Another year, another set of Disney Park Power Rankings™! The Disney Parks changed a good amount in 2022 but the bulk of those changes came in the form of returns, with many nighttime spectaculars and stage shows coming back from the COVID abyss. Where does that leave the parks? That’s where this post comes in! We’ll rank the current version of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort’s theme parks.
2022 didn’t see any large additions on the west coast aside from the return of Fantasmic and World of Color. While I love both of those shows, last year’s rankings took them into account after they returned. Walt Disney World saw a more substantial addition with Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind in Epcot. We can argue over fit there but it does give the park a much needed thrill ride. At Tokyo Disney Resort, a few shows debuted as the parks plug along in preparation for DisneySea’s gigantic expansion in 2024.
So far this year, the domestic parks have had some big additions! A remodeled Toontown with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened at Disneyland, along with a fantastic firework show, the return of Magic Happens and a few new restaurants at the resort. At Walt Disney World, the Tron coaster finally opened in Magic Kingdom and some smaller attractions will be added to Epcot. All of these additions should be a net gain and all eight of the parks listed below are improving! 2023 is nearly over with no other substantial changes coming to the parks. 2024 will look a little bit different at some of the theme parks but we’ll save that post for the new year.
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 domestic Universal Parks aren’t ranked on the list but would be in the lower half if they were. 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. Hollywood Studios
I’ve awarded Hollywood Studios in years past because of the additions the park has made over the last decade. Galaxy’s Edge continues to be a boon and Runaway Railway adds a solid high capacity ride. Unfortunately, 2022 didn’t see any meaningful additions at the park, unless you count the return of Fantasmic, and 2023 hasn’t produced anything meaningful either outside of the new Toy Story restaurant. While swapping out old shows for new ones seems like an obvious move, the park hasn’t done that yet and Hollywood Studios has stalled with its truncated footprint. There’s some great rides here but not much substance beyond that.
7. California Adventure
California Adventure is a different park when it’s in the midst of festival season, which begins in November and essentially runs through April with short breaks in between the Holiday, Lunar New Year and Food & Wine Festivals. There’s more buzz, so much live entertainment and decent dining options. That season is ending and once the festivals disappear, the park can be frustrating. Along with the new World of Color disappointing, California Adventure falls to the bottom of this list. No park sees a higher jump during Christmas than California Adventure though so it has moved up this list now that we’re into the holidays.
It’s time to embrace Epcot for what it is instead of what it was. World Showcase is a wonderful place to spend most of the day, if you’re in a group of adults specifically. That won’t change and is what carries the park. The front half is still a mess but Cosmic Rewind adds a strong thrill ride and some of those construction walls are slowly coming down. I do find a bit of the new theming to be lackluster but Epcot easily ranks ahead of the bottom two at this point and would likely be higher for adults who have never been before. I’m happy to see Harmonious leaving and looking forward to whatever replaces it.
5. Magic Kingdom
The distaste for Magic Kingdom seems to be rising and I can’t help but agree. The grumpiest of the castle parks I’ve been to, MK can feel crowded and is strewn with overextended queues. But there are some iconic rides here along with hidden gems like the Country Bears. There’s also more to do than any other WDW park. The Tron Coaster helps the park, adding quality and capacity along with some eye candy. It’s great to see the railroad return and Happily Ever After is phenomenal. Overall, Magic Kingdom has really improved in 2023.
4. Animal Kingdom
My most controversial pick stays the course. I love Animal Kingdom and find it to be the most beautiful theme park stateside. It’s lush, full of story and has some of my favorite attractions in the world. Not everyone would agree with that and there are some nits to pick, notably the underdeveloped ride roster. If you can get past that, Animal Kingdom gives guests the chance to do something theme parks never do – slow down and take in every sight.
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. With an amazing new fireworks show and Toontown adding capacity, there aren’t many conceivable ways to improve upon the original theme park.
2. Tokyo Disneyland
As always, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland are so close in my book. Tokyo wins out here thanks to the new Beauty and the Beast attraction and mini-land as well as the presence of a nighttime parade. This year, the park has debuted a new daytime parade for the TDL’s 40th anniversary. The resort swaps out daytime parades every five years, which is ten times shorter than the amount of time Main Street Electrical Parade has been around. Not totally a fair comparison but it speaks to the quality of Tokyo Disney Resort. Tokyo Disneyland plays the hits from Magic Kingdom and Disneyland while adding it’s own style.
1. Tokyo DisneySea
The most beautiful theme park in the world can’t be topped anytime soon in its current iteration. Factor in that the park is adding a massive expansion that includes 4 rides, 3 restaurants and plenty more, it seems like Tokyo DisneySea may never relinquish the top spot. 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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