Review of "EPCOT"
Journalling more for myself than anything else now, so I don't expect reads or rates!
EPCOT was the second Disney Park we went to, and quite interestingly we actually spent more time at most of the Disney parks than we did at Universal. This is noteworthy because the Disney parks were very much an add on to our honeymoon, rather than the main event. There were a variety of reasons why the vast majority of our honeymoon ended up being on Disney ground, but certainly the sheer size and scope of the parks is a major factor.
EPCOT was inspired by an unrealised concept of Walt Disney’s which was a utopian city of the future. The parks name is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and Walt’s vision was a model community being home to twenty thousand residents which was a test bed for city planning as well as organisation. After Walt’s death, Walk Disney Productions decided it didn’t want to be in the city running business without him and so the rationalisation behind the park diverged.There was some indecision over the parks purpose; some imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of technology whilst others wanted it to showcase international cultures and customs. The two ended up being combined and it is now dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture. It is often referred to as a permanent world fair because of the World Showcase, which is themed to eleven world nations.
What’s On Offer
Future World East
Spaceship Earth is the giant geodesic sphere that is the symbolic structure of EPCOT. Personally, it reminded me of a giant’s golf ball and I got a fit of the giggles imagining a game of golf across continents. Within it, it hosts a dark ride that explores the history of innovations from the Stone Age to the Digital Age, demonstrating important breakthroughs in communication and technology. Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future is at the end of the ride and allows you to create your own, highly simplistic future on a touch pad.
The Test Track has you ‘designing’ your own car, that then goes around a test track and gets scored. However, because you are in a coaster cart with six other people, your design doesn’t actually impact on the ride at all. Mission: Space is a centrifugal motion simulator ride simulating what an astronaut might experience on a mission to Mars, and Innoventions is a museum which focuses on technological advancements and their practical applications in everyday life. Half of this was closed for updates.Future World West
Moving from space to earth, Future World West focuses largely on conservation and other such aspects of life with various attractions to highlight this. The Seas with Nemo and Friends which is a small ride with characters from Disney’s Finding Nemo that finishes in an Undersea Observation Deck, Living With the Land which is a dark ride tour that takes you through greenhouses on slow moving boats and has a focus on agriculture and technology. The Circle of Life is a film experience with Timon and Pumba chopping down trees and clogging up rivers in order to build the Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. This is a fable where Simba is responsible for explaining why their actions are harmful to nature. Journey Into Imagination is another dark ride attraction which we missed out as it seemed very much aimed at the smaller audience.
I have to admit that it is safe to say that I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the rides within EPCOT; I think this is one of the perils about having a park dedicated to technological improvements, as it can never actually keep abreast of real time technological advances and ends up feeling dated due to its theming. We spent far more time in the other half of the park once we realised this. I was also initially concerned about the sea life, particularly some larger species that seemed to have very little room, but my mind was eased by the knowledge that the manatees had been rescued and were therefore temporarily housed until they could be re-released into the wild.World Showcase
Now, this is where we ended up spending a huge amount of our time at EPCOT and this really made the entire park worthwhile to visit, regardless of ride quality. On a usual basis, there are a set amount of countries showcased around a giant and very aesthetically pleasing lake; Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Each of these countries has a full and permanent placement within EPCOT which are all set out differently.
Mexico’s Pavilion resembles a giant pyramid which you enter and go through a gallery display of Mexican artwork and then into a themed Mexican village and marketplace with The Three Caballeros ride focusing on the three incarnations of Donald Duck. Norway’s Pavilion is designed to look like a Norwegian village and includes a detailed reproduction of a Stave church which is a beautiful photo opportunity. Much of place is taken up by interconnecting shops that sell assorted Norwegian goods and are decorated with large wooden trolls.China’s Pavilion is dominated by a replica of the Temple of Heaven which contains the entrance to Reflections of China, a movie attraction exploring China’s history and scenery, Germany’s Pavilion is designed to look like a German town with architecture from different eras and regions and the Platz is decorated with a statue of St. George and the Dragon and a clock tower. Italy’s Pavilion has a cluster of buildings evocative of various Italian city architecture, The American Adventure takes guests on a trip through America’s history whilst Japan’s Pavilion is made up of buildings surrounding a courtyard and features a Japanese Pagoda which had Japanese drumming on when we went, there is also an area with Japanese pools and gardens and a Japanese castle, leading into a display of Japanese culture.
Morocco’s Pavilion is designed to look like a Moroccan city and is the only pavilion in which the government of the country aided in the design. There are displays to exhibit the lifestyle and culture of the Moroccan people, a typical Moroccan house and entertainment, France’s Pavilion mimics French cities and historical structure and has an attraction called Impressions de France which is a film that has been playing since the opening day of EPCOT in 1982. The United Kingdom’s Pavilion is designed to look like the stereotypical English village with gardens including a hedge maze and even a British pub! The Canadian Pavilion is designed to remind guests of Canada’s outdoors and includes a canyon, waterfall, gardens, a pool, fountains and totem poles as well as a movie attraction called O Canada!It is worth noting that various fairs are run throughout the years and when we went they had the 2017 Food and Drink Festival running, which including a lot of far smaller little stands each selling a representative of their countries food. They were all in mini-portions and sold at lower prices that full meals so you could easily fit a few in, depending on what took your fancy. Me and the husband shared them so we got to try double the amount!
There was also a really cool attraction showing off different countries favourite fizzy drinks which was a) an awesome way to get a free drink providing you didn’t mind refilling your tiny cup a lot of times and b) actually quite cool to see what different countries drink. Some of them were to my taste, others really weren’t and some were just bland. Different countries, different tastes.
Food and Drink
There are a variety of different sit down restaurants throughout EPCOT, many of them themed to the Pavilion you are in at the time. There are four dining areas in Mexico, two in Norway along with a bakery, China has a full service gourmet restaurant and a counter service restaurant, Germany has a buffet restaurant and a quick service restaurant and Italy has two restaurants and a wine cellar. There are a variety of eating opportunities in Japan including Teppan Edo where stir fried food is prepared in front of you and then a sake house as well.Morocco has three eating places including a restaurant, café and Mediterranean food place, France has three opportunities to stop for food, the United Kingdom offers fish and chips and proper ale – albeit chilled, because the Americans don’t know how to treat beer – whilst Canada has a steakhouse and a popcorn cart. There are also restaurants throughout the Future World and a wide variety of little carts where you can grab snack like food. On an average day we would spend between $15 and $30 on food with an additional $5-10 on drink.
The shopping is split into the world fair section of the park and the more typically Disney aspects in the Future worlds. In Mexico you have the marketplace selling a range of goods including sombreros, ceramics and other Mexican themed goods, Norway has a wide range of Norwegian goods like clothing and statuettes as well as candy and bakeries. China has shops selling Chinese merchandise including parasols, puppets, toy, tea sets, wall prints and silk robes, Germany has multiple small shops selling – you guessed it – German goods, including dolls and cuckoo clocks.
Italy has small shops selling candy, household items, perfumes and wine whilst Japan has a huge store which sells a wide variety of Japanese items including clothing, jewellery, books, manga and toys including pop culture items and also a pick your own pearl in an oyster stall. Morocco has a wide range of baazar’s and trading shops selling jewellery, mosaic and ceramics, Britain sells really stereotypical items like tea, toys, clothing and Beatles merchandise! Canada sells quite a wide range of merchandise including wine themed items, plushies, flags, engravings, maple syrup amongst others.There are then some huge stores in the Future World which are completely Disney orientated, including Mouse Gear which is a one stop shopping destination for Disney character gifts and souvenirs, The Gift Shop, Art of Disney selling collectables and Club Cool.
Thoughts and Musings
If we had only been around the future world, then I fear I would have been chronically disappointed as I found all of the attractions there rather insipid. The park itself is really attractive mind you and it would have been worth it just for the scenery, not to mention Spaceship Earth which is an impressive sight. However, the World Showcase was where EPCOT truly excelled and I think it would have excelled even without all of the smaller cart like foodie set-ups offering a small selection of local delicacies for thirty five countries with their own booths set up.
Disney have done a wonderful job at propelling you into each of the countries as you go through the Pavilion’s and there is no doubt about you recognising each area. I particularly liked the fact that it seemed to be natives to the countries serving the food and employed in the shops. This gave the whole thing a really authentic and special feel to it. The area to walk around is absolutely huge and we spent a good half day just going around these stands and exploring the Pavilion’s.This doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel as Magic Kingdom or the thrill seekers dream world feel of Disney Studios or Universal, but it is well worth visiting in its own right, regardless of whether there is a festival set up at the time you are there.
It’s worth shopping around as you can get better deals by doing so. On the Disney website a 14 day ticket will set you back £369 ($494). We booked through British Airways and got a fourteen day ticket for £250 ($327) so you can do your own maths on that one!
Do We Recommend?
We do. This isn’t a theme park in the traditional sense, but it is well worth visiting regardless and somewhere we greatly enjoyed going around.
Product Information : EPCOT
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 04/03/2006