The ultimate guide to Disney theme parks around the world

Disneyland California castle

Danny Baggs

Posted June 18, 2023

Celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary by visiting one of Disney’s six major theme parks around the world. Here’s the lowdown on each park so you can make memories sooner.

The word ‘Disney’ is synonymous with childhood joy for many people around the world. Children big and small still clamour over the latest Disney movie releases and memorise their catchy songs. But one of Disney’s biggest drawcards is their incredible theme parks, located around the world from the USA to Hong Kong. Rides and attractions combined with Disney-themed shopping, shows, parades, fireworks, character experiences, restaurants and hotels have made each park world-class entertainment.

Here’s everything you need to know about the world’s Disney theme parks, plus Disney’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. You can book all Disney theme park tickets through RACV Travel and Experiences powered by Klook.




Disney theme parks: what you need to know

How to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary

Disney’s biggest event in history, the Disney100, is being held this year to commemorate the Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary on 16 October 2023. Celebrations are being held around the world, from new nighttime spectaculars to special merchandise offerings.

The main celebrations are happening at Disneyland Resort in California, which is decked out in dazzling violet and platinum Disney100 decorations. The Magic Happens Parade celebrates magical moments from legendary Disney stories on select days. There are two brand-new nighttime spectaculars: Wondrous Journeys, which takes you on an epic adventure through 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios storytelling, and World of Color – ONE, which uses 1200 water fountains, lights, lasers, fog, fire and projections on mist screens to tell the story of Walt Disney’s legacy. Mickey’s Toontown will also reopen after a year’s closure, with larger open green spaces and new interactive water features to splash around in. An all-new ride has also arrived in Toontown: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is Disneyland’s first ride-through attraction featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

But all the Disney theme parks will be treated to new decorations, costumes, merchandise and other surprises across 2023, particularly in October. 2023 Disney100 celebrations also include:

  • Disney100: The Exhibition, with rarely seen original artworks, costumes, props and other memorabilia, which will tour across the United States and Europe for five years

  • Disney100: The Concert, which will tour Europe with live performances of legendary film scenes from films like Beauty & the Beast, Encanto and Mary Poppins by the Hollywood Sound Orchestra and star solo artists.

  • Wish, a new animated story with an original soundtrack composed by Julia Michaels will debut on 22 November 2023 and explore how the star that so many Disney characters wish upon came to be.


The main Disney100 celebrations are happening at Disneyland Resort in California. Image: Supplied
Exclusive Disney merchandise is being released as part of the Disney100 celebrations. Image: Supplied

What are the best Disney theme parks?


Disneyland Resort, California

Disneyland Resort opened after just one year of construction in 1955: the only Disney theme park completed during Walt Disney’s lifetime. It's also the only Disney theme park to use the slogan “The Happiest Place on Earth”. On opening day, Disneyland boasted 20 attractions, including favourites that are still operating today like Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight.

At 160 acres, Disneyland is the world’s second largest Disney theme park. It is dominated by the fairytale-like Cinderella Castle and features eight themed lands: Adventureland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Main Street U.S.A., New Orleans Square, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

In 2001, Disneyland Resort opened its first major expansion: California Adventure Park, located right next to Disneyland. California Adventure Park was originally built as an ode to the Golden State, with themed lands like Grizzly Peak, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land, Buena Vista Street and Paradise Gardens Park. It has now grown to pay more attention to Disney characters, with additional themed lands like Pixar Pier, Avengers Campus and Cars Land.


Disneyland is dominated by the fairytale-like Cinderella Castle. Image: Supplied
The Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge themed land is very popular. Image: Supplied
Cars Land in California Adventure Park is a fun addition. Image: Supplied
MARVEL fans can meet their favourite action heroes at Disneyland. Image: Supplied
Don't forget to pick up your exclusive Disney merch! Image: Supplied

Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Walt Disney World is "The Most Magical Place on Earth” and the world’s biggest Disney resort. It boasts four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, four mini-golf courses, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and the biggest Disney shopping district in the world. Magic Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s ‘main’ theme park. It’s considered Disneyland 2.0, with a plan based off Disneyland Resort in California, but with a bigger Sleeping Beauty Castle and fancier main street. Its six themed lands (Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square and Main Street, USA) are similar to Disneyland Resort.

EPCOT theme park originally served as a tribute to Walt Disney’s dream of creating a futuristic ‘City of Tomorrow’. It focuses on global themes such as celebration, discovery and nature. Its World Showcase is particularly memorable, with 11 themed ‘countries’ displaying their cultural food, drinks, shopping, designs and more.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park has introduced the incredibly popular Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land. Other themed lands include Animation Courtyard, Commissary Lane, Echo Lake, Grand Avenue, Hollywood Boulevard, Pixar Place, Sunset Boulevard and Toy Story Land.

Animal Kingdom is the world’s largest Disney theme park, taking up a massive 580 acres. Step into the African, Asian or tropical (Oasis) wilderness, travel back to prehistoric times at Dinoland U.S.A., become a wilderness explorer on Discovery Island, or explore the world of Avatar at Pandora.

There are also two massive water parks at Walt Disney World. The family-friendly Typhoon Lagoon is themed on a typhoon that has devastated a tropical paradise. Its Castaway Creek lazy river winds guests around the entire water park through waterfalls, misting screens and lush vegetation. Blizzard Beach, which has a Christmastime ski resort theme, is slightly smaller but features more thrill rides. Summit Plummet, a ‘ski jump’ that plunges you down 12 stories in one of the world’s fastest and most extreme body slides, is especially popular.


woman in front of Disneyland castle

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom mirrors California's Disneyland. Image: Supplied


Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is in the city of Chessy, just outside of Paris. This European Disneyland is acclaimed for its beauty and detail, with two gorgeous parks: Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park.

Disneyland Paris debuted in 1992 with five theme parks: Adventureland, Discoveryland, Fantasyland, Frontierland and Main Street USA. Although Disneyland Paris borrows heavily from the American Disney parks, it does have some unique twists. Disneyland Paris also has arguably the most beautiful Disney castle: Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), with La Tanière du Dragon (The Dragon’s Lair) lurking underneath complete with a massive audio-animatronic dragon.

Walt Disney Studios Park opened several years later in 2002. Its five themed lands introduce guests to enter the breathtaking worlds of Disney, Pixar and MARVEL: Worlds of Pixar (for Disney-Pixar movies), Avengers Campus (for MARVEL characters and films), Toon Studio (Disney animated classics), Production Courtyard (live shows and character encounters), and Front Lot (the art of filmmaking).


Disneyland Paris is one of the best Disney parks. Image: Supplied
The Disneyland Paris castle has a secret dragon's lair. Image: Supplied
There are rides aplenty at Disneyland Paris. Image: Supplied

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort can be found just outside Tokyo, with guests able to catch the Tokyo Subway right into the resort. Tokyo Disney Resort is set on a beautiful oceanfront property, with a monorail connecting the two theme parks inside: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

Tokyo Disneyland was Disney’s first international park and was built nearly identically to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park, including its Cinderella Castle. It features seven themed lands: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Critter Country, Toontown, Westernland and World Bazaar. Here you can find several unique rides that are exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland, such as Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, which has guests board honey pots and follow Pooh through the Hundred Acre Wood as he hunts for his favourite snack using a modern trackless system. Tokyo Disneyland also has some of the best cast members in the business, with its costumed staff members really getting into character and spreading joy around the park.

Tokyo DisneySea is a large, beautiful theme park inspired by ocean tales and legends. It has seven themed ports: American Waterfront, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Mediterranean Harbor, Mermaid Lagoon, Mysterious Island, and Port Discovery. Disney reviewers regularly place Tokyo DisneySea as #1 on their lists, citing its entertaining ‘streetmosphere’ and unique rides, like the Venetian Gondola.


woman with two sons in front of castle at Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland was Disney's first international park. Image: Supplied


Shanghai Disney Resort

Shanghai Disneyland is the youngest Disney theme park, officially opening in 2016. Its creators wanted it to be both “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese”, leading to a fun cultural experience for all Disney fans. Take the Gardens of Imagination, for example: an open-air nature space where the 12 Chinese zodiac signs are represented by popular Disney characters.

Shanghai Disneyland seeks to modernise and upgrade classic attractions found at the original Disneyland. Its Enchanted Storybook Castle is the largest Disney castle in the world at 200 feet tall; it introduced the new themed land, Treasure Cove; and it substantially upgraded the classic Disneyland Resort rides Peter Pan’s Flight and Pirates of the Caribbean. Its exclusive TRON Lightcycle Power Run ride quickly became one of the most popular Disney rides in the world after its 2016 debut, although Magic Kingdom guests will see it open there too in 2023.

You can explore 7 different themed lands at Shanghai Disneyland: Adventure Isle, Mickey Avenue, Treasure Cove, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and the Gardens of Imagination.  


seagull costumed people in front of Shanghai Disneyland's castle

Don't miss Disneyland Shanghai's fun parades. Image: Supplied


Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Hong Kong Disneyland is another standalone Disney castle park that offers a unique, culturally distinctive Disney experience. It opened in 2005 as the smallest Disney Park, with seven compact but detailed themed lands: Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point. Two more lands will soon be added: Arendelle: The World of Frozen and Stark Expo.

With around 10 family rides, 5 thrill rides and over a dozen other attractions, there’s plenty to do at Hong Kong Disneyland, but you could knock it over in a day if you really tried. Don’t miss the day and night-time shows outside the gorgeous Castle of Magical Dreams, or the other stage shows around the park. If you’ve got a spot of Cantonese, venture to Animation Academy and learn to draw a Disney character in 20 minutes from a real Disney artist. And just like the other Disney theme parks, you can meet popular Disney characters like Mickey and Friends, Marvel heroes, and animated characters like Buzz Lightyear and Tinker Bell. But there are also a few unique characters at Hong Kong Disneyland like LinaBell, a smart pink fox who loves solving mysteries and made her debut at Hong Kong Disneyland.


Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the most unique Disney parks. Image: Supplied
Hong Kong Disneyland will take part in the Disney100 celebrations. Image: Supplied
Hong Kong Disneyland's castle is a sight to behold. Image: Supplied

How do I book tickets to Disney theme parks?

You can instantly book all Disney theme park tickets through RACV Travel and Experiences powered by Klook. Ticket prices vary depending on the type of ticket, time of year, and length of stay.


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