Super Secret Epcot Tricks (well maybe not so secret – but still cool)

I love Disney – my mom and dad took us to Walt Disney World the month it opened. I went many times every year with my grandmother who took her entire kindergarten class and then as a mom I took my kids. I’ve been there easily more than 100 times. I can tell you where to get the best stuff to eat and the best ways to get around. Now my husband and I love to go to EPCOT and spend the day walking, enjoying the food and drinks and the beautiful landscaping.

1971 Dagny at Disney the month it opened

Tip #1 – get there at 11 instead of 9am when it opens. Go straight to the World Showcase side. Everyone does all the Future World stuff first in the morning then mid afternoon they head over to the World Showcase side. So if you do the opposite you’ll miss some of the crowds. If you do get there early they have a pretty good breakfast inside The Land at the Sunshine Seasons food court and Starbucks just opened at the Fountainview Cafe. First is was an awesome bakery/coffee shop then they messed it up and turned it into an ice cream parlor and now its a coffee shop again – but it’s to the right of the big fountain as you walk into the park just past the big ball – Spaceship Earth.

Tip #2 – if you want to ride Test Track – it’s fun most of it is silly but the end is great. It goes 65 mph around the track. I know that doesn’t sound that fast when you’re use to driving that in your car. But this is in a little go cart with no roof! Trust me, it’s fast. if you do want to ride it either stop on your way to the World Showcase and get a fast pass or ride single rider later in the day. Single riders get on much faster.

Tip #2a – if you have long hair, tie it back when you ride Test Track. Imagine sticking your head out of the window of a car when it’s going 65 mph – yeah it’s a mess after the ride and most people don’t carry brushes with them at theme parks – at least I don’t.

Tip #3 – if you did stop at Test Track to get a fast pass then walk through the fast pass kiosks and take a left at the Coke station and walk over the bridge towards the very outdated non-descript Odessey Building (I don’t know why they don’t do something with that – it’s so ugly) . You’re going to go around that. You’ll end up at the entrance to

Mexico

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Tip #4 – don’t waste your time on the margaritas at the outside stand they are slur-pees with a little bit of booze. Go inside to the awesome Tequila Bar (stop #1 on the drinking around the world tour!) La Cava del Tequila The inside of Mexico looks like you’re in a village market at night – Plaza de los Amigos. When it’s really hot outside (and it’s Florida so it’s hot a lot) This is a great place to go to cool off. They have some pretty cool stuff to buy as well. Silver jewelry, tequila, Kahlua, and Day of the Dead items. Inside the Aztec temple – as soon as you come down the ramp to the right you’ll see a Tequila Bar. Usually you can find a table sometimes there’s a line to get in. But it’s worth it. They have Jalapeno, Blood Orange, Cucumber, and Avocado Margaritas just to name a few. The guacamole and chips are great too. It’s usually busier late in the afternoon. And sometimes you’ll see a line but that’s just to walk in and order a drink. So be sure to check to see if there are any tables even if you see a line.

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 Here’s some pictures of the inside of the Mexican Pavilion

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Tip #5 – the quick service counter outside at Mexico La Cantina de San Angel is good too. It’s better than Taco Bell for sure. The guacamole there is good too and the empanadas.

Tip #6 – the restaurant inside the Aztec temple at the Mexican pavilion, San Angel Inn  is nice, it’s dark and quiet. But the one outside just past the quick service place is a good place to watch the fireworks, La Hacienda de San Angel. If you have the My Disney Experience app you can reserve a table, you can also reserve a table by clicking on the links and by calling.  Try to get a table at 8:30 pm so you are just finishing as the fireworks start. Inside the restaurant the whole wall along the water is windows so you have a really good view. The other great place is at the Rose and Crown restaurant in England. More on that later.

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Tip #7 – the boat ride Gran Fiesta Tour inside of the Aztec temple never has a line and it’s a nice relaxing ride. Part Jungle Cruise and part It’s a Small World. Nothing super exciting but again if you’re hot and tired its a great place to have a little rest. And if you’re with kids they will be entertained.

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Norway

Tip #8 – Norway is the next country, there’s a really cool old church, Stave Church Gallery, that has some interesting info about early Viking explorers. I don’t think people realize they can go in the church because no one is ever in there. But now that Frozen has opened they have a Frozen exhibit in there and it’s busier. The gift shop was slammed with kids wanting to meet the 2 princesses in the movie.

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Tip #9 – The boat ride at Norway – Maelstrom  is about the same as the ride at Mexico. Nothing spectacular but there is a little bit of excitement at the end.  Its definitely not worth waiting any longer than 15 minutes for though. Just keep checking back. If you go straight to Norway when you first get there, there probably won’t be a line. It gets longer as more people start to come over to the World Showcase side in the afternoon. The movie is nice and informative but if you’ve already seen it just walk straight through after you get off the ride.

Tip #10 – as you exit the ride and the gift shop they force you to walk through on the right you’ll see the bakery, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. It’s pretty good. They have sandwiches and pastries. And the eating area through the bakery is nice. It’s covered and cool. They also have beer and Aquavit (which is disgusting) which makes the Norway bakery #2 on the drinking around the world tour. The main restaurant in Norway is a buffet and has character dining (princesses) I ate there once years ago. I’m just not a buffet fan but here’s the link – Akershus Royal Banquet Hall it would be great for kids who want to eat with princesses.

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China

Tip #11 – China is next they have a movie and a reproduction of the Emperor’s Clay Army. The gift shop is kind of obnoxious. The employees are rude and follow you around. If you are looking for a cool Chinese tea pot or dishes they have a lot of that but most of the rest is stupid nick knacky stuff like little jade trees or tiny little statues of stuff.  They do have a nice area around the back of the pond that’s pretty and shaded.

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Tip #12 – they have a quick serve place with beer (stop #3 on the drink around the world tour) Lotus Blossom Café, or you can eat inside the restaurant Nine Dragons Restaurant .  It’s not much more than a typical Chinese restaurant but they really rush you. it’s not very relaxing. I think the little kiosk Joy of Tea on the main path also have beer  . They have tea and some Chinese snacks like pork dumplings too. I think the food options at the Lotus Blossom Café look better then the main restaurant and you can carry it over to the quiet spot near the water to enjoy it instead of paying more in the main restaurant to be rushed.

African Outpost 

Tip #13 – Over the bridge to the African Outpost. The only thing here really is ice cream. Which is a little hard to find at Epcot. It’s here and at the French Pavilion and I think they have it between the path to the Imagination Pyramid and Canada. The rest are just ice cream carts.

Germany

Tip #14 – the German Pavilion has beer of course (stop #4 on the drink around the world tour) but they also have this amazing apple liqueur and of course lots of wine. You sample wine in Weinkeller and the Sommerfest café has high end brats and beer. Currywurst with paprika chips and Grapefruit beer or German meatloaf, sauerkraut, swiss on rye.

Tip# 15 – They also make caramel popcorn in the Karamell-Kuche . The food inside the Biergarten Restaurant, not so much. Lots of meat and starches and not all that authentic. Which is a shame because the singing and entertainment in the hall is great but you can’t just go in you have to pay the $35 pp for the buffet and I’ve already noted my opinion of buffets.

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Tip #16 – the shops are pretty cool at Germany. They have great Christmas ornaments, Coo coo Clocks, lots of soccer items, dolls and bears. Don’t miss the little miniature train as you leave Germany it’s pretty cool and they change it up for different events. For the food and wine festival they have tiny little food booths.

Italy

Tip #17 – the Italian pavilion has several places to eat. A fancier restaurant Tutto Italia Ristorante , which I think is over priced and just ok. A family style place with pizza Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria which is really busy and loud – it’s at the very back of the pavilion. The place I like is the wine cellar next to the fancy restaurant. Walk into the pavilion past the round raised area in the middle, go up the stairs and you’ll see Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. Really cool place. Its dark and quiet. Ask for one of the couches and go after 4:30pm. After 4:30pm you can order off the menu from the fancy restaurant. They have a really great antipasti platter with a little of everything. But the snacks at the bar are really good and authentic too. Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar is stop #5 on the drink around the world tour. Great wine selection too.

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Tip #18 – the gift shop is ok. The one next to the restaurant just has smelly perfume, purses, and scarves – Il Bel Cristallo. The one opposite has wine, pastas, and kitchen type stuff they have some cute things there – La Bottega Italiana . There is no movie or ride in Italy but they have constant street performers. There’s also a Gelati cart. Get the Affogato it’s gelato with coffee poured over it.

America!

Tip #19 – the American pavilion movie – The American Adventure is great I definitely  recommend it. The food, not so much. It’s everything that’s wrong with American food. The Liberty Inn is quick service burgers, fries, and chicken tenders. Outside is actually funnel cakes! gross! They do have a Sam Adams kiosk (stop #6 drinking around the world) which is great with turkey legs (not so much). I really wish they would have the BBQ they served during the flower festival. It’s amazing, pulled pork with collard greens and corn bread. Why don’t they serve that in the restaurant! That’s real American food. Southern BBQ and greens, Northeastern lobster rolls, Southwestern Tex-Mex, and Cali salads.

Tip #20 – inside the building with the movie they sometimes have exhibits like at Christmas time they have gingerbread house. The gift shop to the right of the building Heritage Manor Gifts his really nice items, last time I was there they had Beekman 1802 products and in the past they’ve carried our local Magnolia Company products.

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Japan

Tip #21 – on to Japan, the Koi ponds are really nice. The shops have mostly junk in them but they do have some really crazy Japanese snack food. There’s a cool Anime museum to the left as you walk through the opening to the castle in the back of the pavilion – Bijutsu-kan Gallery. And they have sushi in the little tea house at the top of the Koi pond gardens – Katsura Grill. It’s a really pretty and quiet courtyard with lanterns.

Tip #22 – The sushi bar, Tokyo Dining  inside is also a good place to watch the fireworks – and the Sushi Bar is stop #7 on the drink around the world tour  – Saki. I like the sushi bar better than the regular restaurant –  Teppan-edo. It’s one of those places there they cook the food right in front of you. Then you smell like that the rest of the day. Not a fan.

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Morocco 

Tip #23 – the quick service restaurant at Morocco –  Tangierine Café is really good. They have really authentic and unique plates like the slider trio that has lamb chicken and falafel. They have a salad plate with hummus, pita, tabbouleh, lentil salad, and olive salad that I love. You order at the counter but there are nice places just outside to sit and eat. They also have a coffee bar and serve beer which is #8 on the drink around the world tour. The main restaurant is at the very back of the pavilion you have to meander through the alleys to find it – its kind of cool like if you were there in Morocco. The main restaurant – Restaurant Marrakesh has a belly dancer and the food there is also unique. Its good for kids too the belly dancer will get the kids out on the dance floor.

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They are currently working on something pretty big in the Moroccan pavilion I think it might be a restaurant that will be on the water – which would be another place to make reservations for dinner to watch the fireworks. It looked like it was almost done in December 2013.

Tip #24 – you can find rugs and baskets in the gift shops there are several – one right in the front, one just past the quick service place on the right and one on the left they each have slightly different things. Again you kind of meander through the streets. The only entertainment is the band and belly dancer they occasionally play on the stage on the main path.

France

Tip #25 – The bakery has recently been expanded and has great food – Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie. Its quick service and during normal meal times it can get pretty busy. But they have different kinds of sandwiches and salad and of course pastries. The tables inside are crowded and busy and the ones just outside are the same. Instead take your meal through the Arcade hallway into the garden on the other side. It’s always quiet.

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Tip #26 – there’s a wine kiosk on the main path in France that’s #9 on the drink around the world tour. They also have a crepe and ice cream kiosk that’s good too. The main restaurant is ok – Chefs de France . I think the food is better at some of the other restaurants. It’s really crowded and you feel rushed but several of the dishes are good.

Tip #27 – the movie is nice this is also a great place to relax, it’s cool and you’re are sitting down for about 30 min. They have several shops – perfume, kitchens items, and now a new ice cream parlor –  L’Artisan des Glaces where the bakery used to be.

United Kingdom

Tip #28 – the gardens behind the Twinnings Tea house are really nice and change often. Behind that is where they have free concerts.

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Tip #29 – The Rose and Crown Pub is great even though it’s next in line for the drink around the world tour I would save it for last. Go to Canada and have a Moosehead beer from the beer cart then come back to the pub. So the Rose and Crown Pub is actually #11 on the drink around the world tour. The food is really good in the restaurant. Shepherd’s and Fisherman’s pie, cheese and chutney board, potato leek soup. It’s right on the water so ask for a seat outside in the back if the weather is nice. This is a great place to watch the fireworks too. But book it early it’s always booked late in the evening. If you hang out in the pub for a little bit sooner or later a table will open up and you can spend the rest of your drinking tour here.

Tip #30 – There’s a really nice little area with tables next to the pub. We’ll go and get a Moosehead beer from Canada then come back and drink it here. The view of the water is nice. You can people watch. And it’s in the shade. The gift shops are cute soccer, Beatles, Winnie-the-Pooh etc. Plus perfume, tea, and china. They don’t have a movie or ride but they either concerts in the garden or street performers.

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Canada

Tip #31 – Moosehead beer – my husband’s favorite. The Canadian Pavillion is kind of small. There’s a gift shop with some cute things and the gardens are really pretty but you see most of it as you walk by on the main path. The movie is similar to China – you stand and watch. But it’s cool. Our favorite spot is under the willow tree in the garden below the beer cart. The Canadian beer cart is #10 on the drink around the world tour.

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And now onto Future World

Imagination Pavilion

Tip #32 – Since you’ll be coming from Canada take a left at the little path just after the walk up quick service place and bathrooms. This will take you to the Imagination Pavilion. The ride Journey Into Imagination is cute, again it’s a place to sit down inside for a while when it’s hot outside. Lots of animated characters singing.  After the ride the ImageWorks Labs is an interactive play area.

The Land

   Tip #33 – For some reason there is always a 90+ minute wait for Soarin‘ – it’s a simulated hang gliding ride. I wasn’t that impressed. But if you do want to ride it on your way into the park get a fast pass because they will be used up by the afternoon if you wait until then to ride it. And it’s not worth a 90 min wait that’s for sure. There’s a pretty cool gift shop next to where you check in for Soarin’ is has garden gifts.

Tip #34 – Living with the Land ride is pretty cool. You take a boat ride through different ecosystems then through their green houses where they grow all kinds of plants. There isn’t usually a long line here. If there’s one when you go by try back another time. It’s usually only 5-10 minutes long. You can also take a tour of the greenhouses – Behind the Seeds click here to find out more about making a reservation and the price. It was very interesting. The Circle of Life movie is depressing. It’s about how we are destroying the Earth.

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Tip #35 – The food court in The Land – Sunshine Seasons is good. They have everything from breakfast paninis and Muesli and yogurt to pumpkin squash soup, oak-grilled rotisserie chicken with black beans and rice, roasted pork chop with cheddar mashed potatoes, and spicy cashew chicken with vegetable stir-fry noodles. They also have quick grab items like hummus and veggies, fruit, and cheese and cracker, or desserts and espresso. It’s very noisy and chaotic in the dining area though. We can usually find a little corner somewhere with less people. You might be able to carry the food outside and find a spot to picnic I haven’t ever tried though.

Tip #36 – The sit down restaurant in The Land is The Garden Grill nice place – it rotates as you eat and you have a view of the Living with the Land ride. It’s served family style to your table and is all you can eat. Good home cooking – roast beef, turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies etc. Chip “n” Dale visit as well.

The Living Seas

Tip #37 – You can either enter to the side or through The Seas with Nemo & Friends there isn’t usually a wait for this ride so we usually go in this way. Once you’re inside its a huge aquarium with sharks, turtles, dolphins, manatees, and tons of fish. They do several demonstrations as well.  Turtle Talk with Crush is kind of amazing. I have no idea how the cartoon interacts with the audience like that.

Tip #38 – The Coral Reef Restaurant – not a great seafood restaurant but the view is great. You eat in front of the aquarium.

The Breezeway from the West Side of Future World to the Center

Tip #39 – Meet Disney Pals on the right and Innovations West is on the left as you go through the breezeway. Innovations has lots of cool interactive activities that you can participate in or if you just want to sit down and the kids are still ready to go there are places for parents to sit while the kids play.

The Center of Future World

Tip #40 – The Fountain View Café / Starbucks and Club Cool are here. I’ve already talked about Starbucks and really what is there to say – it’s Starbucks. But Club Cool is sponsored by Coca-Cola. They have Coke merchandise but they also have soft drink dispensers so you can sample – for free – different kinds of sodas from different countries. There’s one that is awful and it’s kind of fun to wait and watch the next person taste it and get the same look on their face that you just got. I can’t remember which one it is and even if I did I would tell!

Tip #41 – Spaceship Earth is here. By now the line should have dwindled to nothing. If it’s a really busy time like during the holidays there may still be a 15 min wait. If you’ve waited until the mid afternoon and there’s still a line just suck it up and go. It’s not going to get any shorter if it hasn’t already. It’s a great ride and at the end there’s an interactive program so you can see your face in a funny cartoon. So when they take your picture at the beginning of the ride make a funny face it makes the cartoon funnier. There’s also interactive games to play when you get off the ride as well.

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The Breezeway from the Center of Future World to the East Side

Tip #42 – Another Meet the Disney Pals location, a huge gift shop with all kinds of character merchandise, and The Electric Umbrella restaurant is here on the right. Basically your typical fast food restaurant but with some good choices like veggie flat bread. Innovations East is on the left.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Tip #43 – Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a really long ride. I think a total of 30 minutes. You wait in a dark room on the floor watching a little movie with Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy then get in a moving vehicle and ride through animatronic dinosaurs. Its a great ride but long. Really little kids might be frightened or might get antsy since it’s so long. The elementary school age will love it and the teenagers will fall asleep.

Mission: SPACE

Tip #44 – Mission: Space is amazing but not for a weak stomach. It’s a simulated ride but they get the simulation by spinning around like one of those fair rides that pin you to the wall. It really feels like you are blasting off in a rocket. But about halfway through when you are floating in space if you get motion sickness you will start to feel sick. Fortunately the ride is almost over at that point. It’s worth dealing with the slight nausea to do it once because it’s so amazing.

Test Track

Tip #45 – Test Track – you should have already gotten a fast past for this or you’ll need to ride single rider. Which is really no big deal. You won’t be talking to who ever you’re with while your on the ride and you’ll get through the line in just a few minutes. Like I said earlier – the end is great!

And here you are back where you started this morning.

Holidays Around the World

During the holidays each of the countries has a special stage set up and they have some kind of holiday character telling a story – some you’ll recognize Kris Kringle and St Nicholas and some you won’t The Monkey King. They also have special treats like holiday cookies or gingerbread lattes.

The Candlelight Processional is in the Theater at the American Pavilion. They have the Christmas Story narrated by a Celebrity (big ones) accompanied by a 50 piece orchestra and mass choir. I’m not a church person but I have to say the performance is moving.  The line to get a seat starts hours before and goes on forever. But you can watch just from the main path. It’s free. They have a deal where you can do a dinner package and get VIP seating but the line for the VIP seating was just as long as the other line and they got to eat where ever they wanted. I don’t think it’s worth it.

A Gospel group sings next to the fountain several times in Future World. They are great! Really puts you in the holiday spirit.

General Info

So that takes you all the way around the world. To see the menus for all the restaurants and to make reservations go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/ you can filter the options to refine your search to just Epcot and then click on the restaurant to see a menu and pictures and make a reservation.

This link will take you to the special events page so you can see when the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is or the Flower and Garden Festival – https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/#/sports,holiday-events,special-events/

This link will take you to the attractions in the park https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/. Because I haven’t named all of them.

When you are buying tickets really look at all the options. It’s always cheaper to buy for more than one day. If you tack on the Park Hopper option you can go from park to park in the same day. Very handy if you’re done at Epcot and want to take the boat over to see the Osborne Family Lights at Hollywood Studios. They have snow, hot chocolate, and an amazing light show. But don’t get there right when they turn the lights on a huge crowd of people all herd there way onto the street. Once the initial crowd is in it loosens up and you can move around. So just wait about 20 minutes then head over there.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!