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Epcot

 

 

Epcot

 

 “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”

Walt Disney’s original vision of EPCOT was for a model utopian city, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. His vision would never come to fruition.  After his death the Walt Disney Company  decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. So after years of  indecision and  a lot of planning Epcot was built-in two sections.  Future World  to represent the cutting edge of technology and the World Showcase  to showcase international culture and customs. So the really important thing to know is that EPCOT really stands for Every Person Comes Out Tired!  It is more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom so put on some comfortable shoes and let’s go have fun.

Fun Fact:  The original model that Walt Disney had of EPCOT can be seen when you ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. It is displayed behind a glass wall just before you enter into Stitch’s Great Escape area.

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Future World Attractions

Spaceship Earth

 

  • Spaceship Earth – This 180 ft tall geodesic sphere is the iconic and symbolic structure of Epcot.   It is not only main focal point of Epcot, but also the name of the attraction housed within the 18-story geodesic sphere that takes guests back in time  on an amazing journey to show how we have learned to communicate over the years using the Omnimover system.  This is a continuous loading ride that keeps the line moving quickly and is rarely too long of a wait.  If the wait is longer that 20 min try coming back later in the day.  One of my favorite attractions. Not To Be Missed!

 

Innoventions

  • Innoventions – As you pass thru Space Ship Earth the buildings to the left and right are Innovations East and West.  This interactive play area is where corporate sponsors display hands on exhibits highlighting their latest technologies.  Innovations focuses on technological advancements and their practical applications in everyday life.  As technology changes over time so do these exhibits.  Here are the current exhibits:

Exhibits located at Innoventions East:

  • The Sum of All Thrills™ – Test your imagination by designing a thrill ride using an interactive touch screen that lets you determine height and speed while adding features such as dips and corkscrew turns. Once “built,” climb aboard your very own design in the 4-D robotic simulator that uses sight, sound and movement to give you a realistic experience. Guests must meet a minimum height requirement of 48 inches to ride and 54 inches to invert on the ride.
  • StormStruck – Experience what it feels like to be in the perfect storm and discover important ways to protect your home and family in case of severe weather.
  • Don’t Waste It! – Play games that challenge you to recycle, reduce and reuse “virtual trash” to create alternate forms of energy to fuel our homes and communities.
  • Test the Limits Lab – Treat yourself to a safety test where you are invited to shatter, drop and impact some of the products you use at home every day. Enjoy a short film hosted by Timon and Pumba and learn how to be “safety smart.”
  • Environmentality Corner – Learn important information on how you can protect and preserve our environment — learn about papermaking and even make a sample to take home .

Exhibits located at Innoventions West:

  • The Great Piggy Bank AdventureSM – Take an exciting learning challenge that incorporates physical and virtual elements to teach everyone in the family the importance of sound financial planning .
  • Smarter Planet – Get a glimpse at how new advances in computer design can significantly reduce our energy use and how technology is utilized to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Create your own avatar, then experience a video game starring — YOU.
  • Videogame Playground – Experience the latest in video game technology as you compete against your favorite sports teams, challenge a villain to a duel or embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure with some of your favorite Disney Characters.
  • Segway Central – Discover the Segway, the world’s first self-balancing, electric-powered personal transporter.
  • Where’s the Fire? – Get your picture taken at the 30-foot pumper truck, become a Fire Chief by answering the most questions at the Burning Questions kiosks, and explore the Play it Safe Maze in this fun exhibit promoting fire safety.

 

Universe of Energy

  • Universe of Energy –   This pavilion hosts “Ellen’s Energy Adventure”  which stars Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the science guy.  The story is a look back at the prehistoric origins of today’s energy sources.  The show starts off in a pre-show area that last 8 minutes.  You are then loaded into a theater area which are really 6 traveling vehicles that take you on a trip to prehistoric times.  The audio-animatronic dinosaur area is very life-like and impressive.  The ride portion of the show does take 37 minutes from beginning to end but the humor and education of Ellen and Bill Nye make it most entertaining. 

 

Mission:Space

  • Mission: Space – This is a motion simulator ride that simulates what an astronaut might experience aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Mars.  Mission: SPACE utilizes a multiple-arm centrifuge that spins and tilts to simulate the illusion of speed and gravitational forces. Realistic sounds from overhead and vivid video images only add to the experience of the simulation.  There are two versions of this ride, Orange Team and Green Team. 

 The Orange Team is a more intense training session and is the original version of the    attraction, where you will experience forces up to 2.4G—more than twice the force of the Earth’s gravitational pull.

The Green Team has a less intense experience. You do not feel forces up to 2.4G when choosing this option. If you are prone to motion sickness, you should opt for the Green Team.

As you are loaded into your spacecraft you will be given the position of either Navigator, Pilot,, Commander, or Engineer.  During the mission you will be given task to perform as part of the mission.  During the simulation, you will be rocketed  around the moon, experience a brief period of simulated hyper-sleep, and land on the reddened surface of Mars, before blasting back to Earth.

There is a height requirement of 44 inches for this attraction and if you are prone to motion sickness you should consider choosing the green team or by-passing it entirely.

 

 Test Track

  • Test Track – This is one of the most popular attractions at Epcot.   Sponsored by General Motors this attraction is a high-speed simulation ride that takes you on a journey through  an automobile testing facility.  You will be loaded into a 6-seat vehicle that will undergo a series of safety and quality test and  where you experience brake and suspension testing.  you are then put onto an outside test track that will take you on a high-speed ride  through banked curves and speeds up to 65 miles an hour.  I will say that it seems like you are going a lot faster.  This is one of the most thrilling rides here at Epcot and thus leading to long lines.  Use a Fast-Pass unless you are able to get here first thing in the morning.  This is a Do Not Miss attraction.

Imagination!

Imagination! – The Imagination pavilion contains attractions, entertainment and shopping that encourage guests of all ages to play and set their imaginations free.  There are 2 main attractions here in the Imagintation pavilion. Journey into Imagination and Captain EO.  Also housed here Image Works.  This is an interactive area for children to help use their imagination.  Lets take a look at the main attractions.   

                                                                 Journey into Imagination

 

  • Journey into Imagination – Take a ride into your imagination with Figmet the purple dragon as your host.  As you board your car you will take a journey of sight, sound, and smell.  Dr Channing is out to prove how the 5 senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound capture and control the imagination.  This is a colorful and whimsical attraction enjoyed by all ages.

 

Captain EO

  • Captain EO –  This is a 3D science fiction film starring Michael Jackson.   This 17-minute 3D film experience was produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  The film originally ran here from 1986 till 1994 when it was replaced by “Honey I Shrunk the Audience”.  Captain EO returned  here in 2010 a year after Jackson’s death.  It is a great 3D film and will be enjoyed by all ages.

 

                                                                                   The Land

 

The Land – This pavilion is dedicated to the land and how we as humans interact with it for benefit and also for the ability to destroy it.  It is a celebration of our environment.  There are several attractions here that we will cover.

 

Living With The Land

  • Living With The Land – Take a 14-minute boat ride through indoor growing areas that explore agricultural advancements.  Guests experience the struggles of the past and plans for farming in the future including Hydroponics, Aeroponics and Aquaculture.  This is a very educational attraction that I always find very fascinating.  This is great for the entire family. 

 

Circle of Life

  • Circle of Life – This 20 minute wide-screen movie is about our relationship with the land.  It is hosted by the stars from The Lion King.  The story is about Pumba and Timon cutting down trees and damming the rivers to build the Hakuna Matata Vacation Resort.  Simba shows up to show them what happens when we don’t take care of our environment.  This is a well made film with outstanding photography.  Scenes were filmed in over 30 countries.

 

Soarin’

  • Soarin’ –  Take flight on this multi-sensory motion simulator ride.  You will be seated on multi-passenger gliders that will lift you up 40 feet in the air in front of a 180º IMAX screen.  You will soar through the clouds and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the spectacular California panoramas.  You will move just like you were on a hang glider itself.  This is by far the most impressive motion simulator ride I have ever experienced.  As you leave you will be begging for more.  This is another very popular attraction and I highly suggest getting there as soon as the park opens or get a FastPass before 10am.  If not you may have a 90 to 120 minute wait ahead of you.  A Do Not Miss attraction!

 

The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends

The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends –  This pavilion is home to a massive aquarium that holds on of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world.   It’s 5.7 million gallon salt-water tank is home to over 6000 inhabitants covering over 60 species of sea life. As well as a playground for our fish friends it is also home to a couple of attractions that also celebrate sea life. 

 

  • The Living Seas With Nemo and Friends Ride – Here you will be loaded into “Clam-Mobiles” and be taken on a field trip with Mr Ray.  Of course along the way Nemo disappears and you are all in pursuit as you travel thru this underwater paradise.  Disney combines the real life of the underwater sea world with the animation of the characters of Nemo.  A very impressive combination and one needed to be seen by the whole family. 

 

Turtle Talk with Crush

  • Turtle Talk with Crush – The Disney Imagineers have created an amazing new technology that uses 3D voice-activated computer animation to communicate with the audience in real-time.  Guests are seated in a small theater with a large screen of the underwater world.   Crush shows up and has conversations and interacts with the audience. Children are encouraged to sit down front on the floor while the adults can use the bench seating. This is an amazing experience that the children and adults will find entertaining.

 

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World Showcase

 The back section of Epcot is called the World Showcase. The World Showcase contains pavilions representing eleven countries. In clockwise order, the pavilions are:

  • Mexico Mexico
  • Norway Norway
  • China China
  • Germany Germany
  • Italy Italy
  • United States The American Adventure
  • Japan Japan
  • Morocco Morocco
  • France France
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom
  • Canada Canada

Each of these pavilions have shops and restaurants, and are designed to represent the people and culture of each country.  Some countries  also contain rides and shows that also are part of the experience.  Each one is also staffed by citizens of these countries, as part of the Cultural Representative Program. Each representative must share their culture and customs with guests visiting their countries over the course of a year while living and working at the Walt Disney World Resort.  This really adds to the experience.  Let’s take a look at each country and what it has to offer.

 

Mexico

  Mexico Mexico –  The Mexico pavilion’s towering pyramid is modeled after an actual Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan, Mexico.  As you enter you will be taken into a plaza filled with festive music.  Enjoy shopping, dining, and be sure to take a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. There is a full service restaurant inside the Mexico Pavillion and a counter service restaurant just outside on the lagoon.  Great place to enjoy Illuminations.

  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros – Take an 8 minute boat ride through the El Rio del Tiempo.  You will travel through the Columbian, Spanish-Colonial, and modern Mexican cultures with Donald Duck and The Three Caballeros as your guide.  Part of the ride is like going through It’s a Small World with the dolls.  Well worth the time and enjoyed by the whole family.

Fun Fact:    The nightly fireworks show “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” is controlled from a small office atop the building. The office’s window is barely visible from street level, but can be seen at an angle.

 Norway

Norway Norway – You will enjoy this lovely Scandinavian village with its stone and wood architecture.  Great place for shopping and dining.  If you like trolls this is the place to be.  Catch the  Maelstrom  an adventure cruise that take you through the history of Norway.  If you are into authentic Norwegian food then stop in at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  A full service restaurant that is home to Princess Storybook Dining.  Enjoy a great buffet meal and as you eat enjoy some of the Princesses as they come by your table for autographs and photos.

  • Maelstrom – A 16 passenger Viking-style boat ride takes you  through a Viking village  waterfalls, and a mythical forest where you are sure to encounter trolls. Hold on it can be a bit rough.   Great for all ages.  As you exit you can stop and enjoy a short film on Norway or if you choose you can skip this portion and exit back outside.

China

China China – You will enter China thru Paifang Gate.  You will soon discover the beauty and the details of this amazing pavilion.  Just thru the Paifaing Gate you will see the Temple of Heaven.  This building serves as the entrance of the “Reflections of China” attraction.  You can also gram some good Chinese food at the full service restaurant Nine Dragons of grab something quick at the Lotus Blossom Cafe.  You can also see the Dragon Legend Acrobats perform during the day at different times.  These children put on a great show and usually attract a big crowd.  You can also spot Mulan around here at different times.

  • Reflections of China – This is a film presented in Circle-Vision 360º.  It takes you on a tour of China’s countryside and historical structures and buildings.  This 13 minute film will take you to the Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City and several scenes from the outlying areas like Hunan and Suzhou. 

 

 

Germany

Germany Germany – Welcome to 16th century Germany.  It’s beautiful architecture and cobble stone plaza transports you back to a charming Bavarian village.  From the Clock Tower that features a glockenspiel that chimes on the hour to the Fountain in the Plaza that portrays St George slaying the dragon these are the focal points of this German Village.  While there are no attractions here guests will have a grand time shopping and eating in the village.  From Beer Steins to Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks or maybe some traditional German candy or wine.  It is all right here in the village along with some very fine crystal.  Looking for traditional German Food.  Biergarten full service restaurant offers a buffet of traditional German foods in a Oktoberfest setting. Sommerfest is a counter service restaurant that offers bratwurst and frankfurters with sauerkraut along with soft pretzels and apple strudel. As you leave the German village head off to the left and catch a glimpse of the German miniature train.  It was built for the Flower and Garden Festival but was left on display due to its popularity.

 

Italy

Italy Italy – Experience the ambience and architecture of Venice complete with the 83-foot bell tower of St. Marks Square.  There is also a replica of the 14th century Doge’s Palace.  In the central plaza you will find the “Fontana de Nettuno”.  This beautiful fountain is a beautiful photo spot.  From time to time you will experience actors and singers performing in the plaza as well.   Be sure to check out the formal garden with its olive trees, Mediterranean citrus, kumquat trees, and the cypress and pine trees. 
There are two opportunities here for dining.  Tutto Italia is a full service restaurant serving traditional Italian cuisine.  Also check out Via Napoli, an authentic Italian pizzeria where guests can watch their pizzas being made then cooked in a massive stone pizza oven.  Finish off your visit shopping for genuine Italian goods including Italian chocolates.

 

 

The American Adventure

United States The American Adventure– The American pavilion is centered directly across the lagoon from Future World.  It’s structures are done in Colonial English Georgian Style.  These buildings were inspired by Independence Hall, Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, and Boston’s Old State House.  The Main Building holds the attraction The American Adventure and a counter service restaurant Liberty Inn which serves of course burgers and hot dogs.    Inside the lobby is a rotunda and is where the Voices of Liberty perform throughout of the day.   The Voices of Liberty is an eight-member a cappella group that hosts patriotic choral performances and one of my favorite shows.  Across from the pavilion is the America Gardens Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater. The America Gardens Theatre hosts concerts, singers, and bands from around the world. Many entertainment acts from around the world perform on this stage. During the holiday season, the theater hosts the Candlelight Processional.  This Disney tradition is a moving presentation of the Christmas story in readings by a celebrity narrator and music by a Mass choir and 50-piece orchestra. A must to see if you are visiting during the christmas holidays.

  • The American Adventure – This attraction is an inspirational story of America shown on a 72-foot screen and with state of the art audio-animatronics.  Hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain along with 35 audio-animatronic figures used in scenes depicting the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock, the Boston Tea Party, George Washington at Valley Forge, the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, slavery and the invention of the telephone. The 29 minute show is presented in a theater-like auditorium, with sets and characters rising out of the stage floor to represent scenes from different historical periods. The characters provide insight into American life of the past through conversations in which they discuss the current events of their time sometimes using actual recordings.  A truly amazing show that everyone should see.

 

Japan

Japan Japan – A towering 5-story blue-roofed pagoda sets the stage in one of the most beautiful pavilions here at Epcot.  The pagoda is a replica of the Horyuji Temple and is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens and footbridges that crossed streams brimming with water lilies and stocked with colorful koi fish. Bamboo, Japanese maples, and monkey puzzle trees along with evergreen shrubs complete the landscape of this Japanese village.   The Japanese pavilion also offers one of the largest shopping venues in the World Showcase.  The Mitsukoshi Department Store offers kimonos, authentic Japanese apparel, Bonsai trees and wind chimes.  If you are a Hello Kitty or Anime fan them you have come to the right place.  One of my favorites is the Pick a Pearl counter.  Guests choose an Oyster from the tank and the Japanese staff member will open it and you will keep the pearl inside. It is a show in itself.  Above the Mitsukoshi Department Store are two full service restaurants.  Teppan Edo is a teppanyaki style restaurant  where chefs prepare stir-fried foods right in front of the guests. Toyoko Dining  restaurant offers traditional Japanese cuisine in a formal modern setting.  Entrees  include sushi and sashimi, steak, chicken, and shrimp.  If you like sushi, this is the place!!

 

Morocco

Morocco Morocco–  The Koutoubia Minaret (a detailed replica of a famous prayer tower in Marrakesh) stands guard over the entrance of Morocco.  The Morocco Pavilion has 2 fascinating sections: the Ville Nouvelle (new city) and the Medina (old city).  In the center of the courtyard is an ornate fountain lined with thousands of multi-colored tiles. Be sure to visit the many shops in the village featuring rugs, brass pots, and handmade crafts for starters. You may also want to visit Restaurant Marrakesh for some traditional Moroccan cuisine while being entertained by beautiful belly dancers.  Aladdin, Genie and Jasmine also have been known to visit these parts.

 

 

France

 

France France– Make your way across the Atlantic to the streets of grand Paris.  The France pavilion is an authentic replica of a Paris neighborhood during the LaBelle Epoque era, which means “The Beautiful Time”.  Beautiful lush gardens and quaint little shops and a scaled down Eiffel Tower put you right into a Paris neighborhood. The center fountain is a great place to sit and relax. or pose for a photo.  There are also two talented performers called the “Serveur Amusant Acrobats” that perform during the day.  They build a tower out of wooden chairs and then balance on top.  Quite an entertaining show.  It its wine or parfume you are looking for then you have come to the right place.  My favorite shop tucked away in the back is the “Boulangerie Patisserie”  A French bakery that serves cookies, croissants, eclairs, mousse, quiche, cheesecake, souffle, tarts, cheese platters and sandwiches accompanied by French roast coffee.  If it’s French cuisine you are looking for then you have two choices.  Les Chefs de France is a full service restaurant that features traditional French cuisine in a more casual setting.  If you are looking for a more elegant evening try Bistro de Paris.  This upscale full service restaurant features gourmet French cuisine in a quieter enviroment.  There is a dress code for this establishment.  The French does have one attraction called Impressions de France

Impressions de France – This is a panoramic film shown throughout the day in the Palais du Cinema.  Unlike the films in China and Canada this theater has seating.  This 18 minute film celebrates the history and pageantry of France.  You will discover the French Alps, the gardens at Versailles, the beaches at Cannes, and the waters of the Seine.  Your tour will be complete as you travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower. 

 

 

Epcot’s International Gateway – Located between the France and United Kingdom pavilions the International Gateway serves as a second admission point into Epcot.  It provides access to the Epcot resorts area hotels –  Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk, Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin.  The Disney resorts are all less than a half-mile walk to the gateway while the Swan and Dolphin are under a mile.  Guests are also able to use the Friendship water launch that services all five resorts.  You can also get to the Disney Studios through this path bu beware it is about a 25-minute walk between Epcot and the Disney Studios.

 

 

United Kingdom

 

United Kingdom United Kingdom – Cobble-stone streets, classic old British architecture and English gardens are experienced here. There’s a wide selection of shops and a street comedy improve troupe here to entertain you.  There are many picturesque locations for you to enjoy.  Take a photo in a working English phone booth or enjoy a concert in the pavilion area from a band called “The British Revolution” that plays music from old British rock bands. Want a real treat then try out the Rose and Crown Pub.  This full service restaurant serves traditional English specialties such as Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash and Cottage Pie.  A variety of beers and ale’s are also offered in this charming little pub.  For a prime view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth from the Rose & Crown Pub & Restaurant, take a seat on the popular patio before sunset. But get there early for a table on the patio cannot be guaranteed; outdoor dining cannot be requested in advanced. Want a quick meal try the Yorkshire County Fish Shop located on the side of the pub.  Here you can get traditional Fish and Chips and also offers imported beers, ciders and soft drinks.  Outdoor seating available.

 

Canada

Canada Canada – The centerpiece in this pavilion is the “Hotel du Canada” which is a replica of the historic hotel “Chateau Laurier” in Ottowa.  The pavilion showcases beautiful gardens, the Rockie Mountains, and a 30-foot waterfall.  Also apparent in the theming are the totem poles that signify the culture of the Northwest.  Canada also has what I consider the best restaurant at Epcot. Le Cellier Steakhouse is located below the Chateau and is designed to resemble a wine cellar.  Stone arches and ambient lighting create an intimate setting.  The food here is fabulous from the bread sticks to a great selection of steaks.  The signature dish here is the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.  You are sure to have a memorable meal here.  The one attraction here is O’Canada located inside the Maple Leaf Mine.

  • O’ Canada – This 14-minute film is presented in CircleVision 360 and highlights Canada’s natural beauty, it’s cities and diverse population.  This beautiful film features footage from Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, and Niagara Falls and is narrated by Canadian comedian Martin Short. This is an updated version that replaced the original film in 2007.  Great for the whole family.

 

 

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