I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite Disney Parks during opening week, and I am thrilled to share my reopening report with you. In this article you will find full details on what a safe and social distant Epcot looks like, where to find characters and relaxation stations and available dining and shopping.
We rode the Skyliner to Epcot from Pop Century and arrived at the International Gateway entrance around 10:20AM.
Despite the never ending construction walls, most rides and shows are open to visitors.
The only Epcot attraction that did not reopen on July 15th is the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along.
In Future World we were able to enjoy our favorite ride, Soarin’ Around the World with only a 10 minute wait. The queue is clearly marked with social distancing stickers and large circle dots for each party to wait on prior to boarding. On the ride there are plastic dividers placed on what appear to be booster seats to separate each party of guests.
Before leaving the The Land Pavilion, I took a ride on Living with the Land. This boat tour transports guest into a giant greenhouse and shows firsthand how Walt Disney World horticulturists are using innovative growing techniques and cross-breeding crops to help feed the planet.
There were not plastic dividers in place on the boats when Epcot reopened to guests on July 15th, guests were distanced by sitting in every other row.
However, on a recent visit to the attraction, Kenny was able to report that hanging plastic dividers have now been installed on the boats. You can read about the new safety measures on Living with the Land HERE.
Spaceship Earth was originally scheduled to close for refurbishment at the end of May 2020, so I was happy to see it on the list of attractions that would be open and looked forward to one last nostalgic ride to see the Phoenicians.
However, it appears that Spaceship Earth will be with us a little longer than planned, upon opening, guests discovered the segments previewing the reimagined Spaceship Earth had been removed from The Epcot Experience.
The Epcot Experience is an immersive 360-degree film that showcases the future transformation of Epcot and features snapshots of upcoming experiences.
You can read about the removal of the Spaceship Earth refurbishment and another future attraction we are sad to see missing from the updated The Epcot Experience HERE.
Test Track was not running during the morning of our visit. When I stopped back to visit later that afternoon I was able to walk through the socially distanced queue with no wait.
The interactive screens to build your own vehicle were not operating. Each ride party is given their own vehicle, meaning if you are a party of one, you get the whole car to yourself. There is no longer a single rider line available for the attraction.
Both Journey Into Imagination with Figment and The Seas with Nemo and Friends had no wait to ride even with social distancing stickers in their queues. The Cast Members were leaving an empty clamshell in between each party on the Seas with Nemo and Friends.
Most of the high touch interactive ‘What If’ Labs that are located at the end of Journey Into Imagination with Figment in the Imageworks building were closed to guests.
As we traveled World Showcase we stopped in Mexico to take a ride on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. There is limited space to distance the line for this ride so Disney has installed plexiglass in this queue to protect guests. Guests are distanced and only seated in the first and last rows of the boat.
Frozen Ever After posted the longest wait of the day at 30 minutes, but we only waited about 15. Similar to Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, guests are seated in the front and back rows of the boat to distance parties.
Throughout the day the line was backed up all the way to Askershus, but this is due to limited space to social distance inside the queue and it moves fairly quickly.
As you travel around the World Showcase, you will find socially distanced presentations of Canada Far and Wide, Impressions de France, Reflections of China and The American Adventure.
Many rows and chairs are closed throughout the theaters to keep each party distanced from one another.
For a full list of open rides, attractions and times, make sure you visit the Epcot tab on Character Locator.
One of the amazing things about visiting The World Showcase is that it is usually full of authentic Cast Members from around the world but today felt much different.
I saw a few Cast Members from France and another from Canada but overall there were very few Cultural Representatives around the World Showcase.
Earlier this summer we shared the unfortunate news that the Epcot World Showcase may reopen without Cultural Representatives.
The Cultural Representative Program plays a huge role in creating an immersive experience at Epcot.
I love trying new cuisines and snacking around the world while visiting Epcot, so I was excited to hear that the Food and Wine Festival would begin the same day Epcot opened to guests.
I always use Character Locator to find menus and maps to navigate my way around the festival.
This year the festival is somewhat smaller and modified but still delicious. There are about 20 booths to choose from. A few treats are newcomers to the festival but the majority are fan favorites.
Four of the booths are located in the air conditioned World Showplace Pavilion that is located between Canada and United Kingdom. There are also several socially distanced tables inside the World Showplace Pavilion to eat at.
You can see all of this years Food and Wine Festival booths and menus in our guide HERE.
Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt has also returned this year to the Food and Wine Festival. For $7.99, you can purchase and interactive sticker map and hunt for Remy in every country around the World Showcase.
Once you find Remy in each of his hiding spots and complete the sticker map, you can claim a fun prize!
Although Epcot has not officially released an opening date for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, I did get a glimpse of the signage that has added to the exterior of this attraction.
You can get a sneak peek of what you will experience very soon on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure HERE.
There are three official Relaxation Stations located in Epcot.
While traveling the World Showcase, you can take a rest break at the Relaxation Station near the United Kingdom Pavilion. There are both seated and standing tables available. All of the seated tables have umbrellas to provide guests a shaded rest area.
The second outdoor location offers standing only tables in Future World near Test Track and Mission: SPACE. There are umbrellas covering each table to provide guests a little reprieve from the heat while taking a mask free break.
Epcot’s only indoor Relaxation Station is found inside Akershus at the Norway Pavilion. It provides a large space for guests to sit down, spread out and cool off.
If you are not in a Relaxation Station, you can only take your mask off to eat or drink when stationary and maintaining proper physical distancing. There are some stand up tables socially distanced near each of the Food and Wine Festival booths.
Check out our Complete Guide to Walt Disney World Relaxation Stations for details and photographs from Relaxation Stations across all four Disney World Parks.
Three different Character Cavalcades travel around Epcot’s World Showcase randomly.
In the Mickey & Friends World Tour, Goofy and Pluto walk ahead of a postage stamp decorated Rolls Royce convertible holding our beloved world travelers Mickey and Minnie.
Princesses Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, and Snow White travel the world in a horse drawn carriage in the Princess Promenade.
Each Princess sat on different sides of the trolley and partitions were installed to separate the seating.
The Frozen Promenade features our favorite sisters Anna and Elsa.
Anna waves to guests from a horse drawn carriage while Elsa greets her fans on foot wearing her white dress from Frozen II as they travel the World Showcase.
YOU CAN STILL USE MANY OF THE GREAT TIPS ON CHARACTER LOCATOR TO INTERACT with CHARACTERS THAT POP UP IN EPCOT.
I was able to take a photo from a distance with Mary Poppins as she greeted guests in the UK Pavilion while enjoying a nice cup of tea.
Guests can also find fun characters near the Imagination Pavilion as Winnie the Pooh and Joy, from Inside Out, have been seen playing in the grass.
Make sure you subscribe to Character Locator for insider tips on where to find characters in all four parks!
Live performers around the World Showcase are what makes Epcot so authentic and unique. On prior Epcot visits, my family loved to watch the Matsuriza in Japan and hear the Voices of Liberty sing. It felt like there was live entertainment everywhere you turned in the World Showcase.
After reopening, you can find the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre performing for guests on the American Gardens stage instead of in their respective locations in Future World and Mexico. They each perform several times throughout the day for about 15 minutes.
The benches at the American Gardens Stage are clearly marked with social distancing stickers.
There are also several closed rows to distance guests.
I had the opportunity to see both the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre perform. The JAMMitors were enthusiastic and encouraged the audience to clap along to their beats.
Mariachi Cobre began their performance by telling the audience how happy they were to be back at Epcot performing for guests. You can find all of the showtimes for the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre on Character Locator.
If you are lucky, you may also find Carol from the Rose and Crown playing piano at the UK Pavilion Gazebo – make sure to check Character Locator for her schedule.
Many of Epcot’s 50+ dining locations remain closed, but you won’t go hungry! There are still plenty of options to please every taste palate. Be sure to check your Character Locator app for the most updated menus and hours especially during this phased reopening.
Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale are ready to greet guests for lunch or dinner at Garden Grill. Our very own Kenny the Pirate recently enjoyed a meal here and you can read his detailed review HERE.
This is one of two socially distanced character dining experiences that are currently open to guests. The second is just a Skyliner ride away from Epcot at Topolino’s Terrace in the beautiful Riviera Resort.
In addition to Garden Grill, you can also make a reservation for a table service meal at:
- Biergarten Restaurant
- Coral Reef Restaurant
- La Hacienda de San Angel (Dinner only)
- Le Cellier Steakhouse
- Rose & Crown Dining Room (Dinner only)
- San Angel Inn Restaurante (Dinner only)
- Spice Road Table
- Tutto Italia (Dinner only)
- Via Napoli
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue, located near America in the World Showcase, and Sunshine Seasons, located in the Land Pavilion, are the only Quick Service Locations in Epcot that offer mobile ordering.
Additional Quick Service locations that are open include:
- Katsura Grill
- La Cantina de San Angel
- La Cava de Tequila
- Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
- Rose & Crown Pub
- Tangierine Café
- Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
Shopping around the world is almost as fun as snacking around the world at Epcot, but there are limited shopping locations open right now.
More than 30 retail locations did not reopen with the park on July 15, and many of them are located in World Showcase. I still enjoyed strolling through the open shops and window shopping.
Every retail location is clearly marked with social distancing floor stickers, and if there are too many shoppers to maintain safe social distancing, you are asked to wait outside or join a virtual shopping queue.
Mouse Gear has moved to it’s new temporary location at Innovations East and is about half the size of the original but there is still plenty of Disney merchandise to choose from. Also, through August 14, 2020 Annual Passholders receive 30% off when purchasing merchandise.
We also have some good news for Flower and Garden Festival Fans! There are several pop up stores and kiosks stocked full of bright, beautiful Flower and Garden merchandise located throughout the park.
I did not see any Food and Wine Festival merchandise out yet, but the Cast Member I asked said it would be arriving in parks early this fall.
Epcot has always been one of my favorite parks as an adult, and it was still magical during this visit.
It was fun to see the Flower and Garden Festival intertwined with the Food and Wine Festival.
The Character Cavalcades are amazing addition, and I hope they stay. Also, I enjoyed the pop up characters throughout the park.
Of the four parks I visited, it definitely felt the most different though, part of that is due to all of the construction in Future World and the other part is because I miss the Cultural Representative Cast Members and talented entertainers in World Showcase.
I do plan on taking my family whole back soon as we love seeing Epcot decorated for the holidays. I look forward to seeing Cultural Representative Cast Members back in World Showcase as soon as it is safe for them to return.
Interested in knowing how Animal Kingdom is operating? Click HERE.
Have you had a chance to explore Epcot since it reopened mid July? Do you have a future trip planned? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, on the Kenny the Pirate Facebook page or in our KtP crew page too!