Epcot Crowds present a challenge to an orderly Walt Disney World vacation. Epcot is the number two theme park in the whole world in terms of guests per day. The challenge comes with the sheer size of the park and the small number of headliner attractions.
So Dad, just how do we overcome the "challenge" of the crowds at Epcot?
Good question. Thought you'd never ask. Read on ...
Mission Space without crowds
Beating Epcot Crowds
Beating Epcot Crowds is all about 3 attractions. That's it. If you get through those 3 attractions without standing in line, you'll probably beat the crowds. Pretty simple, right?
Now all we have to do is figure out how to get through those 3 attractions. It's OK, Dad knows ...
Dad's favorite time to visit Disney World is Christmas - Photo by Don Sullivan
Choose the best time to visit
The best way to deal with all the lines and Epcot Crowds is to choose the best time to visit. It's amazing how the crowds can change from week to week and even day to day. Just a couple of days can make a huge difference in the amount of time you stand in line.
Dad's got all the information you need to make a well informed decision about when to visit Disney World. We talk about the crowds, the prices, the events and even the weather to help you determine when the Perfect time is for your trip.
Dad's even got a page with the 5 best weeks to visit to give you a list to start from. It's pretty cool.
Early morning crowds arriving at Epcot - Photo by Express Monorail
Get to the park early
Do you want the number one secret to avoiding Epcot Crowds. In fact, this might be more important at Epcot than at any other park. What's the secret? It's get to the park early. Yes, I know, you're on vacation. You want to relax. But I'm telling you getting to the park early is essential. (See what Epcot Crowds are like when you arrive late.)
The first 3 hours of the day are the least busy. That's a fact. Take Soarin' for example. You can ride Soarin' in the first hour without really waiting in line (maybe 10 or 15 minutes). By noon the wait time will be 90 minutes and by mid-afternoon it will be 12o minutes. That's a fairly normal day for Soarin'.
It just makes sense. Not everyone arrives at park at the same time. The parks tend to reach their highest capacity in mid-afternoon. The crowds will start going down around dinnertime. That means the best time to get through the lines is early in the morning, so come on, get out of bed and let's have some fun.
Epcot is a big place - Photo by Jeff_B.
Have a plan
Epcot is a big place. It's over a mile walk from the front gate back to the American Adventure. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, there is not a central hub which makes it easy to get across the park. Backtracking from the World Showcase to Future World is not really very practical. That's why Dad always recommends you have a plan.
Your Plan to be the Epcot Crowds can be pretty simple. Epcot is very easy to get around in. It's very linear, especially the World Showcase. You will need a plan on how you are going to tackle the "Big 3" (we'll talk about that in a minute). Other than the "Big 3" you'll just go to the next pavilion.
The World Showcase plan is pretty easy. You just start at one side or the other (it really doesn't matter) and make your way around the lagoon. (We like to start on the Canada side because we love eating lunch at Yorkshire County Fish Shop.)
If you don't have a plan, get one. Oh, you need some help. Check out Touringplans.com for all the planning information you'll ever need. You'll find over 140 touring plans to choose from. There's a plan that will suit almost any situation. They've also have great information on crowds, lines at the parks, park hours and even show times.
The monorail arriving at Future World - Photo by Tom Bricker
Start in Future World
Your day will start in Future World (duh) for three reasons. First, that's probably where you'll come in. Unless you are staying in the Boardwalk area, you'll come in the front gate which opens into Future World.
Second, it's where the "Big 3" are located (see The "Big 3" below). The third reason is probably the biggest. The World Showcase doesn't open until 11am so if you are following Dad's get to the park early recommendation, you will have to stay in Future World because the World Showcase won't be open.
Test Track is one of the Big 3 - Photo by Express Monorail
The "Big 3"
The "Big 3" rides are ... Drum Roll Please ... Soarin', Test Track and Mission Space. I'm sure you'd already figured that one out. The line for Soarin' and the new Test Track will approach 2 hours almost every day. Mission Space isn't quite as bad, but it will still have a 90 minute wait at times.
These are the 3 biggies. If you get through these lines without much delay you'll be in good shape. So how are we going to get through the "Big 3" without waiting in lines?
The FASTPASS line goes right by the regular line on Test Track - Photo by insidethemagic
FASTPASS is the primary tool for bypassing Epcot Crowds on the "Big 3" rides, but it's a bit tricky. All 3 of the attractions have FASTPASS, but because of the time rules, you probably won't be able to get more than one pass. So here's what I would suggest ...
As soon as you arrive in the park walk directly to Soarin' and get a FASTPASS. Then go over and ride Test Track and Mission Space (in that order). By the time you finish it should be about time to go back over to Soarin'
Check the Single Rider Wait time - Photo by Ricky Brigante
Single Rider Line
One really nice way to avoid the lines at Test Track is to use the Single Rider Line. This doesn't work for everyone, but if your party can spit up then you'll save a ton of time standing in line by using the Single Rider Line. Usually the wait time on the single rider line is less than 15 minutes.
The Green Line
The way to save time on Mission Space is to use the Green Line (it's Dad's favorite). The Green Line is for people that have motion sickness problems. You won't feel the G-forces, but you do still get a great experience.
Extra Magic Hours
Disney's Extra Magic Hours are a great way to avoid Epcot Crowds. Extra Magic Hours allow guests staying in one of the Disney Hotels to get in the park one hour before it opens or two hours after it closes. These hours are prime touring time.
There is a drawback to Extra Magic Hours. The park tends to be a little busier on EMH days than on non-EMH days. If you have the park hopper option, you might want to take advantage of EMH then leave the park or come late and stay late.
While avoiding Epcot Crowds is all about the "Big 3" there are some other things that you need to know.
- Spaceship Earth is busiest in the middle of the day. You might try first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
- Journey to Imagination and The Universe of Energy are rarely busy. You almost never have to wait in line for those attractions. (The Universe of Energy is a great place to cool off. It's 45 minutes or more in air conditioning.)
- Lines can build up a bit for The Three Caballeros and Maelstrom. The best times to ride those are when the World Showcase first opens or supper time.
- Usually you don't have to wait too long for the movies in the World Showcase.
Dad's Bottom Line
Avoiding Epcot Crowds is a noble and time honored goal. Even during the busiest times it can be done. Make a plan, be ready to improvise and don't skip the extras. You'll have a ball (yeah, a big sliver ball).