Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration is officially underway and while Magic Kingdom Park is the only Disney World theme park to be celebrating 50 years since opening, the festivities extend to the resort’s other three parks, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. EPCOT, the second-oldest Disney World theme park and a nostalgic favorite among many Disney World regulars (including yours truly), opened on Oct. 1, 1982 and is now in the midst of a massive multi-year transformation. There’s no shortage of colorful construction walls concealing work in progress around the park right now, but there’s also a whole slew of new attractions, restaurants and experiences that have already opened. Here are 10 of the best new things to do when you visit EPCOT during Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration.
1. Spaceship Earth Becomes a Beacon of Magic After Dark
Never more grand and miraculous, Spaceship Earth, EPCOT’s shimmering icon, has received a major glow-up with new “points of light” added and a new nighttime lighting package that transforms the massive geodesic sphere into a “Beacon of Magic,” the term given to the special nighttime treatment each of Disney World’s four park icons has received for the 50th anniversary. Make sure to carve out some time to visit the front of the park at night for photos in front of Spaceship Earth and the fountain even if you normally exit from the International Gateway exit near World Showcase.
2. Space 220 Takes You to Dinner in Space
Like an attraction and restaurant in one, Space 220 “transports” guests in a “stellarvator,” aka space elevator, 220 miles above the earth surface (no, not really — but the effect is convincing!). Sip out-of-this-world cocktails and choose from a two-course lunch or three-course dinner prix fixe menu. Reservations are a must but the lounge does accept walk-ups.
3. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Brings More Family Fun to World Showcase
A new ride for the whole family is always a good thing and this one starring Remy, the lovable rat chef from Disney Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” is adorable and a charming addition to World Showcase, especially when you want to keep kids excited about the back half of the park. The attraction is an all-ages, 3D trackless dark ride with a mix of physical sets and screens that You’ll need to join a Virtual Queue to ride so be sure to read up on how to get a Boarding Group first.
4. Le Creperie de Paris Is a Must-Try for Authentic French Fare
La Crêperie de Paris (table-service) and Crêpes À Emporter (quick-service) are the new dining locations in the expanded France pavilion and serve traditional made-from-scratch crêpes and galettes and hard ciders inspired by France’s Brittany region.
Both locations serve savory galettes made with gluten-friendly buckwheat batter or sweet crêpes that aren’t gluten friendly (though if you avoid gluten you *can* request that sweet crêpes be made with the gluten-friendly galette batter). I highly recommend the table-service versions, which are definitely superior to the to-go offerings. A three-course prix-fixe meal that includes soup or salad, savory galette, sweet crêpe, and a glass of hard cider is a steal at $33.
5. The France Expansion Area Is a Charming New Space to Explore
The best part of EPCOT’s expanded France pavilion isn’t even the new ride or restaurant, it’s the expansion area itself. It’s beautiful and a must-visit even if you just grab a cider from the to-go window at Le Creperie and stroll. Be sure to look closely at all of the subtle rat details, Pixar Easter eggs, and the clever employment of “crookedology,” a design approached coined and used by Pixar artists to create a real-life version of “Remy’s Paris.”
EPCOT’s new nighttime spectacular, Harmonious features new interpretations of 15 Disney songs, performed by 240 artists from around the world, and accompanied by projections on five massive barges in World Showcase lagoon and fireworks overhead. The show runs nightly and is best watched standing centered on the center ring from the north side of World Showcase.
7. Club Cool
Enjoy free samples of eight different Coca-Cola products from around the world. This fan-favorite experience has reopened in a bright, reimagined space and features a whole lineup of new flavors. Two of them are… ahem… “acquired” tastes — returning favorite Beverly from Italy, and new flavor Smart Sour Plum from China. The line can look long but it moves quickly. Worth a visit!
8. Creations Shop
The replacement for Mouse Gear, EPCOT’s longtime flagship gift shop, Creations Shop is bright and colorful and includes plenty of EPCOT-exclusive, collectible merchandise.
9. 2021 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival
EPCOT’s 2021 International Food & Wine Festival has been in full swing since July, but two new global marketplaces opened Oct. 1 and festival kitchens continue to introduce new menu items. I’m still working my way through all that the festival has to offer but see what I’ve tried so far.
10. Spot the 50th Anniversary Statues
Fifty golden character sculptures decorate all four theme parks and make for great photo ops or an impromptu scavenger hunt with kiddos. At EPCOT look out for character statues including Figment, Olaf, Pua and Hei Hei.
- How to Join the Virtual Queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Disney World
- Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Begins Oct. 1 With New Nighttime Shows, Fireworks and More
- Everything You Need to Know About Disney’s New ‘Galactic Starcruiser’ Star Wars Hotel—Including the Price
Brooke Geiger McDonald is the national content director for Make It Better Media Group. A Chicago native, she has worked for publications like O, The Oprah Magazine and SHAPE Magazine and her work has appeared in Parents, TravelPulse, Attractions Magazine, MSN, Disney Food Blog, and more. Her favorite nonprofits to support include The Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago and organizations focused on environmental conservation and combatting climate change, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Shedd Aquarium. Follow her on Instagram @brookegmcdonald and Twitter @BrookeGMcDonald.