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#TBT: EPCOT Center Touring Plan for Adults

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Original Flavor Unofficial Guide
Original Flavor Unofficial Guide

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a day we jump into the Wayback Machine and look at the Walt Disney World that was. It’s 1985; when Epcot was still EPCOT Center and the year of the first edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.

Today we’re going to look at the first touring plan we published for EPCOT Center. This is taken directly from the first edition of the Guide. If you get too hot, you can always take a dip at River Country or take in some retail and dining therapy at Walt Disney World Village.

At this point, EPCOT Center had been open for 3 years. The old ticket books were a thing of the past, and guests used either a one-day ticket ($18) or a World Passport (what is now a multi-day park hopper, at $45 for three days) to enter the park. Wonders of Life wouldn’t be opened until 1989, and you’ll notice there’s no nighttime spectacular on the plan. In the book, there is a short mention of LaserPhonic Fantasy, which was performed on World Showcase Lagoon when the park was open late.

The Fife and Drum Corps and Voices of Liberty were at the American pavilion, but Canada boasted its own band, the Maple Leaf Brass.

If you were hungry, Le Cellier served up its food cafeteria style, and the Odyssey was still open to the public.

EPCOT Center One-Day Touring Plan for Adults

For: Adults without small children.

Assumes: Willingness to experience all major rides and shows.

1. Have your admission paid and be at the turnstile ready to go 45 minutes before the park’s stated opening time.
NOTE: EPCOT Center often opens a half hour before its stated opening time.
Being one of the first visitors admitted to the park will allow you to see many of the most popular attractions at the time of the day when the lines are shortest. The thirty to forty-five minutes you invest in our early morning arrival will literally save you hours during the remainder of your touring day.
2. When you are admitted to the park, proceed posthaste to Spaceship Earth (the huge geodesic dome just inside the entrance).If your top priority is obtaining reservations for a World Showcase lunch or dinner, skip Spaceship Earth until late afternoon and proceed directly to Step 3. If you want to have your cake and eat it too, find someone in your party who will volunteer to forego Spaceship Earth and have him run ahead to make meal reservations while you take the ride. He can meet you inside Spaceship Earth where the ride disembarks. Spaceship Earth, because of its theme, distinctive design, and positioning near the entrance to the park, develops an incredible line mere minutes after EPCOT Center opens. Moreover, because of the attraction’s popularity, the line remains quite long all day. The only shot you have, therefore, of avoiding a 45-minute or longer wait for Spaceship Earth is to hop in line during the first few minutes the park is open. A short line for Spaceship Earth (30-minute wait) is one which fills the attraction’s queue area (the system of parallel railings situated in front of Spaceship Earth). A medium line would completely fill the queue area and would additionally extend down the sidewalk to the right (west side) of Earth Station. A medium line usually corresponds to a wait of 35 to 55 minutes. A long line for Spaceship Earth extends past Earth Station and into the open area between Communicore East and West. Waiting time for a long line is from one to three hours. If the line you encounter is short to mid-medium, go ahead and see Spaceship Earth. If the line is longer, bypass Spaceship Earth for the time being.
3. Go directly to a WorldKey Information video display terminal and make restaurant reservations for lunch and dinner. We recommend asking for a late seating for dinner (8 P.M. – 9 P.M.). This will allow maximum touring flexibility in the itinerary and take advantage of the fact that World Showcase usually stays open later than Future World. If your tummy throws a fit, grab a snack around 5 P.M. to tide you over. The better restaurants at EPCOT Center are sit-down restaurants requiring reservations which must be made on the same day that you plan to dine. Some visitors walk to the eatery of their choice and stand in line for reservations. By far an easier approach is to make reservations when you first arrive via the WorldKey Information Service. There are many WorldKey terminals scattered around the park, but the largest number are situated on the far side of Earth Station opposite where you exit the Spaceship Earth ride. For greater elaboration see “Eating in EPCOT Center,” page 142, and the special section on the WorldKey Information Service, page 115. IF you only have one day to visit EPCOT Center, you may be better off making a reservation for dinner only and having a fast-food lunch.
4. Go directly to The Living Seas and enjoy the tour (open January 1986). This is a new and popular ride, and the best time to catch it is in the morning.
5. Go directly to The Land, situated behind Communicore West and take the boat trip, Listen to the Land. The Land pavilion consists on three attractions and a variety of restaurants. The best way to see this attraction is to arrive early before the restaurant crowd hits. On a One-Day Touring Plan we bypass for the time being the other two attractions here.
6. Proceed to Journey into Imagination, the next big pavilion to the right of The Land. Ride Journey into Imagination first, then see the 3-D film, Magic Journeys, at the Magic Eye Theater. Following this Touring Plan, you should arrive at Journey into Imagination before attendance gets particularly heavy. Ride first and then see the movie for the most efficient crowd avoidance.
7. Exit Future World and proceed directly to World Showcase. By this time crowds will be building throughout the Future World section of the park. Leave Future World and proceed to World Showcase where crowds will not as yet reached their peak.
8. Bypassing Canada and England for the time being, go directly to France and see the film Impressions de France. By moving directly to the far end of World Showcase Lagoon you can reach the French and American exhibits before they become extremely crowded. The French exhibit, particularly, becomes quite congested as the noon hour approaches.
9. Go directly to the American pavilion and see The American Adventure. This is a large-capacity theater production which will accommodate large numbers of viewers even when the park is busy.
10. If the lines are not prohibitive (and if you did not make reservations for a sit-down lunch) grab a bite at the Liberty Inn, or quicker yet, at the bratwurst stand on the left side of Germany. With the exception of some street vendors, this is the only source of fast-food meals in the immediate area. Liberty Inn is quite large and can probably serve more food to more people in less time than any other restaurant in World Showcase. IF you are not hungry, stop later for a bratwurst from the street vendor in Germany.
11. Whether you eat or not, go next to the Japanese exhibit and from there proceed in a counter-clockwise direction to Italy, Germany, and the People’s Republic of China. At the Chinese exhibit see the film Wonders of China. The entire park will be very busy by this time of day. Enjoy the atmosphere of the respective international pavilions.
12. Bypass Mexico for the time being and reenter Future World; see the World of Motion. This is a continuous loading ride where the wait in line is almost always tolerable.
13. Go next door and tour Horizons. This is a continuous loading ride where the wait in line is almost always tolerable except when the audience of a just-concluded Universe of Energy performance (next pavilion in the direction of the dome) descends en masse. If you encounter long lines at Horizons any time during the evening, just take a break; they will usually work themselves out in about 10-15 minutes.
14. Next, go to the Universe of Energy and ask an attendant what the anticipated wait will be. If less than 45 minutes, stay and see the show, otherwise, proceed to Step 15. Lines at the Universe of Energy vary considerably in length (owing in part of the unreliable nature of nearby Spaceship Earth, which breaks down frequently, dispersing its masses of waiting people primarily to Universe of Energy). If you catch Universe of Energy at a bad time, skip it for the present and try again later. If you can get in in less than 45 minutes, bite the bullet and hop in line.
15. Cross through CommuniCore and return to The Land. See the film Symbiosis at the Harvest Theater and a performance of the Kitchen Kabaret. The lunch crowd will be gone by the time you return to The Land. See whichever of the two productions begins sooner, followed by the other. This is a good time and place to grad a snack if your dinner reservation is for a late seating as recommended.
16. While in Future World, see Spaceship Earth and/or Universe of Energy if you missed them earlier. Spaceship Earth will have its shortest lines between 5:30 P.M. and 7:30 P.M. (which only means that the lines will be comparatively short; expect at least a forty-five minute wait). Lines at the Universe of Energy should be tolerable unless some other nearby attraction in not operating.
17. Backtrack to the World Showcase and see England followed by Canada; at Canada see the film O Canada!
18. An hour or so before your dinner seating go to Mexico and ride El Rio del Tiempo, the River of Time. This ride has long lines until after 6 P.M. on most days.
19. Proceed to dinner.
20. After dinner, if you have any energy left, visit or revisit the EPCOT Center attractions of your choice.

NOTE: EPCOT Center One-Day Touring Plan for Adults operates under the assumption that you are willing to do some extra walking to avoid long waits in line. There is, therefore, some backtracking involved. Visitors adhering closely to the Touring Plan and moving expeditiously from Steps 1 through 9 particularly, will normally be able to see almost the entire park in a single day with an acceptable pace and minimal waits in line.


So there you have it, the first touring plan (or should I say “Touring Plan”) for EPCOT Center. Did it take you back? Any surprises? Reminisce in the comments.

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Laurel Stewart

Laurel is a former software engineer and current student. She likes pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and Big Thunder Mountain.

13 thoughts on “#TBT: EPCOT Center Touring Plan for Adults

  • This was great! Thanks for sharing.

  • Horizons! :'( It was my favorite ride as a kid and will forever have a special place in my heart.

  • I wonder if I could use the time machine from The Timekeeper to actually follow that plan. I’d love to see Journey Into Imagination and Magic Journeys again.

  • Thank you! This was so clever and interesting on so many levels. The level of detail, the wry sense of humor and the excellent advice were there from the start.

  • Oh, the wonder that was EPCOT Center! I have this version of the Unofficial Guide, and I love to look through it occasionally and reminisce.

    Step #17 seems odd – go to the UK (England) and then Canada? I’d save the steps and do it the other way around, because I can’t imagine that there would be a significant difference in wait times for O Canada! by going 20-30 minutes later. Of course, for step 15 I probably would have hit Kitchen Kabaret when I was in The Land Pavilion and skip Symbiosis altogether to save some steps, too.

    And yes, I do realize that I’m analyzing a touring plan that was written 29 years ago! 🙂

  • You have a hilarious typo at the end of your fifth paragraph (just before the touring plan).

    • You know, I use a HUGE monitor and I still miss these things. Thanks, that was…cringe-worthy.

  • There are great videos of the WorldKey on YouTube. Future World really did feel like the future then.

  • This is awesome. There were so many things to do at EPCOT at that point. What happened?

  • This was great! Thanks for sharing. Would love to see more archival posts.

    • This indeed brought back some memories of when I was there in Spring 1983. I remember the Maple Leaf Brass, the hats in China, what is now The Garden Grill restaurant, what is now Club Cool, Listen to the Land, and Spaceship Earth, amongst other things. I didn’t go back until Spring 2013. Epcot has changed so much in the intervening 30 years, yet it has in many ways remained the same.

  • “World Key Information video display terminal!” “Communicore!” “Symbiosis!” Spaceship Earth with an “always” over 45 minute wait! This was an excellent post.

    As for the “long lines” every day at El Rio del Tiempo, I must ask: where the heck did they put them? Did it just extend through and out of the pavilion? I can’t imagine more than a 15-20 minute line even fitting into the current queue.

    • They did indeed extend out of the pavilion! The line used to go out of the main doors and loop around the building. Those were the days!


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