Over the past week, I have had the incredible opportunity to talk with Disney Instagram owners that hail from all over the world, and have visited each and every Disney park on earth: Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California, Disneyland Tokyo, Shanghai Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland and Aulani Disney Resort in Hawaii. We had a multi-day discussion where we compared and contrasted the parks and offered opinions on why we prefer certain aspects of one park to another. Before I give you a bunch of takeaways from this, I want to extend the biggest thank you to everyone who was involved and trusted me with this project. As a Disney World-goer, I sometimes miss out on the perspectives of the other parks all over our world. I feel so enlightened after our conversations, and I hope anyone who reads this feels the same!
So, what were the main takeaways from a conversation with people that have visited EVERY SINGLE Disney park on earth?
Although Disneyland is far smaller than its US counterpart Disney World, most people don’t think it needs to grow all that much.
Disneyland in Anaheim is composed of two parks, unlike the four parks of Disney World. While WDW is a beast, my friend Abby makes a great point. “Disney World is better for long term vacations, it’s so immersive.” (@abbymakingmemories) Rather than wishing Disneyland in Cali would double or triple in size, many of those who have visited actually enjoy the comparative intimacy of Disneyland. “It’s a lot easier to visit [Disneyland] for a day or two and get everything done. Everything you could possibly do is right there in the same area = less FOMO!” Caitlin and Sierra made a great point here. (@thepixarpals99) With parks like Disney World or Tokyo Disneyland, they take pride in their massive size and numerous activities. Even a week long trip might not suffice for your to-do list and you could leave wanting more time. Elijah, who has spent time in all of the aforementioned parks, mentioned that a trip to Tokyo for the purpose of accomplishing everything in Tokyo Disney would require about a week. (@_worldofelijah) Overall, the two-park intimacy that Disneyland offers in Anaheim is a strength, not a weakness. In fact, it makes it special. “It shows the starting point and how Walt’s dream grew.” which was a beautiful sentiment from Sam. (@mousey_mama)
Disneyland Paris has the best castle.
I could’ve told you this before my conversation with these awesome friends, but the majority of us agree that Paris’ castle is just beyond beautiful. Not only does it have an incredible facade, but you can see the Maleficent dragon in the dungeon beneath the castle, which Winnie (@disneyland_ish) reminded me of. We also agreed that Shanghai’s castle is incredible, but for most of us, we think DLP takes the prize! Fun fact that I didn’t know; Shanghai’s castle is the biggest on earth! “I know Disneyland’s castle is the OG but it’s way too small! I’ve been to Disneyland in California, WDW and DLP and my favorite castle I’ve seen is DLP.” says Katie. (@katie_in_disney)
Many people love Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion and consider them some of the best Disney rides.
Even Alexandra, (@alexdisneydreaming) who has been to Tokyo and Paris, says that Pirates is her favorite classic ride. Pretty much everyone who has been on a version of the ride has included it in their faves. To me, Haunted and Pirates have a similar vibe, but are also entirely different and must-dos. They are dark rides with minimal drops or thrills, but so much to view and hear, and of course, smell. We all gave a shout out to that Pirate water! It’s important to remember that when you’re comparing Disney rides from all over earth, this is including incredible attractions like TRON in Shanghai, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong. Still, many people included these two rides which were some of the original rides in any Disney park, which I thought spoke to the magic of even early Disney Imagineering. Allegedly, Shanghai’s version of Pirates is the best because it is far newer and more advanced. I recommend watching the Imagineering Story episode that discusses its proliferation!
Disneyland and Disneyland Paris fans can admit that WDW wins the contest of best food.
While I must say there was an emphasis that Disneyland itself (you know, where the castle is,) does have some good food, the other park, Disney California Adventure lacks in this department. Andrea has visited all of the USA parks including Aulani, and said “I wish Disneyland had more of the specialty stuff WDW has like Redd’s Revenge dole whip, the Cheshire Cat tail, Kakamora Float, etc.” (@enchanted_chicky) I personally understand, because special treats like this make WDW snacks SO special. My great friend Ella is a DLP goer but visits WDW too, and she expressed issues with her dietary restrictions in DLP. “As a vegetarian, I struggle at DLP as they are heavy meat eaters.” (@ellaonmainstreet) Fortunately, the fine dining at DLP is worth visiting, especially Bistro Chez Remy, both for its food and experience. “The whole experience of shrinking down to the size of a rat is so different and the food is amazing!” mentions Gab. (@mousketeer_gab) Apparently though, from two sources, the beignets in Disneyland take the cake. “Personally I think Disneyland food is terrible. WDW definitely has way better options, although the beignets in Disneyland are the best!” says my amazing pal Leah. (@leahs.fairytale) Christina also vouched for its food and wine festival and said it’s impressive! (@disneycvtina17)
Everyone who hasn’t been already, wants to go to Tokyo Disneyland so bad.
This makes perfect sense to me. It is widely accepted that Tokyo DisneySea in particular is one of the best theme parks on earth. It is certainly a Disney creation, but it goes beyond a castle and teacups. It is made up of multiple “ports of call” that truly seem like parks of their own. Its theming is unreal, and even just a quick google image search can convince you of this. We mentioned the draws of the unique and adorable merchandise, themed snacks, aesthetics, and their version of Splash Mountain. The photos I received of this park from the group are breathtaking, including this one of Mermaid Lagoon. Tokyo Disney is also home to a handful of hotels, which makes it similar to Walt Disney World.
Everyone should visit Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Tokyo Disney at some point.
Even those of us who haven’t been to DisneySea think we should visit! My friend Shay mentioned that according to accounts online, it is the most innovative and magical park on earth. (@magicallyshay) She is a WDW goer like myself, so she also mentioned the importance of visiting Epcot because of its undeniable uniqueness. While our group has admiration for all of the parks, the history of Disneyland, innovation of DisneySea, and size of WDW are must-sees. “Getting to see the one that started it all (Disneyland) would be so special.” Gabi mentioned. She’s an annual passholder at Disneyland Paris, but thinks the history of Disneyland makes it essential to see in person. (@mousketeer_gab) Hong Kong Disney is the smallest park on Earth, so while it is beautiful and home to some of the first Marvel rides, it is less important to make a point of visiting without exploring Hong Kong at large. Paris and Aulani are also small, and offer slightly less. Shanghai is very close to being a must, but if we had to choose, it falls out of the top. While I think everyone in the group would agree to visit every park on earth, the ultimate advice was to prioritize these three!
Walt Disney Studios park in Paris is lacking.
There’s basically a consensus, even among people who love Disneyland Paris, that WDS is too small and doesn’t have much to do. Luckily, they are working on an expansion, probably because they started to pick up on this public indifference! The expansion will include areas dedicated to Star Wars, Marvel, and the first ever Frozen themed land! Despite this agreement, all DLP fans adore the park. Disneyland in Paris itself has beautiful views as we know, and definitely holds its own!
The best Disneyland, CA restaurants are Lamplight Lounge and Blue Bayou.
When you visit Blue Bayou, “You’re literally IN the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the atmosphere is so immersive.” (Winnie, @disneyland_ish) Lamplight Lounge is also a favorite, “It is the only place I can think of that’s consistent with great food and drinks.” My friend Adri mentioned this (@belleoftheball_0608) because Disneyland’s best foods seem to be dispersed among restaurants, rather than all at one spot, except in the case of Lamplight. From the perspective of a WDW go-er, Disneyland does great with snacks that are super Instagram-worthy, but those that visit DLR often feel that they are inconsistent when it comes to sit-down/table service locations.
Aulani will never be an amusement park, but it could get a waterpark.
I was so grateful to chat with Andrea about her experiences at Aulani. She explained that there is an empty lot of land next to Aulani that is rumored to become a waterpark. While it’s not confirmed, we agreed that it would be a great middle ground between Disney park excitement but also the beauty of Hawaii. “I think Hawaii people would really appreciate a nice mini-amusement or Hawaii-themed waterpark. It could be a way to stand out as a destination for Disney lovers from [Hong Kong, Tokyo, or the US]” (@enchanted_chicky)
WDW is a massive intimidating beast to everyone who hasn’t been, and honestly, even to those who have been a million times.
“For Hong Kong, you need no more than a week.” says Elijah. (@_worldofelijah) “Some parks work better being smaller, like DLP and Hong Kong.” says Alexandra. “Culturally it kind of makes sense that this one massive park is in the states.” which basically is the main point of my conversation with this group, and Winnie ties it up great in that one statement. (@disneyland_ish)
WDW is its own city, as we know. Four parks, two water parks, multiple hotels at different “levels” like deluxe, standard, and value. Hundreds of eating locations. It is scary, and if you’ve been, you probably realize you could spend months there and miss things. It that a good thing? Is it too much? “Disney World is like: I gotta run!” which is exactly how I feel, Abby. (@abbymakingmemories) So even in this conversation with people who ADORE Disney, we can recognize the abundance that is Disney, but one last takeaway is true.
All the parks are perfect the way they are.
“They all have something different to bring to the table when it comes to satisfying our wonderful guest.” Elijah has worked for Disney before, and I can honestly say I’ve never heard an employee talk so fondly about their workplace. (@_worldofelijah) Even when we were all joking around about our least favorite foods or parks, we still go, we still become annual passholders, and we still run entire pages dedicated to our love and admiration for Disney theme parks. It was so beautiful to talk with people and hear how much they love visiting their home park. We couldn’t say enough about how much we loved our favorite restaurants and rides, and memories we have of visiting for the first time. It made me want to travel to all of them someday even more than I already did. Many terms were mentioned numerous times in our chat. Terms like “grand experience,” “wonderful,” “incredible,” “the best,” and of course, “magic.”
I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have made friends from this experience. Thank you to everyone involved, especially those who received a random, desperate message from me begging you to tell me about Hong Kong in a group with a bunch of people you didn’t know! Please check out these incredible pages to open your perspective up to the beauty of Disney all over our world. ALSO, scroll down to the bottom of this piece to check out a handful of extra photos from these amazing creators!