Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be really hard especially when you are only going for a short period of time and can’t visit each park. Sometimes a park has to get cut but which one should it be? Walt Disney World has 4 theme parks Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
No one ever thinks of cutting out Magic Kingdom. Most guests usually visit Magic Kingdom twice during their visit. But if you are only doing 4 park days which park would you cut if you are going to visit Magic Kingdom twice?
Do you visit Hollywood Studios? EPCOT? Or Animal Kingdom? This is our third article on this topic. If you are interested, read our other two Hollywood Studios or EPCOT and Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.
For me, the choice between Animal Kingdom and EPCOT is the hardest for me. If I really wanted to visit Hollywood Studios on my next trip (why wouldn’t you Rise of the Resistance is amazing) and had to cut either EPCOT or Animal Kingdom I would probably add another day so I didn’t. However, maybe you don’t have that choice. Maybe you have to cut one of these amazing theme parks. Today we are going to help you make the right choice for you and your family. So between Animal Kingdom and EPCOT which one do you visit?
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 is more rides based around IP (Intellectual Property). Just look over at the France and Norway pavilions.
Animal Kingdom Background
Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park in the world. It is massive and covers 580 acres. It is made up of traditional theme park attractions and rides as well as some elements from zoos.
The Park opened on April 22, 1998, and was the last theme park to open at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Animal Kingdom is all about animal conservation and the natural environment. Today Animal Kingdom is the third most visited theme park in the US and sixth in the World.
Animal Kingdom is home to one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World. Flight of Passage is a must-do ride at WDW and guests will wait in line for hours for the chance to fly over Pandora. It is an amazing experience.
When it comes to rides one is really better than the other. Now in the next few years, this might change but for now (2020/2021) Animal Kingdom has the better rides. It doesn’t even come close in my opinion.
Animal Kingdom is home to arguably the most popular ride in all of Walt Disney World. Flight of Passage is a fan favorite and a lot of fun. It really feels like you are flying over Pandora.
Everest is one of the best roller coasters at Walt Disney World. It is also the tallest structure at WDW. It stands 199.5 feet and it is six inches taller than Tower of Terror over at Hollywood Studios. This also makes it taller than the Castle at Magic Kingdom.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is another fan favorite ride and is a great one for guests of all ages. This ride is over 20 minutes long and is one of the longer rides at WDW. If you can go when it is raining or around sunset the animals seem to be a bit more active.
In total there are 11 different rides/walk-through attractions to experience. All but one (Everest) would be good for kids of most ages. If they make the height requirements they should be good to go. That even goes with Everest. My daughter loves this ride and the first time she rode it she was 7 maybe even 6.
Now over at EPCOT you currently have eight, soon to be nine rides to choose from. Even once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in the France Pavilion, EPCOT will still have 2 fewer rides than Animal Kingdom.
If you are going based solely on rides that might be a deal-breaker. However, one of the newest rides will be at EPCOT so that might count for something. But just like everything new at WDW. The crowds will be at that park and ride.
I would say that at EPCOT you currently have 3 must-do rides. Those rides are Soarin’, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will make four once it opens.
At Animal Kingdom you also have 3. Those would be Flight of Passage, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Everest. However, if you think about it they both have similar MUST do rides.
Both have a thrill ride (Everest and Test Track). A flight simulator (Flight of Passage and Soarin’) and a long “easy” ride (Kilimanjaro Safaris and Spaceship Earth). Even in saying that. If you are just making your pick on rides I would still go with Animal Kingdom.
Both Animal Kingdom and EPCOT have a variety of different shows and entertainment options other than rides. Animal Kingdom shows are based on Disney properties whereas EPCOT is based on the different countries.
The Festival of the Lion King is considered by many to be the best show at Walt Disney World. If you are only willing to see one show while on your Disney Vacation it should be the Festival of the Lion King.
There are a couple of other shows at Animal Kingdom but the Lion King one is the best. You can find a stage show about Nemo and an entertaining show about birds. Another amazing show can be found in front of the Tree of Life. If you see birds flying low to the ground. Chances are they are heading to the Tree. I just love watching them fly in. One day I will finally get a good picture of them coming in. Till that day, I will just keep trying.
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.
Right out front of the American Pavilion is a huge stage. Throughout the year different acts will be going on. In the spring they have the Garden Rocks series. The JAMMitors will pay off and on. During Food and Wine (Fall) you can enjoy the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.
If you are going for live music I would pick EPCOT. If you want to see arguably the best stage show at Walt Disney World I would pick Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom is broken down into 6 different lands. One of the most immersive and detailed lands can be found here. Pandora was like nothing we’ve seen before. Plus this is a place you have to see at night.
Pandora at night is beautiful. It’s amazing during the day but it really comes to life at night. The floating mountains and all the different plant life is something to see.
Dinoland is another favorite among parents of young kids. The Boneyard playground is simply amazing and kids can go play around there for hours. Even though there is not much shade and no AC. It is a nice place to sit and relax while your kids run amok.
Throughout Animal Kingdom you will also find many different animal exhibits. Some are on the small side while others will take you some time to get through. One of the main reasons to visit Animal Kingdom other than to ride Flight of Passage is to see the animals. There is no shortage of them either. You can find them everywhere. Just look around. Kids just love being about to see all the different animals. Plus they love pointing out all the different ones on the Tree of Life. Can you find them all?
Animal Kingdom is 16 years younger than EPCOT and sometimes it shows. So much more detail can be found at Animal Kingdom over EPCOT. However, that is slowly changing. At least in the front of the park looking at the concept art.
Soon EPCOT will be split up into 4 different lands but currently (2020/2021) 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, the 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. We will get into the food in the next section but that is part of what makes the World Showcase such a great themed area.
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. However, picking between EPCOT or Animal Kingdom wouldn’t be easy. You can get some amazing photos over at Animal Kingdom in the different lands.
Having the floating mountains of Pandora in the background is amazing. Like we said earlier just try to get one at night. It will blow your mind.
I would say out of the 4 different theme parks at Disney World, both Animal Kingdom and EPCOT have the best options when it comes to food. Animal Kingdom is home to one of my favorite Quick Service Locations (Flame Tree BBQ) and EPCOT has the best snacks and is home to Food and Wine.
Animal Kingdom has around 20 different food locations. From an upscale restaurant to small little carts and everything in between. However, unlike Hollywood Studios the options are much better and a little more unique. Two of the best quick service locations (see our Animal Kingdom QS guide) in all of Walt Disney World can be found at Animal Kingdom.
Flame Tree BBQ and Satu’li Canteen are two of the best around. With the light and fresh food, you get in Pandora at Satu’li. To the finger-licking good BBQ at Flame Tree. It will be hard to find 2 better locations in any other Disney World theme park.
Tusker House is also considered by many to be the best in-park character buffet. I personally enjoy breakfast over lunch or dinner. Of course, that’s just me.
Another favorite sit down location at Animal Kingdom is Rainforest Cafe. It’s located right at the park entrance and a favorite of many families for the theming. While the food isn’t the greatest. It’s not bad either.
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. EPCOT is still the choice to go with over Animal Kingdom 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.
You can use all your snack credits at EPCOT when either Food and Wine or Flower and Garden are going on. Plus the food that is offered is pretty good. The hardest thing to do is to find an empty table or even trash can top.
When it comes to picking either one of these theme parks it is a tough call. Animal Kingdom does kind of win in three of the four categories. However, since food is a big deal. I still think EPCOT gets a slight edge.
EPCOT still has some pretty great rides and an amazing experience traveling the World Showcase.
So what will you pick? Is it Animal Kingdom or EPCOT? Which one would you visit? Is there one thing overall that helps you make your pick? Let us know in the comments below.
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