9 Interesting Facts About EPCOT You Never Knew

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EPCOT – which began as Walt Disney’s elaborate dream for a utopian society – has always been a bit of an odd duck in the greater Orlando theme park arms race. 

For years, it was known for its star-led productions like Michael Jackson’s Captain EO. And later, it featured Ellen’s Energy Adventure starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the science guy. 

EPCOT was always searching for the right balance of education and entertainment. However, many people felt it lacked too much of the latter. 

But what EPCOT lacked in childlike wonder, it made up for with more adult-friendly entertainment, including the various international-themed pavilions around the World Showcase Lagoon.

With the popular EPCOT festivals like the International Food & Wine Festival and the annual EPCOT International Garden Festival, the former site of the future world quickly became the most adult-friendly park in the Walt Disney World Resort. 

Still, Disney’s leadership wanted something more than a Mickey Mouse meet and greet and the Finding Nemo aquarium to remind people this was a Disney Park. 


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Ratatouille Ride
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT is part of the France Pavilion (photo by James/Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

EPCOT’s changes by Walt Disney Imagineers

First came the revamp of the fairly mild Maelstrom in the Norway Pavilion. One of the few rides in EPCOT’s World Showcase was quickly and brilliantly repurposed to capitalize on the Frozen craze. EPCOT became the focal point of a Disney vacation for thousands of families with Anna and Elsa-obsessed children. 

But that wasn’t all. Disney’s EPCOT reinvention continued with another popular ride in the World Showcase with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Located in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower Replica, the ride came with a major expansion of the France Pavilion. 

The final piece of the puzzle – for now – was the addition of the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind coaster located in the World Discovery portion of EPCOT. Coincidentally, it is where Ellen’s Energy Adventure used to be. 

EPCOT is suddenly on Walt Disney World theme park’s pace with possibly more changes on the horizon. We’ll know more next month after the D23 celebration in Los Angeles. But for now, let’s offer some fun and interesting facts, good questions and a few secrets that the Walt Disney Company may or may not be working on. 

The epcot ball at night
The EPCOT ball is a world-renowned symbol of EPCOT (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

9. What is EPCOT most known for? 

It has to be the iconic Spaceship Earth, right?

I know a lot of people are fired up about the festivals and the new rides and the world pavilion.

Still, the geodesic sphere that looks like a giant golf ball, based on 60s-era designs of a geodesic dome, is the symbol of the park known by people all over the world who have never even set foot in Florida.

Read Also: What is the EPCOT ball? Does it have a name? What’s inside?

Epcot Entrance
EPCOT was Walt Disney’s vision of a city of the future (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

8. What does EPCOT stand for? 

EPCOT stands for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It was supposed to be Walt’s vision of a city of the future. It would house 20,000 people and serve as a testbed for city planning and organization.

There would be an industrial park and a futuristic airport, serving as the ultimate test ground for city planners. There would be corporations lured by new ideas for urban living that would spur endless innovation.

In Walt’s dreams, EPCOT would never stop growing, creating and testing new systems.

The legend is that Walt looked at his grandkids and worried about the world in which they would grow up. Reportedly, Walt thought of modern cities as being hectic and disorganized that were dirty and filled with crime. Walt wanted a better future and he thought he and his Disney Imagineers could create it.

Of course, the vision never came close to reality. By the time the park opened as EPCOT Center in 1982, it was just another piece of the Walt Disney World theme park empire.

Specifically, it was an interesting piece but nothing nearly as grandiose as Disney’s EPCOT’s Better Tomorrow original plans.

7. How big is EPCOT?

EPCOT is the second largest theme park in Walt Disney World. Coming in at about 300 acres – EPCOT is more than twice as big as the Magic Kingdom.

However, it falls well short of the roughly 500 acres allocated for the Animal Kingdom. If you walk both parks, you’ll feel like EPCOT is significantly larger.

That’s because Animal Kingdom has more land devoted to the animals on the safari ride as well as the train ride back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Guardians of the Galaxy Sign EPCOT
EPCOT is home to the Guardians of the Galaxy (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

6. EPCOT has the Guardians of the Galaxy

Universal owns the theme park rights to most of the major Marvel studio’s characters East of the Mississippi River. Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was even an apple in Kevin Feige’s eye, Universal bought the rights to most of Marvel’s most important characters.

It’s an incredibly complicated and legally knotty story. Basically, Universal owns the rights to four major prongs of the Marvel family tree. Essentially, Disney can’t use anyone associated with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Spider-Man universe in the Orlando parks.

Outside of that, however, is the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were a relatively obscure bunch at the time the deal was made.

Another character that Disney has the rights to includes Dr. Strange. You might think Dr. Strange was a rather large part of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “End Game”.

That is true, but in the comics and Marvel tradition, he famously stands alone from the Avengers. Therefore, as sorcerer supreme, he pretty well runs his own team.

I believe the “Eternals”, who had a big underwhelming movie recently and the “Inhumans”, who had a TV show that did poorly – would each be available to Disney if they wanted to use them.

Interestingly, one of Marvel’s most popular new characters is Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel.

She plays a major role in the Avengers video game and has been associated with the “New Avengers”. In her new TV show, she was identified as a mutant and therefore a member of the X-Men universe. In other words, it’s all very complicated. 

Shang-Chi is a Chinese American Superhero who could join Mulan in the China Pavilion if Disney has the rights.

Finally, you know Disney would love to build a Wakanda Pavilion for Black Panther, but Black Panther is aligned with the Avengers and is a major part of the X-Men universe.

You might see Wakanda in Disneyland, but you’re unlikely to see it anytime in the near future in Disney World. 

EPCOT's Morocco
There is speculation that major changes could be coming to the Kingdom of Morocco at EPCOT (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

5. More expansion and renovations are ahead

The world has changed a lot since Disney announced a Cherry Tree Lane – of Mary Poppins fame – set for the UK Pavilion. Disney fans are hoping for word on the project soon. I’m hopeful.

Other rumored changes include a Coco-themed update to the Mexico Pavilion. A Frozen Ever After restyling of the Three Caballeros ride wouldn’t be a massive undertaking but would give that part of the park a massive lift.

There seems to be a lot of momentum for a Colombia Pavilion to capitalize on the massive success of “Encanto”.

I’ve seen online speculation that Disney could replace the Morocco Pavilion with Colombia. But I don’t see Disney taking out its only African Pavilion. If one has to go, I’d suggest the Canada Pavilion. However, I think it’s more likely that Disney finds room to create a new space.

I’ve read that Disney originally created EPCOT with room for several more pavilions. Over the years, they’ve added two – and it’s possible the Paris expansion took another slot. But there should still be plenty of room for more.

Finally, with Disney’s history of collaboration with Lin-Manuel Miranda and having put “Hamilton” out on Disney+, I suspect it is only a matter of time before we see some Hamilton-theming in the American Adventure Pavilion.

Of course, these theories are not confirmed by Disney.

The Germany Pavilion Garden Railway
The Germany Pavilion Garden Railway is fun for kids of all ages – especially train lovers (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

4. The best train in Walt Disney World may not be one you can ride

Disney World houses great trains from the Monorail to the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train.

Yet, for my money, the best of the bunch is the Miniature Garden Railway in the Germany Pavilion. One of my absolute favorite things to do is get a German beverage from the Biergarten Restaurant and find a spot to sit and watch the trains wind their way through the miniature village.

I haven’t taken the time to psychoanalyze why that is. I, and thousands of others, find it so relaxing, but it’s a bit like watching an aquarium. It’s a great way to stop and rest on a long walk around the world. 

Mission Space at EPCOT
Mission Space is part of the World Celebration section of EPCOT (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

3. EPCOT has four sections

In the past, EPCOT was divided into halves, Future World and the World Showcase. Now, the park is cut into quarters. They are not of equal size. The World Showcase remains as it was but Future World has become World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery.

World Celebration cuts down the center of the park and includes Spaceship Earth. It also includes the new Guardians ride, the Test Track and Mission Space.

World Nature has Soarin’, Nemo and Living with the Land. 

Read Also: The absolute best snacks in EPCOT: Top 8 foods you should try

2.  You can get a taste of EPCOT

The Sunshine Seasons and Garden Grill Restaurant both serve produce and seafood grown at EPCOT.

For the record, I do not believe the seafood is harvested from the Seas with Nemo and Friends. It is cool, however, to visit living with the land and see some of the ideas of how the community of the future would feed its citizens and then put that knowledge to the taste test at an EPCOT restaurant. 

Epcot at Disney World
EPCOT is the second largest theme park in Walk Disney World (photo by PixieMe/stock.adobe.com)

1. What about that EPCOT ball?

The basis for the design and the name of Spaceship Earth ultimately comes from the work of a guy named Buckminster Fuller.

Fuller was an architect, engineer, writer and futurist. He was awarded 28 patents in life for a lot of things that frankly I don’t understand but the central thesis of his work was to improve habitation, transportation and human sustainability.

He did a lot of work with biodomes and geodesic domes like Spaceship Earth. I don’t think he was overly concerned with the search for hidden Mickeys.

What gives the ball its golf ball feel is the series of 1-inch gutters all the way down the building that transport water into the World Showcase Lagoon.

Do you know of any other EPCOT fun facts? Let us know in the comments.

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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