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World’s best amusement parks: Disney magically tops the list

Guests at Walt Disney World can view the resort from Cinderella's eyes
Guests at Walt Disney World can view the resort from Cinderella's eyes
Photo by Sandy Nesoff

By Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Members: North American Travel Journalists Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors

Walt would be proud. His dream has once again topped the list.

In a survey of the world’s amusements parks Disney properties easily dominated the entire list…and that includes some of the world’s best known destination such as Tivoli Gardens.

Disney parks in competition with other destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia held nine of the top 10 slots and eleven of the world’s 25 best. One of Disney’s major competitors, Universal Studio’s theme parks, came in with a Hertz-Avis result. It was a very distant second. Universal had only one park in the top 10 and just four in the top 25.

Sea World fared even more poorly with just two spots on the list.

Theme and amusement parks around the world are gaining in popularity with some 215 million visits to the top 25 last year. That’s up 4.3% over 2012. Visits to North American parks continue to increase across the boards and not just to the top destinations. Asian parks saw some 117 million visitors.

Disney has managed to keep the top slots for family entertainment by providing just that. Families know that even with a range of ages they can all find something of interest and enjoyment at any Disney park.

Florida is a prime example with Walt Disney World, Epcot Center and the Disney MGM Studios taking visitors into the back lots and inner workings of movie making. Disney has managed a balancing act of maintaining old favorites that pass from generation to generation while keeping up with current trends; quite a balancing act that always seems to work.

Disney World is constantly introducing new rides and attractions as exemplified by the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride, an exciting train ride through the world of Snow White and her diminutive companios.

And, as with the Disney Cruise Line, the theme parks always ensure that offerings cross the age barrier providing entertainment that attracts the entire family.

Not only are the admission fee parks popular, but Disney also offers destinations such as Downtown Disney, open to all, that provide an exciting experience. There is continuous entertainment on the streets of Downtown, shops and boutiques, eateries and a generally fun atmosphere.

If you ever want to determine how much fun and adults and/or children are having at a theme resort, just check out who is wearing what. Little girls roam through the park wearing outfits like little princesses with tiaras adorning their hair; boys may be dressed as pirates; almost all of the others are wearing the ubiquitous Mouse Ears that have come to define anything Disney.

And that’s just the kids. Dad may well be sporting a tee shirt with a Disney logo while mom is competing with her little girl dressed like faux royalty. And the Disney name and logo for its theme parks can be seen any day of the year in any number of countries.

There are also myriad accommodations surrounding the parks. In Lake Buena Vista everything is situated as though it is in a country of its own with a mouse for its ruler. A series of man-made waterways interconnect many of the properties with a free shuttle ferry that will take you not only from one resort area to the other, but from your hotel to the parks.

A monorail connects most of the park and a number of the resort hotels. It’ll carry passengers over the park, through one hotel, above the African veldt with native animals wandering freely.

You can stop over in any of the themed areas and have lunch or dinner in Africa or enjoy European delights. Your choice.

Opening this summer is a new resort on the site of the former Royal Plaza Hotel, the B Resort and Spa right in the heart of Downtown Disney and only minutes from the WDW park itself.

The 394-room resort is promising to not only have luxurious accommodations, but will be fun for both adults and kids. They will have free wifi and loaner iPads; and for mom and dad a spa by AVEDA scheduled to open later in the summer.

For more information, check out https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/.