Are you ready to virtually experience the BEST Epcot rides?
“The Magic of Possibility.” Epcot Center’s original slogan when it first opened to guests on October 1, 1982. Epcot fans to this day herald the park for its commitment to edutainment, a form of teaching guests about specific topics in an entertaining fashion.
To this day, Guests still fondly remember these types of edutainment attractions. These rides and attractions were sponsored mainly by outside companies and once those ended, the attractions would eventually and sadly disappear.
If you ask anyone, they will bring up Horizons, the sequel to Carousel of Progress located in Magic Kingdom. Or they will mention Kitchen Kabaret or its replacement, Food Rocks!
Some will have eye glaze over as the remember their cherished moments with World of Motion or Universe of Energy.
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Present Day Epcot
Today, Epcot doesn’t put as much of a basis on these kinds of attractions, rather they are focusing on IPs (Intellectual Properties).
Depending on which Epcot fan you speak to, this could be the worst thing to happen to Epcot OR Epcot is simply adapting to the times and progressing as it should.
Regardless, fans can all agree that Epcot still has some pretty decent rides and attractions.
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Best Rides at Epcot
Take a journey with me as today we will be ranking the top 9 Epcot Rides and Attractions that currently reside there today.
This list will not include extinct attractions, like the ones mentioned above, or future, upcoming attractions, like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. I will be including some neat facts, tips and some readers’ top three favorite Epcot attractions along the way.
These rankings were done based on thrill, history, popularity and fun! With just a spark, let’s get started!
9. The Seas with Nemo and Friends
The Seas with Nemo and Friends replaced The Living Seas attraction, which opened with the pavilion in 1986. The Living Seas was an edutainment attraction that showcased a stunning saltwater aquarium that holds 5.7 million US Gallons.
The aquarium is still a big draw to the Seas Pavilion today. Sadly, the seacab ride which was part of the Living Seas, was walled off after a decline due to the September 11th attacks. It did not reopen.
A New Version of The Living Seas Comes to Life
In December 2003, it was decided that a complete retheme of the pavilion would take place and The Living Seas would be replaced by the Academy Award winning Pixar film “Finding Nemo.”
The attraction would open to the public on January 24, 2007 and become the first Epcot Pavilion to be based on a Disney IP.
Guests will board “Clamobiles” and journey into the sea with Marlin to help find nemo. Again.
They will explore the coral reef and encounter many aquatic animals like jellyfish, various sharks, anglerfish and so much more in their quest to find nemo. Guests end the attraction in the massive aquarium singing the “In the Big Blue World.”
The song is not featured in the film but in the Stage musical based on the film located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Generally, this is considered a family attraction. But if you are a solo traveler who enjoys the film, then I would certainly say this attraction is for you.
The attraction’s entrance features the hilarious seagulls, also known as the “MINE!” birds doing their infamous call.
Generally, I would say a FastPass is not needed for this one as a solo traveler. If you want to relax in a cool place, this pavilion is for you.
At the end of the attraction, the characters swim into the actual aquarium using a special effect glass and you can tour the aquarium itself once you deboard your clamobile.
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8. Journey Into Imagination With Figment
This attraction is controversial throughout the Disney fandom due to the fact that the current version is the third incarnation of the attraction.
Some prefer the original. Others prefer this version. Some state that the second incarnation ruined the original and that the current version was to make up for it.
Regardless, this Epcot ride and its lead character, Figment, is beloved by many and continues to be a figurehead for the park today.
The current version opened to guests on June 2, 2002 (only 2 years after the second incarnation opened due to its negative response).
The attraction is located inside of the Imagination Pavilion, Home to the former and famous Rainbow tunnel and currently a Disney Vacation Club Lounge.
Another Version of Figment?
This third version puts Figment in a bigger role and does not feature Figment’s partner from the original, Dreamfinder. Figment is in every scene and the famous “One Little Spark” by the incomprable Sherman Brothers returned with new lyrics.
The second and current incarnations were created by Tom Fitzgerald , the current Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive of WDI Management.
This version is 5 mins long and studies the five senses and would be considered an edutainment attraction in the classic sense for Epcot rides of the past.
What to Expect on This Epcot Attraction
Guests enter an open house for the Imagination institute where Dr. Nigel Channing showcases the five labs: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch and Taste.
However, Figment wants to assist and chaos ensues. Eventually, Channing stops the tour at the Touch and Taste labs, which one wonders what would be like with figment.
Figment turns the open house literally upside down once Channing abandons the tour and Channing learns that, like Figment, Imagination should be set free and unrestrained.
Channing joins Figment and with the guests, sing a hearty rendition of “One Little Spark.” Here, guests leave their vehicles and can enter ImageWorks, where guests can explore their own imagination in various activities.
It’s very unlikely you will need a FastPass for this attraction unless its an unusually busy park day.
I personally have only seen this happen twice in my entire time You should also take your time when going through the queue for some nods to the former versions of the attraction.
In the first showroom, for example, there is an office door labeled “Dean Finder” in honor of Dreamfinder. This pavilion was originally sponsored by Kodak but has since ended its 28-year run in 2010.
This is another nice place to rest as a solo traveler or just to slow down and explore.
7. Mission: Space
Another Epcot ride with a controversial history is Mission: Space. Did you know that when this attraction originally debuted, is was essentially built on the grave site of the beloved Horizons attraction, which closed in 1999.
The space simulator attraction is located in Future World and opened on August 15, 2003. It reopened with a second version on August 13, 2017, which I will dive into later.
The original sponsors were COMPAQ up until 2015 when Hewlett-Packard assumed sponsorship duties when COMPAQ merged with HP.
There is a lounge for HP employees called the Red Planet Room. But being as how HP no longer sponsors this attraction, it’s unclear what the lounge is used for now.
What to Expect on this Epcot Ride
This attraction is a space simulator where guests will take the role of astronauts training for the first manned mission to mars in the year 2036, right after the 75th anniversary of the first human to enter space.
Guests then board the X-2 in the fictional International Space Training Center (ITSC) and are arranged into groups of four before an intro video is played to explain what’s about to happen to guests.
Originally, it was Gary Sinise, known from CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. Since the refurb in 2017, it is now done by Gina Torres who’s done work on Gossip Girl, Star Wars Rebels and Westworld.
Each rider on Mission: Space is given a position for the space shuttle. You are either the:
Each guest is shown what to do so no need to worry about messing anything up.
The ride is a favorite amongst guests due to its thrill and ability to hit G forces of 2.5, along with the ability to truly have an authentic experience close enough to what astronauts have. But now here comes the controversy.
The Controversial History of Mission: Space
Originally, the attraction only had one version for guests, the Mars Mission.
While the ride did warn via spiels and signs throughout the attraction that those with various issues such as: being prone to motion sickness, a discomfort of enclosed spaces and elevated anxiety should not ride, It also warned that the ride could call dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc.
Despite these warning, several guests, may who were over 55, were rushed to local hospitals for nausea and chest pain. Unfortunately, two people with pre-existing conditions died after riding Mission Space.
Because of these incidents, the ride closed briefly to be refurbished. Two versions of the ride was available to guests once it reopened in May 2006.
The original Version, dubbed Mission: Orange stayed. The less intense version, Mission: Green, or Earth Mission, is less intense and has no spinning unlike Orange.
It is recommended to get a FastPass for this attraction as its very popular due to the lack of thrill rides in Epcot. If you are a a fan of Horizons, there are tributes all over the queue.
My personal favorite is the Horizons logo located on the rotating gravity wheel.
Another one you can catch if you are into Disney History is a tribute to the Mission to Mars and Flight to the Moon attractions. Bird landing footage in the mission control room is used.
Overall, if you want to try something unique, this form of thrilling edutainment will be the one you have to try!
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6. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
This cherished classic wasn’t built on the grave of another attraction or opened with its pavilion, but it still is one of the most popular attractions today.
Located in Mexico Pavilion in World Showcase, The Gran Fiesta Tour is a dark water ride that replaced El Rio De Tiempo.
It is the first attraction to feature Disney Characters based on an existing property, the second being Frozen Ever After which replaced Maelstrom in Norway Pavilion.
What to Expect on this Epcot Dark Ride
Opening on April 6, 2007, Guests board the boats where they see posters for a concert being played by the caballeros themselves.
Guests pass by the Mayan pyramid and volcano, as well as passing by the San Angel Inn Restaurante. Reminiscent of how one passes by Blue Bayou when riding Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland resort.
As you hit the corner, you see two of the trio, discovering that Donald is missing!
The next few scenes you go with the duo, exploring Mexico on a flying poncho of sorts, searching for him. Following, you enter a cave with a few awesome live action scenes and leave finding Donald at last!
You end your adventure in Mexico City with fireworks and three awesome animatronics of the trio giving the concert.
These animatronics came all the way from Tokyo Disney Resort.
This is another one where you won’t necessarily need a FastPass. The longest wait I have seen is 20-minutes, which is quite long for this attraction. It has a runtime of 5-minutes.
At least you’ll be able to wait in an air-conditioned building. And if you are traveling solo, this attraction usually looks for parties of 1 or 2 often on the chance it is busy, so that will work out in your favor.
5. Frozen Ever After
We travel into the unknown…..well not really! We are entering very familiar territory with this next attraction.
Frozen Ever After is the youngest of the Epcot attractions and the second Disney IP to take over a former attraction in World Showcase, with Gran Fiesta Tour being the first.
Frozen Ever After sparked mixed reactions from fans when it was announced.
During the time, some felt the market was saturated with the film and genuinely was sad to see its predecessor, Maelstrom, leave forever. Others were absolutely thrilled that a Frozen Attraction was coming to the parks.
This attraction, since it opened in June 2016, was so popular that similar versions are being built at other Disney Parks across the globe.
What to Expect on This Epcot Dark Ride
Frozen Ever After uses audio animatronics that improve on the facial animation that we see used on the dwarves in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The ones in this attraction are also the first to utilize electricity.
There are also no new songs in this attraction but original songs with revised lyrics by the original composers. They use scenes that remind guests of Frozen and the Frozen Fever Short.
Guests board a boat into Arendelle on the anniversary of when Anna Saved Elsa with an act of true love. This day is declared “Official Summer Snow Day!”
You can see lots of ads for the day in the queue and even take a stroll through Trading Oaken’s. There’s also familiar faces like Olaf and Sven singing a classic Frozen song together.
Then passing by Grand Pabbie retelling the tale to some young ones, you enter Elsa’s spectacular Ice Palace!
Time to Let it Go!
Eventually, you will run into Anna and Kristoff setting you up to the gates of the palace. You will be given a gorgeous rendition of “Let It Go” by Elsa and sent backwards throughout the palace.
After running into Marshmallow and some Snowgies, you return to Arendelle and find all the Frozen gang singing “In Summer” together.
This dark ride is 5 minutes long and a credit to Walt Disney Imagineering. It is also still extremely popular so FastPasses are strongly encouraged or make sure you rope drop to rush over to the attraction.
Please be safe if you do the latter option as I’ve seen crowds get a bit unsafe as they rush through the park to get to the ride located in Norway Pavilion in World Showcase.
My suggestion would be to enter through International Gateway as its already in the middle of World Showcase. It’ll plop you in between the bridge for U.K. and France pavilions. Go past the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilion and head towards Mexico Pavilion.
Norway is right after and a shorter walk compared to walking from the main park’s entrance through Future World.
4. Living With The Land
Most fans can agree that Living with the Land is cherished and classic in Epcot. Located within the Land Pavilion in Future World, it is a slow-moving ride focused on agriculture and environmental life.
This edutainment ride still stands as a favorite today as it gives guests a chance to relax while learning about new technology that assists with sustainability.
What to Expect on This Epcot Ride
Living with the Land is about a 20-minute ride that debuted with the park in October 1982. It tends to close when the sun sets since it depends on the sunlight to run.
This ride also is one of the few in the park that continues to have a sponsor, Chiquita Brands International, with predecessors being Nestle and Kraft.
Living with the land is an upgraded version of “Listen to the Land.” Very little changed between the two versions but some noticeable changes include the theme song “Listen to the land” no longer being used in the attraction.
Also, ,the attraction uses an automated guide instead of a cast member.
First Portion of Living with the Land
Living with the Land has a dark ride section in the beginning of the ride where guests go through natural settings like rainforests in the middle of a thunderstorm, a desert and a prairie. It sets the tone for how nature shapes the land.
Biomes in the attraction stimulate heat, mist, wind as well as sound and lighting effects to simulate the conditions.
The first section concludes with guests floating into a small theater that shares the relationship between nature and humans, and how we have changed it to suit our needs and purposes.
Second Portion of Living with the Land
The second section is the most popular amongst guests, The Living Laboratory. It features five sections which allow guests to see nature in a greenhouse setting.
Guests can actually do an affordable “Behind the Seeds” tour to explore a bit more of it.
The Living Laboratory has five sections:
- The Tropics Greenhouse features crops from tropical areas around the globe like bananas, dragon fruit, vanilla, pineapple and papaya.
- Aquacell focuses on aquaculture and features alligators, tilapia, bass, catfish and sturgeon.
- Temperate Greenhouse features large sized crops such as Atlantic giant pumpkins and winter melon. But it also showcases sunflower, beets and turnip too. All things that grow in temperate climates.
- The String Greenhouse showcases innovative ways to grow different crops. It utilized the vertical growing technique and the Nutrient film technique. They also share how they grow mickey mouse shaped pumpkins and cucumbers using a special mold. Other crops include Lettuce and snake gourds.
- Creative Greenhouse showcases unusual ideas regarding the future of agriculture. It features NASA hydroponic growing units and plants grown via aeroponics.
When water and nutrients are sprayed directly onto the roots. The living lab also contains a Biotech lab and a Integrated Pest Management lab.
Little known fact that some of the fish featured are harvested for Coral Reef Restaurant.
On top of this being one of the original Epcot edutainment attractions, it’s great for solo travelers as its rarely busy.
During the holiday season, it gets a special overlay. It’s rare that you need a FastPass for this attraction, but it’s a great way to relax and truly appreciate the wonder of nature and agriculture.
It may be a bit awkward if you have Coral Reef reservations after though.
3. Test Track
Test Track is by far one of the most popular among fans at Epcot to ride. This attraction rarely ceases to have long wait times and many rope drop the park specifically for this ride.
It has seen only one refurbishment since it opened to the public officially on March 17, 1999, but it was essentially a complete overhaul from what older Epcot fans once remembered. It all has to do with sponsorship.
When Test Track debuted, it replaced World of Motion, another beloved Epcot classic edutainment attraction. But there were no complaints once Test Track came to be from guests although it did face issues during construction and faced quite a bit of downtime during soft opening.
It was a welcomed thrill ride that turned guests into crash test dummies in the General Motors facility. Guests experienced how the GM cars were tested to make sure they were ready to go and be sold.
Nothing was more thrilling than the speed test and crashing through a wall to the outside going at top speeds of 64.9 MPH, claiming the title of being the fastest Disney attraction on property. A complete list of fastest rides on Disney property can be found here.
A New Look
Fans of the classic would be heartbroken when it was announced that due to a new sponsorship by Chevrolet, the attraction would be getting a complete re-haul. The original closed on April 2012 and reopened on December 6, 2012.
Everything was updated to look sleek, modern and technologically advanced. Guests now design their own cars in the Chevrolet Design Studio and with their designs connected to their RFID Magicbands. They are able to test their cars on the tracks based on efficiency, capability, responsiveness and power.
What to Expect on this High-thrill Epcot Ride
The tests are run through a tron style facility while connected to ONSTAR and the track hasn’t changed at all otherwise.
The finale of zooming outside at 64.9 MPH is still intact but the post show allows you to see the latest in Chevrolet vehicles, race your designs, peruse the gift shop and more.
What might please fans is that the World of Motion logo can still be found throughout the attraction.
This attraction is an absolute must do and FastPass is a must as well. It is easier to maneuver as a solo traveler since you can utilize the single rider line and possibly get through quicker if you time it right.
I would suggest going when the park opens or during lunch time, between 11a.m -1p.m. This ride is the perfect ride for first time thrill seekers, car enthusiasts and everyone in between.
2. Soarin’ Around The World
Soarin’ is located inside the Land pavilion at Epcot and is one of the popular, if not the most popular rides in Epcot and Walt Disney World Property.
So popular in fact that this is the second incarnation of the ride to exist. The original was at Disney California Adventure.
As of now, there are versions of this attraction at these two parks, as well as Shanghai and Tokyo Disney Resort. Like most younger attractions, this one replaced an Epcot classic, Food Rocks and before that Kitchen Kabaret.
Guests go through an airport gates and loaded as such. The theme, spiel and announcements are all airport themed which gets everyone pumped for a grand tour around the world.
What to Expect on this Epcot Ride
The ride boasts three theaters to accommodate guests and was added in summer 2016 to assist with getting more riders through per hour, up to 87 per theater in fact.
The original opened in Spring 2005.The experience lasts about 5 minutes as you are raised in hang gliders 80-ft. above the ground.
Your attendant, Patrick Warburton, known for his work as Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove , Joe from Family Guy and Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events, is a crowd favorite.
Soarin Around The World is the updated version of the original and boasts new computer imagery, transitions between scenes and a new score conducted by the London Studio Orchestra.
They keep it thrilling with some close calls but you will visit places including The Matterhorn in Switzerland, Sydney Harbour in Australia, The Taj Mahal in India, The Neuschwanstein Castle, inspiration for Cinderella Castle, in Germany, MT. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania and more!
The most talked about feature of the attraction is the smells pumped through the attraction. You can smell the salty sea air, Citrus oranges and other decadent and surreal things.
This attraction is another rope dropper for most guests. Mainly due to the fact that its family friendly, it can boast high wait times so if you can, grab a FastPass or visit towards the end of the evening.
1. Spaceship Earth
To no one’s surprise, the park icon itself tops off at the number one spot for this list. There is absolutely nothing like this in the world and its first of its kind.
It is a sphere within a sphere, with the second holding the Spaceship Earth attraction itself. The ride is environmentally friendly, boasting a unique rain draining system and opened with the park in 1982.
It symbolizes communication throughout history and how far we are going with it. It also symbolizes progress and the hope for a bright future. I
t was announced during D23 Expo that the attraction would close for an extensive refurbishment, but due to the 2020 global crisis, it was placed on hold.
You can dive deeper into the history of Spaceship Earth in our post here.
What to Expect on this Epcot Ride
Spaceship Earth is usually either the first or last attraction guests ride on. It is a time machine themed ride where guests board vehicles and explore how communication was born and advanced through the years.
Starting from the age of cavemen to Alexandria and the birth of mathematics, the birth of the printing press and into the age of computers.
The ride is a nice place to rest with a ride time of 15-minutes. Not to worry, your host Dame Judi Dench, known for Shakespeare in Love and Skyfall, will guide you through your journey safely.
The attraction features a gorgeous mural dedicated to communication at the entrance and has interactive features where you can craft your own future.
The post show, “Project Tomorrow” has several attractions to entertain you while staying cool from the florida heat.
One of the most popular and unintentional being the Bubblegum wall outside of the exit, which is popular amongst Disney Instagrammers for photo-ops. This attraction is hit and miss depending on when you go to ride.
Lately I have seen very long wait times going past the queue to ride, so best bet would be to FastPass if possible.
If not available, visit around lunchtime or near park close. I have gone during park close and had the whole ride to myself before. It’s a very cool experience, especially if you are a solo traveler.
Do you agree with our list for the top 9 Epcot rides and attractions? Let us know in the comments below or let us know if you want a list for the other parks!
About the Author
Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.
She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.
She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.