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Touring Epcot (without Genie+)

Touring Epcot (without Genie+)

Some parks at Walt Disney World are easier to tour than others, and Epcot is an easier park to tackle without Genie+ due to the relatively low number of attractions at the park.

On this day, we tested out touring at Epcot – one of us (Heather) toured with Genie+, and the other less lucky one of us (me, Felicia) toured without Genie+.

During my visit, I experienced a couple small hurdles but was still able to ride most of the headliner attractions before lunch with plenty of time left after lunch to complete the items still remaining on my list.

Here’s how it went:

How we put together our EPCOT touring plans

We used our guide on How to Tour EPCOT (without waiting in lines) to put together today’s plan for touring Epcot.

There, you’ll find everything you need to create a touring plan for your day at EPCOT, too, including a detailed breakdown of each attraction with insider tips on the most strategic times to ride.

In addition, there are user-friendly graphics that can be easily saved to your phone, providing you with the necessary information to make informed, real-time decisions throughout the park.

epcot touring graphic for touring plans

If you’re interested in comparing what a day at Epcot would be like with and without Genie+, read also about our experience on the same day Touring Epcot with Genie+.

Overview

During my Epcot visit, I was able to accomplish 9 rides/attractions in the roughly 4.5 hours before lunch time at around 12:45 p.m.

I didn’t continue touring after lunch, but if I had I would have likely spent much of the rest of the day exploring the World Showcase, experiencing some of the Flower and Garden Festival that was going on, and riding the other attractions I hadn’t yet ridden earlier in the day.

Here is a summary of what I was able to do:

Akershus

If I had stayed after lunch, I would have tried to do these remaining items:

Before we left the room

Because I wasn’t using Genie+ or buying Individual Lightning Lanes, I didn’t have much to do before we left the room except wake up and get ready. I would need to join the Virtual Queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

We were visiting Epcot on Friday May 5th so expected the park to be a little busier than a typical day due to it being almost the weekend and it being Cinco de Mayo. Regular park opening was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. which meant that Early Theme Park Entry was at 8:30 a.m.

We left the room around 6:40 a.m. to head for the Skyliner.

Getting to Epcot

During this trip, we were staying in a Finding Nemo Suite at Art of Animation which meant we would be taking the Skyliner to Epcot.

The Skyliner started operating at 7 a.m. on this day and we wanted to be in line when it opened but wasn’t overly concerned about being near the front of the line since Skyliner opening time was 1.5 hours before Early Theme Park Entry started at Epcot.

Skyliner To Epcot

Our travel time to Epcot was very short. We boarded our Skyliner gondola from Art of Animation at 6:57 a.m. and boarded our second gondola at the Caribbean Beach Resort station at 7:03.

We arrived at Epcot at 7:13 a.m., so it was an overall quick experience with very little waiting. We were near the front of the pack and only had a handful of people ahead of us when we got in line for security.

Epcot International Gateway

Tapstiles

The opening procedures vary slightly between each of the Walt Disney World parks. At Epcot, once we arrived at the International Gateway via the Skyliner, we were held before security until roughly 7:45 a.m.

At 7:47 a.m., we were allowed to go thru security and line up at the tapstiles. We were held there until right at 8:00 a.m. By this time, the line behind us had grown into a rather large crowd.

Epcot Rope Drop

Once we got thru the tapstiles and into the park, we walked up to the bridge that crosses over to the France Pavilion. At this spot, cast members were there to scan MagicBands or park tickets to check for Early Theme Park Entry eligibility.

Early Entry

If you are not eligible for Early Theme Park Entry, the area between the tapstiles and where the cast members scan to check for eligibility is where you would wait until official park opening at 9:00 a.m.

If you are eligible to participate, once you scan in with the cast members you have two options: cross the bridge to France to get in line for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or continue straight to any of the other open attractions (most likely Test Track or Frozen Ever After).

Both Heather and I were rope dropping Remy’s, so we headed right over the bridge to France.

Epcot Remy's Rope Drop

Guests heading to Remy’s are held on the bridge at the entrance of the France pavilion for a few minutes. For us, we were held there from about 8:03 a.m. to 8:08 a.m.

At that point, everyone was slowly walked into the back of the France pavilion where Remy’s is located and eventually through the Remy’s queue itself.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Attraction 1: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

  • Posted Wait: N/A (Early Theme Park Entry)
  • Time entering line: 8:13
  • Time boarding: 8:23
  • Time exiting: 8:29
  • Total Wait: 10 minutes (time it took to slowly walk the queue)

As was the experience for me on this trip at all the parks (with the exception of Magic Kingdom), we were able to ride this attraction and exit before the official start time of Early Theme Park Entry.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

We were exiting at 8:29 a.m. which was a minute before the 8:30 a.m. scheduled start time. This put us in a great position to continue touring before regular park guests were able to enter the queues.

Both Heather and I had plans to go to Frozen Ever After second so we headed over to Norway together. We were able to walk thru an empty World Showcase to get there which was lovely.

World Showcase Walk To Frozen

Attraction 2: Frozen Ever After

  • Posted Wait: 25 minutes
  • Time entering line: 8:42
  • Time boarding: 8:55
  • Time exiting: 9:00
  • Total Wait: 13 minutes

The top 3 attractions to target for rope drop are Test Track, Frozen Ever After, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. If entering Epcot at the front of the park, Test Track or Frozen Ever After are your best options. Because we entered at the International Gateway, Remy’s was the best option for us.

From Remy’s, the next closest headliner attraction is Frozen Ever After so this was an easy choice for a second ride.

Frozen Ever After On Ride Photo

We were able to hop in line at 8:42 a.m. and were off the attraction at 9:00 a.m. This meant that we had already rode two headliner attractions before regular park guests were let into the park. This made for a really great start to the morning.

First Hour

Attraction 3: Soarin’ Around the World

  • Posted Wait: 10 minutes
  • Time entering line: 9:15
  • Time boarding: 9:25
  • Time exiting: 9:36
  • Total Wait: 10 minutes

After exiting Frozen Ever After, there were two options I was considering: head to Test Track before the wait got too long and ride using the regular standby queue or head to Soarin’ with the intention of riding Test Track later in the day via the Single Rider line.

Because I was by myself and would be a “single rider” regardless of the queue I waited in, I decided to head to Soarin’. If I had been with family or friends and I valued riding all together, I would have gone to Test Track and that is what I would recommend for people in that situation.

Soarin' Queue

The wait for Soarin’ was 10 minutes which was exactly what posted and the entirety of the wait was walking the queue and then waiting my turn to go into the ride theater.

Attraction 4: Living with the Land

  • Posted Wait: 5 minutes
  • Time entering line: 9:38
  • Time boarding: 9:40
  • Time exiting: 9:59
  • Total Wait: 2 minutes
  • Notes: This attraction is relatively long at 15 minutes. It took me 20 minutes in total starting from the point I boarded the boat to the point I was exiting the boat. Keep this in mind if you’re on a schedule.
Living In The Land

Living with the Land is an attraction I really appreciate for a lot of reasons. I love that it is inside and therefore a great break from the heat and it is also an interesting and informative look behind the scenes at the Land pavilion. I love floating thru the greenhouses and learning about the different techniques they are using to grow everything.

Also, there is almost never a lengthy wait which makes it a great option to ride anytime. I knew that I would only be focused on touring the first half of my day and therefore wanted to be as efficient as possible so I chose to ride this immediately after exiting Soarin’. The entrance to Living with the Land is not far from the exit of Soarin’.

Second Hour

At 7 a.m. on the Skyliner over to Epcot, I joined the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rewind and got boarding group 27. Once your boarding group number is called, you have an hour to get in line at the attraction. My boarding group was called while I was on Living with the Land which meant I needed to head over to Cosmic Rewind once I got off that ride.

I exited the Land Pavilion and then headed over to Cosmic Rewind. I entered the queue at 10:12 and had been waiting for 20 minutes when the ride went down. Cast members came over the speakers to notify everyone that the attraction was closed and that we must exit the queue.

guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind - standby and lightning lane

Upon exiting, cast members were notifying people that they would need to go to Guest Services to either get a refund of their Lightning Lane (if they had purchased one) or to request a new boarding group/return time for those that had been a party of the virtual queue if they wanted the opportunity to ride later in the day.

The guest services umbrella near the exit of Cosmic Rewind had a line about 60 people long. I knew I wouldn’t have time later in the day to ride so I wasn’t going to bother with visiting guest services to get a new return time. However, if I had been interested in doing this I would not have waited in that long line right then and would have instead gone to a different (and less busy) guest services or I would have waited an hour or so for the lines to clear before going and requesting it.

Attraction 5: The Seas with Nemo and Friends

  • Posted Wait: 10 minutes
  • Time entering line: 10:38
  • Time boarding: 10:46
  • Time exiting: 10:52
  • Total Wait: 8 minutes
  • Notes: This attraction functions as an entrance into The Seas Pavilion and rarely has a long wait. If you have any interest in visiting the aquariums inside of The Seas, this is a fun way to get inside the pavilion.

If my boarding group hadn’t been called for Cosmic Rewind, my plan was to head straight to The Seas with Nemo and Friends after exiting Living with the Land. Obviously things didn’t go exactly like that, but at the point Cosmic Rewind was down, I decided to head back over to The Seas Pavilion to continue my day.

The Seas With Nemo And Friends

The posted wait time here was only 10 minutes and it took me just a few minutes less than that to board. The attraction ends inside The Seas Pavilion next to the entrance to my 6th attraction of the day: Turtle Talk with Crush.

Third Hour

Attraction 6: Turtle Talk with Crush

  • Posted Wait: 15 minutes
  • Time entering line: 10:53
  • Time boarding: 10:58
  • Time exiting: 11:12
  • Total Wait: 5 minutes

Turtle Talk with Crush is a fun, interactive show that is great for kids. The show is setup so that Crush interacts with the crowd, especially kids that are seated on the floor directly in front of the screen he appears on.

Turtle Talk With Crush

My wait time here was only as long as it took for the next show to start. Each show is approximately 10 minutes long.

Attraction 7: Mission: SPACE (Orange)

  • Posted Wait: 10 minutes
  • Time entering line: 11:26
  • Time boarding: 11:43
  • Time exiting: 11:51
  • Total Wait: 16 minutes

At this point, I had 3 main attractions I wanted to accomplish: Mission: SPACE, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track. I had been monitoring the wait times for Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth and noticed that the wait for Mission: SPACE was relatively low (15 minutes) when I was finished in The Seas Pavilion so I headed over to ride that.

I passed Spaceship Earth on my walk to Mission: SPACE. This would have been a good opportunity to ride this without needing to backtrack later, however the wait here was pretty long (about 45 minutes) and I knew it would be lower later in the day so I decided to skip it and head straight to Mission: SPACE.

Mission Space

This attraction has two different options/lines: Green side for a milder experience (better for those that are prone to motion sickness) and the Orange side for a more intense experience. I don’t have any motion sickness issues and find the Orange side fun so I opted for that and had a great time.

Fourth Hour

Attraction 8: Test Track

  • Posted Wait: 75 minutes for regular standby queue
  • Time entering line: 11:57
  • Time boarding: 12:19
  • Time exiting: 12:24
  • Total Wait: 27 minutes using the Single Rider Line

Test Track is located near Mission: SPACE so I headed there after I finished riding that attraction. As I mentioned before, Test Track has a Single Rider line in addition to the regular standby queue. You can often save a lot of time waiting by using the Single Rider line as long as you’re okay being split up from the rest of your party. I was by myself so this was obviously no problem.

Test Track Single Rider Line

The wait here did end up being longer than I was expecting. However, the primary reason for this was because the attraction went down right before I was going to board. Guests that were waiting did not have to leave the queue which meant that once the attraction came back up, cast members continued the boarding process and I was able to ride.

Attraction 9: Spaceship Earth

  • Posted Wait: 15 minutes
  • Time entering line: 12:31
  • Time boarding: 12:38
  • Time exiting: 12:57
  • Total Wait: 7 minutes

The last “major” attraction I wanted to accomplish before lunch was Spaceship Earth and lucky for me the wait time was now only 15 minutes. I walked over to ride after Test Track and only had to wait 7 minutes. Great way to end my touring day.

Spaceship Earth

I exited Spaceship Earth right around 1:00 p.m. and it was time to head to our lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Overall, I had a successful start to the day touring Epcot without Genie+.

How I would have spent the rest of the day

When I finished touring at roughly 1:00 p.m., it had been about 4.5 hours since the park had officially opened for Early Theme Park Entry. At this point, I had ridden everything I had wanted to ride before lunch with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The only reason I hadn’t ridden this is because it went down while I was waiting in the queue.

After eating at Akershus, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some work done. However, if I was visiting for vacation, I would have stayed at the park and finished out the rest of the things I wanted to do there:

Final thoughts

Overall, touring Epcot without Genie+ is relatively simple, especially if you’re okay using the Single Rider Line at Test Track. If you don’t want to buy Genie+ at all of the parks, I would recommend first buying it for Magic Kingdom and second purchasing it for Hollywood Studios. Epcot is not a park I would recommend for this.

I would recommend purchasing a Lightning Lane for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind if that is an attraction you want to ride. It is more convenient to be able to select your return time and the wait is often much shorter for the Lightning Lane than the Virtual Queue.

VIDEO: How to tour EPCOT with (and WITHOUT) Genie+

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Felicia Goodwin