One of Karl’s favorite Disney films is “Tomorrowland”. Before the movie takes the viewer on a journey into the future, it takes us back in time, to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, USA. Back then, Disney World in Orlando was still a fantasy of Walt Disney himself. The New York World’s Fair was actually the place where Disney tested out several new ideas for the brand new park on the west coast. After the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and before Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1989 and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998 – Disney’s 2nd Orlando theme park EPCOT opened its doors in 1982. One of it’s main features, a permanent World’s Fair. Now, let this Couple of Men take you on a tour around the park and show you what it is all about. Here are our gay couple highlights of Disney’s EPCOT in Orlando.
Welcomed by a giant silver globe
Already from the parking lot, as we made our way to the EPCOT park entrance, we had the giant, silver globe firmly in our sights. The Alucobond structure, which took over two years to complete, is considered the symbol of the park and home to a great old-school dark ride attraction. The entrance area right after our tickets were scanned, sparkled brand new as it underwent a complete overhaul that other areas of the park are currently undergoing. But how is Epcot actually structured, and what are our LGBTQ+ favorite areas and attractions that you should not miss?
EPCOT: something new and something old
To answer these questions, we briefly need to explain to you how this Disney park was designed and built. Basically, you need to understand one thing: Walt Disney originally imagined EPCOT (short for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) as the perfect example of a self-sufficient, self-sustaining city of the future. After his death in 1966, these ideas were reimagined into the concept of an “educational” theme park, dedicated to the human achievements of our society. It always included the “World’s Fair” area of the park, which has celebrated international culture and cuisine since its opening in 1982. Today, the EPCOT theme park is structured into four neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase.
World Celebration: EPCOT’s central hub
The first major area, designated as one of the four neighborhoods, is called World Celebration and serves as the hub of EPCOT, which is currently undergoing major construction. On our first visit in 2016, this area felt a little lost with huge buildings that were half empty and not a lot of things to do. With the completion of the park’s World Celebration center, this area will have more green spaces and will function as the home for all the well-attended seasonal festivals. These queer-friendly events include our two favorites: the International Food and Wine Festival and the International Festival of the Arts.
EPCOT’s icon: Spaceship Earth
After Cinderella Castle, it is probably the second most recognized architectural structure at DisneyWorld: Spaceship Earth. The geodesic sphere that welcomes you when you enter the park has served as its icon since EPCOT opened in 1982. Inside, the sphere houses a 15-minute dark ride, demonstrating how advancements in human communication have helped to create the future one step at a time. It is one of the few classic EPCOT rides that are still existing since the park opened but it is definitely one of our favorites. There is something very soothing about being transported in a two-person Omnimover-type vehicle, circling up the sphere through gorgeous scenes, filled with animatronics.
In 2020, the Disney Parks Blog announced that the attraction would get a big update, putting the emphasis on the human experience and the art of storytelling. For now, the update has been postponed but we are very happy that the present Disney parks are keen on keeping their classics while making sure they can sustain another 50 years.
World Discovery: Going fast & forward (or backward)
The neighborhood on the left of World Celebration is called World Discovery. This part of the theme park is where stories about space, science, technology, and intergalactic adventures come to life. It houses the park’s more exciting rides, including the latest addition, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster. We can’t wait to test this adrenalin-filled adventure which will feature the first ever reverse-launch on a Disney coaster! More about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind soon on our blog! Other attractions in this “neighborhood” are Mission: Space, a centrifugal simulator that is not for the faint of heart, and Test Track. This pretty cool combination of a Tron-style dark ride and a real test track made us feel like we were kids again. But this time not with the remote control in our hands, but actually sitting in a scaled-up car on our car toy racetrack.
World Nature: Looking at our planet
Whereas World Discovery is located on the left side as seen from the entrance, World Nature is located on the right side (or to the west). This neighborhood is home to two large pavilions: The Land which houses the people’s favorite Soarin’ Around the World and The Seas with Nemo & Friends where you can find the interactive Turtle Talk with Crush and a cute dark ride that explores the ocean with, you guessed it, Nemo and his friends.
With Journey of Water, this part of Epcot gets a new attraction: a Moana-inspired outdoor walkthrough attraction where young and old Disney fans can observe and interact with “living water.” More about Journey of Water soon on our blog!
World Showcase: A trip around the World
World Showcase is the park’s largest “Neighborhood,” surrounding a huge lagoon and featuring eleven World Fair-inspired pavilions dedicated to the culture, cuisine, architecture, and traditions of the nations they represent. We made our way clockwise around the centrally located lagoon to visit Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Who knew it is possible to visit all these “countries” in a single day?!
Every country has shops and restaurants where you can taste national dishes and delicacies. Something we did not expect was to find actual imported products from these countries that you normally wouldn’t find in the USA or anywhere else outside the country itself. And because of a cultural student exchange program, you can even interact with people from Germany, Japan, or any of the other participating countries.
Frozen Ever After: Let it go with a few tears
One of the attractions at World Showcase is the “Frozen Ever After” log flume dark ride in the Norway Pavilion. For this queer favorite, the EPCOT classic Maelstrom was completely transformed in 2016 and became the world’s first Disney park attraction themed after the immensely successful movie Frozen. Due to the ongoing popularity of the films, we are now waiting for three new (and probably even bigger) Frozen rides to be opened at various Disney parks around the world! To be honest, we both had tears in our eyes as we floated through Elsa’s Ice Palace at Epcot while she sang her hit song “Let it Go”.
Fun fact: one of the original designers of the attraction is Michel den Dulk who started his Imagineering career at the Dutch theme park the Efteling. Dreams really do can come true!
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: Shrink to the size of a rat
On our journey around the world, ahem lagoon, we reached France. One of the newest additions to this area of the park is the French quarter that opened up behind the already existing France Pavilion. Here you find La Crêperie de Paris, a restaurant and quick service window serving sweet and savory crepes, and the long-awaited 4D dark ride: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Since the French version opened in Disneyland Paris in 2014 we were very curious about this cute trackless ride where you shrink to the size of a rat and go on a culinary journey through the kitchen of Gusteau’s famous restaurant.
Tip: not very fond of fast-paced 4D rides? Right around the corner of Remy’s Ratatouille, you will find the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. This 15-minute film told out of the experience of Maurice is a fun, quirky, and pretty gay interpretation of the well-beloved classic. And what can go wrong when the narration is done by Angela Lansbury!
EPCOT and the Rainbow Connection
In celebration of Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary, Spaceship Earth received a beautiful update on the outside with a new LED lighting package called Beacons of Magic. During the Festival of Arts, the sphere lit up in all the colors of the rainbow for its evening show while playing the heartwarming song Rainbow Connection by The Muppets. For us as members of the LGBTQ+ community, it means a lot to see that rainbow upon this Disney icon. Let’s embrace it as another step in the right direction.
Interesting Posts for your Gay Travels:
- Read all about our Gay Pride Trips around the world >
- All about our Gay Travels around the world as openly Gay Couple >
- Reviews of our favorite Theme Parks around the world >
- Reviews of Hotels around the world: Gay-friendly tested Hotels >
- Tips & Tricks: Our Gay Travel Guide United States of America >
Now it’s your turn to plan your EPCOT gaycation!
Visiting EPCOT is an important part of our Disney schedule. So far, we have been able to experience the International Flower & Garden Festival and the International Food & Wine Festival. Especially the latter involves sampling many more delicious things at all the EPCOT country pavilions. We particularly enjoyed the Indian snacks just around the corner from the Chinese Pavilion.
Another tip is the Disney Skyliner which allows all park visitors, to conveniently fly in an Aerial Gondola from EPCOT to the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios without having to use the car or buses. Let us know if you have any other LGBTQ+ related questions and otherwise there is just one thing left to say: Have fun with Mickey & Co at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida!
Karl & Daan.
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