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Fodor’s Survey: The 5 Most Overrated Tourist Attractions in the World

This is part three in a week-long series on Fodor’s Summer Travel Survey. You can read part one, part two, part four, and part five. Fodor’s Travel surveyed 1,527 readers through our newsletter. Want to take future Fodor’s surveys? Make your voice heard! Sign up here.

The results for Fodor’s Summer Travel Survey are in! This summer, 87% of Americans are planning to travel and 70% of respondents are looking at domestic destinations. For the last two years, the U.S. National Parks have been the top attractions in the country and they’re likely to be filled with happy campers in the coming months. But there are some spots that aren’t winning the hearts of our readers.

We asked what readers felt is the most overrated attraction in the world. Answers varied wildly. Two people specifically highlighted the FRIENDS Experience New York, a recreation of sets from Friends, and three people really dislike Wall Drug, a kitschy drugstore in Wall, South Dakota. A handful of readers highlighted the Grand Canyon, with one writing, it’s just “a giant hole in the ground.” Another reader found the Sistine Chapel to be “a little dingy.”

Meanwhile, some readers don’t like entire cities: 2% listed Los Angeles (“terrible,” wrote one dissatisfied visitor), another 2% wrote New York City (“too many people, expensive, too touristy”), and 4% find the entire city of Las Vegas to be overrated (“loud” and “kitschy”).

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But the one attraction that popped up, again and again, was Disney. In fact, 17% of readers said a U.S. Disney theme park–Walt Disney World Orlando or Disneyland in Anaheim–was the most overrated attraction in the world.

And the main reasons? It’s too crowded and too expensive. One respondent noted, “Just too crowded. Did it for my daughter and she loved it. I would never go to that kind of attraction on my own.”

Another said they didn’t like it even as a child!

And one complained about the disappointment they faced when they visited Walt Disney World on its 50th anniversary, only to find some attractions closed. “[W]ith the increased WDW prices, I expected my experience would be equal to my last trip in 2017. They say WDW is the most magical place in the world. It certainly is…all my money disappeared in two days. Unfortunately, we received less for more cost and time.”

Ouch!

The 5 Most Overrated Tourist Attractions

Disney isn’t the only popular tourist site taking heat from our readers. Though it’s the least popular, it’s in good company. According to our poll, these are the most overrated attractions in the world:

1. Disney Theme Parks
2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
3. The Eiffel Tower
4. Times Square
5. The Louvre

Disney’s Woes

There’s a lot happening at Disney this year—from the new Disney Galactic Starcruiser hotel experience to the new cruise ship, the Disney Wish, which sets sail this summer. But Disney has dominated headlines for weeks for another reason, too, which may have partly contributed to reader animosity.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill last month that stripped Disney of its special status in the state after the Mouse House criticized Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forbids schools to educate students from kindergarten to third grade on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The 25,000-acre theme park, which has 80,000 employees, will not be able to self-govern from June 1, 2023. Disney World has operated as its own municipal government in Florida since 1967. It builds its own roads, levies taxes, and has its own fire department. 

Disney was initially hesitant to condemn the bill, but after facing a wave of vocal backlash, slammed it. CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company will stop donations to Florida—it has donated $300,000 to the backers of the bills in the last two years, including $50,000 to Governor DeSantis. 

The details still need to get worked out—like who will inherit Disney’s $1 billion debt—but it is possible that the parks that are already criticized for being exorbitant may get more expensive. Disney hasn’t responded yet, but there are questions being raised about the park’s future in Florida with other states inviting it to move to a friendlier atmosphere.

Disney has faced other criticisms in the last year, including from Fodor’s, which has highlighted its numerous problematic attractions and the controversy surrounding its Tenaya Stone Spa.

10 Comments
J

I will go to Disney theme parks even more because of their public opposition to the "Don't Say Gay" Bill. It's about time corporations speak out against hate. 

J
jenapotts6194 May 7, 2022

For a family to be herded onto rides in both Disney's, exhorbitant prices for everything and now them 'getting political' when they are supposed to be 'Entertainment'.  They needed to stay in their own lane but didn't.  Not surprised they are first on the list as OVERRATED . 

J
johnschwab5412 May 7, 2022

I could not agree less with your list, except for Disney.  The others - unless you are a sophisticate - are essential must sees, as is Madrid in general.

V
Viewpoint007 May 6, 2022

Times Square is overrated, with that I agree. All the others are attractive in their own right.

C
CyndeM May 5, 2022

We loved Pisa -- BUT - we stayed the night, not on a tour, as we returned to the US from the Pisa airport. The town was just lovely overnight. Good restaurants, not crowded. Lovely. 
Cynde, Bend, Oregon