EPCOT’s 2023 normal park hours are relatively predictable, with a few exceptions. This guide covers not just normal opening and closing times, but also Early Entry, Extended Evenings, rope drop, different schedules, and more. Plus, tips & tricks for beating the crowds and avoiding times of day when attendance is highest.
The first thing you need to know is that EPCOT park hours will be added to DisneyWorld.com’s 5-day calendar on a rolling basis throughout 2023, typically 60 days in advance. Walt Disney World also has a monthly calendar that isn’t as easy to find, and this currently has hours released much further in advance.
Walt Disney World typically releases template or placeholder hours before extending those based on attendance and hotel occupancy projections. For a while, the initial release of park hours was almost meaningless, as every single park and date would see extensions. This is less-pronounced of a practice now, and the hours that are released are quite often the final hours. This is especially true at EPCOT.
At present, there isn’t a single date on the 2023 calendars where EPCOT’s park hours deviate. EPCOT is open from 9 am until 9 pm daily, which includes both the new neighborhoods at the front of the park that were formerly Future World and World Showcase. On some busy weekends and holidays, expect EPCOT to extend its closing time to 10 pm. However, that has yet to occur this year.
Moving forward the opening time to 8 or 8:30 am is also possible. That occurred during busy dates last Spring Break and during other peak periods. One thing not to expect is World Showcase to have a delayed opening time, as it did in the past. Now that Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are two of the most popular attractions in EPCOT, it’s safe to assume that World Showcase will continue opening with the front of the park.
Regardless of whether hours are extended, it’s common for Harmonious or EPCOT Forever to begin at park closing time. That means 9 pm on evenings when the park closes then. These two nighttime spectaculars each last about 20 minutes, after which there is a mass exodus from EPCOT.
While Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios also have huge crowds leaving after the fireworks and Fantasmic, this is usually more pronounced at EPCOT. There’s one nighttime spectacular and after it ends, the park is closed. (Magic Kingdom now usually has a gap between the end of its fireworks and park closing time, but when it doesn’t, the same problem is even more pronounced there.)
The good news is that you can avoid this crushing crowd simply by lingering. One of the reasons we recommend locations deep in World Showcase in our EPCOT Fireworks Viewing Guide is not just for seeing the show from the best angle, but also because that puts you in a great spot to do a slow stroll out.
Even if you take your time leaving, you’ll notice a continued steady stream of guests. This is in large part because it’s incredibly common for table service restaurants in World Showcase to offer Advance Dining Reservations right up until park closing at EPCOT. This means you can find ADRs until about 8:50 pm on nights when the park closes at 9 pm. Each of these meals take about an hour, so guests dining at those restaurants are leaving over a full hour after parking closing.
If you’re worried about transportation back to your hotel, don’t. Officially, transportation to the theme parks begins approximately 2 hours prior to park opening time and runs until approximately 1 hour after the parks close. This is the info you’ll find on Walt Disney World’s website, and what Cast Members will tell you.
It is true that the Skyliner and boats open and close according to their posted schedules at the pertinent hotels and EPCOT. So the Skyliner actually does close at whatever time indicated on the signage outside the park. However, that’s not true of all transportation.
Unofficially, transportation after park closing continues as long as people are inside the park. Sometimes it’s closer to 2 hours after the parks close when transportation ends. Cast Members are methodical about clearing the parks and radio to bus drivers to make sure they stick around until all of the stragglers are accounted for.
EPCOT is usually the park that takes the longest to clear. This is due to its mix of its sprawling size and longer meal services, especially when Monsieur Paul and Takumi-Tei are seating guests later. There’s also the reality that EPCOT is the “drinking park” and it can take inebriated guests longer to make their way towards the exit.
We have left Walt Disney World theme parks long after park closing many, many times and have never had an issue. If anything, delaying departure as long as possible is the best course of action. You get to enjoy park closing serenity and are more likely to have a bus all to yourself!
One caveat here is for those staying in the Skyliner or Crescent Lake Resorts–if you linger too late at the front of the park, you will not be able to exit out of International Gateway in World Showcase. Instead, you’ll be herded towards the bus stops at the front, and have to take a bus–even to the hotels within walking distance of World Showcase. (We’ve also had this happen to us more than a few times!)
Now let’s turn to the expanded EPCOT park hours for guests of on-site hotels. These are Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours, which have replaced Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the morning option, learn more in our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World.
Early Entry is pretty beneficial at EPCOT, especially if you’re coming from Crescent Lake or the Skyliner and thus entering via International Gateway. If you towards the front of the pack and move quickly, this typically allows you to knock out Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After before the EPCOT officially opens. We prefer this over using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at EPCOT. (See Early Entry v. Genie+ at EPCOT for a full runthrough of how much you can accomplish.)
Extended Evening Hours are typically held at EPCOT on Mondays. This 2-hour offering for select on-site resort guests is hugely advantageous, and is a delightful way to do EPCOT. (See our Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World for more about eligibility and strategy.)
The lower ride count and more obvious top priorities means wait times for the EPCOT headliners don’t fall as dramatically as those at Magic Kingdom. On top of that, if even one ride is down, it can throw a real monkey wrench into things. See our Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT Strategy & Report for a look at what we accomplished during one of these nights. Unlike Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT does not offer the ‘After Hours’ upcharge event.
With the ‘special hours’ out of the way, let’s turn back to a normal day at EPCOT. The first thing you need to do is be up at 7 am (seriously) for the best chance of experiencing Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the newest blockbuster attraction at Walt Disney World. This uses a virtual queue, which can be entered at 7 am or 1 pm.
It’s not as simple as it might sound. See How to Ride Guardians of Galaxy Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Strategy for tips & tricks to improve your odds of scoring a spot in the virtual queue.
Arriving for regular rope drop (official park opening time) at EPCOT is not the end of the world. You’ll still have success and be able to save time at every attraction except Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure–so save that for either mid-morning or the end of the night. (See our Ride Guide to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure for the best times to beat the long lines there.)
Most guests enter EPCOT through the front entrance and do this portion of the park first. As such, the front of EPCOT empties out in the evening hours, because guests eat and drink around the World Showcase, and secure spots for the nighttime spectacular. Hitting front-of-park attractions during the last few hours of the day can be a smooth move, especially since it’s not imperative that you get a front row view for Harmonious.
It’s also worth noting that not all attractions start operating at park opening time. The most notable examples are films in World Showcase and meet & greets. Then there’s Impressions de France, which is far and away the best film in EPCOT. This only is shown from 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm–this is essentially a ‘secret’ aimed at sophisticated audiences in the evening hours.
There are also World Showcase entertainment acts that perform according to schedules, with the bulk of performances occurring during the middle of the day. These add tremendous atmosphere to EPCOT and are worth watching. Rather than actively seeking them out, we recommend stumbling upon this entertainment while perusing World Showcase at your leisure.
Another quirk to the operating hours at EPCOT is festival season. This now encompasses most of the year, save for a handful of weeks in between the end of each event and start of the next one. There are a lot of scheduling quirks for these festivals, but the big thing to know is that the food booths around World Showcase and elsewhere are open from 11 am until park closing.
As for the calendar of these events, the cycle starts with the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, which usually runs from mid-January until late February. The EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival follows, running from early March until early July. The flagship event, EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival, goes from mid-July until the weekend before Thanksgiving. Finally, the EPCOT Festival of the Holidays starts about a week after that ends and continues through December 30.
When it comes to the interplay of park strategy & hours, another option is Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at EPCOT. This can be very useful for doing Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Test Track, and Soarin’ Around the World–especially if you don’t have access to Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours. The big downside to Genie+ at EPCOT is backtracking–it’s a huge park and these 4 headliners are scattered around the park. You will likely end up walking more if using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
To that point, for EPCOT strategy & planning insight see the following posts:
Ultimately, that should cover what you need to know about park hours at EPCOT. Now it should also be clear why there’s a lot to know beyond just the basics that EPCOT currently keeps park hours of 9 am to 9 pm. Many normal guests will see that, show up between 9 am and 10 am, do the park front-to-back, and encounter long lines as a result.
EPCOT is the perfect park for going against the grain, zigging when they zag. If you’re able to take advantage of Early Entry, that gives you a tremendous advantage. Ditto if you start in World Showcase or are willing to bounce around to take advantage of crowd flow dynamics at EPCOT. This is Walt Disney World’s big “local’s park” and can be incredibly congested as a result, but you can typically avoid the crowds with a bit of planning and efficient touring strategy.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of normal park hours in 2023 at EPCOT? Prefer to arrive first thing for Early Entry, later in the morning, afternoon, or evening? How do you take advantage of the crowd dynamics at EPCOT to avoid long lines? Do you agree or disagree with anything in our guide to park hours at EPCOT? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!