Epcot's Park Preview Experience
Walt Disney World Resort closed mid-March due to Covid-19. Four months later, we are thrilled that all four theme parks are now open! Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opened their gates to all guests on Saturday, July 11th. Hollywood Studios and Epcot open this Wednesday, July 15th. Follow along with us as we document everything you can expect at Epcot for your upcoming visit!
Entering the Park
Upon entering the Epcot parking lot, cast members direct cars to park in every other row to allow space between each car. If you are planning on driving to the park, we would recommend factoring in additional time not only for parking, but also for walking up to the main entrance as trams are not currently running. You may travel to Epcot by either resort bus or driving directly to the park. The monorail is unavailable to and from Epcot at this time.
As you approach the front of the park, Disney cast members will direct you to the temperature screening area currently run by employees from AdventHealth. A representative will quickly scan your forehead to make sure that your temperature is under 100.4 degrees. If your temperature reads above 100.4 degrees, you may take a few moments to cool down in a cooling tent before being screened again.
Security cast members will then direct you to walk straight through the metal detectors. There is no need to stop or open any of your bags as required in the past, this makes for a much quicker and safer process.
Once you are through temperature screening and security, you will arrive at the turnstiles queue, which will have separated markers on the ground to promote social distancing. At the turnstiles, a cast member will scan your park ticket or Magic Band. Guests are no longer required to use their fingerprint to enter the park to minimize contact.
All guests over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings during their time in the parks. In order to enter the park, you must be wearing a face covering with ear loops that cover both your nose and mouth. The parks do allow guests to remove their masks to eat or drink. To view Disney’s complete lists of rules regarding masks click here.
Disney has added mask-free “Relaxation Stations” throughout the park to cool off throughout the day. These small, roped-off areas allow guests to remove their masks and take a break. Cast members only allow a small number of guests in at a time to ensure that everyone is at a safe enough distance.
Epcot’s Relaxation Stations can be found at the following locations:
- Outside the Yorkshire County Fish Shopper in the United Kingdom (World Showcase)
- In between Test Track and Mission: Space (Future World)
- Inside Akershus restaurant in Norway (World Showcase) as an air-conditioned option
Attraction and Experience Updates
Despite previous plans for a two-year long renovation, we are so excited that Spaceship Earth is open for guests returning to the parks. This gives guests the opportunity to experience the attraction one last time before any changes take place. Renovations for Spaceship Earth are delayed to a later date.
Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak also returned on July 13th. Guests who are interested in this fun activity can purchase a scavenger hunt map from guest services for $7.99 and find Remy figurines hidden around the World Showcase.
All attractions throughout the park have new floor markers which indicate where each group should stand in order to be 6 feet apart. Most rides have added plexiglass shields as an additional barrier in areas where the line wraps around or are close together.
All interactive elements found in queues such as Project Tomorrow at Spaceship Earth, and the design stations at Test Track are currently roped off and are not operating at this time.
All Disney cast members are permitted to wear face coverings throughout the park.
Most attractions have plexiglass shields in between rows or reserved, empty seats to separate guests. For example, Soarin’ Around the World is currently seating guests in each row, however, plexiglass separates parties from one another. Guests may ride in groups of two or four.
Ride vehicles are deep cleaned and sanitized by cast members every two hours. We recommend bringing your own sanitizing wipes if you would like some added reassurance before boarding rides.
Epcot is one of our favorite parks on Walt Disney World property to meet characters and Princesses. Even though character meet & greets are unfortunately not currently available, we are so excited that there are still so many characters to see around the park!
Throughout the park previews, Anna and Elsa have been noticed welcoming guests to the park. Around the World Showcase, you may see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy as well as Disney Princesses making their way from country to country. Joy, from Disney’s Inside Out, as well as Winnie the Pooh, have also been seen frolicking through grass areas in the World Showcase.
Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Due to Epcot closing shortly after the Flower & Garden Festival began in March, Disney has decided to blend the event together with the annual International Food & Wine Festival. Guests will see a handful of Flower & Garden topiaries placed around the park as well as more than 20 global marketplaces to sample cuisine from around the world. Appropriate social distancing will be mandatory at all marketplaces and high top tables will be offered for a mask-free dining experience. Click here for more information on the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Quick Service Restaurants/Mobile Ordering
While Mobile Ordering on the Disney Experience app is not a new concept, it is now required for all Quick Service restaurants. This includes the new Regal Eagle Smokehouse located in America at the World Showcase and Sunshine Seasons in Future World. The process is relatively quick and easy! After you select your restaurant and food, you will be asked what time you would like to pick it up. A cast member will greet you and direct you to the correct pick-up window. Plenty of seating options are available and spaced out appropriately.
Table Service Restaurants
Many of Epcot’s table service restaurants located around the World Showcase are not currently open, which is more of a reason to visit the global marketplace booths included in the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Several restaurants in Epcot are owned by third party companies and do not currently have set dates to re-open. Restaurants that are currently closed include Chefs de France, Monsieur Paul, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Takumi-Tei, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Yorkshire County Fish Shop, and more.
We were extremely happy to see that character dining became available at Garden Grill located in Future World. Here you can see Mickey Mouse, Chip ‘n’ Dale and Pluto. Princess dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall will remain closed for now.
All of the restaurants at Epcot have spaced their tables out six feet apart and will be utilizing paper menus.
Many souvenir shops located in the countries around the World Showcase are currently closed. If you are looking to do some shopping on your upcoming visit to Epcot, we recommend visiting MouseGear, temporarily located at the end of Innoventions East building, where you can find a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs for the whole family.
Markings and signage are found throughout the stores to inform shoppers of health procedures as well as which direction to walk in. Dressing rooms were blocked off and will remain closed for now. Similar to the rest of the park, plexiglass shields are located at all of the check-out counters and contactless payment is encouraged.
Overall, it was a dream to be back in the parks experiencing the Disney magic we have been longing for! While there were many changes from our last visit, we still thoroughly enjoyed our day and felt so fortunate to be part of the lucky Annual Passholders that could experience the day. Due to all of the new safety procedures and the Cast Members implementing them, we felt super safe as we explored the park in the “new normal”.
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