Epcot is one of the five theme parks in Walt Disney World Resort at Bay Lake, Orlando, Florida. Owned and operated by the Walt Disney Company Parks and Resorts division. It is one of the few parks the result of the brain child of Walt Disney himself, who coined and developed the idea of a separate park focused as a utopian city of the future called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
The park opened on October, 1982, the 120 hectares park is well served by the Walt Disney World resort monorail, which zips you from the central bus station through the park hotel circling around the Iconic “Epcot ball”, a geodesic sphere and home to an indoor dark ride called Spaceship Earth. Epcot is divided into two main themed areas: Future World and the World Showcase, the first has a focus on more forward looking futuristic themed rides while the latter comprise of nicely themed static displays which I found is like a permanent world’s fair. A central man-made lake sits in the middle of the park, with the various sections of the park encircling it.
As the name suggests, this section of park is set into the forward looking future, not quite like the “Tomorrow land” of Walt Disney Magic Kingdom, but rather like a futuristic world expo with open walkways, nicely manicured lawns and flowers with various rides littered around the area. Most of the rides here have a learning experience element to it as well, putting visitors on a learning journey in typical Disney story-telling fashion which is what they are widely known for.
Spaceship Earth, as previously introduced is a slow moving gondola dark ride very similar to the Haunted mansion slow ride in Magic kingdom. In fact, it was told that the closed loop gondola ride system which imagineers (Disney engineers) devised here is used similarly at various Disney rides around the world. The ride puts you on a rotating gondola, facing you to areas of interest in teaching you about the world around us and our responsibilities to build a sustainable and responsible future.
Going on the energy theme is the Universe of Energy attraction too. With visual elements by Ellen DeGeneres, the ride is a 45 minute large format multimedia show and slow moving dark ride going through time and Ellen’s subconscious with audio animatronic elements such as dinosaurs.
The INNOVENTIONS building is one large activity center of all things cool. The cavernous activity center houses several activity areas. Most of the attractions here are temporary and are rotated once in a while. One nice notable ride here will be the “Sum of All Thrills”. Opened on October 2009, it is a roller coaster simulator sponsored by Raytheon, where you can go about custom- designing your own coaster course thrill ride using automated mathematical tools, and adding inversion elements such as loops and corkscrews through an interactive touch-screen table and “ride it” on a gondola mounted on the working end of a repurposed industrial robot arm to simulate the ride movement- no tow rides will be the same!
Other notable rides of interest will include Turtle Talk with Crush, with real-time Q-and-A interactive show segments session with the totally friendly tubular turtle from Finding Nemo/Dory. It is similar to the Monsters Inc. laugh floor standup show in Magic Kingdom. Test Track is a neat launched round circuit ride, while Mission: Space provides for an authentic NASA-style training and an out-of-this-world space launch on this shuttle simulator. Soarin’, is a flying simulator ride where riders get to sit in suspended ride gondolas modeled after Hang gliders, putting you through a video fly through various landmarks around the world and living with the land. Imagination!, the journey into imagination with Figment, is a 11 minute dark ride originally opened on 1983 and underwent a few upgrades with the theme song “One Little Spark,” composed by the Sherman Brothers. Introducing you to the Institute of five labs based on the five human senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste.
World Showcase pavilions
The other main half of Epcot are the World Showcase pavilions. There are no rides here, but just displays of landscaping and visual beauty. The pavilions are synonymous to a permanent world’s fair comprises of 11 independent pavilions, each themed and dedicated to represent a specific country. The sections are split into region-specific areas, such as the Americas with United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico for instance.
Most of the world showcase pavilions are non-functional miniaturized versions of their actual buildings they represent, but looks good in person to pass off as accurate replicas on photo. For the European region, we have Norway, Germany, Italy, Morocco and France. Disney never fails to impress in terms to their attention to detail on landscaping, the building details, mud houses, waterfalls in the XX section are nicely integrated. Even the buildings in the Asia section (China and Japan) spots authentic-looking pagodas and wooden houses.
To top it all up, every day upon nightfall, the park does its trademark IllumiNations display. It is a pyrotechnic lightshow showcasing the reflections of earth right on the park’s central lake which is viewable from all areas in the park by the waterway.
You will be good for a half to full day visit to Epcot, though it does not have much of thrill rides to cater for an adventure-seeking crowd. I found the attractions refreshing from your typical Disneyland theme park, and still please all ages, though it might get old after a couple of revisits. Kids will love this park for the number of family-friendly interactive activity areas which can involve the entire family. Most of the rides are slow interactive rides suitable for the elderly too. Epcot will be a good secondary park if you are planning to take an entire day to chill out at a slow park or part of a park hopper together with say, the Magic kingdom park on the same day.
View more photos of Disneyland Epcot here.