Here we cover the pros and cons of Epcot’s rides and shows, which attractions are must-dos, and more. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, you need to know which Epcot rides and attractions you should prioritize, and which you should skip. This guide to Epcot rides contains short reviews and numerical scores for every major attraction in Epcot, including everything in Future World and the World Showcase. (Last updated January 1, 2019.)
Epcot has both 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. 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.
It’s also a park in transition. When it opened, Epcot’s mission was “edutainment” or a hybrid of entertainment and education. Walt Disney World has abandoned that, and is in the process of infusing more character-driven experiences. The two big additions presently being built are “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” in the France pavilion and a colossal Guardians of the Galaxy coaster in Future World. If you’re visiting Epcot between 2019 and 2021, you might want to keep tabs on ride construction progress; for that, we recommend subscribing to our free email newsletter.
A lot of the things to do in Epcot are in the form of World Showcase entertainment. If there are adults in your party, expect to spend a decent amount of time in World Showcase absorbing the atmosphere (and perhaps the booze) with our Guide to Drinking Around the World, which is an awesome way to “enhance” the cultural experience. World Showcase is often viewed as boring, particularly by kids, but we vehemently disagree with this perspective. It’s just a different type of theme park experience. If you’re wanting to know how we would spend an ideal day in Epcot, read our 1-Day Epcot Park Itinerary.
Before we start, a bit of background info–if you’ve read our other Disney Parks Ride Guides, you can skip down to the reviews themselves. Popular attractions are popular for a reason, and we recommend crowd-favorites, 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. Epcot is definitely not about the thrill rides–it’s a park that merges education and entertainment (for “edutainment”). 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, Frozen Ever After, 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. You get the idea. With that said, let’s get started with the Epcot attraction rundown!
Top Epcot Attractions
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. This is a powerful show that may make the eyes of patriotic Americans leak a bit. American Adventure ranks as one of the all-time greatest achievements of Walt Disney Imagineering, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
There’s never a line for this show due to its enormous theater, but 45 minute gaps between showtimes mean you’ll want to consult a times guide before heading to American Adventure. Be sure to see the Voices of Liberty perform before American Adventure for the full, distinctly patriotic experience.
Soarin’ Around the World (8.5/10) – A popular hang-glider simulator ride that offers a grandiose flight over some amazing locations around the globe. The giant screen combined with the swinging gliders and an epic score creates a really believable experience, making Soarin’ an absolute must-do for anyone who meets the 40″ height requirement and isn’t terribly afraid of heights.
If you don’t have FastPass+, do it first thing or towards the end of the night when wait times start to decrease (in watching wait times the last couple of days, we’ve noticed it’s only ~30 minutes at the end of the night, versus peak waits of 90 minutes around lunch). You can read our spoiler-free Soarin’ Around the World Review for more thoughts.
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”) redid the attraction to resemble a virtual grid on which the prototype cars are tested. The 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. 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.
Spaceship Earth (9.5/10) – A slow-moving dark ride through Audio Animatronics-heavy scenes depicting the evolution of how humans communicate (more broadly, it’s really just about technological innovation) housed in Epcot’s iconic geodesic sphere.
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. It loses a half point for the cheesy screen-based ending (and lack of show scenes during this descent). 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.
Frozen Ever After (8/10) – This boat ride in the Norway pavilion features characters from Frozen and takes guests to Arendelle (yes, a fictional country depicted in a real one in World Showcase) and immerses visitors in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. It’s a cute attraction with some cool Audio Animatronics figures and fun songs.
Frozen Ever After is still one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World, with waits regularly exceeding 90 minutes. While Test Track can command waits just as long, we recommend Frozen Ever After as your top FastPass+ priority for Epcot. You can read our spoiler-free Frozen Ever After Review for more thoughts.
Gran Fiesta Tour (8/10) – Boat ride featuring the Three Caballeros with Mexico’s culture as a backdrop in the search for Donald Duck. This mainly makes this list for the sake of variety and ease–it’s one of only two rides in World Showcase, and the only one that regularly has no wait. 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.
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. Impressions de France has a beautiful, chills-inducing score, a digital projection, and breathtaking visuals…oh, and let’s not forget rad 1980s outfits! 😉 Few will agree with us in preferring Impressions de France to Soarin’, 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 for us.
Turtle Talk with Crush (9/10) – 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’ 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. However, it’s a short ride with a short line, so there’s no reason not to do 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 green version was recently redone as an orbit of earth, and is marginally better than it was before, but still a subpar experience. The story itself isn’t compelling enough to put up with the green version–the thrills here are about the only draw. You probably will not need FastPass+ for this except during peak season.
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 because it entertains kids in an area of the parks largely devoid of things for them to do.
Living with the Land (8/10) – 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.
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. (Note: Reflections of China will be updated with a new film in either 2019 or 2020.)
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. While these abstract themes are easy to miss, the beautiful soundtrack compensates for that. 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, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After 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. You can read our Best IllumiNations Viewing Spots posts for a list of the best spots and other tips for viewing the show.
Note: IllumiNations will be retired at the end of Summer 2019, to be immediately replaced by an interim show called “Epcot Forever” before a permanent nighttime spectacular debuts in World Showcase Lagoon in Summer 2020. Read more details here.
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.
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (1/10) – This is literally a bunch of cartoon shorts that also play on Netflix in a 3D theater. It replaced Captain EO, and hopefully is temporary. It gets 1 star because it offers air conditioning. Don’t do this unless another hobby of yours is setting fire to $100 bills.
Innoventions (3/10) – Since Sum of All Thrills closed last year, there is virtually nothing left in Innoventions. Literally the only attraction that remains on either side is Colortopia and that’s only there because of a contractual requirement with the sponsor.
Expect what remains of Innoventions to close permanently in 2019, with this space being replaced by an open air garden/park area inspired by the Gardens of Imagination at Shanghai Disneyland.
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.
A big part of the Epcot experience is entertainment, especially in World Showcase. Some of these acts are well-established and have been around for years. We don’t recommend planning around various World Showcase entertainment acts, because that can be very difficult. 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. Here are some of the acts:
Alberta Bound in Canada features authentic music and dance traditions of Québec.
British Revolution in the United Kingdom plays British classic rock.
Serveur Amusant in France is a wait-staff duo performing comedic and acrobatic feats.
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 Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China are acrobats.
Mariachi Cobre in Mexico perform traditional folk music.
There are other entertainment acts and character meet & greets that are not listed in this guide. Moreover, seasonal events are not covered here, and these are a huge part of the Epcot experience–you should absolutely plan for whatever festival will be occurring at Epcot during your Walt Disney World vacation. See our separate pages for the seasonal festivals that now are held the majority of the year at Epcot:
Note that dates change year to year, and do not encompass the entire months listed above (for example, Food & Wine typically begins at the end of August). Visit the above festival guides for exact dates, money-saving tips, info to enhance your festival experience, and advice for avoiding crowds during the festivals.
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!