If you’re planning a trip to Disney World soon, then you’re likely trying to decide which theme parks to prioritize over others. And if that’s the case, then you’re definitely want to know who wins out in this battle between Epcot vs Hollywood Studios.
In this article, I lay out the key differences between these two theme parks when it comes to toddlers, teenagers and adults being able to have a fun and rewarding vacation experience!
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios for Toddlers
Traveling to Disney World with toddlers can be extremely rewarding, but also very challenging at the same time. Before I offer my recommendation, here are a few pro’s and con’s of each park, keeping in mind that you’re traveling with toddlers (and for this article’s purpose, let’s assume around preschool age).
Epcot Pro – Attractions: Epcot offers great attractions for toddlers. Frozen Ever After is one of the most popular attractions at Epcot, not only for toddlers but for people of all ages! If you’re an Epcot OG like me, you probably remember this as the old Maelstrom ride at the Norway pavilion in the World Showcase. It’s a mild ride with a small drop. A few countries over in Mexico, the Grand Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros is another mild boat ride, perfect for little ones.
Be sure to also visit The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion. This is a great space for toddlers, with age appropriate rides. The Seas with Nemo & Friends will have you board your own “clamobile” and descend into the ocean where you’ll be surrounded by Nemo’s bright and cheery friends. The stunning aquarium is also a great way to get up close and personal with a variety of exotic fish.
Epcot Con – Characters: Epcot’s themes provide an experience that can be appreciated by older generations, but to a toddler, it doesn’t quite have the same “magical” feel as the other parks. The World Showcase is a great educational experience, and your toddler’s favorite characters may frequently make appearances in their respective countries. However, this concept will likely be lost on a toddler.
The same goes for attractions like Spaceship Earth, or Journey Into Imagination with Figment. These are tame rides that your toddler may really enjoy…or find absolutely no interest in. Losing the Character Spot loses a few points for Epcot in my opinion.
Hollywood Studios Pro – Entertainment: Hollywood Studios is a vibrant park with colorful backdrops and a variety of characters. It is also home to the Disney Junior Play and Dance! This fun-filled dance experience is a must see if you’re visiting with toddlers. This is a great chance for them to shake out some of that energy with their favorite Playhouse Disney characters.
Hollywood Studios Con – Attractions: This park relies heavily on the entertainment aspect. After all – it’s Hollywood! This also means that a lot of the theming may go over your little ones’ heads. Many attractions have height requirements, and Hollywood Studios is home to some of the more well known thrill rides in Disney World.
There isn’t a lot attraction wise for toddler age children. The same needs to be considered for shows. This park hosts the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular as well as Fantasmic, but in my experience, these can be a little scary, or even (I hate to see it) a bore for little ones.
My Recommendation: Epcot
In my opinion, Epcot attractions are more suitable for children, there are more interactive experiences, and keep in mind some countries in the World Showcase even provide arts and crafts for little ones. Hollywood Studios, though one of my favorite parks, just doesn’t have as much to offer for toddlers.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios for Kids
If you’re traveling with younger kids, around kindergarten age through middle school, both parks offer quite a bit to keep you little ones entertained.
Epcot Pro – Activities: We’ve already talked about some of the fun, child friendly attractions when we talked about toddlers, and these are certainly all great options for kids of this age as well. I briefly mentioned World Showcase Activities in Epcot – the Kidcot Fun Stops. This is one of my favorite things about the World Showcase, especially with my two nephews falling into this age range. At each pavilion, look for the Kidcot Fun Stop. These are fun stops and a great way for the kids to take a break, be creative, collect takeaways and interact with cast members from every country.
Epcot also does a great job of giving kids the chance to interact in scavenger hunts. These are often offered during festivals (for example – Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak Scavenger Hunt during the Food & Wine Festival), during holidays, and even on a regular basis. For example, head over to The Seas to join Dory on her own scavenger hunt.
Epcot Con – Dining: If your kids are at that age where they’re a little picky, there aren’t quite as many kid friendly menus in this park. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Keep in mind that each country in the World Showcase does try to offer a kid’s menu, but often they are themed to the country itself. This has never been a huge issue in my experience, but if you have picky eaters, I recommend throwing some snacks in a bag.
Hollywood Studios Pro – Attractions & Entertainment: At this age there is a lot more to do attraction wise for kids. They may not quite be tall enough to ride the bigger thrill rides, but there’s plenty in Hollywood Studios for them to do. This age group can have a lot of fun in this park! There are a few gems in Toy Story Land, including Alien Flying Saucers and Toy Story Midway Mania. If your kids are in for a little bit of a thrill, the Slinky Dog Dash is a fun kids coaster!
This is also the age my nephews started to get into Star Wars – so Galaxy’s Edge in my opinion is a must. The rides may be a little intense at this age, but Savi’s Workshop and Build a Droid. These are great interactive and fully immersive experiences for kids. Keep in mind though that these do cost extra and may require a reservation.
This age group may appreciate shows like the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular and Fantasmic, and be sure to check out Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage!
Hollywood Studios Con – Somewhat Scarier Rides: I’ll admit it was harder for me to come up with cons for this age group. There are rides that are likely still too scary for kids this age, experiences the little ones may not appreciate as much as the older kids.
My Recommendation: Hollywood Studios
This was a tough call because both parks offer fun and unique experiences for kids, and with both parks being so close to one another, I’d even recommend visiting both. But in my opinion I feel like Hollywood Studios offers so much for kids, from attractions to activities to entertainment.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios for Teenagers
If you’re visiting the parks with teenagers, it’s likely they’re all about the rides and the shows need to pack a punch to hold their attention.
Epcot Pro – Attractions: Epcot is packed with spectacular rides for this age group, whether your teens are interested in being immersed in an adventure, or they’re looking for something that’ll get their adrenaline rushing. Shockingly, this is the only park in Disney World that doesn’t feature a roller coaster.
Soarin’ Around the World puts the rider in a hang glider-like simulation, soaring over popular landmarks all over the world. This is the milder of the “thrill” rides. Then we have Test Track, a classic, placing the rider in a test vehicle and racing down a track at max speeds of 60mph. We can’t forget Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind. If your teen is a Marvel fan, this is an immersive, must-see experience.
Epcot Con – World Showcase: It’s hard to call this a con, because as an adult, the World Showcase is one of my must see highlights in Disney World. However as a teen, I had little to no interest. Where are the rides? Where are the shows? I was too old to care about Kidcot and art and crafts, and not old enough to appreciate the educational benefits of this showcase. Again, I can’t speak for all teens, as I had friends who loved the world showcase. But I personally wanted to spend all of my time in line for fast, futuristic attractions.
Hollywood Studios Pro – Attractions: Some of my best memories of going to Disney World as a teenager were in this park. As I mentioned, at that age your teens are probably looking for more of a thrill, and meet height requirements to experience the biggest and best rides.
This park hosts classics like Aerosmith’s Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Both of these rides pack a punch, and may not be for every teen (they’re fast, they’re scary, and they’re both in the dark). Toy Story’s Midway Mania is an excellent attraction for teens. If you have teens around the same age, this is a great way to encourage a little family competition – my brother and I still battle it out on this ride as adults.
Finally, I can’t ignore the current showstoppers – Millennium Falcon’s Midnight Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. These are completely immersive experiences, and perfect for the teenage age.
Hollywood Studios Con – Shows: This park has some incredible shows, and the only reason I mark it as a con is because some may seem a little juvenile, and won’t keep a teenager’s attention.
My Recommendation: Hollywood Studios
This is another near tie, and I may be biased based on my own fond memories of both of this park as a teen. I’ll stick by it though – Hollywood Studios was my favorite of the four parks as a teen. The rides are fast, the queues are stunning, the decor is youthful and bright and there’s something to do in every “land”. Epcot has a few standout rides, but I could spend all day at Hollywood Studios and not be bored.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios for Adults
Epcot Pro – World Showcase: I’m excited that I can finally list this as a highlight, because I can’t express how much more I enjoy the World Showcase as an adult. There are several reasons for this.
First, it’s extremely educational and rewarding to interact with cast members from all over the world, while experiencing their culture in their decor, shops and dining options. Even moreso, the World Showcase is host to excellent festivals including the Food and Wine Festival, where you can sample food and drinks from all over the world.
Epcot Pro – Attractions: This park has a few standout attractions for thrill seeking adults, a few of which I’ve mentioned including Soarin’ Over the World, Test Track, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. If you’re looking for more, I also highly recommend Mission Space – a realistic simulation of an actual Nasa launch. The g-forces are no joke, and this is one of the most thrilling rides I’ve experienced in Disney World (I’m not afraid to admit it took me years to gather the courage).
Epcot Con – Size: This may be a strange con, but hear me out. This is a massive park, with two very distinct sections. It can take quite a bit of time to circle the entire World Showcase, as well as travel from one half of the park to another. If you’re traveling with little ones or kids who aren’t huge on walking (yes, I’m talking about my 6 year old nephew who decides he’s done walking for the day after an hour), this is a big park to tackle.
If you’re exploring with other adults, it’s a lot of walking, but you’ll really be too distracted to notice.
Hollywood Studios Pro – Experiences: It’s no secret that this park has some of the most thrilling attractions on property, and many of the attractions I listed as teenage hits are also great for adults. But here, I wanted to focus on some of the best Hollywood Studios sit down restaurants.
First, the dining options are so fun and themed perfectly to their environment. This includes the 50’s Primetime Cafe, sure to make you feel like you’ve just been cast in Grease. The Sci-Fi Dine In Theater is another fun experience, where you’ll enjoy your meal and a movie sitting in a retro car at a makeshift dine in. This is a great experience for the whole family (just maybe not the toddlers, the movies aren’t always great for that age group).
The Brown Derby is a classic, and a beautiful recreation of the Hollywood classic. These are dining options that I’ve appreciated so much as an adult, that were lost on me when I was younger.
If you’re on the hunt for an adult beverage, it’s not hard to come across one in Hollywood Studios. Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge should be at the top of your list.. Remember, this may require reservations (and I’ll be honest, the drinks are stiff, but they’re also very expensive).
Hollywood Studios Con – Consistency: This is a bit of a unique con, and only because I’ve been visiting Disney parks my whole life. Growing up I remember classics like The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour. This park is constantly evolving, which keeps its concepts fresh and exciting. However, it does at times hurt my nostalgic heart.
My Recommendation: Epcot
Both parks have so much to offer adults, but I can appreciate my evolving love for Epcot through the years. I’ve always loved Hollywood Studios, but Epcot is more of an acquired taste, as I’ve come to appreciate how unique of an experience it is to learn about so many different cultures in one park. World Showcase aside, attractions such as Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth immerse us in time periods from hundreds of years in our past to hundreds of years in the future. It’s a unique experience that I only began to appreciate as an adult.
Epcot vs Hollywood Studios for Seniors
Let’s talk about traveling with seniors who may not be as interested in thrilling attractions (or maybe they’re like my grandma, and at 70 they’re still saying “bring it on” – in which case, refer to adults). Keep in mind that both parks have quite a bit of walking, and summer months can be very hot and humid.
Epcot Pro – Entertainment: Epcot offers fun and immersive experiences that seniors may enjoy, and most are indoors away from the elements and offer a sufficient amount of seating. First we have Living with the Land, a slow moving boat ride taking guests on a futuristic agricultural display. This is a greenhouse like none other.
The World Showcase also offers a few fun experiences, including Impressions de France, O’ Canada! Both film experiences serve educational purposes to viewers, are indoors and as I mentioned, provide ample seating. I also recommend checking out the American Pavilion to hear the Voices of Liberty – a stunningly talented group of acapella singers performing American classics in the rotunda. In fact, this is a must-see for adults as well!
Epcot Con – Attractions: Many of the thrill rides in Epcot may be too intense for seniors, and often come with long wait times in difficult conditions.
Hollywood Studio Pro – Entertainment: Like Epcot, Hollywood Studios offers excellent entertainment options for seniors, such as Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Fantasmic. All have accessible seating, which is key, and are either shaded from the elements, or happen in the dark (Fantasmic).
Hollywood Studio Con – Attractions: This park is packed with thrill rides that may not be suitable for seniors.
My Recommendation: Epcot
I have to give it to Epcot again for seniors. There’s simply more to do, the countries are easy to explore and many have indoor shows with great information, cool rooms and ample seating. The festivals, including Food & Wine and the Flower & Garden Festival may be very enjoyable for seniors.
There are milder attractions that don’t put stress on the body, and many are accommodating to seniors with mobility issues or disabilities. There are more opportunities for seniors to join their families on attractions without being left out, and this is a major pro for me.
Unfortunately, Disney does not offer any kind of discounts for seniors, which is really a shame.
As you can see, both parks offer completely different experiences for guests of all ages. Keep in mind, while I generalize what each age group typically likes, you know your friends and family best, so keep that in mind if you find yourself torn between the two parks.
If you only have time to experience one park, and you find yourself debating Epcot vs Hollywood Studios, make sure you take inventory of what things your family cares most. Knowing whether rides or dining or shows matter most to you can really shorten the length of time you’re debating which theme park is best for your needs.
This article was written by Jessica and edited by Michael.