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Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Which Disney World Park Should You Visit?

Cinderella Castle on one half of picture, Tower of Terror on the other half

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If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, I really hope you aren’t having to make these kinds of hard decisions. BUT if you are trying to decide which park you should spend more time at, here’s a full breakdown off all things Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios to help you decide.

Both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios have some great rides and experiences. But Hollywood Studios has more thrill rides and focuses more on entertainment, while Magic Kingdom has more rides for little kids and more classic Disney experiences.

Keep reading for more details on all the differences when it comes to rides, dining, characters and more at each park!

(One thing I want to note too: Hollywood Studios is NOT the same as Universal Studios. Hollywood Studios is in Disney World while Universal Studios is a completely different theme park from a complete different company. I see people get these confused a lot.)

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Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Rides

Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios have VERY different ride vibes.

Magic Kingdom has LOTS of rides, and while it’s gotten some new ones recently (like Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and TRON), the majority of its rides have been around for a long time. It also has a LOT more kid-friendly rides!

Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a lot of rides, but it has more newer rides. It’s also aimed more toward older kids and adults — every ride except for two have a height requirement!

Popular Magic Kingdom Rides

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train — A kid-friendly roller coaster than takes you into the mine with the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight — A classic dark ride that has you “fly” over the streets of London and into Neverland. This isn’t the most amazing ride, but it’s a beloved tradition and is one of my favorites.
  • It’s a Small World — A classic, slow boat ride with the “It’s a Small World” song.
  • Space Mountain — A dark roller coaster that always has a long line. But to be honest, the jerkiness of this one means I can’t do it anymore.
  • TRON Lightcycle/Run — A fast roller coaster that has you racing on a motorcycle. It’s a fun ride, but definitely a bit on the short side.
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — This new ride has replaced Splash Mountain and uses the same log-flume track, but with new theming from The Princess and the Frog
  • Jungle Cruise — A trip through the jungles of the world with a skipper who tells dad jokes.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — A dark boat ride that plunges you into the world of the pirates as they pillage a town.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad — This roller coaster, known as the “wildest ride in the wilderness” is my favorite coaster at Magic Kingdom. It’s fast, but also tame enough for younger kids looking to push themselves with thrills.
  • Haunted Mansion — A classic dark ride through a haunted house. It’s a little spooky and a little funny.

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. But as someone who hates free-falls, I don’t do this one.
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster — A super fun indoor coaster with a quick launch and the only inversion at Disney World!
Red roller coaster with slinky dog car going by, large toy blogs and Rex the dinosaur in the background
Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Restaurants & Dining

Out of all four Disney World theme parks, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are both probably the weakest food-wise. But they do both have some great options!

Overall, I’d probably pick Hollywood Studios for food though, because they have some great Table Service options and I really like the newer Quick Service restaurants in Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Popular Magic Kingdom Restaurants

Entrance awning to Skipper Canteen
Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom

Popular Hollywood Studios Restaurants

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Characters

Here’s what you need to know about characters at these two parks. Magic Kingdom is going to focus more on classic characters and princesses, while Hollywood Studios has more Pixar and Star Wars characters.

They both have great character line-ups, but it’s totally going to depend on who your favorites are!

Magic Kingdom Characters

  • Mickey & Friends — You can meet Mickey Mouse in the Town Square Theater on Main Street. You can also meet Daisy, Donald, Minnie, and Goofy in Storybook Circus as well as Chip and Dale.
  • Princesses — You can meet Rapunzel, Tiana, Cinderella, and Elena in Princess Fairytale Hall. You’ll also find Jasmine in Adventureland and Ariel in Fantasyland. There’s also Princess dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
  • Pooh & Friends — You can meet Pooh and Tigger near the Winnie the Pooh ride. You can also meet them, along with Piglet and Eeyore, at the character dining in Crystal Palace.
  • Other CharactersBuzz Lightyear and Stitch can be found in Tomorrowland. And Mirabel has her own meet & greet space in Fantasyland.

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.
Storm Troopers interacting with park guests
Storm Troopers in Hollywood Studios

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Entertainment & Nighttime Shows

Magic Kingdom has some great entertainment, but it’s really a park that’s more about the rides. However, my favorite parade and my favorite fireworks show are both at Magic Kingdom!

Hollywood Studios, however, is *known* for it’s entertainment! They are all about stage shows, and there are some amazing ones here! Plus, they have Fanstasmic! which is is a classic Disney fireworks show.

Magic Kingdom Entertainment & Nighttime Shows

  • Outdoor Stage Shows — Magic Kingdom has stage shows in front of the castle including the brief Let the Magic Begin show that opens the park and Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire that runs several times a day.
  • The Festival of Fantasy Parade runs twice a day and you definitely don’t want to miss it.
  • Street Performers — Catch the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet, the Main Street Philharmonic and Casey’s Corner Pianist on Main Street U.S.A.
  • Magic Kingdom has a nightly fireworks show, Happily Ever After, which is truly one of my favorite fireworks shows ever.
Captain Hook swinging on an anchor attached to a rainbow parade float
Captain Hook in Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade

Hollywood Studios Entertainment & 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. Such a classic!

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Special Events

Magic Kingdom Special Events

  • Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party — This party takes place on select nights August through October and is a separately ticketed event. They have special fireworks, trick-or-treating, an amazing parade, and more!
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — A holiday party that takes place on select nights in November and December. There are special fireworks, Christmas cookies, ride overlays, a great parade, and more.
  • Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom — A separately ticketed event on select nights that gives you extra hours at Magic Kingdom with lower crowds and wait times.
Fireworks over Cinderella Castle. The castle has red and green Christmas projections over it.
Christmas Fireworks in Magic Kingdom

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.

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Themed Lands

For me, the themed lands of Magic Kingdom are so nostalgic and I love them.

However, Hollywood Studios has opened new spaces in recent years that just blow the theming of almost everything else (except my beloved Animal Kingdom) out of the water. The Star Wars world is just an absolute feat! So I think they win here.

Magic Kingdom Themed Lands

  • Main Street U.S.A. — The entrance and main hub of Magic Kingdom is an old-fashioned town modeled after Marceline, Missouri, where Walt Disney grew up.
  • Tomorrowland — A “futuristic” land from the 1970s. So while it has been updated some, it’s more of a retro vision of the future.
  • Fantasyland — This is where Disney princesses and all the classic Disney movies live. This is definitely one of the most popular areas of the park, and where you’ll want to go if you have little kids.
  • Liberty Square — A small, colonial America section of Disney World that is also home to the Haunted Mansion.
  • Frontierland — The back section of Magic Kingdom is themed after the wild west and exploration and is also now home to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
  • Adventureland — Home to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise and the place to get the popular Dole Whip.
Pathway in Magic Kingdom with ride buildings themed like a medieval fair on either side
Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom

Hollywood Studios Themed Lands

  • Hollywood Boulevard — The street you enter Hollywood Studios on, which ends at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in the Chinese Theater.
  • 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.
Small blue lake with a cartoonish looking boat on the other side
Echo Lake in Hollywood Studios

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Size & Location

Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are actually both very similar in size. They are both around 150 acres. So you’ll probably walk a similar amount in each park.

They are located in different spots though. Magic Kingdom is on Bay Lake and along the Monorail Line, while Hollywood Studios is near the BoardWalk area and on the Skyliner.

Magic Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: General Vibes & Atmosphere

When comparing all four Disney World parks, to me, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios probably have the most similar vibes. Both are super family-friendly.

Magic Kingdom is a bit more “magical” feeling, and great for the littlest kids. While Hollywood Studios has those classic Hollywood vibes at the front of the park and more things to do for older kids and adults.

Facades of Hollywood Themed buildings with palm trees soaring above them
Hollywood vibes at Hollywood Studios

Which Disney World Park Should You Visit?

So, which park is right for your family if you have to choose between the two???

Why You Should Visit Magic Kingdom

You should visit Magic Kingdom if…

  • You want the classic Disney World experience
  • You have really little kids who won’t meet height requirements
  • You want to meet classic Disney characters and princesses

Why You Should Visit Hollywood Studios

You should visit Hollywood Studios if…

  • You have older kids and love thrill rides
  • You are a big Star Wars fan
  • You want to meet Pixar characters

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