There May be a New Happiest Place on Earth

Disneyland is facing stiff competition from an unexpected source, based on this survey.

Las Vegas and Disneyland have been perennial vacation favorites for decades. It’s very safe to say they each offer very different vibes, for very different demographics.

Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California in 1955, and has evolved into the ideal of what an amusement park can be, regularly attracting 16 to 18 million visitors a year, while offering one of the most immersive entertainment experiences around. Visiting Disneyland, or one of Disney’s  (DIS) – Get The Walt Disney Company Report other parks, has become a rite of passage for many families, or at least the ones that can afford it.

In the 1930s, both gambling and divorce were legalized in Nevada, back when both practices were illegal (or at least burdensome) in most other parts of the country. With the construction of Hoover Dam, Vegas saw a boom in both casinos and tourists in the 1950s, acquired the nickname of Sin City, and began decades of creative destruction that saw regular casino implosions to make way for new, bigger and more over-the-top resorts.

It’s a bit reductionist, of course, to say that Disneyland is for families and kids, and Las Vegas is for adults. Anyone can go to Disney if they so choose, and you don’t have to have small children to enjoy the pleasures of Splash Mountain, and grown-up Star Wars fans have plenty of experiences at Disney’s parks to choose from.

It’s also not the case that there’s nothing for kids to do in Sin City, as there’s family friendly events like Cirque du Soleil, the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. museum, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas, the popular Lion Habitat Ranch and more. Plus, many Vegas hotels have rollercoasters built into them. So there’s plenty for families to do in the day before mom and dad hit the poker table once the kids are tucked in.

But the idea of Disneyland as the be-all-end-all tourist attraction is so ingrained culturally that a new survey from Club Med comes as a bit of a genuine surprise. 

Is Vegas The Happiest Place On Earth?

Club Med’s survey of “happiest holiday destinations” ranked Las Vegas in the top spot in North America.

The survey ranked cities on a scale of 0 to 10, crime, safety, pollution, cost of domestic beers, outdoor activities, day trips, spa and wellness centers, LGBTQ friendly, and the overall happiness of the individual cities.

“Las Vegas had the edge thanks to a wide range of daytime activities, perfect for visitors planning to make the most of their stay!,” noted Club Med, adding ““With over 40 outdoor activities, Las Vegas is the place to be if it’s an adventure you’re after. This city also has a high safety score, so you can feel at ease while exploring all Las Vegas has to offer.” 

The survey also notes that three of Vegas’s most well-known casinos, Caesars Entertainment  (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, MGM Resorts  (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report, and Wynn Resorts  (WYNN) – Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report, each reported daily occupancy rates greater than 90%.

Image source: Palms Casino

What Other Cities Are On The Survey?

According to the survey, these are Top 10 happiest travel destinations in North America:

1. Las Vegas
2. New Orleans
3. Vancouver
4. San Francisco
5. Washington DC
6. Los Angeles
7. Portland
8. Toronto
9. Halifax
10 Nashville

Las Vegas also did well in the global happiest holiday rankings, beating out cities like Barcelona, Spain, and Rio de Janeiro. but it came up just short of the top spot. which instead went to Bali, Indonesia:

Bali, IndonesiaLas Vegas, NevadaNew Orleans, LouisianaBarcelona, SpainAmsterdam, NetherlandsBudapest, HungaryVancouver, CanadaSan Francisco, California,Dubai, United Arab EmiratesRio de Janeiro, Brazil

Interestingly enough, neither Anaheim nor Orlando, the largest city near Walt Disney World Resort, made the top ten, and the only other American cities to crack the global list were New Orleans, Louisiana and San Francisco.

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