5. Animal Kingdom – Walt Disney World
The 4th Walt Disney World theme park on this list, the one we rank highest, is Animal Kingdom. One of the reasons Animal Kingdom is so high up is that its theme is well developed and some of Disney’s best attractions can be found here. Unlike the new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Pandora at Animal Kingdom is one of the world’s best themed areas.
The park is home to some of the resort’s best attractions, such as Expedition Everest (Walt Disney Word’s best roller coaster), Kilimanjaro Safari, and Flight of Passage. The park has a very cohesive theme which is hard to say for most parks; once you step inside everything blends well and the park’s layout and natural beauty lets you escape from the usual theme park scene. The park’s Dino-Rama area is the weakest area in the entire resort, and I sure hope it gets replaced in the near future. Luckily that is one of the only setbacks of the park. The Dinosaur! ride isn’t anything to write home about, but an enjoyable attraction with (usually) short wait.
The immense beauty of the park’s Discovery Island, Africa, Asia and Pandora: The World of Avatar more than make up for the mess that is Dinoland U.S.A. It offers a combination of a beautiful aesthetic, live animals, unique experiences, and some of the world’s best themed rides. For now we consider this Walt Disney World’s best park, but who knows how that will shift in upcoming years as the resort adds major attractions to other parks.
4. Disneyland Paris – Disneyland Paris Resort
Unlike the misery that is Walt Disney Studios next door, Disneyland Paris is one of the best Disney parks. Unique themed areas, the best versions of everyone’s favorite classic Disney attractions, lots of space, and beautiful landscaping create a uniquely European-feeling Disney park.
Disneyland Paris has the unique Jules Verne-inspired Discoveryland (in place of Tomorrowland) with the best Space Mountain (a launched multi-inversion thrill ride). The park’s Frontierland features a western-themed Haunted Mansion, called Phantom Manor, as well as the largest Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (situated on the island in the middle of Rivers of the Far West). With a slightly different layout that tunnels under the river, this park again adds thrills to a signature Disney coaster.
Disneyland Paris lacks wet rides (something like Splash Mountain), but has the best classic Pirates of the Caribbean, and the park-at-large is well-developed. There’s room for improvement, but the investment put into developing this park truly shows. Operations are a bit unpredictable, but just being at Disneyland Paris is an exciting experience.
3. Disneyland Park – Disneyland Resort
In our top 3 we find Disneyland Park. Disney’s original Magic Kingdom, the park that was designed and enjoyed by Walt Disney himself. Not only is Disneyland Park in Anaheim the park to feature many “firsts”, it’s also home to several unique attractions and is a much cozier version than later park designs. Why does it rank so high for us? A stellar lineup of attractions, the well-maintained classic look, and an atmosphere unique to just the Disneyland Resort.
From the moment you enter the original Disneyland it is quite clear that it’s much smaller than the newer parks. The castle is tiny, Main Street U.S.A feels crammed, the entrances to the themed lands are all right at your finger tips, yet the attendance at the Disneyland Park in Anaheim is just shy of the much larger Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This creates for some bottlenecks, but also an unbeatable atmosphere. All attractions are at immediately at your disposal and Disney fans occupy every inch of the park.
Disneyland is also home to unique attractions such as the original Monorail, which doubles as a ride and a transportation method between Downtown Disney and Tomorrowland, and Nemo & Friends Submarine Voyage, which was a 2007 relaunch of the original Submarine Voyage. Our personal favorite is the Matterhorn Bobsleds, an iconic roller coaster of unparalleled significance, and one of the greatest Disney rides.
Disneyland features many well developed dark rides, such as the great Pirates of the Caribbean, iconic Haunted Mansion, and thrilling Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Other major attractions include the smaller version of Space Mountain, the original Splash Mountain and the character-filled Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which utilizes classic theming from the park’s original Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. It’s attractions like these that are classic, unique and (due to space constraints) are so snuggly situated that it fills the park with character. Everything is a tad smaller, a tad more authentic, and the local Disney-minded audience just makes visiting Disneyland such a joy. The original may be the oldest but it certainly belongs in the top 3.
2. Tokyo DisneySea – Tokyo Disney Resort
Here comes the shocker – most people anticipated Tokyo DinseySea to place as our number one, which is a fair expectation. Yet, after having spent several days at the lovely park this year, we developed a impression that I think readers will understand. First and foremost, let me agree with everyone else and state that Tokyo DisneySea is the most beautiful Disney park on the planet; realistic immersion with just the right amount of magic as far as the eye can see.
Tokyo DisneySea has a fabulous layout that just seems to make sense where ever you go. The park features life-sized harbors, themes not seen elsewhere, and continuations and elaborations on some well-known Disney attractions and themes. Tokyo DisneySea has not one area that feels remotely similar is another park, which is fabulous. Whether you just walk around the park, or visit to ride some of the park’s unique attractions, there is so much to see and do. The famous Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of the world’s best dark rides, combining a plethora of amazing effects and physical scenes to immerse guests into an action-packed ride like no other. The park is also home to a special Tower of Terror, themed to New York, the unique rendition of Autopia on water: Aquatopia, and our personal favorite, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage. The park’s line up features several of the world’s best dark rides, shows, transportation methods, and themed environments.
Tokyo DisneySea is also home to two roller coasters, the small but charming Flounder’s Flying Fish Coaster, as well as the more-elaborate version of Paris’ Indiana Jones coaster with aztec theming and quite some effects: Raging Spirits. These coasters however, are quite uninteresting. The local audience may find them thrilling enough, and surely DisneySea’s focus is not on roller coasters, but it’s important to note that the park lacks a signature coaster. In addition, Tokyo DisneySea features several boat rides (dark rides and transportation) but no flume rides that actually get you wet. No shoot the chute, no log ride, no rapids ride – what I’m getting at here, as you may have figured, is that though Tokyo DisneySea is stunning and has a lot to do, its lineup is missing two very important strong players.
Tokyo DisneySea is a feast for the eyes, hardly anything you’ll experience here can be experienced somewhere else. Amazing dark rides, food, entertainment, what else would you want? Let’s add a major thrilling rollercoaster to the lineup, and let’s add a rapids ride in the Cape Cod section of the American Waterfront. Then you’ve got yourself the very best Disney Park. DisneySea has an stellar lineup sure to entertain you for days, but the lineup is just slightly imperfect.
1. Shanghai Disneyland
The park that takes our number one spot is “Distinctly Chinese, Authentically Disney.” The 2016 opening of Shanghai Disneyland meant that the world had one more destination theme park to add to their bucket list – Shanghai Disneyland has bold, breathtaking atmosphere and an incomparable lineup of rides and entertainment.
Shanghai Disneyland brings us all that we love about the Magic Kingdom parks in a lovely new fashion. Instead of Main Street U.S.A. we have Mickey Avenue, whose shape is much more welcoming to large crowds and still features plenty of shopping, dining and of course a train station ( but no actual train). The giant Enchanted Storybook Castle is 197 feet tall and home to an elaborate walk-through and a relaxing courtyard. The park features several classic dark rides such as Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, and a Jungle Cruise-type attraction with a new story-telling twist: Voyage to the Crystal Grotto.
The park’s outstanding accomplishments can be found with stellar theming throughout; Fantasyland is nicely spread out and features a carbon copy of Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Roaring Rapids, the world’s longest rapids ride, perfectly blends in with South American-themed Adventure Isle and offers a great non-IP based ride experience. Soarin’ Over the Horizon is a version of the popular flying theater with a unique queue matching the beautiful aesthetic outside.
The park is famous for the incredible Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure, a massive dark ride with roller coaster section featuring some of the best audio animatronics the world has ever seen, amazing physical sets all seamlessly integrated with crisp HQ screens that are some of the largest in the industry. Perhaps the park’s most famous attraction, TRON: Lightcycle Power Run is a great example of blending a dark ride with a roller coaster and showing the world an alternate (if dystopian) version of the future. The ride combines both the fastest coaster Disney has ever built with perfect music, lighting effects, atmospheric sequences, and a queue that is an experience by itself. These two attractions don’t carry the resort, but if they had to, they could.
Shanghai Disneyland took the number one spot because of its near-perfect lineup – not only did the resort open with several very unique attractions, it also re-imagined classic Disney rides that we have all grown to love. The thought that was put into designing the park is immaculate and the attraction line-up comprises (arguably) the best opening roster of any park in history.
We hope you enjoyed our flash tour to all the Disney parks in the world on this list. Let us know what your favorite Disney parks are in the comment section, or share the article with your friends. Thanks for reading!