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The Top 50 Theme Parks in the World

10. Disney California Adventure

Location: Anaheim, California, USA
2013 attendance: 8.51 million
2014 attendance: 8.77 million (up 3.0%)

Disney California Adventure

For Disneyland fans who had long looked forward to a second park opening at the resort, the debut of Disney California Adventure in 2001 proved to be a huge disappointment. The park was heavily critized for both its theme and for its lack of major attractions, with Disney being accused of having thrown it together "on the cheap". The addition of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania helped, but the park remained in the shadow of the original Disneyland.

Eventually, Disney decided to virtually completely rebuild California Adventure, at massive expense. The spectacular World of Color show, several new attractions and the Cars Land expansion have begun to change the perception of the park, which is finally beginning to to fulfill its potential.

Don't miss: Radiator Springs Racers, a dazzling attraction that combines the ride system of Epcot's Test Track with the humorous characters of Pixar's Cars.

9. Disneyland Paris

Location: Marne-La-Vallée, France
2012 attendance: 10.43 million
2013 attendance: 9.94 million (down 4.7%)

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris may have struggled under the weight of its massive debts ever since it opened, but it remains one of Europe's premier tourist attractions. It is a favorite of many Disney fans, combining the traditional Disneyland "hub-and-spoke" layout with attractive European-style architecture.

The park's biggest draws are its versions of classic Disney attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion (here known as Phantom Manor). It has its unique attractions, though, such as the thrilling Space Mountain: Mission 2 and the spectacular nighttime show, Disney Dreams.

Disneyland Paris is currently undergoing a series of major refurbishments designed to prepare it for its 25th anniversary in 2017, which is likely to lead to declining attendance until the work is complete.

Don't miss: Disneyland Paris' version of the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster is the best in the world, largely due to its stunning setting in the center of Frontierland's Rivers of the Far West.

8. Disney's Hollywood Studios

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
2013 attendance: 10.11 million
2014 attendance: 10.31 million (up 2.0%)

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Universal Studios Florida wasn't the first movie studio-themed park to open in Florida. Disney beat its rival to the punch with the opening of Disney-MGM Studios in 1989, although the park was somewhat light on attractions back then. Nowadays, it's still smaller than Walt Disney World's other parks, but does host some of the resort's best rides. Disney dropped the MGM association in 2007, renaming the park as Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Among the park's line-up are classics such as the original Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the interactive Toy Story Midway Mania and the reimagined Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.

Disney's Hollywood Studios is currently in a state of flux as Disney prepares to install Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. The end result will be a vastly different park, complete with a new name.

Don't miss: Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is the original, and by far the best. Its elevators explore the floors of the Hollywood Tower Hotel - a feature removed from clones at other parks in order to improve capacity.

7. Disney's Animal Kingdom

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
2012 attendance: 10.20 million
2013 attendance: 10.40 million (up 2.0%)

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Faced with competition from Busch Gardens Tampa, Walt Disney World built its own hybrid theme park-zoo in 1998. Disney's Animal Kingdom was initially criticised for its lack of major attractions (as well as accusations that it was exploiting animals for entertainment purposes), but has gradually expanded its line-up.

Among the headline attractions are the impressively-themed Expedition Everest coaster and the Dinosaur dark ride, but for many guests the chance to see a huge array of exotic animal species up-close will be the real draw. Disney is taking a break from reality with the next planned expansion to Animal Kingdom, though - a land dedicated to James Cameron's Avatar, and has already added a host of night-time attractions to pull in visitors for longer.

Don't miss: The park's signature attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris. Riders board jeeps that take them on a tour of an enormous savannah, which sprawls across an area the same size as the entire Magic Kingdom.

6. Epcot

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
2013 attendance: 11.23 million
2014 attendance: 11.45 million (up 2.0%)


Walt Disney World's second theme park may not have lived up to Disney's original vision of a living, working city, but it still aims to celebrate international culture and showcase cutting-edge technology. Epcot is like a permanent "World's Fair", split across two main areas: Future World (which shows off new technology) and World Showcase (which hosts 11 pavilions dedicated to different countries around the globe).

The park's rides lack the magical characters and storylines that are the major feature of Disney's other parks, but make up for it with their scale and ambition. The recently-updated Test Track sees guests racing around in mock prototype cars, while Mission: Space sends them on a trip that NASA can currently only dream of.

Don't miss: The chance to tour World Showcase on a balmy Florida evening. The area's restaurants are world-class, and the scenery is incredible.

5. Universal Studios Japan

Location: Osaka, Japan
2013 attendance: 10.10 million
2014 attendance: 11.80 million (up 16.8%)

Universal Studios Japan

Image: momopy

Universal's first theme park outside the US has become increasingly appealing to international visitors in recent years. This is because it has retained many of its original attractions, which are clones of rides in the US that have since been shuttered. This includes the Jaws ride, as well as Back to the Future - The Ride.

Universal Studios Japan has imported other classic attractions from Hollywood and Florida, too, including Jurassic Park: The Ride and renowned dark ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. It is home to one or two original rides, too, such as the Hollywood Dream: The Ride steel coaster and spinning coaster Space Fantasy: The Ride.

The park received a huge boost in attendance following the 2014 debut of the park's version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Don't miss: The Flying Dinosaur, the longest Bolliger & Mabillard Flying Coaster in the world.

4. Tokyo DisneySea

Location: Tokyo, Japan
2013 attendance: 14.08 million
2014 attendance: 14.10 million (up 0.1%)

Tokyo DisneySea

Image © Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Tokyo DisneySea was the most expensive theme park ever built when it opened in 2001, costing an eye-watering $4 billion. The level of detail on show in the nautically-themed park's six themed ports is astonishing, and the park is packed with impressive, original attractions.

The park is home to unique versions of the Tower of Terror and Indiana Jones Adventure, along with its own take on the Fantasmic! pyrotechnic show concept. The headliners, though, are the Journey to the Center of the Earth dark ride, the StormRider simulator and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine ride.

Don't miss: Journey to the Center of the Earth, which takes the ride system from Epcot's Test Track and uses it in a completely different, and brilliant, way.

3. Disneyland

Location: Anaheim, California, USA
2013 attendance: 15.9 million
2014 attendance: 16.77 million (up 3.5%)


Walt Disney's first theme park remains immensely popular, and still employs the legendary animator's original layout. Guests are drawn to the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, passing down the quaint Main Street, USA on their way. From there, they can reach Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland.

Many of the park's original attractions remain, such as Peter Pan's Flight and the Disneyland Railroad. Disneyland has never stood still, though, adding further classics such as the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion over the years.

Don't miss: Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, opened in 1995, employs an enhanced motion vehicle system to take guests on a journey that is stunningly realistic.

2. Tokyo Disneyland

Location: Tokyo, Japan
2013 attendance: 17.21 million
2014 attendance: 17.30 million (up 0.5%)

Tokyo Disneyland

It may lack the originality of Tokyo DisneySea, being essentially a clone of Florida's Magic Kingdom, but Tokyo Disneyland still outstrips its sister park in the popularity stakes. First opened in 1983, it has since been expanded significantly by its ambitious owners, the Oriental Land Company.

Sprawling across a 115-acre plot in Urayasu, Tokyo Disneyland borrows the layout of the original Disneyland with its themed lands including Adventureland, Westernland (the park's version of Frontierland), Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Critter Country and Toontown. It hosts versions of classic Disney rides including Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.

Don't miss: Pooh's Hunny Hunt, which is a unique twist on classic Disney dark rides. Its "trackless" ride system operates as if by magic, enabling a new level of freedom.

1. Disney's Magic Kingdom

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
2013 attendance: 18.58 million
2014 attendance: 19.33 million (up 6%)

Disney's Magic Kingdom

It may be a clone of the original Disneyland, but Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom has surpassed its sister park in popularity. It is essentially a larger version of the California park, although, disappointingly, its versions of some of Disneyland's best rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, are inferior.

The Magic Kingdom still boasts an amazing roster of attractions, though, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain. Disney has invested millions to expand the park's Fantasyland, adding dark ride Under The Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which opened in 2014). This led to a large increase in visitor numbers.

Don't miss: Splash Mountain, which turns a standard log flume ride into a heavily-themed journey that ends with a thrilling 5-storey splashdown.

Which park is your favorite?

The Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in the world, but is really the best? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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There are 4 comments.

I visited about 20 parks among the 50 and all the 12 first of these ranking. Here is my top ten :
10. Disney's California Adventure
9. Disney's Hollywood Studios
8. Universal Studios Japan
7. Port Aventura
6. Disneyland Park at Paris
5. Phantasialand
4. Disney's Animal Kingdom
3. Universal Islands of Adventure
2. Efteling
1. Tokyo Disney Sea

1. Magic kingdom at walt disney world

2. Epcot

3. Disney's Hollywood Studios

4. Disney's Animal Kingdom

How is Cedar Point not anywhere on the top 10 of this list. All Disney? Including smaller parts? I mean I like Epcot, but it in no way beats Cedar Point.

I think this list is based on # of annual visitors, not based on opinions


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