We’re winding down our attraction rankings series. If you have missed any of the previous installments click on the corresponding link (Disneyland, California Adventure, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom). Today we move on to Epcot but before we get there, let’s brush up on the rules.
- No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank as each experience is unique. Also, I don’t particularly like them.
- No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies (or World Showcase movies in this instance) though. Basically you have to physically ride or walk through something.
- These are all my opinion. Lou Mongello constantly says that “every attraction is someones favorite.” While that is corny and seems a little silly, I think the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.
Compared to Hollywood Studios, Epcot is in pretty good shape currently but that doesn’t mean it’s also in a state of flux. The park seems to have lost it’s identity and a large overhaul is in the works. Opinions vary on what this park should become (I plan on writing a post on this in the future) but it’s clear to all that Epcot is a lesser version of itself than basically any other time in its history.
Epcot does have some really fun attractions and on top of that the park has always had an emphasis on walking around and enjoying the World Showcase Pavilions. Somewhat like Animal Kingdom, Epcot is best enjoyed at a slower pace and experiencing more than just the things you can ride. As an adult, World Showcase is one of the very best places in Walt Disney World and that isn’t reflected in a simple ranking of attractions.
While this isn’t a touring plan post, I’d quickly advise to do most of your attractions in the morning and then World Showcase in the evening. Of course that can change depending on crowd levels and whatever festivals are going on in World Showcase but that is a decent rule of thumb. Now, let’s get to see what attractions should be on the top of your list to visit. We’ll go from worst to first partially because that’s a fun phrase to chant. (Worst to first! Worst to first! Worst to first!)
17. Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival – You can watch these shorts on Netflix. Sure, if you do that then you won’t be sitting in a big theater that used to house a superhero known as Captain E.O. but if you watch these on Netflix you won’t be wasting your time at Disney World. Get Netflix on your phone and watch these shorts while you wait in line for Frozen Ever After. That way you can knock two attractions off your list. Hopefully this won’t be here much longer.
16. The Circle of Life – This doesn’t come in last place because you can’t find it on Netflix. I love The Lion King probably more than you do (no offense) but even our favorite comic relief duo can’t save this dated short film about saving the planet. I imagine this was bad when it came out and the last few decades haven’t been kind to the movie.
15. Journey Into Imagination with Figment – To start, this is a bad dark ride. Really not enjoyable aside from being housed in a cool looking building. Then when I factor in how legendary the old version of this attraction used to be and I move this down a few more slots. While the two attractions at 17 and 16 are clearly worse, this is the biggest bummer on the list.
14. O Canada! – This is a film in the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase. It’s a 360 film, meaning the screens are all around you. It is narrated by Martin Short and, while the visuals are pretty cool, the humor is over the top. Mileage will vary on this attraction. If you’re a Martin Short die-hard then pack a lawn chair and just camp out here all day. Joking.
13. Turtle Talk with Crush – This is an attraction mainly for kids. I do think it’s kind of fun as Crush from Finding Nemo comes on a giant screen and interacts with the kids sitting in the front. The experiences will differ and overall this isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of minutes.
12. Ellen’s Energy Adventure – I’m just going to leave the Disney World description on here because I don’t even know…
When the charmingly candid comedienne falls asleep while watching Jeopardy!, she dreams she’s a contestant on the show. Unfortunately, the category is energy, a topic she knows nothing about. Thankfully, her friend and neighbor Bill Nye is on hand to tutor her, and you’re along for the ride as they embark on a time-traveling quest for energy knowledge.
What I didn’t include from the WDW description is that this is 45 minutes long. That’s really long for a weird and, I’ll be honest, pretty bad attraction. Still, it has a small cult following and can easily house an inside joke or two for your group if you endure the adventure.
11. Mission: SPACE – I surprised myself with how low this is but it really is a disappointing attraction. Mission: Space is supposed to give you a real feeling of what it’s like to be an astronaut. Instead it turns out to replicate some G-forces and then gives you some really bad visuals. You might throw up and even if you don’t you’ll be lucky to land a rocket ship on Mars.
10. Reflections of China – This is similar to the Canada film in that it’s 360 degrees but this takes a more serious tone and has a few more interesting things to look at. Again, your preference between this one and the Canadian film will vary based on personality.
9. The Seas with Nemo and Friends – Another attraction that replaced a superior version. This still isn’t a bad idea as it incorporates the Finding Nemo characters into an aquarium full of real fish. I don’t think the Nemo projections look the best and the story is lacking but it’s fine. I also don’t love the inclusion of characters in Epcot just for the sake of having characters, but that’s a subject for another day.
8. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – If you’ve made it this far in the attraction rankings posts then you know that I’m a sucker for slow boat rides. This is no exception as the characters from one of the craziest Disney films ever are dropped in throughout it. I think this is a decent showcase of Mexico, albeit a little dated, and I love the audio animatronics at the end. All in all, this starts the run of attractions that I undoubtedly like.
7. Spaceship Earth – Spaceship Earth could be great, and I think it used to be. This takes you on a quick lesson of human history. It’s also inside of the great Epcot park icon. The scenes and audio animatronics still work pretty well and this looks good overall. Where it really lacks is in the last quarter of the ride, when guests are riding backwards and they fill out a dumb survey about how their life will turn out. Also, the narration isn’t great.
6. Test Track – Test Track is like a good B-movie. This lacks in quality as the story of building your own car and testing it is pretty clunky. The visuals inside the building aren’t great either. Still, zipping around corners and then accelerating into the open air is always fun. Fun is good which in turn makes this a decent attraction.
5. Frozen Ever After – This could be as high as number 1 or as low as 7. I settled on 5 because this doesn’t fit the area it resides and there are some blank spaces in the ride that cause a small lull. Still, some of the audio-animatronics are really impressive and, for the most part, this looks really good. I also like that the plot isn’t just a book report of the movie.
4. Impressions de France – I think this World Showcase film is far superior to the ones I’ve already mentioned. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and the cinematography fits the artsy France vibe. I doubt this would be in the top-5 for most people but I do think Impressions de France is extremely underrated and I would do it over everything on the list considering the usual no-wait time.
3. The American Adventure – The American Adventure is American history told to you by audio-animatronic Ben Franklin and Mark Twain. The half hour-long show is really well done and hasn’t shown its age even though it opened with the park. I think this attraction embodies the spirit of ‘edutainment’, being both entertaining and educational. Bonus points to the pre-show, which features the wonderful Voices of Liberty singing some old-time classics.
2. Living with the Land – Speaking of ‘edutainment’, Living with the Land really gets that. I imagine most people find this boring but I love the attraction. A slow boat ride (surprise, surprise) takes you through an Epcot greenhouse and showcases some of the ways they are growing food. Many of the Disney restaurants feature some of these homegrown vegetables, and that’s a nice way to be able to connect all the dots (especially if you have kids). While far from the most exciting, I think this is one of the most interesting attractions Disney still has.
1. Soarin’ – I don’t love the new version of Soarin’ but giving it the top spot here was a fairly easy decision. I’m not sure Epcot has an E-ticket attraction outside of this one and I think this combines a fun ride with some impressive technology. Still, Soarin’ uses too much CGI and I don’t think simulators are that great to begin with.
Overall, I think Epcot has a decent line up of attractions. I do think the park could really use a top-notch attraction somewhere. Soarin’ fits the bill for the most part but I think the other five Disney Parks feature better headliners. For example, Soarin’ (the exact same ride) came in 3rd in the California Adventure attraction rankings.
Like I said at the beginning though, Epcot isn’t just about attractions. World Showcase in itself is the headliner for adults. While no real headliner is a small problem for Epcot, the park has much bigger problems than that. Most of which is finding a true identity and moving some of these attractions into current day without smashing Disney IP’s in places they don’t fit. A decade from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 5 attractions that still exist as is.
What is your favorite Epcot attraction? Let us know in the comments! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.