Surviving New Year’s Eve at EPCOT

If you’re heading to EPCOT for New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a real treat – and a very, very crowded park. The first year we visited EPCOT on New Year’s Eve, we were in shock. We figured if we survived the Christmas Day crowds, New Year’s Eve would be nothing! Little did we know, New Year’s Eve is more crowded than Christmas Day! 

This was back on 2009, when Disney still distributed paper FastPasses. Being later in our trip, we decided to head to the park for the day, around 10am. We’d spend the day at EPCOT, get in a few rides, then head back to the hotel before spending the night at Hollywood Studios.

We arrived to a security line that seemed to go on forever. “A monorail and a few buses must have just let out,” we thought. After getting through security, we entered the park. The area around Spaceship Earth was filled with shoulder-to-shoulder people. “A traffic buildup,” we figured. Then we saw it, the sign displaying the wait time: a 210-minute wait for Soarin’, a 170-minute wait for Test Track… A 70-minute wait for Norway? We went to Captain EO, then waited 45 minutes to ride Figment before calling it a day. “Never again,” we said, we’d avoid the parks during New Year’s Eve day moving forward.

Like Magic Kingdom, New Year’s Eve Day at EPCOT is unlike any other day at the park. Fortunately, the park is larger and more spread out. This means a higher capacity and it never feels quite as crowded as Magic Kingdom. I will say this – you definitely notice how crowded it is. That says a lot for such a large park with so many areas to visit. 
Due to its size, EPCOT is the least likely park to close. There have been rumors in the past, and believe me, you’ll see rumors circulating on Twitter and social media about Phase 4 closures at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. The best bet is to ask a cast member. 

We went to EPCOT last year for the first time. We tried it two years ago, but my dad wasn’t feeling well and while he tried to push on, the crowds were just too much for him. We had a reservation at Rose & Crown around 7pm. We entered the park shortly after 6pm and made out way to the World Showcase. Like Magic Kingdom, EPCOT opens many backstage areas to alleviate pedestrian traffic and build ups. I believe the openings are on each side of Future World and will bring you to England and China, respectively. They also open the area between (I think) Canada and the U.K., where they hosted the burger event at the Food and Wine Festival. The area has additional bathrooms.

Unless you have a FP+, don’t plan on going on rides without waiting at least 2 hours. While Magic Kingdom is much smaller and much more crowded, it does have more rides. Guests at EPCOT will flock to TestTrack or Soarin’, leading to ridiculous wait times. Bathrooms will have lines and quick service tables will be hard to come by.

Around 6pm, EPCOT transforms from a really crowded park into a huge party. There are DJs with l and pyrotechnic shows throughout the World Showcase. The DJ at China is awesome – balls of fire erupt from the pavilion’s entrance as the DJ plays thumping music. A DJ in Italy spins upbeat techno music synchronized to a laser light show. I think there’s a band or DJ onstage at the American Pavilion, as well. 

You’ll run into a few over served guests, but Disney does a great job at controlling the crowds. They actually put down tape throughout the park and direct guests to “stay to your right.” 

Around 10 minutes before midnight, EPCOT celebrates each country’s new year with fireworks over the respective pavilion. It culminated in a jaw-dropping display at midnight to ring in the new year. It’s truly the most breathtaking celebration that will get your adrenaline revving. The fireworks make fighting not the crowds and standing for hours totally worth it.

Before heading to EPCOT, ask yourself what’s most important to your family. Do you have your heart set on getting the best possible view of the fireworks? I’d recommend getting there as early as possible and securing your spot. By 6pm, most guests have secured a bench for viewing or an area along the fence. If you’d prefer to spend your time scouring the World Showcase and enjoying the DJs and entertainment, spend the day relaxing at your resort and head to the park around 6 or 7pm. Off-site guests should arrive early, but rope drop isn’t as imperative as it is at Magic Kingdom. 

Some more tips for NYE at EPCOT:

– Pack light


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