Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

If you could visit just one Disney resort, which would it be?

November 30, 2018, 1:14 PM · Disney's theme parks resorts are the most popular in the world, attracting more than 150 million visitors last year, according to the latest TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report. To put that into perspective, all the theme parks from Universal, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens combined welcomed 126.7 million visitors last year.

Mickey Mouse's global theme park empire includes 12 theme parks and two water parks across six resorts in the United States, France, China, and Japan, including eight of the top 10 most-visited park in the world, led by the top three: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland. Clearly, theme park fans love to visit Disney. But which of Disney's many theme park resorts do fans want to visit most?

The numbers say Walt Disney World. With its four theme parks and two water parks, the Orlando-area resort is the flagship of Disney's fleet. But many factors contribute to WDW's leading position in the theme park business. With its warm winters and abundant beaches, Florida was a popular tourist destination for the huge American market even before Disney opened in 1971. With Universal Orlando and other attractions now in the area, Orlando offers a critical mass to theme park fans that makes the destination especially compelling.

What if we asked you to set aside all that context and focus only on the parks themselves? In that case, which of Disney's six theme park resorts would you most want to visit next year? Let's assume that money is not an issue, nor are travel arrangements. If Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey could transport you magically to any of Disney's theme park resorts, where would you wish to go?

Okay, let's make that if Sorcerer Yensid could transport you. Disney fans probably know that's Mickey's track record with magic spells, uh, ain't that great. Sorry Mickey.

Walt Disney World offers all those parks, including the one and only Pandora - The World of Avatar land at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the new Star Wars land coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios next year.

But Disneyland is getting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge first, and also offers the history of being the only park Walt ever visited. Disney California Adventure also wins raves for its Cars Land.

Disneyland Paris might have the most beautiful castle in Disney's line-up, as well a unique version of Pirates of the Caribbean and Phantom Manor, a mash-up of the Haunted Mansion and Disney World's never-built Western River Expedition.

Hong Kong Disneyland offers Mystic Manor, one of the most unique and admired attractions in the world. It also will have Disney's first multi-attraction Marvel themed area when its Ant-Man and the Wasp ride opens next year.

Shanghai Disneyland is Disney's newest theme park resort, with its biggest castle and two of the highest-rated attractions in the world: TRON Lightcycle Power Run and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure.

Finally, Tokyo Disney includes Tokyo Disneyland, a mash-up of the best of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, along with Tokyo DisneySea, a six-time winner of our Theme Park Insider Award as the world's best theme park.

So all of Disney's resorts can make a compelling case for your time and attention. Maybe you'd like to visit a park you've never seen before. Or maybe you'd like to see a specific attraction that is only available (or will be available) at a specific resort. Or maybe you've already found your favorite Disney destination and you'd just like to go back. Just to make this more interesting, though, let's make the condition that your choice would be the only Disney theme park resort that you can visit in 2019. No visiting more than one!

Whichever resort you chose, your reasons for picking it are up to you, though I hope you will share them in the comments. So let's put this up for a vote!

Replies (24)

November 30, 2018 at 1:20 PM

Tokyo Disneyland Resor! That's next on my list! Maybe a little jaunt to HKDL since I'm all the way on that side of the Pacific.

November 30, 2018 at 2:18 PM

I picked Walt Disney World. I realized I was leaning towards Tokyo because it is so far from me and I've never been. But if I assumed I could visit all the parks over the next 10 years, and this choice was simply a week long trip to 1 resort, then WDW wins for me because it has so much more to offer. More parks to visit, restaurants to eat in, hotels to stay and explore in, and other things to do. I'm both underwhelmed by my own choice and kinda proud of WDW for holding down the top spot in my heart.

November 30, 2018 at 2:18 PM

Have to go with Orlando. Yes, the others have their benefits but just can't beat the slews of options of the four major parks, water parks and other attractions to keep you entertained.

November 30, 2018 at 4:24 PM

I picked Hong Kong because of all the trip reports I have read it is definitely the least CROWDED...

November 30, 2018 at 4:31 PM

WDW for me. I went there on my honeymoon and we stayed at the Contwmporary. We were supposed to Polynesian on our 5th anniversary. Fast forward 7 years and one divorce later, I want new memories at WDW.

November 30, 2018 at 4:32 PM

Have to go with Tokyo! I would love to check out Dinsey Sea

November 30, 2018 at 6:12 PM

I just had to pick Tokyo. The number of times I've toured the park via internet, saw POVs of the rides, all just pretending to be there... It just really seems amazing.
One day, one day...

November 30, 2018 at 7:46 PM

I chose the Tokyo resort.....I want to find out why it it keeps winning the Theme Park Insider Award, haha :-)

November 30, 2018 at 9:27 PM

I loved Animal Kingdom and Epcot last year but living in Tokyo, I have a sweet spot for Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea.

Also Japanese fans LOVE Disney more than any other country and the cast members are the very best.

People follow the rules, they don't cut lines and the food is also way cheaper than in the American Parks.

Not to mention easy access using public transport and tickets that cost way less than in America (around $70)

November 30, 2018 at 9:39 PM

I had to go with Paris, I just love the detail and time that went into everything. Beside the fact that they have phenomenal rides, they have a anamatronic dragon in the castle hill. The walkthroughs that are spread throughout the park are also amazing; they work for air conditioning, little kids or, the walkthrough beauty itself.

November 30, 2018 at 10:49 PM

WDW has been my wife and I vacation spot for years, watching it change and grow from year to year. We raised our two sons going there and today after nearly 50 years, our sons take their families there. One son has a DVC membership and made many friends through it. For several years, we have stayed at the Shades of Green Resort (old Disney Inn). My qualifications for the military benefit and cost has been greatly appreciated, not to mention the convenience of its location. We have stayed at many of the other resorts and do travel to other vacation spots in our country. I understand Walt Disney's statement that changes will always be going on. I miss many of the pass shows and rides but did record most of them on vhs. There is a great big beautiful tomorrow!!! Planning our next trip now. Our oldest grandson worked as an intern and learned alot about WDW dealing with people.

November 30, 2018 at 11:16 PM

Walt Disney World... circa 1995... when it was good. I'll never understand people complementing WDW for having more attractions than other places when the two parks in Disneyland have as many rides as the four parks in Orlando... and at half the cost.

December 1, 2018 at 1:37 AM

Disneyland has all the magic! You can feel Walt Disney there. (And he would have approved of California Adventure, too)
Remember: "...It all started with

December 1, 2018 at 3:15 AM

easy jay r ill answer that for you its the 100 different kinds of popcorn you could get in exclusive popcorn buckets.

December 1, 2018 at 4:22 AM

I chose Walt Disney world because its the only one a have not been to, In saying that i have a trip planned for may :)

December 1, 2018 at 8:31 AM

I chose Shanghai because I really want to ride the TRON lolightcycle coaster.

December 1, 2018 at 8:36 AM

Disneyland. It's a nostalgia thing!

December 1, 2018 at 11:32 AM

I chose Paris because it's the one that I'm least likely to actually go to. And man...that castle is gorgeous!

December 1, 2018 at 4:09 PM

I have been to Disneyland many times and Disneyland Paris. I chose Disneyworld as my next stop ;)

December 1, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Tokyo, somewhat by default. As a Disneyland local, I visit that place enough that taking a year off wouldn't be any big deal, Disneyland Paris hasn't added enough since I visited to make me want to go back, I just did WDW last year and don't really care to revisit until 2021, and Hong Kong and Shanghai are just too small to be worth it on their own IMO. Even if it wasn't by default, Tokyo DisneySea in particular is a park I'd really love to check out as it gets a ridiculous amount of hype, and if I could do it as part of a bigger trip I'd much rather visit Japan than China.

December 1, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Disneyland in California. It's the original, still the best, has the best weather & next year will be getting Star Wars Land! Is really not even a close contest. Florida is way too humid. Walt Disney knew that he could get property for really cheap if he built his next theme park in a swamp.

December 2, 2018 at 8:40 PM

I picked Tokyo because of how much of a good time I had in there. The crowd is very well-behaved and orderly, the staffs are professional and genuinely passionate about working there and the entire resort overall feels just steps away from any points.

December 3, 2018 at 9:38 AM

Tokyo DisneySea has captured my attention time and time again. And I was just at WDW last month. Kind of still recovering :D

December 4, 2018 at 3:53 AM

As , when I'dd pick two parks, then it would be : TDS and DAK :-)
Because those are the two with undeniable uniqueness amongst all others, and the best make believe in theming as well !

(In the meanwhile, I ride almost weekly the oh so charming (3 variants) darkride, in the Efteling Symbolica Castle :-) )

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