The Selfish Guide to Disney Parks
Mr. Selfish and I lived in Orlando for eight years, and during that time, we spent A LOT of time at Disney World. In fact, we love the Disney parks. So when we decided to embark on our Selfish Year trip, we made it our mission to visit all eleven Disney parks in the world. We were successful and visited each and every park:
- L.A.’s Disneyland
- L.A.’s California Adventure
- Orlando’s Magic Kingdom
- Orlando’s Epcot – Part 1 and Part 2
- Orlando’s Animal Kingdom
- Orlando’s Hollywood Studios
- Paris’ Disneyland – Part 1 and Part 2
- Paris’ Walt Disney Studios Park – Part 1 and Part 2
- Tokyo’s Disneyland
- Tokyo’s DisneySea
- Hong Kong’s Disneyland – Part 1 and Part 2
Since Shanghai Disney is currently slated to open at the end of 2015, our checklist for all of the Disney parks is to be short-lived. Nevertheless, here is our guide to the Disney parks.
Best Overall Individual Park
Even though we are obviously biased toward Orlando Disney World, I have to admit that Tokyo DisneySea is the best individual park.
The theming is absolutely superb, especially each of the seven seas. The rides are consistently good. There are tons of shops, especially for the Duffy bears. And, the food is interesting.
Worst Overall Individual Park
The worst individual park is Paris Walt Disney Studios Park.
Although I enjoyed the Martin Short 4-D film (CinéMagique), there weren’t many other rides at all, two of which was broken while we were there. Plus, the theming was inconsistent or even nonexistent in a lot of areas.
Needless to say, I think that the best resort is Orlando Disney World. Not only all there four excellent parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios), but there are also two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) and a miniature golf area (Fantasia Gardens).
Epcot is also a very close second to Tokyo DisneySea for best individual park. The rides are fun, and you can’t beat the Food & Wine Festival around the World Showcase.
Best Food & Drinks
Along the same vein, Epcot definitely has the best food and drinks of all the Disney parks. This is not particularly fair since the World Showcase has so many types of cuisine and different types of alcoholic beverages. There is something for everyone! You can order a pint of Guinness in England, have some katsu curry in Japan, enjoy a juicy steak in Canada, and then have a margarita in Mexico!
As a side note, we loved the flavored popcorn at Tokyo DisneySea. We wanted to try all of them!
Shortest and Longest Lines
Even though Disneyland Paris is quite lackluster, the lines are the shortest there. If you just want to pop in and maximize the amount of rides you hit up, Disneyland Paris is the place for you.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, L.A.’s Disneyland has the looooongest lines. It may have just been bad luck, but both L.A. parks were packed while we were there.
Best and Worst Castles
I found the best castle to be the one in Disneyland Paris. It is themed as Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and there is a full size Maleficent dragon at the bottom of the castle. Moreover, you can go inside and see all of the beautiful stain glass.
On the other hand, the worst castle was the one in L.A.’s Disneyland. It is probably because it was the first castle, but it is just a tiny, little thing and not impressive at all.
Obviously, there is a great deal of repeat rides throughout all of the Disney parks. Here are our picks for the best of each ride.
Best Small World
The Best Small World ride is in Hong Kong. Although several of the Small World’s have been updated, I think Hong Kong does the best job at incorporating Disney characters into different parts of the world.
Best Splash Mountain
Despite the long lines, I love Splash Mountain. I feel like the Splash Mountain at L.A.’s Disneyland is the longest and therefore the best.
Best Pirates of the Caribbean
The same goes for the Pirates of the Caribbean – the longest ride at L.A.’s Disneyland wins!
Best Haunted Mansion
I found most of the Haunted Mansions to be the same as far as the ride itself is concerned. But I like the updated interactive outside features of the Orlando Haunted Mansion the most.
Best Midway Mania
Midway Mania is an excellent ride, and its line is always excruciatingly long. The ride seems to be the same everywhere but the outside area in Tokyo DisneySea was the most thematic.
Best Jungle Cruise
I love the hokiness of the Jungle Cruise, especially the puns and bad jokes. As a result, the best Jungle Cruise is the one in Hong Kong. Do it in English and laugh at all of the bad jokes while everyone else sits quietly.
Best Big Thunder Mountain
I never enjoyed Big Thunder Mountain in Orlando’s Magic Kingdom but the one in Disneyland Paris kicks it up a notch. Plus, the one in L.A.’s Disneyland seems to be indefinitely closed.
Best Tower of Terror
Don’t get me wrong – Tower of Terror is a superb ride everywhere. However, I enjoyed the different theming at the one in Tokyo DisneySea. Instead of the usual Twilight Zone theme, this version is focused on the wealthy adventure, Harrison Hightower, who stole cursed artifacts from all over the world.
Hands down, the best coaster in all of the Disney parks is Everest in Orlando’s Animal Kingdom. It is a smooth ride that goes backwards with a yeti chasing you. Need I say more?
Runner up for best coaster is Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, which is located in Grizzly Gulch in Hong Kong. It is also a very new ride similar to Everest. It is equally smooth and goes backwards but it doesn’t have a yeti so that is why Everest wins.
Best Non-U.S. Ride
Finally, the best non-U.S. ride is Pooh’s Hunny Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland. It is quite different from the other Winnie the Pooh rides on which I’ve ridden and actually a lot of fun. It is mostly a spinning mechanism through different Pooh scenes.
As a side note, we weren’t able to ride Journey to the Center of the Earth in Tokyo DisneySea, which I’ve heard is an excellent ride, because it was closed when we were there.
Most Disappointing Rides
On the flipside, not every Disney ride is good. We found two rides to be particularly disappointing.
First, I was psyched to ride the Matterhorn at L.A.’s Disneyland. However, not only was the line long, but it was short with not much excitement.
Second, I found Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril at Disneyland Paris to be very poorly themed. I don’t even think there was a model of Indie anywhere to be found. Plus, the ride was short with hardly any twists and turns.
What do you think? What is your best and worst list at the Disney parks?