“May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.” – E. Card Walker, CEO of Walt Disney Productions (October 24, 1982)
Welcome back to another “Ranked” article here on Laughing Place. We’re heading back to the Walt Disney World Resort to countdown all of the attractions at my personal favorite park, EPCOT.
UPDATED 6/3/2022: I have now had the chance to ride EPCOT’s newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and I have placed it into my ranking. Read on to see where it fits into the line-up.
So with that, let’s countdown my Top
19 20 attractions at EPCOT!
20. Friendship Boats
We start at the bottom with a ride that is by no means bad, but just somewhat unexciting, and that is the Friendship Boats. At EPCOT, these boats serve as transportation from the front half of World Showcase to the back, and vice-versa. It’s an enjoyable ride that will really help you out if you’ve got sore feet, but it is just transportation.
19. Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
The Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival is one of those things that is fun for what it is, a good diversion. However, all three shorts featured within can be streamed on Disney+. So aside from the 3D element, there’s nothing unique here warranting your time.
18. Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
The real problem with the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along is that the attraction takes over for Impressions de France for most of the day, relegating that show to only playing for the last 2 hours or so when the park is open. What makes the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along rank slightly higher than the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival is the different storytelling, making Le Fou the unsung hero of the piece. Aside from that though, it’s just a short retelling of the classic animated film.
17. Turtle Talk with Crush
Turtle Talk with Crush is an excellent show for its target audience: children. The technology allowing kids to talk with Crush is still impressive 15 years after the show first debuted. The integration of the show into the formerly more scientific The Living Seas pavilion was done very well too. When it comes to interactive shows like this, I personally prefer the more family-oriented comedy over at the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
16. Canada Far & Wide
Canada Far & Wide is a new version of the classic O’ Canada Circle Vision 360 film that has been running at EPCOT in one form or another since the park opened in 1982. While I love the narration from the Schitt’s Creek duo of Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, I do think this version of the show on the whole is a slight downgrade from the previous version with Martin Short. The comedy was excellent in that version, if a bit overdone in places, and the overall flow of the show seemed to work better. It also featured a far better orchestration of “Canada (You’re a Lifetime Journey),” using the same lyrical recording as the current version.
15. Reflections of China
Reflections of China is a show that still feels like a true, classic EPCOT. Although this particular version of the show debuted in 2003, it still uses many elements from the original Wonders of China show. The musical score for this show is grand and epic, perfectly befitting the Circle Vision experience. A new show, called Wondrous China, was announced a few years back, but we’ve yet to see any progress on that. In any case, get your viewings of Reflections in, as its days are numbered.
14. Awesome Planet
A show that debuted in 2020, yet somehow feels like a product of EPCOT days gone by, Awesome Planet is, well… awesome! First, we must talk about the wall carpet in the pre-show area. Wall carpet forever. Now, on to the show itself, which is an epic look at the planet we all share, with beautiful images and a stern warning that we must protect our awesome planet. The score to Awesome Planet is great as well, composed by Steven Price, who also is a big part of the new EPCOT entrance music. The show is an excellent little diversion to add some true edutainment to your day at EPCOT.
13. Mission: SPACE
Mission: SPACE is an attraction that will always live in the shadow of its far superior predecessor, Horizons. Most EPCOT fanboys would agree that Horizons was one of the greatest attractions of all time, and it's really hard for a relatively simple simulator ride to live up to that. What Mission: SPACE does do great is the edutainment element, whether you go for the extreme Orange side or the less intense Green side. As with most of EPCOT, the musical landscape surrounding the beautiful entrance plaza of the attraction is excellent. Extra points go to the pavilion for the recent addition of the Space: 220 restaurant, which adds a whole other layer to the pavilion. The journey to space and experience aboard the space station is perhaps more impressive than what you can find in the attraction right next door.
12. The Seas with Nemo & Friends
A rare upgrade from days of EPCOT’s past, The Seas with Nemo & Friends omnimover attraction significantly expanded upon the former SeaCabs, providing a more story-based attraction, along with some impressive sets and visual effects. Perhaps my favorite scene in the attraction is the angel fish chasing Marlin, an impressive effect made possible through the use of a Kuka arm. The ride ends with “The Big Blue World” song from the lackluster Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is put to far better use here as the ride’s grand finale.
11. Impressions de France
The only attraction at EPCOT to receive no significant changes since 1982 (aside from projector upgrades) is Impressions de France. This is a true timeless classic, with beautifully arranged classical music and the immense beauty of the French countryside. Nothing could be done to perfect this show, and that’s likely why it has stuck around for so long. I just wish I had more than two hours at the end of the night to be able to see it!
10. Gran Fiesta Tour
Originally opening in 1982 as El Rio Del Tiempo, this simple boat ride through Mexico was updated in 2007 to feature The Three Caballeros. It was further updated in 2015 with animatronics of The Three Caballeros, adding a proper finale to the attraction. While there is a lot of screen based work with some questionable acting, it’s a ride that always puts a smile on my face, specifically the finale.
9. Soarin’ Around the World
Soarin’ Around the World was a much needed upgrade to Soarin’ at EPCOT, which originally featured the California film from Disney California Adventure. Now, your flight takes you all around the world, a trip that makes perfect sense at a park like EPCOT. While we now have more technologically impressive flight simulators like Flight of Passage, Soarin’ is still a magical experience. As I’ve mentioned with quite a lot of attractions at EPCOT, the music here is absolutely breathtaking. Jerry Goldsmith’s original score was perfectly updated by Bruce Broughton for the new version. While I personally prefer the original California film, I think EPCOT is better off with Soarin’ Around the World.
8. Journey into Imagination with Figment
Everytime I ride Journey into Imagination with Figment, I can’t help but think of the original Dreamfinder-filled version that closed in 1998 as perhaps the most short-sighted decision ever made in the history of the Disney Parks. While this current version of the attraction does not hold a candle to the original, it still has its moments. Figment is still one of my favorite Disney characters, and it's a joy to still see him in this ride. Figment’s upside-down house and the explosive finale are classic scenes worthy of the original, so it is nice to be able to at least get a little imagination.
7. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
The first brand-new addition to World Showcase since 1989 is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This clone of the same attraction from Walt Disney Studios Paris is a perfect addition to EPCOT’s line-up. The architecture of the new expansion fits in perfectly with the rest of the France pavilion, while the attraction itself is something that truly feels brand new for EPCOT. I for one can’t wait to get in some more rides on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
6. The American Adventure
One of the last remaining attractions virtually unchanged since opening year is The American Adventure, an almost 30-minute long epic retelling of the story of America. The technology on display here is still impressive 40 years later. The way the animatronics are integrated with the screen based storytelling is truly a marvel to behold, while the writing of the show itself truly paints an idealized version of what America should strive to be. Choosing Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain to host the show was a stroke of genius. The “Golden Dream” finale never fails to bring a tear to my eye, as we honor some of history’s finest Americans.
5. Living with the Land
File this under the list of attractions that should by no means be as entertaining as it is. Living with the Land is a wonderfully relaxing boat ride, first taking you through various different environments, before seeing the effect we have on the land, through the barnhouse and into the sprawling greenhouses. There’s always something new to look at, as the greenhouses are constantly being tended to and updated. A special shoutout has to go to the holiday version of the attraction, which now features an updated narration, along with abundant Christmas decorations.
4. Frozen Ever After
Frozen Ever After is a somewhat controversial attraction among Disney fans, having replaced the character-less Maelstrom with a ride dedicated to one of Disney’s biggest franchises. While I certainly enjoyed Maelstrom, it was a bit disjointed. I would be the first to admit that Frozen Ever After is a better attraction. For starters, the indoor themed queue through the streets of Arendelle is a vast improvement over the tall green walls of its predecessor. With Frozen Ever After, Disney actually expanded the track length, giving us an additional scene prior to the lift hill. What follows are many scenes that just radiate pure joy. Perhaps the best scene is the “Let it Go” scene, where the action of going backwards down the waterfall is perfectly timed to the music. Like it or not, IP-based attractions are here to stay, and if they’re generally done as tastefully as Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, then I’m a happy EPCOT fan.
3. Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is the mission statement ride for EPCOT. Contained within one of the most impressive man made structures ever built, this 15 minute-long slow moving ride tells the story of human development, from the caves and into the future. Or should I say, your future? The first half of Spaceship Earth is nothing short of perfect. Animatronic heavy with a focus on edutainment is what the original EPCOT Center was all about. Spaceship Earth maintains this feel to this day. Sadly, the descent was somewhat ruined in the attraction’s last major refurbishment. Instead of an emotional, yet hopeful look at the future, we now have screens showing a cute cartoon. It’s fun, but doesn’t live up to its former self. But with Spaceship Earth, the good far outweighs the bad. Let’s hope the long planned refurbishment (that was postponed due to COVID) finally happens soon, and turns Spaceship Earth back into a hopeful beacon of the future.
2. Test Track
For a long time, my favorite attraction at EPCOT was Test Track, a ride that perfectly blends together the old and new versions of EPCOT. First and foremost, Test Track is a thrill ride. The finale accelerates you up to 65 mph, and the rest of the ride is no slouch either. However the educational and design elements to the queue and the ride itself make this a fine example of modern edutainment. While I enjoyed the previous, more industrial version of Test Track, I do much prefer the current TRON-esque futuristic feel, which I think fits in far better with the true purpose of EPCOT.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Why yes, EPCOT’s newest attraction is also its best! So far, I’ve had the opportunity to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind three times, and my jaw was consistently on the floor. This whole experience makes a statement. From the grand exterior, to the equally as grand Wonders of Xandar exhibition as you enter the building, to a mind-blowing two-part pre-show, this attraction impresses before you even get to the ride itself. Just as important is the educational aspect, which has been worked in quite nicely during the queue, and to a lesser extent, the ride, referencing the Big Bang and other scientific discoveries we “Terrans” have made. Once you board the ride though, that’s where things truly get incredible. It is just pure fun and spectacle. I don’t want to get too far into spoiler territory this soon after opening, but just know that this ride does not disappoint. The visuals are incredible, the classic song choices are a blast, and the whole experience is smooth and thrilling.
I hope you all enjoyed this ranking of the attractions at EPCOT. If you want to see some more theme park rankings, feel free to check out my other “Ranked” articles listed below:
- The Attractions of Islands of Adventure
- The Attractions of Universal Studios Florida
- The Attractions of Universal Studios Hollywood
- The Attractions of SeaWorld Orlando
- The Attractions of SeaWorld San Diego
- The Attractions of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- The Roller Coasters of Busch Gardens Tampa
- The Roller Coasters of Dollywood
- The Roller Coasters of California’s Great America
- The Roller Coasters of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
- The Roller Coasters of Six Flags Magic Mountain