What is your most complete park?

Edited: November 18, 2019, 6:25 PM

There's been a lot of talk about what parks have recently opened, what they plan to open, and other big announcements over the last few years. But, for a moment, if we put all that aside and consider the parks as they exist in this moment today, I am curious to know what you consider to be your most "complete" park experience.

For this discussion, I am talking about a single park on a single day. Which park (it could be theme park or amusement park) currently provides the most well-balanced experience for you or your family?

This answer may be different for you depending on your need for thrills, family-friendly attractions, great food, etc., but any answer is valid as long as you make your case.

For me, my current all-around park experience is at Islands of Adventure. Whenever I visit this park, I always feel that I have a full day of rides and attractions to check out. There's a great balance of thrills and chills, some good shows (though I actually miss the extra-cheesy Sinbad show), and lots of different IPs to enjoy. The park is great on hot summer days (with great water attractions), and in colder seasons (Harry potter always feels especially genuine in the winter). And, I have to admit that there is quite a bit of nostalgia every time I head back there, as my first visit was in 2000 as a kid.

The main reason that this park beats out Magic Kingdom, my second-favorite overall park, is that the crowds always feel more manageable, though MK has the benefit of a great end-of-night fireworks show.

So that's my choice, what's yours? There is no wrong answer.

Replies (8)

Edited: November 15, 2019, 8:09 AM

Efteling theme park, especially on the extended late night opening days in summer, or the winter days ...in both cases because they offer the park "after dark" and that adds an unsurpassable magic atmosphere. The nighttime lighting in Efteling is soft and coulourfull. It does not compete with the nighttime by shooting apart everything with excessive light (as it is sometimes with Disney, and I've got the same pet peeve with TOO LOUD music and shouting characters with Disney as well), no, it's accentuating the magic in a shell of dark forest !
Besides the fairy tales, the darkrides, some thrill and laughter... it's one of the only big theme parks in the world where there exist "escape zones" for picnic or meditation amidst the trees in a non explicit fairy tale way (the little megalith stones picnic spot at the waterside, the 'witches circle' under the trees behind the ghost castle... ) which is contrasting a lot with the 98% built up skyline reality of most of the major theme parks.
The fact that , if you wish, you CAN just be alone some time while 35000 people roam the park at that very moment, is MAGIC.
My personal first time was 1959 , aged 2 years old (yes, in my antique pram).

November 15, 2019, 9:15 AM

This is a fantastic question! With the addition of Galaxy's Edge, I think Disneyland is my favorite full day park. The mix of kid-friendly and E-ticket rides is perfect, with even a few that could be older kids' first "roller coaster." The shows are great, and Fantasmic! is my favorite show at any park in the world. Add in plenty of sit-down show options, often perfect weather (read: low humidity!), and those fireworks, it can't be beat!

For the record, I haven't visited IOA or Efteling, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I hope to visit both of those soon!

November 15, 2019, 4:21 PM

This is an interesting question, so I'll begin with my potentially unpopular opinion: No single Disney or Universal park provides a complete experience. This might seem a bit questionable at first glance, but when you examine the parks closely the flaws become apparent. Disneyland and Magic Kingdom get close to being complete, but both lack anything that would be considered a serious thrill ride (Space Mountain and Indiana Jones are still very family friendly), relying on the secondary parks at the resorts to deliver those. Islands of Adventure is another that comes close, but as mentioned above they are lacking in the shows department. I would argue that among destination parks, Universal Studios Florida is the most complete in the US, as they've got thrill rides, family rides, shows, highly themed environments, good food offerings, etc., but that park is not the most complete overall.

My answer to this question, therefore, would be that the parks operated by Herschend and SeaWorld offer the most complete package for a single day at a park. Dollywood and Busch Gardens Williamsburg stand out most among their respective chains, but all major parks under the control of these operators share enough characteristics to qualify. The parks include big roller coasters and other thrill rides, but also offer a large number of family friendly attractions (both in ride and non-ride form). Beyond this, shows are a key element to the experience at one of these parks, and the food offerings are well above average. True, they may not be themed to the nines or feature the most popular IPs, but the theming they do have is more than sufficient and creates a very nice atmosphere when combined with outstanding landscaping (and, in the case of Hershend's parks, an amazing location). As much as I enjoy Disney and Universal's parks, if I had one day and wanted the most well-rounded park experience I could get, those are not the parks I would opt for.

November 16, 2019, 12:32 AM

Europa Park, and I live in Orlando haha. Though it probably has a lot to do with being jaded as i've been to all the parks here in states too many times to care about spending a full open-to-close day at one of them.

Though if I were to pick one in this country it would probably be CP. SFGAm is actually another good one to be at for a full day because its a big park with lots of attractions but doesn't have the dead ghetto feel as bad as MM or GADV.

Edited: November 19, 2019, 9:19 AM

Disney's Animal Kingdom is the most complete theme park on Earth. You name it, they have it.

From an attraction perspective, its lineup includes the best simulator (if not the best overall theme park ride) in the world, arguably the best-themed roller coaster in the world, a world-class dark ride, and an immersive trek through the African savannah to boot.

The food here is incredible as well. From an elite counter service option in Satu'li Canteen to some of the best restaurants on the entire property in Yak & Yeti and Tiffins, Animal Kingdom absolutely brings the thunder in the food department.

To keep this concise, the last main area I'll discuss is the park's excellence in immersive thematic design -- and I'm not JUST talking about Pandora... but obviously, Pandora is right up there with the finest-themed lands in the entire industry. The oft-slept-on village of Harambe and kingdom of Anandapur are two of the most visually-stunning areas on the property as well.

While it doesn't take genius-level intelligence to point out the obvious blemish in Dinoland USA, and no one is mistaking the park to be the deepest in terms of its attraction lineup, I believe everything mentioned above packs a strong enough punch to make Disney's Animal Kingdom the most complete park out there -- especially with the edition of a pretty spectacular nighttime show in Rivers of Light.

November 19, 2019, 12:23 AM

Animal Kingdom wasn't the first Park to come to my mind, but SplashMtnEnthusiast has changed my mind. Animal Kingdom does have a bit of everything.

November 19, 2019, 11:48 AM

Well, now reading the responses on this post, I may be re-thinking my most complete park. And the primary reason is that I can't think of any more shows at Islands of Adventure. They also don't have a parade, and I guess you could say they have a nighttime show with the addition of the Hogwarts projection shows, though that display can only be seen from the Wizarding World.

I used to not think of Animal Kingdom as a complete park, but @SplashMtnEnthusiast brings up a lot of good points. Another thing they have is attractions throughout the park that don't require a wait time to experience - animal exhibits. You could easily fill in a lot of time at AK just looking at the animals, and the theming really makes it feel like you are in an exotic location.

I guess I would say that IOA is my favorite park, but probably not the most complete. And to AJ's point, one of my favorite parks to visit for a day is actually BGT since it's in my backyard and has a good mix of experiences to enjoy.

November 19, 2019, 3:13 PM

I would have to say the “original,” Disneyland Park. It’s still the most classic theme park to me. Whenever I’m there, I can feel the nostalgia. The park offers a diverse number of attractions. It has something for everyone. Disneyland Park also boasts a number of the better versions of rides, that it shares with Disney World. Such a Pirates, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion (Holiday Version), Peter Pan, It’s A Small World, and Big Thunder.

Disneyland offers many of the same rides found in Disney World. However, at Disneyland, the rides are much more condensed. As opposed to Disney World, in which they are spread over 4 parks. It’s easier to do all the rides at Disneyland. Since you don’t have to worry about taking a bus to each park. It saves time, and can have more time on the attractions.

Disneyland also offers a number of parades, fireworks, and entertainment other then the rides. They have a number of good restaurants, as well. To me, Disneyland is the most complete park. They also added Galaxy Edge this past year. In my opinion, Disneyland is the most complete theme park.

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