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Epcot vs Hollywood Studios: Theme Park Showdown

Disney World is truly the most magical place on Earth, and it’s no surprise that people from all over the world come to experience it.

With countless rides, shows, parades, and food options, it’s hard to decide which park to visit, especially when it comes down to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

But don’t worry, fellow Disney fans – I’m here to break it down for you!

In this showdown of Epcot vs Hollywood Studios, I’ll go over transportation, early entry, rides and attractions, dining, characters, parades, nighttime shows, and special events so you can decide which park to visit or prioritize during your stay.

Transportation & parking

Before you even step foot in either park, let’s talk about transportation and parking.

Both parks are accessible by bus, skyliner, and ferry boat, depending on where you’re starting from. However, Epcot has the added option of the monorail.

In addition, there are several resorts within walking distance from Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but the walk to Epcot is far shorter.

Both parks also have ample parking with trams for those who have to park far away from the entrance.

Given all that, I give the edge to Epcot since it has more transportation options. Plus it is a very short walking distance from several resorts.

Rope drop & early entry

Both parks have early entry options for guests staying at Disney resorts, as well as select neighboring resorts.

As I’ve pointed out in other theme park showdown posts, there isn’t much need to rope-drop Epcot. Epcot tends to be more relaxed and crowds tend to go right to the Ratatouille ride from the International Gateway or to Frozen Ever After from the main entrance.

I’ve shown up to Epcot in the late morning and practically walked onto popular rides like Soarin’ and Test Track.

However, at Hollywood Studios, taking advantage of early entry hours could help you avoid long waits in line for your favorite rides.

You could use this time to tackle Toy Story Land or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or even get your thrills in over at Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster.

At the end of the day, if you’re fine with getting up early on vacation, I highly recommend heading to Hollywood Studios 30-60 minutes ahead of early entry time. You can always go back to your resort for pool or nap time if you start to fade around the afternoon time!

And of course, if you’re looking for a day where you can sleep in, go with Epcot if it’s between these 2 parks.

So…which park wins this category? That’s a tough call. If you want to avoid needing to get up super early in the morning, Epcot wins by far. But if you’re an early riser and want to squeeze in pool time, Hollywood Studios takes the cake.

Rides & attractions

When it comes to rides and attractions, both parks have their strengths.

Epcot is known for its educational and cultural experiences, such as Spaceship Earth and the World Showcase. A lot of the rides are very low-key, like Living with the Land or the Gran Fiesta Tour, too.

Hollywood Studios, on the other hand, boasts thrill rides like Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Plus, the newly opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a must-see for any Star Wars fan. And Toy Story Land is super cool – everything is done at scale as if you are a toy!

Yet another unique aspect for Hollywood Studios are its shows, like the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and the Beauty & the Beast stage show.

It’s hard to choose between the two when it comes to rides and attractions, but that’s what I’m here to do.

Although my absolute favorite ride at Disney World (Cosmic Rewind) is at Epcot, I think Hollywood Studios excels with its mix of thrill rides and shows.

I think Epcot could use some improvement in this area! Cosmic Rewind and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure were brilliant additions to the park, but the showcase is still lacking.

Food & drink

Both parks have a variety of food options, but Epcot takes the cake when it comes to international cuisine.

The World Showcase offers everything from Mexican to French to Japanese, and it’s a great opportunity to try something new.

Plus, there are multiple festivals throughout the year in which many come from more countries or regions in the US that aren’t already represented in the World Showcase, so there are even more cuisines you can sample from.

Hollywood Studios, on the other hand, has some fun themed dining options like the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and Woody’s Roundup BBQ.

Plus, if you’re adventurous when it comes to food, Galaxy’s Edge has a lot of fun and interesting food options that will test your senses!

In terms of drinks, both parks have plenty of alcohol options, but Epcot’s World Showcase again takes the lead with its various cocktail, beer and wine selections from around the world.

I will say, though, I constantly crave the black caf cold brew from Kat Saka’s Kettle in Galaxy’s Edge!

Character experiences

Both parks have plenty of opportunities to meet your favorite Disney characters, but Hollywood Studios has extra fun character experiences, like stormtroopers roaming Galaxy’s Edge, as well as Mando and Grogu. Or you might run into the Green Army Men from Toy Story in Toy Story Land.

Plus, if you have toddlers, Hollywood Studios has the perfect character breakfast for you: Disney Junior Play & Dine Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine. We took my niece when she was in preschool and she had a great time meeting Doc McStuffins and Handy Manny!

Epcot, on the other hand, offers character meet and greets in most of the countries in the World Showcase, making it a great opportunity to take photos with characters you may not see elsewhere.

Honestly, this one is a tie. Which one is best for you depends on what type of characters you are into!

If you’re looking to meet princesses and classic characters, go with Epcot. If you’re into Toy Story, Star Wars, or have Disney Junior-aged kiddos, make your way to Hollywood Studios.


Photo of stormtroopers marching down Hollywood Boulevard in the March of the First Order parade and show.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

At the moment, neither park has a parade, cavalcade, or motorcade. Both used to have parades though, so perhaps one or both will bring ’em back soon.

Nighttime shows & fireworks

Epcot is currently showing Luminous for its nighttime show, which debuted in December 2023.

Hollywood Studios has Fantasmic!, which is more of a stage show with minimal fireworks. However, they also have a projection show with fireworks called The Wonderful World of Animation.

I’m a big fan of Fantasmic! and love that Hollywood Studios has two nighttime show options.

I find Fantasmic! more entertaining than Luminous. Plus Fantasmic! has seating, so you can rest your feet after running around all day. So I’m going to give this one to Hollywood Studios.


This is a tough one to call!

On one hand, Epcot has a ton of unique souvenir options thanks to the World Showcase, where you can buy goods from different countries, whether it be clothing, jewelry, snacks, etc.

However, Hollywood Studios has a few special experiences that double as an activity and a souvenir: Savi’s Workshop and Droid Depot.

At Savi’s Workshop, guests can build their own lightsaber – how freaking cool! The experience is $249.99 plus tax. Pricey – but for a Star Wars fan, worth it!

Another unique experience is building your own droid at Droid Depot. There’s even a little area in Galaxy’s Edge where you can play with and test out your droid! This experience costs $119.99 plus tax.

As a Star Wars fan, I’m going to give Hollywood Studios the edge here. Coupling entertainment with a souvenir is so fun!

But of course, if you’re not a Star Wars fan, then Epcot might be a better bet for a unique souvenir for you.

Availability, dates, hours, and prices discussed in this post are subject to change at any time.

Special events

Both parks offer seasonal events like the popular Epcot festivals, as well as special after-hours events, like Jollywood Nights at Hollywood Studios.

I love the Epcot festivals, but since they are just part of the Epcot park experience, rather than a separately ticketed event, they don’t feel as exclusive or special as the ones at Hollywood Studios.

But they are more fun than the plain Jane after hours event, which is available at both Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

I’m gonna give this one to Epcot given that the special events at Hollywood Studios are pretty lackluster at the moment. But that could easily change!

In the meantime, check out these guides to the Epcot festivals to help you plan your day or decide when to go!

  1. Epcot Festival of the Arts
  2. Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
  3. Epcot Food and Wine Festival
  4. Epcot Festival of the Holidays

When it comes to Epcot vs Hollywood studios, which park wins?

Let’s recap my comparison of Epcot vs Hollywood Studios:

  • Transportation & parking: Epcot
  • Rope drop & early entry: TIE!
  • Rides & attractions: Hollywood Studios
  • Food & drink: Epcot
  • Character experiences: TIE!
  • Parades: Neither!
  • Nighttime shows & fireworks: Hollywood Studios
  • Souvenirs: Hollywood Studios
  • Special events: Epcot

Based on each category I evaluated, it’s a tie between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, with each park scoring 5/9.

My recommendation is to go over the categories that matter the most to you to help you decide which park to visit.

And of course, if you can visit both, I highly encourage doing so because they both have tons to offer.

Next up, check out my other Theme Park Showdown posts to help you plan your day at Disney World:

  1. Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom
  2. Animal Kingdom vs Epcot
  3. Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom
  4. Hollywood Studios vs Magic Kingdom
  5. Animal Kingdom vs Hollywood Studios

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

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This post was originally published May 12, 2023. It was last updated March 3, 2024.