It’s time for the ultimate showdown!
Before you spend your hard-earned money on a Disney vacation, it is vital that you know which park(s) you should attend. Trying to cram everything into one trip will just cause pain in your neck and pain in your wallet.
You definitely don’t want to have to sacrifice fun for the sake of trying to do everything all at once. You want to spend your time at Disney parks making lasting memories with your friends, family, and loved ones.
So, which Disney park is better– Magic Kingdom vs Epcot?
Magic Kingdom and Epcot are pretty different from each other. Both parks are vastly different when it comes to layout and attractions. One is styled as a magic land of whimsy and fun, while the other is more futuristic and worldly.
Which do you choose?
You work hard for your money, which means you should make the most of your time at the Disney parks. So if you’re looking for the best guide for making that important decision, look no further. I’ve broken down the top attractions at Magic Kingdom and Epcot to help you decide which park to explore.
Table of Contents
Let’s Get to it: Magic Kingdom or Epcot?
Magic Kingdom and Epcot both have their charm. Magic Kingdom has the quintessential Cinderella’s Castle and Main Street USA, two must-sees for any Disney-loving prince or princess. Not to mention, Magic Kingdom also has the iconic fireworks and laser show each night.
On the other hand, Epcot takes you on a trip around the world, feasting on local fare and emerging yourself into different cultures. Epcot also has the Spaceship Earth ride, a classic symbol of Disney Parks and the future! Epcot’s Future World was going through a massive refurbishment through 2020-2022, so keep your eyes peeled for more awesome updates.
Both parks have rides, restaurants, and entertainment. So, which park comes out on top?
When it comes down to it, Magic Kingdom = Disney World for most. And when you think of someone’s first visit or their once-in-a-lifetime visit, you will always suggest Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom incorporates the most characters from the Disney movies that Disney fans will recognize and want to meet.
The Cinderella Castle is the most iconic, as it’s used in the opener for all Disney movies. Even the youngest guest will recognize it.
For those reasons, as well as all of the ones we review below, the clear winner is definitely Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom vs Epcot: Rides
For those seeking a bit of a thrill, you’ll want to check this out. In our quest to find out which park comes on top– Magic Kingdom vs Epcot– we’ll take a look at the top rides of both parks.
Winner: Magic Kingdom
The overall winner is Magic Kingdom for rides. Ride lovers will enjoy the variety of attractions that Magic Kingdom has to offer. Epcot has rides too, but let’s be honest. Some of them are slow and/or educational, which may not attract the attention of younger park visitors who are searching for excitement.
Magic Kingdom Top Rides
Magic Kingdom has some awesome rides that you shouldn’t miss. Since Magic Kingdom is the epicenter of Disney theme parks, you’re sure to catch a thrill riding these attractions. Many of the rides are family-friendly as well.
The best thing about the rides at Magic Kingdom is that the height requirements for most of the rides are “any height.” There are a few of the more thrilling rides that have a height requirement, but we’ll make sure you know which ones!
Space Mountain, located in Tomorrowland, open its tracks in 1975. The ride is entirely indoors and lets you blast off to outer space in the dark. There are two tracks to choose from– Alpha and Omega.
Experience shooting stars and celestial satellites pass by just at the tip of your fingers. You’ll feel the forces of gravity as you get sucked into a wormhole! This ride is fast with many tight turns. Guests must be 44 inches (113 centimeters) to ride Space Mountain.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Join the Seven Dwarfs on a mining expedition aboard this steel roller coaster, located inside Fantasyland. It first opened in 2014 during a major expansion at the park. The minecarts will speed you through an indoor and outdoor area while maintaining the charm of the original 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie.
This attraction also features a “tilting vehicle” system, which allows the rider to experience a real minecart ride. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is suitable for all ages. Guests must be 38 inches (97 centimeters) to ride the Mine Train.
The next ride up on our Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown is Splash Mountain. Prepare to get soaked as you travel through this log flume ride, located in Critter Country. The ride starts with a peaceful float, then gets wild as you’re dropped 52.5 feet down. Smile for the camera as you’re picture is taken during the drop.
As of June 2020, there are plans to convert the ride’s story to match The Princess and the Frog, so keep an eye out for that update! Guests must be 40 inches (102 centimeters) to ride Splash Mountain.
The Haunted Mansion ride in New Orleans Square is a spooky ghost train ride. You’ll ride through a haunted mansion resided by “999 happy haunts.” While waiting, a walk-through show is displayed to the riders as they move through the queue, incorporating the ride’s story into your waiting time.
Once you board the Doom Buggy, you’ll see a casket-filled conservatory, a seance room, and a graveyard of singing spirits. The ride went through a facelift during 2020-2021 and will be ready for riders starting September 2021. Guests of any height can experience the Haunted Mansion.
Big Thunder Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain is a thrilling mine train roller coaster located in Frontierland. As the story goes, a once prosperous mining town called Tumbleweed was decimated and left abandoned after a flash flood. Soon after, the trains began to run by themselves! Take a ride on one of these possessed trains and experience the excitement of racing through an abandoned mining town!
This ride is excellent for children and families; however, some parts of the ride go through the dark, so be prepared if any of your riders are a little scared of the dark. Guests must be 40 inches (102 centimeters) to ride Big Thunder Mountain.
Epcot Top Rides
Let’s not forget Epcot rides! Though Magic Kingdom wins at rides in the Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown, there are still some fantastic attractions to check out while traversing around the world at Epcot! Let’s check out the best rides!
Take your adventure to new heights in this hang-gliding flight motion simulator. It is located within The Land pavilion at Epcot. Once you board the ride, you’ll be secured safely. After that, you’ll be lifted into the air, leaving your feet dangling as if you were hang-gliding. Then, aerial views are projected onto a concave movie screen, allowing you to see all kinds of new sights.
The seats and the views change and move, giving you a flying sensation. Not only that but scents are injected into the airstreams that pass by your face, fully immersing you into the scene that you’re flying over.
This ride is fabulous for anyone who wants to see new places from above but might be too scared to hang-glide for real. Guests must be 40 inches (102 centimeters) to ride.
If you’ve ever wanted to design a sweet car, then Test Track is for you. This is your chance to experience what it is like to create and test a new vehicle. Inside the Chevrolet Design Center, you’ll get an opportunity to design a virtual concept car, then take it for a spin on the Test Track in a SIM Car. Your concept car will ride over rough terrain and dodge obstacles along the circuit. You’ll even get to see how your concept car does in inclement weather and how well it can scale a hill that is three stories high! You’ll reach speeds up to 65 miles per hour! After the ride is over, you can film a commercial for your new car and have your picture taken with it as well! This attraction is a can’t-miss ride for any car enthusiast. Guests must be 40 inches (102 centimeters) to ride the Test Track.
As a side note, if you or a family member are a General Motors/Chevrolet employee, you can gain access to the VIP lounge above the Test Track. Just show your badge or ID to gain access. There are free non-alcoholic beverages and lots of places to rest your feet.
You can’t miss Spaceship Earth. Literally. It’s the giant golf ball-shaped orb that greets you upon arrival at Epcot. Whether you just arrived at Epcot or need a break in the AC, take a whirl on this 16-minute dark ride attraction. Spaceship Earth takes you through the history of communications, narrated by Judi Dench and accompanied by a 63-piece orchestra and a 24-voice choir.
You’ll start with cavemen painting on walls, to Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing press, to how newspapers announced the biggest news of the world. The ride’s not over yet. Inside your vehicle, you can answer a few questions about the future you’d like to see and have it played out in front of you! See the past and future come to life right before your eyes. Guests of any height can ride Spaceship Earth.
Frozen Ever After
Frozen Ever After is a log flume that takes you on an adventure with– you guessed it– the cast of Frozen. The queue invites you to the Official Summer Snow Day, which marks the anniversary of Anna saving her sister Elsa with an act of unselfish true love. This ride is slow-moving, but you might get a little wet when you descend short waterfalls.
Experience the chill of the Frozen movie, complete with singing animatronics of your favorite characters. You’ll even meet Kristoff’s family of Trolls. You’ll see Olaf singing and ice skating, or trying to anyway, and you’ll get to meet Marshmallow and the Snowgies from Frozen Fever. This attraction is a must-ride for any Frozen fanatic! Guests of any height can ride Frozen Ever After.
Magic Kingdom vs Epcot: Restaurant
You can’t have a Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown without mentioning food! Everyone needs sustenance while they experience the parks, and we’ll break down which park has the best food! These restaurants are mainly sit-down restaurants, but you can still utilize your Disney Dining Plan. For the best quick-service restaurants, check out Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
The overall winner of the restaurant battle is Epcot. This isn’t a surprise, since Epcot has food choices from around the world, where guests can experience many different cuisines. But you won’t starve at either park. Let’s take a look at the best sit-down restaurants at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
Epcot Top Restaurants
If you’re looking for a fancy night out, get a reservation at Epcot Le Cellier Steakhouse. This restaurant is under the Canda Pavilion, and if you’re not looking for it, you might miss it. As a forewarning, it is one of the most expensive Epcot restaurants, but it’s worth it. It’s considered a Disney Signature Dining Restaurant, which means you will need two credits if you have the Dining Plan.
Le Cellier features steak and seafood entrees, along with a host of other additions you can add to your meal. There are several Canadian must-haves like cheddar cheese soup and poutine. If you are over 21, you can pair your meal with delicious Canadian wine. This is a great place to eat if you’re looking for a nice sit-down meal after eating quick service all day.
Coral Reef Epcot Restaurant
Another potential eatery is the Coral Reef Epcot Restaurant, where you’ll be washed away by the funky, ocean-inspired decor. This restaurant is located behind The Seas Pavilion. The 8-foot-tall walls allow the guests to see into a huge saltwater aquarium. In the aquarium, you’ll see over 2,000 species, along with a scuba-diving Mickey! Stare in wonder at the beautiful variety of species as you wait for your food.
As you might expect, this restaurant features seafood (though they have non-seafood options as well). The shrimp and grits are a popular option, and their lobster bisque appetizer is pretty awesome.
There are vegetarian and kid-friendly options as well. And if you’re not full from your meal, you have to try The Chocolate Wave for dessert! You’ll love the atmosphere and food of Coral Reef Epcot.
If you want to try something a little different, check out Marrakesh in the Morocco Pavilion. The door is brightly colored and is indicative of the color and vibrancy that awaits you inside. Marrakesh also has belly dancing, and you can even join in on the fun!
Marrakesh is one of the best value restaurants in Epoct if you’re paying cash, but not great on the Disney Dining Plan. The menu features meats and Moroccan pastries along with kid-friendly bites. There is also a full bar for those who are 21 and older.
Rose and Crown
Rose and Crown is the British pub you’ve been waiting for. It’s the perfect place to get some fish ‘n’ chips, bangers and mash, or a Scotch egg. The atmosphere is loud and bustling like you might expect in a British pub. The interior will whisk you across the pond, with a dark wood bar and heavy beams crossing the ceiling. Like other restaurants, the Rose and Crown has a full bar for anyone over 21. Feeling adventurous? Rose and Crown also features “pub mixes,” which are different British beers mixed together.
Tokyo Dining is a Japanese-inspired restaurant that is very modern and sleek. This restaurant features a via of the World Showcase Lagoon. You can watch the sushi chefs prepare your food as well. Their menu features Sushi rolls, Nigiri, and Sashimi for people who love traditional Japanese food or want to try something new.
Tokyo Dining also has a few dessert options, like Matcha Tiramisu and Mango Mousse Cake. Top it all off with a cup of delicious green tea.
Magic Kingdom Restaurants
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen is themed after the Jungle Cruise, where Asian, South American, and African foods collide in delicious ways. When seated, there are three rooms to choose from: the Mess Hall, the Jungle Room, and the S.E.A. room.
Your taste buds will not be left wanting after eating one of the tasty entrees at this restaurant. You can try the Dr. Falls Signature Grilled Steak, Sui Pork, and Thai Noodles. There are some great dessert options as well, including Panna Connie’s Congo Lime Delight and Kungaloosh! There are also some kid-friendly options as well.
Columbia Harbour House
Columbia Harbor House is a quick-service restaurant at Magic Kingdom that tops the charts.
Take a trip to Boston with popular meals like lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, fried fish, and shrimp. There are also salad options if you’re looking for something light but filling. There is a vegetarian option as well called the Lighthouse Sandwich.
The atmosphere is styled after a New England home with heavy wood features. While some of the options at Magic Kingdom are pricier, Columbia Harbor House is one of the most cost-effective places to eat.
The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace is a beautiful Victorian greenhouse-style restaurant with American fare for all ages. They feature a daily Friendship Day “Celebrashun” where patrons can meet Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. This restaurant is buffet-style for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have Hundred Acre Woods-themed desserts! The views are great from here as well. You can see Cinderella Castle and Main Street, USA, from the large, airy windows.
The Be Our Guest restaurant is incredible. It is located inside the Beast’s castle and features French-inspired fare and decor. There are three wonderfully decorated rooms, including The Grand Ballroom, the West Wing, and the Castle Gallery.
This is one of the more expensive restaurants in Magic Kingdom, but the atmosphere and food make it well worth it. Choose from menu options such as herb-salted pork tenderloin, center-cut filet mignon, or pan-seared scallops.
They also have lobster bisque and french onion soup as appetizers. Enjoy The Beauty and the Beast all over again in this beautiful restaurant. Make sure you sign up for a reservation ahead of time. Due to the popularity of this restaurant, it can be hard to get a table.
Liberty Tree Tavern
Step into this revolution-era restaurant and have a bite surrounded by our Founding Fathers. Liberty Tree Tavern is all Americana, giving patrons the feeling of being inside a cabin. Plus, it’s Thanksgiving every day! Dine on your favorite Thanksgiving fare with turkey, pot roast, pork, and traditional Thanksgiving sides! Give thanks to our Founding Fathers by feasting at Liberty Tree Tavern.
Magic Kingdom vs Epcot: Entertainment
Now that you’re sufficiently hungry, let’s talk entertainment! Our Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown continues with the question: who has the better entertainment options? From shows to fireworks to festivals, let’s take a look at our winner.
When your belly is full and you need a break from riding rides, entertainment is the next best way to fill some time during your Disney parks vacation. Magic Kingdom and Epcot both have great options, however, Epcot is the winner of the entertainment showdown. Magic Kingdom is a close second. Let’s check out the best entertainment options at both parks.
Located in the French pavilion at Epcot, check out the fantastic acrobats who will stun you with their awe-inspiring talents. Watch them stack chairs higher and higher and climb to the top, higher than you thought possible! Serveur Amusant is a fantastic show sure to knock your socks off! After the show, you can meet Aurora and check out the mini-version of the Eiffel Tower.
Bring on the beer and bratwurst! This attraction in the Germany Pavilion features a live German Oompah band with all the traditional songs, instruments, and shouts. You’ll feel like you’re in Germany at Oktoberfest during any time of year! Make sure to check the showtimes and get there early so you can eat while being entertained.
Voices of Liberty
Disney brings the past alive in this American Pavilion attraction. Voices of Liberty features a capella group singing patriotic tunes. All the singers are dressed in 1800s garb and sing their hearts out to American classics. The pavilion is air-conditioned, so you can take a load off while listening to music in the AC.
Epcot Forever rivals Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks show. The show features fireworks, music, lasers, and colorful glowing kites. It takes place at night over the World Showcase Lagoon, but you can see it from almost anywhere in Epcot. You won’t want to miss this illuminating show!
Magic Kingdom Entertainment
The Dapper Dans
This barbershop quartet sings classic American songs a cappella, and tap dances. They also add some vaudeville wit and puns into the show, making it entertaining for kids and adults. They dress in matching outfits with pinstripes and straw hats, though they each wear a different color. The show lasts about 20 minutes, so it’s the perfect length to take a break from walking and riding.
Happily Ever After Fireworks Show
Save your energy for this nighttime spectacular. With inspiring music, colorful lights, and projections, and of course, fireworks, this show is an amazing end to an already fantastic day at Magic Kingdom. Cinderella’s Castle lights up and becomes part of the story through state-of-the-art projection technology. You’ll hear many of your favorite Disney songs as well. Don’t miss your chance to see this show live!
Throughout the day, you can meet various Disney characters along the parade route. You can catch Mickey and friends, Goofy, Disney princesses, and Tinkerbell. Meet your favorite characters and get your picture taken to keep the memory forever.
Where Should You Go?
You’ve been presented with information about both parks. The final question: Which park should you visit? Magic Kingdom vs Epcot?
The decision should come down to whether or not you’re traveling with young children.
Magic Kingdom is more kid-friendly and reasonable when it comes to restaurants. Magic Kingdom also has many more rides for thrill-seeking kids. You’ll also see more of the classic Disney characters at Magic Kingdom, along with Cinderella’s Castle. The Magic is real at Magic Kingdom and would be a much better experience for younger children. This park is also divided into many different sectors with themes, including Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Storybook Circus, and Tomorrowland. These sections are bound to keep the attention of younger children.
If you’re child-free, Epcot is the way to go. Formal dining is more suited to families who may not have younger children with them. There aren’t many rides in Epcot, which might not be fun for kids. In addition, you can “Drink Around the World” at Epcot, which is an adult-only activity. The entertainment at Epcot is more suited for an older crowd than the cutesy entertainment at Magic Kingdom. Epcot is only divided into two sections, called Future World and World Showcase. Futureworld explores science, communications, and physics through rides and informational films, appealing to an older crowd.
Is Epcot Bigger than Magic Kingdom?
In the Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown, size can matter. If you’re worried about walking with children, then Magic Kingdom is the way to go. It covers 142 acres. Epcot is significantly larger, covering 300 acres. Tackling the smaller park with smaller children might be a better experience for everyone. Once your kids are older, then you can fully experience all that Epcot has to offer.
Which Disney World Park is the Best?
While Epcot has its share of awesome, Magic Kingdom is the best park for Disney lovers of all kinds. It has the most elements of the Disney movies, many epic rides, and great food. Cinderella’s Castle is an iconic feature that every Disney lover should see at least once in their life. Plus, the Happily Ever After fireworks show is truly a sight to see.
You’ll meet the most Disney characters at Magic Kingdom, and there is enough fun for kids and adults of all ages. Plus, the size of the park is not intimidating for first-timers. You can walk the park in one day if you want, though I would go back for more!
Keep in mind that special events often take place at Disney parks. Keep this in mind when planning your vacation, as the crowds might be bigger, but you’ll get to experience some Disney holiday magic. In addition to regular holidays, Disney also hosts a few events for runners, such as the Disney Princess Half Maraton.
Some of Magic Kingdom’s special events include Disney After Hours Boo Bash for Halloween, Disney Very Merriest After Hours around the Christmas holiday season, and coming up October 2021, Disney is putting on a celebration for their 50th Anniversary.
Epcot also has special events, such as the International Food & Wine Festival, the International Festival of Holidays, and the International Festival of the Arts. Epcot is also hosting the International Flower & Garden Festival, which is sure to be lovely.
There you have it, folks. The Magic Kingdom vs Epcot showdown has come to an end.
Between rides, restaurants, and entertainment, you now know which park to attend next. Magic Kingdom is the best park for children, and Epcot is the best park for older children and adults. Now go and experience the magic of Disney Parks!