Epcot

World
Showcase

Future World

Originally, Walt Disney designed Epcot, not as an amusement park, but as a place to "present alternatives and possibilities for a better life ahead."  An acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Epcot is more like a world's fair than an amusement park.  The first area, Future World, explores ideas in science and technology, the world around us, and ourselves.  The second section, World Showcase, offers a 1.2 mile stroll around the world to North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia where you can meet people from those companies, get a taste for the culture and cuisine, and even do some shopping for that country's unique products.  Following are some planning tips for Epcot:

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Since Epcot almost always keeps later hours, it's a great destination for park-hopping after having spent the morning and early afternoon at Disney-MGM Studios or Animal Kingdom.  Then you can plan on dining at one of the many restaurants.

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More so than at the Magic Kingdom or other parks, you need to be VERY aware of the size of this park.  You'll need to double the size of the Magic Kingdom to get close to the size of Epcot.  It can easily take you 20-30 minutes or more to get from the front to the back of the park!

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Finding something to do with small children can be a bit difficult in Epcot, but there are some things that usually hits home.  Journey Into Imagination with Figment (in Imagination at Future World) is always a favorite (although the snake and mice in "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience" might be a bit too much).  Also, the Living Seas can be a lot of fun for kids who have seen Finding Nemo.

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If you've got a larger group, it's a good idea to set up rendezvous points for various times of the day.  Good places in Epcot include the "Car Wash" in front of Test Track, the DNA molecule in front of Wonders of Life, or the Japanese temple at the front of the Japanese pavilion.  If you have small children, teach them to go to a cast member if they get lost.  Teach them to talk to the people with the nametags.

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If you arrive early in the morning, head straight for the biggies (i.e. Mission: Space, Test Track, and Soarin').  Get on those rides as quickly as possible or get FastPasses for later in the day.

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If you arrive at Epcot after 11:00AM (World Showcase opens two hours after Future World), head straight for the World Showcase first as most people entering the park tend to stop first at Future World, especially Spaceship Earth.  Then, in the afternoon, head back to the front when many visitors head into the World Showcase.

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The BEST time for lines is actually in the early evening, especially when the parade is going on.

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There are several neat fountain areas where you (i.e. small kids) can run in the cooling water, so make sure to bring bathing suits, water diapers, change of clothes, etc.

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There are water taxis that can take you across the Lagoon.  These do not necessarily save you time, although they do save on your feet!

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If you are interested in meeting characters, you can meet Mickey and other classic characters at the Garden Grill Restaurant, the Princesses at Norway's Restaurant Akershus, and Pooh and his friends and Mary Poppins in the British pavilion in the garden.  Also, characters appear in the world showcase by the busload (literally, in a double-decker bus).  For the bus and the characters in the British pavilion, ask a cast member for times.

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If you're staying for the parade and fireworks, hang out by the Showcase Plaza (between the World Showcase and Future World) while the crowds clear out.  There is a very impressive water fountain in the area in between Innovations East and West.  After the park officially closes (and 80-90% of the people have cleared out), there is a beautiful show where the water and lights are choreographed to the music.  By the time the show is over, the crowds (especially those waiting for the buses) have thinned out considerably

One of the best ways to explore Epcot is to take one of the Epcot Backstage Tours.  These tours are perfect for those who have (or think they have) been there/done that at the Magic Kingdom or who just love all things Disney.  These tours literally take you backstage to see how Disney does all that it does.  In Epcot, these tours take you to see how Disney accomplishes all of their gardening magic, go for a swim in the Living Seas, or go for a tour of Epcot aboard a Segway™ Human Transporter.

Hidden Mickeys started as an inside joke among early Disney Imagineers and soon became a park tradition (I'm not kidding -- the entire Disney-MGM Studios layout when viewed from the sky is one giant Hidden Mickey!). Today, dozens of subtle Mickey images -- usually silhouettes of his world-famous ears, profile, or full figure -- are hidden (more or less) in attractions and resorts throughout the Walt Disney empire. No one knows how many, because sometimes they exist only in the eye of the beholder. But there's a semiofficial, maybe-you-agree-maybe-you-don't list. See how many HMs (Hidden Mickeys) you can locate during your visit. And be sharp-eyed about it. Those bubbles on your souvenir mug might be forming one.  We've listed SOME of these Hidden Mickeys with each of the sites, just to get you started.  For more of these (of course, this means you're cheating!), go to www.hiddenmickeys.org.