Magic is making its way back into the world! This past weekend, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened to the public, and tomorrow, July 15th, Disney’s EPCOT and Hollywood Studios will do the same.
Disney has been doing great work when it comes to keeping both guests and cast members safe during these unprecedented times, and EPCOT is a prime example of this.
I’m going to take you through EPCOT and what you can expect when you visit the park on your next visit to Disney World!
Entering the Park
Safety starts in the parking lot at EPCOT, where guests are instructed to park their cars in every other parking spot, making sure there is plenty of space for guests to exit their cars and stay within the six feet physical distancing parameters.
As guests have seen at Disney Springs and other Disney parks, before entering the park there are signs reiterating the importance of wearing a face mask, and guests have their temperature taken by Advent Health workers.
Security is much different from before.
Instead of security going through each bag, guests are prompted to take out any metal objects (keys, umbrellas, water bottles) and place them in a tray.
Guests can then walk through the metal detector, while holding their bags, and then retrieve their items.
This process is very similar to what we reported on at Animal Kingdom.
What some may deem the most important part of any Disney park, the attractions, are prepped to make sure families stay within six feet apart of each other at all times.
Each ride queue has markers on the ground, indicating where guests should stand.
Some queue lines also had plexiglass shields installed when there was no other way to remake the queue to keep people farther apart, such as in The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
Shows, such as Amazing Earth and Impressions of France, have rows blocked off and seats sectioned to only three or four in a group. If your group is bigger than that, you’ll have to split up your seating.
Attractions also undergo regular cleaning as well. Every so often, Test Track will stop the line and clean all of the cars. It takes about twenty minutes to get through each one, and guests are told over the speaker system that their wait time will be a bit longer due to cleaning.
A cast member also informed guests who were at the front of the line about the cleaning procedure.
Characters are surprisingly much easier to see now. Every so often a different cavalcade will roam through The World Showcase, giving guests the chance to see the Disney friends they would normally be able to meet in EPCOT.
Goofy comes out with Mickey and Minnie, who are riding in a fancy vehicle, decorated with stamps from each country.
Elsa comes out with Queen Anna, who is being pulled in a horse drawn carriage, and Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine and Belle have their own horse drawn trolley.
Alice and Mary Poppins get the chance to interact with guests in the English gardens. Each will appear at the pavilion where the U.K.’s musical guests use to perform.
Guests can talk with the characters and take pictures with them.
The biggest character surprise is meeting Joy and Winnie the Pooh over by Journey Into Imagination With Figment.
Each will come out and roam around the grass area across from the attraction, and guests can talk and take selfies with them.
This is a rare photo opportunity with Winnie the Pooh because he comes out with a butterfly net, a cute little prop that keeps guests engaged as they watch him hunt for butterflies.
EPCOT is known for its food, and there are still plenty of dining options available to guests.
What is noticeably missing from the list of restaurants is the Chinese restaurants, which are all closed except for the Joy of Tea stand. The princess dining at Akershus is also unavailable.
Character dining will be available at Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill Restaurant, located at The Land.
In a rare turn of events, EPCOT is hosting its Food and Wine festival now through November, allowing guests to experience festival life during the summer time.
Signage for the festival is found through the park, and food stands are set up.
As of right now, there are fewer stands than what guests are used to during this foodie festival, and the menus have been changed.
A pleasant new addition though, is the use of the Festival Pavilion, located between Canada and the U.K. pavilions.
Guests will have to sign up with cast members standing in front of this location, and they will be put into a virtual queue. Once it is time to return, guests will be notified via text message.
Inside the Festival Pavilion are four stands, Festival Favorites, Desserts & Champagne, Appleseed Orchard and the newest addition, Mac & Cheese.
This is a great location to not only find amazing food but to take the time to relax in the air conditioning and sit down for a bit.
Gone are the days of stickers keeping track of where you have eaten, as the festival guidebook is now digital.
Signs are posted throughout the park with a QR code guests can scan to access the guidebook, or guests can open the My Disney Experience app to view it ahead of time.
Food and Wine is not the only festival celebrated right now.
Due to the Flower & Garden Festival getting cut short, Flower & Garden Festival merchandise is still being sold in the park. Two topiaries also remain, Remy in France and Bambi and Thumper outside of Mouse Gear.
In an effort to combine the two festivals, the Remy scavenger hunt is offered, but the current prize for completing the hunt is a small cup decorated with characters from the Flower & Garden Festival.
Another important note guests should know is official Food & Wine merchandise will not be sold at EPCOT until the end of August/beginning of September.
For many, the thought of walking around a park all day in the middle of summer, with face masks on, makes you not want to even step outside. But Disney parks have implemented Relaxation Stations, to give guests the opportunity to take off their masks and enjoy some air conditioning.
There are three Relaxation Stations found throughout EPCOT.
The first is outside of Mission Space. It is an outdoor area with tables and umbrellas. It is a small area though, so there are markers on the ground to form a line that guests can wait in if the area becomes too crowded.
The second location is in Morocco at Spice Road Table. Here, guests have the option to sit inside or outside while enjoying some fresh air.
The final, and in my opinion, the best, Relaxation Station is in Norway at Akershus.
Yes, Disney took a popular restaurant location and gave guests the chance to relax and feel like royalty. This is also the perfect opportunity to see what the restaurant is like if you have never been there before.
Tips for Your Visit
Here are just a few more final tips to keep in mind as you once again travel around EPCOT.
- Look at the ground. In certain areas, there are markers on the ground, such as circles or arrows to tell you where to stand or which direction to walk in.
- Observe the flow of guests before entering a store. While not many of the shopping locations are open, those that are have a designated entering and exit location. Read the signs on the doors and watch other guests enter and exit to figure out where you need to go to get into a shop.
- Keep your mask on. I know, it’s Florida, which means it’s hot and humid out, but face masks are not just for your safety, but for the safety of everyone at the park, cast members included. If you need to take a break from the mask, find your nearest Relaxation Station.
- Have patience. This is new to everyone and it may take some time to figure out where to walk, how to stand and even how to enter a queue line.
- Get excited! Cast Members are so happy to see guests again, so make sure to wave and say ‘Hello’ to everyone. Even though we can’t see it, put on your biggest smile, because your eyes say it all when you’re happy to be back at EPCOT.
Hopefully, this information will pave the way for a fun, easy, and magical visit to EPCOT. I hope you all have fun at the parks, and remember to stay safe!
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