The question is eternal and hotly contested. Which Disney resort is the best one? Well, I’m about to put on my most flame-retardant clothing and step into the fray. In this discussion, I’ll evaluate some key elements such as unique elements and park value relative to admission price…oh, who am I kidding? Disney’s about the rides. They matter the most, and everyone knows it. Here’s how I would rank the Disney theme parks. You may start readying your torches and pitchforks…now.

6. Hong Kong Disneyland

Image: DisneyChoosing last place on this list is frankly the easiest part. In a way, Hong Kong Disneyland embodies the lasting legacy of Michael Eisner. A notoriously frugal CEO, Eisner agreed to build a park in Hong Kong in a unique agreement with the municipal government. As part of the terms, Disney received 43 percent of all profits while Hong Kong got the rest.

Image: DisneySince Disney didn’t have the same financial incentive and the city of Hong Kong had final say on the park, Hong Kong Disneyland just feels…cheap. Everyone knows it. The perception is a key reason why the park has lost a lot of money over the past few years. Most of the rides are duplications of ones that are popular at other Disney parks. Yes, there are a couple of key exceptions (hello, Mystic Manor!), but the perception is based in reality.

Fortunately, the executives in charge of Hong Kong Disneyland understand that the criticism is valid. They recently shut down their version of Sleeping Beauty Castle in order to rebuild it bigger and better. They’re expanding the park and renovating some of the current parts that are too…ordinary for the Disney brand. On the plus side, at a cost of under $80 in American dollars, it’s a solid value for a respectable Disney experience.

5. Disneyland Paris

Image: DisneyThe resort formerly known as EuroDisney has a lot of positives. It’s not the most popular tourist attraction in Europe by accident. The resort has several great attractions including a Ratatouille ride that is so amazing that Disney’s bringing it over to Epcot. They also have clever twists on popular concepts like Phantom Manor (their version of Haunted Mansion) and Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain (an innovative, themed iteration of Space Mountain).

Despite its marvelous attractions, Disneyland Paris also faces several fair knocks. It’s the least clean Disney park in the world. It didn’t even add park WiFi until recently. The tech here is 20th century in nature. Ride shutdowns are frequent and seemingly random, and public announcements about them are poorly done. In other words, it’s a Disney park in name only, one in desperate need of change. At a current cost that’s the equivalent of $109 American dollars, it costs the same as parks in the United States without delivering the same park experience. But…

Image: DisneyPerhaps no Disney theme park is more upwardly mobile than Disneyland Paris. The explanation for this potential ascension is new ownership. Historically, the partnership agreement here was akin to the one at Hong Kong Disneyland. The situation changed in 2017, when The Walt Disney Company acquired full ownership of the park. At the same time, they announced the intent to upgrade dramatically.

With the true Disney brand and corporate support, Disneyland Paris should become the park it was always meant to be. Hopefully, it’ll be one with less garbage. Nothing makes a person appreciate the cleanliness of Disney more than the one place that’s the exception.


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