Theme Park Insider

Monday Top 10: Robert Niles' Top 10 Theme Parks

December 22, 2014, 12:24 PM · Last week on the Monday Top 10, we continued our year-end wrap-up with a personal list from your editor of the top 10 theme parks I have not visited but want to, someday. Today, let's celebrate the top parks we have visited, and I'll get the conversation going with my personal list of the world's top 10 theme parks.

Remember, I made this list from the parks I have visited, so no park that appeared on last week's list will appear on this one. To determine the order, I asked myself which park in the world would I most want to revisit, if money and travel hassles weren't issues. That got me my number one. Then I thought of the park I'd most want to visit after that, to pick my number two park, and so on.

Since that's how I picked the 10 parks this week, I thought it would make more sense to present the list in that order, from number 1 to 10, instead of counting down from 10 to 1, as we typically do for this feature.

As you read through my list, I invite you to think about which parks you'd put on your top 10 list, then to share that list with us in the comments.

1. Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

This was the easiest call on the entire list. Theme Park Insider readers' choice for the "world's best theme park" title is my choice, too. Give me the means to go to any theme park in the world, right now, and I'm heading to DisneySea. Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Shiriki Utundu. Gyoza Dogs. Fortress Explorations. Sindbad's Storybook Voyage. If you love theme parks, a visit to Tokyo DisneySea is a day in heaven on Earth.

2. Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland

So, while I'm in Tokyo... ;^) Tokyo Disneyland offers a "best of" mix from Orlando and Anaheim, combining the best elements of classics such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean with delightful originals including Pooh's Hunny Hunt and Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek. Plus, the Tokyo Disney Resort offers the best theme park food on Earth. I'm still craving that curry popcorn.

3. Disneyland

Disneyland

This is where I really had to start thinking and making some hard choices for my list. Parks three through six are a bit of a toss-up for me. These are my four favorite theme parks in the United States, but none of them stand completely clear of the others. Still, I came up with an order that appeals to me. The original Disneyland, in Anaheim, California, leads these four thanks to its top-to-bottom depth of attractions and overall quality of its food. "What to eat" is an important factor for me in inspiring my desire to come back and visit again. In a park with great food, I'm always finding something new to try, even if I've experienced all the attractions. Set me up with some Plaza Inn fried chicken and give me a ride on the original Pirates, and I'll be a very happy theme park fan.

4. Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida

Diagon Alley moves USF into the number four slot, and makes me think hard about moving the park up even higher. If I were compiling a list of best theme park lands, rather than entire theme parks, Diagon Alley would top the list, beating even the best lands from DisneySea. But USF doesn't offer Disneyland's depth, at least not yet, with a kiddie land filled with tired properties and the head-rattling Rip, Ride, Rockit. With more changes coming to this park in the next few years, however, USF might still challenge Disneyland to become my favorite theme park in the U.S.

5. Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure

Of course, I can't overlook USF's neighbor. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man rank among my favorite places in the world of theme parks. I love the whimsy of Seuss Island, the sarcasm of Jurassic Park, and the more I keep typing, the more I'm talking myself into swapping IoA with USF again. But, ultimately, Diagon Alley keeps USF one spot ahead — until I get to ride the new Kong at IoA in two years, of course. Then, well, we'll see if anything changes.

6. Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure

I come back to California to round out my U.S. top four. Buena Vista Street, Cars Land, the Aladdin show, and consistently good food selections make California Adventure a wonderful place to hang out for a local and a must-visit destination for theme park fans across the United States. Why wait in long lines for Soarin' and Midway Mania in Orlando when you can enjoy those attractions with shorter waits, and in a better park, in Anaheim?

7. Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

While I debated with myself the order of parks through six, the parks I would include in my top six were easy selections for me. At the number seven slot, my decisions got quite a bit more difficult to make. I flipped numbers seven and eight about a jillion times before settling on USS in this position. This is Universal's smallest park, but every inch of it charms, with the best version of Revenge of the Mummy anywhere, a delightful Far, Far Away, a neat Sesame Street dark ride, and the original Transformers. Throw in the return of Battlestar Galactica, and I'd be thrilled to spend more time on Sentosa Island at USS.

8. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Not that I wouldn't love a return trip to Paris, too. DLP's unique takes on Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion make it another dream visit for theme park fans. The park offers what is (for now, until Shanghai opens) the world's best Disney castle, too. But, outside of Walt's, the food at the Disneyland Paris Resort might be the worst in the Disney theme park chain, which is just nuts for a resort in France. C'mon, this is the home to some of the best food in the world. Ultimately, I'd move Paris over Singapore if I could just get some better stuff to eat here.

9. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is the first, and only, Walt Disney World theme park to make my top 10 list. The New Fantasyland, along with the traditionally strong west-side lineup of attractions including the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain, make this the top choice among the WDW parks, as well as the world's most popular theme park. Perhaps when Walt Disney World gets done with much-needed improvements and additions to its other three parks, I will feel more enthusiasm for return visits to them. Until then, though, it's "been there, done that."

10. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Speaking of construction projects, when Universal Studios Hollywood completes its Evolution project in a few years, it might crash this list. Or if I could make it to some of the parks on last week's list, some of them might displace the parks here. But, for now, I give Busch Gardens Williamsburg the final spot on my top 10 list, the only non-Disney/non-Universal park to make the cut. Beautifully landscaped, delightfully themed, and offering a strong line-up of tasty food options, BGW long has been one of my favorite theme parks, and another dark ride or two might ensure that it stays safely on my personal top 10 list, despite the competition.

What are your 10 favorite theme parks in the world? Please share your list with the rest of us, in the comments.

Update: I'm in a giving mood this week, so I will send a Theme Park Insider hoodie to a randomly selected registered (and logged in) reader from the United States who replies to this thread with a Top 10 parks list. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Update 2: Contest now closed. But you can keep submitting your top 10 until the thread closes.

Replies (49)

December 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Very nice list, although I havent been to the international parks, this list makes perfect sense. My top 10 is:

1.Disneyland
2.Universal Studios Florida(although when I visit Diagon Alley it may move up)
3.Disney California Adventure
4.Universal Studios Hollywood(Fast and Furious and Harry Potter additions will move it up this list)
5.Islands of Adventure
6.Epcot
7.Animal Kingdom(I'll see what Avatar does to it)
8.Sea World San Diego
9.Disneys Hollywood Studios
10.Magic Kingdom

Im close to putting an honorable mention or "just missed the cut section but ten is ten!

December 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM · I haven't traveled much so...
1. Disneyland
2. California Adventure
3. Knott's Berry Farm
4. Six Flags Magic Mountain
5. Universal Studios CA
6. Sea World San Diego
7. Lego Land California
8. Tivoli Gardens
9. Universal Studios Orlando
10. Magic Kingdom
December 22, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Never beyond eastern USA for theme parks. So here's my list..
1) Universal Studios Orlando (since Diagon opened)
2) WDW Magic Kingdom
3) Islands of Adventure
4) Disney Hollywood Studios
5) Busch Gardens Williamsburg (but sliding since Blackstone took over)
6) Epcot
7) King's Island
8) Cedar Point
9) Kennywood
10)Disney's Animal Kingdom
December 22, 2014 at 4:05 PM · The method Robert used to determine his list is interesting because it gives me a far different list than what I would consider my Top 10 parks.

Being an East Coast resident, the West Coast parks are infrequent stops for me, so some would be artificially higher on a list of parks I'd most like to revisit than they would be on a Top 10 -- especially California Adventure, which would be near the bottom of my Top 10 (based on seeing it pre-makeover), but now would be No. 1 on my list to revisit. It's the opposite with Magic Kingdom, which is near the top of my Top 10, but would rank low on my list to revisit just because of the sheer volume of times I've been there.

Anyway, here's the Top 10 (not taking into account which parks I currently want to revisit):

1. Disneyland (Better Pirates. Indy. Toad.)
2. Magic Kingdom (Better Mansion, Castle, space to breathe.)
3. Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley, Simpsons, best shooter in MIB.)
4. Epcot (Walk around World Showcase Lagoon is one of my very favorite things in the world.)
5. Disney's Hollywood Studios (Tower of Terror all day.)
6. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Slightly less-impressive Potter, but still-phenomenal Spidey.)
7. Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Great ambience.)
8. Disney's California Adventure (Based off Superstar Limo/pre-makeover days.)
9. Universal Studios Hollywood (Literally just for the tram.)
10. Cedar Point (Coasters with a view.)

December 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM · 1) Universal Studios Orlando
2) Universal Islands Of Adventure
3) WDW Magic Kingdom
4) Epcot
5) Disneys Hollywood Studios
6) Kings Island
7) Busch Gardens Williamsburg
8) Busch Gardens Tampa
9) Cedar Point
10) Disneys Animal Kingdom
December 22, 2014 at 4:21 PM · 1-Magic Kingdom at WDW
2-Disneyland
3-Universal Studios at USF
4-Busch Gardens Williamsburg
5-Epcot at WDW
6-Islands of Adventure at USF
7-MGM at WDW
8-Disney's California Adventur
9-Animal Kingdom
10-Dollywood
December 22, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Based in the Northeast, I've only been to the West Coast twice. Still, my number one pick is:

1) Disneyland
2) Islands of Adventure
3) Magic Kingdom @ WDW
4) Kings Island
5) Busch Gardens Williamsburg
6) Universal Studios Orlando
7) Busch Gardens Tampa
8) EPCOT @ WDW
9) Six Flags Fiesta Texas
10) Disney Studios @ WDW

December 22, 2014 at 4:53 PM · 1) Tokyo DisneySea
2) Tokyo Disneyland
3) Disneyland
4) Universal Orlando
5) Islands of Adventure
6) Animal Kingdom
7) Disneyland Paris
8) California Adventure
9) Epcot
10) Hong Kong Disneyland
December 22, 2014 at 4:54 PM · I’ve yet to visit any foreign parks (that will be changing next year!), so I’m relegated to domestic offerings.

10. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
9. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
8. Knott’s Berry Farm
7. Animal Kingdom
6. Disney’s California Adventure
5. Universal Studios Florida
4. Magic Kingdom
3. Islands of Adventure
2. Disneyland
1. Epcot - It’s my #1 more for what it once was… and could be again… than for what it currently is, but I still think that World Showcase (particularly at night) has a truly special, amazing atmosphere.

December 22, 2014 at 5:15 PM · I've been to over 70 parks, though some of them are quite small. Here's my top ten list, based on how much I enjoy each park on a typical visit. Strictly speaking, these aren't all theme parks but I enjoy both theme and amusement parks and don't differentiate much between the two when ranking.

1. Holiday World
2. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
3. Knoebels Amusement Park & Resort
4. Disneyland
5. Cedar Point
6. Dollywood
7. Hersheypark
8. Universal Studios Hollywood
9. Six Flags Magic Mountain
10. Kings Island

In case anyone is curious about the lack of certain popular parks on my list, note that I have yet to visit Florida. I'm guessing it will change radically after that happens.

December 22, 2014 at 5:47 PM · it has been awhile since I visited some but my list: 10 Magic Mountain 9 Sea World Orlando 8 Knoebels 7 Hershey Park 6 Disneyland 5 Knotts Berry Farm 4 Dollywood 3 Universal Orlando 2 Islands of Adventure 1 Magic Kingdom
December 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM · I'm bad with lists, but if I could pick without over analyzing-

1. Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure
2. Universal Studios Florida
3. Magic Kingdom - WDW
4. Disneyland
5. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
6. Epcot
7. Silver Dollar City
8. Cedar Point
9. Disney Hollywood Studios (Florida) (I'm being generous today.)
10. Busch Gardens - Tampa

December 22, 2014 at 6:37 PM · Hmm, okay:

1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg. A nostalgic favorite from my childhood
2. Disneyland
3. Disneyland Paris -- a beautiful park
4. Animal Kingdom
5. Universal IoA
6. Universal Studios Orlando
7. Epcot
8. The Magic Kingdom
9. Univeral Studios Studio City
10. The San Diego Zoo (not technically a theme park, but I love it!)

December 22, 2014 at 6:55 PM · 1. Epcot- Are we allowed to pick which year/iteration? Either 1982 or just before Horizons closed in 1999. Yep, I'm one of THOSE.
2. Disneyland- The original... Plus they still have a Mr. Toads' Wild Ride. Full disclosure, haven't been since the 90's.
3. Universal Studios Japan- Lots of cool attractions exclusive to Japan, but mostly makes the list by volition of classic experiences no longer found anywhere else. Back to the Future, Jaws, Backdraft featuring awesomely-vintage Kurt Russell-san.
4. Magic Kingdom- I know... humdrum. I go every year. But dudes, SPACE MOUNTAIN. Cue the Tommy Tune number.
5. Disneyland Paris- In space, no one can hear you scream. In France, Space Mountain features inversions. Advantage France.
6. Disney's Hollywood Studios- I appreciate this park for the unique themed experiences you can loosely string together. Dinner and drinks at the 50's Prime Time Cafe or Sci Fi Drive In followed by a ride on Tower of Terror makes for a rad evening.
7. Disney Studios Park- The other half of the Paris resort. Super tiny, but huge room for improvement and Crush's Coaster is a worthy exclusive. I just missed Ratatouille on my last visit, alas...
8. Sega Joypolis Tokyo- A smallish indoor theme park, has a Sonic themed coaster called the Spin Bullet (similar to Crush's Coaster) and a snowboard half-pipe type attraction that's... disorienting. Plus much more. Still sad I didn't get a chance at Tokyo Disneyland/sea. Anyone want to join me on a trip to Japan next year?
9. Disney's Animal Kingdon- Look, we're at the bottom of the list, ok? And I'm not about to lower myself to listing one of the lame-o samey Six Flags parks. Yak and Yeti is delicious. Plus, I like Primeval Whirl.
10. Universal Studios Florida- Most areas of the park could use a fresh coat of paint, but Springfield, USA is super well executed and Diagon Alley is revelatory. Also, a minor detail, but being able to purchase a Transformer in the shape of your ride vehicle from the attraction of the same name is fanboy heaven.
December 22, 2014 at 7:18 PM · 1. Tokyo Disney Sea - Really does anyone who has been there not rate it #1?
2. Tokyo Disneyland
3. Disneyland
4. Disneyland Paris
5. Universal Florida
6. Islands of Adventure
7. Magic Kingdom
8. California Adventure
9. Epcot
10. Animal Kingdom
December 22, 2014 at 8:32 PM · A comment elsewhere that my list showed a pro-Disney bias inspired me to test that claim.

The ultimate crowdsourced top 10 list would be the TEA/AECOM annual attendance report. If you believe that people express their preferences by actually visiting specific parks, here are your global top 10 theme parks, according to the public at large:

1. Magic Kingdom
2. Tokyo Disneyland
3. Disneyland
4. Tokyo DisneySea
5. Epcot
6. Disneyland Paris
7. Disney's Animal Kingdom
8. Disney's Hollywood Studios
9. Universal Studios Japan
10. Disney California Adventure

Now, since my top 10 list is limited to parks I have visited, and I haven't been to Universal Studios Japan (which I ranked number two last week, in my list of parks I have not visited), I only can make an apples-to-apples comparison of my list with the TEA/AECOM list if I limit that list to the parks I have visited.

That change doesn't alter the top 10 much, only moving DCA up one spot to number 9, with Islands of Adventure climbing from 11 to the number 10 spot. (FWIW, USF is then 11.) Universal Studios Singapore and Busch Gardens Williamsburg are not on the TEA/AECOM global top 25, though from TEA/AECOM's regional lists we know that USS is more popular, with 3.65 million annual visitors to 2.73 million at BGW.

So, comparing the TEA/AECOM-ranked list of parks I've visited to my top 10 list, I've noted how parks changed on my list from the TEA/AECOM order, in parentheses:

1. Tokyo DisneySea (+3 spots from its TEA/AECOM order on my list)
2. Tokyo Disneyland (same)
3. Disneyland (same)
4. Universal Studios Florida (+7)
5. Universal's Islands of Adventure (+5)
6. Disney California Adventure (+3)
7. Universal Studios Singapore (not on list)
8. Disneyland Paris (-2)
9. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (-8)
10. Busch Gardens Williamsburg (not on list)

So I preferred Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, and Disney California Adventure over where the general population ranked them. And I disliked Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, and Disneyland Paris relative to their position on the general attendance list.

Therefore, one can conclude that I am biased toward Busch Gardens, Universal, Tokyo Disney and the Disneyland Resort (in that order) in my preferences, and biased against Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris (in that order), relative to the public at large. Sounds about right to me. ;^)

December 22, 2014 at 9:03 PM · Maybe I'm too close to and too knowledgeable about Walt Disney World but I don't have any of their 4 parks in the top 10 list. I like them but, even if I have never visited several of these before, I prefer other Disney parks. This is a wish list after all.
1. Disneyland
2. Tokyo DisneySea
3. Tokyo Disneyland
4. Universal Studios Florida
5. Universal's Islands of Adventure
6. Universal Studios Singapore
7. Disneyland Paris
8. Universal Studios Hollywood
9. Disney’s California Adventure
10. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

I really would like to visit Sea World San Diego and most European parks but some parks had to be no. 11 and lower.

December 22, 2014 at 9:03 PM · 1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
2. Universal Studios Orlando
3. Disneys California Adventure
4. Islands of Adventure
5. Epcot
6. Disneyland
7. Busch Gardens Tampa
8. Cedar Point
9. Disneyland
10. Knotts Berry Farm
December 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM · Hmmmm....

1- Disneyland
2- Islands of Adventure
3- Universal Studios Florida
4- Disneyland Paris
5- Magic Kingdom
6- Epcot
7- California Adventure
8- Knott's Berry Farm
9- Cedar Point
10- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

December 23, 2014 at 12:24 AM · Live in So Cal with 4 kids. Wife used to work at Disneyland. DVC members so we get to Orlando once every 3 years. We lived for a year in Spain right next to PortAventua and also got to do a pretty amazing 2-week theme park roadtrip.

My list isn't based on where I'd want to revisit, necessarily, but where I'd want to take other people (my kids, other family, friends) to show them around and to enjoy time together.

1. Epcot: I agree food is important. That's why this goes first. So many amazing options and the edu-tainment is still amazing.
2. Islands of Adventure: Forbidden Journey is the best ride on the planet and the Popeye raft is the best water ride on the planet and Suess Landings is just a joy. Plus with the front-of-line for staying in a hotel it's just a fantastic experience all around.
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Great rides, great food, never crowded when I've been.
4. Efteling: go in July, NOT August and you'll get on everything quickly. The forest area is wonderful and was definitely Walt's inspiration for DL.
5. Dollywood: it's got such a "real place" feeling to it. Nicest staff of any park ever, great food, not crowded, and Dolly's family members do a daily concert of her songs. Just an awesome spot.
6. Europa Park: so many rides. Not crowded in July. Best-themed hotel we've ever stayed in (Spanish middle ages one.) Half the rides are completely Disney copies which makes it all surreal and fun.
7. Disney Studios Paris: It's super small but Crush's Coaster is amazing. Looking forward to trying the new Remy ride.
8. Port Aventura: Amazing Mediterranean views from the tops of amazing coasters. The food is horrendous though. Super nicely themed hotels surround it. Can get great deals now and then with "white night" specials.
9. Parque de Atracciones de Zaragoza: A tiny little park but it has THE MOST FUN ride on the planet. Not the best, but the most fun. It's called El Quetzal (aka the bouncy bouncy ride.) Not sure why every park in the world can't recreate this (probably bc it's super dangerous and insurance companies won't allow it) but it's sooooo funny and fun. See http://www.themeparkreview.com/parks/photo.php?pageid=227&linkid=2321 for a hilarous and true explanation.
10. Six Flags Magic Mountain: Simply a great collection of great rides, and always offering super solid deals. Food isn't all that, but there's an in-n-out 5 minutes from the entrance. Twisted Collusus is coming too.

December 23, 2014 at 12:34 AM · 1. Disneyland. We live in Southern California, and make about one annual trip to our favorite local park. The theming and the quality of the rides and entertainment can't be matched by anything else by a theme park that doesn't involve buying a plane ticket to visit.
2. (tie) Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I visited back in the late 1990s, just before Animal Kingdom opened, but my wife and the kids have never been. I understand that the Florida Disney parks are not what they used to be, but would like to visit again, just to see what's familiar as a Disneyland regular and what's different.
4. Disney California Adventure. Doesn't quite measure up to its sister park, but does have a half dozen rides the family all loves and the best live show we've ever seen in a park, Aladdin.
5. Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Got to visit once during an East Coast trip when I was in high school. Have fond memories of the park, especially the Loch Ness Monster. Might have limited appeal for the kids, who don't like too-scary rides.
6. Legoland California. We visit this park about once a year. The kids are starting to get too old for the rides in the main park, but the new Chima additions to the water park that we discovered this year were a lot of fun.
7. Knott's Berry Farm. Our regular theme park. I love walking around the Ghost Town, and the one-of-a-kind rides like the renovated Log Ride and Mine Train Ride, and a real working stagecoach. Great seasonal entertainment and atmosphere during Christmas time and Easter. The junior coasters like Jaguar and Pony Express are favorites of our kids.
8. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The most fun roller coaster I've ever ridden, the historic Giant Dipper.
9. (tie) Busch Gardens in Van Nuys, CA AND Marineland (Palos Verdes, CA). Two Los Angeles-area parks I visited as a child that don't exist anymore. Busch Gardens had a log flume ride and monorail through the park, and I believe tours of the brewery. Marineland had animal shows, aquarium exhibits, and looked out over the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. When the park was closed, the killer whale stars were sold and secretly trucked by night to Sea World in San Diego.
11. Universal Studios Hollywood. Too many motion simulator rides (Simpsons ride, Despicable Me), and the tram ride is fun but offers a superficial look at moviemaking. In its current state, I wouldn't want to visit more than once every five years, though Harry Potter will be coming in 2016.
December 23, 2014 at 1:17 AM · I've been fortunate to travel internationally recently and as a hardcore theme park fan visit many new parks. With that said here is my list based on the overall feeling I get in each park:

1) Disneyland, CA (You can't beat the overall feel this place has. It's sheer magic.)
2) Tokyo Disney Sea (Breathtaking. I didn't have time to visit Tokyo Disneyland)
3) Disney California Adventure (Great variety - still improving)
4) EPCOT (World showcase at night moves me)
5) Hong Kong Disneyland (I was a huge fan of the new mini-lands they added)
6) Magic Kingdom (Still a great model while cannot compare to CA. Finally a little new life in Fantasyland)
7) Disneyland Paris (Beautifully designed, but needs help on upkeep)
8) Islands of Adventure (Great variety and nice feel for a non-Disney park)
9) Animal Kingdom (Beautiful park and feel - needs more rides)
10) Disney's Hollywood Studios (Nice feel in places but needs more as well)

December 23, 2014 at 4:29 AM · 1. EPCOT - Purely for World Showcase and the food.
2. Disneyland - It's been a long time, but it has almost everything you could want - in one place!
3. Islands of Adventure - and its future is even brighter!
4. Magic Kingdom - I just love Haunted Mansion and Carousel of Progress!
5. Universal Studios Florida - I haven't done Transformers or seen Harry Potter 2.
6. Hong Kong Disneyland - Strange little place, but the new additions are incredible!
7. Universal Studios Hollywood - The backlot tour was amazing.
8. California Adventure - I went pre-Cars Land.
9. Knott's Berry Farm - Made me feel like a kid!
10. Six Flags Fiesta Texas - My memories of the Superman Krypton Coaster and backwards Joker ride are probably better than the rides themselves, but I really loved this park when I lived in TX.

Honorable Mentions

11. Busch Gardens Tampa - Haven't been to Williamsburg
12. Hollywood Studios - Fingers crossed that it moves way up after some much needed attention.

December 23, 2014 at 5:47 AM · Hmmm...IOA is really pretty tired right now. Especially the useless Lost Continent. I have not been across the pond to the other theme parks or California, but for FLORIDA...
1. Universal Studios Florida
2. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
3. Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios
4. EPCOT
5. Universal's Islands of Adventure
6. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
7. Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
8. Sea World Orlando
December 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM · My list is a little shorter since I have not (yet) had the pleasure of experiencing as many parks as you all

1. Magic Kingdom Park - A classic to be sure, and New Fantasyland has beefed up the park (and not to mention given the park a first-rate dining option if you can get in)

2. Universal Studios Florida - Toss up between it and IOA, but Diagon Alley puts it ahead.

3. Islands of Adventure - The original Harry Potter experience now even better with the link between lands.

4. Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Have not been there is years, but the setting and landscaping are top notch

5. Disneyland

6. Disney Hollywood Studios - Only from memories of the past. The park is clearly in transition, but there still is a little magic walking down Sunset Blvd. or Hollywood Blvd. at night and looking forward to seeing the Chinese Theater return as the focal point in 2015.

7. Animal Kingdom - Purely for the change of pace (and does not hurt being an animal lover)

8. EPCOT - Food lover's spot for sure

9. Cedar Point - From what I recall was always a well run park.

10. Hersheypark - For a smaller park, was always a fun stop.

December 23, 2014 at 6:07 AM · My Top 10....

1. Disneyland
2. Magic Kingdom
3. California Adventure
4. EPCOT
5. Animal Kingdom
6. Universal Studios Florida
7. Hollywood Studios
8. Islands of Advenure
9. King's Island
10. Holiday World

I have to mention that Island's of Adventure would be much higher on my list but after visiting in Sept of this year I was sadly struck with the realization of how badly this park needs some refurbs. Suess Landing is depressing. It used to be bright and energetic and now is just washed out and faded. The Incredible Hulk reminds me of and old rusty carnival ride. IMHO Universal really needs to rethink their non existent to limited refurb policy. Sure Disney shuts down attractions, some times, for an extended period of time but their parks always look brand new and nearly flawless. IOA has not been well maintained and it is really starting to show....

December 23, 2014 at 7:27 AM · Personal Top 10

1. Disneyland (the original, built by Walt himself, and better than any other park by a mile, with a huge, huge gap to no. 2)

2. California Adventure (sooooo much better than it used to be)
3. Universal Studios Singapore (a wonderful new park with great theming)
4. Knott's Berry Farm (also much better than it used to be, a wonderful park that's on the upswing again)
5. Tokyo Disneyland (a nice park but overrated, and can't hold a candle to Anaheim's DL; Tokyo DL has an absolutely abysmal first act with its ugly World Bazaar street)
6. California Legoland (a really fun park, and probably closer to number one if you have little kids)
7. Magic Kingdom (a much paler version of the original in Anaheim but still very nice)
8. Epcot (used to be so much better, but its vision is lost and confused)
9. Animal Kingdom (love the animals and the marquee attractions, but Disney needs to dump the insultingly cheap Dinoland)
10. Hong Kong Disneyland (Mystic Manor is amazing enough to bump HK DL to number 10, but the original footprint of the park was obviously done on the cheap)

Note: I visited Tokyo DL, but didn't have time to also do Disney Sea, and I haven't been to Universal Florida since the Potter additions.

December 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM · 1. Disneyland
2. Universal Studios Hollywood
3 Disneyland Paris
4. Universal Studios Florida
5. Islands of Adventure
6. Magic Kingdom
7. Dollywood
8. Disney California Adventure
9. Hershey Park
10. Disney Hollywood Studios

Nothing beats the originals! The California Parks offer the charm and mystique of the best older rides and the tram tour with real props!

December 23, 2014 at 8:26 AM · Joeybats presents his TOP 10

1) Universal's Islands of Adventure
2) Universal Studios Florida
3) Disneyland
4) The Magic Kingdom
5) Disneyland Paris
6) EPCOT
7) Disney California Adventure
8) Disney's Animal Kingdom
9) Knott's Berry Farm
10) Universal Studios Hollywood

honorable mentions: Sea World of San Diego and Parc Asterix of France

December 23, 2014 at 8:37 AM · I just believe there is no better park than Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Universal is the one place that I can consistently visit (year after year) and always have something new to enjoy.
December 23, 2014 at 2:06 PM · FWIW, my Top Ten....

1) Epcot - The most unique and interesting park I have so far visited. It never ceases to amaze me, despite the lack of love Disney has given it over the past decade or more.
2) Magic Kingdom - How can you go wrong with the #1 vacation destination on the planet?
3) Disneyland - Pirates! Indy! And Walt's lingering presence.
4) Disney California Adventure - Cars Land and Red's Apple Freeze, two of my favorite things.
5) Disney Hollywood Studios - The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!
6) Disney Animal Kingdom - I still remember Everest when it was great.
7) Islands of Adventure - Spidey!
8) Universal Studios Orlando - Mummy!
9) Silver Dollar City - The best "theme park" east of SoCal and west of Orlando.
10) Kings Island - We had a wonderful time when we visited this past summer, and what an excellent collection of diverse coasters.

Just missed the cut: Dollywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, SeaWorld Orlando, and Cedar Point.

Missed the cut by a WIDE margin: Worlds of Fun, Six Flags Saint Louis.

December 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM · Here's my list but you must consider I have probably only been to these 10 theme parks. Lol

1) Disneyland
2) California Adventure
3) Epcot
4) Magic Kingdom
5) Animal kingdom
6) Disney Hollywood studios
7) Six flags Magic Mountain (not really a "theme" park but it gets in here)
8) Universal Orlando (I haven't been since '97 so I probably would move it up today)
9) Universal Hollywood (I haven't been here since '93 so that would change too)
10) Enchanted forest (the very interesting local park)

December 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM · Concerning JB's IOA comments. I was also in IOA in Sept. 2014, May 2014, and Oct. 2013 (total 7 weeks)and I must have been in a different IOA than you were since I experienced a very well maintained & refurbed park. Note on Seuss, they actually repaint most of that area a couple of times a year but the bright colors fade a bit in the Florida type of weather, but they are still pretty vibrant even after the weather effect.
December 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM · 1.Universal Studios Orlando
2. Islands of Adventure
3. Disneysea
4. Knoebels
5. Magic Kingdom
6. Universal Hollywood
7. Disneyland
8. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
9. Hersheypark
10. Cedar Point
December 23, 2014 at 9:45 AM · My top 10.....

1. Magic Kingdom
2. Universal Orlando
3. Disneyland
4. Hershey Park
5. Cedar Point
6. Holiday World
7. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
8. King's Island
9. Dollywood
10. Geauga Lake----I just teared up a little

December 23, 2014 at 10:15 AM · 1. Disneyland
2. Tokyo DisneySea
3. California Adventure
4. Tokyo Disneyland
5. Epcot
6. Islands of Adventure
7. Magic Kingdom
8. Hollywood Studios
9. Sea World San Diego
10. Animal Kingdom
December 23, 2014 at 10:16 AM · 10) California Adventure (visited before Carsland was complete)
9.) Typhoon Lagoon (I know it's a waterpark but the two times we've been have been the most enjoyable water park experiences we've ever had)
8.) Hershey Park
7.) Universal Studios (last visit before Diagon Alley)
6.) Epcot
5.) Animal Kingdom
4.) Seaworld Orlando (very underrated relaxing family park)
3.) Magic Kingdom
2.) Islands of Adventure (Wizarding World is themed unlike anything I have ever seen)
1.) Disneyland


Dis-Honorable mention:
Hollywood Studios...Luckily, the last trip we took was in November and Osbourne lights was the saving grace. Without it at this point the park should be charging half price. Hopefully, the rumored rehabs take place sooner than later but with Disney's track record I am guessing we'll actually get to experience something new in 5 years, maybe.

December 23, 2014 at 10:40 AM · My top 4 would be the Walt Disney World parks. I don't know where I would fit any other parks that I have been to, beyond those. I see that at least a few people have mentioned Knoebles. I have been to Knoebles a few times, only because it is near where some relatives live. I don't understand what anybody sees in it.
December 23, 2014 at 10:58 AM · 1. Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure
2. Universal Studios Florida
3. Disneyland
4. Magic Kingdom - WDW
5. Dollywood
6. Silver Dollar City
7. Epcot
8. Cedar Point
9. Holiday World
10. Disney California adventure – I haven’t been since the makeover, this is only on the list because of the makeover, and if I had been since the makeover I imagine it would be ranked higher.
December 23, 2014 at 12:11 PM · I've never made it to a Disney Park and as to the parks that I've visited, this is a loaded question b/c it depends upon the operative criteria. If I had to choose a park based on its overall beauty, it would be Busch Gardens Tampa - love the flamingoes near the entrance! - whereas if I had to choose a park based on the quality of the rides, it would be Six Flags Great Adventure. So looking at it from the perspective of which parks have that intangible something special, here are my top ten:

1) Busch Gardens Williamsburg
2) Silver Dollar City
3) Canada's Wonderland
4) Hersheypark
5) Dollywood
6) Holiday World
7) Lake Compounce
8) Busch Gardens Tampa
9) Cedar Point
10)Six Flags Fiesta Texas

The TPI hoodies look pretty cool but are available in only men's sizes whereas the T-shirts are available in both men's and women's sizes. Why is that?

December 23, 2014 at 2:19 PM · I like Silver Dollar City because is not a variant of Disney/Universal style theme park.
December 23, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Hi Bobbie...interesting how you wrote, "... if I had to choose a park based on the quality of the rides, it would be Six Flags Great Adventure" and yet that park did not make your list at all. I guess it goes to show, and I agree, that amazing coasters do not a "top ten" theme park make.
December 23, 2014 at 3:08 PM · I think I'll just list the top three I enjoy the most.

1. Disneyland - By far the most comprehensive and polished park I've visited. I can't walk for more than what feels like ten feet without finding something interesting to do. E-tickets such as Indy and Splash are still some of my favorites.

2. Universal Studios Florida - Basically tied with Islands of Adventure for me, Fast Food Boulevard's incredible quick-service offerings and Diagon Alley and place it over the top. Transformers, Escape from Gringotts, and Revenge of he Mummy top a stellar list of attractions.

3. Universal's Islands of Adventure - A very strong lineup of attractions overall. Spidey and Forbidden Journey are still two of the greatest, and the park delivers satisfying thrills with Hulk and Dragon Challenge. The water rides are top notch, if a bit situational, and Port of Entry is my favorite entrance land in a theme park. The adventure lives on...

I'd like to give an honorable mention to Holiday World for its exceptional wooden coasters, cleanliness, and friendly staff. Visiting there is always a fantastic experience.

December 23, 2014 at 3:58 PM · My Top 10 Parks

1. Universal Studios Florida
2. Magic Kingdom
3. Islands of Adventure
4.Busch Gardens Williamsburg
5. Animal Kingdom
6.EPCOT
7.Busch Gardens Tampa
8. Hollywood Studios
9. Six Flags over Georgia
10. Carowinds

*I ranked parks I've attended

December 23, 2014 at 5:20 PM · For the parks ive attended

1. Disney SEA- EPIC PARK!. This huge park is very immersive environment an attraction in itself. Truly the best park and only getting better with the expansion!
2. California Adventure- awesome shows and ride combo for young and old gives this a park that has a terrific balance
3. Disneyland- the shows and rides rides are great but kinda small park
4. Universal Studios FLORIDA- Awesome place with many thrilling rides especially harry potter. Needs more dark rides to balance it out. Too much 3-d screen rides gives a repetitive feel.
5. ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE- great as well just slighty a notch below universal due to the water rides that are way too wet in my opinion. ( i dont like getting wet!)
6. UNIVERSAL HOLLYWOOD- has alot of good rides but has too much of a disjointed feel. Plus springfield and harrypotter land are still under construction. An incomplete park but still cool.
7. UNIVERSAL SINGAPORE- smaller then the two other studios. Was ok compared to the other two
8. BUSCH GARDENS WILLAMSBURG- had great landscaping.. best of the six flag type parks that ive visited. Very clean and tidy!
9. SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS- went long ago had good rides as i recalled
10. San diego zoo- Not a theme park but was awesome! best zoo ever! much better then SEA WORLD DIEGO

December 23, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Hi James, it is so true that amazing coasters do not a top ten theme park make. What makes a top ten theme park is any number of other things, such as the extraordinary hospitality of Holiday World. And BTW, now that it's no longer possible to send members private messages through this site, I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I think it's really cool for you to have taken the time and trouble to meet up with a friend of mine at SDC last summer. I know how much he appreciated it.
December 24, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Aw-shucks, 'tweren't nuthin, ma'am. Just doing my part as a Theme Park Insider to make the world a friendlier place! Although it was actually Worlds of Fun, not Silver Dollar City. Maybe we'll hit SDC (the best theme park in the Midwest) the next time he makes it to my neck of the woods!

And with that comment, Merry Christmas to all and to all a GREAT night!

December 28, 2014 at 6:10 PM · Of the parks I've visited:
1. Universal Studios Florida
2. Islands of Adventure
3. Disneyland
4. Disneyland Paris
5. Tivoli Gardens
6. California Adventure
7. Universal Studios Hollywood
8. Sea World San Diego
9. Sea World San Antonio
10. WDW MK

I really need to get to Disney Sea, Universal Singapore, Disney Tokyo, etc. so that I don't have to put any of the WDW parks on this list anymore. They are theme psark museums to the 80's and 90's. Two new E Ticket attractions in the last 12 years = not trying anymore. They can suck $'s off the novice theme parkers as long as possible but someday someonbe is going to have to spend billions catching these parks up to todays standards.

December 28, 2014 at 6:38 PM · OK, I'm about to contact the randomly-selected winner, so the contest part of this post is now closed.

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