So you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World – congratulations! Before jetting off to the most magical place on Earth, you have some questions about what you and your loved ones should do while you’re there. Which park offers the most rides? Which one is best for toddlers? Which park has the least amount of walking? I answer all of these questions and more in an effort to find out: What really is the best theme park at Disney World?
While I could easily make the argument that EVERY park at Walt Disney World is the best, it ultimately comes down to the ages and interests of everyone in your party. First up – which Disney park offers the most attractions?
Which Walt Disney World Park Has the Most Rides?
When it comes to determining which park at Walt Disney World offers the most rides and attractions, Magic Kingdom easily takes the cake. The original Disney World theme park has 21 different rides that are suited for all age ranges.
Epcot comes in second place with nine rides, while Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios each have seven and nine rides, respectively.
Read more: Magic Kingdom Rides
Which Disney Park Has the Most Thrill Rides?
The good news is that you’ll find thrills at every Walt Disney World park you visit. We’ve provided a list of the most thrilling rides at each park below:
- Splash Mountain (Frontierland)
- Space Mountain (Tomorrowland)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Frontierland)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Fantasyland)
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Sunset Boulevard)
- Slinky Dog Dash (Toy Story Land)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Sunset Boulevard)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge)
- Test Track (Future World)
- Mission: SPACE (Future World)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Future World; scheduled to open in 2021)
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Asia)
- DINOSAUR (DinoLand, U.S.A.)
Honorable mention: It’s Tough to be a Bug in Discovery Island. While it’s not a thrill ride, this dark show surprises a lot of people by how scary it is. When the Cast Members usher you into the building, you’re asked to sit in the middle of your row. During the show, large animatronic spiders drop from the ceiling as a result of Hopper’s demands, which is why you’re asked to sit in the middle of the row. While the show is meant to teach audiences what it’s like to be a bug, it is not something I recommend for children (or adults) who are scared of the dark and/or bugs. I’ve been going to Walt Disney World for 30 years and it’s one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had in all of my years visiting.
Which Disney Park is the Best for 5 Year Olds?
While there is something to do for every age at every Walt Disney World theme park, parents will most likely get the most bang for their buck spending their day at either Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.
Since Magic Kingdom has the most rides, they also offer the biggest selection for young children. At Magic Kingdom, the following rides don’t have an age or height requirement:
- Pirates of the Caribbean (beware, there is a small drop on the ride)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland, Storybook Circus)
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Adventureland)
- “it’s a small world” (Fantasyland)
- Mad Tea Party (Fantasyland)
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel (Fantasyland)
- Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Fantasyland)
- Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid (Fantasyland)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Tomorrowland)
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (Tomorrowland)
In Hollywood Studios, the following rides don’t have an age or height requirement:
- Toy Story Mania! (Toy Story Land)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Hollywood Boulevard)
While Hollywood Studios doesn’t offer as many attractions that are suitable for children of any age, they offer a slew of interactive shows and experiences such as Voyage of the Little Mermaid, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. The park is also home to Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, both of which are some of the most immersive theming that Walt Disney World has ever offered guests.
Which Disney Theme Park is Best for Adults?
In terms of the top Disney theme park for adults, Epcot has been long touted as the best. Epcot is split up into two sections: Future World and the World Showcase. While Future World offers up fun rides like Test Track and Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Epcot’s rides tend to be a bit on the educational side, which is primarily why Epcot gained the reputation of being a park geared more toward adults in the first place.
In addition to educational experiences such as Living With the Land and Spaceship Earth (two of my favorite rides in all of Walt Disney World, so you definitely shouldn’t miss out), what really makes Epcot stand apart from the other parks are their annual festivals. Each year, Epcot hosts the following festivals:
- Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts
- Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
During these festivals, adults can sample cuisines and alcoholic beverages from all over the world. Epcot is also home to a number of fine dining restaurants in the World Showcase such as Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion and Monsieur Paul in the France pavilion.
Which Disney Park Has the Most Walking?
Every Walt Disney World vacation involves a ton of walking and unfortunately it’s not something you usually think about until your feet are killing you at the end of the night as you make the trek back to your room.
If anyone in your party has difficulty walking long distances or if you simply want to know how large the parks are before making a reservation, here is some important information:
- Animal Kingdom is the largest park at 580 acres
- Epcot is the second largest park at 305 acres
- Hollywood Studios is the third largest park at 135 acres
- Magic Kingdom is the smallest park at 107 acres
Now granted, these measurements do account for rides and backstage areas so you won’t be walking all of it, but knowing how large these parks are can help you be prepared for how comfortable you should be while visiting. Always wear comfortable shoes and be sure to avoid flip flops, wedges and high heels (you’d be surprised by how often I see people wearing heels at Disney!)
A few helpful tips to keep in mind: The luxury resorts often have the closest bus stops at all of the parks, with the value resorts often being one of the furthest. When you’re booking your reservation, you have the option to request a room that’s closer to the front of the resort. If you have young children or anyone who has trouble walking long distances, call ahead to see if you can reserve a room that is closer to the front of the resort. If you’re using a travel agent, be sure to let them know up front of your requests so they can work their magic (pun intended).
Which Park Has the Most Character Meet-and-Greets?
Every Disney park has character meet-and-greets so it all comes down to which characters you and your family want to see the most. If your child has Frozen Fever and can’t stop singing Into the Unknown, (which, honestly, same) then Epcot is the best place for your family to visit. Not only can you meet Elsa and Queen Anna in the Norway pavilion in the World Showcase, but you can also ride Frozen Ever After, a log flume, dark ride that allows guests to revisit the story told in the original movie.
If your favorite character is Winnie the Pooh or any of the other members of the Hundred Acre Wood, Magic Kingdom is the spot for you. Not only can you dine with Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger at the Crystal Palace, but you can also get your pictures taken with them at the exit of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland.
Editor’s note: Due to the current Coronavirus, character meet-and-greets and various character dining experiences have been temporarily suspended. However, you can still see your favorite characters in various calvacades and socially distant photo spots across the parks.
Magic Kingdom Cavalcades
- The Fab Five: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck
- Villians: Gaston on horseback (and various others during the Halloween season)
- Princesses: Cinderella, The Fairy Godmother, Ariel, Jasmine, Tiana, Belle, Merida, Elena, Snow White and Rapunzel
- Hundred Acre Wood pals: Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet and Winnie the Pooh
- Peter Pan and Tinkerbell
- Max and Clarabelle Cow
We’ve also seen the following characters greeting guests around the park:
- Big Al (Frontierland)
- Anastasia and Drizella (Cinderella Castle Balcony)
- Stitch (Tomorrland)
- Buzz Lightyear (Tomorrowland)
- Jiminy Cricket (over the Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland)
Epcot Character Cavalcades
- Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and sometimes Pluto (World Showcase)
- Elsa and Queen Anna (World Showcase)
- Princesses: Jasmine, Aurora, Belle and Snow White (World Showcase)
We’ve also seen the following characters greeting guests around the park:
- Winnie the Pooh catching butterflies in Future World (near the Land)
- Alice from Alice in Wonderland in the U.K. pavilion
- Mary Poppins in the U.K. pavilion
- Joy (Future World)
Hollywood Studios Cavalcades
- Mickey and his friends: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Chip and Dale
- Disney Junior: Fancy Nancy, Vampirina and Doc McStuffins
- Pixar: Sulley, the Green Army men from Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jesse, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and Edna Mode
You can also see your favorite Star Wars characters in Galaxy’s Edge including:
- Kylo Ren
Animal Kingdom Cavalcades
- Mickey and friends: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Pluto
- Timon, Rafiki, Pocahontas and Meeko
- The Discovery Island Drummers
- Goofy, Chip and Dale
- Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Launchpad McQuack
All of the cavalcades in Animal Kingdom take place in boats that can be found in Discovery River at various points throughout the day.
So which one is the best? The answer depends on what you’re looking to get out of your Walt Disney World vacation. If you have young children who want to spend all day on rides, then Magic Kingdom is probably the best park to do so. If you have teenagers or members in your party who are obsessed with Star Wars, then a day in Hollywood Studios is perfect! If you and your spouse are celebrating your honeymoon or a quick anniversary weekend, then Epcot might make most sense.
Ultimately, when it comes to planning your Walt Disney World vacation, there is no such thing as “the right park” because all of them offer up unique experiences that will make every member of your family happy. With the tips we provided above, we hope made your decision making easier. Just know that whichever park you choose, you’re going to have a magical time!
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.