Five Family Tips for a Busy Day at EPCOT


EPCOT has never held much appeal for Ryan Jacobson—at least not as much as the other parks. However, his wife and oldest son love it. They’re more into all the different foods than any thrill rides.

Jonah, Lora, and Lucas beginning their day at EPCOT

The Jacobson family visited EPCOT on a Saturday in early March, and they’ve never seen the park so busy before (outside of summer)—probably because the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival had just begun. They learned a few things that might help you on your next visit. Here is Ryan’s report!

Anna and Elsa topiaries

1. It’s Guardians of the Galaxy Time at 7 a.m. Be ready!

Lora and Jonah went exploring while Ryan and Lucas rode the rides.

I never thought I’d experience a better ride than Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Rise) at Hollywood Studios. And then Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Rewind) happened. It’s not exactly comparing apples to apples, and there are certainly things about Rise that Rewind can’t touch. But Rewind felt as if it stole the best features from the most popular Disney rides and combined them into one wild roller coaster.

If you want to experience this attraction, you’d better be ready with your My Disney Experience (MDE) app at 7 a.m. There are currently only two ways to ride Rewind, and both are via MDE. We tried getting into the “free” virtual line, which opens at 7 a.m. At 7:00:01 a.m., the virtual line was already full—and we missed out.

Fortunately, we secured Lightning Lane passes (for around $17 each). Another virtual line opened at 1 p.m., but we were thwarted again!

2. EPCOT day makes for a good sleep-in day.

Even with Cosmic Rewind, there aren’t many must-do thrill rides at EPCOT, so there isn’t much of a time crunch to ride them all—especially if you utilize Genie+. (If you do, get a Lightning Lane for either Frozen Ever After or Ratatouille Adventure at 7 a.m. because those disappear fast.) On this day, we decided that Early Theme Park Entry was not essential and that this could be a much-needed sleep-in day. We let the boys stay in bed until 8 a.m. while we grabbed a nice breakfast (Mickey waffles!) and served the boys breakfast in bed. We still arrived at the park not long after it opened, and it wasn’t terribly busy…yet.

Frozen Ever After ride

3. If you’re all about the World Showcase, explore it early.

Conventional wisdom is to catch the most popular rides early (or late) to avoid the longest lines at the busiest times of day. But if you’re interested in trying lots of foods Around the World, you might want to begin there early. We made the mistake of waiting until lunchtime, and we ended up eating exactly zero of the things we planned to try. Every line of every food option was extremely long, at least a 20- to 30-minute wait. The lines remained like this for most of the afternoon.

Sampling of dishes available at the Garden Graze booth

4. Hang out near busy rides that are temporarily closed.

We learned this lesson too late, but I’m sharing it with you. Our Lightning Lane priority was Frozen Ever After, so we missed out on Ratatouille Adventure. That line was perpetually 90 minutes long—until it temporarily closed. We had time to spare; we could’ve moseyed on over and taken in the France pavilion for a bit, hoping to catch the ride as soon as it reopened. (Granted, that is a gamble, as one never knows if the ride will be closed for a little while or all afternoon.) Instead, we watched the MDE app from the other side of the park, as the ride reopened to a 10-minute wait and then a 20-minute wait before eventually jumping back to its more typical 90-minute wait time. My takeaway: If a ride with a long wait time temporarily closes, it might be worth hanging out nearby for a while: shop, take a break, grab a snack, whatever.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure entrance at night

5. The EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is pretty neat.

While I wouldn’t plan a special trip just to attend Disney’s garden festival, it was fun to see. We made a sport out of finding and taking photos of all the different characters as topiaries. The flowers and other decorations added another level of enjoyment to our explorations.

We tried to get a photograph of every garden sculpture.
Lora requested a photo with her favorite topiary: Winnie the Pooh!

Ryan Jacobson is the author of more than 60 books. His most popular titles include the Constellations Activity BookCan You Survive the Call of the Wild?and Up Where the Stars Are.

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids

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