Our 1-Day Planned EPCOT Itinerary For Families And How It Worked For Us

My family of four (including a not-yet-42-inches-tall 3-year-old) spent our spring break in Walt Disney World (“WDW”) and planned to hit up every major (and minor) ride over 1 day at EPCOT. Below is my family’s itinerary: the good, the bad, and what I would have done differently.


Some things to note

My family traveled to WDW during spring break, meaning that while there are busier times to visit the parks, it was pretty crowded. We also made use of Genie + as well as individual lightning lanes. We also stayed on property, thanks to our DVC membership, which allowed us early access. That early access, along with traveling with a pre-school aged child meant that naps were a necessity for us. We took a long break each day to make sure that our pre-schooler could nap, and sometimes the rest of us joined him too! In addition to the perks of having a well-rested son, there was a second pleasant result of taking a long break in the middle of the day: I would use the time to stack Genie+ Lightning Lanes for our evening so we could hit one ride after another once we returned to the park.

Rope dropping EPCOT

Note that for the below plans, EPCOT opened to the public at 9 AM on the day we were visiting.

  • 6:00 AM – Wake up and get ready for the day
  • 6:45 AM – Get the kids up and ready for the day
  • 7:00 AM – Book first Lightning Lane of the day, get into the relevant Virtual Queue(s) and Individual Lightning Lane. (See below for what options we selected.) (Note that Genie plus can be purchased as early as 12 AM the day of. I typically bought Genie Plus the second I woke up at 6 AM so I was all ready in advance of the 7 AM booking window.)
  • 7:05 AM – Out the door at our Polynesian Resort hotel room (we stayed in the Moorea building), walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center (“TTC”), an approximately 5 minute walk.
  • 7:15 AM – Catch the first monorail to EPCOT
  • 7:30 AM – We get stopped at the base of the monorail ramp. Note that this is closer to the entrance to EPCOT than people that arrived at EPCOT by bus / car.
  • 7:40 AM – Allowed to stand in line at the front gate.
  • 8:00 AM – Allowed into the park, tapped into Early Entry and gather before World Showcase for “rope drop”.

Prep Work: The First Booking(s) of the Day

Genie + can be purchased as early as 12 AM on the day you want to you use it. Bookings for Genie + go online at 7 AM. My recommendation is to purchase a Genie + as soon as you wake up (assuming that is before 7 AM). Disney resort guests can also purchase individual lightning lane (“ILL”) (the rides that cost extra to book a lightning lane) as early as 7 AM.

LL Selection 1: Book Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at 7 AM. Our return time was 10:50 AM.

ILL: Book Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Our return time was 10:20 AM.

Virtual Queue: At the time we visited EPCOT, there were only two ways to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, an ILL pass or a virtual queue boarding group. Since getting a boarding group is free, we also signed up for the Virtual Queue at 7 AM.

Early Access (8:30 AM – 9:00 AM) and The First Hour (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM)

World Showcase: Norway

We entered EPCOT at 8:00 AM but were stopped by Test Track until 8:30 AM. Note, there were several areas in the park that early access park goers could wait at The Test Track waiting point was set up for those interested in riding Frozen Ever After.

Ride 1: Frozen Ever After. When researching rides to build out our itinerary, I learned that there were three rides to consider for rope drop. These rides, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Test Track, are far apart from each other. Therefore, unlike other parks where early access means knocking out a couple of the most popular rides, in EPCOT you need to decide which one you’ll tackle. The other two rides will then either require a wait or lightning lane access. I selected Frozen Ever After as 1) it would take us too long to reach Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure given that we were entering from the front gate and not international gateway and 2) the kids would much prefer to ride Frozen Ever After twice than Test Track.

EPCOT: Nod to Maelstrom

I’ve been a huge Maelstrom fan since my first visit to EPCOT. As a huge Frozen fan, I much preferred Frozen Ever After but I love the nod to trolls and other Maelstrom items.

World Celebration

Ride 2: Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Feel free to yell out “are you crazy?” upon reading this. You’d be within your rights to do so. There is definitely no need to rope drop the Figment ride. (Especially after it was changed from its original incarnation. How could you get rid of the Dreamfinder, Disney?!) However, since we were blocked from using Genie + due to our later return time for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, it was time to hit up all the rides that were walk-ons.

Experience 1: Before we left Figment’s world, the kids enjoyed playing in ImageWorks – The “What If” Labs. While I might be the only blog out there recommending doing this quite so early, it was pretty cool to get the entire lab all to ourselves.

World Nature

Ride 3: Living with the Land. We used the same theory as we did for Journey Into Imagination with Figment. This is definitely not a ride that you need to rope drop. However, it also is a walk on ride this early in the morning and a great way to get through everything in EPCOT in 1-Day.

Note: My goal was to complete as many walk-on rides as possible before our first set ride return time. For my family that meant Journey Into Imagination with Figment, ImageWorks, and Living with the Land. But if you still have free time after a couple rides, keep going!

The Second Hour (10:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

World Discovery

Individual Lightning Lane (Ride 4): Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Anecdotal story / cautionary tale time below!

Tip #1: When booking an ILL, make sure you know how tall your children are beforehand.

(Did anyone think about the acronym before they came up with the name?)

I cannot emphasize that tip enough. There were two big mistakes we make on our WDW trip and this was one of them. (The other mistake also happened in EPCOT so just keep reading for information on that disaster.) We were so sure that my son was tall enough to ride Cosmic Rewind. And he was close. Very close. A rider needs to be 42″ to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. My son was 41.75″. If we had just stuffed his sneakers like some You Tubers recommended, it would have been fine.

It also would have been fine if we didn’t have LL access to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure back to back with Cosmic Rewind. We could have implemented rider swap and gotten 3 rides out of our tickets. (We learned our lesson and did this with Tron on our trip to Magic Kingdom). But since I didn’t want to give up our LL to Remy’s ride (and modifying Remy by this point was out of the question… all Genie + LL passes were gone), we actually just let two of our ILL passes go to waste. I am cringing just writing that.

But when the wait for my husband and daughter (with ILL passes) turned out to be 45 minutes, there was no chance I would get to ride both Remy and Cosmic Rewind that morning. And since I had a second chance to ride Cosmic Rewind later in the day, my son and I took off for the World Showcase right as my husband and daughter finally got onto Cosmic Rewind.

World Showcase: Canada -> United Kingdom -> France

Experience 2: My son and I moseyed on up slowly around the right side of the World Showcase, looking for Spike the Bee and Easter Eggs along the way (both scavenger hunts that are part of the Flowers and Garden festival) and stopping to take pictures of some topiaries (also part of the Flowers and Garden festival).

The Third Hour (11:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

World Showcase: France

Ride 5: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (with LL access). It was cute. But if I had to do the day over again and had to pick between Remy and Cosmic Rewind? I would have skipped Remy.

LL Selection 2: As soon as we tapped into the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride (at around 11:00 AM), we obtained LL passes for Test Track, thereby kicking off the 120-minute rule. The 120-minute rule states that you can only book another LL option after 1) you tap into your previous LL ride or 2) 120-minutes, whichever comes first. Our return time was between 5:20 PM – 6:20 PM. Note: it is always important to book a LL ASAP in order to start the 120-minute timer. If the return time doesn’t work with your park plans, you can always modify your booking to find a ride or time that suits you better than your initial booking.

World Showcase: Morocco -> Japan -> America -> Italy -> Germany -> China -> Norway -> Mexico

Food Break 1: Since we had time to kill between Remy and our 12 PM reservations for lunch at San Angel Inn, we made our way around the World Showcase, eating at as many food booths from the Flowers and Gardens event as we could.

Yes, the thing we did before eating was…. eat.

Lunch Hour (and a half) (12:00 PM – 1:30 PM)

World Showcase: Mexico

EPCOT: Mexico

Food Break 2: San Angel Inn has been on my bucket list ever since I discovered tumblr in my late 20s and made a bucket list account. When I was able to snag lunch reservations I was torn. I had regretted all the reservations I made when we visited Disneyland the year before, as my family much preferred the food choices and short waits that came with ordering from counter service locations. Plus I really wanted to eat at the Flowers and Garden booths. But my decade+ bucket list won out and I kept my reservations. Don’t get me wrong, the ambiance was as amazing as I thought it would be, the service was good and the food was much better than it’s been rated in the past. However, I think the entire family would have preferred those flowers and garden booths for lunch instead.

LL Selection 3: An hour into our lunch we hit the 120-minute rule and were able to book our next ride, this time on Soarin’ Around the World with a return time between 5:15 PM – 6:15 PM.

Taking a Break and Early Afternoon Plans (1:30 PM – 3:00 PM)

I decided to split the day up here because it was pretty much a waste of a couple of hours. My 3 year old was still not recovered from the lack of sleep from the last couple of days so my husband took him back to the room for a nap while my daughter and I had plans to visit all the air conditioned locations throughout EPCOT. We planned to hide from the heat, but also enjoy an attraction. We were going to experience Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, The American Adventure, the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, and Awesome Planet. Sadly, we never actually made it past Ride 6: Gran Fiesta Tour Starring Three Caballeros because of the second biggest mistake of our trip. I lost my Magic Band.

No, me losing my Magic Band wasn’t the big mistake, although it was careless and aggravating. The big mistake was letting it take over the next several hours of my life. I complained and moaned to myself and my daughter, wandered aimlessly and all for nothing. Here’s what I should have done instead. (It’s what I did do eventually, but with a lot of wasted time in the process.)

What to do if you lose your Magic Band?

  1. Find a Guest Services kiosk (I used the one by Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind) and declare it missing. They looked up my serial number and gave it to me along with the website to use in order to declare it missing. They also gave me a paper ticket that I could use to entire the park (although I’m guessing my iPhone would have worked fine).
  2. Use your iPhone (or new paper ticket) for the rest of the day to get on rides via LL access.
  3. Pick up another Magic Band if you want. I realize this sounds frivolous but I loved my Magic Band access and wanted it back. I even ended up with a design I liked a lot more than my original band, resulting in my family teasing me for the rest of the trip (and beyond) that I lost it on purpose.
  4. Log your lost Magic Band into the WDW website as missing. Since my specific serial number was included in my lost item report, I had zero concerns that it would find its way back to me if it ever ended up being found. I just thought that would never happen since I had assumed it had fallen into the water on the Gran Fiesta ride. No one was more surprised than I was when, one month later, WDW emailed me and said they found it! They asked where I wanted them to send the Magic Band. I was sure they would charge me when I entered in my Hawaii address, but nope they send it back to me free of charge. I was left shaking my head that I had gotten so upset and let it take over so much of my day at the park.

Later Afternoon Plans (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)

LL Selection 4: Book The Seas with Nemo & Friends as soon as the 120-minute rule is up. At this point I had in my possession all the Genie+ passes that were going to have long lines so I started in on the shorter lines in hopes of getting nonexistent lines. Case in point the return time was 3:20 PM – 4:25 PM. However, when I went to modify the ride to later on in the day, I saw that Frozen Ever After had an option for a 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM ride and I quickly modified my Nemo ride to the aforementioned Frozen ride option instead.

Word Discovery

Virtual Queue – Ride 7: Since we had been focused on booking our Genie + Ride and ILL ride right at 7 AM, the boarding number we had for our virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind didn’t get called until 3:00 PM. But it was definitely worth the wait! And unlike our Individual Lightning Lane early morning time that had a 45 minute line, we were on and off the ride in 20 minutes.

EPCOT: Cosmic Rewind

Word Celebration

Ride 8: Spaceship Earth

Word Discovery

Ride 9: Mission: SPACE Orange. No. Just No. This is the worst ride ever. I thought I was going to die. A boy that rode with us literally fell down after getting off the ride and had to get help leaving. He was so discombobulated that when I ran after him, because he had dropped his phone, it took him a while to focus on me and then realize that I was trying to give him back his phone. Meanwhile my daughter said it was the best ride. She literally did cartwheels while I sat around recovering. It seriously took me until the next day to recover. And as it relates to this itinerary, we spent an hour in the Advanced Training Lab interactive play area (Experience 3) until I felt well enough to walk. And yet still the only thing I felt capable of doing was shopping.

The Evening Plans (5:00 PM – 7:00 PM) (with Genie + stacking)

World Nature

Ride 10: Soarin’ Around the World (with LL access)

World Discovery

Food Break 3: Take a break for food at the EPCOT Farmers Feast booth.

That soup! Man… if I can’t eat anything but that soup for the rest of my life, I’ll be okay.

Ride 11: Test Track (with LL access)

World Showcase: Norway

Ride 12: Frozen Ever After again (this time with LL access)

World Nature

Ride 13: The Seas with Nemo & Friends

The original plan was that my husband would return with my son as soon as he woke from his nap. They’d join in on wherever we were in the itinerary and then we’d enjoy a dinner sampling the Flowers and Gardens food booths. Unfortunately, my son was sacked out (and clearly needed his sleep). So my husband stayed with him until I returned with my daughter after our last ride. My husband then returned to EPCOT solo to ride Test Track (the only ride he cared about going on). Our plan for him was that since EPCOT was open late for luxury hotel guests, he could stay at the park until 11 PM and enjoy the food booths after riding Test Track. Sadly, we found out the hard way that the Flowers and Garden booths closed at 8 PM.

If you liked this post, maybe you would like these posts from Hawaii Girl Travels:

Our 1-Day Planned Disney’s Animal Kingdom Itinerary for Families And How It Worked For Us

Painted Sky: Disney Aulani’s Dream Come True for Princesses in Training

Universal Studios Hollywood: Itinerary for 2 adults, 1 child rider, and 1 child too short to ride most rides