A look at Disney parks around the world
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
When most of us picture a Disney park, we associate it with the sunny skies and palm trees of Florida or California.
But in the last few decades, Disney has reached across the globe to open new resort locations in Europe and Asia. Disney’s six total parks are located in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
You might mistakenly believe that once you’ve seen a single Disney park, you’ve seen them all. But each Disney park actually has very different rides, attractions, scenery, and even food. Here is a list of all the Disney parks around the world and some of the key differences that set them apart.
The Disney parks phenomenon started out relatively small with the construction of Disneyland in the 1950s. Disneyland is the only park built and completed under Walt Disney’s direct supervision.
What began as one simple amusement park blossomed into a fully-fledged resort throughout the 20th century. Aside from being the original, what sets Disneyland apart from its numerous duplicates across the world is its California Adventure park.
Walt Disney World
Disney World is the largest resort, boasting four enormous theme parks. All diehard Disney fans need to put Disney World at the top of their bucket list!
Magic Kingdom, one of the first parks ever built, is similar to the original Disneyland and has most of the same rides. But Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios are three of the most unique Disney parks worldwide.
Disney’s four parks outside the U.S. are sometimes forgotten by American tourists.
Location: Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Opening Year: 1983
Parks: Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disneyland matches up to the original pretty closely. But one of the most unique parks in the Disney universe is Tokyo DisneySea.
The park is surrounded with water, and each section of the park is themed after a different port instead of a piece of American landscape. One area of the park is set on a “Mysterious Island” and features an enormous volcanic mountain that encompasses several attractions.
Some of the most noteworthy rides include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — an underwater voyage in mini submarines, Monster’s Inc. Ride and Go Seek — an interactive ride where guests search for monsters using flashlight contraptions, and Journey to the Center of the Earth — a discovery expedition filled with both fast thrills and chances to glide through beautiful caverns.
Location: Paris, France
Opening Year: 1992
Parks: Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Studios Park
One of the most obvious differences in Disneyland Paris is the central castle. It has very different architecture from its American and Japanese counterparts, with curved lines and circular windows.
Most noticeably, underneath the castle is a sleeping dragon in his dungeon. He “wakes up” every few minutes to blow puffs of green smoke at passerby.
Another interesting feature inside the original Disneyland Park is Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. This elaborate hedge maze is full of lovely fountains and unique Disney touches. At the secondary park Walt Disney Studios, you won’t want to miss the Ratatouille: The Adventure ride or the Mickey and the Magician show.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Location: Lantau Island, Hong Kong, China
Opening Year: 2005
Parks: Hong Kong Disneyland
At first glance, a map of Hong Kong Disneyland seems to match up with the park in California. But if you look a little closer, you’ll find one of the most intriguing differences: the addition of Mystic Point.
This additional land features several attractions, most notably Mystic Manor. This slightly spooky ride is similar to Disney classic The Haunted Mansion but with a whole new style and background story.
Hong Kong is also one of the first parks where Disney has begun to incorporate Marvel characters. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle and the Iron Man Experience have quickly become two of the most popular rides in the park.
Location: Shanghai, China
Opening Year: 2016
Parks: Shanghai Disneyland
Shanghai Disneyland looks strikingly different from older versions of the park. Mainstreet USA is replaced by subtler Mickey Ave. The castle architecture is not themed after one particular Disney princess like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, and it’s the largest castle at any Disney park.
Inside the castle walls is an actual ride, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto. This water ride features beautiful scenes from favorite Disney movies.
One of the most famous rides at Shanghai Disneyland is Tron Lightcycle Power Run. This futuristic coaster seats riders on a bike contraption that includes leg restraints rather than a seatbelt.
Last but certainly not least, one of the most distinctive elements in the Shanghai park is Camp Discovery Challenge Trails. The elaborate ropes course is on the side of a man-made mountain complete with a rushing waterfall.
Each of the worldwide Disney parks has its own unique architecture, rides, food, and set of experiences. Next time you start planning a family vacation to Disney, consider taking it international.
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