There’s a lot to do in Epcot, but not all of its attractions are equal. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, you need to know which Epcot rides and attractions are not to be missed, and which you should skip. This guide to Epcot rides contains short reviews and numerical scores for every major attraction in Epcot. Everyone’s preferences vary, and we keep this in mind as we give an idea of the target audience in our synopsis of each attraction.
This Epcot ride guide includes headliners and less-popular attractions that many guests overlook, but that are worth checking out. We recommend experiencing as much as you have time to experience, even if we don’t rate it highly. It is worth noting that Epcot has a deceptively high number of “things to do,” even though it’s actual attraction count is significantly lower than the Magic Kingdom, so it’s quite likely that you’ll experience fewer attractions in Epcot than you expect. A lot of the things to do in Epcot are in the form of World Showcase entertainment. If there are adults in your party, also expect to spend a decent amount of time in World Showcase just absorbed in the atmosphere (perhaps Snacking Around the World or Drinking Around the World, which are common and fun ways to stroll from country to country). World Showcase is often viewed as boring, particularly by kids, but we vehemently disagree with this perspective. It’s just a different, slower paced type of theme park experience.
Regardless, this guide to Epcot’s attractions should give you an idea of which attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do. Note that this list only covers Epcot. We already have a separate Magic Kingdom Ride Guide. Guides for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are coming soon.
Popular attractions are popular for a reason, and most people will hear praise for attractions like Soarin’ and Test Track from a variety of sources. We recommend these attractions (we’d be crazy not to!), but we also point out a number of lesser-known attractions that aren’t too popular. It’s these less-popular attractions that round out a day in the park, and experiencing the “right” ones can make or break your day. Epcot is definitely not about the thrill rides–it’s a park that merges education and entertainment (for “edutainment”), so hopefully you’re game for experiencing some of these “edutainment” attractions…because a lot of them make our list of recommendations!
Order of attractions and FastPass+ really only matters for Soarin’, Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, sometimes (but rarely) Maelstrom, and Spaceship Earth in the morning as guests are entering the park. This is true on most days of the year. If you’re going on a particularly busy day (Easter Week, for example), other things might matter, too. Usually, lines at Epcot are fairly short.
This guide assumes that you have a full day to spend in each of the Walt Disney World theme parks. You may have more or less time depending on how many day tickets you purchase and whether you add on the Park Hopper option (read our Walt Disney World Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best for you).
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. Attractions are rated based upon how much their target audience will enjoy them. For example, an attraction with a height restriction that precludes kids from riding it, might score 9/10, despite it’s score for toddlers being 0/10. Likewise, a scavenger hunt aimed at kids might score a 7/10 because that’s how much they’d enjoy it, even though it might be a 2/10 for adults. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall, within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
The American Adventure (10/10) – The American Adventure is an Audio Animatronics-driven “montage” stage show of key moments in American history. The scenes are detailed and insightful, and impressive as they rise from the stage. It’s somewhat sanitized and CliffNotes-esque, but what do you reasonably expect in a theme park? This is a powerful show that may make the eyes of patriotic Americans leak a bit. It ranks as one of the all-time greatest achievements of Walt Disney Imagineering, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
Sum of All Thrills (9/10) - Design a roller coaster, right down to its intensity, and then test it in a KUKA arm simulator. This is unlike any other Innoventions attraction in that it’s pretty awesome. It captures the “edutainment” goal of Epcot in that the roller coaster you design must adhere to laws of physics, and is also an exciting and fun theme park attraction, even if all confined to an unthemed simulator. The height requirement is 48″ or 54″ if the coaster has a loop. In our experience, waits for Sum of All Thrills vary widely with no real explanation. It doesn’t have FastPass+, but we’d recommend doing it early in the morning, after Soarin’ and/or Test Track (depending on whether you have FastPass+ for either of them) or checking on wait times periodically throughout the day to see if it has any lulls.
Soarin’ (9/10) - Hang-glider simulator ride over the natural and man-made sights of California, including Yosemite, orange groves, and even Disneyland! The giant screen combined with the swinging gliders and scents creates a really believable experience, with the only downside being that the projection screen isn’t always clean, making it sometimes feel like “Soarin’ Over the Dust Bowl.” Still, Soarin’ is an absolute must-do for anyone who meets the 40″ height requirement and isn’t terribly afraid of heights (you won’t even notice you’re up high unless you make a serious effort to look down). This is the most popular attraction at Epcot, and our #1 pick for use of FastPass+. If you don’t have FastPass+, do it very first thing or at the end of the night.
Spaceship Earth (9.5/10) - A slow-moving dark ride through scenes depicting the evolution of how humans communicate (more broadly, it’s really just about technological innovation) housed in Epcot’s iconic geodesic sphere. (Tangent: you know what’s really clever? Joking that Spaceship Earth is a “big golf ball.” No one has ever thought of that one before, and this retread “joke” certainly makes you looks sharper than if you call it what is is: a geodesic sphere.) Stupid jokes that “clever” people make aside, Spaceship Earth is one of the best attractions at Walt Disney World. The story of our changes in how we communicate is a compelling one, and besides a few cringe-worthy moments in the script, it’s very interesting and captivating for all guests. The sets are well done with nice transitions between them, with tons of Audio Animatronics. It loses a half point for the cheesy screen-based ending (and lack of show scenes during this descent), although kids might like the ending the most. Don’t use FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth–do it later in the day, as crowds entering the park in the morning tend to be drawn to it.
Test Track (8.5/10) - Guests design a SimCar and then get into a test car to see how it compares on ‘the grid’ to the prototype they’ve designed, concluding with a thrilling speed test. The current version (“Test Track 2.0″) opened recently, and redid the attraction to resemble a virtual grid on which the prototype cars are tested. The new digital look is reminiscent of Tron, and has a cool aesthetic. Actually being able to design and test cars gives this great interactivity and even makes it educational with regard to the design process. Test Track is known to have a range of problems (from the design process going down, to the test cars not loading, to the entire attraction being down, etc.) but if everything works, it’s a lot of fun. If you don’t use FastPass+ for Soarin’, get it for Test Track. If you use FastPass+ for Soarin’, either do Test Track via the Single Rider line, or do it very first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
Turtle Talk with Crush (9.5/10) - Kids interact with Crush from Finding Nemo in a screen-based attraction that mimics a water tank. The interactions are all about kids, and the “Living Character” Crush engages with kids excellently (really cool technology). We think Turtle Talk is just as enjoyable for adults, as part of the humor goes over kids’ heads, and there are a lot of “kids say the darndest things” type moments in every show. Don’t waste FastPass+ on this.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends (7/10) – A dark ride in The Seas pavilion with the Finding Nemo characters trying to find Nemo. A variety of technology is used here, and the coolest scenes are the Angler fish ‘chase’ (using the same type of KUKA arm as Sum of All Thrills) and the projections of fish into the Living Seas’ aquarium. Despite a couple of neat moments, the ride itself is a fairly uninspired CliffNotes version of the film. It’s short and although there’s nothing really objectionable about it, it’s also nothing memorable. Sort of just in the “meh” camp. However, it’s a short ride with a short line, so there’s no reason not to do it. Plus, if your kids like Nemo, they might really enjoy it. Don’t bother with FastPass+ for it–do it whenever with minimal waits.
Mission: Space (7/10) – Simulator thrill-ride that sends guests crashing on Mars. There are two versions: green (less intense/no spinning) or orange (more intense/spinning). This might be the least popular of all Disney’s thrill rides, but the orange version is pretty fun, if you can stomach it. The story itself isn’t compelling enough to put up with the green version–the thrills here are about the only draw. Consider using FastPass+ for this, although it often has a 20 minute or less standby wait.
Gran Fiesta Tour (7/10) – Boat ride featuring the Three Caballeros with Mexico’s culture as a backdrop in the search for Donald Duck. Both this and Maelstrom mainly make this list for the sake of variety, as they are the only rides in World Showcase. This attraction replaced the cult-favorite El Rio del Tiempo and doesn’t receive much love. Gran Fiesta Tour weaves culture together with Disney characters to make for an enjoyable and more dynamic experience that appeals to a broad selection of guests. Normally, we aren’t thrilled with the “toonification” of an attraction, but Three Caballeros, a film that itself blends culture with animation, works perfectly here.
Maelstrom (7/10) – This boat ride is supposed to showcase Norway’s sense of adventure. In actuality, it’s a bizarre and campy product of the 1980s. Some of its “highlights” include: trolls, anorexic polar bears, an oil worker who looks like Chuck Norris, and Children of the Corn. It’s also infinitely quotable, with plenty of memorable lines that have great use in everyday life (such as “Back, back! Over the Falls!” and “You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last.”). It most likely won’t make anyone want to book a trip to Norway, but it’s still good fun in the “what did I just see?!” sense. Kids will likely enjoy the trolls and polar bears, neither of which are scary. Maelstrom probably appeals to those who have nostalgia for it much more than first-time guests. Don’t bother with FastPass+; lines rarely get long for Maelstrom unless it’s a busy day of the year. The short post-show video is even more dated than Maelstrom, and is skippable.
Impressions de France (9/10) – Wide-format film highlighting the culture and natural beauty of France set to a hauntingly beautiful score. Impressions de France is our favorite film in all of Epcot. That wouldn’t be saying much if only including the World Showcase, but that also includes Soarin’. Impressions de France doesn’t have the same “experience” that Soarin’ has, but it does have a beautiful, chills-inducing score, a new digital projection that’s free of debris, and breathtaking visuals. Even though the substance hasn’t been updated since 1982, it still feels fresh (with the exception of a few dubious outfit choices of folks in the travelogue). Few will agree with us in preferring Impressions de France to Soarin’ (which has its own excellent score, visuals, and is a really fun experience), but the fact that the two can even be reasonably compared makes Impressions de France, which rarely plays to more than half-full theaters, a must-do.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure (7/10) - Handheld scavenger hunt through World Showcase via fake phones. This makes the list for its value in keeping kids entertained while adults explore World Showcase. We think the game itself is fairly enjoyable even for adults, but it’s a must-do for kids in an area of the parks largely devoid of things for them to do.
Living with the Land (8.5/10) – Slow-moving boat ride showcasing the future of agriculture. Living with the Land is a great attraction that weaves together elements of a traditional Disney attraction with a heavy dose of “edutainment” components (the original mission of EPCOT Center). I don’t have any interest in gardening, and even my curiosity is piqued by the experimental horticulture techniques showcased in The Land greenhouses. Living with the Land is a testament to human ingenuity, and it’s a shame that more people aren’t interested in experiencing this relaxed boat ride. Don’t waste FastPass+ on this. It rarely has a line, but if it does get one (usually right after lunch) that line can quickly snowball as more guests see a line, assume it’s something good, and then get in the line (seriously, it happens).
Reflections of China (7.5/10) – This Circle-Vision 360 film about China is poetically narrated, and features scenes in China where Western camera crews typically are not allowed. It’s beautifully shot and scored, with a sweeping camera that envelopes guests in the action in a way not possible through traditional film. The 360-degree approach also adds repeat-ability to the attraction, since you can’t possibly see it all in one viewing. Reflections of China won’t be a favorite pick among families with small children, but mature adults should really enjoy it.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (10/10) - Illuminations is the greatest fireworks show in the history of mankind. It’s actually also (sort of) about the history of mankind, humanity, and our visions of the future. At least, that’s what Disney claims. In actuality, Illuminations is a fireworks show with abstract themes (some of which guests will pick up on, others are less salient and are easy to miss) with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. It will appeal to everyone who likes fireworks, and will appeal even more to discerning guests for its music, symbolism, and themes. A fireworks show of this nature is probably not something that Disney would make today. It’s an all-around excellent show, and is definitely not to be missed. FastPass+ offers a good reserved seating section for Illuminations, so if you aren’t able to use FastPass+ for Soarin’ or Test Track for whatever reason, this would be our pick. Otherwise, stake out an unobstructed spot along World Showcase Lagoon at least 30 minutes in advance for it.
Captain EO (4.5/10) – 3D film featuring Michael Jackson as a space pilot leading a band of misfit aliens to save something. MJ fans, those who watch “I Love the 80s!,” and those playing some sort of bizarre Drinking Around the World game will enjoy this. Everyone else will wonder what on earth this laughably dated and cheesy attraction is doing in Future World. No need for FastPass+ here.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure (6/10) - Film, followed by slow-moving ride through prehistoric scenes of dinosaurs, followed by another film, in the context of Ellen DeGeneres having a dream about playing energy-centric episode of Jeopardy. This is a very long attraction (~45 minutes), and while enjoyable, most guests won’t find it worth the time commitment. Kids may be scared by the dark, dinosaur filled scenes.
Innoventions (3/10 – average score) – Besides Sum of All Thrills, there’s a bunch of other junk in Innoventions that’s all varying degrees of skippable. Yes, some things here might be good for some kids, and many of the minor attractions have educational value, but they just aren’t good, and generally eat up valuable vacation time. Don’t bother with them.
Journey into Imagination with Figment (5.5/10) – Dark ride with Figment showcasing the power of imagination. This third version of Journey into Imagination isn’t as bad as the second, but doesn’t hold a candle to the original. Figment is obnoxious and can be grating, although the ride does have its moments. No need for FastPass+ here.
O Canada (7/10) – Given the number of World Showcase films, it’s unlikely you’ll see them all. This Circle-Vision 360 one with Martin Short is the most entertaining, but it’s also the least moving and educational. If you have kids who bore easily, this is probably the best option for you.
The Circle of Life (5.5/10) – Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba star in a film about the importance of the environment. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this film, it’s just very mundane as far as theme park attractions go and probably isn’t worth doing unless your kids are big Lion King fans.
Unlike the Magic Kingdom, a big part of the Epcot experience is entertainment. This is especially true in the World Showcase, where each country has its own act. Some of these acts are well-established and have been around for years. Others are more in flux. Regardless, unlike the attractions listed above, we still don’t recommend planning around various World Showcase entertainment acts. They are best enjoyed in an atmospheric sense.
If you happen upon an act going on while you’re strolling World Showcase, stop and enjoy the act. If you miss something, you miss it. Off Kilter is a Celtic-rock band in Canada, British Revolution in the United Kingdom plays British classic rock, Serveur Amusant in France is a wait-staff duo performing comedic and acrobatic feats, MoRockin’ in Morocco is a band playing contemporary Arabic music, Matsuriza in Japan is a group playing traditional Japanese drums, Voices of Liberty in the American Adventure is an a capella group, Sergio in Italy is a juggler, the Ziti Sisters in Italy are an interactive comedy show, The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China are acrobats, and Mariachi Cobre in Mexico perform traditional folk music. There are other acts, but the ones we view as permanent or semi-permanent. Our favorites of the bunch are Serveur Amusant, Matsuriza, Voices of Liberty, and Mariachi Cobre. Really, though, all of these acts are good. We stop for any of them that we happen to see performing. If you are interested in knowing when particular acts are performing, check out this regularly-updated Walt Disney World Entertainment Guide.
There are other entertainment acts, character meet & greets, and especially seasonal offerings (which are big at Epcot–see our separate pages for the Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival), but it should cover every attraction on an Epcot park map. If you have the time, try as much as you can, as you’ll likely disagree with us on at least a few of these attractions.
If you’re planning a trip, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
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Which Epcot attractions are your favorites and which do you skip? Which are your favorite entertainment acts? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World yet, which Epcot attractions are you most excited to experience? Please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!