EPCOT: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Many of us know that Walt’s original vision for EPCOT was that of an actual city, not a theme park. So, how did that change? How does EPCOT today even reflect what Walt’s original vision of the city was? If you’ve ever had these questions, or find them at all intriguing, I highly recommend taking The unDISCOVERed Future World tour, located in EPCOT in the Walt Disney World Resort.
The unDISCOVERed Future World tour is a 4 hour guided tour through the Future World West and East portions of EPCOT. The tour is currently priced at $69.00 per guest, but Disney Visa cardholders, Annual Passholders, and Disney Vacation Club Members receive a 15% off discount. All guests must be 16 years or older to participate in this tour. I will warn you in advance to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking. For the majority of this tour, you are on your feet, with just a small fifteen-minute break halfway through for a rest or a snack.
Our tour was scheduled to begin at 8:30 AM, with Disney asking that you check in fifteen minutes prior to your tour departing. As the park actually opened at 9:00 AM that morning, we basically had EPCOT to ourselves. Disney allowed us to roam around and I finally got pictures of Spaceship Earth and the Fountain of Nations with no one around. Pure magic.
Check-in for the tour is at the backside of Pin Central, the pin station located next to the Electric Umbrella and behind Spaceship Earth. Upon check-in, you’ll receive a themed name tag and an earpiece that helps you hear your guide while in busy areas or on rides. At 8:30 AM, my family and the rest of our group met our awesome Cast Member and tour guide, Kiershta and we were off.
Our tour started with the same question that I asked above: How does a theme park tie in with Walt’s original idea for EPCOT? We were promised an answer as we ventured through the different pavilions around Future World, but I won’t be talking about those answers here. This tour is really cool and I highly recommend taking it, so I don’t want to spoil it for anyone as I started to view EPCOT differently throughout the tour. Instead, I’ll be recapping the different pavilions we visited as well as the VIP lounges and backstage areas we got to see.
We began the tour with Spaceship Earth. We were taken into a special back entrance and got to load onto the ride before regular guests. Our tour guide was quick to point out Hidden Mickeys, gave us facts and history about the ride, and even pointed out animatronics that had some very familiar faces. For example, many presidents from the Hall of Presidents and even members from the Carousel of Progress family live in Spaceship Earth––just dressed differently. You could never even tell! (Until someone points it out and you can never unsee it. Ever.)
Future World West
From there, we ventured into Future World West. This area consists of The Seas, The Land, and the Imagination Pavillions. We started with The Seas pavilion, where we actually got to go into the VIP lounge. That’s right, there’s a VIP lounge at The Seas. Actually, multiple pavilions host lounges and you will visit at least one on your tour. The lounge is beautiful and is basically in the middle of the aquarium. Our Cast Member pointed out a few of the sea creatures that were swimming by, going as far as even telling us their names! You also got to overlook the EAC portion of The Seas with Nemo and Friends, which until that moment, I had no clue you were actually surrounded by water. So cool!
Next was The Land pavilion, where we stopped outside to look at the mural that leads you to the entrance doors. Personally, I never stop here and look at this as I’m typically running to get to Soarin’. But, once you look at it and learn the story of the art team that built it, you come to appreciate it in a whole new light. There’s even a Hidden Mickey if you look real close.
Once inside the pavilion, we stopped at the balcony, where our guide pointed out how the art on the ceiling and the chairs and tables below us made up different seasons, directly tying into the Land theme. My mind was blown and I was once again reminded how Disney, when they want to, can be really clever in their theming. We were then given a fifteen-minute break, where people had the opportunity to use the restroom or grab a snack at Sunshine Seasons.
When the tour resumed, we made our way over to the Imagination Pavilion. We were given some history on the architecture of the pavilion, like the jumping fountains and of course the tumultuous history that is Journey into Imagination. Then, we got to go into the backstage area and learn how 3D glasses are washed on the property and we got to watch a vehicle from Journey into Imagination with Figment be worked on!
Future World East
After the Imagination Pavilion, your next journey is in Future World East which is comprised of: the Universe of Energy/Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission: Space, and Test Track. We stopped outside the construction areas of the new Guardians of the Galaxy building, where together we mourned the loss of Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Unfortunately, our Cast Member didn’t have much insight into the new attraction going in, but it was fun to theorize how they might tie in the theme of energy together.
We then made our way over to Mission: Space, stopping to look at all of the hidden gems that the pavilion has. For example, every few minutes or so, space logs will play over the area music. There’s also some Mars rover tracks that were recreated. As someone who doesn’t visit this portion of the park frequently due to my fear of Mission: Space, I had never taken the time to have a proper look around and the entire area is actually incredibly well done. From there, we got to visit the VIP Lounge that is located above the Advanced Traning Lab (the exit of Mission Space.) Typically, you only visit one lounge while on your tour, but if you have a really wonderful guide and the lounge isn’t being used, you can get lucky. This one even had candy.
The last on-stage portion of the tour is at Test Track, which we got to ride. We were taken through the special back entrance and the Cast Members had two cars waiting for our tour group. (It really makes you feel kinda special.)
After riding Test Track, we were asked to put away all phones and cameras because we were venturing backstage! I’ve spent a great deal of time backstage at Universal Orlando, and honestly, when you see one backlot, you’ve seen them all. However, if you haven’t seen one before, I think this is the tour to take. One of the greatest parts of this entire tour happened backstage, where we got to visit Creative Costuming.
You first start the backstage adventure by passing underneath Test Track. We got to see a lot of the construction for the new Mission: Space restaurant.
From there, we went into Cast Services. You get to see the Cast Member shop, where they eat, and even the clothing department. From there, you visit the wig room where you might even see some characters getting their hair done. Then, you visit Creative Costuming. This is the department that helps sew character costumes or maintains and fixes items. For example, I got to watch a Cast Member fix a hole in Figment’s iconic yellow sweater and I was mesmerized (and also curious as to how he managed to rip his sweater in the first place.) There are fabrics scattered around the room, all tagged with the character they belonged to. It was really to cool to see how these costume pieces came to life. The room was also decorated in old animatronics and statues, like the Hitchhiking Ghosts, a penguin from Muppet*Vision 3D and even Food Rocks. I would’ve loved to stay in here forever, and you do get a decent amount of time to look around before being moved along.
We then got to walk down Pride Hall. For those that don’t know what Pride Hall is, Disney sectioned part of a hallway off and allowed each department a specific area to paint a mural that best represented their department. This was one of my favorite parts of the entire tour. It was really funny to see all of the ideas that the Cast Members had and the amazing Disney art. Imagineering was even represented and they were such show-offs, utilizing light and audio, on top of having a really well-painted piece.
This concludes the tour as you walk outside and get led back on-stage. We ended our tour outside The Odyssey, where we talked about everything we learned and how the whole story of EPCOT comes together at the end of the night with Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Should you spend four hours of your day walking around EPCOT, learning with a guide? I would say if you’re a Walt Disney fan, love Disney history, or the parks, then yes, you should! If you’re looking to break up a vacation with something new, I couldn’t recommend this more. But, if this is your first Walt Disney World Resort vacation, I might recommend something on the shorter side, like the Up Close with Rhinos Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
To book this tour, call 407-939-8687. If you find yourself having questions, drop me a comment below!