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Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Different Entry Into the Nominations for “Best Park Award”

by Beth Keating
September 29, 2019

If you’ve been following the DisneyBizJournal’s entries over the past few days, you may have contemplated the answer to this question on your own: Which of Disney World’s four parks ranks best among the venues?  

Editor-in-Chief Ray opened the debate when he postured that Hollywood Studios was the best of the World’s theme parks.  Reading his piece that night, I wholeheartedly disagreed. And told him so.  He responded, “Make your case.” Thus touched off what has been a three-day debate at DisneyBizJournal. 

Personally, as a dedicated foodie, before September 8th and the slow descent into construction purgatory, I very likely would have said Epcot.  While I am enthusiastically looking forward to the new future of Future World and its environs, “Wall-cot” is just not going to do it for me right now. In previous visits, I would have to spend the entire day at Epcot because I simply couldn’t eat all the things I wanted to sample without pacing myself. As much as I enjoy the Food and Wine Festival, it does have a downside.  It just makes it soooo hard to enjoy the phenomenal restaurants in World Showcase on an already full tummy.  Hollywood Studios has two restaurants that I particularly enjoy (plus those unbelievably good grilled cheeses at Woody’s Lunchbox), but Epcot has nearly a dozen that hold my attention, with another dozen or more kiosks if you include Festival booths, and several new restaurants coming soon. Epcot, the gate with perhaps the fewest perceived number of rides, actually has more rides that are on my to-do list than Hollywood Studios. Soarin’ is arguably my favorite Disney ride (it usually jockeys for position with Toy Story Mania and Space Ranger Spin.)

My number one park, then, at least at this moment in time, is Magic Kingdom.  The sheer diversity of rides for all ages and tolerance levels, the variety of ride styles, and the history of the park make it a good choice for the whole family.  It is usually the first place we head when we arrive in Lake Buena Vista, and typically the final stop before heading home as well.  

The iconic rides that we have come to love through generations of visits make their home in the shadow of Cinderella Castle. Historical opening day rides like DumboJungle CruiseHaunted Mansion, and It’s a Small World live side-by-side with new iterations such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little MermaidSkipper Canteen is among our new favorite restaurants, offering upscale food choices and superb service (with just a touch of the kitschy-ness and cheesy humor that makes Jungle Cruise so much fun). I get choked up every time I watch Happily Ever After, and will watch it online at least once a week. Parades come in a number of different varieties – Christmas, Halloween, daytime Festival of Fantasy, even the “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It” Street Party type (if that counts). Plus, there are giant turkey legs and Dole Whips.  Need I say more?

Disney World is ever-changing - some years, more than others!  Parks that suit a family’s make-up and interests during one visit may not be their favorite choice on their next visit, and there’s a good chance that the face of the park itself may have changed yet again by their next visit. I do love Hollywood Studios, and will continue to look forward to what it may offer in days to come, but for me, it just doesn’t earn the award for Disney’s top park.  Have a great big, beautiful tomorrow!

Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.

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