How Does Each Disney Park Rank Against One Another?

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks

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To date, there are 12 distinct Disney theme parks worldwide, although not all are created equal.

As Disney fans, most of us are inclined to place Disney Parks and attractions, in general, high up on a pedestal and assume that all things Disney automatically beat out the “other” competition. While this is already an admittedly presumptuous idea, it’s also an incorrect assumption that all Disney Parks are on equal footing with one another. When ranked against each other, you’ll find that some Disney Parks are undeniably better than others. So which ones are the very best, and which ones are somewhat lackluster (at least by Disney standards)? That’s what we hope to uncover here at Inside the Magic with our own rating system, which takes into account multiple factors that include versatility, attractions, overall fun, audience appeal, size, originality, general likability, and how “Disney” it is.

Just to let you know, our rankings are highly subjective. Because every Disney Park is its own unique entity, the aforementioned standards will not be overly responsible for each Park’s specific placement on this list. We’ve also decided to forego more complex comparisons

like Disney Park availability, the current reservation system, the Disney dining experience at a given location, and media rumors/controversies, like Disney leaving Florida. So, without further ado, here’s our ranking, least to greatest, for all 12 Disney Parks.

Related: Do You Know Where Every Disney Park is Located?

Hong Kong Disneyland

Located on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, this Disney Park opened on September 12, 2005. Hong Kong Disneyland boasts many unique features and highlights, including several stellar attractions. Additionally, more will be forthcoming when the World of Frozen opens later this year. But it’s its smaller-than-usual Park size that is its primary undoing, as only 68-some acres comprising the overall 310 Resort acres account for public Park entertainments. This creates limitations in all that you can spend your time doing here. You have the accommodations and a Park you can tackle all in one day, and that’s about it.

Hong Kong Disneyland Castle
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney Studios Park

This second Disneyland Paris location in Chessy opened to the public on March 16, 2002. As far as originality goes, though, this Park receives failing marks. Think of it as the Disneyland Paris attempt to add a second Park but then piggybacking off Disney World’s existing Hollywood Studios and Disneyland’s Disney California Adventure Park. Of course, it can be argued that there are at least two original attractions here, three if you count the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster retheme into Avengers Assemble: Flight Force.

This Park is also small compared to other Disney Parks, making it somewhat congested and easy to tackle in less than a day. But given that this isn’t the only Park at Disneyland Paris Resort, it still ranks higher on our list than the aforementioned Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris Walt Disney Studios entrance
Credit: Disney

Shanghai Disneyland 

Located in Pudong, Shanghai, China, this is the youngest Disney Park to date, having opened on June 16, 2016. We must admit, it has a lot of great things going for it, including several novelty underrated attractions and innovative takes on specific Park designs—like their impressively massive Castle. Yet despite having an abundance of originality, there doesn’t seem to be an abundance of much else. For instance, while undeniably great in quality, Shanghai Disneyland comes up short in quantity for its rides and other featured attractions.

Castle setup at Shanghai Disney
Credit: Disney

Disneyland Paris

The original Disneyland Paris Park opened on April 12, 1992, as the distinctly European installment to the growing number of Disney Parks worldwide. Its old-world setting highlights its scenic appeal on a certain level, and it can even be argued that its signature Castle beats out all others. But as far as its roster of attractions, there isn’t much to impress. If the idea was to give Europeans an alternative to traveling internationally to experience Disney Park magic, they missed the mark here as well. The records still show that many Europeans prefer the trip to Disneyland in Anaheim or Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando over what is more convenient, in distance.

An overview shot of Disneyland Paris Park
Credit: The Sun UK

Related: Bob Iger Visits “Worst” Disney Park on Its Anniversary

Hollywood Studios

This third Disney World Park opened on May 1, 1989. And while there have been some pretty significant developments here in recent years—including two land expansions, it’s still one of the smallest and most limited in what it offers. It’s a Park you either love or hate depending on your acute interests but isn’t what can be considered an all-day Park by anyone’s standards…unless you don’t mind riding and re-riding the same rides for hours on end.

Disney California Adventure

Surprisingly, the original Disneyland Park in Anaheim didn’t get a follow-up second Park until February 8, 2001. In recent years, there have been several developments, including added attractions associated with Marvel and Pixar specifically. But it cannot be denied that its California-specific persona has somewhat been lost in translation along the way, with some previously California-themed attractions getting revamped motifs and storylines. That can be a turnoff to some folks.

Disney California Adventure Park, Pixar Pier
Credit: Disney

EPCOT

As Disney World’s second Park, which opened on October 1, 1982, EPCOT truly stands out as the perfect companion/follow-up to the Magic Kingdom. It serves as an extension of Walt Disney’s theme on human progress, communication, and advancements into the future.

Until a few years ago, EPCOT was divided into two main sections—Future World and the World Showcase, which comprises 11 different national pavilions. Future World has since been redone as three distinct themed neighborhoods. They are World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration. The World Showcase remains as it has always been. Developments are still forthcoming in this innovative Park, but the biggest complaint currently is all the onsite construction and resulting inconveniences.

Overview of EPCOT World Showcase with EPCOT ball in backdrop
Credit: DisneyLists

Tokyo Disneyland

This was the first Disney Park to open internationally, on April 15, 1983. And it’s arguably still the best extension beyond the United States. Tokyo Disneyland offers many of the same famed attractions found in both United States incarnations but does not participate in mere imitation; it also includes originals. Across the board, everything about this Park is exceptional.

Related: Who Did It Better? Tokyo Disney Resort or Walt Disney World?

Tokyo DisneySea

On September 4, 2001, Tokyo opened a second Park that outdoes itself as a one-of-a-kind offering. With its riparian, sea-exploration theme, it truly is a marvel to behold. And the attractions housed within the seven “ports of call” making up Tokyo DisneySea house some of the best attractions found in any Disney Park. As of 2019, DisneySea was declared the fourth-most visited Park in the world and is the second-most-visited Park in all of Japan.

DisneySea overview Mountain
Credit: Disney

Related: Is This Really the Best Disney Park on Earth?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This fourth Disney World Park, which appropriately opened on Earth Day (April 22) back in 1998, is the grandest of all Disney Parks in regards to total land. Spanning 580 impressive acres, this Park may not be overtly Disney in the traditional sense, but it embodies the spirit of Walt Disney and encompasses what he stood for in so many ways. Doubling as both a zoological park and a theme park laden with so many standout attractions, it’s understandable why this is one of the top-rated Disney options.

Resident animals of Animal Kingdom Park
Credit: Disney

Disneyland Park

You can’t get any more classic Disney than the one and only Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Having opened on July 17, 1955, this is the most authentic Disney Park of all and the one that set all the precedents by which we evaluate all others. Despite being the oldest and most iconic, updates still take place to keep the scene fresh, current, and magical.

Exterior shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle
Credit: Disney

Magic Kingdom

While the original Disneyland is the most iconic in many ways, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, which opened on October 1, 1971, is the most Disney or all Disney Parks. It’s true that the Magic Kingdom essentially borrows a lot of attractions from Disneyland, but it’s also different enough, even in said borrowed attractions, to stand out as an enhancement rather than carbon copy replication. Plus, the size of Magic Kingdom Park, along with its multi-level setup with underground Utilidors, really helps to set it apart.

Exterior of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Do you agree with how we ranked the 12 Disney Parks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks

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