For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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Epcot Day 1 Disney World Genie+ Itinerary



By Dave Shute

(Note: this is from the Disney World Genie+ Itinerary.)

SUGGESTED APPROACH TO EPCOT WITH COSMIC REWIND OPEN

Think of Epcot as being two parks combined into one: what used to be Future World (now being transformed into “World Nature,” “World Celebration,” and “World Discovery”) somewhat explores ideas, technology, and the planet Earth, and has most of the attractions; World Showcase suggests a permanent World’s Fair, with an intriguing mix of attractions, cultural experiences, themed architecture, shopping and dining.

The favorite Disney World park of some adults, Epcot has recently deepened its attractiveness to children (historically Epcot’s weakest feature). Epcot has opened over the past few years new and newly reimagined attractions aimed at the younger set, including Frozen Ever After, a Frozen Meet and Greet, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Harmonious, a Disney-character-oriented evening show. On May 27, another broadly appealing attraction (albeit one with a 42” minimum height requirement at a bit of a motion-sickness warning), Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, opened. Also under construction and expected to open in 2022 is a walk-through attraction about water, Journey of Water, Inspired by ‘Moana’.”

Construction has led to the center of the old Future World section of Epcot being a bit of a mess, and the park at still uncomfortably straddles two audiences, not yet being quite enough kid-pleasing (although much better than it was), while disappointing those whose greatest admiration for Epcot is reserved for incarnations from the 1980s and 1990s much more focused on ideas, technology, and the planet Earth.

Purely on attractions—and like Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot offers much more than attractions—the best at Epcot includes (in alphabetical order) The American Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the evening show Harmonious, Mission: SPACE; Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Soarin’ Around the World, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track. Experienced Epcot fans would likely add Turtle Talk with Crush in the Seas Pavilion and both the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along and Impressions de France in the France Pavilion.

Most of these rides are accessible via Disney’s new paid systems, either “Individual Lightning Lane” (typically Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind), or Genie+ (most of the rest—not, though, The American Adventure, Harmonious, or Impressions de France).

Other, more minor, rides are also available in Genie+.

While the Individual Lightning Lane options can save substantial waiting time, until Comic Rewind opened and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure moved to Genie+, little in Epcot much repaid Genie+. However, Genie+ will now be more valuable at Epcot, especially for Remy, Test Track and Frozen Ever After. A particular value to Genie+ for Test Track is that the ride not infrequently closes due to weather or other issues, so Genie+ helps with getting a return time if it is closed during your window.

Most of these better attractions are also available during Early Entry, including Remy and Frozen Ever After—although again not The American Adventure, Harmonious, or Impressions de France. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened as a boarding group/virtual queue ride, and I expect that so long as it remains in that status, it will not be available during Early Entry. However, those eligible for Extended Evening Hours will have a special additional 6p option for booking a boarding group during the extended hours.

While you can successfully do much of the best of Epcot in one long day (albeit with much skipping, and much walking), Epcot repays attention beyond the attractions, and it’s hard to predict ahead of time what parts of Epcot will most appeal to your group. Thus, my suggested itinerary divides Epcot over two days.

EPCOT DAY 1: FIRST SATURDAY AGENDA

Your plan today is to see Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and also two or three key Epcot World Showcase attractions, and fit in among these what you can of other parts of Epcot’s World Showcase. You will complete your Epcot visit on another day.

You need to book an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) visit to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and also Genie+ for both Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and, if it sounds like fun to you, also for Frozen Ever After.

Your other priority today is seeing Epcot’s evening show Harmonious.

Given limitations coming out of COVID, I don’t particularly recommend any table-service dinner reservations. Pre-COVID, I would have recommended for dinner the Princess meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (which has not yet re-opened) or the San Angel Inn, which is open, at around 6p.

LOGISTICS

At 7a, book an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) time for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Genie+ for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.  If it sounds like fun, later Sunday morning (2 hours after park open), come back to Genie+ and book Genie+ for Frozen Ever After.

Book all these to begin no earlier than four hours after you expect to arrive in Orlando, and try to book Cosmic Rewind for the first hour you are in the park. Note you may have to keep coming back to find a Genie+ time for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure that works for your park arrival time.

Arrive at your hotel, and check in. Unless you are arriving late, your room will likely not be ready, but you can leave your bags.

Head to Epcot as soon as you can.

AT THE PARK

Your plan today is to see Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, two or three key Epcot World Showcase attractions, including its nighttime fireworks show Harmonious, and to fit in among these what you can of other parts of Epcot’s World Showcase. (You will complete World Showcase on Day 2.)

You should have ILL for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Genie+ for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and, if you are interested, also Genie+ for Frozen Ever After.

Those arriving late may have to thin the below to just Guardians, Remy, and Harmonious.

Go through the turnstiles and pick up a park map and “Times Guide”–a schedule.

Head to your first booked ride, ideally Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and then head to World Showcase, and while keeping an eye out for your Genie+ return times, see the pavilions starting with Mexico and going clockwise.

  • Each pavilion will have some or all of shopping, special exhibits, a ride, a movie, and other special features.
  • Check your map, times guide, and the pavilion itself, to see what each pavilion has.
  • For scheduled events, sequence what you do when among items that are not scheduled (shops, exhibits, and rides), and bounce back and forth between nearby pavilions, so that you don’t have to wait long for the scheduled item

Have dinner from a convenient counter service. (World Showcase is loaded with them)

Continue touring World Showcase clockwise until no later than 8:30p

Pick a spot for Harmonious. From where you are likely to be, the stretch along the lagoon between the American Adventure Pavilion and the Japan Pavilion is likely best. If you are ready well before 8.30p, then the other end of World Showcase—the area just at the edge of World Showcase and the rest of Epcot, between the Disney Traders and Port of Entry gift shops—is a great place to watch from, but it fills up much earlier and sometimes is used for special events.

Watch Harmonious, and on your way out of the park, be sure to watch the lights on Spaceship Earth.

Return to your hotel.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW

You will complete some early logistics tasks, then have the morning off before spending the first of two days at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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