World's Best Disney Theme Parks
As you may have known, I visited Shanghai Disneyland last month, which marked the 2nd time of me visiting all Disney theme parks around the world.
Disney is the strongest brand in the theme park industry. Since the opening of its 1st theme park, Disneyland, in 1955, the company has expanded to different regions around the world. Today, Disney has a total of 12 theme parks spread across 6 different resorts: Anaheim (1955), Orlando (1971), Tokyo (1983), Paris (1992), Hong Kong (2005), and Shanghai (2016).
|The statue of Walter Elias Disney and the most renowned Disney character, Mickey Mouse.|
Disney fans have been asking the same question over and over again...
Which Disney theme park is the best?There are people who have visited all 12 Disney parks around the world. When it comes to answering this question, their lists are the ones that I truly believe in, e.g. this and this.
Well, since I've also visited all Disney theme parks, I'd like to share with you all my own thoughts on this. Sit back, relax, and let's get this settled once and for all.
|EPCOT's main logo is a physical metalic ball located right at the main entrance.|
Originally aimed to envisage the bright future of tomorrow's community, EPCOT - otherwise known as Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow - is supposed to bring hope to the visitors through the celebration of human achievement and diverse culture of the world. Certainly, the original attractions did manage to bring this goal to life to the visitors in two areas: the Future World, consisting rides and shows that visitors can learn from, and the World Showcase, pavilions of different nations from around the world.
Fast forward to today and the park seems to have lost its spirit. Buildings are neglected, rides are starting to show their ages, and those aren't even the saddest part: Disney seems to have no idea what to do with this park. Want to build something new... but what? To revive or demolish the empty pavilions? No matter how hopeful the goal of this park is, EPCOT has now become a depressing Disney park that seems to forget why it exists in the first place.
|Despite having two of Walt Disney World's best rides, Disney's Hollywood Studios suffers from its recognition as a construction zone.|
Disney's Hollywood Studios used to be the most popular studios-type theme park in the Orlando area, so how come Universal Studios Florida is the leader now? Despite having Walt Disney World's two best rides, Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, the park has been suffering from the ongoing construction, gaining the park the current recognition as "the park that offers so little yet costs so much."
While it's true that the park is not as worthy at the moment, it will surely change in the future when the new Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land are opened. The last time similar situation happened was at Disney California Adventure park (which is also on this list), which Disney successfully turned around with much-needed Cars Land and widely acclaimed World of Colors nighttime show. Only time will tell whether Disney's Hollywood Studios will regain people's trust again.
|While Ratatouille Land at Walt Disney Studios Park is one of Disney's best work, it's not enough to completely turn around the lackluster park.|
Source: Le Parcorama
In many cases, Walt Disney Studios Park is the bad apple of Disney's theme park resort in Paris. The combination of lackluster attractions and un-immersive environment disinterest many people from visiting the park. Even worse, the park is much smaller than the neighbouring park, Disneyland Paris, making the latter a clear preferred choice for visitors who are doing a one-day visit (rather than the typical multi-day).
Disney's attempt to revive the park - Tower of Terror and Ratatouille Mini-Land, complete with its own signature attraction - shows Disney's seriousness in turning around the park. For the time being, though, Walt Disney Studios Park is viewed by many as a disappointment from a company that is often known as the best theme park operator in the world.
|Disney's Animal Kingdom attractions are - in most cases - departures from typical Disney offerings.|
Source: Inside the Magic
Disney's Animal Kingdom is the last theme park to open its gates to the public at the world-renowned Disney resort in Orlando, FL. With a gigantic area of 500 acres (compared to Magic Kingdom's 100 acres), the park offers attractions that live up to the park's name, mostly focused on the world of fauna and monstrous wonders. From the wildly popular African-style safari ride to Disney's first roller coaster to feature backward motion, Disney's Animal Kingdom is a unique experience in the resort, in the sense that it offers something that sets it apart from the rest of the resort.
The theming at this park is truly impeccable: Disney does go all the way in theming each themed area. From the strategic positioning of a becak in the Asia area to the accurate sights and sounds in Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom seems to be offered as an immersive experience itself rather than one with many must-do attractions, considering the rather - despite being high-quality - limited amount of rides throughout the park. This is surely bound to change with the opening of the much-anticipated Avatar Land in 2017. But for now, all we have to do is wait.
|World of Colors proves to be a huge hit amongst visitors - so big that Fastpass tickets are required to watch the show.|
Source: Mickey News
Disney California Adventure opened in 2001 to the disappointment of many Disney fans. Many complained that the park was sub-par to the neighbouring park: the original Disneyland that Walt Disney created himself. While there were some highlight attractions during the opening (Soarin' Over California, for example), the park offered concept that is often found in normal amusement park, like California Screamin' (a boardwalk-style roller coaster), Maliboomer, and the most infamous Disney ride of all-time.
The park finished its major refurbishment a couple of years ago with the addition of Cars Land and World of Colors nighttime show, which proved to be huge hits amongst visitors. In fact, they were so successful that for the first time ever, a significant portion of the resort visitors said that they actually prefer Disney California Adventure to Disneyland. While it will never be the best Disney theme park ever created, Disney California Adventure will always be a great example of how - despite being extremely challenging - turning around a theme park is possible, even for Disney.
|Mystic Manor - the newest major attraction of the park - is one of the best Disney attractions ever created.|
Source: Disney and More
Following years of wildly high expectation, Hong Kong Disneyland opened to underwhelmingly negative reviews from Disney fans and locals. The combination of the park's small size (at only 70 acres) and extremely limited number of attractions made the theme park a massive disappointment to many people. The next couple of years did not fare better for this tiny Disney park: annual attendance fell below expectation from year to year and Disney was left scrambling to counter the negative trend.
While the park has not grown significantly ever since, the park did manage to turn around pretty well. The opening of 3 original mini themed areas - Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Manor, and Toy Story Land - added 2 major attractions into the park's rather lackluster rides: Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars and Mystic Manor, both of which are recognised by Disney fans as two of the best rides Disney has ever created. Despite these additions, Hong Kong Disneyland still has a long way to go before people can finally see it as a true Disney theme park.
|Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle standing in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom Park.|
Source: USA Today
Ah, Magic Kingdom... where should we start with this one? The birthplace of the world's most famous roller coaster, Space Mountain, the world's most visited theme park, and simply the epicentre of Disney's largest theme park resort located in Orlando, FL. It's not surprising, as such, to find that this theme park has so much to offer, ranging from world-class entertainment to diverse type of rides, from the much-beloved classics to the ones unique to the park.
There has been no major development happening in the park since... forever, it seems. Nevertheless, attendance numbers has been increasing since... forever as well. This chicken-or-egg-first case makes the park rather stagnant in terms of offering while at the same time becoming more and more crowded. As the rides continue to show its age, only time will tell whether Disney will take action to relive the magic that once shone so brightly in the park.
|Shanghai Disneyland offers attractions that are original to the park, including Disney's fastest roller coaster, TRON.|
Source: Wall Street Journal
The newest theme park by Disney, Shanghai Disneyland, opened its gates to the public 5.5 months ago to relatively polarizing effects. Those who dislike it criticizes the park for leaving the true essence of a Disneyland: no Main Street U.S.A., no Space Mountain, misbehaving and rude visitors, and many more that I'm sure you'll find. I, along with other who like the park, actually appreciate Disney's approach to create a park that is original and offers attractions that are special and - most importantly - revolutionary (hint: Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure).
Shanghai Disneyland's opening was much (VERY MUCH) smoother and showed more positive trends among visitors than that of Hong Kong Disneyland 11 years prior. The combination of the park's massive size, "complete" attraction offerings, and relatively more affordable admission fees makes the park more attractive to locals. Yet again, only time will tell whether the park will succeed in maintaining its longevity or fail and become simply a one-time hit.
|Disneyland Paris' signature castle is, without doubt, the most beautiful of them all.|
Source: WDW News Today
Perhaps the park happens to be in France, or perhaps Disney wanted to do something different. Disneyland Paris is undeniably beautiful. For what it lacks in operations, it compensates multiple-fold in ambience and European magic, as well as that special Disney charm that you will not find anywhere else: from the amazing backstory and plotline of the town of Thunder Mesa, which actually connects the dot between Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain, to the re-imagination of the world's of Jules Verne in Tomorrowland. Disneyland Paris is not your typical Disneyland.
What the park doesn't get right, however, is the embarrassing food offerings and efficiency. The food, which is mostly overpriced, is bland and doesn't live up to the Parisian standards. Moreover, the park is still working on its efficiency kink even after 25 years of opening (WARNING: All of you "Single Riders" line users will be forgotten in this park!). Still, you'll forget it all anyways as soon as the night falls and you watch what I call the best and most heart-wrenching Disney firework show ever.
|Tokyo Disneyland is the only Disney park in the world where adults are allowed to - sometimes even encouraged to - dress up during Halloween.|
Source: Boing Boing
Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside its home market in the United States. Today, the park is usually the 3rd most visited theme park in the world, drawing more than 15 million guests every year. To this day, Tokyo Disneyland is the only Disneyland in the world to still possess that "old-time" and "original" feeling of a Disneyland, which includes an escalator ride to the Space Mountain entrance. At the same time, Tokyo Disneyland has managed to have its own unique attractions, including the super popular trackless ride Pooh's Hunny Hunt to the now-defunct yet super unique Mystery Castle Tour.
The true magic of Tokyo Disneyland, however, is not the park itself: it's the people who work there; the staffs. Unlike in other Disney parks, Tokyo Disneyland cast members are excellently trained to make you smile no matter what. They serve, help, and make your day magical with their whole hearts. It's so clear that they love what they do, creating such positive vibe within the park.
|The true spirit is still there 60 years after its opening at the original Disneyland.|
They say that you can never beat the original. In the universe of Disney theme parks, however, that is not correct, but VERY close, indeed. After more than 60 years operating, the original Disneyland in Anaheim, CA remains a Disney park that you must visit to appreciate how much Disneyland has evolved around the world from its rough beginning in 1955.
Disneyland is one of the parks that has every signature Disney attraction possible. With that many attractions, it will take multiple days for people to enjoy this park alone. Take into account the legendary nighttime entertainment, Fantasmic, and you have yourself a Disneyland that is complete, that is fun, and that is truly for everyone. "Disneyland is your land," Disney himself said once. I'm very sure that he's smiling from above to know that his park is doing that exact thing.
|Tokyo Disneysea's attention to detail is unparalled - not even when compared to that of Wizarding World of Harry Potter.|
Source: Wallpaper Alphacoders
It's hard to imagine a theme park that is more immersive and more eye-popping than Disneyland. But taking the top spot in my list is the one and only Tokyo Disneysea. The park opened in 2001 after a construction of approximately $4 billion (to date still the largest investment ever for one single theme park project). That investment paid off immediately. Tokyo Disneysea is often known as Disney's most romantic and realistic theme park, having themed areas dedicated to real ports around the world, from Mediterranean Area to Cape Cod (yes, that Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and it's amazingly real).
Highlights in this park include Journey to the Center of the Earth, Indiana Jones Adventure, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Opening in the next couple of years are Finding Nemo simulator ride and Soaring-type ride. This might leave you wondering, "How did this park even manage to get all of the best Disney attractions altogether?" Combine that with the superior park cast members - similar to those in Tokyo Disneyland - and you get yourself a park that is worth talking about for years to come.
So there you have it: my list of Best Disney Theme Parks in the World, with all 12 of them included.
How about you?
Which one is your favorite?