Here we cover the pros & cons of Epcot’s rides & 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 rates & reviews everything in the front of the park and World Showcase.
We’ve updated this EPCOT ride guide now that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has opened. Although the park is still in the midst of its transformation, EPCOT has already received multiple major additions during the World’s Most Magical Celebration–all of which you can read in our Guide to Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. (The celebration itself is underwhelming, but at least EPCOT is improving!)
Despite this, Epcot is still a park very much in transition. Its core is home to the Giant Epcot Dirt Pit™️, with a lot that’s coming soon. Much of what that will entail is still unknown, as Walt Disney World has changed and cutback its plans, but hasn’t revealed full details about what’ll happen. What has been announced–like CommuniCore Hall & Plaza–is underwhelming. Suffice to say, if you’re visiting Epcot between now and 2023, you might want to keep tabs on ride construction progress; for that, we recommend subscribing to our free email newsletter.
Epcot has 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.
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 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.
With that in mind, let’s go through the attractions, starting in the front of the park in what used to be Future World (and is now World Celebration/Nature/Discovery) before continuing to World Showcase…
World Celebration, Nature & Discovery Attraction Ratings
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (10/10) – This new family-friendly Marvel roller coaster replaces the old Universe of Energy pavilion, which is now the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. This a “storytelling coaster,” which is to say it’s a roller coaster with show scenes that’s suitable for most guests and thrill levels. While the flow of the roller coaster is smooth and the ride vehicles move in tandem with the screens, the ride will still cause motion sickness issues for some people.
For most people, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be an incredibly satisfying attraction from start to finish, with a queue and pre-shows that provide depth, a couple of wow-moment effects, hilarity & hijinks, and a compelling story set-up. The same is true for the roller coaster itself, which is satisfying in duration and has fantastic flow and fluidity. In large part, this is owing to the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, humor, and use of music–the roller coaster feels like it’s dancing, for lack of a better term.
Above all else, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is flat-out, fantastic fun. It’s one of the most fun attractions in all of Walt Disney World. It hits all of the right notes, and is just a non-stop hoot from start to finish. Read our Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Review for more details, info, and photos of the blockbuster new attraction!
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. Either do Test Track at the beginning of the day or the end of the night. Alternatively, do Test Track via the Single Rider line.
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.
Soarin’ Around the World (8.5/10) – A popular hang-glider simulator ride that offers a grandiose flight over amazing locations around the globe. The giant screen combined with the swinging and an epic score creates a believable experience, minus questionable CGI and bent architecture (if you’re seated off-center).
Nevertheless, Soarin’ is an absolute must-do for anyone who meets the 40″ height requirement and isn’t terribly afraid of heights. Do Soarin’ early 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).
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.
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).
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, so there’s no reason not to do it.
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.
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.
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.
Spaceship Earth (9/10) – One of the best classic 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. Do Spaceship Earth in the afternoon or evening. Crowds entering the park in the morning tend to be drawn to it, leaving short lines later.
Beacons of Magic (10/10) – Sporadically throughout the evening, lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as “stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism” (in Disney’s words). Even setting aside the flowery language, this is awesome. These dancing light displays last only a few minutes each, but are visually stunning.
World Showcase Attraction Ratings
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (8/10) – This is a new family friendly trackless dark ride that debuted in an expansion to the France pavilion for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. It is a 3D attraction with some fast and sharp motion simulating a rat scurrying around a restaurant. The bulk of the ride is set in front of gigantic screens.
Some people love this attraction, finding it cute and charming. We agree to an extent, but feel its faults are very pronounced. The problem with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is the misuse of screens, and the poor balance of screens with physical sets. During most of the attraction, it feels like you’re simply parked in front of a giant screen–because you are! You can read our spoiler-free Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Ride Review for more thoughts.
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 60 minutes. While Test Track can command waits just as long, we recommend Frozen Ever After as of your top priorities for Epcot. You can read our spoiler-free Frozen Ever After Review for more thoughts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Harmonious (8/10) – The new nighttime spectacular in World Showcase Lagoon for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, and the long-term replacement for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Harmonious features an assortment of songs from Disney movies, choreographed fountains, colorful lights, lasers, LED panels, fireworks, a giant Stargate, and more.
It’s an odd mix of technology and the show suffers from pacing issues and visuals that are incredibly location-dependent. Read and see more in our comprehensive Harmonious Review. For planning purposes, consult our Best Epcot Fireworks Viewing Spots posts for a list of the best spots and other tips for viewing the show.
Finally, a big part of the Epcot experience is entertainment, especially in World Showcase, where performers are once again appearing.
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!