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Old 09-23-2005, 02:11 AM   #1
Sterm26
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Disneyland vs. Disney World

I"m not sure that this is a true "trip report"...it's really my personal comparison of the 2 American Disney theme parks. I'm fortunate enough to have visited both of them in the same calendar year, and I want to give my observations on the differences and similarities.

I guess you can call me a Disney World vet...I've been to WDW 8 times since 1979, including 2 trips 18 months apart between 11/03 and 02/05. I know that may seem paltry compared to many regulars on these forums, but still.....it's more than many of my friends have gone!

Anyway, I talked my family into going to Southern California and Disneyland this past August. My wife and 6 year old daughter have never been to California, and I figured we could get our Disney fix at DL while seeing some new sights. (And you couldn't beat the airfare I got )

I'd been to California 3 times before, all before 1990, and really didn't remember much about it. In fact, my only prior visit to DL was a disaster...a Saturday in the Summer, very crowded and hot. My dad and I left after about 3 hours, wishing we were in Orlando. Now, I wanted to give the place a second chance, especially during it's 50th anniversary year.

Things I loved about Disneyland:

Walt actually walked, slept, and lived here. The Tiki Room is NOT under new management (No Gilbert Gottfried screaming at me for 15 minutes). The new Space Mountain is incredible. Indiana Jones and Roger Rabbit. Mickey climbing the Matterhorn. Fantasmic is actually on the Rivers of America. Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster is an improvement over WDW's already excellent ride. Alice in Wonderland's Caterpillar cars. Main St. still has the Penny Arcade. The Blue Bayou restaurant is actually INSIDE the Pirates of the Carribean ride. The spectacular facade of "It's a Small World". The 50th anniversary parade and the wonderful fireworks show. Churros. Short walk to Downtown Disney and it's excellent restaurants. Walking distance to many hotels.

Things I didn't like:

The fact that the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, and the Monorail are visible from the freeway and bustling city streets. WDW lets the anticipation build as you get closer. (Not anyone's fault...Walt made sure to buy enough land in FL.) Lack of shade. CM's in DL aren't quite as jovial as their counterparts in WDW (personal observation...never heard "Have a magical day!" while in DL). Tomorrowland seems to have been patched together randomly...and what is that thing with the spinning satellite dishes? The monorail goes right over the gutted Submarine Lagoon...not very attractive.
The Matterhorn, quite frankly, is a disappointment...very bumpy. Redd Rocket's Pizza Port...all I can say is, ugh. California Adventure...ok park (how can you go wrong with the TOT and Soarin'?), but the Paradise Pier is exactly what Walt DIDN'T want when DL was constructed..a cheap amusement pier that could be found at any beach town. Also, why is there a fake Hollywood Boulevard about 30 miles from the real one?

Overall, I did enjoy my time at Disneyland and Southern California. I'm wondering if any of you who live in SoCal, and have been to DL many times and maybe WDW once feel the opposite way. I plan to return to DL in the future, but I'll be hitting Orlando again next year!

Thanks for reading this!

Sterm
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Last edited by Sterm26; 09-23-2005 at 02:13 AM. Reason: Grammar correction
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Old 09-23-2005, 10:00 AM   #2
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First of all, glad your recent trip was more successful than the last one. This subject has been debated many times. The general consensus seems to be that most folks prefer their home park. I live in Colorado and visit them both regularly but have a soft spot for Disneyland. It feels much more charming and as you say, its Walt's park, you can't beat that for a pixie dust feeling! It is a shame it isn't more removed from a big city but once I walk through that main entrance I might as well be a million miles from anything. I do miss all the wonderful onsite choices WDW has and their many price ranges.

The Matterhorn is bumpy but when you consider the age of that ride its pretty amazing. Not many parks still have rides that pack them in after 40 plus years. Space Mountain at WDW feels exactly the same in my book and after riding Disneyland's Space Mountain too many times to count two weeks ago, I doubt we'll waste our time with WDW's counterpart. As for DCA many people comment that Walt wouldn't like the Paradise Pier area. Probably a lot of truth in that. But I still enjoy the park. Its like the proverbial frosting on the cake. Would I fly two hours just to go to DCA? No. I also wouldn't fly 20 minutes just to visit MGM Studios which is my least favorite Disney theme park. But I would never not visit there while at WDW and enjoy my time there a lot. I just don't feel it has as much to offer as the other parks in WDW except for Fantasmic. The beauty of DCA is that it is right there. Its meant to be enjoyed like you do a condiment, with something else and not necessarily by itself!

I am glad you enjoyed your time at Disneyland. I really feel like I love both DL and WDW equally and spend a lot of time at each. We never miss one when we are at the other and just enjoy our time wherever we are lucky enough to be. DH and I are just keeping our fingers crossed that DVC really does put something at Disneyland, that would make things easier for us due to the lack of onsite choices. One more note I had to laugh at your Redd Rocket's comment! Again, its what your used to I guess because I think every bite of pizza I have had (don't even try anymore) at WDW tastes like the way sweaty gym socks smell!
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Old 09-23-2005, 01:33 PM   #3
Sterm26
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Pizza

Oh, I'm not saying that the pizza at WDW is any better! The pizza at the Pop Century food court at WDW is downright vile! Of course, I am a bit biased, here in South Philly we have dozens of mom-and-pop pizza places that blow away any chain pizza. I do think that the restaurants at DL are better, on average, than the ones at WDW's Magic Kingdom (but you can't beat Epcot's international dining).

As for Space Mountain, I would be willing to put up with a 2 year rehab of WDW's version if it turns out to be like DL's.

Also, the Matterhorn is a very cool park icon, and I do respect it's history as one of the first steel roller coasters. I think it can do with an upgrade, however.



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Last edited by Sterm26; 09-23-2005 at 01:40 PM. Reason: Additions
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Old 10-02-2005, 03:05 PM   #4
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While I share your oppinion on many things, I differ on a few. I love seeing the Matterhorn from the freeway. As I child, the anticipation of seeing the Matterhorn from I5 added to my excitement. It still does. And while there was a time that I thought it was too bumpy, I love the ride. I got used to the roughness I guess.

I thought it was funny that you yearned for Orlando after a hot summer Saturday years ago. I last visited WDW in August 2003 - whew! I thought the crowds were heavier than at DL , and the the heat was so intense -- at 9:00 in the morning! Thanks God for all the shade and airconditioned shops!
(More shade at DL would be welcomed though, particularly at DCA and the transportation area)

One of the things I love about DLR and WDW is that they are very different. I love that WDW is spread over many square miles, and that you can be fully entertained for 1-2 weeks without ever leaving the World. But I also love that DL is so compact, and that once at DL, it's possible to spend 5 days emersed in Disney without every getting into a car, or bus. And I love that 5 days is much more affordable than 2 weeks both in time and money.
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Old 10-02-2005, 10:10 PM   #5
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well...

I'm a WDW vet about to venture across the country into the original Disney park and I can't wait! Thanks for the trip report and comparison. I am really looking forward to trying all the attractions that WDW does not have-- esp. the bumpy Matterhorn because it's a classic-- and it is going to be great to see Mr. Toad again after all these years!

I never eat pizza at WDW and don't plan on it at DL either. But I am excited to try Blue Bayou and In and Out Burger when we're out of the park.
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Old 10-03-2005, 07:57 AM   #6
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WDW Vet here and comparing DL to MK, DL wins hands down for me. I am so glad I made the trip this year. What I do like better at MK, the Castle and Splash Mountain. I just loved DL, the quaint feeling you get walking around, I loved NO square. Space Mountain rocks, I can only hope WDW will one day do the same rehab. I loved the Matterhorn, the history, it is still a great ride. And most important DL has MR TOAD!!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-03-2005, 01:02 PM   #7
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In many ways, I think it's about expectations. I'd been to WDW also a number of times before going to disneyland. I had very low expectations for DL. I'm not sure why, but I think alot of it had to do with the fact that I rely heavily on the unofficial guide for WDW, and the introduction makes it sound as though DL is basically a couple of parks wedged into a parking lot in southern california.

When we finally went to DL for the first time last year, I was blown away. It's a different kind of thing, for sure, but still great in its own way. If you need a week-long, never leave the park, all enveloping experience, you need to go to Florida. But DL has an awful lot to commend it. I really like the MK, but in the final analysis think DL is better. More quaint or something. Can't explain it. Outside the gates, I'd rather be at WDW, but once you're in, it's hard to beat disneyland.

I also did not expect as much from the disneyland hotels as you get at the WDW hotels, but was really surprised. The views aren't as nice, but they work just as hard on the "magic."
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Old 10-03-2005, 04:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for you comparison. Its so interesting to read everyones different views. Its so funny that two parks can be so similiar yet so vastly different. We've been forunate enough to go to WDW and DL in the same year now too (and just 60 days out from our next DL trip). I agree with what another poster said about favoring your home park. I've been to DL more times then I can count and this summer was my first trip to WDW (we had 10 days at the parks and then did a Disney Cruise). For us a WDW vacation and a DL vacation are almost like two different trips. I know DL like the back of my hand and never plan anything (except maybe a Blue Bayou ps). Its very spontaneous and go with the flow, wandering between both parks with very little planning (and very little waiting since we know them well enough to know when to go and what to ride when). WDW seemed to require so much planning just because everything is so spread out, and you want to make sure to pack it all in, not to mention we didn't know where anything was. We also had certain PS's we wanted to get which meant knowing 90 days out knowing which park we would be at on which day. We didn't wait in to many lines at WDW still thanks to Tour Guide Mike. But we didn't like the busses to each park when we were used to walking between them, and the summer heat there is a million times worse then here. When we go to DL we tend to park the car once and and not move it till we leave, just walking everywhere. But theres only so much you can do, so we only go 3 days at a time usually. I loved that you could go to WDW and not leave and it could keep you busy for 10 days and still leave you with things you hadn't gotten to do, but at the same time, I'm glad I live closer to DL so I can just take my 3 day trips a couple times a year and feel I've done it all and gotten my Disney fix while still having vacation money and time left over for new adventures in other non-Disney (gasp!) places. We did feel like even though WDW has so many more parks, and CA was a dumb idea for a theme park IN CA, we still have the best of each of all the WDW parks here at Cal Adventure (AKL's ITTBAB, Epcot's Turtle Talk and Soarin, MGM Star Tours and TOT). Also Magic Kingdom wasn't "home" to me the way Disneyland is. It seemed huge but with less to do and less theming?? I agree that somehow DL is more charming or quaint then MK but can't put my finger on why either. I do know I really missed New Orleans Square in MK. From WDW, I will miss walking Epcot World Showcase at night time, and Mickey's Philharmagic (my favorite attraction!!). I will definitely visit WDW again but its Disneyland for us.
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:23 PM   #9
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OK My turn. I have been to WDW over 20 times including twice less than a year apart. Plus, I just got back from my first trip to DL. I'm not going to lie. I enjoyed DL but it isn't DW. There are some distinct advantages to going to DL. Such as The Matterhorn, SM, Buzz Lightyear, and Mr. Toad. But there are downsides such as a very small Castle and Monorail and not near as many attractions. Just don't get to do as much at DL.

Other opinions are: reminded me of Universal in Orlando. Parked in a parking deck, take a tram to the DTD area, buy a ticket, and then turn either to the right or the left to decide which park to go to. Just like US and City Walk. Also, maybe I was just in there on a good day but the crowds were not bad at all but what I saw was dressed more appropriate than what I see all the time at WDW. In Orlando, a lot of the guests will come in wearing bikini tops and mini skirts. (While I am a guy and that doesn't bother me one bit, I still don't think it is appropriate attire for a family park.) I also saw a kid doing his homework inside the park. Maybe I am a little crazy but if the kid has that much homework, stay at home.

Just my opinion.
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Old 10-04-2005, 07:38 PM   #10
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I completely agree with everything you wrote. Though, I do like The Matterhorn, I don't remember it being as bumpy. They need to refurbish The Matterhorn, immediately. Though, the one thing that I did enjoy about DL is the fact that characters are not so restricted in just posing for pictures or signing an autograph book. They actually INTERACT with everyone. And I thought DCA was completely lame.
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Old 10-04-2005, 11:11 PM   #11
Sterm26
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Home park

A friend of mine just got back from Orlando and is heading out to DL next May. I highly recommended it to him, just in case some of you think I'm unfairly trashing the place....
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Old 10-06-2005, 03:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalGal
While I share your oppinion on many things, I differ on a few. I love seeing the Matterhorn from the freeway. As I child, the anticipation of seeing the Matterhorn from I5 added to my excitement. It still does.
That's a very good and valid point. I got the same feeling once I saw the matterhorn. It's funny because my kids get the same way, too! Of course, who wouldn't?

Anyways, glad to hear that you had a great time this trip. Our family took our first trip to WDW this year and while we had a great time, there were things that we didn't like. For example, It's A Small World seemed like a ride that was an afterthought. We literally walked by it and didn't know it! Another one was on POTC, we were expecting a big 2nd drop like at DL but it never came!

It's hard not to draw comparisons between both parks because they have so many similarities and differences. For future trips to DL or WDW, we'll just try to have a good time. But I know that won't be too hard!
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Old 10-06-2005, 05:50 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=CalGal]While I share your oppinion on many things, I differ on a few. I love seeing the Matterhorn from the freeway. As I child, the anticipation of seeing the Matterhorn from I5 added to my excitement. It still does.]


As a life long So. Cal resident I have to agree. As we got closer to Anaheim my family would have a contest to see who could spot the Matterhorn first. When we drove away at night, I would look back and see it lighted up and it would give me such a secure feeling knowing that even though our day at the park was over, the Matterhorn would still be waiting there when we came back.
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Old 10-06-2005, 07:42 PM   #14
Amy&Dan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sterm26
A friend of mine just got back from Orlando and is heading out to DL next May. I highly recommended it to him, just in case some of you think I'm unfairly trashing the place....
I don't think anybody thinks your trashing the place, we just LOVE the place! Also, if I had a dime for everytime a WDW lover came over this this side of disboards and was less than enthusiastic about Disneyland, I'd be able to buy a lot of Mickey Bars! Although I must say, since Disneyland got spruced up for the 50th, the comments have been mostly positive.
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:49 AM   #15
Sterm26
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Home park

As someone said before, it probably all depends on your "home" park.

I went to WDW 5 times before I made it to DL. I still remember my first trip, my dad driving, following the signs, parking lot...where the heck was the park? Everything was slowly revealed...the monorail track, the Contemporary, 7 Seas Lagoon...and finally, glimmering on the other side of the lake, Cinderella's Castle and Space Mountain! I made sure that my daughter had the same experience the first time we took her a couple years ago.

In my opinion, Walt would have wanted the same thing for Disneyland, unfortunately he just couldn't buy enough land. But that's just me.

That said, the other WDW parks, at least Epcot and MGM, are visible from the nearby roadways, and that doesn't detract from my enjoyment at those places. Maybe it's just an MK thing with me!

I did love DL and do plan to return, but WDW is my home base.
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