Epcot is my home park, if anyone knows Epcot onstage and backstage, it is those who work there for months and months. Sometimes it takes knowing the ins and outs to give solid advice and here it is, the Top 10 things you should do in EPCOT.
1. Take a picture with Spaceship Earth (aka the big ball). This icon holds exactly 11,324 triangles on it, the exact same number as parking spaces marked in Epcot’s parking lot. Coincidence or not, that is a ton of hand laid triangles (and parking spaces)! Even if you didn’t purchase the crazy-priced Photopass+ package, (right now running at $69.95, if you buy it 14 days in advance. $99.95 when you buy it anytime after that) you can still view all of your pictures online with your entry card OR magic band!!
2. Visit The Land. Often overlooked, because guests are so excited to get to Soarin’, you miss out on a great place EPCOT has to offer! The land holds more than just Soarin’, you can immediately smell something great cooking in two of Disney’s best restaurants: The Garden Grill Restaurant (character dining!!) and Sunshine Seasons. Some people might not know that all of the vegetables, seafood, and fruits grown, for these two very healthy (while still incredible tasty) restaurants, right in The Land Greenhouse! When you take a tour in Living with the Land ride, you actually get to go inside these greenhouses and see the fish farms! It incredible what you miss because we are too excited to take the time to stop and smell the roses (or cooking veggies, in this case)!
3. Club Cool. If you are on a budget and Starbucks coffee just isn’t your thing, stop by Club Cool. Sponsored by Coca Cola, this free (let me repeat that free!) stop is right next to Starbucks and offers free Coke products from around the world (tying nicely into World Showcase theming). Just be careful you might not like everything you taste 😉
**A nice tip I liked to share when I was a cast member, if you are an Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club Member, Chase Visa, or Cast Member, when you buy merchandise from Club Cool (INCLUDING BOTTLES OF SODA!) you can receive your discount, unlike buying bottles of soda from a cart or restaurant, this is a merchandise location and you receive the discount!
4. Journey into Imagination with Figment. This is my favorite attraction in EPCOT, it holds so much nostalgia for me with my grandparents, but this list is things to do besides attractions, so after you get off the attraction (just go on it, it is adorable!) check around the sidewalk by the entrance there are restrooms here that are 99% of the time never crowded or even have a single person in them. This is the best restroom to take someone who just cannot hold it a second longer because there is usually never a wait. I found these in my last week of working at EPCOT, so you know it’s pretty secluded when cast members do not know it is there.
5. Take sidewalks just for the fun of it! You never know where you will end up. EPCOT is one big park, and just because a sidewalk looks like it heads somewhere, you might be surprised! There is so much to see, and if you have been to Disney as many times as I have, sometimes it is nice to go off the beaten path once in awhile!
6. The Odyssey Center. Located right by Baby Center and First Aid, The Odyssey Center is not always in use, but you never know, if you take a look at your Times Guide, sometimes they hold cooking seminars, wine tastings, mixology classes, flower shows or special mothers day brunch and these events are usually free to check out but you might have to pay for a specific demonstration and such. But always check, because sometimes it is just in use for Flower and Garden or Food and Wine or special holidays. But the Times Guide will give you all the info (prices, times, etc) and if it’s a private event, it won’t be listed. Believe it or not, people get married in THE weirdest places around EPCOT.
7. World Showcase. This one is so broad but it is a blog post in itself. World Showcase used to house another of my favorite attractions (Maelstrom, don’t even get me started on Frozen.) but after working in the World Showcase, it has truly opened my eyes to wanting to travel (especially to Morocco!) I loved the food, culture, everything in these countries and in my opinion is an all day event if you take the time to stop and check things out. All of the cast members working in each country must be a citizen of that country (except America because we are a melting pot). In America, I worked with people from China, South America, Africa. Anyone can work in this place!
8. The Friendship Boats. Take advantage of these bad boys! Hello, Disney does not offer a lot of free things, but when they do, you best be taking advantage of it. These air conditioned boats run from 11 am to dusk from 5 different locations (I bet you didn’t know there were FIVE!) Four of the five are on the lagoon, driving people between the Future World and Morocco and another one from Future World and Germany. But there is a fifth one in between France and UK called International Gateway. IG is another location to enter EPCOT and it has a friendship boat to and from The Swan & Dolphin Resorts, Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and the best one: Hollywood Studios!
9. Towers. Not really marked on the map as “towers”, these sister stores are right when you enter World Showcase from Future World (which is called Port of Entry), One is called Disney Traders and the other is called Plaza or Port? Cast members will always refer to them as “towers”, and they house popular merchandise from around Walt Disney World and World Showcase. The one on the left will hold everything “new” and “popular” from all of Walt Disney World: holiday merchandise, Duffy the Disney Bear, Magic Bands (they recently removed these, I think!), 2015 merchandise, Vinylmation Trading, pillow pets, everything! Just don’t forget, new and popular is constantly changing at WDW and so will this store! At the one on the right, this will be your merchandise from around World Showcase. They take select merchandise and also rotate popular and new items from around the world here! During Food and Wine, they had all of the merchandise sold from the countries and shops here! You never know what you might find, but if you find something you love and you walk away from it, instead of darting back to the country, try towers first!
**Most people don’t really stop to check Towers out! Being deployed here during very busy times, it wasn’t very busy! These are two great stores if you know a place is out of something, you might try towers because a lot of people don’t stop to think of buying something from here. We were the last to have the Stitch Food and Wine pins, Duffy Bears, Christmas light necklaces, all of the really popular items from when I was working for Disney, Towers had a lot of the extra stuff! Also, Towers is one of my favorite spots to watch Illuminations Fireworks because it is usually not busy, even though it is a Fastpass+ location. (you don’t need a fastpass to watch them from outside the shops back doors, hint hint!)
10. Innoventions East and Innoventions West. These are on opposite sides of Future World but they house some of the most awesome (free!) demonstrations and (oops) attractions for kids and adults! I won’t give away too much, but they have a ton to do no matter what age your kid is. From Disney video games to learning about investments and inventions from science. There’s also a place to custom build a rollercoaster and then take it for a test drive (this line is usually 45 minutes to an hour or more.) Innovations West is also where you will find the Chase Visa Meet and Greet!
**Honorable Mention: Leave A Legacy: These are the monoliths at the front of the park, right before you get to Spaceship Earth, I have heard all sorts of rumors about these, but a general overview is that people paid (between 1999 and 2007) to put their picture and/or message on these monoliths. The company who did these is no longer in business, so you cannot pay to do this now. However, if you did have it done and you have no idea where to even begin looking, if you head to the Camera Center (located under Spaceship Earth) and give them your name and state, they can look you up and give you the exact location. If you are lucky, you might even spot some famous celebrities including: N’Sync, Neil Patrick Harris, Tinkerbell, Figment, and Ariana Grande.