If you only have time to go to one Disney World theme park, picking which one to visit can be a bit of a tough choice. But if you’ve found yourself waffling between Epcot vs Animal Kingdom, don’t fret, as this article will walk you through everything both parks have to offer for toddlers, kids, teens and adults!
Epcot vs Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
Visiting Disney World with a toddler (or multiple toddlers) presents the challenge of finding activities to engage their busy minds and bodies. Regardless of which park you choose to visit with your young child or children, it is best to rent a stroller or backpack along to provide breaks and, if necessary, contain that infectious toddler energy.
Fortunately, EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom provide stroller rental services for guests who, understandably, opt to leave their own equipment at home. Both parks contain a vast and diverse array of toddler-friendly activities. I recommend EPCOT for those who are fascinated with the ocean and space, and Animal Kingdom for those who delight in interactions with wild animals of the jungle and savannah.
EPCOT for Toddlers
The Seas pavilion in EPCOT contains several toddler-friendly elements, including Bruce’s Shark World, an interactive and educational play area with a Finding Nemo theme. There is also an aquarium in this section of the park, where toddlers will be captivated by daily fish feedings and a scuba diving Mickey. Finally, The Seas pavilion is home to Turtle Talk with Crush, a live and improvised show hosted by everyone’s favorite animated sea turtle.
Outside of this zone, play areas can be found at Mission: SPACE and the “What If” Labs at the exit of Journey into Imagination with Figment. Toddlers who enjoy color and sound will have a wonderful time making music in the “What If” Labs by jumping and stomping on colored tiles.
Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
One of my favorite characteristics of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is its immersive sense of exploration and discovery. Whether your toddler prefers to walk or ride in a stroller or backpack, there is plenty for them (and you) to explore around every corner of this park. The Tree of Life at the center of Animal Kingdom captivates young (and old) visitors with its size–145 feet–and plethora of “hidden” animal carvings.
Your toddler will enjoy spotting and tracing the creatures concealed in the tree bark, as well as seeking out real animals along the nearby Discovery Island Trails, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and Maharajah Jungle Trek. The Boneyard–a dino-dig themed play area–and Conservation Station–an interactive conservation education center–are also well-suited to the whims of toddlers visiting the park.
Epcot or Animal Kingdom for Kids and Teens
When choosing a Disney theme park to visit with kids, one must take height requirements and ride intensity into consideration. Every kid is different, and a child who is tall enough to ride Walt Disney World’s biggest coasters and simulated rides may object out of fear. Animal Kingdom contains more thrilling attractions with taller height requirements than EPCOT; for that reason, it may be the better choice for a travel party with taller, more audacious kids.
That being said, there is still plenty for smaller and more timid children to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Ultimately, both parks offer a variety of experiences to excite and delight their young guests: Read on for details that will help you select the best option for the kids in your care.
EPCOT for Kids and Teenagers
Adventure-seeking older kids and teenagers will thrive at EPCOT, while younger and more timid kids may be intimidated by the park’s bigger attractions. The height requirement for EPCOT’s newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, is 42 inches. Meanwhile, guests must be at least 40 inches tall to ride Mission: SPACE, Soarin’ Around the World, and Test Track.
Of these attractions, Cosmic Rewind–a dark roller coaster with a spinning ride vehicle that reaches speeds over 50 miles per hour–is the most intense. Meanwhile, Mission: SPACE thrills guests with a NASA-style flight simulation, and Test Track gives race car enthusiasts the opportunity to design and drive virtual concept vehicles.
Despite the intensity of rides like Cosmic Rewind, Mission: SPACE, and Test Track, more fearful guests have plenty to do and see at EPCOT. Kids and teens seeking a calmer experience will enjoy attractions like Soarin’, which flies riders around the world on simulated hang gliders. EPCOT’s World Showcase offers plenty of low-intensity dining and entertainment options to thrill and delight.
In France, embark on a culinary escapade at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure; in Norway, join Elsa, Anna, and friends at Frozen Ever After. Finally, fans of the outdoors and wildlife will not want to miss the World Nature section of EPCOT, where guests of all ages can ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends or learn about manatee rehabilitation efforts at SeaBase aquarium.
Animal Kingdom for Kids and Teenagers
Disney’s Animal Kingdom resembles EPCOT in that it contains some intense rides to thrill and delight adventure-seekers. This park’s most famous attraction, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, is a roller coaster with a height requirement of 44 inches. This condition for riding reflects the severity of the coaster, which moves fast and contains multiple drops, dark sections, and a gigantic yeti that looms over ride vehicles. Avatar Flight of Passage, a 3-D simulated flight experience similar to Soarin’ in EPCOT, also mandates that riders be at least 44 inches tall.
Unlike Soarin’, Flight of Passage is categorized as a thrill ride; falling and flipping sensations may scare or cause motion sickness in young park guests.
Kids who do not meet the height requirements for Expedition Everest and Flight of Passage may be interested in riding DINOSAUR, with a minimum height of 40 inches, or Kali River Rapids, with a minimum of 38. Be warned that DINOSAUR contains robotic dinos, including a large tyrannosaurus rex that roars at riders; meanwhile, a dry change of clothes may be needed after braving the white water on Kali River Rapids.
Smaller and more fearful children will enjoy their time at Animal Kingdom, too, on gentler attractions including TriceraTop Spin, Na’vi River Journey, and Kilimanjaro Safari. The Boneyard–open to kids ages 10 and under–and Conservation Station provide opportunities for hands-on play and experiential learning for kids who need a break from the excitement of theme park rides.
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Epcot or Animal Kingdom for Adults
Roller coaster-loving adults (like myself) will enjoy the more thrilling attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom right alongside older kids and teenagers. However, we must note that both EPCOT and Animal Kingdom appeal specifically to adult guests with their dining and drinking establishments.
Overall, EPCOT earns the honor of being the park BEST suited to adult Disney fans, as it contains more variety than Animal Kingdom. In addition to the restaurants and bars tucked into the World Showcase, EPCOT draws adult visitors through unique, seasonal events.
EPCOT for Adults
Among adult Disney fans, EPCOT is known as an ideal location for “drinking around the world” without leaving Orlando, Florida! Popular drinks to sample include the El Diablo Margarita in Mexico, Frozen Mint Julep in the American pavilion, and Frozen Viking Coffee from Norway.
Additionally, EPCOT hosts a variety of festivals that may appeal to adult visitors. Wine connoisseurs traveling to Walt Disney World in late summer or fall will not want to miss the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival. Other special events dotting this park’s calendar include the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, Festival of the Arts, and Flower and Garden Festival. Many adult fans of Disney parks plan their trips around these special event dates.
Animal Kingdom for Adults
While Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not boast the same reputation for adult beverage enjoyment as EPCOT, there is no shortage of fine drinking and dining in this park. Tiffins Restaurant, considered one of the best Disney dining experiences for adults, charms visitors with its exploration-themed menu and decor.
Guests 21 years of age and older may enjoy a selection from Tiffin’s extensive wine list or hop over to the connected bar area known as the Nomad Lounge. Within Pandora: The World of Avatar section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, adult guests will find more alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The Mo’Ara Margarita and a selection of craft beer can be purchased at Pongu Pongu, a beverage kiosk inside Pandora.
Epcot vs Animal Kingdom for Seniors
A day spent in Walt Disney World will leave your legs and feet aching with the effort of walking several miles and standing in line for high-demand attractions. The necessity of traveling “on foot” through the parks can be especially taxing on senior visitors.
To accommodate guests in need of assistance with mobility, Walt Disney World has made Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECV) available for rental at all four theme parks, including EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. Even with mobility devices, senior visitors benefit from planned breaks in activity, which can be provided by the many shows that run daily in Disney parks.
Both EPCOT and Animal Kingdom contain impressive show offerings; you will want to select a park based on the interests of the seniors in your travel party.
EPCOT for Seniors
The endearingly hodgepodge theming of EPCOT is reflected in its show offerings. Outdoor enthusiasts will marvel at the Awesome Planet, a 10-minute film tour of fantastic locations around the world, complete with sensory theater effects. This show is located in the World Nature section of EPCOT.
Meanwhile, history buffs will not want to miss The American Adventure, a 29-minute show located in the American pavilion, in which an animatronic Mark Twain narrates an immersive, patriotic retelling of United States history. In the French pavilion of the World Showcase, the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along unites young and old Disney fans in a 15-minute retelling of this “tale as old as time,” narrated by Angela Lansbury.
Animal Kingdom for Seniors
Animal Kingdom is home to my all-time favorite Disney park stage show, Festival of the Lion King. This 40-minute, indoor performance celebrates the story of The Lion King through song, dance, and jaw-dropping acrobatics. Additionally, Animal Kingdom features a Nemo-themed stage show, Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!
An LED screen backdrop, enormous set pieces, and “swimming” puppets bring the world of Nemo and his friends to life in this 25-minute, indoor production. Senior guests will also enjoy exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom right alongside younger members of their travel parties, as the wild animal-viewing paths and trails winding through the park are accessible by wheelchair and ECV.
Planning a Disney vacation for a multigenerational group presents a host of challenges. Hopefully, this comparison of two Disney parks–EPCOT vs Animal Kingdom–has helped you decide which to prioritize on your Walt Disney World vacation.
Overall, given the diversity in intensity of its attractions, Animal Kingdom is most likely to delight and entertain all age groups. If you are still undecided, perhaps you could split a day between the two: Explore Animal Kingdom until closing time, then hop on over to EPCOT for dinner and drinks around the world. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have a fabulous day making Disney memories with people you love!
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