HEY Y’ALL! Long time no see!
It has been forever and a day since I posted on here (I feel like that’s how all my posts start) but I’ll be honest I NEVER know what to write about and I’m super duper bored right now so I decided to write about a very lengthy topic, the differences between Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California! Now these are all opinions coming from someone who grew up in Florida around WDW; I’ve only been to Disneyland 3 times (and those 3 times have been pretty recently). However I’m going to try my best to be as objective as possible! There’s NO way on Earth I could pick which one of these resorts I like better. They’re both so different; you’ll find in a lot of the things I compare, I can’t choose which is “better” because a lot of the time they’re just so different that it’s impossible to choose! I’m going to go through a few categories: rides, nighttime entertainment, food, park layout, planning strategies, Downtown Disney/Disney Springs, and hotels. That sounds like A LOT to talk about so let’s jump into it!
I’ll be honest, a lot of the rides that WDW and DLR share, DLR simple has a better version. For rides like Pirates, Big Thunder, it’s a small world (HELLO, BABY SINGING ARIEL), and Haunted Mansion (although I only rode the Holiday version, which, WOW that thing is incredible), I just prefer DLR’s version to WDW’s. Most of the time it’s just the amount of detail that DLR is able to pack into all of their rides. This is most clear in Pirates. If you like Pirates at WDW, just WAIT until you ride DLR’s version. It’s like WDW’s but with 100x more detail and 100x longer. There are a lot of rides that are just completely different and it’s impossible to pick a favorite. For example, Space Mountain is almost completely different in Disneyland and it usually has an overlay (I’ve ridden Ghost Galaxy and the Star Wars version – I definitely prefer Star Wars even though I’ve never seen most of the movies). Autopia and the Speedway are also completely different but I have no problem playing favorites with this one because Autopia is a gem and I will defend it until I die. One ride I definitely like better in WDW is Jungle Cruise; I was so confused when I rode it in DLR and there was no cave scene with the little monkeys and the snakes!! I can’t make a comparison post without mentioning my all time favorite DLR ride: INDIANA JONES. I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about this one and it IS DEFINITELY TRUE. Best ride ever. I’m gonna stop before I just start naming everything I love about DLR, but yes, I highly recommend going on as many rides at DLR as possible because even though we have a lot of them at WDW, there are different versions on the West coast that are worth riding! (Although everyone pray for Disneyland because they don’t have Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster which is my favorite ride in the whole world)
Nighttime entertainment is SO different in DLR than it is in WDW. You pretty much never know what you’re gonna get. Here at WDW we have pretty much the standard options: Wishes, Fantasmic, Star Wars fireworks, Illuminations, and now Rivers of Light. However, in the course of a couple of years, Disneyland has gone through Disneyland Forever, that weirdo fireworks show that’s only a few minutes long, Remember Dreams Come True, Paint the Night, Main Street Electrical Parade, Fantasmic (which is currently gone until the summer), World of Color, and World of Color Celebrate. Now, granted, some of those were for the 60th anniversary, but I swear each of my trips everything was completely different! I haven’t seen RDCT, but I’ve heard the music sounds like Wishes and everyone seems to love it so I’d try to see that if you can. I am part of the VERY small minority that liked Celebrate better than the regular WOC, but it’s a FANTASTIC show either way and definitely worth FastPassing more than once. Now we all know my (negative) feelings about MSEP so I’d avoid that (although it may be cool to see it in its original home) but if they somehow ever get Paint back – SEE THAT, YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. I have also never seen DLR’s version of Fant but apparently the new version they’re coming back with this summer is going to be very different so we’ll see if it’s still better like WDW’s like everyone always says!
I have no shame in saying I love Disneyland food a whole lot better than WDW food. I don’t know if it’s because I’m rarely ever at Disneyland so I don’t see their options as much, so they’re more exciting to me… but they seem to have much more variety there (AND THEY HAVE MOZZARELLA STICKS, HELLO). However they do NOT sell corn dog nuggets which is a huge downfall. The quality of food seems to be a tad better at Disneyland, but I really do think WDW is trying to up their food game lately. DLR also does not have the Nutella waffle which is another downfall. BUT they DO have a MONTE CRISTO! AT MULTIPLE RESTAURANTS! So that makes up for the waffle. I guess what I’m trying to say is Disneyland food is bomb but WDW food isn’t too shabby either.
Now it’s no secret that WDW is GIGANTIC compared to DLR. Disneyland park is SO small, I could walk from one end of that park to the other in 5 minutes flat. Disneyland and DCA are also SUPER close to each other; you can get between the two parks in less than a minute. While I appreciate our large size and MANY options of things to do every day, I do envy how easy it is for DLR guests to park hop. When we went to DLR, we had a lunch reservation in New Orleans Square at noon, left DCA at 11:45, and were EARLY for our reservation. WDW could never. However, DLR could never have 4 beautiful, sprawling parks completely excluded from the outside world so, I guess I’ll pay the price for having that.
I’m sure if you’ve ever been to WDW you remember how much PLANNING it takes to have a successful trip. Sometimes it feels like everything needs to be planned in advance or else your trip will be a waste. Although it’s possible to do minimal planning and still have a fun vacation, it’s definitely beneficial to plan as much as you can to make sure everything you want is available. As a DLR guest, all you need to plan is your park ticket, and maybe some dining reservations. Everything else can be decided on when you get there because they still have paper FastPasses. While I sometimes miss this system, I think of it this way: I’m planning to go to Epcot tomorrow after work (around 5 pm). With the paper FP system, there’s NO chance I would be able to get a Test Track FP once I got to the park. However, since I can plan in advance, I already have my Test Track FP PLUS two more FP lined up back to back! That is when I count my blessings for the FP+ system. It has its ups and downs, which is why I appreciate that each park has the different system because then I can experience both!
Downtown Disney vs Disney Springs
I’m glad they have different names now, because DTD and DS serve two COMPLETELY different purposes. In WDW, Disney Springs is more of a destination; you have to go out of your way to go there, and odds are you’re going there for a specific reason, like shopping or dining. It is completely separate from the parks and absolutely HUGE. Downtown Disney in DLR is right next to the parks. Almost everyone has to walk through DTD to get to either park. DTD has a much older feel, and only a few restaurants and shops. To me, it’s more of a place to supplement the parks rather than an entire different destination that you would specifically say to yourself “I want to go to Downtown Disney today” (while I find myself making a trip specifically for Springs all the time). At least both of them have Sprinkles and that’s all that really matters to me.
There’s SO many more aspects of the two parks that are different, but I’m going to end my post with hotels. Disneyland only has 3 Disney-owned hotels right next door to the parks; The Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, and The Grand Californian. I’ve stayed at them all except for Paradise Pier, and I cannot recommend them enough. They are some of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed at, and the CONVENIENCE is something you absolutely cannot beat. I will go to my grave singing my praises about these hotels. Imagine walking out your hotel door and a 3 minute walk later you’re in Disneyland??! WDW could never. The closest WDW has to this are the monorail hotels (Contemporary/Grand Flo/Poly), or the Epcot/DHS area hotels (Boardwalk/Yacht & Beach/Swan & Dolphin). However, even these just aren’t as convenient as the Disneyland hotels (excluding Paradise Pier, don’t blame me if that one is far away, I’ve never stayed there). To WDW’s credit, we do have a CRAP TON of incredible hotels, and the theming in some of them beats Disneyland’s hotels by a long shot.
I think that’s all I have to say about this subject at the moment! If you agree, disagree, or have anything to add please feel free to reach out to me on pretty much every form of social media @mickeyspremium!!