Sometimes I think that EPCOT is probably not the most popular of Walt Disney World’s theme parks. Even though, based on attendance numbers, it is the fifth most popular theme park in the world. I think kids prefer the Magic Kingdom. Other adults may like Disney’s Hollywood Studios because of the rides or the Animal Kingdom for the, well, animals. But I like EPCOT the best. Maybe it’s because I love to travel and while at EPCOT I get to travel to 11 different countries, under the sea, into space and back in time in just a few hours. And maybe it’s because it’s never too crowded.
EPCOT is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Although it’s not called that anymore, it describes Walt Disney’s original vision for the site that is now the entire Walt Disney World Resort. He envisioned a community of the future, even before the Magic Kingdom was built. But after his death, the company decided to take another direction and give EPCOT a feeling more like a World’s Fair.
As you probably already know, EPCOT is divided into two distinct sections, Future World and World Showcase.
In World Showcase, the architecture of each pavilion is inspired by real buildings from each country. They really are quite beautiful. I usually spend most of my time in World Showcase experiencing the sights and sounds and meeting people from around the world. Most of the cast members in World Showcase are from outside the US. I do enjoy meeting and talking to them. They usually have great stories to tell about their countries.
Then there’s the music. Pretty much any day of the week you can hear music from Morocco, Norway, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Canada. One of my favorite bands is Off Kilter. They’re a Celtic Rock band that play in the Canada pavilion. You may not think that a bagpipe can rock out, but it can. These guys put on a great show. I have all their CDs. The British Invasion, in the United Kingdom pavilion, was another favorite. But sadly, after 15 years, they stopped performing in 2011. Plans are in the works to get another band to replace them.
And then during the annual Flower and Garden Festival (Spring) and Food and Wine Festival (Autumn) the American Gardens Theater hosts all different kinds of musical groups. The Flower Festival’s “Flower Power” concert series includes music from the ‘60s and ‘70s like Davy Jones from The Monkees, The Grass Roots, Chubby Checker, and Jose Feliciano. The Food and Wine Festival’s “Eat to the Beat” concert series includes performers like Taylor Dane, Starship, Jon Secada and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. All concerts are free with park admission.
And don’t forget the food from around the world. I especially enjoy Les Chef De France which has delicious French onion soup and desserts only the French can make. I just recently discovered a fabulous alcoholic beverage in Japan called Tokyo Sunset, a blend of coconut rum, peach schnapps, banana liqueur and pineapple juice. Super yummy.
But when it comes to the food at EPCOT, the best is experienced at the Food and Wine Festival. You can partake of delectable delicacies from more than 20 countries. I never miss the Cheddar Cheese Soup and the Maple Fudge in Canada, Belgium’s Belgian waffles, and Sweden’s Swedish meatballs. All are served tapas style so you can sample up to 75 different dishes during your trip around the world.
On October 1, 2012, EPCOT will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Now, some of the attractions are a bit outdated, but they are refurbishing and reimagining new attractions all the time.
On the Future World side, Spaceship Earth has been updated with a new interactive ending. The old World of Motion attraction was revamped into Test Track. Horizons became Mission: Space. The Land pavilion was overhauled to include Soarin’, an attraction that became very popular at Disney’s California Adventure. The Living Seas became a showcase for the movie “Finding Nemo.” The Universe of Energy was retooled by adding an amusing introduction, “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” with Ellen DeGeneres.
Around World Showcase, Canada’s Circlevision 360 film “Oh, Canada” has also been revamped and now stars actor Martin Short. New restaurants have been added to Italy and Mexico.
There are a few things I do miss from the original list of attractions. The first 3-D movie at EPOCT, called “Magic Journeys,” was amazing. Maybe it’s because that was the first 3-D movie I had seen that really blew me away. Kitchen Kabaret in The Land, although pretty silly, was fun. And the entire Wonders of Life pavilion is no more. Although I wasn’t a big fan of “Body Wars,” I did like some of the other parts of the Wonders of Life.
Before EPCOT even opened, the park gave out a full color artist’s rendering book with artwork depicting each pavilion and attraction. I still have that book. It’s very cool to look at it and see how the park turned out. It’s pretty much as the Imagineers envisioned. Although, some attractions never made it past the “coming soon” stage like World Showcase pavilions for Israel, Africa and Spain. Africa is represented by a refreshment station, but is of course a huge part of Animal Kingdom now.
I would have to say that my favorite parts of EPCOT, besides the music and munchies, are Spaceship Earth, the Dinosaur portion of the Universe of Energy, Soarin’ and Mission: Space, but not right after a meal!
Dates of Visit: Various from 1982 until present