Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Which Disney Park Should You Visit?

Epcot topiaries vs. Echo Lake at Hollywood Studios side by side

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Are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World and wondering which theme parks you should visit? There is SO much to do at Disney, and if you are short on time, you may have to figure out which parks to prioritize. So we’re going to compare Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios to decide which park may be better for your family!

At first glance, these parks are VERY different. Hollywood Studios is known for movie magic, while Epcot is known for World Showcase. But they also have some similarities. Both parks are known for new rides they’ve introduced in recent years, and both parks are in the same area of the large Disney World Resort.

So, which park should you visit?

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Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Rides

In the past few years, Disney has really focused ride attention on Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which admittedly needed some more options. And now these parks are some of the best places to go for thrill rides! Cosmic Rewind in Epcot is my favorite ride in all of Disney World, and Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios always see long wait times.

Overall though, I think Epcot wins for rides (which honestly surprises me!). Not only are there more rides at Epcot, but I also think Epcot has a better balance of thrill rides vs. gentle rides that will keep the whole family happy.

Wondering what rides are right for your kiddos? Check out our Disney Rides by Age Guide.

Popular Epcot Rides

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind — This is THE most popular ride at Epcot, and it’s actually my absolute favorite ride in all of Disney World. It’s a fast indoor roller coaster with fun swoops. But the best part is how the car rotates to have you face show elements, enhancing the fun of the track.
  • Soarin’ Around the World — This motion simulator ride takes in you on a hang gliding adventure around the world.
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure — This ride has you shrink down into the size of a mouse and travel through the kitchen in trackless vehicles (similar to Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios). Super cute!
  • Frozen Ever After — An indoor boat ride in the Norway pavilion featuring favorite Frozen characters and songs. There are two very mild drops to be aware of if you have young kids.
  • Test Track — Enter a “test vehicle” and go through a series of road tests. The highlight is the fast loop around the track at the end.
  • Spaceship Earth — A slow dark ride in the park’s golf-ball shaped icon that takes you through the history of the world. It’s a classic!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Popular Hollywood Studios Rides

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — The most popular ride at Hollywood Studios! It’s a trackless ride set in the Star Wars universe that has you captured by the First Order before attempting a daring rescue. It’s so fun and immersive!
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway — This is also a trackless ride, but more family-friendly than Rise of the Resistance. Here you are going on a picnic with Minnie & Mickey, that is until your train car goes off the tracks. It’s so cute!
  • Slinky Dog Dash — This is a family-friendly roller coaster that is SUPER popular! (It can be hard to snag a Lightning Lane for this one during peak times!)
  • Toy Story Mania — A 3D, interactive game where you must try to score points in various on-screen fair games.
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — THE iconic ride of Hollywood Studios. You visit the Hollywood Hotel and climb into an elevator that puts you in free fall.
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster — A super fun indoor coaster with a quick launch and the only inversion at Disney World!
Slink Dog Dash track at Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Restaurants & Dining

Honestly, I don’t even have to think about. Epcot wins for food. Not only does Epcot have TONS of restaurants, but they also almost constantly have a special festival going on with additional food booths.

That being said, food at Hollywood Studios can be great. While options were lacking for awhile, some recent additions have really upped the Hollywood Studios food offerings, and I’ve enjoyed my meals here more in recent years.

Popular Epcot Restaurants

Strawberry pastries at Epcot's Les Halles
Pastries at Les Halles

Popular Hollywood Studios Restaurants

Exterior of Backlot Express in Hollywood Studios
Backlot Express

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Characters

Both Epcot and Hollywood Studios have some amazing character opportunities! And both parks have unique characters that you can’t meet anywhere else.

I give the edge to Hollywood Studios for characters though. Most of the characters at Hollywood Studios are characters you can ONLY meet at Hollywood Studios! These include Star Wars characters, Disney Junior characters, and Pixar characters.

However, if you’re traveling with a kid who only wants to see princesses, you’ll want to go to Epcot over Hollywood Studios! There actually aren’t ANY princesses who meet at Hollywood Studios (except for the recent addition of the Live Action Little Mermaid).

Epcot Characters

  • You can meet Mickey Mouse in the Disney and Pixar Short Film building.
  • Minnie Mouse and Goofy are often found at the front of Epcot.
  • You can meet various princesses in their home countries in World Showcase. Anna and Elsa are in Norway, Belle is in France, Mulan is in China, Jasmine is in Morocco, and Snow White is in Germany.
  • The UK pavilion also features Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, and Mary Poppins.
  • Donald Duck meets in the outdoor section of the Mexico pavilion.
  • Figment meets in the ImageWorks Lab in the Imagination pavilion. Joy from Inside Out also meets here.
  • Moana is now meeting near her new attraction: Journey of Water.
  • Pluto and Daisy can often be found near the International Gateway park entrance between the UK and France pavilion.
  • For character dining you can meet princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall or Mickey Mouse, Pluto, and Chip and Dale at Garden Grille.

Note: Construction is ongoing at Epcot. Once it is completed, it is expected that Mickey and Minnie, along with other classic characters, will have a new permanent meet and greet spot.

Hollywood Studios Characters

  • Mickey and Minnie can be found at their character meet and greet: Red Carpet Dreams.
  • Disney Junior characters Doc McStuffins, Fancy Nancy, Vampirina, and Pluto are found in the Animation Courtyard.
  • Chewbacca, BB-8, and Darth Vadar are at Star Wars Launch Bay in Animation Courtyard.
  • Storm Troopers, Rey, The Mandalorian (with Grogu), Vi Moradi, and Kylo Ren can be found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. These are just character sighting though, not meet and greets.
  • Pixar characters like Sulley, Frozone, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, and Edna Mode are in the Pixar Plaza area.
  • Olaf can be found at Celebrity Spotlight.
  • Toy Story Characters including Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie meet in Toy Story Land.
  • Character dining is at Hollywood & Vine. You can have breakfast with Disney Junior characters or have lunch or dinner with Minnie & Friends.

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Special Events

Epcot 100% wins for special events. In fact, special festivals are one of the things Epcot is MOST known for! There are festivals going on almost all the time at Epcot with food booths and special entertainment.

Hollywood Studios has branched out into special events recently though, introducing Jollywood Nights at Christmastime in 2024. They also have regular After Hours events.

Epcot Special Events

  • Festival of the Arts — This festival is all about the arts! You’ll find food booths focused on artistic dishes, visual artists selling their works, and special art installations around Epcot.
  • Flower and Garden Festival — Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is especially famous for the character topiaries that dot the park. But of course there are also special food booths and events.
  • Food and Wine Festival — This is the festival for foodies! It’s all about food and drinks from around the world (with special booths) plus culinary demonstrations and events.
  • Festival of the Holidays — A holiday festival in December that focuses on holiday celebrations around the world. Plus there’s food booths, the Candlelight Processional show, and a fun holiday cookie stroll.
  • Disney After Hours at Epcot — A special ticketed event on select night that gives you extra hours at Epcot after park close with lower crowds.
Cogsworth and Lumiere Topiaries at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival
Topiaries at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

Hollywood Studios Special Events

  • Jollywood Nights — This holiday celebration was introduced in 2023 and took place on select nights in November and December. It’s a separately ticketed event and included special jazzy holiday music, food & drink, a Nightmare Before Christmas singalong, and special character greetings.
  • Disney After Hours at Hollywood Studios — A separately ticketed event on select nights that gives you extra hours at Hollywood Studios with lower crowds.

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Entertainment & Nighttime Shows

Hollywood Studios is known for its entertainment, so it gets the win here. The whole park is all about movie-making magic after all! Truly, some of the best shows on property take place at Hollywood Studios, including the iconic Fantastmic! fireworks show.

Epcot has some great entertainment though too, especially in the street performers throughout world showcase.

Epcot Entertainment and Nighttime Shows

  • The best entertainment at Epcot are the performers in each country! These include Matsuriza (drummers in Japan), Music of Mexico, Sergio in Italy, and Voices of Liberty in The American Adventure.
  • There are several theater shows in Epcot including a Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, The American Adventure, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360, and Impressions de France. To be honest, none of these are my favorite though.
  • Luminous The Symphony of Us is a nightly fireworks show that takes place on World Showcase Lagoon.

Hollywood Studios Entertainment and Nighttime Shows

  • Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage is a great musical performance of this classic Disney movie.
  • Disney Junior Play and Dance! is a must-see for families with toddlers who love Disney Junior.
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is one of my favorite shows at Disney World. I don’t even like Frozen that much, but the Royal Historians here are always hilarious and it’s such a fun show.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular shows you how the movie stunts happen and it’s amazing.
  • Muppet*Vision 3D is a short but classic Muppets show.
  • Wonderful World of Animation is a nightly projection show that takes place in front of the Chinese Theater.
  • Fantasmic! is the nightly fireworks show that takes place in Hollywood Studios and it’s truly fantastic!
Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Themed Lands

When comparing Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios it’s kind of a toss-up when it comes to themed lands.

Epcot is a huge park broken into 4 big sections. Hollywood Studios could not be more different; it’s a smaller park made up of lots of small, kind of hodge-podged lands.

On the one hand, Epcot is beautiful and the countries in World Showcase are truly something special. But on the other hand, I love the jazzy Hollywood vibes at Hollywood Studios and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is so beloved and unique.

So all in all, they are both great, but entirely different!

Epcot Themed Lands

  • World Celebration — The center part of Epcot including Spaceship Earth and a beautiful new plaza area. However, parts of it are still under construction in 2024.
  • World Nature — This includes The Seas pavilion, The Land pavilion, and The Imagination pavilion.
  • World Discovery — The “futuristic” part of Epcot where you can find rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Test Track.
  • World Showcase — The main part of Epcot which surrounds World Showcase Lagoon. You’ll find 11 country pavilions here: Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, The American Adventure, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico.
Looking out over Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon
Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon

Hollywood Studios Themed Lands

  • Hollywood Boulevard — The street you enter Hollywood Studios on, which ends at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
  • Sunset Boulevard — The side street leading to Tower of Terror, where you can also find lots of shops and dining and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
  • Echo Lake — Area next to Hollywood Boulevard surrounding a small Echo Lake. You’ll find dining, entertainment, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
  • Animation Courtyard — Here’s where you’ll find Disney Junior characters and Star Wars characters.
  • Commissary Lane — A small street with some dining options and the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet.
  • Grand Avenue — A small Muppets themes plaza where Muppet*Vision 3D is located.
  • Pixar Plaza — A small dead-end street that most serves as an area for Pixar character meet and greets.
  • Toy Story Land — Here, you shrink down to the size of a toy in Andy’s backyard. This is where you’ll find all the Toy Story rides.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — Enter the planet Batuu and find all kinds of Star Wars shops and dining plus two rides. This is where Rise of the Resistance is.
Echo Lake at Hollywood Studios with boat in background
Echo Lake at Hollywood Studios

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Atmosphere

Epcot and Hollywood Studios both have very different vibes.

Epcot tends to feel more laid-back (perhaps because it is more spacious) and attracts more adults who are interested in the food and drinks the park has to offer.

Hollywood Studios can feel a bit more energetic, with a lot going on in a much smaller space. It also has more attractions that are more kid-focused, like Disney Junior characters and Toy Story Land.

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Size & Location

Epcot and Hollywood Studios are both in a very similar location. You can walk to both parks from the Boardwalk area and both parks are on the Disney Skyliner, which makes transportation so easy.

However, size-wise they are SO different. Epcot is Disney World’s largest park (300 acres) while Hollywood Studios is Disney World’s smallest park (135 acres). This means that Hollywood Studios is much more walkable. However, Epcot does have Friendship Boats that can take you across World Showcase Lagoon to help your feet.

Epcot vs. Hollywood Studios: Which Disney Park is Better?

So which park should you visit on your Disney World trip? To be honest, Epcot wins in the rankings for me!

But which park is right for your family?

Why You Should Go to Epcot

  • You are traveling with just adults or you have kids who really want to see princesses.
  • You’re more interested in the special food and drink at Epcot.
  • You want to explore the countries in World Showcase.
  • You don’t mind a day with a lot more walking.

Why You Should Go to Hollywood Studios

  • You have young kids who want to see Disney Junior characters.
  • You’re a big Star Wars fan.
  • You want a smaller park that doesn’t necessarily need a full day.

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