Best Disney Parks around the World – Part 1

Published: March 4, 2018 / Last Updated: March 4, 2018 / By: Arvid Bux

Now that we have traveled all over the world during our Disney Round The World Trip to visit the different Disney Parks, we can finally rank them all. At the moment there are 6 different resorts, 12 different Disney Parks and 2 water parks. For this overview we will leave the water parks out and focus purely on the 12 different Disney Parks.

Disney parks around the world - Christina and Arvid

As there are many factors to whether you like a park or not, this list will not reflect the opinion of others. It might even change for us in the future. But for now this is the list that I came up with. Christina will be working on her list (part 2) and we will published this list soon as well. Each ranking has an explanation on why we think it holds that spot in our overview.

Best Disney Parks around the World – According to Arvid

Here we go. While my current home resort is Disneyland Paris, and we had APs for Disneyland Resort, my list might turn some things upside down. Let’s start with my ranking of the 12 Disney Parks.

Last Updated on: March 4, 2018

12. Walt Disney Studios Park

Disney Parks around the world Walt Disney Studios Park

Walt Disney Studios Park, located in Disneyland Paris, is in dire need of some love. While the no new rides have been added since the addition of Ratatouille back in 2014, the park has seen some new shows and events. Unfortunately when things like Mickey and the Magician or Season of the Force are not at the park, it becomes quite dull. So while we applaud the efforts to add entertainment to the park, structurally the park is still lacking. Good thing that The Walt Disney Company just made an announcement that Disneyland Paris and more specifically Walt Disney Studios Park will receive a multi-year transformation worth 2 billion euros.

11. Hollywood Studios

Disney Parks around the world - Disney's Hollywood Studios

Many will agree and some might disagree. While I still enjoy walking around Hollywood Studios, the park is missing a certain direction. With all the works going on for Star Wars land and Toy Story land, plus the change of the Great Movie Ride into Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway the park doesn’t feel like a full-day park. Apart from the Citizens of Hollywood street entertainment. Tower of Terror, Sci-Fi diner and Fantasmic, I just don’t feel like spending much more time at that park. Hopefully once both additions open, the park gets back some of its mojo (and maybe even a new name)

10. Disney California Adventure Park

Disney California Adventure Park

DCA still holds a special place in my heart. And while it just made the Top 10, it doesn’t mean it is a bad park. But unfortunately with the upcoming changes, I’m just not sure where to place it at the moment. What makes this park really special to me is World of Color, Buena Vista Street and its Citizens, Cars land and Carthay Circle. And as long as those stay in the park, I’m a happy camper. But with the change of Aladdin for a Frozen Sing-along and with the changes being made to Paradise Pier. Well, the special place in my heart has become a bit smaller.

I still like the fact that you can overlook the park from Grand Californian and that it holds it own entry. But that can’t justify it being placed any higher in this top 10.

9. Epcot

Disney Parks around the world - Epcot

The higher we get into the top 10, the harder it gets to place parks on a specific spot. But when I compare all the other parks with the feeling I get when I walk around in Epcot, well Epcot draws the short straw. While I enjoy walking around the World Showcase, I feel it does lack excitement. Cramming the park with events almost 365 also makes it hard to enjoy the park as it was supposed to be. Still I like Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth (riding it and looking at it), the Mexico Pavilion (who doesn’t love the three caballeros) and of course Illuminations.

I’m not sure what the replacement of Ellen’s Energy Ride will bring and how it fits into the theme of the park, but time will tell. For now, Epcot holds a solid 9 in my ranking.

8. Animal Kingdom

Disney Parks around the world - Disney's Animal Kingdom

What is there no to like about Animal Kingdom? The closer I get to the my personal top 5, the harder it gets to not leave parks out of it. Animal Kingdom holds a special place in my heart, and it is less Disney centric, I still keep it ahead of Epcot.

Animal Kingdom caters to people who are not really into Disney but are a fan of storytelling. I love to just walk around, enjoy the scenery and look at the animals, and even foremost, learn about preservation and animal well-being. Ow and the park is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year!

7. Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disney Resort - Mickey Clock

The newest member in the Disney parks family; Shanghai Disneyland. This third Asia park opened in 2016 and gives Disney even more presence in a market that is rapidly expanding. While the park itself is pristine, the rides are amazing, and the layout is great, the visitors can ruin the experience a bit. While we were there we were in awe of all the amazing stuff we saw. But also in shock of the horrible things we saw.

Besides the negative things, we truly enjoyed the park, and while we tried to experience everything, we sometimes had to rush things. We sure want to go back, and see what is becoming of Toy Story Land, and how the park evolved itself.

Mainly because of how the park is layed out and the new rides, I am placing SHDL on #7

6. Magic Kingdom Park

Disney Parks around the world - Magic Kingdom Park

Top 5 is coming close. And as there are still 6 parks to go, and only 5 spots, I had to think long and hard which park would not make it into my top 5; Magic Kingdom Park. Magic Kingdom Park was the second Castle Park that was built. While the park is laid out nicely, and you for sure see that they took some lessons from the original Disneyland. But I also feel that the park is missing some personality. It of course has a lot of history, but sometimes it hard to feel it. In my opinion that is due to the fact that the park is massive.

I enjoy the bigger Main Street USA and Central Plaza is wide enough for a large number of guests to enjoy a Castle show, or the fireworks at night. Frontierland, and Adventureland are my favorites in this park, but Fantasyland and Tomorrowland can’t seem to grab onto me. And because of that, Magic Kingdom Park just falls outside of my Top 5.

Additional Notes

When I was asked about my top 5 (or top 12 when you include all parks) it is always hard to make that one list that will stick with you for a longer period of time. Each park has its special features and feel, but all of this changes due to weather, special events and more. I of course haven’t experienced every single season and event in every single park (I wish we would have that opportunity) and that makes this Top 12 fluid. And it might change in the future. But for now, I present to you;

My Top 5 Disney parks around the world

5. Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney Parks around the world - Hong Kong Disneyland

This cute little park in Hong Kong is almost an exact copy of the original Disneyland. Even the castle is (or was) the same height. I loved walking around Hong Kong Disneyland. While it is a fairly new park, opened in 2005, the fact that it feels so familiar makes you feel right at home. Yes there are some unique things to the park, and that makes it so fun to visit. I still can’t stop talking about Mystic Manor, or Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, and don’t even get me started about Mickey and the Wondrous Book.

Hong Kong Disneyland has the feel of the original, but offers a lot of new and exciting things. For me a great start of my Top 5.

4. Tokyo Disneyland

Disney Parks around the world - Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland holds a special place in my heart for two reasons; it was the first Asia park we visited, and the Donald Duck presence is amazing (Camp Woodchuck anybody?). The park is perfectly laid out, offers a lot of entertainment, guests and CMs are really nice, the food is amazing and the park looks clean and well maintained.

While the entrance is different from the standard turnstiles/train station entrance, it gives you a sense of coming home when you walk into World Bazaar. If I have to describe the feeling and atmosphere of the park; a mix between the original Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World resort. It took the best features of both parks, and mixed them into a smooth Dole Whip.

I was amazed with the level of service by all CMs and as said before, the food is amazing, not even mentioning all the great merchandise they. Going back to Tokyo Disneyland is high on my list, and who knows, we might celebrate Halloween and Christmas there soon.

3. Disneyland Paris

Disney parks around the world - Disneyland Paris

A Castle Park in a region of the world that holds the most castles is of course and interesting setting. Also a lot of the stories the Disney company portraits are from Europe. Disneyland Paris is special to us as we are current Annual Passholders, and have the opportunity to go here often.

The park is beautifully laid out, has an amazing castle and with the 25th Anniversary festivities going on, the park has received some much needed attention and love. In the recent years a lot of entertainment has been added. The park shines and sparkles as never before.

The park invites you to walk around. You can start off through Main Street USA or even take one of the covered arcades. But before I forgot it: how awesome is it to walk underneath a Disney hotel to the train station and onto Town Square. This is unique.

Unfortunately there are still a few pet peeves and that leaves the park on my #3. Some of the things we don’t like about the park are the irregular hours of restaurants and shops, smokings guests who are also not addressed by CMs, and sometimes CMs that just don’t seem to care being at the park.

2. Disneyland

Disney Parks around the world - Disneyland

Where it all began. The original Disneyland. What is there not to like about this park? Well maybe how busy it can get at times. I love all the old rides, I love the look and feel of the park and that it is not too big.

The park just breaths history. When I walk around I can actually walk in Walt’s footsteps. That by itself just makes it an amazing park to be at. Yes the castle can feel small at times, Main Street USA can feel really tight, but all that can still be managed. The amount of entertainment out on the street is mind-blowing at times and something I for instance miss at a park like Disneyland Paris.

Disneyland was also my first Disney park outside of Disneyland Paris. I proposed to Christina here, and we honeymooned at Disneyland. This park will always have a special place in my heart.

But you have read correctly. The original Disneyland lands for me on #2. Which means that my #1 park goes to a non-castle park.

1. Tokyo DisneySea

Disney Parks around the world - Tokyo DisneySea

And there we have it. My #1 Disney Park at the moment. It is a non-castle park. While I love Disney Castle Parks, I lost my heart to Tokyo DisneySea. I already loved Tokyo Disneyland (being it my #4). Tokyo DisneySea is just off the chart. If I would give TDS a 10 (or A+), the original Disneyland would get a 7.5 (B-) in my book.

From the moment I walked into the park my mouth was open. The attention to detail, the different lands, the stores, the restaurants, the food, the CMs, the rides. Where with a castle park you walk into a fantasy world, and you know it. With Tokyo DisneySea I just feels even more real. We spent several days at this park, walking around and just trying to see all the detail.

The shops are amazing, the different areas are themed really nicely and the food is amazing. Each shop features some amazing merchandise, and we just wanted to buy it all and bring it home.

I can’t wait to go back to this park and experience it during a different time of the year and enjoy it even more. We enjoyed it a lot during our visit, but as it is so much, it was hard to just grasp it all and keep going.

Ranking Disney Parks around the World

What do you think? Which park is your favorite? We would love to hear it!

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4 thoughts on “Best Disney Parks around the World – Part 1”

  1. I enjoyed reading your article! Huge Disney park fan here as well. I have not visited Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland or Shanghai Disneyland. I am intrigued with Hong Kong DL being so high on your list!

    I would personally put them in this order:

    9. Hollywood Studios (very sub-par park)

    8. Animal Kingdom (in theory i want to put this higher because it’s truly one of the more cohesive and connected parks, but in reality there is just not enough substance. It is slowly getting better though, and keep in mind i havent seen Pandora yet!

    7. California Adventure (complete hodgepodge. Yes AK has better design and better theming, but i just tend to enjoy California Adventure a little more. Needs a lot of work though.

    6. Epcot (World Showcase is phenominal. Future World is not. It used to be great, but Disney’s decisions have been poor regarding Future World.

    5. Disneyland Paris (Beautiful Park but needs much more!

    4. Tokyo DisneySea (Best Design; Most Ambitious; Jaw-Dropping; By far the best non-castle park that they have ever created!!! I love it, and i loved it immediately but for the life of me I can’t put it above the remaining 3 castle parks. The remaining parks are just so iconic, wonderful and heart-warming.

    3. Magic Kingdom
    2. Tokyo Disneyland
    1. Disneyland

    All three are the quintessential Disney experience! Each one has things i prefer to the other but the themed environments, the timeless attractions, and the whole pa kage is simply incredible.

    I look forward to completing my list!

    • Thanks for your list Nick! Great to read other people’s takes on the parks. I hope you are able to complete your list soon!


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