Did you know that there are actually 12 Disney Parks in existence? It may be somewhat surprising when you really stop to consider this but spread out across six different Disney Resorts worldwide, you will discover 12 very distinct Disney Park locations. While some may be similar, no two are exactly the same, and each one retains its very own highlights and unique callouts. Here is a look at every Disney Park, in order of founding, and where each one is located.
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The Original Disneyland Park
This was the Park that started it all. Based in Anaheim, California, Disneyland Park opened on July 17, 1955. Its establishment marked a revolutionary turn for the Walt Disney Company from film and media entertainment to a new theme park initiative. Disneyland Park set the precedent for all the other Disney Resort and Park locations that have since emerged worldwide.
The Park is divided into nine diverse lands: Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toon Town, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and Main Street, U.S.A. All of these lands comprise notable rides and other attractions of many kinds.
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Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park
After taking stock of Disneyland’s successes and all of the emergent issues that resulted along the way, Walt Disney set out to establish a second theme park in Orlando, Florida. It would be a much larger-scale project culminating into more than just one Disney Park, becoming an entire “Disney World.” Just the same, what was to become Walt Disney World Resort did start off with just one theme park—Magic Kingdom Park, which opened on October 1, 1971.
Modeled largely after Disneyland’s original setup, many of the original’s same rides and anchoring attractions were duplicated for its East Coast counterpart. By that same token, many original ideas also came to the forefront. For instance, in Disneyland you have Sleeping Beauty Castle, whereas Disney World proudly displays Cinderella Castle. Today Magic Kingdom Park is divided into the following lands: Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square, and Main Street, U.S.A.
A second Disney Park location opened at Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1982. Known then as EPCOT Center but now more widely referred to as “EPCOT,” the theme for this Park is heavily focused on human achievement, past, present, and future. Many EPCOT attractions embrace technological innovations that have marked the human experience and proved vital in life. Others celebrate international culture and heritage.
For many years, EPCOT was distinctly divided into Future World (subdivided into a Future World East and Future World West) and the World Showcase with its impressive setup of 11 different national pavilions. In recent years, EPCOT’s Future World has been revised into three distinct themed neighborhoods. They are World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration. The World Showcase remains as it has always been.
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The first international Disney Park came about on April 15, 1983, with the establishment of Tokyo Disneyland. While ideas for bringing a Disneyland to Japan go back as far as the late 1950s, it wasn’t until 1978 that the Oriental Land Company and Walt Disney Productions really discussed the idea. By 1979, contracts were signed and Chiba Prefecture was designated the spot to begin construction on an all-new Disneyland Park.
When plans for Tokyo Disneyland were still being conceptualized, Japanese engineers visited Disneyland Park in Anaheim for inspiration. Even so, Tokyo Disneyland, like all distinct Disney Parks, retains its own original identity. The Park is divided into the following lands: World Bazaar, Adventureland, Westernland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney World added a third theme park to the roaster on May 1, 1989. That was when Disney’s Hollywood Studios officially opened to the public, originally under the name of Disney-MGM. With a theme that’s always been focused on Hollywood and movie-making magic, there have been several thematic shifts throughout the years from a more Golden Age of Hollywood approach to the now generalized cinematic works approach. We’ve also seen a revamping of more Disney-specific entertainment come to the forefront.
Today seven themed sections comprise Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These include Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Animation Courtyard, Grand Avenue, Echo Lake, Toy Story Land, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
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The second international Disney Park opened in Marne-la-Vallée, France, on April 12, 1992. Originally known as Euro Disneyland Park, it was the first Disneyland Park to emerge in Europe. Created and constructed by Walt Disney Imagineering, the Park gathers influences in design, as well as the presented features and attractions, from both Disneyland Park in California and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park in Florida.
Disneyland Paris is divided into five themed lands. They are Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Discoveryland, and Main Street, U.S.A.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
When the fourth theme park opened at Walt Disney World Resort, it was a massive marvel unlike any other before or since. That’s because Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park serves an additional purpose aside from being a public attraction—it is also a fully operational, accredited zoological park and home to thousands of diverse animals. Appropriately enough, the Animal Kingdom opened to the public in 1998 on April, 22, or Earth Day.
Spanning a grand total of 580 acres, this is the largest Disney Park in the entire world and arguably the most unique and original in concept. The Park is divided into the following themed distinctions: Discovery Island, The Oasis, DinoLand U.S.A., Asia, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Africa, and Pandora—The World of Avatar.
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Disney California Adventure Park
After more than four and a half decades of successful operations, Disneyland Resort in California added a second theme park to its makeup. Disney California Adventure Park opened to the public on February 8, 2001.
With a theme that initially celebrated the California spirit done in Disney style, more specific callouts to Pixar, Marvel, and other of Disney’s more modern classics have been highlighted over the years.
Disney California Adventure is broken into eight different lands. These include Buena Vista Street, Paradise Gardens, Pixar Pier, Pacific Wharf, Grizzly Peak, Hollywood Land, Cars Land, and Avengers Campus.
The year 2001 must have been good for Disney Resorts to add follow-up theme parks to existing ones. That was also the case for Tokyo Disney Resort with the establishment of Tokyo DisneySea later that year on September 4.
Tokyo DisneySea has quickly become a popular Park, with its more nautical, explorative sea theme. As of 2019, it ranks as the fourth-most visited park in the world and is the second-most-visited park in all of Japan.
Seven distinct lands, or “ports of call” in this instance, comprise Tokyo DisneySea. First is the Park entrance, where you will find Mediterranean Harbor. This area opens to six other ports: American Waterfront, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, and Mysterious Island.
Walt Disney Studios Park
Disneyland Paris Resort added its second theme park location on March 16, 2002. With an innovative new concept focused largely on the show business side of Walt Disney Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Park incorporates many similar features Hollywood Studios at Disney World is known for in addition to influences from other Disney Parks. Despite those Disney Parks that initially served as inspiration, Walt Disney Studios stands out as a genuinely one-of-a-kind entity.
Walt Disney Studios Park is divided into five areas called “studio lots” in this case. These include the Front Lot, Toon Studio, Worlds of Pixar, Production Courtyard, and Marvel Avengers Campus.
Hong Kong Disneyland
On September 12, 2005, Disney Park number 11 opened on the scene in Hong Kong. Under the official ownership and management of Hong Kong International Theme Parks, Hong Kong Disneyland stands out as the largest theme park in all of Hong Kong.
Following the format of most premier Disney Parks, the focus is primarily on all those beloved classic Disney callouts, as presented primarily through Disneyland Park’s original inception. Other influences from various Walt Disney World Resort Parks are also prevalent here.
Hong Kong Disneyland currently features the following themed lands: Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, and Main Street, U.S.A. A new Frozen-themed land, World of Frozen, is still in development and will officially open to the public sometime in the latter half of 2023.
The most recent addition to the long line of Disney Parks came about on June 16, 2016, with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Based in Pudong, Shanghai, it is the first-ever Disney-owned theme park to open in Mainland China.
Like many other Disney Park inceptions, the theme here largely infuses influences from the original Disneyland Park concept with a few Disney World touches. But again, it is a separate entity and garners a unique persona.
Seven themed lands currently comprise this Disney Park. They are Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle, and Toy Story Land.
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Given the consistent growth trends we’ve seen throughout Disney Parks and both corresponding and independently operating Disney Resorts worldwide, we can rightfully conclude that it’s only a matter of time before even more expansions come about. Isn’t it a wonderfully fulfilling feeling to have such high hopes for an even greater, bigger beautiful tomorrow to dream about?