Since its opening, one focus of Epcot has been to showcase new technologies. Keeping in line with that mission, Epcot has added some technology that may be unfamiliar to many people, but certainly is being touted as technology of the future. But you won’t find this technology inside Epcot – it is located in the parking lot.
Along the first row of the Journey parking lot, Epcot now has two Electric Vehicle charging stations (each with plugs for two vehicles). This service is provided (for a fee) by ChargePoint.
Prior to the opening of this station, options to charge electric cars have been limited at Walt Disney World. According to the PlugShare site, the only other reported options for charging an EV were wall outlets at Fort Wilderness Cabins (likely installed to charge golf carts), a reported wall outlet available at the Contemporary (available only if you ask around, but not marked as such), another wall outlet available from valet at the Dolphin hotel upon request, a dedicated but unmarked charging outlet at the BoardWalk (which means that if someone has already parked in that parking space, you are out of luck), and an unapproved outlet at Caribbean Beach that only is powered at night (and not likely sanctioned by Disney). Many of these workarounds were unreliable and users reported that they often provided an incomplete charge.
Electric vehicle charging stations have been available at Disneyland Resort since early 2014 – in fact, according to the DisneyParks Blog, the Disneyland Resort has “one of the largest collections of public EV charging stations in Southern California.” While EV usage in Florida is considerably less than in California, sales of electric vehicles continue to rise across the nation, spurring the demand for charging stations.
While four charging ports at Epcot pale in comparison to the thirty charging ports at Disneyland, the fact that EV charging facilities are now available at Walt Disney World is a positive step forward. Although I have not witnessed any drivers using the EV stations on my trips to Epcot, I feel confident that as EV usage increases, there will be demand for these charging stations in the future.
To charge your vehicle at Epcot, notify the parking attendants that you need to use the changing station, and you will be directed to the first row of the Journey lot. From there, pull in a designated EV space, attach the plug to your car, and follow the on-screen directions on the ChargePoint console to begin the charging process.
Rates are 35 cents/kWh, with a minimum $1.50 purchase. (Remember, you do have to pay for parking at Epcot to make use of this service). ChargePoint accounts are accepted, as are major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) if they have an RFID chip. You can also pay and track your charging status through the ChargePoint. More information is available at www.chargepoint.com.
If I had to make predictions, I expect that charging stations will be available in the new parking structure when Disney Springs open, and if demand is there, charging stations will become available at the other Walt Disney World theme parks. (Having EV charging stations at Animal Kingdom does seem like a good fit with the environmentalism theme!) In the meantime, it is great to see this technology having a place at Epcot, and I do hope to see it in use by EV users on one of my next visits.
Have you brought an EV to the Walt Disney World resort? What has been your experience? Do you think that the price and availability is sufficient or should it be expanded? Or do you think that this is just a fad and a waste of parking space? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.