Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney World resort. All views and opinions are my own.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I am a huge Disney parks fan. I’m the nerd who has the bookshelves full of history novels covering the Disney attractions and will become your park guide and historian the moment you step onto property with me. To add frosting to the top of the cake, I spend a lot of my free time in the parks, especially my favorite–Epcot–which essentially means that I have the park memorized like the back of my hand. In fact, I can even tell you where the best bathrooms are around the park, including which are always the most crowded and which of the sinks work the best.
Whether that shows a high-level of knowledge or a creepy sense of memory, I’m not sure. You choose.
No matter what you choose, it’s needless to say that I’m quite knowledgeable about Epcot, especially when it comes to the best Instagram spots around the park. However, before getting started, here’s some basic knowledge you should know before beginning your fabulous photoshoot around Epcot:
The Basics of Epcot
Opened on October 1, 1982, Epcot is divided into two distinct “lands”: Future World and World Showcase.
Future World is dedicated to innovation and technology, featuring pavilions exploring topics such as outer space, the ocean, the land, the imagination, and much more.
The other half of the park—World Showcase—features pavilions dedicated to 11 different countries, filled with to the brim with details, authentic foods, fun activities, and representatives of the actual country to teach you more about their language(s) and customs.
A Photoshoot Plan for Epcot
The best time to do a photoshoot at Epcot is at park open, when there’s less people and the lighting is in your favor. I personally recommend doing the photoshoot on either a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; Friday, although not as great, is still a good day. However, I would avoid weekends as they are typically busier, as well as Thursdays, which is Epcot’s extra magic hour morning. (Unless you are staying at a Disney resort and have extra magic hours, of course.)
I recommend arriving at Epcot anywhere between 7:30 to 8:00 am. The earlier you arrive, the closer you will be at the front of the line when the park does open, which means you can arrive at some of the best photo locations before other people arrive.
My advice is to head back to World Showcase first. Although World Showcase technically doesn’t open until 11am, there are some pavilions that are partially open to walk around in before this time. These include Mexico and Norway on the East side of World Showcase, and Canada, the United Kingdom, and France on the West side of World Showcase.
I recommend heading to the West side first, as the only thing available at this time of the morning on this side is the Patisserie in France, which means that very few guests will be heading to this area; the East side will be busier because the Norway pavilion opens at 9am due to their Akershus breakfast and popular Frozen Ever After attraction and characters.
After taking pictures in France and the United Kingdom pavilions (as the Canada pavilion is only open to walk through on the sidewalk next to it, as the stairs/ramp that leads up to the actual pavilion is roped off until 11am), I then recommend heading over to Mexico and Norway for pictures in that area, or heading back to Future World for additional photos until about 10:30.
At 10:30, I then recommend making your way back to World Showcase for their rope drop at 11am. The East side will be roped off at the end of the Norway pavilion (before the China pavilion) and the West side will be roped off at the end of the France pavilion (before the Morocco pavilion). Which side you go to is entirely up to you, depending on which pavilions are your priority to get photos in before it gets crowded.
After World Showcase opens, you can work your way around World Showcase and then back to Future World for additional photos. As Future World has a lot more space in it’s pavilions and connecting areas, it is not too much of a concern of getting good photos here as early in the morning because the crowds will already be so spread out, except for in the busy times of the year, when the crowds are at a higher volume (such as Christmas, New Years, etc.).
The following is a list of Epcot’s different festivals and the different photo spots they offer, as well as some ideas for photos.
The Epcot Festivals
Epcot has several festivals occurring around the year, which can last anywhere from weeks to months at a time. These festivals can provide additional backdrops and photo opportunities that may not be available during the rest of the year.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
This festival is the earliest festival of the year; in 2019, this festival ran from January 18 to February 25. This festival features many artistic photo opportunities throughout the park that you can take part in, such as murals, sidewalk art, larger-than-life paintings, festival-exclusive foods, and much more.
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
The Flower and Garden Festival is Epcot’s second festival of the year and in 2019 it runs from March 6th to June 9th. This festival is perhaps when Epcot looks most beautiful, as the park is adorned with flowers and dozens of topiaries. This provides you with many more opportunities throughout the park, especially if you are looking for a floral/colorful theme.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival
Epcot Food & Wine Festival is perhaps the most popular of all Epcot’s festivals. In 2018, this festival lasted from August 30th to November 12th. If you’re planning on doing a photoshoot in the park during this festival, I recommend only coming during the weekdays (excluding Thursdays) and watching the crowd calendar to avoid peak times where the crowds will be thicker, making it harder to do a photo session.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
Although one of Epcot’s smaller festivals, it’s not one to be looked over. The entire park is decked out to celebrate the holidays and it provides not only a great opportunity to explore the park and each country’s way of celebrating them, but some great photo opportunities, as well. There are Christmas trees scattered throughout the park, festive topiaries, and so much more.
World Showcase Pavilions
The first pavilion you’ll reach on the left-side of the World Showcase pavilion, Mexico provides an amazing pyramid, some great stone walls, and so much more for your photoshoot.
One of the first photo spots is along the sidewalk of the pavilion, with it’s pyramid in the background. Although this first one is a bit obvious, it provides no less of an amazing photo.
The second photo spot is the engraved stone walls of the pavilion. These are available in two different places: up the stairs leading inside the pavilion (which are actually available not only on the front, but the sides, as well) and in Donald Duck’s meeting spot just around the corner from the pyramid. This one is much more expansive, but will be harder to do as Donald often meets here throughout the day. The best opportunity to do this is either early in the day before he starts meeting, or later in the day after his meet-and-greets have finished.
The third photo spot in the Mexico pavilion is actually located inside the pyramid, in the Plaza de los Amigos. The plaza provides an amazing marketplace setting. However, it’s important to brush up on your skills for low-light settings for photos in the plaza, as it is always evening in there.
The Norway pavilion is yet another great place for photo opportunities at Epcot. However, this location will be a bit harder, as it is a very popular pavilion due to the Frozen Ever After attraction. If this pavilion is your top choice for photos, my advice is to go to there as soon as the park opens at 9am (as it is one of the only pavilions that opens in World Showcase before 11am). Although many people will be rushing there for the Frozen attraction, many of them will be standing in the line and not around the rest of the pavilion, so you should still get some good photos with the scenery.
The photo above (top right) shows one of the buildings in the Norway pavilion. This is a great spot for some photos, as it provides a great view of the pavilion. The most difficult part of this photo is that it is being shot from one of the major walkways through the pavilion, so there’s a larger chance that you’ll have other people in your photo unless you time it just right.
Another great photo spot in Norway is near the Frozen Ever After attraction. The storefronts provide some amazing architecture for the background, as well as the waterfall.
The China pavilion at Epcot is for sure one of the largest, due to its theater, gallery, restaurant, and stores. Due to it’s many buildings, paths, and ponds, there are numerous spots for photos throughout the pavilion.
This first photo location (above left) is one of the first things that greats you to the China pavilion. It provides an amazing backdrop for a photo. However, when it comes to taking photos, I actually prefer it from farther inside the pavilion (above right) along one of the walkways, where you can avoid a majority of the people that will be walking around you entering and exiting the pavilion, and it also provides a view of the pavilion’s beautiful pond in the backdrop, as well.
Although the Africa Outpost technically not one of World Showcase’s pavilions, it does bridge the gap between the China pavilion and the Germany pavilion and represents a continent as a whole.
There’s not much in this area: just a quick-service location, a small outdoor gift shop, and a shaded drum area. However, this drum area does provide some cool photo opportunities, not just with the drums, but with the vintage car that stands nearby.
Germany is one of the smaller pavilions, with it’s outside space being made up primarily of a single courtyard. However, this courtyard provides some great photo opportunities. For the best photos, try to head here as early as possible after 11am to avoid the crowds; since its smaller space and outdoor seating causes it to get crowded quite quickly.
The Italy pavilion is yet another expansive pavilion, full of wonderful photo locations that are sure to make taking the perfect photo a breeze. Filled with wide courtyards, towering columns, and soaring archways, the architecture here is sure to compliment every photo you take.
The above photo highlights one of my favorite photo spots in the Italy pavilion. There’s so many different architecture styles and colors in just this one spot that it makes such a perfect location, yet it’s only a fraction of what the pavilion has to offer.
The American Adventure
The American Adventure, unlike other pavilions, does not have side streets or large courtyards except for the walking space in front of it. However, the building itself is quite massive and impressive in itself, and with a large fountain out front there are some great photo opportunities. The inside o f the building–the rotunda where the Voices of Liberty perform–is even more impressive and is great if you’re looking for a photo area with large columns, high ceilings, and polished floors.
The Japan pavilion always surprises me with just how big this pavilion is. It has multiple winding paths that make for great photo opportunities, as well as a large castle that provides some stunning architecture. For this pavilion, I suggest staying on the smaller paths (like the ones featured above) for the best photographs, especially if you go later on in the day. These paths are often missed, yet provide some unique angles for photos, as well as amazing views of the pavilion itself.
Morocco is hands-down my favorite pavilion in Epcot. Complete with 2 restaurants, 1 quick-service location, several shops, a gallery, and more, it is also one of the best to explore. The following are some of the locations around the pavilion you should scout out during your photoshoot:[Above photo, far right] This simple set of table and chairs is one of my favorite spots around the pavilion, as it is rarely ever occupied and provides the perfect spot to sit and rest for a bit, as well as take photos at! [Above photo, far left] This fountain is so popular that it has it’s own Instagram account! (It actually shares the Instagram account with it’s “sister” fountain located nearby.) It’s located in an enclosed courtyard and is another quiet spot to enjoy in the pavilion. Here’s an example of a photo I took with the fountain, which actually got re-grammed by the account!
At the front of the pavilion, however, there is a gorgeous fountain [above middle photo] and some amazing architecture that you can take your photo with, too.
The France pavilion is yet another favorite of mine, due to it’s large courtyard, beautiful side street, and gorgeous architecture that makes me really feel like I’ve stepped off a plane into the heart of Paris. This pavilion is truly the reason why I believe you should arrive at Epcot’s World Showcase for photos so early, as the France pavilion gets so crowded later on in the day that it’s almost impossible to get photos without a ton of people in the background.
One of the first photos you should take in the France pavilion is by the fountain in the central courtyard. This is a must-do as this area gets so crowded later on in the day. Additionally, a Photopass photographer will be stationed at this spot, meaning a large line for everyone to get their photo here. In the morning, however, it’s deserted and gives you a great opportunity to take advantage of the spot, not only to get as many photos as you want, but photos with hardly anyone in the background (if at all!). Not only does this spot feature the fountain, but it also showcases the pavilion’s many buildings and the Eiffel tower in the background.
Another great photo spot in France is the display of postcards and maps near the bridge. This area also features some suitcases, an old-fashioned camera, an artist’s palette, and much more. These provide an amazing backdrop that most people don’t think to take advantage of here.
The last photo opportunity is on the bridge between the France pavilion and the United Kingdom pavilion, which gives you a cityscape-backdrop with the Eiffel tower in the background.
The United Kingdom pavilion takes on the vibe of a small village, with it’s own little gardens, houses, courtyard, pub, winding street, red telephone booths, and more.
The above picture features one of the gardens in the U.K. pavilion. It contains several pathways and even an archway to take photos with.
During the Flower and Garden Festival, the U.K. pavilion doesn’t disappoint. The pavilion contains topiaries featuring characters from Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan.
This is another pavilion I recommend arriving to as early as possible in the day. If you enter World Showcase before 11am, this is one of the few pavilions not roped off, but since there’s nothing open in this pavilion until 11am, there will hardly be anyone around, making it perfect to soak in the details and take photos!
The last pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase is the Canada pavilion. This pavilion features both small cottages and larger buildings (including this castle-like building above!), totem poles, and even a large waterfall. Similar to the United Kingdom pavilion, there are also red telephone boxes that you can take your photo in. This pavilion is usually one of the least crowded, as it’s elevated stature makes it easy to pass by as people enter World Showcase, so don’t worry about making this pavilion your first stop for photos.
Future World is full of wide open spaces, amazing architecture, and tons of “Instagram Walls”, many of which have their own accounts on Instagram for features and re-grams. These are a few of the places you should check out during your photoshoot:
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
This pavilion is focused on the oceans and marine wildlife, featuring some of our favorite pals from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. Not only does it have the 2nd largest aquarium in North America, but it features a ride (The Seas with Nemo and Friends), a show (Turtle Talk with Crush), and a full-service restaurant (Coral Reef Restaurant).
One of the first photo spots is outside the pavilion, with the sign and seagulls that advertise the pavilion and ride inside. It’s a cute photo opportunity for all of us Pixar kids-at-heart.
Another photo spot is a wall alongside the pavilion that’s painted in various shades of blue, which is especially great if you’re going for a blue/cool color scheme.
There are many other additional spots inside the pavilion as well. However, it will be harder for these photos to turn out well due to the lower lighting of the aquarium, so be sure to research the camera settings necessary to get some good photos in there.
The Land pavilion is one of the most popular pavilions in Future World, as it is home to the popular Soarin’ ride, as well as containing the Living with the Land ride, the Sunshine Seasons quick-service location, and the Garden Grill restaurant.
As you enter the pavilion, one “Instagram” wall is the mosaics that line each side of the entryway. It’s a constantly changing pattern up and down the wall, so it’s something you can play around and have fun with in each photo.
Journey into Imagination with Figment
This pavilion is all about the imagination and some of the coolest photo spots are located outside, with a view of the glass pyramids in the background, as well as a waterfall that actually goes up!
Although this pavilion is now open, we’re not looking inside for photo spots. Instead, we’re looking outside. The path that winds around the Odyssey pavilion provides a perfect backdrop of the waterways that go through Epcot’s Future World, and you can even snap a picture as the monorail goes by!
I don’t remember much about this pavilion (I’ve only been inside once), but the sign outside of the pavilion features a pretty cool sign that you can use as a backdrop in your photos:
Other Future World Locations
There are many other locations around Future World that are perfect photo opportunities. Here’s a list of a few of them:
- Spaceship Earth: One of my favorite photo locations is Spaceship Earth. This one has many different locations that a photo can be taken from due to how tall it is, so this is one where you can get creative !
- Spaceship Earth Mural: As you’re entering the park from the front entrance (not the back entrance in International Gateway), there is a mural to the right of Spaceship Earth that has a bit of a watercolor look. This area is usually used for character meet-and-greets (currently it’s Pluto’s greeting location), but if you can catch it during a time when he’s not meeting, it provides and amazing photo spot!
- The Bubblegum Wall: Another spot is the famous “Bubblegum” wall. This can be found along the backside of Spaceship Earth, which is also the Entrance to Project Tomorrow. Since this wall is symmetrical around the exit, you can play around with how the photo looks. It’s not uncommon to see people taking their photo here!
Epcot is an amazing location for your next photo shoot, and was hands-down one of my favorites to take photos at! Be sure to let me know where some of your favorite photo locations are around the park and keep your eyes peeled for some Instagram guides to the other Disney parks coming up soon!