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Mini to Massive: How Disney's BIGGEST (and Smallest) Parks Measure Up

6. Tokyo DisneySea

Image: Disney

Location: Tokyo Disney Resort
Size: 122 acres

A global destination for Imagineering fans, Tokyo DisneySea may well be modern Disney's magnum opus. The park is prominently positioned along the waters of Tokyo Bay, reigned over by Mount Prometheus (home to one of Disney's most talked-about Modern Marvels: Journey to the Center of the Earth). Its layout includes seven themed "ports" based on nautical legends and the crossroads of the world. Literary, elaborate, and dreamy, DisneySea is an E-Ticket in its own right.

This park, too, will grow when an enormous new "port" joins the park in the early 2020s. Stepping back plans for a Frozen land that was officially announced, then quietly cancelled, the Oriental Land Company instead replaced it with a huge, nautical "evolution" of the New Fantasyland formula, adding a "fantasy springs" land with sub-areas dedicated to Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan. This huge expansion will increase DisneySea's footprint, even if such a large character infusion ruffles fans' feathers.

5. Hong Kong Disneyland

Image: Disney

Location: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
Size: 123 acres

Believe it or not, Hong Kong Disneyland – the third and last of Disney's cop-out theme parks after California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios – is almost exactly the same size as DisneySea. That may seem impossible, especially given that the original Chinese park was often noted for just how small it was. When it opened, it lacked many Disney Parks "must-haves:" no Peter Pan's Flight, no Haunted Mansion, no Pirates of the Caribbean, no Big Thunder Mountain... not even "it's a small world."

The park's (size) saving grace? An aggressive expansion added three completely original themed lands outside of the park's railroad, creating an unprecedented "outer loop" containing Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and the fan-envied Mystic Point with its one-of-a-kind Modern Marvel: Mystic Manor. A more recent push on the park's opposite side is carving a new Marvel land out of an annexed corner of Tomorrowland, while a Frozen area is pushing out the park's Fantasyland... a massive (and much-needed) growth spurt!

4. Tokyo Disneyland

Image: Disney

Location: Tokyo Disney Resort
Size: 126 acres

If you think Disney's designers knew how to up the crowd control for Magic Kingdom, you should see Tokyo Disneyland. Built for the massive crowds that descend on this park (located in a metropolitan area of 33 million residents – the most populous in the world), Tokyo Disneyland is a master class in urban design. It essentially did away with the "Hub" entirely, replacing it with a massive, open plaza (later, inspiring Magic Kingdom's new Hub), even offering paths to Tomorrowland and Adventureland from the park's main entrance. 

Capacity is the name of the game in Tokyo, where an entire section of Tomorrowland was recently carved away in favor of an expanded New Fantasyland with attractions based on Beauty and the Beast being front-and-center. 

3. Disneyland Paris

Image: Disney

Location: Disneyland Paris
Size: 127 acres

Though technically in 3rd place, the parks in spots 6, 5, 4, and 3 are close enough that a single new attraction could swap the order entirely, with just a few thousand square feet difference. Still, Disneyland Paris comes out on top of the "castle" parks worldwide. For those who have seen the French park, it makes sense... Disneyland Paris skillfully (and almost impossibly) blends the beauty, charm, warmth, and coziness of Disneyland with the efficiency, scale, and majesty of Magic Kingdom, then layers on incredible, detailed, European storytelling.

That's why even classic Disney attractions were entirely re-thought for the Parisian park, including the Lost Legend: Space Mountain – De la Terre a la Lune and the Modern Marvel: Phantom Manor. While Disneyland was built with a protective "berm" around the park to keep the outside world at bay, Disneyland Paris has a similarly-insulating berm around each land, giving the largest "castle" park a massive amount of space for detail and immersion.

2. Epcot

Image: Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr (license)

Location: Walt Disney World
Size: 200 acres

As "Disney Legend" goes, Epcot is 300 acres. And that's true... if you include the Cast Member parking lot and all the auxilliary facilities that sit within the Avenue of the Stars (the road that encircles the park). Cutting it down to just the park itself and its most basic layout, Epcot occupies about 200 acres – nothing to sneeze at.

Another "Disney Legend" says that EPCOT Center was originally formed when Imagineers took a model of a "World's Fair" style park populated by technological pavilions and literally smashed it up against a model of a "World's Fair" style park populated by cultural pavilions, creating the park's unusual figure-8, Future World / World Showcase dichotomy!

As unlikely as that may be, the park's size makes it seem possible. Epcot's 200 acre size makes it literally twice as large as Magic Kingdom, even if that includes the massive World Showcase lagoon. In numbers alone, both Future World and World Showcase are each large enough to stand as theme parks of their own... a fact your feet will tell you after a day circumnavigating the park.

1. Disney's Animal Kingdom

Image: Disney

Location: Walt Disney World
Size: 300 acres

Another "Disney Legend?" Animal Kingdom is 580 acres – the largest theme park on Earth! That's definitely true if you count the park's gargantuan blacktop parking lot, its extensive behind-the-scenes facilities, its numerous expansion pads, and the closed-off Rafiki's Planet Watch. In other words, Animal Kingdom isn't really 600 acres, even if that much room has technically been set aside for the enterprise.

More realistically, the park's functional property – the theme park and the space its rides and showbuildings take up – is really closer to 300 acres. If you're looking only at area accessible to guests, Animal Kingdom's acreage is probably closer to 150... very much in line with every other park on this list.

That doesn't mean Animal Kingdom's scale shouldn't be commended! Famously, the park's headlining Kilimanjaro Safaris takes up a little less than 100 acres all by itself, meaning Disneyland could fit inside the ride's footprint with enough room to spare for Downtown Disney, too. 

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