It’s a new year! We did it! 2020 was one of the worst years in many perspectives, including theme parks. At the least, Disney Parks were reduced in capacity and closed for a few months. At most (hi Disneyland Resort), they were closed from March on. Unfortunately, those restrictions carry on through the new year but there does appear to be some light on the horizon. Eventually all of the parks will open again and traveling won’t be restricted. With that in mind, it’s time for our yearly Power Rankings!
Despite a few of the parks being closed still, I went about these rankings as if they were all open. The rankings are based off of what the current day park offers and how it’s doing from a broad perspective. This year’s rankings will surely be different from last year, just like next year’s will be different from this. Changes in the parks are inevitable, whether they are good or bad is what this post takes into account.
2021 won’t likely see a ton of changes in any single park. California Adventure will eventually open some Marvel attractions. Tokyo Disneyland just opened their gigantic Beauty and the Beast expansion, although no one from the states has gotten to see it. EPCOT will likely open two new attractions (Ratatouille and the Guardians Coaster) and still be behind construction walls. Otherwise, it’s likely to be a quiet year from a new attractions perspective.
The eight parks I’m ranking are the eight I’ve been to – all six in the U.S. and the two Tokyo Disney Resort Parks. For those curious, the Universal Orlando Parks wouldn’t rank last on the list but would be in the lower half. Let’s get to the rankings!
Sadly, EPCOT is a mess. Future World is largely behind construction walls at this point and there isn’t an easy way to navigate that half of the park. Add in a lacking attraction list and that makes for a rough time for one of the Disney Company’s most ambitious ideas. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the park will improve over the course of the year. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open sometime (I would guess this summer) and though we don’t expect it to be an E-ticket attraction, it will still be an improvement to the attraction lineup. Same goes for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, although whether or not that attraction will open this year is a little more up in the air. Once some construction walls are removed and EPCOT becomes less of a maze then the park should move up the list. Even with finishing in last place, there are few better things than a post-close stroll around World Showcase. That should always be a staple of EPCOT no matter the changes coming to Future World.
7. Disney California Adventure
DCA is a tale of two parks. Around half of the park’s lands, Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and Grizzly Peak, are well conceived and executed lands. There’s a good amount of versatility and beauty there. The rest of California Adventure is a thematic mess with some fun attractions. At this point, Pixar Pier seems like a pretty bad idea and the upcoming Marvel Land appears to be plopped down without much thought. For as fun as Mission: BREAKOUT! is (a debate for another day), I do not like the way it looks or that it can be seen throughout nearly the entire park. DCA’s strength is in those three very strong lands and a surprisingly good attraction lineup. I’m also a sucker for sunset rides along the pier, no matter how much of a placeholder theme it has.
6. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
A strong jump up in the rankings for Hollywood Studios after years in last place! I think Wandering in Disney has had this park in the bottom spot every year since we started so congratulation on getting out of the cellar, DHS. Galaxy’s Edge elevates the park to a new level and Sunset Boulevard is unchanging which, in this case, is a good thing. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is another decent attraction that fills a child entertainment hole at the park. With all of the additions in the last few years, the attention now turns to where the park can go next. Honestly, and somewhat despairingly, I think Hollywood Studios is near its potential without any wholesale changes. Sixth place isn’t anything to write home about but I just don’t know where the park can go from here. Massive improvements in entertainment would be a good place to start. For now, the park rests on a very top-heavy attraction lineup and a couple of good lands.
5. Magic Kingdom
I feel like I miss the boat on Magic Kingdom. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the nostalgia for it that many Disney bloggers do, but the park just never quite hits home for me. I get frustrated with the crowds and lack of recent improvements. All that said, our last trip to Disney World ended with an hour or two on Main Street taking photos and enjoying the sights. It was lovely. The attraction lineup is very strong, although not on par with the other castle parks. The dining could certainly use an upgrade. With entertainment, a place where Magic Kingdom really excels, being off the grid for now, the park is missing some of its character.
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Not surprisingly, Disney World’s most beautiful park is the one that shines through the hits of 2020. Even with entertainment being stripped away, Animal Kingdom’s sense of exploration remained. While the park certainly needs a few more attractions and Festival of the Lion King is missed dearly, Animal Kingdom is cohesive and gorgeous which is more than we can say for any other Walt Disney World Park. Like Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom’s attraction list is top heavy without much in the way of small, quality rides. I hope that is remedied over the years.
3. Tokyo Disneyland
Okay, this one isn’t all that fair. Tokyo Disneyland just opened a massive Fantasyland expansion that includes an E-ticket Beauty and the Beast dark ride. I have not experienced that yet, nor have I watched any videos on it. The park is just narrowly edged out by Disneyland for me without that addition so I would assume it will probably jump back into the top two at some point. Even without those additions, Tokyo Disneyland is like a greatest hits of the American castle parks while adding in some absolutely bizarre tracks along the way. The best parades in the world reside here and an amazing attraction and dining lineup round out the outrageous Tokyo Disneyland.
If I miss the boat on Magic Kingdom then I’m at the helm of the Mark Twain, circling that river over and over again at Disneyland. All of those cheesy things people say about Disneyland (charming, whimsical, magical, etc.), I buy into and feel. The original theme park has the best attraction lineup in the world along with excellent dining and entertainment. There are small critiques to be had in the way of Mickey’s Toontown and a needed Tomorrowland renovation but neither of those really take away from how masterfully Disneyland is laid out. I may be in the minority, but I prefer the park with the different train and river route. And while there will always be thematic issues with Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, the positives far outweigh the negatives in my eyes. Disneyland is Americana at its finest – boisterous yet charming, frenetic yet tranquil. I miss it dearly.
1. Tokyo DisneySea
Before COVID hit and when it looked like I was going to be living in Japan for a couple of months, a thought would pop into my head, “Would DisneySea lose some of its magic if I went regularly for a few months?” I don’t know if I’ll ever have a travel experience quite like setting foot in DisneySea for the first time. For years I’d seen it in photos and longed to go but it was Ponce de Leon chasing the Fountain of Youth, it just didn’t seem feasible. Then all of a sudden we were there and I was blown away by this theme park that doesn’t look like a theme park at all. I think back to that trip and think about the three other times we stepped into the park and the mystique was no less. The answer to the question for me is no, I’m never going to feel less for a perfect park with amazing attractions, incredible entertainment and the most beautiful of sights.
What do you think of our Disney Park Power Rankings? Let us know in the comments! Planning a trip to a Disney Park? Check out all of our Planning Guides to help you along the way. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Top 10 Lists