Upon arrival to Epcot, there may be some anxiety regarding your plan of action. The park is large, second only to Animal Kingdom. It's also split into two completely different sections and, from this frequent park-goer's perspective, should be treated separately. Not just by the guests, but by Disney as well. If we had the ability to do either the first, more attraction-focused area or the back, World Showcase area, we may be able to save a little money and cut down on attendance size (there have been misconceptions about attendance, but the fact is the parks are busier than ever before). In short, Epcot is a place that can best be appreciated with some semblance of a plan.
For now, let's discuss the World Showcase. It's close to my heart, and I have substantial experience in the area. To be clear, this is not "How to Drink Super Hard Around the World". I love doing it, but there's not much to cover when it comes to drinking. Maybe we can discuss the rules for drinking around the world one day, but this article's focus is on how to best enjoy the Showcase.
When to Begin: Timing Your Trek with IlluminationsGiphy
Illuminations, a brilliant 360-degree spectacle of fire and light celebrating our world's cultures, begins at 9 PM. It's an exhilarating show that ends the night with hope and inspiration; a nice substitute to the usual consuming exhaustion associated with a long day at Disney. Although we wake up at 5 AM dressed and ready to hit the parks, that energy rarely lasts. Excuses come easier as the day goes on to head back to the hotel for a nap that turns into a much longer reprieve. To avoid these common issues, don't start in to the World Showcase until the proper time.
If you want to be at the Showcase Plaza – the entrance to the World Showcase directly facing the America Gardens Theater – by 8:30 PM to find a good viewing area, look to start your journey at noon. The mathematical evidence? There are 11 countries in the World Showcase, all of which are unique and deserving of a guest's attention. If 45 minutes is allotted per country to partake in food, drink, exploration, and learning, then it will take almost exactly 8.5 hours to circumnavigate the Showcase. It's important to note: you may not spend 45 minutes in every country. Some might be less time, and others more. The point is, planning for 45 minutes per country gives enough time to relax, explore, and still make it to a viewing point for the great Illuminations.
Where to Start? Clockwise through Mexico Only
Amateurs may argue it doesn't matter where you start, but that's just poor advice. For reasons unknown (curses, gravitational pull, habit, global warming), moving clockwise guarantees smooth trekking. Also, if you look at the Epcot World Showcase map, it lists the countries in a clockwise order. It's as if it were designed by Imagineers to be enjoyed a certain way!
The long journey around the World Showcase Lagoon best starts in the beautiful country of Mexico. It's well-designed, colorful, and offers a myriad of experiences. Along with some entertaining merchandise and palatable quick-service food, Mexico features a large Mesoamerican pyramid housing a ride, meals with atmosphere, and tequila!
It would be unfair to simply say starting in Mexico is the best option and not acknowledge the other option. Counter-clockwise will begin your path in Canada; a country that is best enjoyed later in the day. While Mexico is in full swing by noon, the country of Canada likes to sleep in. Their beer, entertainment, and unparalleled steakhouse Le Cellier are best enjoyed at night. The same can be said for the next country on the block, United Kingdom. They truly begin to offer their delights later in the day and can even act as a second wind for those tired from their trek.
So where to start? Clockwise into Mexico where you can take a boat ride hosted by the Tres Caballeros, drink fine tequila in La Cava del Tequila, and decide if your dinner should be enjoyed by a twilight-encapsulated volcano.
Organized, Yet FlexibleGiphy
A book could be written about traversing the World Showcase at Epcot. From its history, construction, and future, to its offerings, intricacies, and menus, it's a behemoth to tackle. So here is a valuable tip that may elevate your experience from good to magical.
Enjoy yourself within the guidelines of a plan. Knowing where and when to start is an invaluable framework in which to create a more detailed strategy. Just remember it's about the journey, not completing a checklist. If the country of Italy has you enraptured, then let it go, enjoy to your heart's content, and adjust the schedule accordingly. Magic is bound to appear in all things Disney but can be easy to miss if you spend your time glued to a schedule.