Best Epcot Rides and Attractions Guide

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Is Frozen Ever After worth it? What rides should I Fastpass at Epcot? When is Ratatouille opening in Epcot? Is Spaceship Earth closed? What Epcot rides could I skip? Find out everything you need to know in this guide to the best Epcot rides and attractions

I still remember when Epcot opened in 1982. It’s hard to imagine now, but back then “Disney World” was simply the Magic Kingdom, and it was a big deal that they were going to open this “new park” which was seemingly more serious.

Back then it was EPCOT, which stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and it was based on Walt Disney’s unrealized dream of creating a land based on cutting-edge technology and cutting-edge technology.

EPCOT was a lot different then, with an emphasis heavier on education and lighter on Disney characters. World of Motion told the story of the evolution of transportation, from the invention of the wheel to modern automobiles. Body Wars was a simulator ride through the human body. The Living Seas didn’t have Nemo, and El Rio Del Tiempo didn’t have Donald Duck. One could argue whether or not the original EPCOT was better than what it’s become (and feel free to, in the comments), but either way, I find the evolution interesting.

Like I did in my post about the best Magic Kingdom rides, here I don’t presume to tell you which rides are “the best,” rank them in a certain order, or even give them a rating. Instead, I share the facts, offer a little of my opinion, as well as some opinions of others, and hope that will help you make an educated decision about whether that ride or attraction would be “best” for you and your family.

Future World

If you didn’t already know, Epcot is divided into two sections, Future World and the World Showcase. Future World is located in the front of the park, opens earlier than the World Showcase, and has more rides.

 

Soarin’ Around the World

Height: 40 inches
Type: Screen / Motion Simulation
Fastpass available? Yes, and highly recommended

Soarin ride in Future World at Epcot
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

Soarin’ is a “gentle thrill ride,” if such a thing is possible. You sit in a vehicle that lifts you in front of a huge screen and simulates hang-gliding as you “fly” over amazing locations throughout the world while hearing an epic score. The pre-show is hosted by Seinfeld’s Patrick Warburton, which is a nice plus in my book. 🙂

This is a ride that we always enjoy a lot and often ride twice. Even Rob, who gets motion sickness very easily, said that, at worst, it makes him “a little woozy for a few minutes.”

It’s worth mentioning that a new version of this ride came out in the summer of 2016. Where Soarin’ used to “take place” only in California, it now has you flying around the world, visiting places like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

We’ve seen both versions, enjoyed them both, and didn’t really analyze it too much past that. However, there are a lot of people who feel that this new “around the world” version is definitely sub-par, mostly because of the heavy use of CGI and the abrupt transitions. I suppose, now that I’m thinking about it, that I also prefer the original version.

If you didn’t have a chance to see “Soarin’ Over California,” or if you’d just like a little nostalgia, here’s a video for you:

Video: Soarin’ Over California

And if you want to compare for yourself — as least as much as you can without the entire simulator experience — here’s a video of the current version:

Video: Soarin’ Around the World

Obviously if you are afraid of heights, Soarin’ is a ride you may want to skip. But there is another factor to consider, even if you aren’t afraid of heights: Your feet are dangling in the air during the entire ride. This freaks out some people who would prefer their feet to stay on the ground, or at least a stable surface, thank you very much.

Just something to keep in mind if you’re trying to make the decision whether or not to ride.

Two Tips about Soarin’:
1) If you ask to be seated in the front row, you won’t see other people’s dangling feet during the ride;
2) Although Soarin’ does not have a single-rider line, you’ll probably get to ride faster if you’re alone, because they usually call for single riders to come forward in order to “fill holes.”

 

Test Track

FP+ available? Yes, and highly recommended (it also has a Single Rider line)
Type: Fast thrill ride
Height: 40 inches

Design a SimCar, then board a six-seat ride vehicle designed to test your car’s performance through a series of tests. The ride culminates in going around an outdoor track at the speed of 65 miles an hour.

Test Track is Benjamin’s favorite ride at Disney World. He probably likes designing the car as much as the ride itself.

Some people who hate roller coasters and drops aren’t sure what to do with Test Track. If you’re one of those people, know that Test Track is a thrill ride, not a roller coaster.

GBShorts from the Disboards hates roller coasters, but really enjoyed Test Track:

I hate rollercoasters myself, so I will tell you that there is an uphill climb test-where they drive the car UP a hill as quickly as possible.

If you don’t like the feeling of “losing” Your stomach, it might be a bit of a shock, but it’s nothing bad.

I liked the outside go fast on a bank thing-because you get the feeling of going fast (I like that) instead of the feeling of going downhill fast (don’t like that). I even put my arms up-something I have NEVER done in a ride before!!!

One last word of reassurance, this ride is connected to a “track” at all time. That is to say, you’re never freefalling/coasting. There’s something pulling or pushing you and your speed is always controlled. It seems that way, anyway.

 

Mission:Space

Fastpass available? Yes, and recommended
Type: Thrill/Motion Simulation/Spinning
Height: 40 inches for the Green version, 44 inches for the Orange version

Thrill ride that uses centrifugual design and standard motion to simulate being an astronaut sent on a mission to Mars. You’re given one of four “positions” on your ship, each with a job, but the “job” just consists of is pushing a button at a certain time, and it doesn’t matter whether you actually do it or not. (I almost always miss doing my “job” because I’m too busy shrieking.)

There are two versions of this ride: the original, which is now referred to as the Orange version, and the much more mild version Green version, which doesn’t use centrifugal force.

Rob rode the original ride back before there was a green version, and it made him throw up (after the ride, not during it) and feel so sick that he had to go back to the hotel and stay in bed for the rest of the day. So if you’re wondering if the Orange version is “really that bad,” the answer is: Yes. It is.

(If you’re also wondering why someone who gets motion sick during certain movies would be so stupid adventurous as to ride Mission:Space in the first place, it’s because Rob is a huge NASA/space junkie and just couldn’t resist. He said he’s do it again, too. (I don’t mean ride the ride again — thankfully, he won’t do that — but he’d “do it again” if he went back in time, even knowing how sick he’d get.)

I once rode the Green version by mistake, where once I realized that I was in the wrong line, it was too late to switch. (Yes, I know that makes me sound like a complete idiot, and no, I’m still not quite sure how it happened, since I entered the line with an Orange ticket.) The Green version, in my opinion, was very boring — but keep in mind that there is nothing I won’t ride and that I have ridden Expedition Everest 3 times in one afternoon, so I’m that kind of person.

If you’re still not sure which version is right for, JaysMom4285 from the DisBoards has a detailed description that might be helpful:

My best description is that the orange side is intense. You experience the sensation of being launched and pressed back into your seat, and then the feeling of weightlessness as you clear earth’s gravity.

And then there the landing on Mars. The cabin that you’re in is part of a large pod that hangs from a long arm attached to a spoke, and there are other pods on other arms. When the orange side of the ride starts, the pods are swung by the arms in a wide circle. You don’t feel any actual spinning motion, but it does serve to cause the pressure that pushes you back into your seat as you’re “launched.” The pod will lean backward or forward in keeping with whatever is happening.

I’ve done it and I survived, although I will admit that I was a little shaky afterwards. A fair number of people find that lends itself to motion sickness, especially if you’re already prone to that.

The best tips for riding it the first time are to do it on an empty stomach and always keep your eyes open and focused straight ahead. If you close your eyes, you have no external reference point for what your body is feeling, and it can actually make things worse …

I do prefer the green side – it’s the same ride but the pod doesn’t swing around in the circle to create pressure – it just moves backward or forward a little.

In addition to getting motion sickness, some people have reported feeling claustrophobic on Mission:Space.

I like Mission:Space, but it will never quite be the same for me now that actor Gary Sinise is no longer in the pre-show. Sniff … I miss you, Gary.

 

Living with the Land

Fastpass available? Yes, but not recommended
Type: Slow-moving boat ride
Height: Any

Living with the Land in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

A gentle boat ride that takes you on a tour of greenhouses and showcases the future of agriculture. It may sound horribly boring, but we liked it a lot, and Rebecca, who has always enjoyed science, was really into it.

What’s particularly fun is to ride Living with the Land and then eat at The Garden Grill upstairs. (You do need reservations.) Not only will you get to meet Chip and Dale, Mickey, and Pluto, but the restaurant slowly rotates and you get to see inside the Living with the Land ride. If you do eat there, keep an eye out for the farmhouse, which can only be seen from the restaurant, not the ride.

If you think Living with the Land is really cool and want to take it a step further (or if you just like your vacations to be as educational as possible), you might want to consider booking the one-hour Behind the Seeds Tour. It costs $25 per adult and $20 per child, and easy to book the tour on the same day. We’ve never taken this tour, but I’ve heard really good things about it. It’s apparently a very interactive tour, where you can ask questions, release ladybugs, and sample foods.

 

Spaceship Earth

Fastpass available? Yes, and recommended
Type: Slow-moving dark ride
Height: Any

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Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

The Golf Ball Spaceship Earth is a gentle ride through various audio-animatronics scenes depicting the evolution of human communication, while Dame Judi Dench narrates. At the end, partly as a distraction to the fact that you’re unloadng, there is a screen activity you do in your car about possibilities of what the future looks like.

I’ve always been a little surprised how much my kids have really liked this ride over the years, despite the lack of singing Disney characters, spinning, or heights. I think is both due to the fact that Disney did an excellent job with the details, and that it’s easy to not give kids enough credit for not needing “cutesy” things in order to be fascinated.

There have been rumors that The Golf Ball Spaceship Earth will be closing for two years for an overhaul. As of this writing, it is nothing more than a rumor, but it seems pervasive enough to think that there is some truth behind it, and that, like the rumor about the ending of Illuminations:Reflections of Earth, it’s only a matter of time until we get a concrete confirmation.

You can read more about these rumors here.

 

Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival

Fastpass available? No
Type: 4D movie
Height: Any

Three cartoon shorts shown in The Magic Eye Theater in 3D.

No, seriously. That’s it.

Consider just watching them on YouTube before your trip (although granted, they won’t be in 3D) and crossing this off your list.

The three cartoons are:
For the Birds
Get a Horse!
La Lune

For the Birds (Pixar Short Film)

 

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Fastpass available? Yes, but not recommended
Type: Slow-moving dark ride
Height: Any

A ride in a “clamobile” through an aquarium with the characters from Finding Nemo. The attraction uses high-tech magic to make it seem like the animated characters are swimming with live fish. It ends with a musical finale from Animal Kingdom’s Finding Nemo the Musical. At least as good as the ride itself are the sea life exhibits you can explore after you exit the ride.

 

Turtle Talk with Crush

Fastpass available? Yes, but not recommended
Type: Interactive show
Height: Any

An interactive screen encounter where Crush, the 153-year-old surfer-dude turtle from Finding Nemo, takes questions from the audience. I haven’t been to this in a few years, but I remember it being a lot of fun, and of course the interactive nature means that every show is unique.

Questions to Ask Crush

If your kids want some ideas of what to ask Crush, here are some questions that people on the DisBoards say got a really good response:

* Do turtles know how to swim?
* How many kids do you have, and what are their names?
* Do you like sushi?
* Are you married?
* Is turtle wax made from real turtles?
* Where do you stay when you go to Disney World?
* When is your birthday?

 

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Fastpass available? Yes, but not recommended
Type: Dark ride
Height: Any

It’s six minute dark ride that takes you on a tour of the Imaginzation Institute. You’ll see optical illusions, a room that defies gravity, an other brain teasers. When you exit the ride, there is an area where kids can experiment with various things involving the senses.

In all our trips to Epcot, we have never ridden this ride. Nothing we heard about it sounded that great, and none of us are particular fans of Figment, like some people are.

This is the third version of the of this ride at Epcot. The general consensus is that the original, Journey Into Imagination was great; the second one, Journey into Your Imagination, from 1999-2001, was pretty awful; and the current version with Figment is … just okay.

Original Journey Into Imagination Ride at Epcot

 

Innoventions

Fastpass available: No
Height: None

An indoor collection of hands-on, walk-through exhibits.

Well, that’s what it used to be, anyway.

I remember in years past doing some sort of interactive game about fire safety, and different activities involving sound and light. Most recently, Sum of all Thrills, where you designed a roller coaster track and then rode it on a simulator, was really fun, as well as educational.

But unfortunately, Sum of all Thrills closed last year, and now Innoventions is, frankly, pretty sad — it’s almost become nothing more than a place to get into an air conditioned building and use the bathroom. According to Tom Bricker, the remains of Innoventions is expected to permanently close some time in 2019, and eventually be replaced with a garden area inspired by the Gardens of Imagination at Shanghai Disneyland.

However, until that happens, you can enjoy the one exhibit still left at Innoventions, which is Colortopia, sponsored by Glidden paint.

ColorTopia at Innoventions in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

This exhibit has three sections. The “Power of Color Theater” explores the psychology of color. “The Color Lab” has two interactive stations: Color Mix ‘n Match and Spinning Spectrums. “Color our World” gives you a magic paint brush and allows you to paint on an interactive mural.

I haven’t really heard anyone raving about this one, but it sounds somewhat interesting if you have time to spare and want to get out of the heat.

 

World Showcase

Epcot’s World Showcase (which doesn’t open until 11:00am is more about walking around and taking in culture (and eating) than it is about going on a bunch of rides. However, there are several attractions, and two of them are bona fide rides.

In full disclosure, I have to confess that we never seen any of the World Showcase films. What makes that particularly amazing is that we homeschooled our kids for a decade. You’d think we would have seen something in the name of education, but nope … we’re the type of family who would rather spend our time at Disney World riding Test Track twice instead of sitting through a film. And there’s never enough time at Disney, it seems, to do everything you want to do.

 

The American Adventure

Fastpass available: No
Type: Indoor animatronic show
Height: Any

A 30-minute indoor, animatronic stage show featuring some key moments in American history. The Voices of Liberty singers perform in the lobby and are fantastic, as you can see from this video below:

Frozen’s “Let it Go” performed by Voices of Liberty in Epcot

I’ve always heard overwhelming praise for this show [she said as she hung her head in shame for never taking her family to see it].

The two negatives I’m heard are:
1) It’s too young for small children (and certain adults).
2) It’s a sanitized version of American history. (Which I think is kind of silly. This is Disney World. What kind of film are you expecting to see?)

Goofyernmost on the DisBoards had this to say:

American Adventure is a beautifully done show of slides, movies and anamatronics. It depict American History as much as a short presentation can. If you are a US citizen it will leave you a little verclempt. (sp?) Some criticize the historic accuracy of the past, I can only tell you that the part that I have lived through is pretty accurate. If you tell the little ones that the show is acted out by “robots” it might activate their attention a little. :rotfl:

Absolutely worth seeing at least once. I am amazed at how many have gone to Epcot and, in some cases, didn’t even know it was there. Put it on your list…I will go out on a limb here and say that I think you will be glad you did.

 

Frozen Ever After
Fastpass available? Yes, and highly recommended
Type: Slow-maving, dark boat ride
Height: Any

Frozen Ever After in Epcot
Photo courtesy of Brett from Disney Photo Snapper

A boat ride in the Norway pavilion featuring characters from Frozen, with audio animatronics figures and fun songs. If you’ve been to Epcot in years past, this ride replaced the Maelstrom in 2014 and uses the same ride system, so the actual ride experience is the same.

Lines for Frozen Ever After can easily be 90 minutes or longer, so I would highly recommend getting a Fastpass reservation for it if at possible. Combining that with hitting Soarin’ as soon as you enter the park and using the single rider line for Test Track is a very efficient Epcot ride strategy.

If you can’t get a Fastpass or aren’t convinced you want to use it on this ride, you might want to consider skipping it and going to the Frozen Sing-a-Long Celebration in Hollywood Studios instead.

Frozen Ever After Sign Pics from the World of Disney
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

Fastpass available: No
Type: Dark boat ride
Height: Any

A boat ride where the members of the Three Caballeros search for Donald Duck against the backdrop of Mexican culture The story is essentially a Three Caballeros concert gone awry.

This is probably the most underrated — or least forgotten — ride in all of Disney World. A lot of people don’t even know it exists, and the wait is virtually non-existent.

By the way, if you’re like I was and wondering who the heck the Three Caballeros even are, you can check them out below:

Video — The Three Caballeros

 

Impressions de France

Fastpass available: No
Type: Widescreen film
Height: Any

An 18-minute wide-format film highlighting the culture and natural beauty of France. Both the visuals and the musical score are stunning.

Disney photographer and blogger Tom Bricker describes it this way:

Impressions de France is the gold standard against which all over theme park travelogues should be judged. The impressionistic vignettes it provides of a culture and beautiful nation stick with the viewer, and the incredible detail in each scene gives the film infinite re-watchability.

 

O Canada

Fastpass available: No
Type: 360-degree film
Height: Any

A 14-minute, 360-degree film narrated by Martin Short. There is often a Canadian trivia quiz outside the theater, so study up beforehand. (Hints: The capital of Canada is Ottawa, and the $1 coin is nicknamed the Loonie, after the bird engraved on it.)

This is considered the most entertaining, but least educational, film in the World Showcase. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

 

Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure

Fastpass available? No
Type: Handheld scavenger hunt
Height: Any

A handheld scavenger hunt through a single country in the World Showcase on your phone.

Okay, I’m not sure what this says about me, but I enjoy these scavenger hunts at least as much as the kids, if not more. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it if I was at Epcot by myself.

One of the neat things about them is that is gets you to explore and notice details about the World Showcase that I, at least, otherwise wouldn’t. And it’s done in a very clever way. I remember the United Kingdom hunt requires a specific interaction with a cast member that was fun, and the one in Germany has some neat visual effects.

Tip: If it’s raining, do the Mexico adventure, which is indoors. With any luck, the rain will be over by the time you’re finished.

 

Reflections of China

Fastpass available? No
Type: 360-degree film
Height: Any

China Pavillion in Disney's Epcot
Epcot’s China Pavilion
Photo Courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

A 14-minute, 360-degree film that takes you on a tour of China. The Tomb Warriors room nearby is an interesting place to explore while you wait for the film to begin.

 

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

Fastpass available? Yes, but not recommended
Type: Nighttime fireworks and light show
Height: Any

Epcot’s nightly fireworks and laser show over the World Showcase lagoon. You can get a Fastpass, which will put you in a special seating area between the tower gift shops at the World Showcase, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless either it is very crowded (say, New Year’s Eve) or you just happen to be able to snag a Fastpass at the end of the day.

According to the Disney Tourist Blog, IllumiNations will be ending at the end of Summer 2019, to be immediately replaced by an interim show called “Epcot Forever” before a permanent nighttime show debuts in Summer 2020.

 

Rides Coming to Epcot in 2020 and 2021

As you tell from this post, Epcot is on the brink of a bunch of big changes, between Illuminations and Innoventions closing later this year and the rumors about Spaceship Earth closing for a 2-year refurbishment.

In addition, there are two new rides that will be opening in the next couple, and both of them sound pretty cool:

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure — Based on the popular ride in Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, this ride in the France pavilion will whisk around the kitchen making dinner in your “ratmobile.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster — Scheduled to open in Future World in 2021, this will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters.

 

Now it’s your turn
What are your experiences at Epcot? Do you have any favorite rides, or tips and tricks? Let us know below in the comments!

Is Spaceship Earth a roller coaster? Should I get a Fastpass for Soarin’ or Test Track? Is Mission Space scary? What is Soarin Around the World? What is the best ride at Epcot, and what Epcot rides should I skip? Find the answer to these more in this complete guide to every Epcot park ride and attraction!



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