Here we cover the pros and cons of Epcot’s rides and shows, must-dos, and more. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, you need to know which attractions to prioritize, and what to skip. This Epcot ride guide offers reviews & numerical scores for every major attraction in Future World and World Showcase, plus entertainment info. (Updated May 4, 2020.)
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 Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in Future World. If you’re visiting Epcot between now and 2021, you might want to keep tabs on ride construction progress; for that, we recommend subscribing to our free email newsletter.
If you’re wanting to know how we would spend an ideal day in Epcot, read our 1-Day Epcot Park Itinerary. We could spend an entire day simply wandering around the park, not doing any attractions. (We’ve quite literally done exactly that several times.) However, that touring plan covers an actual, substantive day in Epcot.
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 the booze) with our Guide to Drinking Around the World, which is one way to “enhance” the cultural experience. World Showcase is often viewed as boring, but we vehemently disagree with this perspective. It’s just a different type of theme park experience.
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.
Order of attractions and FastPass+ really only matters for Soarin’, Test Track, Frozen Ever After, Mission: Space, and Spaceship Earth, for the most part. If you’re going on a particularly busy day (Easter Week, for example), other things might matter, too. Sometimes, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination, and the Seas with Nemo & Friends can have modest lines. Normally, wait times at Epcot are fairly short beyond the headliners.
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.
Test Track (8/10) – 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.
Soarin’ Around the World (8/10) – 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).
Spaceship Earth (9.5/10) – One of the best attractions at Walt Disney World, Spaceship Earth is 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.
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 stumbles a bit in the home stretch cheesy screen-based ending and lack of show scenes during this descent. If you don’t use FastPass+ for Spaceship Earth, do it in the evening. Crowds entering the park in the morning tend to be drawn to it, leaving short lines later. (Note:Spaceship Earth will close later in 2020 for a multi-year refurbishment and reimagining. It’s unlikely this project will begin on the timeline originally scheduled.)
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 themost 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.
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.
Gran Fiesta Tour (7.5/10) – 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. Impressions de France showtimes begin at 7 pm.
Turtle Talk with Crush (8/10) – 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 (6.5/10) – 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 that can be done easily later in the day or with a subsequent FastPass+ selection, so there’s no reason not to do it.
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.
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.
Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience (6/10) – For what it is, which is a preview center of all things to come in Epcot’s transformation, this is a well-done presentation. We highly recommend popping in for the 12 minute presentation, PhotoPass ops, attraction posters, and concept art. It’s a quick experience, and a chance to spend some time in the air-conditioning without waiting in line!
Reflections of China (6.5/10) – 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 at some point in 2020.)
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival (3/10) – Cartoon shorts that you could watch on Disney+ shown in a 3D theater with some effects thrown into the mix. The shorts are delightful, but there are better uses of your time unless you need a break in the air-conditioning, which would be totally understandable.
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along (0/10) – This new film that runs during the daytime hours in the France pavilion (before Impressions de France in the evenings) is quite literally the worst attraction at Walt Disney World. They should’ve gone the lazy route with this, simply playing an existing sing-along on the screen, as this is actively bad. (Read more about this and the next Canada & Awesome Planet movies in our Epcot New Film Reviews: The Good & Ugly.)
Canada Far & Wide in Circle-Vision 360 (6/10) – This is an update to the previous O Canada! film–with Martin Short removed, additional scenes & footage added, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington, and new narration by award-winning actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. Canada Far & Wide offers a whirlwind tour of the country, with its natural beauty, cosmopolitan cities, and multiculturalism on full display.
Awesome Planet (6/10) – Located in the Land pavilion upstairs from Soarin’ Around the World, right next door to Garden Grill. Awesome Planet showcases Earth’s beauty and diverse natural landscapes in a 10-minute film featuring some in-theater lighting effects and an original musical score. It’s breathtakingly shot, the score is relaxing, and narration from Ty Burrell as a realtor pitching Earth is amusing (especially for Modern Family fans).
Epcot Forever (6/10) – The interim fireworks show that serves as a stopgap between Illuminations: Reflections of Earth and 2020’s HarmonioUS. Epcot Forever features an assortment of songs that pay tribute to the park’s legacy and rich history and features some fun effects, including kites.
Ultimately, Epcot Forever rates weakly by nighttime spectacular standards because it tries to be something for everyone, but in so doing, also manages to find ways to alienate just about everyone in the process. Nevertheless, we enjoy the first ~8 minutes as old school EPCOT Center fans, and first-time visitors are still likely to enjoy the pyro and technology on display.
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 acts, but these are the ones we feel are most notable. Our favorites of the bunch are Serveur Amusant, Matsuriza, Voices of Liberty, and Mariachi Cobre. If you are interested in knowing when particular acts are performing, check out this regularly-updated Walt Disney World Entertainment Guide. (Note: it’s unclear which, if any, of these acts will have their contracts renewed once Epcot reopens from the indefinite closure of Walt Disney World.)
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!