Tournament 2018: What's the best Disney park in America?

March 23, 2018, 9:31 AM · We are voting to select the world's best theme park in this year's Theme Park Insider Tournament, but we are deciding some other important titles along the way, including today's match-up between the two most-visited Disney theme parks in the United States.

In the first round, the Magic Kingdom defeated its Walt Disney World siblings (Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom), while Disneyland beat several other Southern California theme parks, including sister park Disney California Adventure. That set up today's vote, to determine the top Disney theme park in America.

As always, we invite you to rate and review the attractions and restaurants at the parks we cover here on Theme Park Insider, in addition to voting in the tournament.

Please join us Sunday for the start of the regional finals!

Asia final: Sunday, March 25
Tokyo DisneySea vs. Universal Studios Japan

U.S. regional park final: Monday, March 26
Dollywood vs. TBD

Europe final: Tuesday, March 27
PortAventura vs. Efteling

U.S. big brands final: Wednesday, March 28
Islands of Adventure vs. TBD

Tournament semifinal: Asia vs. Europe - Thursday, March 29
Tournament semifinal: Best park in America - Friday, March 30

Tournament final: Monday, April 2

Replies (29)

March 23, 2018 at 9:39 AM ·

I'm actually giving it to Disneyland. Yes, WDW has good stuff (a better Haunted Mansion) but California boasts a much better Fantasyland, Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, better Pirates and more. It just feels more intimate yet also more amazing in so many ways and so you have to give it up to the original.

March 23, 2018 at 9:48 AM ·

As a classic Haunted Mansion fan, I am not going to agree that WDW is necessarily better. It has more bells as whistles with the digital ghosts and the staircase room and such, but the DL makes more sense to me. I like the walk through library, the way the attic feels like you are rising into an attic, and...Hatbox Ghost. One other huge, huge plus for DL is the old FP system. DL is certainly hard to get around in due to its compactness, but it gets the edge.

March 23, 2018 at 10:04 AM ·

Well said, the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Jungle Cruise at MK are superior to their DL counterparts. However, I still like Pirates, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, & DLRR in DL. As for the lands themselves I love the wide open spaces (Main Street/Frontierland) in MK at WDW. My nod goes to DLR at night time of the dimly lit Adventureland. (I believe more thought was applied to how the lands at DL look at nighttime) DLR has those intangibles that you mentioned, Indiana Jones, The Storybook Dark Ride Suites, The Sailing Ship Columbia, New Orleans Square. And if you are comparing single parks, DLR is going to have Galaxy's Edge. I appreciate that they did not make them the same.

March 23, 2018 at 12:00 PM ·

Both are wonderful but I voted for Disneyland.
When you compare the two each has its strong points.
DL has in most cases superior versions of individual attractions. MK has a more impressive arrival experience.
DL has better F&B. MK has better crowd flow.
DL enjoys better weather in general. MK handles bad weather much better
DL has the "Walt walked here" cred. MK isn't shackled by that historical weight.
DL has no PeopleMover. MK does AND it has The Carousel of Progress.
I think this one will come down along the lines of which park individuals visited first as a child or at least which park holds the greatest memories.

March 23, 2018 at 10:23 AM ·

@Rob, those are some very good comparison points. I'm sure even more could be listed.

They are evenly matched, although their areas of strength are all different, so I agree it will come down to nostalgia / home park for many....

I have a feeling this one will be close.....that being said, DL for the win!!

March 23, 2018 at 10:25 AM ·

I struggled with Haunted Mansion too, but I keep giving the nod to MK because I like the that the Library and the Staircase room are added story elements. The Library also adds to the story dialog in the ride. I have not been able to see the hatbox ghost yet (I have seen some 4K videos)

March 23, 2018 at 10:31 AM ·

Old style FastPass, DL wins just because of that!

March 23, 2018 at 10:42 AM ·

@Jay R. Thanks, and yes. That is just a scratching of the surface. A list like that could go on forever.

March 23, 2018 at 11:11 AM ·

Animal Kingdom.

March 23, 2018 at 11:28 AM ·

LukeFouyer, That's how I would have voted. Sorry that DAK lost to the MK. I was pulling for it to make a run.

March 23, 2018 at 12:06 PM ·

Magic Kingdom.

The castle alone takes it for the win!

March 23, 2018 at 12:14 PM ·

Magic Kingdom is my home park, it's the park I grew up and I have some of the best memories there. I love it so much but Disneyland is still SO much better than MK. I really hope people aren't voting for the Kingdom just because it has the bigger castle or the most attendance. I can't believe this one is close and I will be surprised if Magic Kingdom wins. DL is superior in almost every way. Better versions of rides (Pirates, Space, Big Thunder, Small World) much more rides and exclusives to DL (Indy, Matterhorn, Mr. Toad, Roger Rabbit, Alice, Nemo). Much better maintained, way better Fantasyland, Club 33, ToonTown, the original and still best Fantasmic, much more quaint, a charm that only exists at this park than any other park in the world, and of course it's the original. It's Walt's. It's his park. The only park he was ever in and worked in. The OG. The best.

March 23, 2018 at 1:09 PM ·

Talk about a Sophie's Choice. But I went with MK just because...

March 23, 2018 at 1:32 PM ·

There is no such thing as a wrong opinion, but when you're comparing strictly park-to-park and not the whole resorts, I'd be surprised to find someone who has visited both and truly prefers Magic Kingdom (with the possible exception of those with super strong emotional connections). Both theme parks are very good, and both have strengths that the other doesn't. However, not only does Disneyland have a lot more attractions within its gates (and, in a majority of cases, the original and/or superior version), it also has a special charm that cannot be quantified. While I would not say it is the best theme park by current standards (in fact, on a purely objective basis, I'd probably rank it outside of my personal top 5), it is the only theme park I've ever visited that never gets old. I've ridden some of the park's attractions hundreds of times, yet I still get just as much enjoyment out of them today as I always have. The special feeling of Disneyland may not be as strong for one-time visitors, but I don't know anyone who has visited and hasn't noted something special about the place.

March 23, 2018 at 1:43 PM ·

AJ I agree, DL is the park with the spirit of Walt. But I'm including in the "best" the effort it takes to navigate the park, ride rides, and forbid get something to eat. The crowds at DL are just too much anymore to be able to enjoy the day.

March 23, 2018 at 2:18 PM ·

Argh, this was a very close one as I thoroughly enjoy both parks. As others have already stated, both have their pros and cons which I won't bother to list again. In the end, my vote ended up going to Disneyland because I have always gravitated toward smaller, charming, more intimate spaces which is lost at the Magic Kingdom with its wider walkways and plazas. However, it would be hard to have a horrible time at either park. Either one would be a solid winner!

March 23, 2018 at 2:20 PM ·

Although it’s been many (many !!) years since I went to Disneyland, at the time, the previous year we had been to the Magic Kingdom, and I can remember thinking just how wonderful DL was, so from distant past experiences my vote goes to the original.
Although like a lot of us, my vote is really with Animal Kingdom.

March 23, 2018 at 3:06 PM ·

I grew up with Disneyland, many of the attractions are just flat out better at Disneyland, Walt walked in Disneyland, but my kids and wife grew up at the Magic Kingdom, and the memories I have with them in that place simply cannot be pushed aside. Objectively, Disneyland is the better park, but emotionally I simply have no choice but to pick the Magic Kingdom.

Now look what you’ve done - my tears have smeared my Jack Sparrow guyliner. Thanks a lot, Niles!

March 23, 2018 at 3:50 PM ·

Whichever one has Peoplemover, Monsters Inc, Space Mountain, Pirates & Buzz

March 23, 2018 at 4:24 PM ·

Disneyland hands down! I love the Magic Kingdom but the attractions at Disneyland IMO are much better. Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Peter Pan etc...

March 23, 2018 at 5:57 PM ·

I voted Disneyland. Magic Kingdom is built better for crowds, but DL has the better assortment of attractions, especially once Star Wars Land is ready.

March 23, 2018 at 6:14 PM ·

Does anyone agree that this is closer or that Magic Kingdom stands a much better chance of winning than it would have had 10 years ago?

I feel like Magic Kingdom has had a good decade or so with positive changes, upkeep, etc., but that the time since the 50th hasn’t been quite as good to Disneyland. Ten years ago, I would have assumed DL would win. Now I wasn’t that surprised to see MK leading at the time of this comment.

March 24, 2018 at 12:30 AM ·

I voted for Disneyland, but MK has closed the gap a great deal. DL's Fantasyland is still a little better, but I love New Fantasyland at MK. Of course, when Star Wars Land opens, it will be no contest.

March 24, 2018 at 12:48 AM ·

I would have to vote for DL. It's the park I grew up in. As a kid we would go there almost every other weekend. But I was there recently and the crowds were awful. We only got in like 6 rides for the whole day. But I still choose DL.

March 24, 2018 at 5:38 AM ·

Remove the emotion for a minute. DL is small and crowded. It has more rides but you can’t get on them. The old FP system is a nightmare for non-locals who plan their trips a year in advance. It also loses its magical appeal on approach for being smack dab in the middle of a California busy neighborhood full of traffic, motels and gas stations. Are you approaching a strip mall or airport? Nope that’s just DL right ahead. MK May be the younger sibling but is far superior in so many ways for the experience, even if not each specific ride element is the same or as good.

March 24, 2018 at 5:51 PM ·

I like Magic Kingdom, but hands down it’s Disneyland. Disneyland has the nostalgia. It’s more classic. Disneyland was Walt’s vision. He actually had a place where he stayed on Main Street. Every time I visit Disneyland, I feel like I’m walking back in history.

Disneyland has better attractions than Disney World. It also offers better versions of the attractions. Such as Pirates, Space Mountain, Big Thunder, Peter Pan, and Splash Mountain. The originals are always better. They also have attractions only found in Disneyland. Such as Indiana Jones, the Matterhorn, Pinnochio, Alice in Wonderland, and Roger Rabbit. Once Star Wars is complete, there will be no comparison what so ever.

Don’t get me wrong, Magic Kingdom is a nice park as well. In my opinion, not as good as DL. Plus the fact that you can walk to both parks, when you stay at one of the DL hotels. We also stay at the Disneyland Hotel. It’s a nice walk through Downtown Disney. Plus the weather is better majority of the year. More sunshine, less humidity, and not as hot. Plus, you can explore California as well. Outside of Disney World and Universal, there’s not much in Orlando. This is hands down Disneyland.

March 25, 2018 at 6:14 PM ·

I've spent tons of time in both parks (way more than I would like to admit) and think Disneyland is a better park. While MK has grown on me over time, and I do love the Hall of Presidents and the Peoplemover, in many areas MK feels like its stuck in the 70s. The gap has narrowed over the past decade but Disneyland is just a flat out better park. Better atmosphere, better quality of attractions, more to do.

March 26, 2018 at 11:13 AM ·

Rigged.

No way is MK better than Disneyland, dosen't even have as many attractions.

March 30, 2018 at 9:00 AM ·

This result leaves me wondering how many of the people who voted for MK have even visited DL.

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