What is the best Disney park: Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom? We think both parks offer a lot of Disney magic, but lets break down what each park has to offer so you can plan your Disney vacation.
Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks at the Walt Disney World resort are first two Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. They are both vastly different in layout and attractions, but each has something special that is worth including in your Disney vacation.
Magic Kingdom is the first theme park and the one most people visit. It has Cinderella’s Castle and Main Street U.S.A., as well as other popular attractions like “it’s a small world”, the Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain. It is the park most people choose for their first visit to Disney World.
Epcot is different. It stands for experimental prototype community of tomorrow and during its first planning was meant to be an actual community, not a theme park.
It is divided into sections: World Discovery, World Nature, World Celebration and The World Showcase. (This area was previously known as Future World.) These areas focus on education and technology along with weaving in Disney storytelling and characters.
Most people assume Epcot doesn’t have a lot to do but that is a misconception. There is a lot to do at Epcot for kids and adults. It is a large park that has attractions, and aquarium, and interesting things to see and do.
Both parks are full day parks that have thrill rides, your favorite characters, and dining options.
So what is the best Disney World theme parks? Obviously deciding the best one is based on personal preferences but I hope I can help make that decision easier.
Let’s dive into what makes each park awesome and then let you decide what works best for your family!
Which Park is Best: Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom
Deciding which park is best is very much a personal preference, but I wanted to break down the things I feel are important during a Disney vacation and let you decide for yourself.
I know that may seem like an easy out, but only you know your family and interests when visiting the park.
After visiting Disney World many times, I can give you my honest opinion about what we love best at each park to help you make the best choice for your visit to Disney World.
Atmosphere at the Parks
Each Disney World park has it’s own vibe. Magic Kingdom is all about suspending real life and stepping into fantasy and make believe. Young children will love the rides and character encounters at the Magic Kingdom park.
Epcot is more about the Earth around us in World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature and all about discovering different countries and cultures in The World Showcase.
If you are looking for classic Disney characters and attractions, Magic Kingdom is the park for you. If you are looking for a unique park that offers more than the traditional Disney experience, Epcot is a good choice.
Ride Comparison at Epcot and Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has around 30 rides and Epcot has around 15 rides. A few of the rides are actually 3D shows or movies, but I have included them as attractions.
Magic Kingdom has popular Disney attractions like Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain. Magic Kingdom rides are great for all ages and perfect for families.
Epcot has Test Track, Soarin’, and the Frozen Ever After attraction. The rides at Epcot are some of our favorites, there are just less than the Magic Kingdom.
With the addition of Frozen in 2016, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction in 2021, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in May 2022, and Journey through Water-Inspired by Moana in October 2023, Epcot has a lot to offer.
If you are looking for thrills Magic Kingdom has Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, and soon to open Tron. Epcot has Test Track, Soarin’, Mission: Space, and the soon to open Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster.
If you want to ride Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan you will want to plan a visit to the Magic Kingdom. If you want to ride Spaceship Earth, Frozen Ever After, and the Seas with Nemo, Epcot is your park.
Both parks have some of the most popular rides at Disney World and will have long wait times. Crowds at the parks and long lines should be expected with either park.
Food at Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom
I don’t think anyone would tell you they go to Magic Kingdom for the food. They do have Be Our Guest, which is decent dining experience, but it doesn’t compare to Epcot.
The World Showcase is host to 11 countries and the food options are plenty. From high end dining to quick service meals, there are many options for what to eat at Epcot.
We had one of our favorite breakfasts at Epcot during our last visit. It was at Les Halles in the France pavilion. I highly recommend including a visit in your Disney trip. Everything on the menu is delicious.
If you are going to eat at Magic Kingdom we suggest Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen, Liberty Tree Tavern, Columbia Harbour House, and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Be sure to use Disney’s Mobile Ordering to save time!
Some of our favorite Epcot dining options are Garden Grill, Regal Eagle Smokehouse, San Angel Inn Restaurant, and Katsura Grill.
Entertainment and Characters at Magic Kingdom and Epcot
There are so many favorite characters to meet at Magic Kingdom. Guests can meet Tiana and Rapunzel, Mickey Mouse & Minnie, Goofy and Donald, plus a lot more. There are stage shows and parades.
Magic Kingdom also has fireworks nightly and a castle projection show. Magic Kingdom also has an interactive activity called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom that takes guests on a magical scavenger through the park. Update: Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom will close in January 2021.
Epcot also has a lot of characters to meet including Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Most of the countries have a character meet and greet that relates to their country. You can meet Alice in the United Kingdom and Mulan in China. Moana and Figment are the latest character meet and greet experiences.
Epcot also has a nightly fireworks water show too.
Both parks create an incredible Disney experience for their guests.
Better Park for Kids or Adults
Magic Kingdom is probably better for kids and Epcot for adults but not for every situation. If you have a child that lives and breathes Frozen you are going to want to visit Epcot. If you are an adult who loves classic Disney characters Magic Kingdom is your park.
Adults will appreciate the World Showcase with the food and beverage options as well as the seasonal events at Epcot, like Food and Wine Festival.
On our most recent visit we found ways to explore the World Showcase with Kids that made us realize that Epcot is not just for adults. If you have school-aged kids they can discover a lot of fun things.
Each country has specific activities for kids to learn more about the culture of the country. It may not be all rides but the countries have a lot offer as well.
Hotel Options Near Epcot
Epcot has numerous hotels within walking distance or a short gondola ride away. If you would like to walk to Epcot you should look at the Beach Club, Boardwalk, or Yacht Club.
There are also Marriott Hotels located on the same property as the Disney hotels. These are considered Deluxe hotels, you will receive early entry and other on-site perks, but can usually book them at a lower cost or with points. Check the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotel prices.
We also like staying at the Disney Skyliner hotels that offer a more budget friendly option for families visiting Epcot.
Hotel Options Near Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom has the Disney World monorail hotels within walking distance of the park. If you are staying at one of these resorts you can take the monorail to Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Ticket Costs at Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom
The ticket costs at Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom vary but start around $104.00 on a low crowd day. I suggest checking the Walt Disney World site first for ticket pricing.
Most discount tickets are not available for 1 day visits. I go into much more details on costs in this post: Disney Vacation Cost for a Family of Five (Updated 2024 Pricing)
Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom is not an easy choice. They both offer great options for a Disney vacation, it really depends on what you are looking for in your day at the parks. If you can’t decide you can always use the park hopper option to visit both parks in one day!
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Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.