Over the last few years, Hollywood Studios has been widely criticized as Walt Disney World’s worst park.
“There’s only 4 attractions, it’s a half-day park at best.”
People even argued that Disney should charge a discounted price for park tickets. Hollywood Studios closed many attractions and completely changed its identity, turning from an inside look at movie production and homage to classic Hollywood into “Immersion Land” in the last few years. The park has been the must-skip park for years, but is it Epcot‘s turn, starting 2019?
Hollywood Studios is closer to completion:
Hollywood Studios is set to be done within the next year and a half or so whereas Epcot probably won’t be done until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. Toy Story Land just opened, Lighting McQueen’s Racing Academy and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are coming in the next year…and oh yeah, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set for 2019.
Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster and Ratatouille ride are both set for 2021. Also, no one knows how long the Future World redevelopment will take, so guests might be passing fences and loud construction for a few years just to pack into World Showcase.
Epcot is getting a little rundown:
The entrance to Epcot and most of Future World is unfortunately outdated and stale. It looks like a retro ’90s expectation of what the future would be gone wrong. I’m glad last year’s D23 Expo showed plans to update most of Future World’s facades, but that will take at least 2 or 3 years. Innoventions just never panned out, Test Track is one breakdown away from combusting into flames and even the newer Mission: SPACE has been criticized since its opening. Until the new attractions open in 2021, we’ll have to take a hard look as Epcot wastes away and hope that its highlights (World Showcase, Spaceship Earth and Soarin’ Around the World) can maintain.
Epcot has less appeal to the next generation than Hollywood Studios:
In today’s day and age, kids have more access to a wealth of information, technology and constant entertainment at a younger age than ever before. Therefore, theme parks have to take immersion, theming and engagement to the next level. Hollywood Studios is doing that. From role-playing cast members in Galaxy’s Edge to a hotel with missions for its guests to a 3-D (technically “2.5-D”) ride with no glasses, families can experience what theme parks have to offer at Hollywood Studios. It’s giving visitors access to more immersive and fun experiences they can’t get at home.
The level of immersion Disney is bringing to Hollywood Studios is at the forefront of the theme park industry and is incorporating universally-loved intellectual properties like Toy Story, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Lightning McQueen and Star Wars. On the other hand, “edutainment” is becoming less valued by the next generation. People simply don’t care about learning at a theme park as much as they care about being wowed. While the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille are well-liked IP’s, a roller coaster and a 3-D dark ride aren’t exactly the next big things in theme park entertainment.
Epcot is worse than Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom:
Being worse than Hollywood Studios doesn’t make you the new Hollywood Studios — being the worst Disney theme park in general makes you the new Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom will forever be the most loved and visited Disney World park, even after Galaxy’s Edge opens. Animal Kingdom is newer and has the benefit of a more timeless, charming central theme: animals and conservation vs. the future and innovation. After the opening of Pandora – The World of AVATAR, Epcot slipped behind Animal Kingdom to become the 3rd most visited Disney World park for the first time in its existence. I think there is more of this to come, as Epcot makes its way down from perennial Magic Kingdom right-hand man to bottom of the barrel.
Epcot will become a half-day park:
Last time I visited Epcot, I was able to ride almost every attraction, see almost every show, stop at every World Showcase pavilion and even eat at table service restaurants for both lunch and dinner — all in 10 hours. The amount of things to do at Epcot is slowly decreasing and will continue after the park closes more attractions.
Although it still has 10 rides, a few shows, 11 pavilions and remains the largest Disney World park, Epcot tends to divide up park-goers. Both Future World and World Showcase are love it or hate it lands among most visitors, making it a half-day park for many who visit Walt Disney World. A lot of people will hit Hollywood Studios in the morning and visit Epcot just to drink around the world at night. Many others go to Epcot in the morning and get bored by the afternoon, eventually hopping over to another park. Even if you stay a full day, you can reasonably do everything you want to do in Epcot and find time to redo certain rides.
Epcot is my favorite park and the version of it when I was a kid will always stay with me, but I have to call it how it is: Epcot is the worst park, or for now, the least promising park at Walt Disney World. It’s behind all the new and exciting lands opening up in the other parks and it lacks the same charm and energy that it once did. It will be a few years before Epcot bounces back, so during those years I’ll probably only come back for one of the festivals. Hopefully Epcot returns to its original glory, but for the next few years you should prioritize other parks on your next vacation.