Our Epcot 1-Day Itinerary is an efficient touring plan for what attractions, shows, and dining we’d do in our ideal day at the park. This itinerary is how we’d recommend experiencing all of the, what we consider, Epcot essentials. While other touring plans are more focused on fitting in every attraction in one day, we’ll be more focused on how to have the best day possible. Instead of constantly running from attraction to attraction, this plan will also have you enjoying some of the little things that make Epcot special. Yes, we’ll get to the majority of the attractions but some are left behind in favor of, what we consider, better options. If you are more ride focused then check out our Epcot attraction rankings. We also have entertainment, table-service and counter-service rankings to help out your trip planning. If you’re looking for other park itineraries, click here!
Epcot is the best idea for a theme park that’s ever come to fruition. Mixing inventions and looking towards the future with cultures throughout the world is a very noble idea that succeeded for many years. Now, the park is trying to find a new identity and is lagging behind, especially in Future World which is slowly emerging from construction walls. Even with Epcot in transition, all of the attractions, dining and entertainment in the park make for a full day. While some areas need help, others show how beautiful Epcot was and is.
With those changes there’s a chance that something might not be running or open during your visit. If that’s the case and there’s something in this itinerary that isn’t running/showing while you’re at the park then just skip that step.
There are many different factors that go into a theme park day, so we do have to keep this plan somewhat general. I don’t know how busy the park will be when you visit, whether you splurged for genie+ or Lightning Lanes (this plan assumes you didn’t), where you are staying, etc. What I do assume in this itinerary is that you are spending the full day inside of the park, getting there before the gates open and leaving after the park closes. Getting to the park about half an hour before opening would be a wise choice if you only have one day there.
I would recommend staying on-site at Disney World or at one of the nearby off-site hotels. This makes the morning shorter and the transportation simpler. If you are extremely Epcot focused and the budget allows, staying at the Yacht or Beach Club, Boardwalk Resort, Swan & Dolphin or Caribbean Beach Resort would be ideal. If not, don’t worry. Just get to the park before opening one way or another with tickets already bought. On to the plan!
Join the Virtual Queue for Cosmic Rewind!
Epcot’s latest attraction is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and, for now, the attraction utilizes a virtual queue system. This opens at 7 AM to all who have an Epcot park reservation. There’s also a virtual queue window opening at one to those that miss the early one. We do recommend trying for the first one just to play it safe. If you get a spot in the virtual queue then just adjust the rest of the itinerary accordingly. If you miss out, guests can purchase an individual lightning lane to access Cosmic Rewind. We don’t recommend that though. For more information on the virtual queue, click here.
Racing and Soarin’ Through The Land
While others will start the day at one the two big World Showcase attractions, we’re going to knock out Future World first. Line up at Epcot’s gates at least 15 minutes before the park opens (do not go on a day with Extra Magic Hours in the morning) and head straight for Test Track. The attraction builds up a long wait as the day goes on and it’s not worth that to us. With that in mind, we’ll get it done early and move on.
After a crazy drive, we’ll cut across the park and go for the Land Pavilion. Soarin’ will likely have a longer line at this point but go for it regardless of the wait. Unless it’s a particularly busy day, then the wait shouldn’t be over half an hour regardless of the posted wait time. Getting these two attractions out-of-the-way early should help avoid the crowds and will make for a great start to the day. While you’re in the land, you might as well do Living With the Land and Awesome Planet. The former we absolutely recommend while the latter we can take or leave.
Breakfast in France
After your early morning attractions, it’s time for a little breakfast. As always, having breakfast at your hotel might be cheaper and a quicker option. With that said, Epcot is one of the few parks that has an excellent breakfast option in Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. This bakery in the France Pavilion has several sweet and savory options that are delicious. It might not be the most filling or healthy breakfast, but it is one of the best options in all of Disney World. You could also opt for a crepe in the France Pavilion. Sunshine Seasons is an okay option for breakfast, as well, if you’d rather stay in the land.
Future World Attractions
After breakfast, it’s time to head back to more Future World attractions. Really it doesn’t matter much at what order you go on these attractions. Mission: Space and Spaceship Earth are likely the most popular of the remaining Future World rides so go ahead to those first. After that, enjoy The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The ride is kind of a necessary evil to go see the rest of the pavilion. The aquarium exhibits are much better than the ride. This is one of the best spots in Future World so take your time there.
After The Land and The Seas, head over to the Imagination Pavilion for a ride on Journey Into Imagination. Again, this isn’t the best attraction but is worth doing as it’s a part of Disney history. Unfortunately, the attraction isn’t half of what it used to be but the building is innovative and worth seeing. There’s a beautiful fountain outside and some great water features in this area of the park.
Lunch at Via Napoli
After a fairly busy morning, it’s time to slow down a bit. While this step shows that we’re headed for lunch, you may not have quite worked up the appetite. If that’s the case, then start a slow loop around World Showcase and when you do get hungry just circle back to where you left off. Enjoy the shops and shows, roaming around. We’ll start off a good amount of eating with lunch at Disney World’s best pizza place, Via Napoli. That might not be as high praise as it seems but Via Napoli does have good pizza and a variety of options inside of a beautiful environment. Space 220 would also be a good option if you’re able to get in and want to spend some money. If you don’t want to go for a table-service restaurant then there are a variety of good counter-service options including Katsura Grill (Japan).
Dessert or Snack or Drink Around the World
Don’t fill up too much at lunch because our next step is all about eating too. This and the following step can and should be combined. Eating/drinking around World Showcase is one of the more enjoyable parts of Epcot, even without a definitive plan of what to eat. Each pavilion will have interesting options to both eat and drink, offering some adventurous dishes as well as more safe and accessible items. Some of our favorite snacks around World Showcase include Egg Rolls in China, School Bread in Norway, Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookie in Germany, and Ice Cream in France. I enjoy a good margarita in Mexico at La Cava del Tequila too.
If there is a festival going on while at Epcot then enjoy some of the options at the food booths. There are plenty of good options at each festival and good values to be had. Regardless of the time of year, there’s no shortage of good food and drink in World Showcase.
World Showcase Rides, Shows and Shopping
Believe it or not, there are other things to do in World Showcase besides eating and drinking. Several pavilions have films and rides that are well worth doing. On top of that, each pavilion is worth exploring whether that be shops, exhibits, shows, or the intricate details. With an entire afternoon and early evening devoted to World Showcase, we’re confident that you can experience a number of rides, shows, and shops while eating your heart out. This itinerary does have you riding Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After near the end of the day but if you notice the wait times around 30 minutes or less then go for it!
Start this grand circle tour of World Showcase in the Mexico Pavilion with its beautiful marketplace and the only real ride (outside of Frozen Ever After and Remy’s) in the area, Gran Fiesta Tour. This ride is well worth doing even if it’s a bit weird. As long as the line isn’t too long, take a ride here. As far as shows go throughout World Showcase, we love Impressions de France (which only shows at night), a film in the France Pavilion and The American Adventure, a show telling America’s history that features audio-animatronics. Both of these are must-dos while you are walking around World Showcase. Times for American Adventure will be in the daily times guide. Reflections of China and Canada Far and Wide are other World Showcase films that are decent but not on the level of the previously mentioned shows.
Live entertainment is a hallmark of World Showcase and there is plenty to get to. A main rule of thumb that I go by is that if you see live music being played, stick around for a few minutes. If you enjoy the music then stick around a while longer, if not then move on. Live entertainment that we make an effort to see (and that is typically in the times guide) include Serveur Amusant (France Pavilion), Voices of Liberty (American Adventure) and the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats (China). If you see a performance going on then it is well worth checking out.
Shops throughout World Showcase that we like are the marketplace in the Mexico Pavilion, the Christmas shop in Germany, Mitsukoshi in Japan, and the market-style shops in Morocco. Other areas to explore throughout World Showcase are the back streets in Morocco, the beautiful gardens of Japan, the garden and maze in the UK, and the ponds in China.
World Showcase has so much to see and do that there isn’t a bad area to spend in. Be sure to walk around as the sun is setting as the area’s vibe gains more energy and the lights are inspiring.
Dinner at Chefs de France
Chefs de France embodies the energy and ambiance of World Showcase, with wide windows to watch passersby. The food is good but the ambiance is what stands out here. Other good table-service options include San Angel Inn, Rose & Crown and Le Cellier. A number of restaurants in Epcot have decent food but dining there is about the ambiance. There aren’t many bad options but some are overpriced.
If you don’t want to spend money on a table-service meal at both lunch and dinner then eating at one of the counter-service places we mentioned in the lunch section is a great option.
Dark Rides After Dark
By this point, it should be around 7 or 7:30 which should be enough time to ride the two marquee attractions left before the nighttime spectacular. If you’re stressing about time then go ahead and do one of these rides before dinner. While Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure don’t wow us, they are must-do’s. They each have equal popularity and are on opposite ends of World Showcase. If you had dinner at Chefs de France, then staying there to do Remy’s and Impressions de France makes sense. If there are extra hours after the nighttime show then getting both of these attractions done is easy, just make sure both are available.
Epcot’s Night Time Spectacular
Epcot’s nighttime show is in a state of flux after Harmonious closed and a new show is set to debut in late 2023. Epcot Forever is being shown in the interim and it’s decent, well worth watching. I recommend viewing the show from near the entrance of World Showcase between the two gift shops. There’s a small incline there and you’ll be able to see over everyone if standing on that. I mean, as long as you’re not very short or the person in front of you isn’t Andre the Giant.
Once the show ends comes my favorite part of a day at Epcot. While the park may be closing, there is still plenty of time to be had in World Showcase. Let the crowds thin out for a while after the show and then start your slow stroll through all of the pavilions. This is a perfect time for photos if you enjoy taking them. This is also one of the most romantic things to do in all of Disney World as there aren’t many people around and the beautiful views and score make for a perfect setting. Most of the shops will be closed but there are plenty of paths to explore or just walking along the main promenade is worth your time. This late night stroll is a perfect way to end the day.
That’s our itinerary for one day at Epcot. This isn’t quite as specific as our other itineraries mainly thanks to fewer attractions involved. I will say that this itinerary might need a little adjusting if you are touring with kids. I do think they will like many of the shows and there are several playgrounds around. I’ll also note that if it’s Festival of the Arts or Flower and Garden season then take time to see the exhibits and live entertainment throughout the area. This can go in the afternoon/evening of the itinerary and you should still have time for nearly everything else. As always, leave time for wandering around the park although we included a good amount of this inside of the itinerary. Following this should lead to a great day!
As always, if you have questions or thoughts on our Epcot itinerary then leave a comment below. If you are planning a trip to Disney World, then check out our planning guide. Looking for Walt Disney World tickets? Check out this site. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Park Itineraries