Disney Parks really are magical, happy places. But ask any fan and they'll tell you – they're far from perfect.

Don't take it from us – Walt agreed! The idea that "Disneyland will never be complete" or the power of "moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things..." It all comes down to the idea that there are always ways to "plus" the parks we love.

Today, we wanted to highlight the one big way we think Disney could bring each of its six U.S. theme parks to the next level. We're not saying these "fixes" would be easy, but in terms of the path to improve each park, these feel like must-haves. What do you think? What other big, strategic changes would make your favorite theme park a better place to be?

1. Disneyland – Crowd Control

Image: Stephen Dann, Flickr (license)

Even if the staunchest Disney World loyalist would have to admit upon stepping through its gates that as a park, Disneyland is pretty perfect. Seriously. In case you haven’t been keeping track like we have, Disneyland Park has more rides, more dark rides, and more E-Tickets than literally any Disney or Universal park, period. We had to stop ourselves at 16 Disneyland Exclusives That Should Make Disney World Fans Jealous, and for those fed up with Disney World’s exhausting emphasis on pre-planning, Disneyland is worth a visit to remember how special a Disney Park can be.

But there is one place where Disneyland majorly fails: crowds. Every Disney Park is crowded. But Disneyland feels crowded. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Part of what makes Disneyland so wonderful is its “naivete.” Disneyland’s designers were literally inventing the tenets of the modern “theme park” as they went. To this day, you can see that innocence in the park’s paths. It’s why people describe Disneyland as “charming” and “cozy” and “quaint” compared to Magic Kingdom’s master-planned, mathematical precision. But since about 2005, those “adorable” paths have become more like clogged arteries, with infamous, uncomfortable, and downright unsafe pinch points in New Orleans Square, Tomorrowland, and Adventureland (below).

Image: Malingering, Flickr (license)

Ahead of the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Disney launched "Project Stardust" – a park-wide initiative meant to cut away curbs, reduce planter sizes, and generally try to squeeze any possible square foot out of Disneyland's paths. On top of that, for the better part of two decades, Disneyland visitors have been crying out for Disney to limit or outright abolish the California resort’s Annual Pass program, to get rid of FastPass that left guests crowding park while waiting for a return time, or even to institute some sort of daily cap that would keep this wonderful park from being overrun every day. 

But of course, all three happened in 2021, and Disney swiftly swapped them out for the Magic Key system (essentially, Annual Passes with a new name), upcharge Genie+, and the Park Reservation system (which is obviously in use for some reason, but that reason is definitely not to actually keep crowds to a manageable, enjoyable level because they aren't). Balancing Disneyland’s relatively large ride capacity with its relatively small physical capacity; its massive revenue potential with its reliance on low-yield locals has been an equation the park can’t seem to solve.

So what can Disneyland do? If you’ve got the answer, tell us. Because so far, even Disney doesn’t seem to be able to figure it out.

2. California Adventure – More E-Tickets

Image: Disney

Compared to Disney World’s second, third, and fourth gate, Disney California Adventure actually has a relatively large ride count (with twice as many rides as Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom). Of course, a large portion of that comes from the family flat rides in the park’s pier area (a yo-yo swing, a carousel, a parachute tower, a balloon race spinner, a Ferris wheel, and a Golden Zephyr) and the two sizable family rides in Cars Land (Junkyard Jamboree and Rollickin’ Roadsters). 

So despite its sizable ride count, California Adventure has about as many E-Tickets as any other non-castle park. A few of those are even significant, one-of-a-kind rides, like Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and Radiator Springs Racers. But anyone who’s visited the Disneyland Resort with a multi-day ticket knows that even though it’s a very nice park, California Adventure is still very much in need of more to do… and primarily, more E-Tickets. 

Even with the new Avengers Campus, it’s a stretch to call California Adventure a “full-day park,” especially when compared to the original Disneyland across the way. Sure, Disneyland has fifty years on its little sister, and eventually California Adventure will get there...

Image: Disney / Marvel

But for fans who call the California resort home, it’s absolutely flummoxing to figure out why Disney would add Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to Disneyland – already stuffed with more E-Tickets than any other Disney Park! – instead of putting it in California Adventure’s Hollywoodland where it could do some good. Similarly, it’s shocking that the announced-but-unbuilt Avengers “U-Ticket” wasn’t the very first thing put back into development post-COVID. (Instead, it’s allegedly been canceled altogether, to be replaced by a much smaller and less ambitious ride.)

You can imagine Disney’s frustration. By now, they’ve reportedly spent over $2.5 billion “fixing” a park that cost only $600 million to begin with. In the last two decades, the park has added the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, World of Color, Toy Story Midway Mania, Buena Vista Street, Radiator Springs Racers, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi's Flying Tires and Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, Soarin’ Around the World, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, and Web-Slingers, so we must sound absolutely insane to be saying more is needed. But seriously… more is needed. (And I have a Blue Sky suggestion!) 

3. Magic Kingdom – Something Original

Image: Disney

You can discover a lot about a park when you set out to see it in a new way. That’s what led to our Comparing Kingdoms feature, including a unique, hand-drawn, absolutely mesmerizing six-way Venn diagram that compares the ride lineups of all six “Castle Parks” on Earth. One of the most surprising revelations from that diagram is just how unoriginal Magic Kingdom is. It has only five rides that no other Castle Park contains… and two of those rides are duplicated at other resorts (just not in their Castle Park).

At the end of the day, Magic Kingdom’s true, one-of-a-kind exclusives are the Carousel of Progress, the PeopleMover, and Goofy’s Barnstormer. The former two are obviously legends; classics; beloved fan favorites! But if we’re being honest, Magic Kingdom does not have that one-of-a-kind, must-see ride that would draw folks from around the globe. 

Think about it: Disneyland has Indiana Jones Adventure and Matterhorn and its historic dark rides. Tokyo has Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast and Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek. Paris has Phantom Manor and Space Mountain. Shanghai has Pirates and TRON and Roaring River. Even little Hong Kong has Mystic Manor and Iron Man Experience and Big Grizzly Mountain. 

Image: Disney

We get it – Magic Kingdom is Magic Kingdom. It’s the number one most-visited park in the world, and probably will be for a very long time. But in a nutshell, that’s the issue. On one hand, Disney doesn’t feel the need to “plus” Magic Kingdom, because there’s no need to. On the other hand, any capital projects Disney World does greenlight are diverted to its other three theme parks which have far, far fewer rides and need the marketing boost more badly. So, you know, it makes sense.

But a walk through our Possibilityland: Magic Kingdom feature will show you just what a multiversal variant of the Magic Kingdom could be, with Fire Mountain or the Western River Expedition or even an R-Rated Alien ride that would give the park a major personality boost and a much-needed defining ride all its own. It would be nice to see Magic Kingdom evolve away from just being the most-averaged-out Castle Park in Disney's colllection.


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