Epcot Extends Park Hours to 10pm for Food & Wine Festival on Fridays and Saturdays

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On Saturdays for the remainder of the 2011 International Food & Wine Festival, Epcot is remaining open until 10pm–both Future World and World Showcase. Additionally, starting on October 28, 2011, the park will remain open until 10pm on Fridays through the end of the Festival on November 13, 2011. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is scheduled for 10pm on those nights.

Typically Epcot operates 9am to 9pm, with the holiday season having 9:30pm closings due to scheduling of Candlelight Processional performances.

Epcot has an extremely high park capacity–higher than that of each of the other Walt Disney World parks, and also greater than the combined capacities of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. Additionally, its attractions have high operational capacities; for example, Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom is lucky to move 600 guests an hour, whereas the average Epcot ride handles 1700-2000 guests per hour.

Combined, those factors allow Epcot to absorb crowds well, and that is why the Crowd Calendar typically recommends Epcot on the busiest days of the year. With the added crowds of this season and the Food & Wine Festival, Disney expanded Epcot’s operational hours. This has not actively been done outside of a holiday date (e.g., Independence Day, New Year’s Eve) since the 1990′s.

Finally, recall that our Crowd Calendar is based on attraction wait times. Since the Food & Wine Festival attracts many guests who do not ride attractions, you may find the parks crowded (especially on Fridays and Saturdays in World Showcase), even if attraction waits are in line with our predictions.

Blatant sell alert! If you want to read more about Epcot and how it operates, you can always buy my book, The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia. Available at fine retailers nationwide (globally, too!) in paperback and eBook format, including Kindle, NOOK, and iBooks.

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Posted on October 21, 2011

4 Responses to “Epcot Extends Park Hours to 10pm for Food & Wine Festival on Fridays and Saturdays”

  • Are there any touring plans for the Food & Wine Festival? I bought the Unofficial Guide big book and am working my way through it, but I’d like to know how best to tackle the festival – and the attractions – on a busy weekend at Epcot. We’ll be headed out on the final weekend of the festival and I’ve already checked the crowd calendar. Saturday is supposed to be crazy while Sunday is pretty good. I understand attractions aren’t as affected by the festival, but what if we want to eat, drink and ride? What’s the best way to attack the park over two weekend days? Thanks!

    • I’m pretty sure there’s not a touring plan specifically for the Food/Wine festival – or at least I looked and didn’t see one.

      If you want to do attractions and food/wine, you’re in luck since a bulk of the attendees are locals who have almost no interest in attractions.

      If you can arrive at the park early, opening time preferably, you can follow a standard touring plan and crank out a lot of Future World. Even on the busy days you can hit things like Nemo, Energy, Imagination.. etc.. pretty much any time of the day while they’re open.

      Having done some of that, and since World Showcase isn’t open until 11am, you can head into World Showcase for the festival as soon as it opens. Resist the urge to stop at the first kiosk you arrive at and b-line it to the back of the park. Essentially get as close to American Adventure as your feet will take you – you can start nibbling around either Italy or France depending on which direction you’re heading.

      That way you clear our the back of the loop before the crowds get there. After that either FastPass Maelstrom or just hit the other shows and Gran Fiesta Tour as you feel like it. None of them will have lengthy waits. Around 5pm the bulk of the crowds will start into World Showcase and you can either hang out with them – if you really want to – or head back into Future World which will start thinning out a bit.

      Lather, rinse, repeat. Feel free to schedule a sit-down meal somewhere in there too if you want.

      In theory you just want to do Future World’s prime attractions in the early morning, and with World Showcase avoid the peak evening crowds. From like 6-9pm i’d just do attractions, sit down dining with a reservation, and Illuminations. The lines at the kiosks just aren’t worth it at that point (Belgium was like 30mins the other day).

  • Wow, this is incredibly helpful. I’m already copying and pasting to my partner in crime for that week. Thanks so much!

  • I can see why Epcot extended the hours, maybe they should do so for the rest of the week as well. We were there on Monday, Mondays I thought were slower compared to the rest of the week. According to TP, it was to be a 1.9 crowd level, but F&W crowd levels are unknown. Would have been very helpful to have the advice above. We spent almost our entire day in Future World, then headed over to WS at 4p. Big mistake. The place was packed! Will definitely keep your suggestions in mind the next time.