Top 10 Disney Theme Park Attractions


Disney has hundreds (if not thousands, I’m not counting!) of theme park attractions and rides at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Obviously, not all of these attractions were created equally. At their best, Disney attractions are timeless classics that have multi-generational appeal. At their worst, they’re dressed up versions of amusement park staples.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of what I consider the 10 best attractions worldwide. As there are literally more Disney parks than there are attractions on this list, some great ones are bound to be snubbed, but I’m keeping to a strict 10 attraction limit. Even if I had a list with 40 more honorable mentions, I’d be still be snubbing some very worthy attractions. As it’s a multi-continent list, it’s not like this top 10 has any functional utility anyway…it’s more geared at being a fun conversation piece for Disney theme park fans. I want to do more worldwide lists like this, so if this one is popular, it will be the first of many more to come. I enjoy comparing and contrasting all of the different parks, and want to do more posts like that, anyway. They’re a nice change of pace from the normal trip planning material here.

A few notes about the list before we get started. First, while it’s my personal list, I’m considering not just what I like the best, but also what I consider to be objectively the most impressive and captivating attractions. I don’t have any specific scoring criteria–it’s basically just a mix of my gut reaction and analysis. Second, only attractions that are currently operational are eligible. It’s very easy to say Horizons or Journey into Imagination should be #1, but there’s no perfect way to tell how those would have aged or if opinions today are clouded by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Third, only the best version of each attraction (we’ll call this the “Tower of Terror” rule). Finally, this list is a moving target based partially on how I feel when I’m writing it. If you ask me my top 10 tomorrow, you might get different answers.

With that said, here’s the list in no particular order! (more…)

Top 10 Disneyland Rides at Night

Some attractions at Disneyland are better at night. Actually, just about all of the ones that take place at least partially outdoors are better at night. That’s probably because Disneyland, overall, is better at night. During the evening, Disneyland comes alive with vibrant color from the show lighting, fireworks, and other nighttime entertainment that just seems to give the park a jolt of energy.

Not only that, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems like aspects of the Disneyland experience are “heightened.” The background music is louder, the scents are more fragrant, and Disneyland simultaneously feels more tranquil yet somehow more alive. In short, Disneyland is just flat out better at night.

While I can’t entirely put my finger on why the whole experience is just better at night, there are some specific attractions I can point to as being better at night, along with reasons why they are better at night. Here’s the list of the top 10 Disneyland attractions that are better at night… (more…)

My Top 10 Disney Experiences (So Far)

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Someone recently asked me what my all-time favorite Disney moments had been. Having been going to the Disney theme parks all of my life and having numerous major life milestones occur there, that’s a difficult question to answer. Not only that, but favorite is somewhat of a moving target. Moments that seem significant today may fade with time, while other, seemingly less-memorable experiences can grow over time. Still, I thought it would be a fun topic to take on, and while these are all personal enough to just me that they really won’t help you plan your trips in any way, I thought it would be fun to share my top 10 moments.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to visit the Disney theme parks often (that’s my mom and me next to Minnie Mouse in that above photo, by the way!), and have had some great experiences and made some great memories along the way. There are a lot of experiences that were really amazing that didn’t make it on the list. Things like our first visit to Hong Kong Disneyland (for those who have asked–this trip report is still coming soon!), dining at Club 33, touring the Cinderella Castle Suite, and photographing the sunrises in almost every Disney theme park in the world, among other experiences, all are incredibly fond memories of mine, but all miss the list.

Here’s what did make the top 10… (more…)

Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party Planning Tips

Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella CastleBefore we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year's, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year's Eve fireworks shows. And although we're not fans of large crowds (I'm betting not many of you have

During the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure will be open for 24 consecutive hours beginning on May 23, 2014 at 6 am until 6 am on May 24, 2014. This is an extension of the “Disney Side” promotion (it’ll likely be promoting Disney’s Malificent, too) and since the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, it’s the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland! We participated in the events of “One More Disney Day” (the 24-hour Leap Day event in 2012) and Monstrous Summer (the 24-hour Memorial Day party in 2013) and both were a ton of fun. They were also great, unique opportunities for photography. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!

Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from 2012′s “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the event! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the two parties since.

Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party tips! (more…)

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante Review

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante is a quick service restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland that has a Mexican menu. Although it’s technically counter service, much like Plaza Inn, it’s sort of a ‘buffeteria’ style location with higher quality options on actual plates and with real silverware. It’s also priced slightly above other counter service restaurants in Disneyland, but the portion sizes and ambiance make this forgivable.

Beyond just the buffeteria style, Rancho del Zocalo is a lot like the Frontierland version of Plaza Inn. As opposed to the Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle view at Plaza Inn, you get a nice open-air Big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland or romantic “star light” view at Rancho del Zocalo. (I’ve been out of the dating game for a while, but if I were looking for a cheap, romantic place at Disneyland to take someone, the inside area at Rancho after dusk would be near the top of my list!) In place of high quality American comfort food that’s fitting of Main Street, you have high quality Mexican (comfort?) food that’s fitting of Frontierland.

Of course, nothing is more important to a restaurant than its food, but that great ambiance is what keeps us coming back to Rancho del Zocalo. This is something Disneyland counter service restaurants seem to nail far better than their Walt Disney World counterparts, and Rancho del Zocalo is no exception. (more…)