Epcot was designed with an amazing attention to detail, so much so that many guests overlook the hidden places and secret spots which make this theme park truly shine. We have created a list of Epcot secrets to help you discover some of the quirky facts, off-the-beaten path attractions, and hidden corners of this Disney theme park. It’s a fascinating destination and these Epcot secrets can only enhance your experience!
Walt Disney World’s Epcot can really transport you to a different world. Whether it’s the educational and thrilling attractions, beautiful grounds and imagery, or the world-class cuisine and shopping, there is something for everyone at Epcot. This Disney World theme park is a treasure in every respect, and should be a top priority on your Disney vacation itinerary. Now, let’s share some of those Epcot Secrets with you.
The Not-So-Secret History of Epcot
Walt Disney World opened Epcot on October 2, 1982, and – with nearly 12 million annual guests – has since become the 3rd most visited theme park in the world. The park’s name is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Epcot’s stated mission is to celebrate human achievement, international culture, and technological innovation. Because of this emphasis, the theme park is frequently referred to as the “permanent World’s Fair.”
General Epcot Secrets
Epcot is essentially laid out as two theme parks in one – World Showcase and Future World. World Showcase represents the culture and cuisine of 11 different countries from around the world, while Future World mixes thrill rides with educational exhibits. Each Epcot pavilion captivates guests with its own unique magic and allure. Here are a few general Epcot secrets:
- Walt Disney envisioned people living at Epcot, but this plan never came to fruition. His original concept for the park was to create a “real city that would never cease to be a blueprint of the future.”
- Epcot spans 300 acres, which is twice the size of Magic Kingdom.
- The distance around the entire World Showcase Lagoon – from China to Canada – is 1.25 miles. (Mexico is on one end, then Norway, then China.)
- When World Showcase was constructed, space for 10 additional countries remained. Norway and Morocco Pavilions were added later, but there is still room for 8 more!
- Thanks to the magic of fiber optic lighting, Future World really comes to life at nighttime. Between Spaceship Earth and Innoventions Plaza, the pavement becomes illuminated and animated when the sun goes down. Most guests bypass this area at night, so this dazzling display of lighting magic remains somewhat of an Epcot secret. (Innoventions Plaza is Innovations East plus Innoventions West)
- One reason why the concrete paths around World Showcase Lagoon are red is to make the grass appear greener.
- Each country in World Showcase has the exact same frontage space. While some countries cover more land on the inside, Disney World wanted all countries to have equal frontage on the outside. The same is true with the height of each country’s tallest structure. The Eiffel Tower or mountains in Canada Pavilion, for example, may appear taller than some of the structures in other countries. However, this is not the case. “Forced perspective” gives the illusion of height.
- Disney hires natives of each country represented in World Showcase. This presents guests with a wonderful opportunity to interact with Cast Members who have a first-hand perspective of the country they represent.
World Showcase- Epcot Secrets
African Outpost Secrets
- Beware of those wooden crates lying around African Outpost. You may get soaked if you open one!
- At around 5 pm, the drawbridge opens and barges are launched into the lagoon to prepare for the IlluniNations fireworks show. Guests must wait until after the drawbridge is lowered back into place to cross.
The American Adventure Pavilion Secrets
- The Colonial-style building at The American Adventure Pavilion uses reverse forced perspective to make the structure appear smaller than it really is. From the outside, it looks as though the building is two and a half stories. In actuality, it has 5 stories! Disney Imagineers determined that the building had to be large enough to house its auditorium, but not so large that the structure would be appear inappropriate for Colonial times. They added massive windows and doorways to create the illusion of a smaller building.
- The facade was constructed using 110,000 handmade bricks from Georgia red clay. Each brick was aged to look authentic.
- Notice that you are led up to the second floor to watch the show. The secret reason for this is because all the props, staging, and equipment used during the show are stored beneath the audience’s seats. They are secretly slid in and out of this area during the performance.
- There is an interesting painting of a World War II-era B-17 bomber in the left corner of the rotunda. As you walk back and forth in front of the painting, the plane appears to shift with your movement.
Canada Pavilion Secrets
- Forced perspective was used in the design of Hotel du Canada. The structure – which was modeled after the Château Laurier hotel in Ottawa – stands at only 3 stories tall. However, Disney Imagineers added 5 stories of windows to make the hotel appear taller.
- Of the three totem poles on display in the Canada Pavilion, only one is genuine. The “real” totem pole is 30-feet tall and weighs 700-pounds. It was carved by a Tsimshian Indian named David Boxley, and depicts a traditional story told amongst Northwest Coastal Indians. The other two totem poles are made of stacked fiberglass.
- Right before IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth begins, a large rock near one of the Nikon picture spots does something peculiar. The top of the “rock” opens, and sound and lighting equipment for the IllumiNations show appears. It’s quite a sight to behold!
- The landscape in the Canada Pavilion changes with the seasons to simulate the seasons of Canada. White during winter, red and gold during autumn, and so on. And when the trees grow too tall, they are replaced with smaller ones.
- While in Canada, stroll through the picturesque and tranquil Victoria Gardens, a replica of Butchart Gardens in Vancouver. The serene waterfall was added to the gardens to mask the sounds of a noisy generator directly behind it.
China Pavilion Secrets
- The Temple of Heaven is a smaller-scale recreation of the original landmark in Beijing. If you speak while standing exactly in the middle of the building, you will hear your voice echo back to you. This is because the temple is “acoustically perfect.”
- If you purchase a souvenir fan at China Pavilion, a Cast Member will personalize it by writing your name in Chinese.
- Wondering why the pathways in the China Pavilion seem unusually narrow and chaotic? It’s because Imagineers designed them this way to simulate the crowded sidewalk experience of Chinese cities.
France Pavilion Secrets
- You may notice that the pavement becomes darker between the France and Morocco Pavilions. This is meant to represent the Strait of Gibraltar, even though the actual strait lies between Morocco and Spain.
- The Eiffel Tower is one of the only Epcot buildings which guests cannot access.
- Imagineers designed the Eiffel Tower to appear larger by making the bottom much wider than the top. They feared that birds perching on the tower would spoil the illusion of its height, so Imagineers installed natural bird deterrents to keep them away.
Germany Pavilion Secrets
- Like in other Disney World parks, there are Hidden Mickeys around every corner of Epcot. When you are in the Germany Pavilion, see if you can find the Hidden Mickeys inside the train set. (Hint: look towards the church and brown-colored castle)
- If you happen to be in Germany around the top of the hour, look for the clock tower towards the back of the courtyard. On the hour, a cute (wooden) boy and girl emerge to ring the bell as chimes fill the air!
- Walk to the far back corner of the Germany Pavilion and notice a wall covered by a mural. If you knock on it, you will hear a hollow sound. The area behind the wall was intended to be the entrance to the Rhine River Cruise boat ride, but this attraction was never opened.
Italy Pavilion Secrets
- If you head to the fountains behind the shops at Italy Pavilion, look for a set of small red buttons. Push them and watch as water sprays out from several different locations!
- The Fontana de Nettuno – in the central plaza known as the Plaza del Teatro – was inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fountain of Trevi in Rome. Neptune, the God of the Sea, boldly stands in the center of the fountain with his trident in-hand. If the fountain looks familiar, you may have seen the original fountain featured in Federico Fellini’s classic film La Dolce Vita.
Japan Pavilion Secrets
- As you enter the Japan Pavilion, glance over to your right and note the statue. The government of Japan gifted this statue to Magic Kingdom when it first opened, but it was later moved to Epcot when the Japan Pavilion was built.
- The Japanese pagoda has five stories. Each story represents an element from which Buddhists believe all things in the universe are created. In ascending order, they are: earth, water, fire, wind, and sky.
Mexico Pavilion Secrets
- The pyramid in Mexico didn’t always have those fabulous relief carvings adorning its sides. These were added after Disney Cast Members noticed kids really liked to climb the steps!
Morocco Pavilion Secrets
- The King of Morocco was so excited when his country was asked to join Epcot’s World Showcase that he sent his own men to construct the area, free of charge. To this day, the King sends craftsman to repair and make improvements to the Morocco Pavilion, still free of charge.
- All the tiles and carvings in the Morocco Pavilion were handmade. Each mosaic has at least one flawed tile in its design. Since religious belief dictates that only Allah can create something that is “perfect,” Moroccan artisans intentionally added flawed features to make the tiles imperfect.
- As other pavilions in World Showcase light up as part of the IllumiNations show, the temple in the Morocco Pavilion stays dark so as to not violate their religious beliefs.
- The back side of Hollywood Studio’s attraction Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is extremely visible when you are in Morocco. Imagineers didn’t want this structure to interfere with guest’s Epcot experience, so they decorated the back side of the building to blend in perfectly with the scenery of the Morocco Pavilion.
- The museum in the Morocco Pavilion isn’t necessarily a secret, but many guests miss it entirely. Hidden behind an ornately-tiled doorway, the little museum – known as the Gallery of Arts and History – exhibits a variety of wonderful art and artifacts from Morocco.
- To learn more secret facts and discover hidden spots, take the 20-minute guided tour of the Morocco Pavilion. It’s informative, fun, and free!
Norway – Epcot Secrets
- There is a museum inside Stave Church. Hidden behind two imposing wooden doors and a red Viking sign, the museum houses a variety of Norwegian artifacts, including an authentic Viking sword dating back over 1,000 years!
- Not only does Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe have great pretzels and pastries, but the café also has real grass growing on its roof! Cast Members hop onto the roof when grass needs trimming (they use clippers, not goats or lawn mowers). If you look closely, you may be able to spot the hidden sprinkler system.
United Kingdom – Epcot Secrets
- The small bridge that crosses between the UK and France Pavilions represents crossing the English Channel.
- The tops of the chimneys in the United Kingdom Pavilion were painted black to look like soot from working chimneys.
- Disney Imagineers came up with the name “Rose & Crown Pub” after their research found that the words “Rose” and “Crown” were the two most common words used to name pubs in the UK. They combined these words to name this popular Epcot pub.
- There is a great little park – modeled after Hyde Park in London – behind the shops and restaurants of the UK Pavilion. Most people don’t even notice this area, but worth taking the time to explore. There is even a real hedge maze!
- Notice the architecture in the row of shops on the right side of the United Kingdom Pavilion. These buildings were constructed to represent different time periods in UK history. The first shop – the Tea Caddy – features a thatched roof, low ceilings, hearth, and dark lighting, all typical of the 1600’s. The second shop – with its higher ceilings and simple wrought iron lighting fixtures – represents the 1700’s. The third building was constructed in typical 1800’s neoclassical fashion, with ornate windows and lighting.
- The HRC (Historic Research Section) is an area inside the United Kingdom Pavilion where Cast Members help you research information about your family history. You can even get your family crest printed as a souvenir.
Future World – Epcot Secrets
Club Cool Secrets
- Club Cool is located behind the Starbucks near Innovations West. This attraction allows guests to sample different varieties of Coca-Cola sodas from around the world. Try the melon-flavored Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand, the bubblegum-flavored Inca Cola from Peru, or the bitter Beverly cola from Italy (beware!), to name a few. All the samples are free of charge!
Electric Umbrella Restaurant Secrets
- See if you can find the talking trash can inside the Electric Umbrella Restaurant. It’s the only one plugged in!
Living with the Land Secrets
- Check out the street number on the mailbox of the farmhouse at Living with the Land. It’s “82,” representing the year Epcot opened to the public (1982).
- There are some amazing crops growing indoors at Living with the Land. In fact, one of the tomato trees holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most yield in one year. It produced an astonishing 32,000 tomatoes – weighing around 1,152 pounds – in just one year!
Mission: Space – Epcot Secrets
- The Mission: Space attraction at Epcot uses more computer power than the real NASA Space Shuttle. Seems hard to believe!
- In Mission: Space, try pressing all the switches and dials at once. Don’t be alarmed if you hear Gary Sinise’s voice over the speaker telling you to cut it out! Gary Sinise also stars in the pre-ride video and narrates the ride.
- See if you can find Hidden Mickeys in the ceiling and walls at the Mission: Space gift shop.
MouseGear – Epcot Secrets
- Walk behind MouseGear to see a wonderful little butterfly garden.
Spaceship Earth Secrets
- If you are looking for a dry place to wait out a rain shower, head underneath Spaceship Earth. The structure has an innovative drainage system which collects rainwater, then channels it down a support structure and into the World Showcase Lagoon.
- If you are wondering why your flight number is “5505” on Soarin’, it’s because Imagineers used the ride’s opening date of May 5, 2005.
Test Track Secrets
- Test Track is the fastest ride in all of Walt Disney World (65 mph).
The Seas with Nemo & Friends Secrets
- The aquarium holds 5.7 million gallons of salt water, measures 203’ in diameter, and has a depth of 27’. Spaceship Earth (160’ in diameter) could fit comfortably inside this massive structure! The saltwater aquarium was the largest of its kind in the world until Georgia Aquarium surpassed it in 2005.
- The Living Seas Pavilion was renamed The Seas with Nemo & Friends in 2005. It was the first Pavilion at Epcot to be named after an animated Disney movie. Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable at The Land Pavilion was the first Epcot? attraction based on an animated Disney property. It was based on the Lion King and opened in 1995.
- You may notice the very large overhang when exiting the building. This was constructed to allow your eyes to re-adjust to the natural sunlight.