“Hiya Pal!”

To the East Coasters and Midwesterners, Disneyland in Anaheim seems so far away. Why would you ever want to travel farther to get the same experience? Well, that’s just it, it’s not the same experience. There are many differences between both vacation destinations in California and Florida. Here is my list of the top things that separate Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park {DCA} from Walt Disney World {WDW} in Florida.

Legacy

Disneyland, the only Disney park that Walt overlooked both the design and the build of. In this park, he not only walked the streets, but he also dined frequently and had an apartment he often stayed in. His favorite restaurant was the Plaza Inn; fried chicken was his favorite which is still on the menu today. Below is a photo of his apartment above the fire station on Main Street. According to the legend, if the lamp in the window was on that is how cast members would know Walt was in the park. The light has remained lit since his death as a reminder that he is always there.

 

20160201_102638-2

{Walts apartment}

Park Size

Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom is tiny in square footage compared to WDW, and you’ll notice this as soon as you enter the park. They have taken advantage of every square inch of this place. There are forty-three attractions currently open, even with the multiple ride closures for the Star Wars expansion. The Magic Kingdom in Florida has thirty-six attractions running now, with only one attraction closed for refurbishment. The great thing about the smaller park is that you can easily navigate through it, making it exceptionally easy with younger children and strollers in tow. The idea of hopping from land to land doesn’t seem like such a daunting task when you can get from one end of the park to the other in under 10 minutes. That’s a different story for any of the parks at WDW.

Two Easily Accessible Parks

Many folks think that WDW would be a better choice for a vacation since there are four parks to choose to spend your days at rather than only the two in Disneyland. The truth is that yes, you could easily spend a week in Florida and do all four parks, but there is no way to see and take in everything at each park, they are too big. In Anaheim, you could spend three days and see almost all of both Disney parks. It is also possible to see a lot in two days too if you park hop since you won’t waste too much time commuting park to park. The gates of both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park are right across from each other, and it’s as easy as walking park to park.  However many days you choose to visit the parks at the Disneyland Resort you could save yourself a lot of money on tickets compared to WDW, without feeling like you missed anything.

Exceptional Hotel Options

The Disney properties are phenomenal and are all within walking distance of the park entrances. Making a mid-day break to nap or hang out by the pool incredibly easy. Since there are only three hotel options to choose from it makes for a much less daunting task of narrowing down where you’ll stay during the planning process. The Disneyland Resort Hotel offers incredibly themed signature suites. The Grand Californian Resort Hotel is actually inside the Disney’s California Adventure park offering convenient access throughout the day back and forth from park to hotel. Each of the resorts offers extraordinary views of the parks and exclusive amenities such as earlier entrance than the general public allowing guests the opportunity to ride the most popular attractions with little to no wait.

Good-Neighbor Hotels

Another advantage you have in Anaheim over Orlando is that you could stay at a number of “Good Neighbor” hotels that are within a mile of the property. There are so many off property hotels in different budgets you could choose instead of Disney Resort Hotels. Some offering either walking distance or a quick free shuttle to the parks, allowing you more control of the cost without sacrificing distance.

Low-Pressure Dining Reservations

In the Disneyland Resort area, it is possible to arrive at the parks and decide throughout the day where you want to eat, walk up that table-service restaurant and get a seat. For WDW, of course, that is not likely to happen if you didn’t make reservations 180 days in advance.

Since Disneyland is right in the middle of a bustling city, you can also leave the parks for your meals if you’d rather not eat food with a theme park price tag. That said, the food in Disneyland is excellent. They pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients, even at their quick-service locations.

Laid-Back Fast Pass System

Disneyland and California Adventure are still on the old Fast Pass system. You get your Fast Passes day of by going to a booth sticking in your park ticket and receiving a Fast Pass ticket. On that card, it will tell you when you can return to ride the attraction and when you can reserve your next Fast Pass. Vastly different from the WDW process of booking your Fast Passes online two months in advance. 

Spontaneous Meet and Greets

In Disneyland and DCA you will find characters out and about on the streets unscheduled and hardly any lines making for a much more special meet and greet.

 

Classic Attractions

Both Magic Kingdom parks used to share more of the same attractions. Since the New Fantasyland expansion opened in Florida’s Magic Kingdom in 2014, a handful of classic attractions were removed to make room for the new ones. As a result, there are now many different attractions offered on both costs. It seems now the original Magic Kingdom has more of the classic fairytale rides such as Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. Toontown in now only enjoyed in Disneyland, and this area is such a fun and imaginative space for young children to experience.

Cars Land

The Cars Land addition to DCA back in 2013 has been a real triumph. This expansion is the most immersive land Disney has created in the US thus far. There are three attractions in this area, themed eateries, and beautiful scenery, so real you’ll think you walked right into the film.

{Photo: Disney} {Top Left: Hyperion Theater, Bottom Left: Soarin’ Around the world, Right: Cars Land: Luigi’s Rocking Roadsters}

Star Wars

Although it will take years for the completion of the new Star Wars expansion, they have done an excellent job of implementing more themed attractions and characters to their parks. In Disneyland, you can ride Hyper-space mountain which is a star wars overlay of Space Mountain. They have updated Star Tours—The Adventure continues by adding some of the new characters from The Force Awakens. There are the “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple” for kids to battle new and classic villains live on stage showing off their lightsaber- wielding skills. Character meet and greets are held in the heavily themed Star Wars Launch Bay. There are also some themed quick-service dining options and souvenir shops as well.

{Photo: Disney concept art}

Holidays

Visiting Disney parks during the holidays is a special experience. I can’t wait to visit Disneyland during the holidays to compare to what I have seen at WDW for both Halloween, and Christmas. From what I hear Disneyland does it better, like a lot better! Since the park is much smaller, it makes it easier to decorate the entire place with the same attention to detail you’d see on Main Street, U.S.A. Even their rides get holiday themes. The Haunted Mansion gets a unique Halloween overlay where they decorate the interior and exterior of the building and add extra themed effects and The Nightmare Before Christmas characters. Then it gets new embellishments for Christmas. They make changes to Space Mountain turning it into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. You can also ride the Jingle Cruise just like in WDW, but the most special of them all is the Christmas enhancements made to It’s A Small World. The exterior façade has over 50,000-holiday lights; it’s truly spectacular!

{Photo: Disney}

{Photo: Disney}

Southern California

Lastly, while planning a vacation to Disneyland, it is a good idea to scout out other points of interest in California to explore. You could spend a few days in Huntington Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, or depending on how much time you have; you could head north up the coast and check out Big Sur or San Fransisco. There are so many sights to see and adventurous things to do while in California if you travel all that way, you may as well plan to see as much as possibly you can.

I hope you enjoyed this information, and it inspires you to visit, or revisit Disneyland. As always contact me if you would like additional information or would like to start the planning process.

“See you real soon!”