The days Epcot being the must-visit part at Walt Disney Word needs to be put on hold.
Of all the Walt Disney Parks, Epcot is one of the best, or at least it was and you shouldn’t feel you miss anything if you skip it right now.
There is no question, if you ask me, Walt Disney World’s best part is far and away Epcot Center. That being said, it is o.k. to skip the park right now and in fact, you probably should take it off your itinerary and hope to go back.
If you have never been to Epcot, you won’t be impressed by what you will find. If you have been to Epcot you are likely to be disappointed. That is where I came into this whole thing. Last week I had a shot to visit one of the four parks but Hollywood Studios was a no-go which left Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. I chose Epcot for a few reasons.
For starters, the Epcot Taste Around the World festival is going on and I wanted to enjoy the atmosphere that I have taken part in for the last 6 years straight. Later this week I will let you know what I thought about it.
This isn’t about the TATWF however, this is about the park itself and why you should pick something else right now. Yes, COVID has a lot to do with the why of it all but it isn’t the only reason. The park was clean don’t get me wrong and I wasn’t concerned about social distancing issues as everyone pretty much stayed to themselves and were distanced well.
The park was pretty much empty by normal Epcot standards. We walked on the Living Land ride and Soarin with no wait. The same would have happened at Test Track if I opted to ride it. So what is the problem you may be thinking? Well for starters, this isn’t Epcot. This is, lesser Epcot.
Construction on the central hub is so massive right now that you can’t simply walk from one side of the park to the other. In fact, you have to detour almost to the exit or into the World Showcase to get from The Living Land area to the Test Track area and back again.
The central hub is completely gone and you are greeted with walls that surround the construction. The monorails are not running so there is no overhead view from above of the progress being made. As you near the Test Track area, the Guardians of the Galaxy rollercoaster is under construction as well, which means more walls.
O.k. so big deal, it’s construction. The main store on the property has been reduced to half its normal size and there is now one way in one way out and there are a limited number of patrons or guests, allowed in the store at any given time. I was there midweek and it wasn’t full but the products on sale were far less than I normally see at the Epcot stores.
Still not a big deal? Let’s move to the World Showcase which is by far my favorite place of all the parks. As you go left into the WS you come to Mexico first. The line, which wrapped out and around the Mayan styled building was a 40-minute wait. Not for the ride inside and not for the restaurant. Just to get inside.
In Norway, the good news is that the Frozen ride was running but the bad news was that the line backed up so far it curled into China. That’s a pretty long line. Granted the social distancing issues were being taken into consideration but it was hot as all get out and kids were crying and miserable.
Very few restaurants were open in the countries which was not good. The take-out service places were open but still many were not and not all of the food kiosks for the festival were operational either. There were no street performances in any of the countries that we were able to see and character/princess meets were not happening either, again, that we saw.
Each country also had to deal with scaled back cast-members and many were not from the country that they were working in as some foreign cast-members returned home when the COVID outbreak hit. This also leads to long lines where only one person may be working in any given area and I saw several people put back items they would have purchased but didn’t want to wait.
The park will be extending its hours later this month. It was closed at 7pm the day I went which was o.k. While I could typically spend a gate-drop opening rush to the fireworks, I was perfectly fine heading back to the hotel a little earlier. In fact, I got back to my room before 6:00 pm. I’ve never done that before.
As I drove home on Saturday I realized that there is simply too much going on at Epcot that takes away from everything that makes Epcot great. Too much construction, which is needed, not enough cast-members to meet the needs, and a lack of nationality presences at the countries made for an o.k. day that used to be great.
That being said, if missing out on a lot of what Epcot typically has to offer doesn’t bother you too much, the low crowds are well worth the visit but I would venture to guess you won’t want to spend all day there.