Disney has a total of 12 amazing theme parks scattered between four countries: France, Japan, China, and the United States. While all of these parks are magical and have the Disney touch, not all are created equal: some are better than others. Today I’m going to rank each Disney park, and see which one really is the best. Keep in mind this list is my opinion, and your favorites may differ from mine. That being said, let’s start with the worst of the Disney parks, which is still an amazing park, it just can’t compete with the likes of the best Disney Parks.
- Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest Disneyland theme park and is located in Hong Kong. The park suffers from being small and from a lack of people attending the park. In 2015 6.8 million visitors visited the park, less than any other Disney resort. Disney hopes to change this. They’ve invested millions of dollars into expanding the park, adding exclusive attractions such as Iron Man Experience and Mystic Manor, and adding new themed hotels and dining options. The also recently announced a major expansion, adding a Frozen themed land and a Marvel themed, and also replacing the current castle (Which is a clone of the Disneyland castle) with a new, beautiful castle somewhat similar to DLP’s castle. When these renovations and expansions are complete, Hong Kong Disneyland may not be the worst Disney park. But for now, it remains at the bottom of the list.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, suffers from a lack of attractions, and construction. Most of the park is under construction as Disney builds two new themed lands: Toy Story Land, set to open in 2018, and Star Wars Land, which is set to open in 2019. Currently, the park has just under a dozen attractions, and a few restaurants scattered through the 2-3 areas of the park not under construction. The park is easily avoidable as there are many better parks at the Walt Disney World resort, so that’s why this theme park dwells so low on my list. It probably will be raised once the new lands open, but for now, it remains in 11th place.
- Disney’s California Adventure
DISCLAIMER: I hate this park. I would’ve put it lower if they didn’t recently do renovations which ‘fixed’ the park.
Back in 2001, Disney wanted to open a a new park to accompany Disneyland. The idea was WestCOT: a west coast version of EPCOT, enhanced with modern technology and brilliantly themed. After looking at the cost, they decided on a really lame idea instead: Disney’s California Adventure; a California themed park in California, complete with scale models of California and California themed dining. In theory, it’s cool. But there’s one problem: people would rather see the real thing instead of a less detailed, smaller version of it. That’s the problem the original DCA suffered from: No one wanted to go to it. More recently, Bob Iger has been critical of the park and has invested money and attention to the park, which removed many of the monuments and things that made DCA the worst park Disney has created. Adding areas like Cars Land have helped attract people and make the park much better. But it’s still a shell of what it could’ve been: WestCOT.
- Walt Disney Studios Park
I don’t know a lot about this park: I’ve never been there and there’s not a lot of info about it. It opened 3 days after I was born, and is the smallest Disney park. It is themed around movies, much like Hollywood Studios, but is much smaller and features many scaled down attractions such as a clone of the DCA clone of the Tower of Terror. There’s no major issues, but there’s nothing great about it. It’s small and meh.
- Disneyland Paris
While the castle may be cool and Phantom Manor may be a great ride, there isn’t a lot of note at DLP. Some of the newer rides may be innovative and fun, but most of the park is a clone of the other Disneylands. It’s a great park, just not as great as the other parks higher on this list.
Not to mention how much trouble this park caused Disney and what Disney had to cancel as a direct result of this parks’ failure.
- Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland is almost entirely a clone of the Magic Kingdom, which isn’t a bad thing, it just means it isn’t as great in my opinion. The park has the same castle, the same Haunted Mansion, and many of the same rides. They just aren’t the original incarnations.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is essentially a massive zoo with an insane level of theming. And Pandora, which is on a world of its’ own. I like Animal Kingdom, it has cool rides and experiences, but its’ walkways are narrower than most others, making crowd flow difficult. There aren’t a lot of thrill rides at the park either meaning the ones that do exist tend to have long wait times. The park also tends to be one of the hottest, for reasons unknown (They have smellitzers, maybe they have heatitzers?). But the reason it’s higher than TDL or DLP is Pandora. Pandora is a land within the park that just opened in May, and is one of the best things to come from Disney. The level of detail in Pandora is insane, and the rides in the land are innovative and fun (Even if one is just a motion simulator screen ride). Every part of the park is photogenic, even the floors and the queues. But because of its’ issues, it can’t be higher…
I want this one to be higher. I really do. I love EPCOT and everything it represents: the world and the future. But, the lack of care going into the park and the rumors that surround the renovation of it (Read about that HERE) make me sick. Disney leaves pavilions abandoned and lets everything else look dated and dreary. It’s sad that the second best theme park at WDW is treated with such disrespect. Renovation announcements are expected at D23 this year, but I’m not excited for those announcements: More Disney! GoTG Ride! Ratatouille Ride! I swear they don’t know what the future and the world means anymore. EPCOT could be a great park is Disney actually cared about what Future World means and what World Showcase represents. Future World isn’t meant to house Disney characters: it’s meant to be edutainment about the future, and even thrill rides can fit into that.
Now I’m angry…
- Shanghai Disneyland
The newest theme park from Disney is also one of its’ best, albeit one of the smallest. Shanghai Disneyland opened in June of 2016 and has since been one of the least popular parks, attracting only around 11 million guests in its’ first year. However, it is still a really cool park. With the largest castle and so many original rides (All of them based on an existing Disney IP, sadly), Shanghai Disneyland is one of the nicest parks, aside from the urination incidents which seem pretty common. The parks’ Tomorrowland is great, featuring the futuristic looking TRON Coaster. But it is small, and can’t beat the top three.
- Disneyland (Anaheim, CA)
The original theme park comes in at number three. I went to Disneyland a couple years ago, and it is still an insanely cool park after 60+ years of operation. While the castle is tiny, the rides are cool and all have the Walt Disney touch no other park has. Most of the best rides were born here, and while they may be better at some parks, the original still lies in Disneyland.
- The Magic Kingdom
Coming in at number two is the best park at WDW, and probably the best theme park in the western hemisphere. The Magic Kingdom is similar to Disneyland in many ways, with many similar lands and a similar layout. But, everything was done bigger and better (Except “it’s a small world”), and while Walt may not have intended for that, I think it works. If a great ride wasn’t born in Disneyland, it was born here (Space Mountain). The Magic Kingdom is the park I frequent the most, and while it’s great, it’s not as good as the number one Disney theme park.
- Tokyo DisneySea
Japan’s second Disney theme park, DisneySea is the best Disney theme park to date. Inspired by Port Disney’s DisneySea (An abandoned concept), DisneySea utilizes the most innovative technology and originality into their theme park. Whether it’s a Tower of Terror with so much detail you’d swear it was a real hotel, or a volcano ten times better than Krakatau, DisneySea is the most aesthetically pleasing park. It also features a ton of attractions exclusive to that park, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Marine Life Institute. Everything in DisneySea is so detailed and so pretty it’s tough to hate on the park and tough to not give it the number one spot. It’s what a Disney park should strive to be, an that’s why it’s my number one pick and is the best Disney Theme Park on Earth.
Do you agree with my list? Send me your top picks either on my twitter or in the comments below!
This is a post that I started back in February but put on hold until now to see if my opinions changed (AKA I was just too lazy to finish it). So if my writing style seems different at the end than my style at the beginning, that’s why.
Coming soon: Inside Cranium Command Analysis