Sean: Just a few days ago we presented our readers with the ‘Bottom 5 Worst Parks’, which shed some light on parks that were unique for bad reasons. This time around we’re presenting you with a polar opposite article as we look at our 5 favorite parks in the World!
With visits to all Disney Parks in the World, along with many other A-list parks, we like to believe we have a solid understanding of what makes a great park. Some, however, take it to the next level with unique character and spectacular atmosphere! Surprisingly we got to our Top 5 in a matter of seconds!
5. Phantasialand – Brühl, Germany
In the quiet town of Brühl, Germany we find one of the World’s most fascinating theme parks. Though Phantasialand only occupies a very small plot, the park’s genius integration of roller coasters, dark rides, water rides, hotels and show venues is seamless. Award winning themed-areas take a back seat with the park’s daring collection of stellar rides and attractions.
Different layers of the park, all with uniquely well-integrated themes, are home to some of the World’s ‘Best’ attractions. Including, but not limited to, our favorite Intamin Blitz Coaster, Taron; our favorite Mine Train Coaster, Colorado Adventure; Our favorite Inverted Coaster, Black Mamba; our favorite Log Flume, Chiapas, and arguably the best spinning coaster: Winja’s Fear and Force. No visit to Europe for theme parks is complete without a visit to Phantasialand.
4. Efteling – Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands
Just a few hours away from Phantasialand we find a much older theme park. Efteling opened in 1952 and started out as a fairytale forest, and though much more has been added since, it never lost that unique fairytale forest atmosphere. As one of Europe’s most attended theme parks it’s refreshing that Efteling still stands out with a unique identity that no park has yet matched, and manages to beautifully represent both fantasy, dutch folklore and history in a serene setting.
The park is also home to unique twists on modern attractions, such as the racing GCI Wooden Coaster: Joris en de Draak, as well as the best themed Dive Coaster out there, with pre-shows and on-ride show scenes: Baron 1898, and the unique story-telling of Vliegende Hollander, the park’s KumbaK water coaster. That’s not all! Some of the very best dark rides in the World are found at Efteling, including Droomvlucht, Symbolica, and Fata Morgana.
Efteling’s unique culture, layout, lineup of varying attractions and stellar lineup of underrated coasters easily warrants a full day at the park and thus we highly advise taking a full day to take it all in and you too will fall in love. Efteling is a park where we simply feel at home, enough space to relax and enough space to be amazed. “Een Wereld Vol Wonderen”.
3. Tokyo DisneySea – Tokyo, Japan
Next we journey to Tokyo Disney Resort, home to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, the latter being amazingly impressive. For many people this park ranks as number one, and for us it is quite close! Tokyo DisneySea is home to eight unique ports that all offer seamless transitions and never-seen-before levels of theming and integration. From seeing Mt. Prometheus erupt at Mysterious Island to enjoying curry dishes and curry popcorn at the Arabian Coast, the park continuous to amaze.
In the day and age of often cloned successful attractions, Tokyo DisneySea proudly offers attractions unique to the park and the park’s themes, including the much beloved Journey to the Center of the Earth dark ride, our personal favorite: Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, as well as Aquatopia, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and Nemo & Friends SeaRider. The park’s also home to great DisneySea twists on famous E-Tickets, such as the HighTower Hotel version of Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull and the new DaVinci’s Flying Machine-themed Soarin’.
Whether you came to DisneySea to take in all of the amazing atmospheres, dining options, many modes of in-park transportation, or to ride some of the world’s best dark rides, you’ve come to the right place. Tokyo DisneySea manages to amaze in all aspects of entertainment and two full days at the park is hardly enough.
2. Shanghai Disneyland – Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
The newest Disney park made a lasting impression! After our nearly 10 visits to the park, we still can’t get enough! The resort’s modern approach to classic Disney attractions and themed areas really sets this resort apart. The resort’s lineup of rides and attractions is very well-balanced with stellar dark rides, roller coasters and water rides.
Shanghai Disneyland is home to a few personal favorites that took the Social Media World by storm. Rides such as TRON: Lightcycle Power Run and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure alone could easily support the resort, but instead the park has over dozen other noteworthy and unique attractions. Such attractions include the massive Roaring Rapids, Soarin’ Over the Horizon, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, etc. The park, unlike many other Disney parks, opened with a complete roster and has since already added several new rides and attractions.
The park’s unique and sprawling areas blend together in ways similar to Tokyo DisneySea and immerse you into the themes and attractions. From the only Tomorrowland with a sense of ‘tomorrow’ and the Fantasyland that brings cohesiveness and new favorites, to newly imagined areas such as the Gardens of Imagination, Adventure Isle, and Treasure Cove. Shanghai Disneyland presents a Magic Kingdom park that finally doesn’t feel like the same old and offers such a well-balanced lineup of attractions that all other Disney parks have yet to provide.
1. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom – Hengqing, People’s Republic of China
So what bumped Shanghai Disneyland from its solid #1 spot for us? The absolute astonishment that’s South China’s mega park: Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. All Disney parks can have a seat for a second as Chimelong swoops in with incredible entertainment, pyro, animal exhibits, roller coasters, aquariums and themed lands. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is the 10th most visited theme park in the world, and the highest performing park that isn’t Disney or Universal. To put the ranking in perspective, both of Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks have lower attendance than Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. The numbers seemed outrageous to me – 5 years old and already an attendance of roughly 11 Million visitors a year. What do they do so well?
The park perfected the integration of themed lands with roller coasters and attractions, but threw animals into the mix. Some of the most beautiful and sprawling marine animal exhibits can be found in the park. The park is also home to the World’s largest aquarium, generally you’d think that would be a standalone attraction, but that’s included with admission! If the aquarium’s 5 whale sharks and 7 World Records weren’t enough, the dark ride through the aquarium may convince you. Or perhaps the giant Walrus and Sea Lions exhibit at Mt. Walrus that stretches as far as the eye can see and is home to a roller coaster? Or perhaps the Amazing Amazon with our favorite B&M Wing Coaster that flies around amazing scenery and animal exhibits? There are many more examples, which you can find in our recent article.
Coasters are great, so are noteworthy animal exhibits and awesome integration. But where Chimelong decided to continue to amaze us, was with their absolutely over-the-top immersive entertainment. From continuous fountain shows on the park’s lagoon, to spectacular (yet educational) Beluga and Dolphin shows, parades during the day and at night that beat Disney parades, and an absolutely amazing finale show: Ocean Resistance. Perimeter fireworks, fountains, lasers, projection and video mapping, flame throwers, jet skis (with fireworks attached), fly-boards (with fireworks attached), drones, and amazing music… A show this great has never been produced for a theme park before.
It’s the kindness of the staff, the amazing rides, the aquariums that made us cry. It’s the animal exhibits with plenty of room, gorgeous integration and flawless beauty. It’s the roller coasters that in their very own right would be great, but are accompanied with great operations and venture through animal exhibits. It’s the entertainment that absolutely outperformed anywhere we had ever been. Every second of our day was filled with amazement. From open to close. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom did it. Just days after literally getting engaged underneath TRON at Shanghai Disneyland, we had to agree that Chimelong Ocean Kingdom was our very favorite park.
Thank you for finding out our Top 5 Favorite parks! Let us know what yours are in the comment section below, or on any of our social media platforms! Our Bottom 5 Worst Parks article can be found here.