Trying to decide between Epcot or Hollywood Studios? We can help!
It’s a no-brainer to book one day at each individual park if you’re spending a full week or more at Disney World. But for families who only have limited days to spend at the parks, it can be tough to determine which park to choose and which park to skip.
We’ve created a series of posts to help you figure out which is going to be the best decision for your traveling party. In this one, we address the differences between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios: The Short Answer
Epcot is best for guests (especially adults) who love eating, drinking, and experiencing cultures from around the world. Hollywood Studios is best for thrill rides, Star Wars, and other film-centric themes. Both Epcot and Hollywood Studios are full-day parks with loads of things to keep adults and children occupied.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios: Rides
Winner: Hollywood Studios
Epcot has some pretty fantastic rides, but not one of them compares to the rides you’ll experience at Hollywood Studios. If rides are your top priority, Hollywood Studios is the park for you. And with the introduction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios will arguably remain the top park for rides in Walt Disney World for years to come.
Hollywood Studios’ Best Rides
Rise of the Resistance (10/10)
Since its debut in late 2019, Rise of the Resistance has been the top ride in all of Walt Disney World seeing the longest wait times out of all rides in the park. (On that note, we highly recommend checking out our guide to Hollywood Studios FastPasses and their tiers while you’re trip planning!) You can find it in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The special effects and free-moving ride vehicle are truly out of this world – a great experience for older kids and adults.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (10/10)
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is always at the top of our Disney World ride list. Disney nailed the aesthetic of an old, paranormal Hollywood Hotel, complete with hotel employees that have some of the best ride-themed outfits. After a quick journey through the hotel hallway, you’ll find yourself quickly falling and rising through multiple stories.
The elevator ride vehicle is not, however, free falling. You’re being pulled down with each drop to make the feeling more intense and theses drop sequences change every time you go. For more details on the entire ride’s thrill factor, take a look at How Scary is Tower of Terror?
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (10/10)
Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster is considered one of the best rides in Hollywood Studios for it’s intense speed and thrilling maneuvers. This one is reserved for the bravest guests a it takes off at 0mph to 57mph in less than 3 seconds. Aerosmith is the host of this popular coaster and they’ll serenade you from start to finish.
Because of the ride’s intensity, some parents wonder if their children will do well on it. We’ve laid out the entire ride experience in our post titled How Scary is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (10/10)
Another new and excellent addition to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Smuggler’s Run allows you to board and pilot the real Millennium Falcon on a Rebel mission to retrieve barrels of contraband for the Resistance. Riders are assigned tasks: Pilot, Engineer and Gunner, placed in flight groups and each flight is unique according to how you operate the spaceship.
From the day Galaxy’s Edge opened, Smuggler’s Run has always featured on our big guide to 110 Disney World Must-Do’s.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (10/10)
This fun ride is great for all ages, especially families with younger kids. Both kids and adults will love the innovative technology used to bring the animation to life. You’ll start by boarding Goofy’s train, which he says will take you on a slow, scenic tour of the park. Instead, the train will bust into individual cars in a “runaway train” style ride. The animation used takes you right into the new Mickey Mouse cartoons, with different scenes taken from several of the popular shows.
Star Tours (9/10)
Star Tours is a fun simulator-style ride that takes you on journeys through the Star Wars realm. Once you’re loaded up into the ship, C3PO is your pilot and flies you through scenes ranging from Tattooine to the Wookie Planet. It also selects a random guest who serves as a rebel spy. The best thing about Star Tours is that there are a variety of scenes to mix-and-match for the experience. You can ride it many times without ever seeing the exact same lineup.
Toy Story Mania (9/10)
Toy Story Mania is a 3D animated, interactive video game shooter-style ride. Your ride vehicle takes you through a series of shootable screens with all sorts of targets. The goal is to use the cannon mounted on your vehicle to rack up as high a score as possible. If you’ve ever been on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at Magic Kingdom, think of Toy Story Mania as an updated version with screens instead of physical targets.
Slinky Dog Dash is one of the newest rides at Hollywood Studios located in Toy Story Land and perfect for families to enjoy together. It’s considered to be a family-friendly coaster, but it has just enough thrill to make it fun for everyone. Its newness has made it a very popular ride, so try to find a FastPass if you don’t want to deal with long wait times.
To determine if the ride is good for you and your children, take a look at our full ride description in the post answering How Scary is Slinky Dog Dash?
Epcot’s Best Rides
Soarin’ Around the World (10/10)
Soarin’ Around the World is one of the most popular rides at Epcot and one of the best rides at Disney World in general. Soarin’ is a hang glider simulator that takes you to some of the world’s most iconic locations like the Matterhorn, the Great Wall of China and Niagra Falls.
The ride is simple, lifting whole row of seats will high into the air and placing you in front of a huge, curved IMAX screen. The sights, sounds, and even smells are outstanding and it’s always a great use of a FastPass.
Soarin’ is always listed at the top of our list of best Epcot Rides for Adults.
Spaceship Earth (9/10)
Spaceship Earth is currently closed for renovation until approximately late 2020. It’s slated to reopen with an entirely new layout and storyline.
However, in it’s current form Spaceship Earth is probably the most classic, iconic Epcot ride. It’s a slow indoor ride located inside Epcot’s famous giant sphere. The ride track goes through a wide variety of sets that depict mankind’s journey and development throughout history. It’s also one of the longest rides at Disney, lasting over 15 minutes from start to finish.
Test Track (8/10)
Test Track is one of Epcot’s most popular rides, seeing extremely long wait times on the daily. You start by designing your own car which you’ll take on a series of road tests. There are sharp turns, obstacles, and break tests before you reach a large outdoor section where you’ll hit top speeds of over 60mph. Even though it’s wait times are a little too high for the ride quality, it’s still an altogether good ride.
Mission Space (8/10)
Mission: SPACE is a space shuttle simulator that sends you on a mission to Mars, taking off from Earth. The extreme 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 claustrophobic. If not, you’ll enjoy the all-too-real feeling of being launched into space.
Frozen Ever After (8/10)
Frozen Ever After based on the first Frozen movie, taking you on a boat tour of different scenes around Arandelle. You’ll see popular characters like Olaf, Sven, Anna and Elsa in animatronic form. Wait times are long, so I wouldn’t recommend this one for guests who don’t love Frozen. For those that do, it’s a good family-friendly ride that features some impressive animatronic technology.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios: Restaurants
Hollywood Studios may take the lead on thrills, but Epcot is undeniably the best park on Disney property for great food. Epcot’s shear number of eclectic eats and multi-cultural cuisine all in one place is unrivaled. Those who take their food seriously will definitely find that Epcot has better restaurants, snacks, and drinks than Hollywood Studios.
If you’re unconvinced, just take a look at our Insider’s Guide to Epcot Dining. It’s a HUGE resource with tips on every restaurants, snack, dessert, and drink in the park.
Epcot’s Best Restaurants
Le Cellier Steakhouse (10/10)
Le Cellier is one of Disney World’s best steakhouses, and it commonly contends with Monsieur Paul in many guests’ minds as the #1 restaurant in Epcot. The experience is definitely more approachable and relaxed when compared to Monsieur Paul, and the steakhouse meals are sure to bring comfort to all ages.
It’s usually one of Epcot’s hardest-to-get reservations. Le Cellier is designed to mimic a Canadian chateau cellar. The steaks are some of Disney’s best and the restaurant’s sides (lobster mac & cheese or loaded mashed potatoes!) are amazing.
Via Napoli (10/10)
Via Napoli is an Italian restaurant located in the Italy Pavilion that serves the best pizza at Disney World. There’s really no comparison between Via Napoli and any other Disney pizza. The ingredients are high quality from the dough to the meats and veggies. We’ve been to Via Napoli a million times and we’re never disappointed. If you like good pizza, you don’t want to miss this authentic Italian version.
Monsieur Paul (10/10)
Monsieur Paul is a French fine-dining restaurant with oustanding cuisine; one of Disney’s signature dining locations. It ranks #1 over and over again on our list of Best Restaurants in Epcot, Best Disney Restaurants for Adults and Best Restaurants for Dinner in Epcot.
The atmosphere is quiet and romantic, making it a great spot for adult couples to enjoy an evening. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for the ultimate multi-course experience inside Epcot.
Chefs de France (9/10)
Chefs de France is the France Pavilion’s largest restaurant. It’s a moderately-priced, casual table-service restaurant that has a large menu full of French specialties. The food is always good and there’s enough variety to keep everyone happy.
It’s definitely one of our personal favorites, although the restaurant can get louder than others inside the World Showcase. If you’re in the mood for delicious European fare and wine, Chefs de France will not disappoint.
Biergarten is a German buffet that is just as much about the experience as it is the food. The food is excellent, with a lots of German classics like schnitzel, bratwurst, spaetzle, and more. It’s one of Epcot’s best restaurants for good beer and good fun.
But real draw is the atmosphere. It’s designed to look like an outdoor town center in a charming Bavarian village, complete with a live Polk band on stage. Seating is also unique at Biergarten, where you’ll be seated at family-style tables with another party.
Rose & Crown Dining Room (8/10)
Rose & Crown is an English pub-style restaurant situated on the banks of World Showcase Lagoon. The menu is full of English pub classics like shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, and delicious fish & chips. We highly recommend The Welsh Pub Burger if you choose to dine here.
Rose & Crown is also an important stop for drinking around the world at Epcot. And, yes, we have a guide for that too!
Epcot Quick Service Restaurants (10/10)
It’s true that no park can compete with Epcot’s edible offerings, even the quick service places. You’ve got a range of options at all 11 countries in the World Showcase, including School Bread from Kringla Bakeri in Norway, Shawarama at Tangierine Cafe in Morocco, Sushi in Japan, and ice cream all over the place. Epcot has the most representation as far as a variety of food goes and it’s impossible not to find something you like here.
Hollywood Studios’ Best Restaurants
The Hollywood Brown Derby (8/10)
The Hollywood Brown Derby pretty much stands in a league of its own as far as Hollywood Studios dining goes. It’s the parks’ only real signature-level restaurant and features a menu that is markedly more upscale than what you’ll find anywhere else in the park.
It’s good, but it’s probably not going to rock your world, especially when compared to other signature dining locations on Disney property. The top menu item is their “Famous Cobb Salad”. The original Brown Derby restaurant was famous for pioneering the original Cobb salad. It’s a good restaurant for adults, but it’s not particularly interesting for kids.
Oga’s Cantina (8/10)
Oga’s Cantina is the long-awaited “Star Wars bar”, taking inspiration from the alien bar from the very first Star Wars film. While we highly recommend going here for a drink and the experience (complete with out-of-this-world alcoholic concoctions, a track-spinning droid and must-have souvenir cups), it has pretty much no food.
You’ll only be able to find food here for breakfast and even that is a very limited menu. However, it does make up for the lack of meals with a huge list of cocktails, beer and wine. Oga’s is a 10/10 for a park bar, but there’s just not enough to food to make it outstanding as a “restaurant”.
Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant (7/10)
The Sci Fi Dine-In isn’t really a restaurant you choose for the food alone. The main draw is that it’s an indoor restaurant that simulates the experience of an outdoor drive-in movie theater. The tables are shaped like cars and there is a big screen that plays classic science fiction thrillers while you eat. It’s cool for anyone who likes that idea of experiencing an old-school drive-in theater in the modern era, but the food is pretty standard American fare.
50’s Prime Time Cafe (7/10)
50’s Prime Time is a throwback restaurant set in a 1950’s family home. Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll find yourself in the family living room with tv’s playing old, black and white after-school shows. This is the height of comfort food in Hollywood Studios, serving up dishes like meatloaf, fried chicken and chicken pot pie.
Hollywood Studios Quick Service Restaurants (5/10)
Most of the quick-service options at Hollywood Studios are much closer to being simple, standard park food. Compared to other Disney World parks, this is one area where Hollywood Studios falls way short. The most exciting quick-service available is located in the newer areas of the parks at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. They have more interesting options than the regular burgers, hot dogs and fries you’ll find at all the other quick service spots in the park.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios: Entertainment & Attractions
This is a section where you can form your own opinion based on your personal likes and dislikes. And while we slightly favor Epcot’s entertainment over Hollywood Studios, it’s generally a toss-up. Epcot has lots of cultural-themed attractions and performers that pull inspiration from around the globe, while Hollywood Studios has a number of stage performances and pulls inspiration from Disney movies.
Epcot’s Best Entertainment & Attractions
The World Showcase (10/10)
Even though the World Showcase is comprised of 11 different areas, we consider it all in as one giant attraction. Epcot is split into two sections: Future World up front and The World Showcase in the back. Future World is fine, but the World Showcase is where Epcot really shines.
This section of Epcot is so big that we created a standalone guide specifically for all of the Must-Do’s in the World Showcase.
The World Showcase is made up of 11 “Pavilions” sponsored by countries around the world – Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Morocco, Japan, France, UK, and Canada. Each Pavilion is full of unique dining, shopping, and entertainment. The whole Showcase is one of the coolest things at Disney World, especially for adults.
The American Adventure (10/10)
The American Adventure is an animatronic stage show that tells the story of American history, narrated by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The show starts with the Revolutionary War works its way through America’s timeline up to the Great Depression. A great storyline and impressive sets make the show one of Disney’s best indoor shows.
Not to mention the serenade from the uber-talented Voices of Liberty while you wait for the show to begin is a can’t-miss attraction in and of itself.
The Seas Pavilion (10/10)
The Seas is an ocean-themed Pavilion located in the Future World section of Epcot. It houses a number of saltwater animals and exhibits, including one of the world’s largest saltwater aquariums. The real highlight of The Seas is the 360-degree viewing area that lets you walk directly into the middle of the tank.
It’s also got a Finding Nemo themed ride that runs through some of the aquarium’s exhibits. This ride is slow-moving and is perfect for families with young children.
HarmonioUS is Epcot’s current nighttime fireworks show, taking the place of the beloved Epcot Forever and previous Illuminations. It’s no doubt that Epcot’s firework display in the middle of World Showcase Lagoon is great for its fireworks, but its the pyrotechnics, lasers, water tricks and music that make it the best, most complete nighttime show at Disney World, period.
Reflections of China (9/10)
Reflections of China is a 360-degree short film in the China Pavilion. The film visits a lot of iconic Chinese locations, including some that are rarely accessible to Western camera crews. The cinematography is great and the 360-degree screening makes it really interesting.
At certain showtimes, you can also meet Mulan at the front of the theater for a photo-op and autograph.
Impressions de France & Beauty and the Beast Sing-along (9/10)
Impressions de France is a short film played in the France Pavilion’s theater. It showcases some of France’s famous areas and culture. The film’s score also features some of France’s most famous classical composers.
Epcot recently made an update to this film, rotating it every other hour with a Beauty and the Beast Sing-along show geared toward children. This is a fun and relaxing way to take a break in the middle of a hot day with young kids.
O! Canada (8/10)
O! Canada has also been recently renovated, taking place inside Canada’s 360 degree theater. No longer is this show the funny and somewhat corny display is once was; it’s now a beautifully picturesque story of each of Canada’s individual provinces, telling what makes each one unique.
Hollywood Studios’ Best Entertainment & Attractions
Fantasmic is big outdoor show that takes place after sundown in Hollywood Studios and features the biggest amphitheatre in Walt Disney World. There’s a lot going on- fireworks, performers, water floats, lights and stunts. A lot of the show takes place on the stage with a giant rock formation, but there’s also a waterway that wraps around the stage.
The floats are one of the coolest parts of the show, carrying a host of well-known characters. It’s all pretty entertaining, especially for kids. Although it could use an update, if you had to choose between Fantasmic! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show, we’d go with Fantasmic!
MuppetVision 3D (9/10)
Muppetvision 3D is a 3D film that takes place inside a standard theater. True to Muppet form, it’s a really well-executed comedy show. The jokes are clever and it has an altogether good pace with a happy song playing throughout the entirety of the film. Wait times are always short, so this one is a good option any time. Definitely worth your time!
Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage (9/10)
Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage is an abbreviated retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast film’s story. The performers do an excellent job, replicating the films original talking and singing voices. The costumes are one of the highlights, with characters like Lumiere and Mrs. Potts. The songs are classic and you’re encouraged to sing along. Seating typically isn’t a big problem with the show’s large amphitheater, but it is located outdoors.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-along Celebration (8/10)
Unlike the previous stage show, Frozen Sing-along is located indoors with shows happening once per hour for most of the day. During the show, you’ll see characters like Anna, Elsa, and Christoff and will get to sing along to every single song from the original Frozen movie. At the end, Elsa will even send a flurry across the audience. It’s definitely more geared towards children than adults.
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid (7/10)
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a smaller indoor stage show that tells the abbreviated Little Mermaid story. It’s a good show, but the tech is a bit dated. We wouldn’t make it a top priority, but it’s a good option to fill an empty space during a day at Hollywood Studios since there is usually a lower wait.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (7/10)
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is Hollywood Studios’ nightly fireworks show. As the name implies, it’s all themed around Star Wars. Music and lights accompany the fireworks to make for a good show, but it’s not quite as spectacular as the nightly shows at Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (7/10)
The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is an action stage show and another attraction that could use some updating. It features lots of stunts, from fiery explosions to fights, all performed by professional Hollywood stuntmen. A director explains how each stunt is created for movies and will even pull volunteers from the audience.
Hopefully you’ve been able to draw your own conclusion of which park is more worth you’re time if you have the awful situation of choosing between parks. If you think Epcot is the right choice for your crew and want a great starting place for planning, we’ve got a guide to 30 Epcot Insider Tips & Secrets. If Hollywood Studios is the pick, we’ve got you covered with 30 Hollywood Studios Insider Tips & Secrets.
We have almost always preferred Epcot over the years, but Hollywood Studios has made significant strides over the last few years.
Epcot has also been undergoing a lot a changes in recent years, enhancing it’s Future World section of the park more than ever with the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy ride, updates to the Land, Imagination, Space and Seas pavilions and even to Spaceship Earth. In Epcot’s current form, the World Showcase is what makes a trip here so spectacular. It’s hard to beat the delicious food and world-class entertainment.
On the other hand, Hollywood Studios has so many thrill rides to please any kind of thrill-seeker, but also has plenty of attractions that children will enjoy, as well. It brings the ultimate entertainment value with new sections like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, truly displaying some of Walt Disney World’s most innovative technology. Those who value thrills and action movies are going to favor this one.
If you came into this post thinking that either of these parks could be done in half a day, I’m sure we’ve changed your mind! You could go to each of these parks on multiple occasions and still not experience everything they have to offer.
Looking for more park comparisons?
We also have comparisons for other parks! Each one goes into the same detail that this guide does and will help you make the most out of your Disney trip!
Need help planning your Disney Vacation?
We have so many different posts to help with each aspect of your trip. We’d suggest starting out by looking at Walt Disney World on a Budget or 110 Must-Do’s in Disney World to help you along. Have fun planning!