Having a hard time deciding between Epcot and Animal Kingdom?

Each park offers a totally different experience and most guests will find that they prefer one over the other. Whether you’re new or a veteran to Walt Disney World traveling, it’s important to evaluate the differences between Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

Epcot or Animal Kingdom? – The Short Answer

Epcot is usually the top pick for adults, especially those who love eating, drinking, and experiencing cultures from around the world. Animal Kingdom is best for guests who love animals, rides, and live stage shows. Both Epcot and Animal Kingdom have a lot to offer and travelers should plan on spending a full day at either park.

Fun fact: Both parks make plenty of appearances on our huge list of Disney World Must-Do’s.

Epcot vs Animal Kingdom: Rides

Winner: Animal Kingdom

Even though Epcot has some great new rides, we believe Animal Kingdom’s rides are better as a whole. Animal Kingdom has a great balance of both thrill rides and tame rides that are suitable for the whole family. The addition of Pandora: World of Avatar cemented Animal Kingdom’s spot toward the top of the ride list.

P.S. – Don’t miss our comprehensive list of 30 Animal Kingdom Tips & Secrets.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Rides

Kilimanjaro Safaris (10/10)

The Best Time to Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a can’t-miss ride at Animal Kingdom. A safari truck takes you on a ride through Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Wildlife Reserve and puts you up close with all of Africa’s most notorious wildlife. Lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, and lots more can be seen on this incredible journey. It’s definitely one of the most unique experiences at Disney World and no two trips are ever the same. Take a look at our tips and tricks for Kilimanjaro Safaris to make sure you get the most out of the ride.

Expedition Everest (10/10)

Expedition Everest is probably my favorite roller coaster at Disney World. It delivers on the thrills and on the theme. Everest is a big ride with a track that sends you both forward, backward and around big turns at high speeds. It also has one of the coolest sets, complete with a gigantic animatronic yeti in the mountain. We wish more parks on Disney property had true roller coasters of this caliber.

Avatar Flight of Passage (10/10)

Avatar Flight of Passage Ride

Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the newest rides at Animal Kingdom and is one of the most impressive, state-of-the-art rides at Disney. Flight of Passage simulates a trip through Pandora while flying on the back of a Banshee, just like the Na’vi. The 4D technology and effects are outstanding and really make you feel that you’re flying through an alien world. The line queue is amazing but the wait times are always extremely long. You’ll want to try as hard as possible to get Lightning Lane for this ride.

Dinosaur (8/10)

Dinosaur is a dark indoor ride that takes you on a journey through the Cretaceous Period chasing after a wild iguanodon. The whole ride is super shaky but fun and you’ll be moving all over the place seeing loads of different species of dinosaur. It’s fun for everyone, but can be a little scary for kiddos. Lots of animatronic dinosaurs popping up all over the place during the ride, but it maintains a light-hearted purpose.

Kali River Rapids (7/10)

Kali River Rapids is a medium-intensity river raft ride that’s thrilling at points and dull at others. The drop is decent and the ride’s scenery is pretty cool. There’s a very high likelihood that you’ll get soaked, so keep that in mind. We’d rank this one higher if it lasted longer!

Na’vi River Journey (7/10)

I have mixed feelings about Na’vi River Journey. It’s a dark indoor water ride in the Pandora section of the park. Na’vi River Journey has some really cool lighting and animatronics, but there’s just not enough to consider it one of the greats. It’s pretty slow and the whole thing feels like it’s missing extra details. It’s worth a ride if the line is short, but I wouldn’t use a precious Lightning Lane spot for it.

Epcot’s Best Rides

Soarin’ Around the World (10/10)

Soarin' Around the World

Soarin’ Around the World has been solidified as one of the most popular rides at Epcot and remains a staple at Walt Disney World. This unique ride is actually a hang glider simulator that takes you to some of the world’s most famous locations via IMAX technology. Your whole row of seats will lift high into the air and make you feel as though you’re really Soarin’ Around the World. The sights, sounds, and even smells are outstanding, from the Matterhorn to the Taj Mahal. Always a great use of Lightning Lane spot!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (10/10)

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most popular movies in the Marvel cinematic universe and the ride does this band of heroes justice. Guests are transported to the world of Xandar while in the ride queue, waiting to meet the Guardians when they receive a warning to escape as quickly as possible. You board the ride and blast off backwards through space while serenaded by Star Lord’s Awesome Mix.

Spaceship Earth (9/10)

Spaceship Earth is probably the most classic, iconic Epcot ride. It’s a slow-moving indoor ride located inside Epcot’s famous sphere. The ride track goes through a wide variety of sets that depict mankind’s journey and development throughout history. The sets themselves are full of painstakingly detailed animatronics and features. You’ll see everything from Ancient Rome to 1970’s America. Spaceship Earth is also one of the longest rides at Disney, lasting over 15 minutes from start to finish.

Mission: SPACE (8/10)

Mission: SPACE’s thrills alone make it a great ride. It lost a little ground when the decision was made to remove Gary Sinise from the ride’s preflight video, but that’s another story. Mission: SPACE is a space shuttle simulator that sends you on a mission to Mars. The high g-forces on this ride make it the most intense ride in all of Disney World. You may want to sit this one out if you get motion sickness or get claustrophobic. If not, there’s nothing like the feeling of being launched into space.

Test Track (8/10)

Test Track is one of Epcot’s most popular rides. As you can imagine, the theme is testing a car build for turns, obstacles, breaks and more. But the twist is that you’ll be testing your own uniquely designed vehicle, which guests create in the line queue. The best part of the ride is the speed trial where you’ll reach 60 mph on an outdoor track. We think this is a great ride even though the wait times can be a little ridiculous.

Frozen Ever After (8/10)

Frozen Ever After is a bit different from most other Epcot rides since its design pulls directly from a Disney film. Save for one decent drop, this water ride is pretty laid back as you travel through the fantasy land of Arendelle. Wait times are long, so I wouldn’t recommend this one for guests who don’t love Frozen,  in which case you should use Lightning Lane. For those that do, it’s a good family-friendly ride that features some impressive animatronics.

Epcot vs Animal Kingdom: Restaurants

Winner: Epcot

Epcot has the best table-service restaurants of any Disney park and it’s not even close. There are over 50 different eateries to choose from in Epcot and nearly all of them have outstanding quality. You’ve got access to everything from Chinese egg rolls to fine French dining. Adults will especially appreciate the fact that there is always a good reservation available no matter what cuisine you’re in the mood for.

P.S.- We definitely recommend checking out our standalone Insider’s Guide to Epcot Dining.

Epcot’s Best Restaurants

Monsieur Paul (10/10)

Monsieur Paul - The Best Epcot Restaurant

Monsieur Paul is a French fine-dining restaurant located in Epcot’s France Pavilion. The food is to-die-for, as is the overall experience. We rank this #1 on our list of Epcot restaurants adults will love. The atmosphere transports you to the middle of Paris and the outside world seems nonexistent. That said, prepare to have a hefty bill since this is one of the top dining locations in Walt Disney World. Monsieur Paul is operated by the renowned Bocuse family from France.

Le Cellier Steakhouse (10/10)

Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot

Le Cellier is a steakhouse located in the Canada Pavilion and is usually one of Epcot’s hardest-to-get reservations. The restaurant is designed to emulate a Canadian chateau cellar. The food is great and so is the setting. The steaks are some of Disney’s best and the restaurant’s enhancements like the authentic Canadian poutine are amazing.

TAKUMI-TEI (10/10)

Takumi-Tei is a fairly new addition to Epcot and provides a very different experience than other fine dining locations. The decor is impeccable with natural elements inspired by earth, wood, stone, water and washi paper featured in each room. When you’re done marveling at the architecture, you can choose from two main menus that include omnivorous and plant-based options. The menu consists of Japanese specialties like Wagyu beef, sushi, tempura, fried tofu and a wide range of Sake.

Via Napoli (9/10)

Via Napoli is in the Italy Pavilion and serves our favorite pizza in Disney World. Their neapolitan style pizza is absolutely delicious and their main offering, but they also have tasty pastas and entrees, as well. You can tell they use high quality ingredients and it’s evident in the popularity of the restaurant. Reservations can be hard to get, but if you love pizza and they come available, don’t miss out!

Chefs de France (9/10)

Chefs de France is another great French restaurant that features a Parisian aesthetic and quality service. You can find offerings from relatively quaint Ratatouille to upscale heritage pork or grilled sirloin. It’s a great choice for guaranteed good food one step below the fine dining locations. Keep in mind that this restaurant is huge and tends to be noisy, so it may not be your top choice for a quiet date.

Biergarten (9/10)

Biergarten is located in the German Pavilion and serves up delicious German classics like schnitzel, bratwurst, spaetzle, etc. But even more than the food, we love Biergarten’s atmosphere. The restaurant is designed like a charming Bavarian village complete with a German polka band that performs nightly. We also love the family-style seating, where multiple parties will be seated together at one large table. If you’re up for good fun and meeting new people, this is a great choice.

Epcot Quick-Service Restaurants (10/10)

Epcot Chips & Salsa with Guacamole & Queso

Epcot is unmatched when it comes to quick-service offerings. There are so many great options on a regular basis, and the yearly festivals nearly double the number of quick service spots to choose from. Pastries in France’s Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie or Margaritas in Mexico’s La Cava del Tequila or Fish & Chips at the UK’s Yorkshire County Fish Shop – it’s all here! Maybe you just want some ice cream (we have a big guide to Epcot ice cream!) or a beer. It’s all there. There are enough good quick-service food and drink spots to make your head spin.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Restaurants

Tiffins (10/10)

animal kingdom tiffins restaurant

For years, Animal Kingdom completely lacked a great signature-tier restaurant and Tiffins filled that void in a big way. Tiffins is one of the most underrated restaurants at Disney World. The restaurant theme is all about the Disney Imagineers’ travels and journey through the creation of Animal Kingdom. The cuisine features African and Indian inspired meals. It tends to be more expensive than other Animal Kingdom restaurants, but it’s well worth it for the experience.

Yak & Yeti (9/10)

Yak and Yeti Animal Kingdom

Yak & Yeti is a Nepalese-themed restaurant that serves a variety of Pan-Asian foods. The theme and decorations are pretty cool and they’re a nice change-up from other Asian restaurants at Disney. The atmosphere is interesting and reflects the religious art and architecture from the Everest area. The menu has changed a lot over the years, but the noodle bowls and the Bhaktapur Duck are always really good choices. One of my favorite in-park dining spots.

Satu’li Canteen (9/10)

I’m cheating and including this one with the table-service restaurants even though it’s technically quick-service. During the first year that Satu’li Canteen was open, I probably ate there 10+ times. Satu’li is a counter-service restaurant in Pandora that has some of the most unique food of any non-table-service Disney World restaurant. The main part of the menu consists of “bowls” that feature a protein mixed with a vegetable or potato base and topped with your choice of dressing.

Animal Kingdom Quick-Service Restaurants (7/10)

Burger Pods Satuli Canteen

Outside of Flame Tree Barbecue, Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, and Satu’li Canteen, there just aren’t a lot of stellar options for quick-service dining at Animal Kingdom. Those top three quick-service spots are in a league of their own at AK, especially Satu’li and Flame Tree.

Epcot vs Animal Kingdom: Entertainment & Attractions

Winner: Epcot

Both Epcot and Animal Kingdom have some really great entertainment and attractions, but Epcot edges out Animal Kingdom here. There’s just so much more variety in Epcot and so much to see and do.

Epcot’s Best Entertainment & Attractions

The World Showcase (10/10)

Best Time to See the Epcot World Showcase

The World Showcase is easily the top attraction in Epcot. It’s huge and has 11 different areas called pavilions: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Morocco, Japan, France, UK, and Canada. Each Pavilion offers its own unique features according to the culture of the region. Dining, shopping, and entertainment is in great supply around the World Showcase. Not only are there select show theaters in different pavilions, there are also small skits and performances that take place at multiple points in the day.


Does Epcot Do Fireworks in the Rain

Luminous is Epcot’s new nighttime fireworks show, featuring incredible pyrotechnics, lasers, water tricks and music that make it the best, most complete nighttime show at Disney World, period. Luminous is unique in that you can get a great view of the show from all over the World Showcase Lagoon, so everyone gets a good experience watching it. 

The score comprises music from multiple Disney movies, but we love the original song that concludes the show.

The American Adventure (10/10)

The American Adventure at Epcot

The American Adventure is a really neat experience which takes place in a large theater surrounded by statues of American folk heroes. The show tells the story of American history from past to present, all narrated by animatronic Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. They begin with the start of the Revolutionary War and journey through time up to the Great Depression. The impressive sets and beautiful music make this the best show in Epcot.

The Seas Pavilion (10/10)

The Seas is a really cool area that kids and adults will enjoy. The entire pavilion is home to the world’s largest saltwater aquarium featuring a number of fish, animals and exhibits. There are multiple viewing points inside the Seas, including a 360-degree viewing area that lets you walk directly into the middle of the largest tank.


This brand new attraction is a fun area for cooling off and exploration, located inside World Nature. Journey of Water is inspired by Moana and includes interactive features that educate you on the journey water takes from ocean to land to sky. Multiple stations allow guests to interact with the water which reacts to your movements. 

The only downside to this fun pastime is that it can be slightly challenging for guests in wheelchairs.

Reflections of China (9/10)

Reflections of China is a beautiful educational show in the China Pavilion. The film takes you to many iconic Chinese locations, including some that are rarely accessible to Western camera crews. The cinematography is gorgeous and the 360-degree screen  makes it a really interesting learning experience.

Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along (8/10)

This fun little show is great for getting out of the sun and for entertaining young kids. Le Fou takes us through an alternate version of the Beauty and the Beast story, adding his own fun tidbits of influence. The audience is invited to sing all their favorite songs from the animated film.

O! CANADA (8/10)

O! Canada has been revamped in recent years and gives audiences a 360 degree view of the Great White North. The previous show took a punny spin on educating visitors about the country, but the current show focuses more on the beauty of the Canada’s natural habitat and landscape from each province.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Entertainment and Attractions

Festival of the Lion King (10/10)

Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King is a live show that is absolutely outstanding. The singers are great, the acrobats are great, the story is great. It’s very lively and there’s a lot going on. The theater is circular, so there’s not a bad seat in the house. Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows at Disney World and you shouldn’t leave without seeing it.

Finding Nemo: The Musical (10/10)

Finding Nemo: The Musical is a stage show that retells the storyline from the Finding Nemo film. It’s one of the most unique shows at Disney World, featuring huge puppets controlled on stage by performers. The whole thing is really elaborate and well-executed. We consider this another “must-do” no matter what age you are.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (9/10)

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail at Animal Kingdom

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is the wildlife trail in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. As the name implies, the gorillas are the focal point. There are some other animals like hippos and meerkats, but the gorillas are definitely the most interesting part of the trail. There are two separate viewing areas for the gorillas- one for females and one for the males. Both are a lot of fun. The only downside to the trail is that there’s sometimes not a lot of action and it’s possible to not see a whole lot from the gorillas.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (9/10)

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Animal Kingdom

Maharajah Jungle Trek is the wildlife trail in the Asia section of the park. Its main feature is the tiger exhibit, but there are lots of other animals to see, too. Some of them include flying foxes, water buffalo, and even a Komodo dragon. The Maharajah trail is extremely well-executed and has a ton of details along the way. The landscapes, buildings, and ruins are quite immersive.


Feathered Friends in Flight is a live show that features live exotic birds. The show is hosted by Russell and Dug from the Up film along with expert ornithologists who showcase different species of birds that perform tricks and fly over the audience. It’s very entertaining for all ages.

It’s Tough to be a Bug! (8/10)

It’s Tough to be a Bug! is a 4D film experience located inside Animal Kingdom’s iconic Tree of Life. The show is surprisingly awesome and blends A Bugs Life characters with real-life bugs. Be warned though: the on-screen bugs combined with the 4D effects have humorously traumatized many a child. I’ve got plenty of stories of friends and family members who lost their marbles during this show when they were kids.

Rafiki’s Plant Watch (7/10)

This is a little known experience that sits right in plain sight, but visitors often overlook it. A train will take you from the Africa section of Animal Kingdom into Rafiki’s Planet Watch where you can see Conservation Station to learn from the zookeepers and veterinarians at the park, visit Affection Section for a petting zoo or try the Animation Experience where you learn to draw like real Disney animators.


Hopefully this breakdown and comparison helped you get a better idea of how Epcot and Animal Kingdom stack up against each other. Both parks have a lot to offer in pretty much every area. They’re both excellent in totally different ways, so it really just comes down to your preferences and mood.

Epcot’s experience is something really unique, combining the multicultural World Showcase with the beauty of World Nature, the technology of World Discovery and the friendship of World Celebration. It’s our top pick for excellent food and stellar entertainment. For a grown-up guide to the park, check out our Adults Guide to Epcot. Even though adults tend to like Epcot the most, the park also has plenty to offer kids. Every part of Epcot has different play and interactive stations for children.

Animal Kingdom, alternatively, is a very good blend of a theme park and a zoo. The animal exhibits are outstanding, knocking it out of the park with Kilimanjaro Safaris and the wildlife trails. Pandora: World of Avatar section of the park adds even more value to your visit. Animal Kingdom is also our second favorite park for eating, so if food variety isn’t all you’re looking for, Animal Kingdom could be your top choice for a day.

Looking for More Park Comparisons?

We also have comparisons for some of the other parks. Each one goes into the same detail that this guide has.

Need more help planning your Disney World vacation?

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