It’s seemingly taken us a decade to make it through the last 2 years but, according to the 2021 version of this post, it’s been roughly a year since our last very official Disney Park Power Rankings™. Unlike last year at this time, all of the parks are open to guests. In this post, we’ll rank the current version of Disneyland Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort’s theme parks.
2021 offered a few changes to the parks, notably at Walt Disney World. Most of those changes came about for the 50th anniversary and, not to spoil things, didn’t forcefully move the needle with us. Likewise, Avengers Campus in California Adventure debuted but it didn’t raise the bar for the rest of the park. That’s not to say there weren’t some good things that happened to the parks in 2021, there were, but the year will likely be remembered in context with the pandemic over anything else.
Looking ahead, I’m not sure that 2022 will provide much change either. Epcot should (hopefully) turn a corner on all of their construction as well as opening a few long awaited rides. Most notably, that includes the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster in Future World. 2023 promises to be a bigger year throughout all the resorts with a Toontown transformation at Disneyland, a giant expansion in Tokyo DisneySea and the Tron coaster in Magic Kingdom. I’m sure 2022 will bring a few surprise additions along the way and we’ll update our rankings if need be!
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. These are clearly all my opinion and while there are reasons the rankings fall as they do and I have recommendations, I do love all eight parks on the list. Some are just better than others. Let’s get to the rankings!
8. Disney California Adventure
Now that the festivals are over until the holidays come around, California Adventure moves down to the bottom spot on the list. It can be interchangeable with the two above it though, as there are plenty of enjoyable moments. DCA has many problems, including a lack of identity and a top heavy attraction roster, but there’s some quality here. Cars Land remains an impressive achievement and Grizzly Peak has a lot of character. Surprisingly, the park has fantastic festivals and some great live entertainment during those. While they aren’t on the grand scale that Epcot’s festivals are, I think they offer more quality than quantity. Avengers Campus didn’t help much in the long run and it’s hard to see how California Adventure will make a big jump in the next few years.
Epcot makes a move up the list thanks to the opening of Cosmic Rewind. Unfortunately, the front half of the park is still full of construction walls even with the new attraction opening the space up some. Looking at simply the additions of the last year, Epcot has more than any other stateside park. We can argue over the positive impact of those individual changes but there’s plenty of new things to see! The other positive is that World Showcase is still a wonderful place to walk around, including some great shows and dining. That’s augmented by the addition of the Ratatouille area in the France Pavilion and not brought down much by an obnoxious fountain and nighttime show in the middle of the lagoon. For adults, World Showcase would be reason enough to move this up a few spots on the list.
6. Hollywood Studios
After a few eventful years, Hollywood Studios took it easy in 2021 and in 2022. It seemed like an opportune and obvious time to upgrade on certain things, unfortunately. At the top of that list of things that could be upgraded are the shows. Instead, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular came back as is. While Galaxy’s Edge is a boon for the park and there are some excellent rides here, the whole is worse than the sum of its parts. I don’t think that’s a saying?
5. Magic Kingdom
There’s a large gap from the bottom three to Magic Kingdom and I’m sure some would have Disney World’s castle park even higher than this. Exchanging Happily Ever After for Disney Enchantment was a downgrade for sure. That said, the rest of the park is running well and the attractions seem to be in decent shape (read: they aren’t broken down). The upcoming Tron coaster should add a nice boost of energy to the park. Unfortunately, the dining, lack of shows and frustrating crowds can weigh Magic Kingdom down.
4. Animal Kingdom
My favorite Walt Disney World park ends up fourth on the list. I can’t decide if it’s closer to the top three or the four behind it. For now, it’s off kind of on its own. The problem is persistent with Animal Kingdom, there’s simply not enough attractions. Adding two quality ones and then two C-tickets would do wonders for the park. That seems like it’s asking a lot though. The strengths will remain in that the park is full of good lands with strong character and beauty. Wandering around the park is unmatched stateside and there’s plenty of good food offered. Animal Kingdom isn’t for everyone but it is for me!
The top three are incredibly strong and parks that anyone should visit! Disneyland has the best attractions in the world and has a ton of them. There’s so much to do and the variety of rides is unmatched. The food is also strong, as is the charm of the park. I’m hopeful that 2022 will bring a return of some entertainment and, if it does, Disneyland could easily move up to second in the rankings. It is easily the best theme park in the United States.
2. Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland is just about perfect. A mix of classic attractions, incredible parades and some very weird moments. The race between TDL and Disneyland is so close but I put Tokyo ahead for now because it has two excellent parades and Disneyland only has the return of Main Street Electrical Parade scheduled. Once Magic Happens returns then they may flip spots. I’m eager to see the Beauty and the Beast addition as it debuted last year and international travel hasn’t been an option. When the world is right, I look forward to being back in Tokyo Disneyland!
1. Tokyo DisneySea
I don’t see how any theme park can catch up to Tokyo DisneySea and I haven’t been there in nearly 5 years. Next year, Fantasy Springs, the largest expansion ever for any Disney theme park, will debut and should only improve upon what’s already there. As for what’s already there, it’s a perfect combination of story driven attractions, beautiful sightlines and interesting architecture. The park’s beauty is unmatched and the dining scene is great, as well. I’m looking forward to walking its streets again soon!
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Categories: Top 10 Lists
I’ve really only been to Disney World in Orlando, and I honestly didn’t like Animal Kingdom. Granted, I went over Thanksgiving, and it was packed. Add to that, no one really seemed to know where they were going. I didn’t get to see much due to having repeated panic attacks due to the crowd, but I may have to go back during the off season–hopefully no one will be there.
Oh, I’m sorry about your poor experience! Disney World can definitely get overrun with crowds. Animal Kingdom isn’t for everyone as there aren’t as many attractions as there should be. Having it be so crowded can interrupt the beauty of the park and the organic feel to it.
I can’t really comment on the rankings since I haven’t been to Disney World since I was five and I haven’t been to Tokyo Disneyland at all. However, I’d rank Disney California Adventure higher because of CarsLand and the Incredicoaster (which I haven’t rode yet, technically), but that’s my opinion.
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Reasons why California Adventure didn’t beat the other parks:
Magic Kingdom is a castle park so the theme works much better. Plus, there are way more attractions in MK.
Animal Kingdom is far more pleasant to walk around and is beautiful, although it does need more attractions.
The top 3 are superior to DCA in just about every category.
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Fair enough! Magic Kingdom is just brilliant and that fantasy theme works so well. I’ve seen Tokyo Disneyland youtube videos and I’ve always wanted to go. I’m just waiting till I have the money to do so and when covid is done.
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