In a "think fast" scenario, I could honestly call Epcot my favorite place in the world...but it really is lagging behind. Maybe Disney figures it's perfect as it is and doesn't need much improvement or something.
Considering my last two visits, I rode Soarin once, saw Captain EO once just because I never had before and ditto Turtle Talk. Then I didn't even bother with the rest of Future World. The Spaceship Earth update is annoying, Mission Space isn't really my thing, and I've done everything else so many times over the years that there was really nothing I felt I needed to see.
World Showcase is a perfect place to do exactly what you said: catch a show, have a nice dinner, maybe stroll the promenade with a beer, then watch fireworks. I'm not someone who thinks they need to add another country or anything. But they definitely need to add something else to Future World to keep people interested. Maybe a complete upgrade to Imagination or Energy, replace Wonders of Life with something, or even bring some "bigger" more marketable things to Innoventions. The new Test Track is something but I don't know if it would be enough to push it much higher on your list.
Definite food for thought.
It is kind of a travesty how neglected WDW has become in the last decade or so. Even more so in relation to how Universal has been at the forefront of ride development and growth in Central Florida. This couldn't be more evident than in the slow decimation of Epcot.
If you asked me in the 90's, Epcot would have been neck-and-neck with Disneyland for the best theme park in the world. It had a unique World's Fair-style. A leisurely pace with attractions that had little to no lines. Plus, those rides were breathtakingly encompassing and detailed.
The rush to make Epcot more thrilling has instead had the adverse effect of making it more... boring. Mission:Space is a glorified & uncomfortable centrifuge with none of the beauty of Horizons. Test Track, while fun, was a bland ride that lacked the humor contained in the World of Motion. The vastly overrated Soarin' has turned the formally warm, peaceful Land pavilion into a cold, clinical mall. The less said about the destruction of the Imagination pavilion the better. The corny ending of the third iteration of Spaceship Earth has ruined one of the truly great Disney classics. The only actual improvements were to The Living Seas & The Universe of Energy, but that's not saying much. It is the only Disney park without what I would consider a AAA attraction. One hopes that a return to the transportative Epcot of old is in the cards, but I have little confidence.
WDW management has been concerned with the bottom-line & the status quo for way too long. Southern California is clearly where the preeminent Disney resort in the US is at this time. Heck, Universal has now become the best resort in Florida. Tokyo DisneySea and the refurb of California Adventure show that it's not the fault of Imagineers, but of management. However, with WDW still posting incredibly strong attendance figures, I see little in the way of drastic change happening in the near future.
Hi, my name is Dustin and I 100% agree with EVERYTHING you have said in this artical. I haven't been to the international parks yet, but this has nailed everything. I'm a HUGE Epcot fan and yet I agree with this. Also, I know we are only talking DIsney parks here, but another way to stab Disney WORLD right in the heart is to just go up the street and spend 2 or 3 days at two really amazing theme parks called the Universal ORlando resort... trust me, if you have an open mind to all theme parks (aka not just a DIsney lover), you will NOT regret it. I'm sure Robert will back me up by saying this Islands of Adventure is one of (if not thee best) theme park in orlando, and if Disneyland didn't exsist then probably the whole United States.This is another resort that has made and is STILL making A LOT of capital improvments to the resort like building a huge phase two to Harry Potter, and (99% sure this is happening) they are building a new ride called TRansformers: the ride.
Yeah, WDW is a huge resort with lots to do, but trust me, there are better resorts out there. We are no longer in the Walt Disney World decade (90's).
As for the list as a whole, I generally agree with your order. One thing to consider though is that every park is taken on its own terms. Tokyo Disneyland may be the second ranked park, but would I not go to WDW to see JUST Tokyo DL Park (as opposed to the entire Tokyo DL Resort)? No-in this case I would settle for the WDW's Magic Kingdom because I get three additional parks as well. Since every DL Park, save for Hong Kong at moment, is part of a larger resort, I think the other park options are something to consider.
Also, to this end, was DCA ranked so highly this year just because of the new additions, or because of these and the fact that it's right next door to DL? In other words, would it be ranked as highly if it was in isolation? Obviously, DCA is not in isolation; just asking for argument's sake.
Interesting read-keep up the good work.
I live in London, and have visited all the Disney parks worldwide, excluding Hong Kong Disneyland (which I do plan to visit after the expansion is complete) and Walt Disney Studios Paris (which I'll visit when Ratatouille opens). In the past 12 months I have visited WDW and Tokyo Disney Resort, and later this year I have a trip planned to visit Disneyland and California Adventure. These trips aren't cheap, require a fair amount of planning, and perhaps most importantly take a real time commitment - if you're flying 8+ hours, it really isn't worth it unless you are spending a good number of days.
Disneyland Paris is a train ride away for me - I could be there tomorrow lunchtime without breaking a sweat. It's comparatively inexpensive for me to visit, and does not require a long trip to make it seem worthwhile. Despite all this, I haven't been in years, and have no plan to return anytime soon.
Ignoring the apparent train wreck that is Walt Disney Studios Paris, Disneyland Paris itself holds no draw over me. The counter service food has been beyond awful every time I have visited, the 'cast members' surly and unpleasant (and I am well aware of the French customs Robert mentioned in his exceptional coverage of the park), and the crowds unruly. Say what you will about Americans, they behave much better in theme parks than Europeans. The nail in the coffin for me is the lack of Splash Mountain, which is without a doubt my favourite classic Disney attraction. It frustrates me that I am so close to a Disney park I have no interest in visiting. Personally, Disneyland Paris is an easy pick for my least favourite 'Magic Kingdom' style Disney park, for lack of a better descriptive term.
I agree with Robert's overall assessment of the Tokyo Disney resort - those really are Disney Parks done right. I implore any American tempted to travel overseas to visit a Disney park to pick Tokyo. Tokyo Disneyland really is a 'greatest-hits' park with some incredible bonuses - I'm a 25 year old male and I rank Pooh's Hunny Hunt as one of my favourite attractions anywhere in the world. However, I can't help but feel that Tokyo DisneySea is very slightly overrated - while it is without a doubt the most impressive theme park visually in the world, I feel that it only has three real headline attractions, only one of which is truly unique. I do however agree that it is, all things considered, the best Disney park worldwide, and needs to be seen for scale alone. It's an incredible place, but I feel that people occasionally get carried away when praising it.
Finally, I'd like to touch upon Epcot. Epcot isn't about rides for me, and I don't think you need great rides to make a great theme park. Epcot is a fantastic place to spend time, and truly is a 'themed' park. Not an amusement park, not a fair ground, a theme park. For me the attraction is the place itself. I can't remember the last time I rode anything in Epcot - but I don't go there for rides. I go there because it's truly unique, and has a distinct character that has not been successfully emulated in any other park. No other park gives me that same feeling. So, while I agree with what Robert's written regarding the park, I respectfully disagree with his ranking. As far as I'm concerned, a park where I can have as much fun with my parents as I can with my friends is doing something right.
DCA was actually a fairly decent park before the Carsland / Buena Vista additions. I think it's walking proximity to Disneyland simply made it's shortcomings stand out more (as it's directly compared to DL)
The additions have just made it a more complete & stronger park on it's own, but (with the exception of it's first couple of years) I think DCA was always a solid "B +" style park. I liked it before the additions & now it's even better
"The parks on the top half of the list are the ones where I'm suggesting to fans, 'Please visit these parks.' The parks on the bottom half of the list are the ones where I'm suggesting to Disney, 'Please fix these parks.'"
The Disney World parks, and WDSP, are the parks in the chain I think most need some love in additional and refurbished attractions and restaurants.
And Epcot, a park I love more than any other at WDW, needs some additions badly. The new Test Track should help. But World Showcase needs fresh attractions, too. TPI readers have given just two Epcot attractions ratings of 9, compared with four such attractions at each of the other WDW parks. Epcot has just 7 attractions with an 8 or 9 rating, compared to at least 10 such attractions at each of the other WDW parks. Epcot's just too thin on attractions.
As for the other WDW parks, DHS needs some "placemaking" help throughout the park (and to put the stump of a Studio Tour out of its misery). DAK needs to fix the Disco Yeti and repairs throughout. The FLE should help the MK immensely, the I'd love to see a great replacement for Stitch, too.
To be sure, the Tokyo Parks should be near the top. I hear they take the Disney parks to a new level. Ironically, they only two that are not fully owned by Disney. Here is my ranking (based on the ones I have been to):
1. Magic Kingdom2. Disneyland 3. Disneyland Paris4. Animal Kingdom5. EPCOT6. DHS7. DCA8. DSP
Indiana Jones AdventureMatterhorn BobsledsThe new Star Tours 3-DFinding Nemo Submarine VoyageAlice in WonderlandFantasmic
I've never been to Tokyo, but I guess Monsters Inc. and Pooh's Hunny Hunt must be awesome for them to make up for the lack of the aforementioned Anaheim rides.
One more thing that was touched upon and I said it before, the two best Disney parks in the country are in Anaheim.
I suppose we all have our favourites and each person's criteria for evaluation is different too. So different, in fact, that I'd speculate that for every 100 people, sorting this very short list of Disney Parks, we'd probably still get a whole raft of different permutations.I can't take part because there are many on there that I have never visited. In fact I've only ever visited the Parks in the US..........despite being from the other side of the pond.But EPCOT at number 9 ? Really ? Much higher for me.
About Epcot, wouldn't the ratattouille ride be a no brainer for the France pavillion? And hopefully a new (and HD) soarin ride will help freshen the park.
About IOA. Yes Potter and Spiderman is excellent but the other 3/4 of the park is average at best. No way would it be in the top 5 ratings or best in America.
About DCA this is the big surprise of the list but Robert is right. Its small sized but packed with excellent themeing and rides like its next door neighbor. Although the Hollywood land still needs to be corrected and is rumored to be in the phase 2 expansion. They need to get rid of the cheesy painting at the end of the land that's clearly "old" DCA and build a permanent looking theater for the excellent alladin show instead of the Hyperion facade it has now. And of course replace muppets and the back lot waste of space. But phase 1 is so successful they probably wont do it for a few years unfortunately.
When you look at the resorts as a whole I feel WDW is easily the best because of all it has to offer with resorts, dining, golf, waterparks etc etc. The other resorts don't offer nearly the complete experience you get from a trip to WDW.
I embarked on a similar trip this year and your review reminded me (and made miss) of my recent trip. Let me tell you, HK Disneyland is worth the trip. I've been there 3x in the last 5 years and it's no longer empty. The lines are long and the park is full. It's actually not that small and has enough rides/attractions for a fun filled day. I don't know why everyone has this negative view about HK Disneyland and why everyone thinks it's small. Every Disney fan needs to visit it. I'm curious to see where it would land in your ranking. I am going to do a review on my trip, probably on DIS boards, soon.
During my month long Disney vacation, I visited Tokyo Disneysea, Tokyo Disneyland, HK Disneyland, Disney Magic cruise to Walt Disney World, Epcot and Hollywood studios in a span of a month (May to June 2012) and that is my proudest moment yet! I've visited all theme parks except for the two parks in Paris and the two newest Disney ships.
I visited the two theme parks in CA when I was very young so I don't really remember it. But, after my most reecnt trip, I have to agree with you and rank Tokyo Disneysea as my most favorite. Everything is just so nicely done and the rides/attractions are great. Also, I can't forget to mention the food and the fact that the Japanese dress up! I also loved how the lines were so orderly and the children were so well behaved.
Thank you for reading! And please do visit HK Disneyland. It's worth the trip if you're a true Disney fan.
Only in Tokyo: Mickey's PhilharMagic, Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek, Country Bears (showing all three shows)
Better at Tokyo: Splash, Pirates, Mansion, Thunder, Pooh, TSI, Treehouse, StarJets (for the higher platform), Castle, and Snow White (for not wimping out by calling it "Scary")
Better in Anaheim: Tiki Room, Small World, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Autopia
Only in Anaheim: Matterhorn, Storybook Land, Casey Jr., Toad, Nemo, Columbia, Lincoln, Innoventions. (Indiana Jones is not in TDL, but is at TDS and is much better there than in Anaheim. Fantamic's at TDS, too.)
That's 13 for Tokyo and 13 for Anaheim. Throw in Tokyo's vastly superior food and service and that swings it to Tokyo for me.
1: DL2: TDS3: Epcot4: DLP5: DCA6: TDL7: MK8: DAK9: DHS10: WDS
I think a trip to Disney in Europe and Japan is an extra excursion that's separate from the real reason to visit those countries. Thus, you need to include an extra few days or week to experience. This is different than a visitor that comes to the States where a theme park trip is almost expected. What else will they see here?
My husband does not ride rollercoasters. I do not ride spinning rides. They both make us sick. Disney is the one way that we can experience a theme park and enjoy it equally. IOA does not even come close for us. If I was going with my 22 year old son it would be great but even he said (in January) that after Harry Potter World, every thing he did after made him feel like he wasted his money. Things were dirty and sleazy feeling and don't even get me started on that ridiculous "attraction" having to do with Poseidon! We gave it a really good try and will now wait until Harry Potter comes west (we are in NV).
Having said that, EPCOT is my husband's favorite park. It provides the best experience for him without the "pressure" of making me ride the "scarier" rides by myself. He feels bad. After this list came out, we talked about the rankings. Even though EPCOT is his favorite, he still agreed with your assessment. We went through each of the lands and discussed their shortcomings or advantages. It really needs LOTS of money thrown at it and to be "reimagined"! It might even need a new name...Does this mean we will not go because it was ranked so low? Absolutely not. Disney is still the benchmark for family entertainment. It isn't about rides, it is about complete immersion. I have a saying to those Disney naysayers..."Disney is really, really good at many things. What they are truly best at doing is parting you from your money and making you happy you did it!" When asked why we go so often..."I can have exactly the vacation I want. I can slow down, have fun, be a kid, be safe and know exactly how much money I have to spend. It is the perfect vacation."
Sorry for the diatribe (sic). Just a happy Disney fan.
As a Disney and theme park fan its my dream to get to Disneyland, to walk in Walts footsteps so to speak, and I long to visit Tokyo. So I think the rankings are spot on for me. Those of us that havent been need to get to these 'must see' parks, and hope beyond hope that the other parks are shown some serious love and money. (I want my beloved DHS to make a return to glory so much)
I hold a special place in my heart for Epcot, but only really for World Showcase. I spend the most time in Epcot when I'm at WDW (of course it's not because of those margaritas at Cava Del Tequila). If they made some changes to Future World it would probably be my favourite theme park. I've still got fingers crossed for some sort of Tron: Legacy ride.
Even with these flaws, here are my rankings of my favorite Disney parks in the world (or US I should say): 1. Animal Kingdom2. Disney's Hollywood Studios3. Magic Kingdom4. Disneyland5. Epcot6. Disney California Adventure