Magic Kingdom vs. EPCOT: Which Disney Park Should You Visit?

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Magic Kingdom and Epcot are definitely the two most popular parks at Walt Disney World. But if you are trying to decide between the two, which one should you choose? Here we’ll breakdown everything Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot to help you decide!

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Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Rides

Both Magic Kingdom and Epcot have some incredible rides! And while Magic Kingdom has *more* rides, Epcot has recently added to its list of rides with some of the Disney World’s best new rides.

Depending on your definition of a ride (and we’re going to go with purely rides that move here as opposed to an “attraction” that’s a show) Magic Kingdom has over 20 rides while Epcot has just over 10.

So Magic Kingdom definitely has MORE rides. But what about the ride quality?

To be honest, both parks have some amazing rides and fan-favorite rides, but Epcot does have a few more recent rides and high-quality rides with more advanced technology. As you’ll see in the list below, a lot of the popular Magic Kingdom rides are classics, which means they aren’t the most advanced. But they are definitely beloved!

Popular Magic Kingdom Rides

  • Tron Lightcycle/Run — Magic Kingdom’s newest ride is a fast roller coaster that has you racing on a motorcycle.
  • Space Mountain — This iconic Disney ride is a roller coaster completely in the dark. It’s a crowd favorite, but to be honest I think it could use an update.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — A family-friendly roller coaster themed after Snow White. This is the second newest ride in Magic Kingdom (it opened in 2014).
  • Peter Pan’s Flight — A classic, slow dark ride. It’s beloved and always has a long wait, and I admit, I mostly love it for the nostalgia.
  • It’s a small world — That classic boat ride with the song that gets stuck in your head. Really it’s an adorable ride though and much loved.
  • Haunted Mansion — Another slow, dark ride through a haunted house that is scary at just the right level for scaredy cats and kids.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — One of my favorite Disney roller coasters that takes you on the “wildest ride in the wilderness.”
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — A dark boat ride with swashbuckling pirates. This is another classic Magic Kingdom attraction.
  • Jungle Cruise — A jungle boat ride with corny jokes. It’s another beloved classic.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Popular Epcot Rides

  • Spaceship Earth — A slow, dark ride in the park’s golf-ball-shaped icon that takes you through the history of technological development. It’s a Epcot classic and honestly I think it’s super relaxing.
  • Soarin’ Around the World — A simulation ride that uses a big screen to make you feel like you are hangliding around the world.
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure — One of the newer rides in Epcot, this is a cute family-friendly 3D dark ride that takes you on adventures with Remy.
  • Frozen Ever After — A boat ride that’s Frozen themed. I don’t know what else I need to say; it’s great.
  • Test Track — Take a test drive in a car. Go through road tests before breaking out into a speed lap.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind — Epcot’s newest ride takes you on an adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a roller coaster that uses tons of advanced technology (like the cars rotate as you move forward) and has super fun music.

So the rides winner here? It’s hard to say. Epcot has objectively better rides, but Magic Kingdom has more rides. So we’re going to call it a tie!

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Dining

I’ll cut right to the chase here. There’s really no comparison to Epcot when it comes to Disney World dining options. Epcot Table Service restaurants include some great fine-dining restaurants and fan favorites. And Epcot Quick Service options have overall fantastic food and the best variety of any other Disney Park because of all the countries in World Showcase.

Magic Kingdom on the other hand struggles a bit more when it comes to dining. Yes, there are a few fan-favorite Table Service dining experiences in Magic Kingdom. But Magic Kingdom Quick Service doesn’t offer tons of variety, as you’ll generally finds pretty standard theme park food.

Popular Magic Kingdom Restaurants

  • Be Our Guest (Table Service) — An always solid dining option where you get to dine on French cuisine in the Beast’s castle.
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Table Service) — Enjoy a royal meal in Cinderella Castle and meet princesses during your meal. The food here is solidly good too, although it’s pricey.
  • Liberty Tree Tavern (Table Service) — This restaurant serves Thanksgiving dinner all year round.
  • The Crystal Palace (Table Service) — A buffet restaurant where you get to dine with Pooh & Friends. Not the most amazing food, but a solid choice. They do serve Mickey churro waffles for breakfast though, and I will make a reservation solely for that reason.
  • Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen — This restaurant themed after The Jungle Cruise (complete with dad jokes) serves African, Asian, and Latin fusion dishes.
  • Sleepy Hollow (Quick Service) — This is a favorite spot for breakfast because of the Nutella and Fruit Waffle they serve.
  • Cheshire Cafe (Quick Service) — This quick stop has one of my favorite Magic Kingdom snacks, the Cheshire Cat Tail, plus specialty drinks.
Cheshire Cat Tail from Cheshire Cafe

Popular Epcot Restaurants

  • Space 220 (Table Service) — Epcot’s newest restaurants takes you up an elevator into space where you dine of inventive dishes.
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Table Service) — This Norway restaurant is where you can meet Disney princesses. Their menu for breakfast is pretty standard, but their lunch and dinner offerings have Norwegian inspired dishes.
  • Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (Table Service) — A family-favorite pizza restaurant in the Italy pavilion.
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue (Quick Service) — This newer offering in the American Adventure offers BBQ from across the US.
  • Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie (Quick Service) — This French patisserie offers pastries and light lunch and dinner items. And to be completely honest it’s my favorite Quick Service spot in Epcot.
  • Monsieur Paul (Table Service) — One of Epcot’s fanciest Table Service restaurants and definitely a great place for a romantic evening.
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse (Table Service) — I haven’t eaten here, but people rave about this steak restaurant in the Canada pavilion.
  • Festival Booths — Epcot almost always has a festival going on, which means there will be special food booths set up throughout the park. Between this, plus the Tables Service and Quick Service options, it is seriously hard to go wrong with food at Epcot.

So the winner for dining? Definitely Epcot!

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Characters

If you’re traveling as a family with young kids, (or even older kids or adults!) meeting Disney characters may be a big priority for you.

While characters change all the time, here’s a general idea of what you can expect to find at Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot.

Magic Kingdom Characters

Princesses have become a big focus of the characters you can meet at Magic Kingdom, but you can also find other Disney characters both old and new.

  • Cinderella, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Elena do a meet and greet in Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • You’ll also find other princesses in Fantasyland like Ariel, Belle, Merida, and even Cinderella’s stepsisters. You can also meet princesses by dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
  • Mickey Mouse meets at the very front of the park in the Town Square Theater.
  • Winnie the Pooh has a meet and greet next to his ride in Fantasyland. You can also meet Winnie the Pooh characters by dining at Crystal Palace.
  • Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and Minnie have a meet and greet at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in the Fantasyland Storybook Circus area.
  • You can spot Stitch and Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland.

Epcot Characters

I really feel like Epcot has tried to make good use of its space by offering some really unique characters along with being the only place you can meet Mickey and Minnie in their classic outfits.

  • Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Daisy can be found in various spots around the front of the park.
  • Donald Duck can be found in Mexico.
  • Meet Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale by dining at Garden Grill.
  • Anna and Elsa meet and greet in their Royal Sommerhus in Norway.
  • Alice and Mary Poppins can be found in the UK Pavilion.
  • Various princesses can be found around World Showcase in their countries, like Belle in France, Snow White in Germany, and Mulan in China. You can also meet princesses by dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
  • You can meet Joy from Inside Out and Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph in the Imagination Pavilion.

The winner for characters? I think Epcot has a slight edge, with more characters out meeting and greeting and more unique characters like Anna and Elsa and Joy and Vanellope von Schweetz. Plus I love Minnie and Mickey in their classic outfits.

Want more park comparisons? Here’s a breakdown of Disneyland vs. Disney’s California Adventure!

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Entertainment + Fireworks

Both Epcot and Magic Kingdom have some fantastic entertainment options! And both have fireworks shows that you can enjoy at night. But which park has better entertainment?

Magic Kingdom Entertainment + Fireworks

  • Let the Magic Begin — Your day starts off magical with this show that opens the park in front of Cinderella Castle every morning.
  • Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire — Mickey & Friends plus Disney Princesses perform in front of Cinderella castle in this show that takes place several times a day.
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade — This parade takes place twice daily and is truly incredible! It’s full of all your favorite Disney characters!
  • Happily Ever After — Many think this is the best Disney World fireworks show ever, and I have to agree. Honestly, just hearing the song from it in my car gives me goosebumps, but seeing the show in person is just next level.
  • Main Street U.S.A. Entertainment — Magic Kingdom’s Main Street U.S.A. has all kinds of daily entertainment like the Dapper Dans, the Main Street Philharmonic band, and the Casey’s Corner Pianist.
  • Magic Kingdom Show Attractions — Several attractions in the park are actually shows. Not only are these entertaining, but lots of the them provide a great opportunity to cool down in the air conditioning. Show attractions include Enchanted Tales with Belle, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and more.
Festival of Fantasy Parade

Epcot Entertainment + Fireworks

  • EPCOT Forever — This fireworks show takes place nightly on World Showcase Lagoon. Fans generally like it, but it’s a temporary show for now until a new one is introduced in Fall 2023.
  • World Showcase Entertainment — The cultural experiences you can get in World Showcase are definitely unique to Epcot. And throughout the countries in World Showcase you’ll find performers like Mariachi Cobra in Mexico and Matsuriza (Taiko drummers) in Japan, plus musical performances throughout other countries.
  • Epcot Show Attractions — Show attractions in Epcot aren’t as “Disney-fied” as the ones you’ll find in Magic Kingdom, but there are still some that are beloved. These include Reflections of China, The American Adventure, Canada Far and Wide in Circle Vision 360, and Impressions de France.

The winner for entertainment and fireworks? Magic Kingdom. There are just more exciting offerings, plus their fireworks show is the BEST.

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Themed Lands

Let’s break down the themed lands you’ll find in each park, because Magic Kingdom and Epcot truly do offer entirely different experiences. While Magic Kingdom lands are full of….well, magic, Epcot themed lands are all about exploring the world we live in.

Here’s a breakdown of all the lands in each park.

Magic Kingdom Themed Lands

  • Main Street U.S.A. — The front of the park is an old fashioned main street full of shops and restaurants.
  • Tomorrowland — A retro-future land and home to rides like Space Mountain and Tron Lightcycle/Run.
  • Fantasyland — Here’s where you’ll find lots of your favorite Disney characters and princesses! This features classic dark rides and the family-friendly roller coaster Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
  • Liberty Square — A small section of the park that’s home to Haunted Mansion and The Hall of Presidents.
  • Frontierland — Here’s where you’ll find Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and it will also be home to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (soon to replace Splash Mountain).
  • Adventureland — Adventure into the Jungle with the Jungle Cruise or the Caribbean with Pirates of the Caribbean. Plus make a stop at Aloha Isle for some Dole Whip.
Plaza by Rapunzel Bathrooms in Fantasyland

Epcot Themed Lands

  • World Celebration — The center of the park where you’ll find Spaceship Earth. A lot of this section has been under construction for years, but should start reopening in late 2023.
  • World Nature — This section is all about the world around us. You find The Seas pavilion The Land pavilion and The Imagination pavilion here.
  • World Discovery — This section is about look beyond our world and into the future, with rides like Mission: SPACE, Test Track, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
  • World Showcase — This half of the park features pavilions for 11 different countries with shopping and dining. You’ll also find rides like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After.

The winner here? It’s hard to say. Magic Kingdom has incredible themed areas, but Epcot can take you around the world in World Showcase. So we’re going to go with Epcot.

Epcot China Pavilion

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Atmosphere

Epcot and Magic Kingdom definitely has some big differences as far as park atmosphere goes.

Magic Kingdom is all about Disney character, fantasy and wishes, and family-friendly rides. As a result, Magic Kingdom has an extremely family-friendly (and kid-friendly) vibe — probably the most of any other Disney World park.

Early Morning in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland

Epcot is about discovery and exploring our world. And it has been from the beginning when it was first imagined as the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” So Epcot definitely has the most-grown-up vibe of any of the Disney World parks. (In fact, on the weekends its not uncommon to see adults who have had a bit too much to drink around World Showcase.)

That’s not to say one is just for kids or just for adults. There is plenty of fun stuff for kids to do at Epcot! And adults can definitely enjoy Magic Kingdom too! But if you are looking for a more grown-up vibe, then you’ll want to go to Epcot. Whereas if you want more of a kid-friendly atmosphere, head to Magic Kingdom.

Monorail at Epcot

So the winner here? It’s a really a tie and totally depends on what kind of vibe you are going for. Personally though, I prefer the vibe of Magic Kingdom because it is just more…well, magical. Plus it’s just classic Disney!

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Size

Epcot and Magic Kingdom are vastly different when it comes to the size of each park. In fact, Epcot, which is over 300 acres, is more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom.

Now, part of that is because there is a huge lake right in the middle of Epcot. But still, Epcot is so much bigger than Magic Kingdom. So be prepared to do A LOT of walking around Epcot. (Luckily, there are boats that can take you across World Showcase Lagoon and save your feet just a bit though.)

And while Epcot is big (which can sometime be good), I don’t always feel like it’s the most efficient use of space. When I have to get from one side of Epcot to the other, I definitely can feel a little tired just thinking about it.

So I think Magic Kingdom is the winner here just because the size is so much more manageable but you don’t feel like you are missing anything attraction-wise.

Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot: Which Disney Park is Better?

So, if we just take our categories here and break them down by winner, I think Magic Kingdom wins. It has more rides the whole family will love, a more magical feel, the best fireworks show, and a more manageable size. However, Epcot definitely beats Magic Kingdom out on food, has a slight edge on characters, and has more advanced rides.

But having some kind of scale where we rank the parks, Magic Kingdom vs. Epcot, and try to decide which one is “better” doesn’t help you decide which park is right for *your* family.

So how do you decide? Here are my recommendations.

Why You Should Go to Magic Kingdom

  • You’re traveling with little kids
  • You are really into classic characters and original Disney IP
  • You want a more magical vibe that feels more like classic Disney

Why You Should Go to Epcot

  • You traveling with older kids or just adults
  • You really want to eat some of the best food on property
  • You’re more interested in exploring World Showcase than riding rides

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When Magic Kingdom and Epcot are both so unique and magical in their own way, it’s hard to say which park is better. Deciding which park to visit (or how much time you want to spend at each park) will really depend on your priorities and your travel party.

But of course we think you’ll have a great time and find moments of magic at both parks!

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