My Disney Top 5 - Things to See in Epcot's Future World West

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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Welcome back to Epcot. As I said in my last article in this series, there's just something completely different about Epcot isn't there? It was an instant thing for me upon my first visit to the second Walt Disney World theme park. My heart has a special place carved out in it for the Magic Kingdom for sure. Nowhere else can I have that incredible feeling that I've returned to my childhood days of reckless abandonment and starry-eyed wonder. But Epcot is a whole different feeling and one that I have grown to treasure immensely. Epcot has an air of otherworldliness about it that visitors obviously long for. The eleven nations represented in World Showcase allow us to soak in cultures from around the globe. Future World is where technology and reality meet affording us the opportunity to soar through the skies, plummet beneath the seas, learn to treasure the land, and blast off into outer space.

We started off our visit to Future World in the center of it all, Future World Central. This time we're hanging a right after exiting Spaceship Earth and venturing into Future World West. This is my favorite section of Future World both for the attractions and for the lay of the land, not to mention the food. The west side is broken up into three different areas, the sea, the land, and the imagination. The surrounding landscapes, gardens, and ponds create one of my favorite places to walk around in Walt Disney World. Let's see what I think are the Top 5 things to see in Future World West.

5 – Figment

When you head to Epcot with little kids, you're guaranteed to spend some time with everyone's favorite purple dragon, Figment. We've been on Journey into Imagination with Figment more times than I can count. It's a tradition, I suppose. It's not thrilling. It's good simple fun. There are many who feel that it's time for Figment to go, or to be revamped, or even to be reverted to a previous incarnation complete with the return of the DreamFinder.


Seek out Figment, seen here in his natural habitat inside Journey into Imagination. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Personally, Journey into Imagination is about two things: the unforgettable Sherman Brothers song that stays with you forever and Figment himself. I love Figment. I love him even more than I love the attraction itself. I miss the days when you could actually meet him next door. If someone who has the influence is reading this, please bring that costume out of storage.


My daughter Samantha and Figment many moons ago. Photo by Chris Barry.

I love the fact that Figment is not from a film or television show, he's strictly from Epcot. Duffy the Bear is awfully cute and cuddly, but Figment is and should be the official "creature" of Epcot.

4 – Sunshine Seasons

I've long been a fan of this food court in the Land pavilion. It's still, in my humble opinion, the best food court on Disney property. This is not the place for the chicken finger and burger crowd. If you're looking for more interesting and healthier options to have a counter service meal, then look no further than Sunshine Seasons. Where else can you get spicy fish tacos, oak-grilled salmon, Maryland style crab soup, and a vegan flatbread sandwich in a theme park?


The lower level of The Land houses the Sunshine Seasons food court. Photo by Donald Fink.

My favorite has always been the tabouleh pinwheels from the Grab n' Go section. My son, Alex, swears Sunshine Seasons has the best mac and cheese anywhere, not just at Disney. The bakery also has some truly killer deserts. Try the Key Lime tart and the carrot cake cupcake for proof. My favorite thing about dining here is, you can step away from your meal and easily hop aboard the Living with the Land attraction right next door.

3 – The Jumping Fountains

Sometimes referred to as, LeapFrog Fountains, this a hidden treasure located just outside of the Imagination Pavilion. On our last trip there, last summer, we killed almost a half hour there taking photos, chasing the water, getting a little cooled off on a hot summer day, and, quite simply, behaving like a bunch of little kids. Keep in mind, we're talking about teenagers and adults here. Not a little tot in sight.


Our good friend Leanna tries to catch the jumping water outside the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot's Future World West. Photo by Chris Barry.

This is the type of unscripted piece of Disney magic that the average guest bypasses. Take your little ones there the next time you're in Future World West and you're in for a treat. The little ones are absolutely mesmerized by these fountains and as I witnessed last August, the big ones are too.

2 – The Seas With Nemo and Friends

I like everything about this pavilion to be honest. We seem to spend a lot of time in The Seas. There's plenty to do and see. One of my favorite things anywhere are the seagulls out in front.


A must stop on every trip is The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot's Future World West. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I love the queue, with its "sand" walkways, beach grass and the school of fish projections, and that's all before you get on the ride itself. The Nemo ride is charming. The kids love it. I'm fond of it, but it's almost the weakest part of the whole pavilion for me. Turtle Talk With Crush is a must for the little ones. If you want to see your little ones have a magic moment, seat them down in front and hope that Crush singles out your child and magically speaks to him from the screen However, what I honestly like most about this pavilion are the manatees and the sea life in the aquarium. The manatees are just mesmerizing as are the dolphins, sharks, rays and schools of fish that you can see here in one of the world's largest aquariums. This is a great place to power down, escape the heat and experience some of the world's most amazing creatures.

1 – Soarin'

The original Soarin' was one of the top attractions at any theme park anywhere, and the newest version is no different. I couldn't wait to finally see a new film and visit new places when Soarin' Around the World debuted in 2016.


Soarin' Around the World is as popular as ever here in Epcot's Land pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

People come to Disney for the magical moments. They're looking for the things that you can't do anywhere else. Soarin' has always been that type of experience. Sure, I suppose you could actually go out and hang glide. But, you won't get to do it with polar bears, orcas and elephants and you'll never get to do it over the Great Wall of China, Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Soarin' is one of the ultimate Disney attractions. It takes you to another place. It inspires you. It takes your breath away and leaves you with a wonderful feeling once it's over. It's about as good as it gets.

There's plenty more to do in Future World West. Have a great meal with amazing views of the Seas in the Coral Reef Restaurant or dine with Mickey and his buddies in the Garden Grill overlooking Living With the Land. And what about Living With the Land? It was hard to leave it off this list. We've always been big fans. If you can't get enough of the impressive Disney greenhouses, my wife and daughter highly recommend the Behind the Seeds Tour. The big lawn between the Imagination and Land pavilions is a favorite place to grab a Mickey-shaped pretzel and look for rabbits. Disney rabbits always seem happier don't they?

Future World West has a lot to offer it's visitors; three pavilions, some great places to dine and some classic attractions. It's all wrapped up in a tranquil, beautifully landscaped and "waterscaped" environment. You simply can't go wrong here. Make sure to take your time and experience all it has to offer on your next trip.

Next time, we'll head in the opposite direction to Future World East. In the meantime, click on the link below, let me hear your thoughts and Future World West favorites and I'll see you again with another Disney Top 5.

Comments

  1. By davidgra

    Good list! Future World West is the center of Walt Disney World as far as I'm concerned. It's the area I spend the most time in on any given trip, as we spend a good deal of time inside The Land on multiple days each trip. Here's my list:

    5. The Garden Grill -- this is my favorite "splurge" at WDW, as it's waaaay more expensive than it should be, but I'll pay it anyway. The food is simple but very tasty, and I love the setting of the revolving restaurant that allows you to look inside my favorite ride at WDW (more about that later).
    4. Journey Into Imagination with Figment -- a shadow of its former self, but I still love it. I love the queue, I love the ride vehicles, and I love the story it tells. Eric Idle is great fun, and Figment is just the best. Whatever they do to this attraction when makeover time arrives for Future World, I hope the retain Figment and return the Dreamfinder in some way.
    3. Sunshine Seasons -- multiple meals are eaten here on every trip to WDW. At least one breakfast, one lunch, and several snacks. It's our favorite mid-afternoon break when we're tired and want to sit for while. The food is good and the selection is pretty eclectic, and we get to sit inside my favorite pavilion!
    2. Soarin' -- one of Disney's greatest attractions. We were blown away by it when DCA opened in 2001, and we were thrilled that it opened in Florida a couple of years later. The new film doesn't quite measure up to the original, but it's still an amazing experience. It's also one we don't do unless we have a FastPass, unless we're in the park at rope drop.
    1. Living with the Land -- my favorite attraction in all of WDW. I'm not really sure why I love it so much, but it still fascinates me, even after at least a hundred trips through those greenhouses. I make everyone go on it every time we set foot in Epcot. If Disney ever announces they're closing it, I'll probably chain myself to it to prevent the bulldozers from tearing it down.

    Hard to leave Turtle Talk with Crush or The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride off my list, or even the Pixar Festival of Animation, which is quite nice. I miss Captain EO, though, as that was such a huge part of Future World for me and I was beside myself with excitement when they brought it back. The new DVC Member Lounge in the glass pyramid at Imagination is also a new favorite spot, too. I really miss the old Image Works upstairs, but it's nice to be able to go up there again.

  2. By DisneyGator

    The only thing missing from this great list is a call to Disney to bring in a good 3D film. No Captain Eo. No Honey. Bring in something exciting and new. Pleeeeease.

  3. By jerm

    I haven't been to EPCOT, or Walt Disney World for that matter in almost nine years, but I was at DCA about a year ago.
    My son is Autistic, and takes things very literally. Doesn't believe in magic, to include Disney magic. After we got off of Soarin', he wasn't sure if we were on a theme park ride, or if we somehow really travelled the world. I call that a win for Disney.

  4. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by jerm View Post
    I haven't been to EPCOT, or Walt Disney World for that matter in almost nine years, but I was at DCA about a year ago.
    My son is Autistic, and takes things very literally. Doesn't believe in magic, to include Disney magic. After we got off of Soarin', he wasn't sure if we were on a theme park ride, or if we somehow really travelled the world. I call that a win for Disney.

    Wow jerm, I thought I was jonesing for a trip to WDW and it's only been 11 months!!

    That is an awesome story about your son and Soarin'. Speaks volumes!

  5. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyGator View Post
    The only thing missing from this great list is a call to Disney to bring in a good 3D film. No Captain Eo. No Honey. Bring in something exciting and new. Pleeeeease.


    I have to concur Gator. My kids were terrified of Honey I Shrunk the Audience when they were young and I only saw Eo once when they brought it back, mostly for curiosity sake. Something exciting and new would be a treat.

  6. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by davidgra View Post
    Good list! Future World West is the center of Walt Disney World as far as I'm concerned. It's the area I spend the most time in on any given trip, as we spend a good deal of time inside The Land on multiple days each trip. Here's my list:

    5. The Garden Grill -- this is my favorite "splurge" at WDW, as it's waaaay more expensive than it should be, but I'll pay it anyway. The food is simple but very tasty, and I love the setting of the revolving restaurant that allows you to look inside my favorite ride at WDW (more about that later).
    4. Journey Into Imagination with Figment -- a shadow of its former self, but I still love it. I love the queue, I love the ride vehicles, and I love the story it tells. Eric Idle is great fun, and Figment is just the best. Whatever they do to this attraction when makeover time arrives for Future World, I hope the retain Figment and return the Dreamfinder in some way.
    3. Sunshine Seasons -- multiple meals are eaten here on every trip to WDW. At least one breakfast, one lunch, and several snacks. It's our favorite mid-afternoon break when we're tired and want to sit for while. The food is good and the selection is pretty eclectic, and we get to sit inside my favorite pavilion!
    2. Soarin' -- one of Disney's greatest attractions. We were blown away by it when DCA opened in 2001, and we were thrilled that it opened in Florida a couple of years later. The new film doesn't quite measure up to the original, but it's still an amazing experience. It's also one we don't do unless we have a FastPass, unless we're in the park at rope drop.
    1. Living with the Land -- my favorite attraction in all of WDW. I'm not really sure why I love it so much, but it still fascinates me, even after at least a hundred trips through those greenhouses. I make everyone go on it every time we set foot in Epcot. If Disney ever announces they're closing it, I'll probably chain myself to it to prevent the bulldozers from tearing it down.

    Hard to leave Turtle Talk with Crush or The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride off my list, or even the Pixar Festival of Animation, which is quite nice. I miss Captain EO, though, as that was such a huge part of Future World for me and I was beside myself with excitement when they brought it back. The new DVC Member Lounge in the glass pyramid at Imagination is also a new favorite spot, too. I really miss the old Image Works upstairs, but it's nice to be able to go up there again.

    I did have a fantastic meal at the Garden Grill. It was just my twin boys and me. The food is great. Fun characters and the changing scenery is a plus.

    Seems like we're on similar wavelengths here with the mid section of your list. I do enjoy Living With the Land. I would also hate to see it go, but I wonder, given the practically non-existent wait times, if Disney feels like it's fallen out of favor with the public.

  7. By Dave1313

    I've got to admit when I saw the first article and you described how you were going to split FW into 3 lists, I was wondering what things you might pick aside from the obvious E-Tickets.

    I'm enjoying the lists. While I don't have a particular love for Figment (probably because the first time I set foot in EPC I was nearly 40 years old ), but I don't dislike him (aside from maybe a minor complaint that too many passholder tee shirts, coins, pins, etc, always feature him - but I do understand why that is, with him being essentially the Epcot mascot).

    I'll need to keep an eye out for those jumping fountains next time. I'm pretty sure I've seen them, but I don't have a vivid memory of watching them for very long.

    While not interactive, I particularly like the fountain/waterfall that flows upwards right near Imagination Pavilion. (I have no idea what it's called if there is a formal name for this fountain) That to me is an imagination tweaker that says to me "how the heck did they engineer that?".

    I'm in agreement with the Seas. That aquarium is incredible IMO. Considering it is just one attraction in a Disney park and not at Sea World where that sort of thing is the main focus, it's a huge effort to create something on that scale. The fact that you can enjoy a meal while view part of it is also a winner for me. (Reminder to self - try to get lunch ADR at Coral Reef next trip )

    I would hope/think LWTL should be safe for a while since it shares the same pavilion with Soarin'. I don't have a perfect map of how they are laid out in my mind, but they certainly seem intertwined a bit. It would probably be a huge mess to gut LWTL without killing Soarin', Garden Grill, or Sunshine Seasons with it. I know it doesn't have "huge" lines, but are all attractions considered failures if you don't have to wait 90 minutes on standby? (I know LWTL never gets near that, but I am pretty sure I've seen it posted at more than half an hour at least once or twice)

    I haven't done Garden Grill, but I like the concept of the rotating restaurant. As we all know, too many restaurants, too few vacations to fit them all in.

    I would suspect the Imagination Pavilion might be more at risk with the rumored FW re-imagining. Then again, since I don't have the personal attachment to Figment, I may be underestimating how much the Imagineers may try to preserve that attraction in some form, so maybe it's relatively safe.

    I'll call out my personal 5 as follows for now:

    5 The fountain that flows upwards (that I don't know the name of.)
    4 Coral Reef
    3 Living With The Land
    2 The Seas (for the aquarium - ride is cool too, but the viewing areas are what earned this spot for me)
    1 Soarin'

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