If you think that there are only two Disney resorts in the world, Disneyland in Anaheim, CA and Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, you’ve got another thing coming. Besides these two “American” theme parks there are actually 4 other resorts, 1 in Europe and 3 in Asia. In all there are 6 Disney theme park resorts around the world.
In this guide we’re going to discuss each one of these resorts, their parks and then rank them. Because we’ve had the opportunity to visit each one of them, explore them and blog about them, we have a pretty good idea of which ones rank the best and which ones…may be worth skipping (hint: none).
For most guests, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are the two most known resorts as they are the “originals” having opened in 1955 and 1971. They are the original ideas of Walt Disney himself. The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited resort in the world with over 60 million guests visiting every year.
Between the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort there are 6 theme parks and 2 waters parks. These include Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Now add in the 4 other resorts including Shanghai Disney, Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris and you have 6 other theme parks including Shanghai Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park.
Between all of these parks, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Each one is unique in its own way including design and look, attractions, characters, dining and more. Because of this, we highly recommend guests try and visit as many as possible so they can get their own experience of each park. For now though, we’ll be ranking them based on our experience at them and maybe it will help you decide which one on your bucket list to visit first!
INTERNATIONAL DISNEY THEME PARKS
Before we jump into ranking each park, we’re going to go over a brief description of each resort, its locations, when it opened and some of its features. We’ll be splitting the juicy stuff between here and our rankings so be sure to read everything.
The list of resorts include:
Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando, FL
Disneyland Resort – Anaheim, CA
Disneyland Paris – Cheesy, France
Shanghai Disney Resort – Shanghai, China
Hong Kong Disneyland – Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Tokyo Disney Resort – Urayasu, Japan
All of the international parks function very similar to the ones found in the United States as these were their models when they were built. All include FastPass service, dining locations, shopping attractions and shows. They also include parades, fireworks and character experiences.
TOKYO DISNEY RESORT – JAPAN
The Tokyo Disney Resort is found just outside of Tokyo on 494 acres of oceanfront property. It features two parks, Disneyland Park and DisneySea. Disneyland Park opened first in 1983 followed by DisneySea in 2001. The resort features 4 property hotels including the Ambassador Hotel, Hotel MiraCosta, the Disneyland Hotel and the Celebration Hotel.
There is a shopping complex called Ikspirari that is similar to Downtown Disney and Disney Springs found in the U.S. Guests can ride into the resort using the Tokyo Subway and a monorail that connects both parks. It’s biggest flagship store is called Bon Voyage! Tokyo Disney is managed by the Oriental Land Company which is makes the park sort of a franchise, independently owned and operated. It’s the only resort Disney ever did this with.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND – HONG KONG
Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest Disney resort in the world with only 68 acres. It opened in 2005 and only has one park, Disneyland, and 3 hotels including the Hollywood Hotel, Disneyland Hotel and Explorers Lodge. Of all the Disney Parks in the world, Hong Kong was the first to receive a brand new castle in 2020, replacing a much smaller one similar to Disneylands.
There are currently 7 lands at this resort including Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point. The latter 2 are only found at Hong Kong Disneyland. With expansions, the resort will soon feature 2 new lands including Frozen and Stark Expo. The resort hosts about 6-7 million guests each year, far below that of the other Disney Parks.
DISNEYLAND PARIS – FRANCE
The only Disney Resort found in Europe, Disneyland Paris is located just outside the city of Paris in Cheesy, France. It’s made up of two theme parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. For its size, it features the most hotels of any resort with only two parks, at 8 total. These include the Disneyland Hotel, Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Cheyenne, Hotel Santa Fe, Davy Crockett Ranch and Les Villages Nature.
Disneyland Paris is the only international park that is completely owned by the Walt Disney Company (the rest, excluding Tokyo, have minority owners who manage them). The resort opened in 1992 with just Disneyland Park which was followed by the Walt Disney Studios park in 2002. The resort sits on 4,800 acres and has been updated several times and will soon feature Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars Lands.
SHANGHAI DISNEY RESORT – CHINA
The Shanghai Disney Resort officially opened in 2016 after much delay and a final price tag of $5.5 Billion (way over budget). The resort is known for its substantial and modern-day upgrades to classic attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight. It features 7 lands including Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove, Fantasyland and Toy Story Land.
When the park opened, a new attraction based on TRON was introduced and has since become one of the most popular Disney park rides in the world. The attraction is currently being built at Magic Kingdom Theme Park in Florida. The Shanghai Disney Resort sits on 963 acres of land and includes 2 hotels: The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and The Toy Story Hotel. It’s shopping district is called Disneytown and features several merchandise shops and dining restaurants.
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT – FLORIDA
This was Walt Disney’s biggest dream ever and in truth, has become Disney’s biggest resort in the world. It sits on 25,000 acres of land in Orange County Florida. Disney World opened in 1971 with the opening of Magic Kingdom Theme Park. 10 years after the Epcot Theme Park opened in 1982. Epcot was Walt’s dream of a futuristic city but never came to fruition after his passing. It was changed into a theme park based on Future World and World Showcase.
In 1989 the Disney-MGM theme park opened and was based around the Disney Studios found on the lot. Since then it has been renamed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and no longer features any studio attractions. The last park Disney opened was Animal Kingdom in 1998 and is the biggest theme park (space-wise) in the world, taking up 580 acres. The resort also features 2 water parks and 34 property hotels. Its shopping district, Disney Springs, is the largest of all the resorts and features the biggest Disney merchandise shop in the world.
DISNEYLAND RESORT – CALIFORNIA
This is Walt’s original park, the original Magic Kingdom. It opened in 1955 after just one year of construction. Walt purchased 160 acres to begin with and started building the Magic Kingdom in 1954. A portion of the money used to build the park was raised from a show Disney created called Disneyland which would give viewers a sneak peak of what was to come. It featured 20 attractions on opening day. It wasn’t until 2001 that Disneyland received its first major expansion: Disney California Adventure Park.
The Disneyland Resort also features a shopping district called Downtown Disney and 3 resort hotels including the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier and the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Unlike the other theme parks around the world, Disneyland does not own much property outside the parks. It’s surrounded by other hotels and dining restaurants, many found just across the street. The parks biggest land expansion came in 2019 when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up.
ALL DISNEY PARKS AROUND THE WORLD – RANKED
This is where we tell you what the best Disney Park in the world is (according to us). With 12 to choose from this isn’t an easy task. There are some small things that we love about each park, some with bigger things and some that just have the all-around best attractions and theming. We have visited each one and are taking into account things like attractions, theming, dining, shopping and access/location.
For attractions we’re really looking at a very general view of is there enough to keep both kids and adults entertained for an entire day, if not more. Are the attractions one-hit-wonders or do they keep us coming back? For theming we’re looking at uniqueness and originality. Is it fun and inviting or just bleh? For dining options we want a place that offers fantastic quick service food (beyond hot dogs and popcorn) as well as some nice sit down restaurants with great menus. Shopping should have lots of unique stores offering merchandise that highlights the park and theme itself. Lastly, access and location should be easy to get to and immersive once you step in (hidden on the outside).
DISNEY PARK RANKINGS
12. DISNEYLAND PARK – PARIS – Don’t let this scare you or keep you away from visiting this park. It’s definitely a one day park but doesn’t really offer us anything we haven’t seen before.
11. TOKYO DISNEYLAND PARK – Very similar to the original Magic Kingdom (and other Disneyland Parks). The one thing that this park has going for it is its own version of the Blue Bayou which we love.
10. DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK – We’re so glad they rethemed this park several years ago otherwise it would have been #12. Cars Land is the highlight of this park but Avengers Campus could change everything.
9. HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS – Toy Story Land was the highlight of this park but it’s certainly not unique to it. Then Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened and it blew-up…but so did the one at Disneyland Park. The best attractions here include Tower of Terror, Rise of the Resistance and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster.
8. HONG KONG DISNEYLAND – We love this place because it’s very intimate and small. This is also its weakness. It’s basically a Disneyland Park. They did however redo the castle and it’s incredible. Much better than the one found at Disneyland.
7. MAGIC KINGDOM – You can kind of see a trend here. Most of the lower-ranking parks (if you want to call them that) are based off of the original Magic Kingdom (Disneyland). The rides are familiar with not too much uniqueness. However, here, TRON and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train can make all the difference.
6. EPCOT – If Epcot had turned out the way it was supposed to..it wouldn’t even be on this list. We’re glad it is. It’s the only park in the world to feature a massive showcase of countries featuring authentic dining and shopping experiences. It’s current makeover may push this park a bit higher on the list.
5. DISNEYLAND PARK – The original Magic Kingdom and the model for basically all International Disneyland’s including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo Disneyland, Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Paris. It’s so nostalgic that placing it at #5 hurts; but it’s where it belongs. Disneyland will always hold a special place in our hearts.
4. WALT DISNEY STUDIOS – Paris Disneyland’s second park is very unique and it’s theming is everything we used to love about Hollywood Studios. You can find Crush’s Coaster and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure here as well as Avengers Campus.
3. ANIMAL KINGDOM – Like no other park in the world, Animal Kingdom is hands down one of the most unique Disney parks. It’s theming is incredible and features top attractions like Kilimanjaro Safaris, Flight of Passage and Everest. It’s hard to beat taking a safari one minute and flying on the back of a Banshee the next.
2. SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND – We love this park for some many reasons but mainly because it feels like Disney took the concept of Tomorrowland and applied it to the Disneyland Park concept as a whole. Everything is updated, everything is new and they did it right the first time. You’ll also find some of the most unique attractions and dining here.
1. DISNEYSEA – It’s hard to put into words why this park is rated #1. We could say it’s because of everything but that wouldn’t do it justice. Just know that everything here is superior to any park. The theming is amazing, especially Mysterious Island. The attractions are all fun and many of them can only be found there. If you had to choose only one international park to visit, we would recommend this one every time.
So there you have it. Every Disney theme park ranked in the world. Tokyo DisneySea is easily #1 on our list and will probably remain that way for years to come. For guests looking to travel outside the U.S. to any of these parks, be sure to see our Touring Plans to help you get acquainted with the parks even more and the best way to approach them including buying tickets, transportation, dining and more.