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Epcot vs Magic Kingdom: Which park is best?

Getting ready for a visit to Disney World can be exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time.

With so many options of theme parks, rides, shows, and activities, how can you possibly decide which ones to choose? Especially if you are a first-time visitor!

Fear not, friends, for I am here to help you make that tough decision between two of the most beloved parks in Disney World: Epcot vs Magic Kingdom.

So, buckle up, grab a snack, and let the ultimate battle begin!

Transportation & parking

Epcot and Magic Kingdom are both easily accessible via several of Disney’s free transportation options.

Both parks have bus, monorail, and ferry boats as a transportation option. In addition, both parks have resorts within walking distance – although Epcot has more whereas Magic Kingdom has only one.

Lastly, Epcot can also be accessed via the Skyliner from select resorts, as well as when park hopping to or from Hollywood Studios.

The Minnie Van Lyft option is also available at both parks, although at an additional cost via the Lyft app.

With additional transportation options and being very walker-friendly, Epcot is the clear winner when it comes to transportation options to and from the resorts and other parks.

Rope drop & early entry

If you’re a hardcore Disney fan, you know how important rope drop is. It’s the moment right before the park officially opens when you can enter and run towards your favorite attraction without waiting in long lines.

In my experience, Magic Kingdom’s rope drop is more fun and cheerful than Epcot’s.

You get to see the opening ceremony with Mickey and friends, and wave at them as they greet you from the train station. Plus, there are more attractions open early in Magic Kingdom than in Epcot.

There isn’t all too much when it comes to Epcot’s rope drop experience, mainly because most people are heading to two spots: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or the Norway pavilion for Frozen Ever After.

I suppose in the future if Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind moves to standby instead of virtual queue, there might be more of a benefit to hitting up Epcot at rope drop.

All that said, this one’s a draw for me! If you like the rush that rope drop can bring or are an early bird, then Magic Kingdom wins by a long shot.

But if you don’t like rope drop and would rather sleep in, Epcot is the clear winner in this category.

I’m going to call this one a tie, because it true depends on individual preferences as to which one is best.

Rides & attractions

This is where things get tricky. Both parks offer unique and amazing rides and attractions that you don’t want to miss.

Magic Kingdom is the classic Disney theme park, with famous attractions like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of Caribbean.

It’s also home to the newest ride at Disney World: the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster. And let’s not forget, the iconic Cinderella’s Castle, complete with a princess character dining experience.

Epcot, on the other hand, is more educational and cultural, with attractions like Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

It’s also home to the lone Marvel attraction at Disney World: the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster.

If you have kids or are a fan of Disney’s classic movies, then Magic Kingdom is the way to go.

However, if you’re interested in learning about different cultures and technologies, then Epcot is your jam.

But if I had to pick between the two, I’d go with Magic Kingdom because it has more options and a wider variety of options.

You might also like: Learn more about rides and attractions at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

Food & drink

Both parks offer a wide variety of food and drink options that suit every taste and budget. However, Epcot steals the show when it comes to food and drink.

Epcot’s World Showcase is a culinary paradise that takes you on a delicious tour around the world one bite or sip at a time.

From violet sake and fresh sushi in Japan or fresh pasta and gelato in Italy to champagne and macarons in France or empanadas and margaritas in Mexico…well, you get the idea.

Epcot is filled with delicious food from a wide variety of cuisines. You won’t find that much diversity when it comes to food and drink at Magic Kingdom. It’s rather bland with very few standouts.

Character experiences

Meeting your favorite Disney characters is a magical moment that you’ll treasure forever.

Both parks offer character meet and greets with classic Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie.

However, Magic Kingdom has more character meet and greet locations and character dining spots, and thus more characters overall, so you’ll have a higher chance of meeting your favorites.

Epcot, on the other hand, has a few unique character meet and greets like Mulan in China, Joy and Sadness at ImageWorks, or the upcoming Figment meet-and-greet at the Imagination pavilion.

Since Magic Kingdom has more options, I’m going to give it the win for this category. But that could change in the future once the Celebration Hall opens in Epcot, which is rumored to be opening this year with several new character experiences.

Souvenirs & gift shops

No visit to Disney World is complete without a souvenir to bring back home.

Both parks have numerous souvenir shops that sell everything from Mickey ears and sweet treats to plush toys and t-shirts.

However, Magic Kingdom has a larger selection of souvenirs and shops overall, including the iconic Emporium on Main Street USA.

Epcot’s souvenir shops are more unique in theme and products, with shops like Mitsukoshi in Japan selling authentic Japanese products and La Bottega Italiana in Italy selling designer jewelry and accessories.

If you’re looking for classic park gear, Magic Kingdom is your best bet. But if you’re looking for something unique, Epcot might be the spot.

At the end of the day, if I had to pick between the two, I’d go with Epcot because you can get both classic and unique souvenirs there!


This is an easy category to judge simply because Epcot doesn’t have a parade, so by default, the Magic Kingdom wins.

However, even if Epcot did have a parade, Magic Kingdom would probably still win because there are two parades at Magic Kingdom: the Festival of Fantasy Parade & the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.

Many years ago, Epcot had a small parade with characters that I could swear were in a red double decker bus from the UK. But as of May 2023, there is no parade at this park.

Nighttime shows & fireworks

Last but not least, both parks have spectacular nighttime shows and fireworks that you shouldn’t miss.

Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks show is a must-watch for those who love Disney’s classic movies and songs.

It’s a beautiful show that combines projection, fireworks, music, and of course, our favorite Disney characters and stories.

Luminous at Epcot is brand-new (debuted in December 2023) and worth a watch, but it’s just not as classic or stunning as the Magic Kingdom’s show.

Luminous is growing on me, but as it is new, it’s incredibly hard to find a decent spot to watch the show without having to camp out more than an hour ahead. Therefore, Magic Kingdom wins this category, as you can still enjoy the show, no matter where you watch it from within the park (or even outside of it!).

Special Events

Both parks have unique experiences and events that you won’t find anywhere else.

For example, Magic Kingdom has the famous Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that offer special parades, shows, character experiences, and holiday theming.

Epcot is well-known for its festivals, the Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden Festival, the über-popular Food and Wine Festival, and Festival of the Holidays, all of which offer delicious food and drink tastings and special activities.

I love both of the special events at this park, but I’m going to give the win to Epcot mainly because the festivals are included as part of admission, whereas the parties at Magic Kingdom require a separate ticket – even if you have an annual pass.

Which park is better: Epcot or Magic Kingdom?

Let’s recap my comparison of Epcot vs. Magic Kingdom:

  1. Transportation & parking: Epcot
  2. Rope drop & early entry: TIE
  3. Rides & attractions: Magic Kingdom
  4. Food & drink: Epcot
  5. Character experiences: Magic Kingdom
  6. Souvenirs & gift shops: Epcot
  7. Parades: Magic Kingdom
  8. Nighttime shows & fireworks: Magic Kingdom
  9. Special events: Epcot

Between all the categories, Epcot and Magic Kingdom both scored 5 out of 9, making this a tie!

Both parks have unique charms and experiences that make them worth visiting. If you’re still undecided, review the categories that matter most to you to help you break the tie.

But, if you have a park hopper ticket or annual pass, I highly recommend visiting both. You can take the monorail between these two parks, which is like a ride on its own!

What’s your verdict when it comes to Epcot vs Magic Kingdom? Let’s chat in the comments below.

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

  1. Hollywood Studios vs Epcot
  2. Epcot vs Magic Kingdom
  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 on May 11, 2023. It was last updated on March 3, 2024.