When we initially think about Disneyland, we tend to only conjure up thoughts of the original Disneyland in Anaheim. But Disney is a worldwide brand, and Disneyland is no exception. But what’s truly the best Disneyland park—and why? How does the original Disneyland stack up against its Shanghai counterpart, or Tokyo counterpart?
Well, in this article, I’m going to compare all of the global Disney Parks against one another to help find out, once and for all, which one reigns supreme!
Guide to the Best Disneyland Park (Globally)
6) Hong Kong Disneyland — Lantau Island
While Hong Kong Disneyland certainly has its charms and merits, it is arguably the worst of the six Disney theme parks scattered around the world. The Castle of Magical Dreams functions as the centerpiece of the park, and the design combines elements from 13 different Disney princess stories, making it unique among all Disney parks.
While Hong Kong Disneyland’s appeal is undeniable purely because it is a Disney branded property, it is also worth recognizing that the park’s relatively smaller size, fewer attractions and limited diversification often leave it languishing at the bottom of the list when compared to its counterparts.
Unlike its larger siblings around the world that offer much more in the form of entertainment and attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland’s offerings can feel somewhat limited and it’s easy to get through in one day. It also lacks some of the iconic attractions that have become synonymous with the Disney Parks experience around the world, which can lead to fewer repeat visitors and lessened overall satisfaction.
On a more exciting note, Hong Kong Disneyland will be one of the first to receive a brand new Frozen themed land, which will undoubtedly raise it higher up on our list!
Despite being considered the worst of the six Disney theme parks, Hong Kong Disneyland still holds its own charm with its unique blend of Disney magic and local culture. The park’s smaller size can also be seen as a benefit, offering a more intimate and less overwhelming experience, especially for families with small children or first-time Disney visitors.
Every Disney park has its own charm, and while Hong Kong Disneyland might not be the most grandiose, it can still provide a delightful and memorable Disney experience.
5) Shanghai Disneyland — China
While it is important to acknowledge that all Disney theme parks possess their own unique charm and magic, Shanghai Disneyland falls short in a few key areas (and happens to have some pretty big strengths in other areas)!
One of the primary reasons for this ranking is the park’s lack of originality and distinct Disney storytelling. Shanghai Disneyland seems to rely heavily on existing Disney properties and characters without adding much in the way of innovation or new experiences.
Unlike other parks that create immersive environments and intricate storylines within those environments, Shanghai Disneyland often feels like a generic theme park with a Disney overlay. There are some exceptions to this, for example the Tron: Lightcycle Run that originally opened in Shanghai—and now has a sibling in Orlando!
Shanghai Disneyland struggles with overcrowding and long wait times, especially with parking and entering the resort, which significantly impact the overall guest experience.
The park’s immense popularity, coupled with its relatively compact size leads to crowded walkways, extended queues, and difficulty in navigating through the park. While the park has made efforts to address these issues, the problem persists to some extent and it is far more noticeable than in many of the other parks around the world.
Shanghai Disneyland offers a comparatively smaller number of rides and shows, which can leave visitors craving more diversity and excitement especially if guests are used to theming standards in other resorts.
Additionally, some of the attractions lack the immersive and intricate theming that Disney parks are known for, making them feel somewhat lackluster when compared to their counterparts in other parks.
The dining and culinary experiences at Shanghai Disneyland are often criticized for their lack of quality and variety, however this particular resort does provide plenty of wonderful new experiences for guests traveling from other areas of the world!
4) Tokyo Disney — Urayasu, Chiba
While it may not be considered inherently boring and not worth the visit, Tokyo Disney also does not quite reach the level of being labeled as wonderful or as one of our favorite parks. Tokyo Disneyland offers a unique blend of both positive and negative aspects, making it a mixed experience for visitors, that could go either way depending on the personality of the guest and what you are expecting from your vacation.
On the positive side, the park boasts exceptional attention to detail and cleanliness, as is customary in Japanese culture and in Disney resorts as a whole. The park’s attractions and rides are well-maintained, and the overall visual aesthetics are visually pleasing. Tokyo Disneyland offers a wide variety of entertainment options including parades, shows, and seasonal events, ensuring there is always something exciting happening.
On the flip side, the park can be overcrowded, especially during peak seasons which potentially can and will most likely hamper the overall experience. Some visitors may also find the food options limited or not up to their expectations, especially if guests are traveling around the world specifically with the intention of experiencing different varieties of Disney food.
This park does have some brilliant theming and is a lot of fun to walk through, although both parks within the Tokyo Disney resort could probably be done within a day each.
If you are looking for a longer vacation within the resort, you would likely find yourself repeating rides and experiences. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s not necessarily ideal if you are looking to change things up or are bored of the “same old routine”.
3) Walt Disney World — Orlando, Florida
When it comes to Disney theme parks, there is no denying the magical allure of Walt Disney World in Orlando. Spanning over 25,000 acres, this enchanting destination is home to four distinct theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Each of these parks offers its own unique experiences, from the classic fairy tales and iconic castle in Magic Kingdom to the futuristic innovations and international pavilions in Epcot.
However, while Walt Disney World undeniably holds a special place in the hearts of millions of visitors, it falls into third place in our ranking of the best Disney theme parks. Disney World offers a vast array of attractions and endless entertainment options, however, we have first-hand experience with the fact that its size and scale can sometimes lead to challenges in terms of crowd management and overall guest experience.
The sheer expanse of the resort can make navigation and transportation between parks a bit overwhelming, impacting the overall enjoyment for some visitors. Guests often find themselves having to stay for over a week to see all four of the parks within this resort, and that’s just not feasible for a big portion of families.
It is important to note that being ranked third in our list does not diminish the magical experiences and lasting memories that can be created at Walt Disney World, as it does contain a huge amount of its own magic and specialty experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Whether it’s exploring the African savannah in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or immersing oneself in the fantastical world of Pandora,
While Walt Disney World may not claim the top spot in our ranking, it still holds a special place in the hearts of millions and remains a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a truly magical Disney experience. As long as you’re prepared for a potentially long trip and difficulty seeing everything in such a short amount of time, this park is a great choice, and we love it!
2) Disneyland Paris — France
Disneyland Paris, with its unique charm and absolutely adorable European flair, is second place on our list of Disney resorts around the world! One of the reasons for this ranking is due to its distinct and unique attributes that make it stand out from the rest. The absolutely beautiful castle that functions as the centerpiece of the park is unlike any other Disney castle with its dragon animatronic in the dungeon.
Another big reason that this park comes in second place is the incorporation of European culture and history into the park. Additionally, the park’s location, just a short drive east of one of the world’s most romantic cities, lets guests combine their visit with other iconic sights, making it an attractive destination for European and international travelers alike.
Disneyland Paris is also recognized for its grand seasonal events, such as the Halloween Soiree and Christmas season, which are celebrated with a level of extravagance that outshines other Disney parks. The park also holds the distinction of being the only Disney park to host a music festival, Electroland, where world-renowned DJs perform in front of the park’s stunning backdrop.
Finally, while technically not coming in as the best Disneyland on this list, Disneyland Paris does not compromise on the quintessential Disney magic. The enchanting parades, spectacular fireworks, and the heartwarming meet and greets with beloved Disney characters ensure that the timeless magic and wonder of Disney are ever-present, creating unforgettable experiences for every visitor.
1) Disneyland — Anaheim, California
In the heart of sunny Anaheim, California lies the birthplace of the happiest place on earth, the Disneyland Resort. This is the original park that Walt Disney himself brought to life in 1955.
The iconic park is often lauded as the best Disneyland, and we can confirm that this is for a very good reason. Its unparalleled assortment of attractions and rides truly set it apart and stations this park high above its counterparts around the globe.
From the swashbuckling adventures on Pirates of the Caribbean to the star-studded exploits in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the thrill of Space Mountain to the timeless joy of the classic It’s a Small World, the variety and quality of experiences are second to none.
Disneyland Resort is also home to a vast array of beloved characters, more so than you can find in many of the other parks. In the original Disneyland, you can have a royal meeting with Cinderella, or even have a dance-off with Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. The characters truly come alive and enrich the park’s atmosphere, making every interaction a magical experience.
To make this particular park even more of an absolute favorite, the Disneyland Resort holds a unique and powerful appeal as the park that started everything. It encapsulates Walt Disney’s vision of a place where parents and children could have fun together.
The park retains much of its original charm while continually evolving to keep the magic fresh and exciting. The original Disneyland Resort in Anaheim remains the most enchanting of them all, a testament to Walt Disney’s enduring vision of a place where dreams really do come true.
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This article was written by Peyton and edited by Michael.
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