Best Nine Rides: Epcot Edition
Let’s assume that The Walt Disney Company is right. They usually are, right? And since they have generations of data about theme park behavior, they should know better than anyone else how a park visit should work. According to these statistical wizards, the average guest will experience nine attractions during a park day. If that’s true, which ones should you pick? Here are my suggestions for the best nine rides during an Epcot visit.
Frozen Ever After
I’m using attractions synonymously with rides here, which makes this list pretty easy. At the moment, Epcot only operates nine rides. So, everything’s a winner! I will comment on which ones you might want to skip when you’re running short on time.
Frozen Ever After presents the most perplexing challenge. Its wait-times are generally around an hour, but it’s undeniably one of the top three rides at Epcot, at least according to most people. You should plan to show up at Rope Drop or during Extra Magic Hours if possible. Obviously, a FastPass would be even better, but those are hard to come by.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
The Mexico Pavilion hosts one of the sneaky-best attractions at Walt Disney World, at least for fans of classic boat rides. Gran Fiesta Tour is unmistakably a clone of It’s a Small World, as you ride a ship through a series of scenes.
The decorations in these scenes are puppets themed to cultural touchstones of Mexico. Also, Donald Duck and two of his closest Caballero amigos are there. This ride’s tremendous, yet there’s rarely a significant line for it.
Journey into Imagination with Figment
This one definitely falls into the category of “only if you want.” Disney fans are decidedly mixed in their opinions regarding the current version of Journey into Imagination. The original attraction was a true classic, while the second one qualifies as a true debacle. The current version falls somewhere between the two, but it’s probably closer to the second one.
The appeal of the ride lies in its charming story and upbeat message. Guests learn about the power of creativity, and they get to visit their old friend, Figment, in the process. Frustratingly, the ride about creativity isn’t exactly teeming with it. This one’s decidedly better for kids than adults, …but if you’re an adult who loves it, more power to you! I just praised Gran Fiesta Tour, one of the youngest-skewing attractions at Epcot.
Living with the Land
The term “hidden gem” gets thrown around far too often, but it definitely applies to Living with the Land. This attraction embodies the original plan for Epcot, a park that would combine entertainment and education. Informational attractions didn’t prove as popular as park officials had projected, but the concept still exists in a couple of places.
My choice for the best of them is Living with the Land. Half of the attraction is a dark ride that relays information about the history of agriculture. While Imagineers recently plussed the story and updated some of the effects, it’s still pretty dry, a class that we all slept through until the teacher caught us.
The back half of Living with the Land elevates the entire attraction. It’s a journey through the working labs at The Land pavilion. Each day, Imagineers work to combat world hunger by discovering/mastering agricultural techniques. Examples of their work are available for public consumption on the ride, and you’ll occasionally even notice cast members working in the labs. It’s a fascinating insight into the n unheralded parts of Walt Disney World.
Okay, here’s an attraction that might not be for everyone. Disney’s warning signs indicate that anyone with the following symptoms/health issues should skip the ride:
- High blood pressure
- Heart conditions
- Back problems
- Neck problems
- Motion sickness issues
The sign adds that anyone who isn’t in good health may want to pass on it. So, if you’re like most Americans, this information makes you want to ride Mission: SPACE much more. If you do, you’ll discover that the 2017 plussing has made this ride better than ever.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
At one point, Finding Nemo lorded above everything else in the Pixar library as the most successful film in the studio’s history. This ride technically isn’t a retelling of the movie’s story, but that’s a nitpick that only an Imagineer would understand.
The scenes on display function as Finding Nemo’s greatest hits and the musical accompaniments will have you humming, “In the Big Blue World” for hours afterward. I think of The Seas with Nemo & Friends as a warm hug during any park visit. I highly recommend that you ride it at least once, if not several times.
You’ll need a good park plan to ride all of Epcot’s most famous attractions. The park’s big three – Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track – all have average wait-times of at least 40 minutes. You’ll need to dedicate at least three hours for all of them. Thankfully, you can get a FastPass for one of them, which will increase your odds of enjoying all three.
When you can’t get a Frozen Ever After FastPass, I recommend Soarin’ for a reason I’ll discuss in a moment. However, no matter how you do it, you need to ride Soarin’. If it’s not the best attraction at Epcot, it’s certainly right there with whichever one you believe is. On Soarin’, you get to fly through the skies over the most gorgeous landmarks and picturesque natural settings on the planet. It’s a breathtaking journey.
The open secret at Epcot is that its most famous ride will go on sabbatical soon. Disney’s ambitious plans for modernizing the park include some changes at Spaceship Earth. According to rumors, it’ll be out of action for the body of two years. So, you need to ride this one while you can.
In fact, I believe that riding Spaceship Earth is especially important at the moment. The current version will be gone for good in just a few months. Those of you who are Epcot loyalists will want to savor every single time-traveling trip through society’s past.
The other E-ticket attraction at Epcot is the one you’ll have the least trouble riding. Thanks to the Single Rider line, you can get onboard your simulator cart in one-third of the time. The only catch is that you don’t get to participate in the design phase of Test Track, which allows you to test your own specially created vehicle.
I won’t lie. That’s a loss, but I still recommend the trade-off on crowded park days. The Test Track ride experience dazzles every time. You simply have to ride it during your Epcot visit.