Walt Disney World/Epcot

At Epcot, you can visit Mexico, France, and China, all in the same afternoon; survive crash tests in an experimental car; soar over California with the wind in your hair; and learn all about human achievement and international cooperation.

Comprising World Showcase and Future World, this expansive theme park is located in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, close to several luxurious hotels as well as the dining and entertainment district called Disney's BoardWalk.

Understand

"To all who come to this place of Joy, Hope and FriendshipWelcome. EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere." E. Cardon Walker, October 24, 1982

Walt Disney World's second theme park opened October 1, 1982, as EPCOT Center, joining the Magic Kingdom. Often likened to a "permanent world's fair", Epcot is divided into two distinct areas, Future World and World Showcase.

World Showcase features eleven different countries, focusing on authentic food and merchandise, each one hosted by citizens of that country. Don't miss the impossibly cheesy but fun Mexico ride, or the inspirational American Adventure stage show.

Future World comprises a variety of attractions, each one highlighting one aspect of human progress. The "future" in this case is not the fantasy of the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, but the promise of a future in which communication, imagination, and conservation have become mankind's foremost values. Test Track and Mission: SPACE are the most thrilling of the attractions. The latest addition is Soarin', a simulated hang-gliding adventure through Californian landscapes.

Epcot is sometimes derided as an "educational park", and though it is perhaps the most cerebral of the four theme parks, it's all presented in the usual entertaining Disney style. It's true that Epcot may appeal more to adults and older children, but young ones aren't exactly left out; they'll enjoy the character greetings and the Kidcot Fun Stops as well as the more colorful and character-filled rides like The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

Just outside Epcot's International Gateway is Disney's BoardWalk, a nightlife and shopping area themed as a mid-Atlantic beach community.

History

The original EPCOT

Learn more about Walt Disney's original EPCOT concept at the-original-epcot.com, or ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover in the Magic Kingdom, where you can see a scale model of the planned city.

The name EPCOT was originally an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, Walt Disney's last and most ambitious project. His grand vision for EPCOT was as the real centerpiece of Disney Worlda living, working city of the future, with 20,000 residents using the most modern innovations in urban planning, transportation, and technology. The rest of Disney World, even the Magic Kingdom, would exist only to draw people in to see EPCOT and the promise it held for the future.

Walt died in 1966, and though the renamed Walt Disney World and its Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, EPCOT was off the table. The vision was just too grand, too ambitious, for anyone but Walt himself to see through to completion. With Walt Disney World an unmitigated success, though, the company soon began developing concepts for a second theme park, and naturally turned to Walt's original vision for inspiration. When two competing proposalsone for a set of pavilions highlighting the history and future of human progress, and the other for an international plaza that showcased cultures and cooperationbecame the leading candidates, someone pushed the two scale models together to create a combined park. EPCOT Center was born.

That name, with which the park opened in 1982, was intended to show that the new park exhibited the ideals that were to be at the core, or center, of Walt's EPCOT. The park was renamed in 1994 to Epcot '94, then to Epcot '95 a year later. The yearly numbering scheme reflected the "world's fair" theme, but it inhibited consistent branding, so in 1996 the park became just "Epcot".

While the original EPCOT concept might now seem a bit far-fetched, today's Epcot is dedicated to creating the brighter tomorrow that Walt Disney envisioned.

Get in

The park-like setting of Future World West

Epcot's two areas are open at staggered times. Future World usually opens at 9AM, and World Showcase at 11AM. If you're heading to Akershus in Norway for the Princess Breakfast, you can get through the barriers earlier, of course. Despite being in World Showcase, the International Gateway opens at the same time as the main entrance; if you come in that way, you'll be able to walk past the United Kingdom and Canada on your way to Future World, although the shops won't be open.

In off-peak periods, some Future World attractions close down at 7PM, though the most popular "marquee" rides stay open until IllumiNations at 9PM. World Showcase almost always closes at 9PM. During peak periods, all of Epcot is generally open until 9PM.

Due to the staggered opening, Epcot's Extra Magic Hours work a little differently than at the other parks. Morning Extra Magic Hours allow Disney hotel guests access to the most popular Future World attractions, while evening Extra Magic Hours see a somewhat larger selection of attractions, including some in World Showcase, stay open. A number of the restaurants continue to seat guests during Extra Magic Hours as well.

By car

Epcot is in the middle of the Walt Disney World property, exactly where Walt planned EPCOT to be. Take World Drive or I-4 to Epcot Center Drive and follow the signs for the parking lot. Parking is $20 per car, although Disney resort guests can park for freejust show your resort parking pass at the toll gate.

If you're going to Disney's BoardWalk, you can park for free at the BoardWalk Inn or BoardWalk Villas. During popular events or peak periods at Epcot, parking at the Disney-owned Epcot-area resorts may be restricted to registered hotel guests and guests with reservations at the resorts' businesses.

By Disney transportation

From Hollywood Studios and Epcot-area resorts

Disney's Hollywood Studios, the BoardWalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Swan and Dolphin, and Epcot are all connected via the Friendship ferries. There is also a nice wide walking path that follows a similar route. In either case, you will enter Epcot through its back entrance: the International Gateway, located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in World Showcase. Alternatively, a bus is available from the Studios that goes to Epcot's main entrance.

From the Magic Kingdom and nearby resorts

From the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian, take the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). (You can also take the ferry from the Magic Kingdom, or walk from the Grand Floridian or Polynesian.) Transfer to the Epcot monorail, which runs between the TTC and the Epcot gates. When entering Epcot this way, the monorail makes a nice loop in the park before arriving at the station, giving a great aerial view of Future World and World Showcase.

From the Wilderness Lodge and Shades of Green, neither of which is connected to the monorail, it is possible to walk to the TTC. Both walks take about 10 minutes, and the walk from Shades of Green goes via the Polynesian Resort. However, the alternative and more convenient option is to take the direct Epcot bus.

To get to the BoardWalk, make your way to the Magic Kingdom and take the direct bus, or go to Hollywood Studios and walk or take the ferry. Taking the monorail to Epcot in this case is a bad idea, because you'll have to enter Epcot at the front and exit through the International Gateway at the back.

From other on-property resorts

From resorts not near Epcot or the Magic Kingdom, simply go to your resort's bus stop and wait for the Epcot bus to arrive. You will be dropped off in front of the Epcot gates.

To get to the BoardWalk, you'll need to make your way to a park and then to the BoardWalk. Disney's Hollywood Studios is the most convenient for this purpose, but late at night, you'll want to use Disney Springs.

From Animal Kingdom

From Animal Kingdom, take the direct bus to Epcot or the one to the BoardWalk.

From Disney Springs

Disney Springs does not have direct buses to the parks; you will need to make your way to a resort, then go from that resort to Epcot. The best option here might be to take the bus to the Beach Club, which is the closest hotel to the Epcot, then take the Friendship or the walking path to the International Gateway. Another option is to walk or take the boat to the Saratoga Springs resort, then the bus to Epcot.

If you're going to the BoardWalk, just take the direct bus.

Get around

Map of Epcot

Epcot might be the easiest of the parks to get around, because it's very open and spacious. The spaciousness has a drawback, though; because the pavilions are spread out, it can be a long walk from one side of the park to the other. Spaceship Earth is visible from anywhere in the park and provides a convenient orientation landmark.

Future World is the northern half of Epcot and where the main entrance is found. From the main entrance, Spaceship Earth is directly in front of you, with Innoventions hiding behind it. Future World EastUniverse of Energy, Mission: SPACE, and Test Trackis on the left side of Future World. Future World West is on the right and comprises The Seas with Nemo & Friends, The Land, and Imagination!

Go past Spaceship Earth and through Innoventions Plaza and you'll see the World Showcase Lagoon front of you, with the eleven nations of World Showcase arrayed around the far shore. From left to right (east to west), the pavilions are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The International Gateway, Epcot's "back entrance", is between France and the United Kingdom; exit here to get to the BoardWalk and the other Epcot-area resorts, or to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The World Showcase Lagoon has a circumference of roughly a mile. To make a long trip short, there are two more Friendship ferries (yes, just like the ones you took to get here from Hollywood Studios or the resorts) that traverse the lagoon.

See and Do

Spaceship Earth

The icon of Epcot is Spaceship Earth, a 180-foot (55 m) geodesic sphere. Both the name and the building were influenced by the work of R. Buckminster Fuller, though he was not credited for it. The name comes from Fuller's book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The building has a similar texture to the Fuller-designed Montreal Biosphere (the former United States pavilion from Expo 67) in Canada, but in fact the two are not structurally similar. Spaceship Earth is a complete sphere supported on legs, while the Montreal Biosphere is three-quarters of a sphere.

When it opened, Epcot had no thrill rides at all. Although that's been changing, you'll find that the majority of attractions are still fairly sedate dark rides or straightforward films. That's not to say they're not worth doing, but you're in the wrong park if you just want to get your adrenaline pumping. Epcot does have two high-octane thrill rides, Test Track and Mission: SPACE, while Soarin' offers excitement in smaller doses.

FastPass, the system that allowed you to go to an attraction and get a ticket to come back later and skip the standby queue, is no longer available. All Epcot guests will be using FastPass+, where you choose your own return time for each of three attractions. FastPass+ queues are available for virtually every ride in the park, along with some shows, character greetings, and IllumiNations. Note that Test Track, Soarin', and Mission: SPACE have been known to have wait times of over two hours during peak seasons, making FastPass+ reservations very worthwhile. On the other hand, FastPass+ could be used to get into a preferred viewing location for IllumiNations; choose carefully!

Future World FastPass+ kiosks are located at Guest Relations near Spaceship Earth, at Soarin', at Mission: SPACE, at the Wait Times Board near the fountain, and at the walkway near The Land. World Showcase kiosks are at the International Gateway. As FastPass+ is new, cast members are stationed at nearly every major attraction; they have tablets and can help you schedule your FastPass+ reservations if the kiosks are too confusing, or not convenient. If you're staying at a Disney resort, you can also use a smartphone with the My Disney Experience app to schedule your FastPass+ reservations.

For parade and stage show performance times, which change daily, please see the Guide Map and the Times Guide you'll receive when you enter the park. You can also check the Wait Times Board in Innoventions Plaza, which lists current wait times for rides and show times for shows.

The denotes rides with safety restrictions. See Stay safe in the main Walt Disney World article for more information.

Future World

Future World is an almost park-like setting, with broad expanses of grass and/or water separating the impressively large pavilions. Each pavilion is a monument to one area of human innovation, from communication and imagination to energy and transportation. Inside the pavilions you'll find some combination of a showcase ride, a theater presentation, and/or an activity area with a number of smaller hands-on exhibits. Each pavilion can be done in 3090 minutes, depending on crowds.

Check the Times Guide to see when and where the JAMMitors will be playingthey're a percussion ensemble disguised as janitors, using their trash cans as drums.

Imagination!

Imagine what you might find underneath those glass pyramids!

The name says it all; the possibilities of imagination are on display here. The pavilion represents the importance of new ideas and innovative thought to the progress of humanity. Be sure to check out the jumping fountains and the backwards waterfall outside.

Innoventions

Divided into two buildings, Innoventions East and Innoventions West, this pavilion sits in the middle of Future World, with the fabulous Fountain of Nations in its central plaza. The buildings contain a constantly-changing series of hands-on exhibits featuring the latest in cutting-edge technology and how it's finding its way into every aspect of our lives. The exact items you'll see depend on which companies are exhibiting at the time; as such, quality varies widely. Worth a walk-through, at least, since you never know what might pique your curiosity.

The Land

Mickey-shaped pumpkins don't just grow that way naturally, you know.

Perhaps the pavilion that most closely resembles Walt's original EPCOT concept, The Land is more than just a set of theme park attractions. The rear of the pavilion is actually a large working greenhouse, and it grows much of the food served at the pavilion's restaurants (and some items for other restaurants throughout Walt Disney World). The greenhouses are also involved in agricultural research, exploring new ways to grow food more efficiently.

Mission: SPACE

Horizons

The site now occupied by Mission: SPACE was formerly occupied by Horizons, a ride sponsored by General Electric that gave riders a glimpse of living in the 21st century (well, at least from a 1980's perspective). Horizons opened to the public in 1983 and closed in 1999; the building was then razed to make way for a new space-themed pavilionthe one that stands here today. Learn more about the ride at Horizons at Epcot Center

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Where's Nemo?

The aquarium within this pavilion was once the largest saltwater aquarium in the world; it's still impressively huge. Like the greenhouses at The Land, this is more than just a theme park attractionthe aquarium staff is engaged in research that is helping to maintain marine environments and protect ecosystems around the world. Two rescued West Indian manatees, members of one of Florida's most critically endangered species, can be found here.

Tours

There are a number of tours that get you out of the normal guest areas and in close on the aquarium and its inhabitants. Call +1 407 WDW-TOUR (939-8687) to book a tour. No park admission is required for these tours; you'll meet outside the gates and be escorted into the backstage area of The Seas pavilion.

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth

Yes, the ride really does go all the way up to the top inside that giant "golf ball", the geodesic sphere that is the icon of Epcot. This pavilion is centrally located because its focus is on human communication, without which all of the other innovations in Future World would be meaningless.

Test Track

World of Motion

The circular building, meant to symbolize a wheel, that now houses Test Track previously hosted World of Motion, a ride through the history of transportation. Revisit it at the World of Motion Memorial Website

Universe of Energy

The very construction of this pavilion exemplifies its message regarding the importance of energy. Look up at the sloped roof of this building before you go in; those are solar panels, and they partially power the attraction inside.

World Showcase

The host nation's pavilionthe American Adventure

World Showcase is the back area of the park, with pavilions representing eleven countries from around the world, all themed with architecture, food, drink and culture to match. Most of the pavilions have a ride or a film (or both) designed to highlight the nation's attractions, but the real attractions are sampling the authentic food, conversing with the cast members who come from each nation, and browsing the imported goods.

World Showcase is where you'll find the International Gateway, Epcot's back entrance, located between the United Kingdom and France pavilions. If you're coming in from Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Swan/Dolphin, Yacht/Beach Clubs, or BoardWalk, you can walk or take the ferry to Epcot and enter here.

Each of the pavilions will have some sort of entertainment occurring periodically throughout the day, from jugglers and "living statues" to musical groups and dancers. Some of the highlights are noted below, but check your Times Guide for the details of what's happening on any particular day.

I can show you the world

Some of your favorite Disney characters can be met at their respective home countries represented in World Showcase. A few examples:

  • United Kingdom: Winnie the Pooh
  • France: Beauty and the Beast
  • Morocco: Aladdin
  • Italy: Pinocchio
  • Germany: Snow White
  • China: Mulan
  • Mexico: The Three Caballeros

Mexico

The Mexican pavilion is dominated by a pyramid, loosely modeled after the pre-Columbian pyramid in Teotihuacan known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, dating back to 150-200 CE. Its use is still a mystery, but more than 200 sacrificial burials have been found around the original temple. The head of the mythical serpent creature Quetzalcoatl has been included in this replica along the entrance stairs. Inside the pyramid is a nighttime square with stars twinkling above, some Spanish-era colonial buildings, a restaurant, and a market selling various Mexican items.

Norway

The Stave Church at Norway

This area is built as a square representing a few Norwegian towns. The fortress-like restaurant building is modeled and named after the Akershus fortress in Oslo, guarding the sea approach to the city. The huge wooden church, which hosts rotating exhibits, is a replica of the traditional Stave Church in Gol in Western Norway, dating back to 1212; the original is one of very few surviving ancient wooden churches left in the world. The current exhibit is Norsk Kultur, Inspiration for Disney's Frozen. A mock-up of a Viking longboat sits outside and serves as a playground for kids.

The popular Maelstrom ride closed in 2014 so that Imagineers can redesign the space to recount the adventures of Frozen's Anna and Elsa. The new ride is expected to open in early 2016.

China

Walk through the large Paifang gate. These gates were used in ancient China to mark entry into a new division (called Fang in Chinese), and this one is a replica of one in Beijing's summer palace. The courtyard is dominated by a large recreation of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing; it was used by the emperors to pray for a good harvest. The 12 columns supporting the roof represent the 12 months of the Chinese year, and the four columns in the center represent the four seasons. Many of the smaller buildings are recreations of the Forbidden City, also in Beijing. If all the Asian culture gets you in a meditative mood, the rough Chinese gardens are one of the most peaceful spots in Epcot.

Germany

Germany is a federation of 16 states, each with a separate and distinct culture and identity. The architecture of the German pavilion reflects styles from various regions of the country; for example, the Biergarten restaurant is Bavarian, but the statue of St. George slaying the dragon represents the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Of course, the influence of German architecture on Disney parks goes all the way back to 1955; Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, commissioned in 1869 by King Ludwig II, was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.

There are no rides here, and the only show is the band inside the Biergarten, but there's plenty of shopping to be had.

Italy

The Italian pavilion is a scaled-down replica of St. Mark's Square in Venice, right down to the bell tower (one-fifth scale) and the gondolas floating in World Showcase Lagoon. The original Doge's Palace makes heavy use of marble; Disney recreated the effect with fiberglass. In addition to the Venetian architecture, a stucco building with tile roof represents Tuscany.

The pavilion has no rides or theater shows; the main attractions are the shops and the restaurants. You might also catch the World Showcase Players performing their audience-participation comedy skit Kiss Me Shrew. You can also see a flag-throwing show called Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro, several times daily.

The American Adventure

The United States of America pavilion is housed in a building inspired by the colonial period of the 18th century. Inside, keep an ear out for the legendary harmonies of the Voices of Liberty a capella chorus, performing throughout the day; they're rightfully considered the pinnacle of Epcot entertainment. Check the Times Guide for details.

Japan

Mitsukoshi, a Japanese retailer founded in 1673, is the sponsor of the Japan pavilion. All the touristy classics of Japan are recreated, in a way that has little to do with reality. Start your visit by walking through the Torii gate. In Japan you walk through these gates before entering a Shinto shrine, to mark the passing into the spiritual world. The five-story Goju-no-to Pagoda was inspired by the Horyuji Temple in Nara, Japan's ancient capital. Rather oddly, it is named after the five Chinese elements, but built in five stories to represent the 5 Japanese elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. Surrounding it all is a large Japanese inspired garden, complete with koi fish swimming around in the ponds.

Morocco

The recreation of the Koutoubia Minaret at Morocco

Morocco's is the only pavilion sponsored by a government. King Hassan II was heavily involved in the construction, and he dispatched native craftsmen to build the pavilion. The minaret (or tower) towering over the area is a recreation of the unique Koutoubia Minaret in Marrakech, which has inspired thousands of church towers across Europe. In Muslim countries priests call for prayers (fard) from these towers five times a day. The pavilion also holds a small recreation of parts of the Chellah necropolis, a burial place located in Rabat that is actually an ancient Roman structure. There is also a replica of the Nejjarine fountain in Fez, a very intricate mosaic fountain. Also from Fez, the evenly-tiled Bab Boujouloud gate marks the border between the old town (the Medina) and the new town. Inside the Medina, there is a bustling market place, or bazaar. Because many of the structures, even as replicas, holds great religious significance to Muslims, the buildings are not lighted during the IllumiNations show.

France

The French pavilion re-creates a Parisian street scene, complete with a miniature Eiffel Tower that uses forced perspective to appear as if it's off in the distance. Designed to represent Paris during La Belle Epoque, the pavilion features many of the typical Parisian sightsa sidewalk cafe, beautiful fountains, and distinctive architecture. There's a park, next to the International Gateway canal, based on Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Le Petit Rue, The Little Street in the back of the pavilion, represents rural France.

The World Showcase Players stop by France now and then, performing their comedic audience-participation skit, Cyranose de Bergerac. Serveur Amusant! is a humorous acrobatic show played out on the street of the pavilion five times a week.

United Kingdom

This pavilion's street contains one building for each century of British history. The largest structure, a recreation of the royal Hampton Court Palace in southwest London, is massive patchwork of different periods' architecture, since it was successively expanded to compete with the French palace of Versailles. Elsewhere the adorable little thatched roof house is a model of Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. Anne was the wife of William Shakespeare. There is also a traditional hedge maze, modelled after the Somerleyton Hall Maze in Lowestoft, which dates back to 1846. Don't forget to get a photo of yourself in front of the iconic red British phone booths.

A couple of musical groups can be found gracing the United Kingdom stage. Quickstep is a quartet playing traditional but up-tempo Irish, Scottish, and English melodies. The British Revolution is a tribute band playing "British Invasion" pop and rock music from the 1960s and 70s. Check the Times Guide for the schedule.

Canada

The mountains, Indian wood carvings, and the (fake) hotel all represent various regions of Canada. Victoria Gardens was inspired by Butchart Gardens in Victoria in British Columbia, while the Hotel du Canada features a 19th-century chateau-style design. Around the base of the hotel is a village-like atmosphere evoking the Maritime Provinces. The totem pole was carved in 1998 by David Boxley, working "on-stage" in front of guests at the Canada pavilion.

Between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions is the Mill Stage, where (at least through the end of 2015) you can find the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, sharing Canadian holiday traditions and music.

Parkwide

IllumiNations

Where to watch IllumiNations

Try not to worry too much about finding the ideal viewing location for Epcot's fireworks show; Reflections of Earth can be enjoyed from just about any location around World Showcase Lagoon. You might struggle to see a few small parts of the show from certain vantage points, but you won't miss anything essential as long as you can see most of the lagoon. The shore closest to Future World is always packed with spectators, including up to the United Kingdom on the west side and Norway on the east; as you get further around the lagoon, though, crowd density decreases. Try, for instance, the space between Germany and the Outpost, which provides an excellent view of the spectacle but is often nearly empty just 15 minutes before showtime. Some areas (particularly promontories) that you may have earmarked as good viewing spots earlier in the day are often closed off for large parties and corporate events, while some locations (marked on guidemaps) are reserved for disabled visitors. Restaurants with a view of World Showcase Lagoonparticularly the Rose & Crown Pub and La Hacienda de San Angelfill up quickly around IllumiNations time, so ADRs are virtually required (and very hard to get).

Tours

Some very popular tours are available at The Land and, especially, at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. There is also a park-wide tour. All tours can be booked by calling +1 407 WDW-TOUR (939-8687).

For the park-wide tour, you will need separate admission to the park.

Annual events

Epcot is home to two annual festivals, several concert series, and an annual holiday presentation. Both of the festivals have things to see and do throughout the park, while the Candlelight Processional is a nightly event at one location. All three are quite popular; some people make it a point to attend one or more of these each year, sometimes without even visiting the rest of Walt Disney World. The concert series are more of a bonus to visitors who are already there (in particular, two of them coincide with the festivals) but if the timing's right, you're in for a treat.

Disney's BoardWalk

Disney's BoardWalk is just a short walk or ferry ride beyond Epcot's International Gateway. It's a resort, yes, but the side facing Crescent Lake is themed as a 1920s Eastern Seaboard boardwalk, with shops, amusements, dining, and nighttime entertainment. Rent a pedaled "surrey bike" and circle the lake, purchase a caricature of yourself, watch an impromptu magic show, buy some cotton candy, or just sit on a bench and watch the people go by. Be sure to check out the Buy, Eat, and Drink sections for all the details.

Fantasia Gardens

Buy

A street in the United Kingdom pavilion; the buildings look different, but they all contain the same thing: retail.

World Showcase is a paradise of international shopping. Every pavilion is chock-full of authentic merchandise imported from the host countries. Genuine German cuckoo clocks, British toys, Canadian maple syrup, Japanese kimonos, Chinese furniture, Mexican leathers, Italian winesand that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what's available. The variety of items available is nearly endless. The racks are full of products normally available only overseas, including many handcrafted by native artisans. Dedicated shoppers could spend hours at World Showcase; it's safe to say there's no other place in the world that you could find goods from so many countries in such close proximity, and you can buy it all with just your U.S. credit card.

Note that in the pavilions, what appears to be multiple separate shops from the outside are usually interconnected inside and can be treated as departments of a single store. Germany, Morocco, France, and the UK have the most extensive shopping complexes.

Some World Showcase stores, including Mitsukoshi, sell real knives and swords. For safety, these stores are required to ship such purchases to your home (free to U.S. addresses).

While World Showcase is like a huge international shopping plaza, Future World is considerably less interesting to the intrepid shopper. It has only two stores of note:

The Mission: SPACE, Test Track, Imagination!, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions have smaller themed gift shops.

Epcot-area resorts

Resort shops are generally open from mid-morning until late at night, though this can vary seasonally.

Disney's BoardWalk

There are a number of small shops and boutiques scattered along the BoardWalk. A couple of the more notable:

Other resorts

Each of the resorts has a small sundries shop with essentials you might need during your stay and resort-branded merchandise. The Walt Disney World Dolphin, though, has a number of other shops with upscale merchandise.

Eat

Epcot Resorts Area

As with their shopping options, the international flavors of the World Showcase pavilions really come to the fore when it comes to dining. Each of the World Showcase pavilions (except the United States) has a table service restaurant, featuring authentic dishes prepared by native chefs. In addition, some of the restaurants even have live entertainment, such as belly dancing in the Morocco pavilion or teppanyaki cooking in the Japan pavilion. World Showcase restaurants are almost universally among the most popular at Walt Disney World, due to their authentic cuisines; Advance Dining Reservations are highly recommended, at least for evening dining.

Future World pales in comparison, dining-wise, but there are still a few good options. The resorts are loaded with great restaurants, including two "Signature Restaurants".

See Eat in the main Walt Disney World article for information on the Disney restaurant pricing system, character dining, dietary restrictions, and advance dining reservations. The telephone numbers below are for extraordinary circumstances only; for reservations and most health or diet issues, call the main Disney Dining number at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Please note that exact opening and closing times may vary with the park hoursand that World Showcase's operating hours are generally two hours later than Future World's. Check your Times Guide for official restaurant hours. Breakfast is usually served until 10:30AM, and dinner usually starts between 3:30PM and 4:30PM.

Counter service

Table service

Profiteroles au Chocolat at Chefs de France

Note: if two prices are separated by a slash, the second price is for children ages 3–9.

Disney's BoardWalk

Nothing like a twilight stroll along the boardwalk.

Here you can find plenty of traditional boardwalk fare: corn dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes, popcorn, ice cream, and so on. If you're in the mood for something more substantial, though, you have a wide range of restaurant options, too.

Disney's Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Note that these restaurants do not participate in the Disney Dining Plan. The Swan and Dolphin restaurants share a web site, reservations phone number (+1 407 934-1609), and e-mail address (dining@swandolphin.com). Reservations for the table service restaurants can also be made though Disney Dining, like any other Disney restaurant.

Drink

Japan pavilion in World Showcase

Some Epcot visitors enjoy an unofficial adventure known as "Drinking Around the World": sampling a local libation in each of the eleven pavilions. From Mexican margaritas to German beer to French wines, there's no shortage of variety here. (For a sober version of "drinking around the world" visit Club Cool in Innoventions, which gives away free samples of products marketed internationally by Coca-Cola.)

All of the table service restaurants in the World Showcase pavilions serve native alcoholic beverages. Some World Showcase gift shops (such as Weinkeller in the Germany pavilion) sell alcohol in bottles; your selection will be sealed in a gift box that must not be opened if you want to remove it from the park. You can arrange for shipping to your hotel room or back home if you don't want to lug it around.

Of course, sometimes you just want a cup of coffee. You can stop by the bakeries in the France and Norway pavilions, or drop by Innoventions and visit Starbucks.

Disney's BoardWalk

Sleep

The Walt Disney World Dolphin

Five upscale resorts are clustered between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, all of them connected by wide, scenic walkways and by the Friendship ferries that ply the waterways. The BoardWalk and the Yacht and Beach Clubs sit on opposite sides of Crescent Lake, while the Swan and Dolphin sit a little closer to the Studios, facing each other. Staying at any of these resorts means you have easy access to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, as well as to the many attractions on the BoardWalk and the small marina on Crescent Lake.

You'll pay for the privilege of location, though, and rooms do fill up fast. This is especially true at the Yacht and Beach Clubs, which share Stormalong Bay, the best hotel pool at Walt Disney World. Featuring sandy, zero-entry beaches, twisting and turning water channels, gentle waterfalls, and a water slide fashioned out of a shipwreck, Disney has had to carefully restrict access to this pool; don't even think about getting in if you're not staying at one of the Clubs.

All of the resorts provide the highest level of service and amenities available at Walt Disney World. You'll find dedicated concierge services, mini-bars and refrigerators, turn-down service, upscale restaurants and shopping, and everything else you'd expect from luxury hotels. Each hotel also has some high-end suites available, all the way up to "Presidential"-level.

Swan and Dolphin

These two buildings face each other across a narrow waterway, each whimsically designed by architect Michael Graves to complement each other without looking like twins. These hotels are great choices for visitors who want a more traditional (that is, less "themed") hotel experience but retain most of the benefits of staying on-property at Walt Disney World.

The Swan and the Dolphin are not owned or operated by Disney; they are owned by Starwood Hotels. As such, you will miss out on many of the normal amenities granted by staying at a Disney resort: the Disney Dining Plan and Disney's Magical Express are unavailable, and you can't charge purchases at Disney shops and restaurants to your room. On the other hand, you still get many of the other advantages of staying on-property, including free transportation, guaranteed park admission, Extra Magic Hours, and package delivery. The hotels also offer character meals at their restaurants, just like the other Disney resorts.

In short, you won't forget you're staying at Walt Disney Worldbut you won't be reminded of it constantly, either.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 03, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.