One of the reasons guests keep coming back to Walt Disney World for repeat visits, year after year, is that there’s always something new to discover in the parks. Of course, Disney is always reinventing attractions, retrofitting restaurant locations, tweaking character experiences, and plussing rides – not to mention opening entirely new lands. But a separate reason you keep discovering new magic is the fact that some of it is hard to find, though it’s been there all along. Like all the parks, Epcot has secrets waiting to be uncovered by you!
5 Fun Epcot Secrets
- The backdoor! Even guests who know Disney fairly well may not realize that guests of the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk resorts on Crescent Lake (as well as the Swan and Dolphin) have a backdoor entrance into Epcot. At the International Gateway, tucked back between the France and UK pavilions, guests arrive on foot along the canal-side pathway or by Friendship boat. You could take the boat to Epcot’s International Gateway all the way from Hollywood Studios, if that suited your plans. (You could even walk to Epcot from the Studios, but that would be a substantial hike – and most Disney guests find that just exploring the parks can give them blisters enough.) The back entrance to Epcot can be convenient for guests dining at Crescent Lake resorts. If Disney transportation has brought you to the Beach Club for Minnie Mouse’s breakfast at Cape May Cafe, you could walk to International Gateway, spend the day at Epcot, and take a bus back to your resort from the front of the park.
- Character training grounds. A little known secret is the number of character greeting “Training meets.” These are somewhat low-traffic locations where new “friends” of the characters can get experience meeting guests before taking on busier meet and greet locations or character meals. September and November are the best months to find lots of characters in training (particularly the rare variety – such as ‘Brer Fox or ‘Brer Bear, Megara, Genie, Bolt, Mr. Smee, etc.), in preparation for the seasonal evening party nights for Halloween and Christmas. Where are they? One of the character training locations is just inside Secret #1, Epcot’s backdoor, aka International Gateway. After passing through the entrance tapstiles, you may find a character waiting for you off on the right hand side of the pathway (the line for characters here is almost always very short). If you’re crossing the bridge between France and the UK, you could glance down at this area to see who’s out. Two other good spots are the area between Canada and the UK (in front of the World Showplace gates) as well between the American Adventure and Italy pavilions. These character training greets are not included on the official Times Guide entertainment schedule you receive at the park entrance, so you have to keep your eyes open to see if you can spot a special someone making a rare appearance. (Is that Jiminy Cricket??)
- A secret lounge! Your pass into this lounge is your Chase credit or debit card – so be sure to bring it along to Florida if you have one! It isn’t only a Disney Visa card that’s required — any Chase credit or debit card will do. As a sponsor of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Chase is hosting this lounge for card members. From 11:00 a.m. until Epcot closes. you can stop into a private Chase cardholders-only retreat on the third floor of the American Adventure Pavilion to cool off, rest in a comfortable chair, and enjoy a complimentary beverage. Chase’s sign will welcome you to “Stop for a sip, or sit for a bit.” The kids will enjoy experimenting with the Coke Freestyle machines. Coffee is also available, as well as alcohol at a cash bar. While you’re recharging yourself, you can also refresh your mobile device batteries at charging stations. Separate theme park admission is required, of course. Generally, the cast members will allow admission to up to four guests for each Chase card shown (so if you’re traveling with a larger group, bring two or more Chase cards). While there, ask about a special reserved IllumiNations viewing area for Chase members.
- You can amaze your family by pointing out some surprising Epcot trivia – such as the fact that you can clearly see the Tower of Terror from the World Showcase Lagoon. Imagineers knew there would be no way to hide it, so they left in plain sight – painted in the same salmon-colored palette as the buildings of the Morocco pavilion over which it towers in the distance. It’s not easy to find just the right spot, but you want to be directly across from Morocco, near the water, not far from the boat dock closest to Canada. You can also point out another feature at Epcot that most people miss entirely – they don’t walk by it, they walk over it! As you stroll from France to Morocco, watch for a curving strip of pavement made from a contrasting material, intended to represent the Straits of Gibraltar. Similarly, when you walk from the France pavilion to the UK , a bridge takes you across “The English Channel.”
- If the changing colors on Cinderella’s Castle are the “kiss goodnight” at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot’s kiss goodnight is the magical display of twinkling fiber optic lights in the pavement on either of the pathways that flank the Epcot ball. The patterns are different on the two pathways, so take time to see them both. The paved squares in front of Innoventions West have the most intricate changing patterns of lights. If you turn your camera’s flash off and have steady hands, you might be able to capture a photo of the pixie dust underfoot. The fairy lights make for a magical end to a great day at Epcot.
What is your favorite Epcot secret?