Over the past four weeks we've taken a look at four of my top five favourite Disney theme parks and my top five favourite attractions in each. Before we look at my #1 favourite Disney park in the world - and I'm sure you can guess what it is by now - we'll take a gander at the lower brackets. What are my bottom four?
On paper, it didn't seem like there was much to Epcot that we would have enjoyed, so Ashley and I decided to allocate only a half-day to it. When we arrived, we learned (to our chagrin) that World Showcase was much better than we were expecting it to be. Future World did meet our expectations for being a bust, however. The subject matter was mostly uninteresting to us, and those attractions we did see were not all that great. Our first ever ride on Soarin' was... okay? Journey into Imagination with Figment was lame (though did give us a running joke of making up not altogether child-friendly lyrics to the song). Spaceship Earth was frustratingly inaccurate in its regurgitation of post-Enlightenment historical revisionism. World Showcase, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful and we wish we would have given ourselves more time to enjoy it. We whipped through as many pavilions as we reasonably could, and had several moments of genuine disorientation when we forgot we weren't in Japan or France. My highlight was the Mexico pavilion, where we ate under the simulated stars of a Mexican plaza and took a delightful little boat ride with the Three Caballeros (and I got to try on a sombrero about as wide as I am tall). Favourite attraction: Mexico Pavilion, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros.
#7: Disney California Adventure
I don't really have that much against California Adventure. After the new suite of renovations, it does a much better job of capturing the romance of the Golden State... its Golden Ages of National Parks adventure in the High Sierras, of glamorous Hollywood, of Route 66, of Victorian seaside amusement parks, of Los Angeles Art Deco. I enjoy the romance of those periods and if the goal of DCA was to make me more interested in getting out and seeing the real places in California it is based on, then it succeeded. That wasn't its goal though. Ostensibly its goal was to stop me from doing that and to spend my tourist dollars on Disney property! That raises the first problem of why I would want to spend so much time in DCA when I could just go see the real thing? The second problem, and the even bigger one, is why would I want to spend so much time in DCA when I could just go to Disneyland? The flaw that just cannot be gotten over no matter how many renovations they do is that DCA is right beside Disneyland. It takes a concerted effort to actually stay put and enjoy DCA instead of gazing longingly across the Esplanade. Even with that concerted effort, DCA truly is a "half-day park." After a late lunch we're ready to go. Favourite attraction: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
#8: Tokyo Disneyland
As I said in a previous entry, it's hard to go wrong with any Magic Kingdom-style park. Tokyo Disneyland is no exception. It only figures so lowly because I'm trying to be fair. It is, in the end, yet another Magic Kingdom park with nominal differences between it and the others around the world. One corner of Adventureland is an eerily exact copy of New Orleans Square, and its castle was built on practically the same blueprints as Magic Kingdom's. It does have a few distinct things about it, including a legitimately incredible Winnie the Pooh ride, but the next time I go to Japan I'd be content to do Tokyo Disneysea and skip Tokyo Disneyland (though Ashley might beg to differ, especially now that they're building a Beauty and the Beast expansion). This is a rare case where the second gate doesn't suffer for being beside a Disneyland. The Disneyland suffers because it's beside the second gate. Favourite attraction: Pooh's Hunny Hunt.
#9: Disney Hollywood Studios
This is the only Disney theme park I've been to that I would generally consider a waste of time. It does have some really neat things in it - the Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant and the One Man's Dream exhibit stick out - but they do not, in themselves, constitute an overwhelming reason to go. Having already been to the real Hollywood and toured a real movie studio, DHS failed to capture the mystique of the real thing. The only ride of note was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and I came out rather indifferent to its differences from the California version (which had itself inspired me to seek out the original Twilight Zone television series, now considered one of my favourite shows of all time). It did furnish our first opportunity to ride Toy Story Mania, and we found it highly overrated. It probably didn't help that we were broiling miserably in the Florida sun and barely lasted a few hours. We felt perfectly fine with leaving halfway through the day and not looking back. If we go back to Walt Disney World, we're either skipping DHS or splurging on the parkhopper pass so we can just pop into the Sci-Fi Dine-In. Favourite Attraction: Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant.