Disney World Parks Ranked: 4 Iconic Parks Stand Before Me

Firework finale going off around Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Visiting Disney World is no easy task, especially in this day and age. With four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping/entertainment district, and many resort hotel options to pick from, there’s more options then ever at the world’s most popular theme park destination.

Unfortunately, there may be vacations where you can’t get to everything you want. How do you decide where to go?

1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pros of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has some of the most immersive theming of any theme park in the world, and is a great choice for families with young children. You truly feel like you’re in another world filled with the wonder and splendor of animal life all around you.

I find this park extremely relaxing to be in, and think just being able to leisurely stroll around and take in the sites is one of the best things about coming here. You also don’t usually need Genie+ for this park.

This is where you come if you want to see animals at the Walt Disney World Resort. Of course there’s the Kilimanjaro Safaris, where you get to explore many animals like lions, giraffes, and elephants in the wild up close. There’s also shows like Festival of the Lion King, one of the best on property, that retells the story of the famous animated movie. And there’s more animal shows and exhibits located throughout the park.

Avatar: Flight of Passage is like Epcot’s Soarin’ ride cranked up. Sit down and ride on the back of a banshee through the breathtaking world from James Cameron’s Avatar movies.

The food at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also fantastic. Yak & Yeti has some of the best Indian-inspired food I’ve ever had, Satu’li Canteen is (in my opinion) the best quick service restaurant on property, and Nomad Lounge is a relaxing place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the beauty around you.

Cons of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

While Disney’s Animal Kingdom boasts some of the most stunning theming and immersive experiences, it’s also the park with the fewest thrill rides. While Expedition Everest and Avatar: Flight of Passage offer thrills aplenty, those seeking adrenaline-pumping experiences may find themselves wanting more.

There are those who claim Animal Kingdom to be a half day park. While I agree that you don’t need to get there at 7am and stay until close to have a great time, you can definitely fill up most of your day here. However, if you’re looking for a place with rides instead of animal experiences and shows, this may not be your favorite DIsney World park.

I have only seen this park at night once, but it’s absolutely beautiful. I wish it was open later into the night so more people got to experience it.

Some people also find this park to be hot given all its lush landscaping. I personally have never found this to be too big of an issue, as the scenery at least provides some shade, but I know that’s something some people complain about.

Who Should Plan A Visit: Animal lovers, families with young children, and anyone seeking a more immersive experience

Who Should Skip This Park: Thrill junkies, no real passion for animals, ride-heavy preferences

2. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios plunges you into the heart of Hollywood and movies. From intense, iconic thrill rides to immersive movie experiences, this theme park has changed since its inception from being a half-day park to an all-day destination.

Pros of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

If you want thrill rides, this is the Disney World park for you. From launching into Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, the only ride at Walt Disney World’s to go upside down, to plummeting down the drops of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, there’s no shortage of thrills to be found here.

The park has also received some great new updates in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, an extremely fun family ride with impressive projection mapping, and immersive lands like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. These newer additions really show the level of detail that Disney puts into its parks.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has one of my favorite sit down restaurants on property, Sci-Fi Diner, where you sit in car-themed booths and watch old movie commercials while you enjoy classic food like burgers and shakes. It also has the recently opened Roundup Rodeo BBQ, where for one price you get to eat all the food you want in a restaurant themed like you’re in the Toy Story movies. Be sure to listen for when Andy is coming!

It also has my favorite Disney night time show – Fantasmic. There’s nothing that beats seeing Mickey appear on that stage at the start of the show, ready to take you on an experience through his dreams and nightmares before your very eyes. Enjoy all the water and fire effects as well as some appearances by other famous Disney characters!

Cons of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios may have the most thrill rides on property, but that can also be its downfall. There aren’t too many family-style rides here. Having so many big thrill rides in one park, and having those be the majority of the rides, results in long wait times for most attractions. Pair that with the highly technologically advanced Star Wars: Rise of The Resistance, and you may experience break downs that result in even longer waits.

While there’s great places to eat here, like Sci-Fi Diner and Roundup Rodeo BBQ, the quick service options here are good, but nothing fancy. It’s nothing that’s going to ruin your day, but it’s nothing to write home about – especially with some of those prices.

And even though this park has received a lot of newer investment, there’s still some flaws in those additions. I often refer to Toy Story Land as “the surface of the sun” because it offers little shade from the Florida heat. And if you’re visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expecting to see a lot of characters and locations from the older trilogy, think again. Other than the Millennium Falcon, this land is a new setting unique to the theme parks.

Who Should Plan A Visit: Thrill-seekers, movie lovers, and anyone who wants to experience Star Wars.

Who Should Skip This Park: Families with smaller children, anyone who doesn’t love thrill rides, people that prefer eating quick service meals over sit down

3. Magic Kingdom

Yes, I have this park at #3 when it comes to ranking Disney World parks, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad park (no park on this list is). As the flagship park of Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom holds a special place in the hearts of Disney fans young and old.

Pros of Magic Kingdom

When getting these Disney World parks ranked, there’s no denying that if you want a jam-packed day, visit Magic Kingdom. There’s so much to do here that I think it’s impossible to see it all in one day or even one vacation!

Magic Kingdom is home to some of Disney’s most beloved attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. Enjoy the wildest ride in the wilderness on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or slow down on iconic rides like It’s A Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight.

There’s also many princesses to meet at Magic Kingdom. If anyone in your family or group wants to meet characters like Cinderella or Belle, this is the park to take them to.

If you love firework shows, this is the park for you, as the nightly firework shows here are something to behold going off behind Cinderella’s Castle. Main Street even has projection mapping that dazzles as well!

Cons of Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park in the world, which means more crowds. Come prepared to wait in some long lines for these iconic attractions. This is another park I recommend getting Genie+ for.

This park also has the most children walking around, so if you’re someone who wants to relax on their vacation without a bunch of kids running around everywhere, skip this park.

It’s also not super easy to get to Magic Kingdom. You park at the Ticket & Transportation Center and then have to hop on a boat or monorail ride to get to the actual park itself, which adds time to the start of your day, and can be annoying at the end of the day when everyone is tired and ready for bed.

In my opinion, this is the worst park at Disney World for food. While there are some highlights (Skipper’s Canteen, for example), there’s not a ton here that really wows me, and you can get things like Mickey pretzels and ice cream bars at the other parks as well.

Who Should Plan A Visit: Families with young children, people who love Disney princesses, anyone wanting to do some of Disney’s most iconic attractions

Who Should Skip This Park: Anyone who doesn’t want to be around lots of kids, people who want the best food on property, introverts who find large crowds and lines overwhelming


Every ranking has to have something at the bottom of the list, and unfortunately, that’s where I place EPCOT in my Disney World rankings. EPCOT is often considered the most adult-friendly of the Disney World parks, thanks to its diverse array of dining options, cultural experiences, and innovative attractions.

Pros of EPCOT

EPCOT’s World Showcase is a culinary and cultural feast for the senses, with 11 pavilions representing countries from around the globe. Whether you’re savoring sushi in Japan or enjoying a stein of beer in Germany, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled the world without ever leaving the park. It’s a great park to grab a drink and walk from one location to the next in a relaxing way.

This park isn’t without its iconic rides, either. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a fantastic attraction that’s unlike anything you’ll find almost anywhere. True, the virtual queue can be annoying, but if you’re able to snag a spot, it’s definitely worth it.

Soarin’ Around the World takes you on a breathtaking hang-gliding tour across iconic global landmarks. And Test Track allows you to race along the fastest ride in all of Disney World as you test your own vehicle’s limits.

Cons of EPCOT

It’s not that I don’t enjoy EPCOT, I just personally think it’s overpriced for what it is – keep in mind, it’s usually only $5-10 cheaper than Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It doesn’t have as many “must-do” attractions for me, so I don’t like paying to come in and basically spend more money just eating and drinking all day.

There’s definitely some areas of this park that could use a refresh (I’m looking at you, Figment). I know there’s been some work done to the park, but I honestly don’t know if that work really took care of most of the issues I have with this park (Guardians excluded).

For me, if I were a local, I’d love coming to this park. But if you’re looking for a theme park with a lot of exciting rides and shows to see, there’s better parks on this list for that. This is definitely a food and drink festival park – come here during once of those to really enjoy it.

Who Should Plan A Visit: People who enjoy food and drinks from different cultures, anyone looking to focus more on relaxation and eating than riding rides

Who Should Skip This Park: Anyone who wants to focus on mostly rides, people who don’t care about “eating or drinking around the world”, families with young children

Making the Most of Your Disney World Trip

Now that you’ve seen how the Disney World parks ranked on my list, here are some more expert tips to maximize your Disney World experience:

There’s A Park at Disney World for Everyone!

There isn’t a bad park on this list, and that’s a great thing to be able to say. Everyone has something different they’re looking for when it comes to theme parks, whether it’s thrill rides, roller coasters, shows, food, or relaxation. Hopefully I was able to help give you some insights into what parks are best for you.

Christian McIlwain

Christian has been a fan of theme parks since he was a child. He has over twenty years of experience both researching and working in the industry. He grew up visiting Kennywood Park throughout his childhood. Currently, he lives in Atlanta, GA where he frequently visits Six Flags Over Georgia and Orlando area theme parks.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *