A question I see asked all the time is if you should visit Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. It’s really a loaded question. You should visit both but sometimes there’s just not enough time.
I always do two days at Magic Kingdom. But if I’m only visiting for 5 days and 4 nights, I’m only going to the parks for 4 days. Two days are already slated for Magic Kingdom and usually one day at Animal Kingdom.
That leaves only one other park. For me, it’s an easy choice (although it has gotten a bit tougher). My daughter’s favorite park is EPCOT, so obviously we are going there. But maybe this is your first trip. Maybe you haven’t been in years. Whatever the reason we are here to tackle this question and help you make the best choice for you and your family.
Below you will find the pros and cons of Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
Hollywood Studios Background
Hollywood Studios was the third theme park to open at Walt Disney World on May 1, 1989. Back then it was called Disney’s MGM Studios. Also back then it was a production studio. Movies and shows would be filmed there.
However, those days are long gone at Hollywood Studios. Today it is best known for its thrill rides and Star Wars. While you will still find elements of the old days. Hollywood Studios is changing around us.
EPCOT was the second theme park to open at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1982, and this place is huge. It is twice the size of Magic Kingdom and is packed full of wonderful experiences and things to see.
EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and Walt Disney himself envisioned his own self-contained city on Walt Disney World property. That vision didn’t come true but you can find elements of it at EPCOT. Today EPCOT is currently in the rebuilding phase and things are changing all around us.
Lots of construction is going on and time will tell if it is for the better. Another thing that is changing at EPCOT are more rides based around IP (Intellectual Property). Just look over at the France and Norway pavilions.
So why should you pick Hollywood Studios over EPCOT? The big reason you would pick Hollywood Studios is for the rides. EPCOT (Test Track/Mission Space) and Animal Kingdom (Everest/Flight of Passage) have 2 thrill rides and Magic Kingdom has 4 (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). Well, Hollywood Studios also has 4 thrill rides (Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, Rise of the Resistance). Hollywood Studios is much smaller than Magic Kingdom but still packs in 4 thrill rides plus Runaway Railway and Smuggler’s Run and even my personal favorite Star Tours.
You will find a total of nine rides at Hollywood Studios plus quite a few stage shows including Fantasmic!, a must-see nighttime show.
Now over at EPCOT you currently have eight soon to be nine rides to choose from. Like we stated earlier only 2 of these rides are “thrill” type rides. One will make you puke (Mission Space) and the other is like driving fast on the highway. EPCOT has the more kid-friendly rides with rides like Soarin’, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Frozen Ever After, and more. As for stage shows or movies, there is only a handful. Most can be found in the World Showcase.
If we take a look at both parks based just on rides you can say each has 9 (once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in the France Pavilion). Now we won’t be taking shows or movies into consideration in this part. That will be in the next section.
Young Kids(0-6): If you have young kids and want them to go and enjoy the rides they will have a better time at EPCOT. Test Track, Mission Space, and Soarin’ all have a height requirement of 40 inches or taller. The other rides do not have any height requirement.
Over at Hollywood Studios, 7 rides have a height requirement. The shortest is 32 inches and that is with Alien Swirling Saucers and the tallest is 48 inches with Rock n’ Roller Coaster. Most of the others are 40 inches.
There is a good chance your young kids will be too short to ride most of the rides at Hollywood Studios plus they have more of the “thrill” rides that scare most kids in that age range.
Kids (7-12): Now for this age range it can be a toss-up. My daughter loves EPCOT so we would pick that but she also loves the roller coasters over at Hollywood Studios and of course, she loved Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge.
If this is your first time going and you are unsure if your kids will enjoy the thrill rides just know that while some of the rides we listed as thrill rides wouldn’t be considered such at other theme parks like Universal Studios or Six Flags. Rides at Walt Disney World are meant to be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
The best thing to do when considering which park to pick based on rides is to watch the different ride videos to see what they could handle. Plus you are in luck. Click here to watch 30 plus WDW ride videos. No need to keep searching on YouTube. We have them all on one page.
Teens (13-18): There’s no doubt about it. Teens are looking for the thrill. Hollywood Studios would be the pick for them. Maybe this might change one the Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster opens at EPCOT but for now, it is Hollywood Studios with rides like Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Smugglers Run, Rise, and Tower of Terror.
Unless your teen is scared of thrill rides and is looking for something on the tamer side and isn’t a fan of Star Wars. You have to pick Hollywood Studios.
Young Adults (19-25): Much like the teens, young adults are more into the thrill of things. A pick of Hollywood Studios over EPCOT based on rides is a no-brainer.
Adults: Now this is the category I fall in. For me, EPCOT wins over Hollywood Studios overall. However, when just looking at rides I would have to go with Hollywood Studios. At EPCOT I only look forward to going on 2 rides (test track and Soarin’). At Hollywood Studios, I try to get on at least all three Star Wars Rides, Toy Story Mania, and Slinky Dog. I’m not much of a thrill ride fan anymore.
Older Adults: For Older Adults (60+) or those with major health conditions the pick would be EPCOT. The rides are much slower and less of a strain on your body. Sure Frozen has a small drop that could cause an issue but for the most part, it is pretty gentle and you could ride more rides at EPCOT over Hollywood Studios.
Both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT offer shows and/or movies for guests to see. There are many fans of the theme parks that will just go and see these instead of riding any rides. While it’s definitely not my thing. Some of the shows are pretty good and worth watching every visit.
Hollywood Studios has more of this type of entertainment to offer than EPCOT. Plus at Hollywood Studios, they are more entertaining while EPCOT’s offerings are more on the educational side. That’s not a bad thing but sometimes I want to shut my brain off for the day.
One of the best shows at Walt Disney World has to be Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Fantasmic! Is also another great show for the whole family. Younger kids love Beauty and the Beast Stage show, Disney Junior Dance Party, and Muppet Vision are favorites for them. However, teens and adults love Muppet Vision and The Beauty and the Beast shows.
Now over at EPCOT China, France, America, and Canada Pavilions all have a movie or stage show for visitors to enjoy. These are more on the educational side. Now a great show for the younger kids is Turtle Talk with Crush. It is even enjoyable for the adults in the room.
If your main reason for deciding on which park to visit is the shows. Hollywood Studios has a lot more to offer than EPCOT.
Soon EPCOT will be split up into 4 different lands but currently (November 2020) there are only 2. Future World and World Showcase. Other than the iconic Geodesic Sphere “Golf Ball”. Nothing in Future World is that special. But to be fair most of it is under construction and the concept art looks amazing.
Over the years, World Showcase hasn’t made many changes. No new pavilions have been added in years and only a few rides have been added or changed. Despite that this area is amazing. There is just something about “Going around the World”.
We aren’t even talking about drinking or snacking around the world either. Just being able to walk around the different country’s pavilion and get a small feel for that country. Sure it’s not 100% correct but it is something. Plus I think it is a nice touch having cast members that are from the respected countries working in the restaurants and shops. It brings that little touch of Disney Magic. You could easily spend the day exploring and shopping in the World Showcase.
For my daughter and myself, we won’t skip EPCOT. The World Showcase is one of our favorite things to do in all of WDW.
Now Hollywood Studios has one of the most detailed lands you will find anywhere. Galaxy’s Edge is amazing. The level of detail is incredible. I doubt it will ever happen but I can hope. I can’t wait for the Mandalorian and the Child to visit Batuu. I just think that would be really neat.
If you are a Star Wars fan you will love this place. Even if you are not a fan of the New movies. It has a good “old” Star Wars feel in this new Disney age.
Toy Story Land is another fantastic land over in Hollywood Studios. Did you ever wonder how it would be to be as small as your toys when you were a kid? Now you can get a decent feel for that.
The biggest problem with Toy Story Land is the lack of shade. Not much shade has been added since the land opened up on June 30, 2018. But overall, it is a great place to get lost and explore all the tiny details. Just remember to look down at the ground.
For most kids, Hollywood Studios would be the pick if you are focused on the lands. EPCOT is too “educational” for young people (0-18) and might even be for some young adults. As you get older you start to appreciate EPCOT more.
Without a doubt, EPCOT wins this one hands down. But we will still go over the choices at Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has around 20 different food locations to pick from. Everything from food carts, Quick Service Locations, and Table Service Locations. One of my favorite table service locations to eat at in Walt Disney World has got to be Sci-Fi Dine-In. The food is pretty good and the atmosphere is out of this world. It’s just a fun experience.
The Quick Service locations are not really anything to write home about. For something different other than your typical burger and chicken fingers you should go to Docking Bay 7 or Woody’s Lunch box. There you will find some unique food items to pick from. PizzeRizzo should be avoided at all costs. Lucky it is only open seasonally so you shouldn’t have to worry about eating there.
Now EPCOT has over 30 different food carts, table service, and quick service locations to pick from. The World Showcase is loaded with so many different and unique places. Try the Fish and Chips over in the UK Pavilion, or Beignet in France. Have a perfectly cooked steak and delicious Poutine in Canada or grab some sushi in Japan.
The choices are endless throughout EPCOT. Disney Springs is the only place that may have more options to pick from. While Hollywood Studios may have more kid-friendly options. EPCOT is still the choice to go with when it comes to food. Plus if the Food and Wine Festival is going on you would be crazy not to pick this theme park if you are making your decision solely on food.
Both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT are wonderful theme parks to visit at Walt Disney World. It can be tough to have to choose between these two theme parks. It would be much easier to just add an extra day but sometimes you just can’t do it.
For me, I would pick EPCOT over Hollywood Studios 9 times out of 10. I prefer shopping and dining at EPCOT over Hollywood Studios. However, the rides and theming are better at Hollywood Studios.
Did this quick little guide help you make a decision? What makes you choose one over the other? Let us know in the comments below.
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