredible horticulture that is woven throughout the park.  Each national pavilion in World Showcase is dressed to match the national theme.  Future World, and the "generic" parts of the World Showcase promenade, are just as spectacular with hanging baskets, the rose walk, container gardens, and water gardens.  My wife, Barbara, provides a wonderful photo tour of the 2000 International Flower & Garden Festival -- an event held each Spring in the park.  If you're a garden fan, and can plan your visit around the Festival, you'll be glad you did!  For 2001, Epcot did it again. Barb provides this photo essay on "Epcot's Big Bugs" and a wonderful photo tour of the topiary found at the 2001 International Flower & Garden Festival.

Park Layout

Epcot is really two distinct parks in one.  In the "front", toward the main parking lot, is Future World.  Future World is a collection of pavilions based on mankind's accomplishments and technology.  Included in the collection is "The Universe of Energy", "The Wonders of Life", "Horizons" (which may or may not be operating depending on the whims of some unknown person that works for WDW), "Test Track", "Spaceship Earth", "Journey into Your Imagination", "The Land", "The Living Seas", and the newly refreshed "Innoventions."  Each pavilion showcases various technologies in displays and attractions.

The back half of Epcot consists of an array of international pavilions splayed around World Showcase Lagoon.  As you stroll the promenade, you'll have an opportunity to enjoy the culture, cuisine, and products of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, the new Millennium Village (a potpourri of smaller nations are represented here), and Canada.

Touring Suggestions

You have to keep this park's odd opening schedule in mind as you plan your day here.   Future World, the front half of Epcot, opens around 9:00am while World Showcase doesn't open until 11:00am.  The whole park usually closes at 9:00pm.

I recommend spending some mornings at Epcot to enjoy as much of Future World as you can before the crowds get too bad.  You can also enjoy a nice lunch in the park at any of the wonderful restaurants before taking your afternoon break.  I would also strongly suggest that you spend an evening in Future World, because you can catch many of the Future World attractions since so many people head back to World Showcase at dinner time and stay back there for IllumiNations leaving Future World relatively empty for much of the evening.

If, on any occasion, you're going to Epcot to visit the World Showcase only, consider driving to the Yacht or Beach Club Resorts or the Boardwalk Resort and walk to the "International Gateway", Epcot's back door. It can be a lot closer than taking the Disney transportation to the main gate, and walking all the way back to the Showcase area.

The only other wise gem I have about Epcot is to plan carefully. Try to hit all of the attractions on one side of Future World at one time. Otherwise, you end up crossing your own path as you walk back and forth. Also, catch as much of World Showcase as you can at one time....it's really inconvenient to go to catch just a single attraction that you missed earlier as it's located so far from the park entrance and transportation areas.

My best advice about Epcot, though, is to visit the World Showcase in the evenings.   The nighttime atmosphere of the various pavilions is beautiful, the snack and meal options are tantalizing, and you can enjoy it all at the pace of a slow, after-dinner stroll.  In the off season, especially, you'll find that evenings in World Showcase make sense, since the other parks close so early even though Epcot remains open until 9:00 or later.

 
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