50 Films to Watch Inspired by Epcot - Part 1

Updated: Aug 6



So you're desperately missing the parks. You're stuck at home trying to entertain the kids, attempting to keep your sanity and worst of all, you've run out of things to watch on your favorite streaming platform. Not to worry! I've created a MAJOR movie marathon list inspired by Epcot so that you can live out some of the stories seen inside the park and learn a little bit along the way. Fifty films sounds like a lot, ok it's overkill. However, I wanted to pull together this impressive collection to help inspire your next movie night at home with the family. Maybe you want to skip over The Absent Minded Professor or you've had enough of the documentaries and want to watch Frozen...again! Do whatever you want and simply think of this mega-movie list as a guide to help get you started. If you're really torn on what to watch, I've highlighted my TOP FILMS in red that, in my opinion, best embody this beautiful park. Have fun!


Future World: An Introduction

Wall-E (2008)


Wall-E is the perfect introduction to the themes of Epcot. Although the characters for the 2008 Pixar film are not featured in ANYWHERE in Disney World, it is the perfect introduction to this specific park. Future World is undergoing a major transformation and will soon be broken into three new neighborhoods; World Nature, World Discovery and World Celebration. World Nature will be what is currently known as Future World West and where pavilions such as The Land and The Seas with Nemo and Friends are located. World Discovery will occupy Future World East and showcase cutting-edge technology of the future. This is currently the home of favorite thrill rides such as Test Track and Mission: Space. Wall-E is the perfect marriage of these two sections of the park. It explores the wonders of space travel while remembering the importance of taking care of our planet. Instead of watching some epically long television series about the history of mankind to go along with Spaceship Earth, kick off this Epcot movie list with this Oscar nominated film. You can inspire the kids to start thinking globally but have some fun along the way. You'll also find the tie-in to Hello, Dolly at the start of Wall-E to perfectly compliment the first film in my Magic Kingdom Movie List.


1.) Wall-E (2008) - available on Disney+ and iTunes



The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Finding Dory (2016)


The next film on the list is an obvious choice. However, I recommend watching Finding Dory instead of the original Nemo film for Epcot. Mainly because this sequel takes place inside a breathtaking aquarium similar to the tanks you would see in the post-show area of The Seas. Don't worry the original Finding Nemo film will be mentioned in another movie list for Disney's Animal Kingdom. If you're sticking to my top 15 films to watch, you may want to move on to the next pavilion after this film. But if you or your kids are deeply interested in exploring our oceans I have a few extra films worth watching.


If you have a subscription to Disney+ you can enjoy the newly released Dolphin Reef film. This documentary film follows the story of a 3-year-old bottlenose dolphin named Echo and how he learns different survival skills from his mother Kumu. Since this is a Disneynature film, it is very accessible to young children but certainly puts an emphasis on education. Teenagers and adults wanting a more in-depth documentary exploring the current state of our oceans, should definitely watch Chasing Coral. This is not a Disney film, but one of the best documentaries I've come across showing how climate change affects our oceans. This Sundance winning documentary as received several awards and showcases some stunning underwater photography like you've never seen before.


2.) Finding Dory (2016) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

3.) Dolphin Reef (2008) - available on Disney+

4.) Disneynature's Oceans (2010) - available on Netflix and iTunes

5.) Chasing Coral (2018) - available on Netflix



The Land

The Biggest Little Farm (2019)


The Land Pavilion at Epcot offers a fantastic range of attractions and experiences that is both educational and fun for the whole family. The first film in this list that celebrates the beauty of our planet is another Disneynature documentary, Wings of Life. Narrarated by Meryl Streep, this film focuses on nature's relationships; from the relationship between insects and plant-life to relationships between crops and humans . Admittedly, this film could possibly lean into the themes of Disney's Animal Kingdom. But I've included it here because it specifically ventures into the future of agriculture and how humans can use science to replace the natural relationships modern life has replace. There's even a scene in a greenhouse of the future just like the one see on Living with the Land.


But if you are willing to go outside the Disney library, The Biggest Little Farm is a 2019 documentary that showcases the challenges of modern-day agriculture in America. This film follows an urbanite couple on their journey of building a dream farm that is completely natural. It's an epic 10-year story of how John and Molly build a farm utopia where everything from the animals to natural pests, weather and agriculture techniques determine if their dream will survive. I will warn you that there are some scenes where the images of deceased animals appear and may be a little too serious for really young toddlers. But this multi-award winning documentary is the perfect complement to The Land. If you want to take things even further, I've also included several of Disney's True Life Adventure films from the 1950s that showcase Disney's early attempts of nature documentaries.


6.) Disneynautre's Wings of Life (2011) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

7.) Secrets of Life (1956) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

8.) The Vanishing Prairie (1954) available on Disney+ and iTunes

9.) The Biggest Little Farm (2019) - available on Hulu and iTunes



Imagination!

Inside Out (2015)


The best film currently available that sums up the Imagination Pavilion in my opinion is Inside Out. But this Pixar film actually ties in the themes of another Epcot attraction that is long gone. The Wonders of Life Pavilion was once home to Cranium Command. A kid-friendly show where guests entered the mind of a 12-year-old boy named Bobby. The host of the show, Buzzy, served as the pilot to Bobby's mind and the audience followed along on a typical day in the life a prepubescent boy. Various organs in Bobby's body would be affected by the events of the day and communicate with Buzzy on how to best navigate each situation. It basically served as the framework for Inside Out. However entertaining scenes in the Pixar film in Imaginationland with Bing-Bong and a colorful cast of characters makes this a good fit for the Imagination Pavilion. Not to mention the fact that the current location for Joy's meet and greet at Epcot is also underneath the glass triangles in Future World West.


But if you want to meet some of the scientists from the Imagination Institute at Epcot, there's a collection of Disney comedies you can watch spanning several decades. You could start with the 1961 live-action film The Absent Minded Professor or relive the 1990s with the Robin Williams remake, Flubber. If you watched my 17 Hidden Details inside Future World video, you'll remember the reference to the Computer Wore Tennis Shoes starring the young Kurt Russell on the main attraction at this pavilion. But let's not forget the many films that inspired the 3D movies seen at the Imagination Pavilion. Honey, I Blew up the Kid will provide a great appearance by Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski and fans of Disney animated shorts can watch Get a Horse! at home, which is currently part of the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival at the Imagination Pavilion.


10.) Inside Out (2015) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

11.) The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

12.) The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

13.) Flubber (1997) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

14.) Honey, I Blew up the Kid (1992) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

15.) Get a Horse! (2013) - available on iTunes



Mission: Space

IMAX: Hubble (2010)


Walt Disney always displayed a fascination with space travel. From his Disneyland television series in the 1950s to classic attractions like Rocket to the Moon. Disney has always had a long history celebrating the beauty of space travel through film and theme park attractions. So finding a selection of films that feature astronauts traveling into deep space was very difficult to dwindle down.


For those looking for a bit of old-school Disney, Disney+ will soon include two television specials from the original Disneyland tv show that focuses on space travel. I've long wondered why there's only one episode from Walt's original tv show on the streaming platform, but finally we are getting few more episodes. Both Man in Space and Mars and Beyond will arrive to Disney+ on April 24th and offer a bit of that famous Epcot edu-tainment. Both television specials feature interviews with legendary scientist, such as Wernher von Braun, mixed in with comical animated shorts that tell the story of man's history with building rockets and traveling to the stars. In fact, there were a few tributes to these specials on Horizons. The iconic Epcot attraction that preceded Mission: Space in Future World.


For those wanting a more up-to-date look at America's developments in space travel, I've selected a trio of documentaries that showcase both the history of space exploration and a peek at the future. First there is Apollo 11, a terrific documentary featuring never-before seen footage of America's first landing on the moon. This documentary in particular will suit the hardcore space nuts out there. Next is Hubble, a 2010 IMAX documentary narrated by Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio. If you only have time for one film in this collection inspired by Mission: Space, watch this one. It always takes me back to riding the Green Mission around Earth at Epcot. Hubble shows impressive footage of how the Hubble telescope travelled on the space shuttles and captured revolutionary photography of deep space. If you can, watch it on the biggest and best tv you have in the house. Finally we have Expedition Mars; a 2015 documentary produced by National Geographic and available on Disney+. This film shows the future of space travel and how private companies, such as Elon Musk's SpaceX, will join forces with NASA to return to the moon and eventually to the red planet.


16.) Man in Space (1955) - available on Disney+

17.) Mars and Beyond (1957) - available on Disney+

18.) Apollo 11 (2019) - available on Hulu and iTunes

19.) IMAX: Hubble (2010) - available on iTunes

20.) Expedition Mars (2019) - available on Disney+


Play! Pavilion/Wonders of Life

Big Hero 6 (2014)


Epcot's upcoming Play! Pavilion will reside under the gold dome that once served as the Wonders of Life Pavilion. Concept art for this new pavilion shows that it will be an interactive playground specifically geared towards younger children. The design of this futuristic city is heavily inspired by the 2018 film, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Given the name of the new pavilion and the fact that Wreck-It Ralph is inspired by an arcade game, we can expect to see some fun gaming experiences for the family here. Therefore a revisit to this film may be the perfect way to prep for this new pavilion.


But there is another animated film that perfectly bridges Wonders of Life to the Play! Pavilion. Big Hero 6 is 2014 Disney animated film set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo and follows a young inventor and his quest to create cutting edge technology in honor of his deceased brother. Hiro's older brother Tadashi was working on a lovable healthcare assistant called Baymax before a freak accident killed him. The 14-year-old inventor Hiro tinkers with Baymax to help him defeat is enemy disguised in a Kabuki mask and after his microbots. It's sounds a little strange but this near forgotten Marvel story was revitalized by Disney and serves as a great film that ties into this pavilion. Baymax once met guests inside Innoventions and may find a new home here at the Play! Pavilion once it opens. The mixture of science and technology, a healthcare assistant and a troupe of superheroes ties in perfectly to this section of Future World and sets the stage for another upcoming attraction.


21.) Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) - available on Netflix and iTunes

22.) Big Hero 6 (2014) - available on Disney+ and iTunes



Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (2014)


Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is an upcoming thrill ride that will replace the previous Universe of Energy Pavilion at Epcot. This is obviously inspired by 2012 Marvel hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Which introduced the world to Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and of course Groot. Now wether or not this comic-book inspired film belongs at Epcot or not is a discussion for another day. But I am hoping that this epic new coaster will pay homage to previous Epcot classic.


Cosmic Rewind will be a massive story-coaster that will begin inside the "Galaxium"; a planetarium-like exhibition that showcases the similarities between Earth and Xandar. It will serve as Epcot's first other-worldly pavilion at the park. But the troupe of misfits will surely interrupt the educational presentation and take you on a wild ride through space. Rumor has it that the story of the attraction will travel back in time to the Big Bang, which could serve as the moment when the trains reach high speeds in Disney's first-ever reverse launch sequence on a coaster. The new ride vehicles will also have the ability to rotate 360° and dubbed as the first Omni-coaster. This tie-in to the start of our universe and the possible appearance of the Power stone could pay subtle nods to the Universe of Energy in a fun and exciting way. But as we wait for this highly anticipate attraction to come to the park, why not watch both volume one and two of Guardians of the Galaxy.


23.) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (2014) - available on Disney+ and iTunes

24.) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - available on Disney+ and iTunes



Want even more films to watch inspired by Epcot? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, listing 26 more movie titles that will take you around World Showcase; from Mexico all the way to Canada. I've also got a fun movie marathon list celebrating Disney's Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and of course, the Magic Kingdom. But don't forget to watch my recent YouTube video 17 Hidden Details inside Future World which reveals references to some of the films in the list above and other nods related to Epcot history. Enjoy!



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