Beyond Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, there are theme parks in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. This list ranks all 12, with pros & cons, rides, shows, parades, fireworks, and more to determine the best & worst Disney parks worldwide. (Updated November 27, 2023.)
Each of the Disney resort complexes has a castle park, but not all of these parks are of the same quality, and their second gates (and beyond) are all very different. The list is our attempt at objectivity in ranking the parks, trying to the greatest extent possible to eliminate personal biases and pesky things like nostalgia.
Like the BCS and other power rankings, no one is bound to agree with these, despite them being very scientific and downright infallible. Joking aside, it’s entirely possible that you’ll appreciate various attractions, entertainment, or the themed lands more or less than us, in which case your list would differ. As with anything like this, your mileage may vary.
Our Late 2023 update to these rankings comes with some big openings and events this year, along with the restoration of much of what’s been missing in the last couple of years. The newest addition is the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland, which is the first-ever Arendelle area in a Disney theme park, but not the last!
There’s actually been a lot to debut in the last year or so during park anniversaries and the Disney100 celebration. Other international parks have added new entertainment, including “Believe! Sea of Dreams” at Tokyo DisneySea and Harmony in Color at Tokyo Disneyland.
Closer to home, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway plus two new nighttime spectaculars debuted at Disneyland. TRON Lightcycle Run opened at Magic Kingdom this year. Over at EPCOT, a lot has been changing. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened last year, with Moana’s Journey of Water opening this year, and Luminous: The Symphony of Us slated to debut soon.
Prior to this year’s additions, there have been a number of notable new lands and attractions to debut within the last few years. The biggest of these is Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, which is part of a blockbuster $750 million expansion of Tokyo Disneyland. There’s also Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure, Cars Road Trip at Walt Disney Studios Park, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT, and more.
There’s actually a lot coming in the next several months that could further disrupt the rankings. The completion of the EPCOT overhaul, opening of Zootopia land at Shanghai Disney Resort, and Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea. The latter two are potential game-changers that could help those already stronger parks get better. EPCOT’s overhaul is mostly a matter of undoing damage and fixing what’s broken.
Between new entertainment and new attractions opening, 2024 should be another big year for changes and improvements at several parks on this list. For now, here are our final 2023 Disney Parks Power Rankings.
12. Walt Disney Studios Park
After improving thanks to the addition of the Ratatouille: the Adventure trackless dark ride a few years ago, Walt Disney Studios Park is once again a park in transition. The big recent addition was Avengers Campus, which brought a reskinned roller coaster, Spider-Man shooter game, and other additions similar to the Marvel land in DCA.
The good news is that even more is on the horizon, with a new Frozen land that will feature snow-capped mountains opposite a large lake, with a boat ride that will transport guests to Arendelle. The area will also include character encounters, a new restaurant, and a shop. Unfortunately, it will no longer open in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and should arrive instead in 2025.
Walt Disney Studios Park has a promising future, but we’re still years away from it being a theme park truly worthy of the Disney name. For now, it’s far and away the worst entry on this list.
11. Disney California Adventure
Nearly a decade since Disney pulled back the curtain on DCA 2.0, the much-maligned second gate at Disneyland Resort continues to improve, albeit minus a cohesive “California” theme. This has been done slowly, with a two steps forward, one step backwards kind of approach.
The most recent addition is Avengers Campus, which includes the previously-reimagined Guardians of the Galaxy – MISSION: Breakout and newcomer Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Both are fun additions, as is the land itself, which is full of life thanks to the Marvel characters. There’s also San Fransokyo Square, I guess, but that’s really more a fresh coat of paint on the food court rather than anything new.
Nothing else is on the horizon as the company turns its focus back to Disneyland, Downtown Disney redevelopment, hotel expansion, and a zoning campaign. That’s disappointing, as Disney California Adventure still needs more to make it a good companion park to Disneyland.
10. Shanghai Disneyland
Although there’s the question of whether anyone reading this should want to visit mainland China, that’s more of a ‘procedural’ question and not germane to the question of where the parks rank. We have yet to return to Shanghai Disneyland since the border reopened earlier this year, and have no intentions of doing so anytime soon.
The version of the park we last visited before the world went sideways was good, but not great. There’s a strong possibility that Zootopia will push it to greatness. Some fans have proclaimed that it’s already there–that Shanghai Disneyland is superior to all other parks. Conversely, critics have derided it as franchise-driven and tacky. We disagree with both polarized stances, finding Shanghai Disneyland to be the most ‘complete’ castle park during its early years relative to debuts in the post Euro Disney era of half-day parks. It’s still pretty far behind the decades-established castle parks, though.
Among its “home runs” are Treasure Cove (especially its revolutionary Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure attraction), Camp Discovery, Tron Lightcycle Power Run, and Peter Pan’s Flight. We also give it points for Enchanted Storybook Castle, which is more impressive in person than its divisive design looks in concept art and photos. Zootopia Land is the next big addition–hopefully that’s a home run.
I have a soft spot for Epcot, but even I cannot deny that it’s still a bit of a mess right now, even after the debut of the blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. World Showcase is largely looking good, and the debut of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure helped that area become more well-rounded, even if it’s a bit underwhelming.
The front half of the park is where the problems lie. The area formerly known as Future World is a veritable maze of construction walls and will be to varying degrees into 2024. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind already moved the needle significantly, and Moana’s Journey of Water helped round out the lineup.
Even then, more substantive additions and upgrades are needed in the former Future World pavilions. Play Pavilion has been abandoned, Spaceship Earth’s overdue reimagining was shelved, and a much-needed redo of Journey into Imagination has been rumored for the last decade. CommuniCore Hall will help in 2024, but it’s mostly a lateral change from what was there in 2019. Epcot really needs more additions and actual improvements at the front of the park.
With that said, Epcot still has a lot to offer. World Showcase is still gorgeous and offers some of Disney’s best ambiance, anywhere. Spaceship Earth remains an awe-inspiring icon and pretty good attraction. Some Future World pavilions remain solid. It’s just unfortunate that half of the “overhaul” didn’t end up materializing or changing much.
8. Animal Kingdom
A strong argument can be made that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the best theme park in Florida. When you emphasize the theme in theme park, we’d rank it #1 of Walt Disney World’s parks. That’s high praise, and sentiment that seems shared by the general park-going public given Animal Kingdom’s soaring attendance.
The problem for us, and one not resolved by the lovely Pandora: World of Avatar, is that there’s a lot of style, but still not enough substance. Sure, the park is beautiful and the purest example of unblemished (or close to it) theme at Walt Disney World. Nevertheless, people visit theme parks expecting rides, not just themed design. This is true for us, too. While we love Animal Kingdom, we’ve found that we love the idea of it more than the park itself, and actually visit it less than any other park at Walt Disney World.
While the zoological exhibits, walk-throughs, and even entertainment are wonderful, Animal Kingdom could use more on the ‘traditional attraction’ end of the spectrum. Expedition Everest was a start and Pandora furthered this, but that’s still only 3 high profile rides since the park opened. Animal Kingdom could still use a family-friendly dark ride (or two…or three).
The recently-announced Tropical Americas at Animal Kingdom will help, especially if it actually adds a new Encanto ride and doesn’t just reimagine Dinosaur into Indiana Jones Adventure. The reality is that Animal Kingdom is the park at Walt Disney World the furthest removed from its last big additions, and it’s been overdue for more new rides for the last several years. It’s slow descent down these rankings reflects that.
7. Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland had languished for a few years following its huge expansion consisting of Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point. That expansion included Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, which are two of the top 10 or 15 attractions in the world.
That has changed again, as Hong Kong Disneyland now emerges from another mostly-finished expansion cycle. The two new Marvel rides have also proven to be a pleasant surprise, even if the E-Ticket is still years away. The new Arendelle: the World of Frozen land is now open, and offers a much-needed extension of Fantasyland (in spirit), which was arguably the weakest area of the park.
The castle has also grown in size and scale, which was a controversial change but one that clearly establishes Hong Kong Disneyland as a park with its own identity, and not just a lesser-Disneyland clone. Smaller, less splashy additions have been made over the last few years, but Hong Kong Disneyland still is a few rides away from being a strong castle park outside of its unique attractions.
6. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney Hollywood Studios has seen its stock soar in the last few years, going from #11 on this list to #6. Its latest gains come from Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the reimagined Fantasmic. The higher ranking also reflects other improvements in the last couple of years, including the opening of Toy Story Land, Grand Avenue, and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.
The most important addition remains Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its mega E-Ticket Rise of the Resistance, which lives up to every bit of the hype and is tied for the #1 attraction (out of 91!) at Walt Disney World. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is also a strong addition, but not nearly that good.
However, as a whole DHS is easily Walt Disney World’s most frustrating park. The top-heavy lineup coupled with a surplus of shows makes crowds and wait times unbearable at times. This park could really use another dark ride or two–or at least reimagined versions of its long-running stage shows that would be more popular with guests.
5. Magic Kingdom
Again, nostalgia comes into play. My opinion of Magic Kingdom will most likely always be colored by memories of my youth–this remains my “home” castle park. Sitting here evaluating the park online, I can look at it with a critical eye, but in person all of that melts away as I feel like a kid again when walking down Main Street.
It’s also been a good year for Magic Kingdom. Happily Ever After made its triumphant return and TRON Lightcycle Run finally debuted. More reimaginings are on the horizon for 2024, but the park could really use more new offerings and, ideally, the Beyond Big Thunder land expansion.
New Fantasyland is not-so-new, Tomorrowland is ironically the most dated and tired land, and the park is without a nighttime parade. Still, Magic Kingdom has the most well-rounded attraction lineup of any park at Walt Disney World. It’s also home to plenty of fan-favorites like Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, and the Peoplemover.
Additionally, Magic Kingdom has a certain beauty, grandiosity, and sentimentality. This sense of escape and suspension of disbelief makes it really appealing. Go from Adventureland to Frontierland to Fantasyland, and you remain immersed in each of these environments. Still, as the crown jewel park at Disney’s largest and most popular resort complex in the world, Magic Kingdom deserves better. Plan your visit with our comprehensive Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide.
4. Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris looks to ride the momentum of its recently-completed 30th Anniversary, which was fantastic. The park has perfected drone shows over the castle, refurbishments have rides and Sleeping Beauty Castle looking splendid, and Disneyland Paris has brought back fan-favorite classic shows and parades, “Disney Stars on Parade” and “Disney Illuminations.”
Even before this, Disneyland Paris was getting back on track with major refurbishments to key attractions. This has included extensive reimaginings of Pirates of the Caribbean and Phantom Manor, the latter of which is France’s unique take on Haunted Mansion. Disneyland Paris still has room for improvement (much of it on the operational front), but Disneyland Paris looks better than we’ve ever seen it.
This is coupled with the always-exceptional design work at Disneyland Paris make it one of the top parks in the world. This is particularly true for those who favor parks as themed spaces, rather than collections of attractions. On the ride front, Disneyland Paris is still a step or two behind the other castle parks, but it compensates for this with so many amazing spaces and intricate details. Oh, and it has the best Disney castle in the world. It can be a frustrating place to visit, but also incredibly enchanting. Plan your visit with our comprehensive Disneyland Paris Vacation Planning Guide.
Disneyland takes the #3 slot, and comes within striking distance of #2. It arguably received the best additions of 2023, with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Wondrous Journeys, plus the return of entertainment and best-of-class seasonal events. However, it also lost Fantasmic for most of the year (and the first few months of 2024), which was a big blow.
Then there’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the debut of its flagship attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Both the land and the ride are among the very best in the world. Galaxy’s Edge is beautifully-done, immersive, transportive, and represents the evolution of themed lands. Disneyland doesn’t score quite as many points here as perhaps it should, as the new Star Wars Land feels isolated and removed for the rest of the park–also like a park within the park–rather than a coherent space that congeals with the greater whole.
However, this separation has one tremendous upside, and that’s the preservation of the charm and intimacy of Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom. The ‘traditional’ side of the park still oozes whimsy, beauty, and warm. Moreover, Disneyland has some of the best themed spaces in the world, with the Rivers of America, New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Main Street all being incredibly inviting.
Equally as important, it has an incredible slate of attractions, ranging from intimate Fantasyland dark rides like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Alice in Wonderland to blockbuster E-Tickets like Indiana Jones Adventure and Hyperspace Mountain. Disneyland is incredibly attraction-dense, with great versions of the classics, plus a solid slate of entertainment. Plan your visit with our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide.
2. Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland’s $750 million expansion has debuted, and the new Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland additions have brought a lot to the table. They transformed a lot of dead space into engaging themed areas, which has been a big initiative for Tokyo Disneyland.
Entertainment is slowly returning, venues are reopening, and cuts are being restored. It’s to the point where, outside of scaled-back seasonal events, Tokyo Disneyland feels pretty close to what it was like in 2019. It also helps that the park is currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary and has debuted a new daytime parade and more in honor of the occasion.
Tokyo Disneyland’s attraction roster still offers the greatest hits of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, with the best version of numerous iconic Disney rides. In addition to a formidable lineup of classics, Tokyo Disneyland also has multiple headliners of its own in Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek, and Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast. On top of that, it no longer feels like a ‘clone park’ as so many of its existing lands have been overhauled.
However, it’s not the ride roster that puts Tokyo Disneyland near the top. The entertainment is amazing, with a regular lineup of great seasonal offerings, plus the new Harmony in Color daytime parade and Dreamlights, Disney’s best night parade. Beyond that, Tokyo Disneyland’s maintenance, attention to detail, show quality, dining, and Cast Members are all unsurpassed. Plan your visit with our comprehensive Tokyo Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide.
1. Tokyo DisneySea
For the first time, there’s legitimate debate about whether Tokyo DisneySea is deserving of the top spot. While “Believe! Sea of Dreams” is a very welcome new nighttime spectacular, a lot of other entertainment is still missing. We wouldn’t go as far as to say Tokyo DisneySea feels like a shadow of its former self, but it has been noticeably downgraded.
As compared to what it once was in 2019 or earlier, Tokyo DisneySea has lost a lot of its luster. However, it was the best Disney theme park by a wide margin before, and retains that status, albeit with a much narrower lead over its next door neighbor or even Disneyland in California. If we could only visit or recommend one theme park in the world, Tokyo DisneySea would be it.
I have already dedicated an entire article to the Top 10 Reasons Tokyo DisneySea is Disney’s Best Park, so I’ll just defer to that for what else makes this park so unbelievably special. Tokyo DisneySea is still Disney’s best theme park in the world, even the late 2023 version of the park. That’s the bottom line, and why it’d be disingenuous to let one of the Disneylands sneak into the top spot over it.
The very good news is that not only are things starting to get better, but more help is on the way. In June 2024, Fantasy Springs opens at Tokyo DisneySea. This over $2 billion addition consisting of Peter Pan, Frozen, and Tangled areas is the biggest budget expansion of any existing Disney theme park ever. It will certainly cement Tokyo DisneySea in the top spot, and we’re optimistic that the park will bring back other missing offerings between now and then to help with capacity.
Hope you enjoyed this new edition of the Disney Parks Power Rankings. Keep in mind that this list is all in good fun. Like sports fans, most Disney fans have strong allegiances towards their home park and take offense when they feel it’s slighted. Remember that this is one random dude’s opinion on the internet. At the end of the day, it doesn’t impact your enjoyment of your “favorite” park if I rank it at number 8, nor does my opinion matter (at all) in the grand scheme of things.
How would you rank the Disney Parks you’ve visited? It doesn’t matter how many parks you’ve been to, I’m still interested in knowing! Do you think I misranked any parks, or made any poor choices? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!