My family just returned home from our very FIRST Disneyland vacation! Between having been a cast member at Walt Disney World and family vacations I have been to Walt Disney World many times. Upon our return from Disneyland the question on the lips of many friends, family, clients, chiropractor, pastor… has been “So do you like Walt Disney World or Disneyland better”? I will be honest I may have been a little…okay a lot biased with my love for Walt Disney World. I knew I would enjoy our time at Disneyland BUT I wasn’t expecting to LOVE Disneyland as much as I now do!!!
My family stayed on property at the Disneyland Hotel and I was thrilled with how close it was to everything!!! Unlike, Walt Disney World where they have many, many, many onsite hotels to choose from Disneyland has 3 on property resorts. The 3 on property resorts are: Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel, and The Grand Californian. The resorts are so conveniently located and within walking distance to Downtown Disney (yes, it is still Downtown Disney at Disneyland), Disneyland, California Adventure, and the monorail (which will take you to Tomorrowland in the Disneyland park). My family enjoyed a few hours to rest and swim on most afternoons so the ability to just walk or take the monorail and be back to our room shortly was awesome!
Even though Disneyland is quite a bit smaller than Walt Disney World we always had plenty to do! We were in the theme parks for 3 days which looking back on I wish we had added a 4th day, especially being a first visit that happened to be during peak travel season. Just in case you are worried that you won’t be walking as much as you would at Walt Disney World no need for concern - we logged 9 1/2 miles onto our fitbits on just our first day at the parks! Disneyland does have some of the same attractions as Walt Disney World but what we noticed was that many of them weren’t exactly the same, and we actually enjoyed some of them more. Make sure to try “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “It’s a small World”. I took my 3 year old on “It’s a Small World” because I HAD to go on it for the history behind it. I quickly discovered it was much different then what I am used to at Walt Disney World. It looks like it has been updated and there are Disney characters within nearly every scene. My daughter loved it and her smile helped remind me of the magic of Disney and how these are memories that I will be treasuring for many years!
Disneyland has many attractions and shows that are unique to just Disneyland SOME of them include: Indiana Jones Adventure, the Matterhorn, everything in Cars Land (AMAZING), California Screamin', Grizzly River Run, and Great Moments with Abraham Lincoln. Another difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland is how they do FastPasses. FastPasses are a ticket (at Disneyland) or a swipe of your Magic Band (Walt Disney World) during a pre-determined time that allows you to bypass the standard wait line and go in a much faster FastPass line! Walt Disney World has a top notch system that allows you to choose FastPasses 60 days before you travel. For the planner in me it was the worst having to wait to get my FastPasses 1 at time in the theme parks.
At Disneyland there are FastPasses for the following attractions:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Haunted Mansion
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours
At California Adventure there are fastpasses for the following attractions:
- California Screamin'
- Goofy's Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Radiator Springs Racers (Go first thing and get your FastPass for this attraction as it fills up fast. The distribution area is near It's Tough to be a Bug)
- Soarin' over California
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- World of Color (This is the only FastPass that you can select and immediately go get another FastPass without having to use it first. The distribution area is near Grizzly River Run)
For the World of Color FastPass make sure you show up even before the allotted FastPass time it states on your ticket. When you arrive you will get in a waiting cue and those closest to the front of the line will be have the best area in the section with which to view the show. The show is on the water and viewers are required to stand which makes it difficult, and nearly impossible to see if you have tall people standing in front of you.
Dining reservations are different between the two destinations as well. Dining reservations are highly suggested for Walt Disney World and the reservations can be made 180 days in advance. Dining reservations are not as heavily needed for most restaurants at Disneyland, although highly recommended, if you are interested in a particular restaurant or in character dining, and reservations can be made 60 days before you travel. Make sure to work with your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist regarding dining recommendations. If staying on property at Disneyland you will have a character dining experience conveniently located at your resort as each of the 3 on property resorts have a character dining restaurant.
So back to the question “do I like Walt Disney World or Disneyland better”….is like asking me which of my kids I love more! Although, there are similarities they are different and I LOVE them both and can’t wait until our next visit!!!