Even though there’s debate on which Disney World theme park is best, there is a general consensus.
The best Disney theme park is Magic Kingdom. It’s Walt Disney World Resort’s first theme park, and it’s most nostalgic and Disneyesque. Magic Kingdom’s rides and attractions just have more magic than anywhere else.
Let’s examine which Disney World theme parks will be the best for your family.
Determining the Best Disney World Theme Park
As you plan your Disney World vacation, you’ll quickly realize that it’s impossible to do everything in one trip. That’s why your touring plans should prioritize the Disney theme parks that your family will enjoy the most. Once you’ve figured out which theme parks to focus on, then you can begin to create your in-park itinerary with the rides, restaurants, and experiences you wish to do.
Disney World has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Each park offers something for people of all age groups. That said, some parks are better for toddlers and younger children while other parks are more appealing to tweens, teens, and adults.
Before we get to our list… we acknowledge that a lot of this comes down to personal preference. With that in mind, we’re keen to offer you a second opinion from our favorite Disney YouTuber channel, The Vacationeer!
Now that we’ve shared their choices, let’s dive into ours! Here’s a rundown of each Disney theme park, ranked in order of highest priority to lowest priority. Remember, this is just my opinion and your choice may be totally different than mine!
1. Magic Kingdom
Without question, Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World Resort’s best theme park.
It opened in 1972 as Disney World’s original theme park. Today, Magic Kingdom remains Disney’s crown jewel and the single most popular theme park in the world. They must be doing something right!
If you love the classics, then you’ll love Magic Kingdom. There are legendary rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain and fan-favorites like Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, and Carousel of Progress. Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s most nostalgic and “Disney-esque” park.
This is also the best park for toddlers and kindergartners. They’ll be able to enjoy plenty of attractions (with no height requirement) like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Peter Pan.
Magic Kingdom has a lively thoroughfare (Main Street the USA) and a number of delicious restaurants ranging from Columbia Harbour House (Quick Service) to the legendary Be Out Guest (Table Service). It wins out in terms of shows, parades, and fireworks. And the iconic Cinderella Castle creates the perfect backdrop to create the fairytale setting.
I think most people would agree that Magic Kingdom offers the most magical experience of all Disney theme parks.
Did I mention the characters? Everyone’s favorite Disney characters are everywhere you look in Magic Kingdom, and they’re ready to meet and greet your little ones.
Yes, the park may feel a bit dated, but I’d argue that THIS type of dated is a good thing. Disney nostalgia abounds.
The rumors are true – there are HUGE crowds and long lines. That’s just the price of being at “The Most Magical Place On Earth” – everyone wants a part of it!
Magic Kingdom is the most magical of all Disney parks and, hands-down, the best park for kids. Adults love it, too!
Learn More About Magic Kingdom
Please see our Best Magic Kingdom Rides, Best Magic Kingdom Restaurants, and Magic Kingdom Secrets pages for more information.
2. Animal Kingdom
In many ways, Animal Kingdom is Disney World’s best theme park. It has spectacular rides, amazing food, and plenty of exotic experiences. But what really distinguishes Animal Kingdom from other theme parks is its theme.
The 500-acre area is Disney’s largest theme park and the largest animal-themed park in the world. Animal Kingdom is devoted to educating people about wildlife and the natural world. It’s home to over 250 animal specials and 1700 animals (wildlife biologists actually conduct research at the park). Yes, it still has the adventurous and exciting aspects like the other theme parks, but no other park is quite like Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom will appeal to anyone who loves animals. Onboard the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, you’ll be able to get up close to lions, monkeys, giraffes, zebras, tortoises, and more species. Kids and adults alike will love the “Finding-Nemo: The Musical” and “Festival of the Lion King” stage shows.
Some of Disney’s best rides are found here, including my favorite roller coaster, Exhibition Everest, and the two Pandora – The World of Avatar rides (Na’vi River Journey and Avatar: Flight of Passage).
There are a few shortcomings. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have that classic Disney feels that Magic Kingdom (or even the other two parks) have. Plus, it could use some more rides, especially a family-friendly dark ride.
That said, Animal Kingdom is pretty spectacular as it is and should be a top priority on everyone’s touring plans.
Learn More About Animal Kingdom
Please see our Best Animal Kingdom Rides, Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants, and Animal Kingdom Secrets pages for more information.
3. Hollywood Studios
With the recent addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has jumped from #4 to #3 over the last year (in my book). Adding to its ascend is the brand new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction. All this comes on the heels of the recent opening of Toy Story Land, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, and Grand Avenue. There’s been a lot going on at Hollywood Studios in the last few years.
Yes, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge does live up to the hype and it should DEFINITELY be a top priority on every Star Wars fan’s touring plans. Rise of the Resistance is considered by many to be one of Disney’s best attractions, and Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run ain’t too shabby either.
Despite its wonderful movie and TV-based attractions, thematic elements, and its retro 1950s feel, Hollywood Studios still has a ways to go. I’d argue that the park could benefit from even more attractions and entertainment offerings. Furthermore, tweens and teens will enjoy rides like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ’n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and Slinky Dog Dash, but this isn’t the best park for toddlers and kindergarteners (except for the must-see “Frozen” sing-along show).
It’s still not on par with Magic Kingdom, but Hollywood Studios is certainly making a name for itself these days.
Learn More About Hollywood Studios
Please see our Best Hollywood Studios Rides, Best Hollywood Studios Restaurants, and Hollywood Studios Secrets pages for more information.
Epcot opened in 1982 as Disney World’s second theme park (after Magic Kingdom). With roughly 300 acres, the park is twice the size of Magic Kingdom although it’s still considerably smaller than Animal Kingdom.
Epcot has two distinct areas: Future World and World Showcase.
Future World celebrates science, technology, and innovation. It’s home to the iconic Spaceship Earth attraction and other experiences that will stimulate any curious mind.
World Showcase, on the other hand, celebrates the international culture and cuisine of the global community. A 1.3-mile-long lakefront path connects 11 country-themed pavilions. Each county (pavilion) showcases its native cuisine and souvenir shops.
The wonderful food is really the star of the show here, and it can be really fun to meet Cast Members from the actual countries that are represented in World Showcase. There’s also a lack of huge crowds at Epcot, and adults and couples tend to really enjoy this park, especially during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
On the downside, if your family seeks thrill rides, then you may find this park a little boring. It’s 100% worth exploring, and a MUST for foodies, but Epcot probably isn’t the highest priority theme park on any active young family’s touring plans.
Learn More About Epcot
Please see our Best Epcot Rides, Best Epcot Restaurants, and Epcot Secrets pages for more information.
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We hope this article has provided you with all the information you need to decide which Disney park is best for you (even if you disagree with our rankings!)
For more information about Disney, see our Disney World Map, Planning a Disney World Vacation, Disney World Cost Calculator, and Disney Crowd Calendar pages. Enjoy your trip!