EPCOT Late Opening Time: Pros and Cons

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From the discontinuation of FastPasses to closure of some resorts, there has been nary a corner of Walt Disney World that hasn’t been impacted by COVID procedural changes large and small. Many of these changes will likely be reversed, at least in a modified form, as the pandemic continues to ebb.

One pandemic triggered change that I’d like to see continued is the later opening time of EPCOT. Pre-pandemic, the standard opening time for EPCOT’s Future World section was 9:00 a.m. and for the World Showcase section was 11:00 a.m. For most of the last year, the entirety of EPCOT has not opened until 11:00.

While I was initially annoyed by this, I’ve come to value the change. Here are some of the pros and cons to a late opening Epcot.

Pros

  • Sleep Epcot’s later opening time means that there will be at least one day of your trip where you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn for rope drop.
  • Breakfast On most Disney park days, I tend to wolf down a granola bar while standing in a line somewhere. With a late opening EPCOT, there’s time for a leisurely breakfast without fear of missing out on park time. And really, does anything scream vacation more than a plate full of Mickey waffles?
  • Catching up with the news or work In addition to catching up on sleep or digging into a hearty breakfast, having a day with a later start could also allow you time to read the paper, send out a few emails, or edit some photos for your social media. You can do what you need to do without feeling guilty than you’re missing out on park time that you’ve paid for.
  • Dead time During EPCOT’s previous standard hours, I’d typically arrive for rope drop to take advantage of lower wait times at Soarin’ and Test Track. And then I’d wait around for an hour until World Showcase opened. With everything open at once, it’s easier to flow your plans from one part of the park to another.

Cons

  • The Weather During most of the year, the midday heat at Disney World is at least a few steps beyond oppressive. With a late opening EPCOT, there’s no opportunity to tour this park during the slightly cooler morning hours. Additionally, when the inevitable storms occur during the summer, they almost always take place in the afternoon, meaning that your EPCOT tour day will likely be a wet one.
  • Later Bedtime For folks with small kids, getting everything done at EPCOT when you can’t start until late morning means that you’ll probably end up staying in the park until past dinner time. This may not matter to adults, but it could send toddlers into a tailspin.
  • Alcohol One member of the TouringPlans team recently joked that EPCOT might keep the later opening time because 11:00 was the earliest time it might be socially acceptable to sell tequila shots. While that may or may not be true, it’s fair to say that a decent chunk of EPCOT’s revenue comes from sales of alcohol. From the ubiquitous festivals to Drink Around the World games, there’s a near constant flow of booze, and boozy guests, at EPCOT. If you’re someone who doesn’t imbibe, the later opening time means it’s harder to avoid alcohol. (On the other hand, if you’re someone for whom alcohol is EPCOT’w key selling point, you can move this one to the Pro column.)

Let us know if you can think of other positives or negatives to a 11:00 a.m. open for EPCOT. Is this a change that you’d like to see stay or go?

 

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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