Tell me what you love about Disneyland! (and where we should stay)

seasalt81

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
We spent two days at Disneyland earlier this year during an RV trip around the west. My daughter LOVED it, my husband thought it was just as much fun as Disney World, but for me, I just didn't feel the "magic" (I think partially because we stayed offsite which we've never done at WDW and partially because we'd just spent a week in comparatively quiet and uncrowded national parks!).

We're visiting family in Texas this fall and have a week afterward to do... something. That something was going to be WDW but the resort prices are so high, even with the new discounts, that I'm looking elsewhere. My daughter is begging to go back to Disneyland and my husband is on board with the idea, so I want to get excited about it. I'm sure there's so much more to it that we didn't explore or experience. So please tell me what you love about Disneyland!

We won't be staying onsite as we need a kitchen for severe food allergies (another reason I'm hesitant, I think, as I've read Disneyland isn't quite as good with the food allergies as Disney World -- we didn't attempt any in-park meals last time). I'm trying to decide if we should stay as close to Disneyland as possible (in a hotel suite or VRBO) or if we should rent something on the beach (I think I read Newport Beach is pretty close... 20 min drive or so?) to add another layer to the vacation. But I'm not sure if that would take us out of "the bubble" even more.

Any feedback or advice is very much appreciated!!
 

tlcdoula

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 7, 2009
I agree the prices at WDW right now are insane.. I was pricing out a trip for next year and we are prob going to skip and do a longer California trip. I am not sure of hotels with kitchens. We try to stay as close to the cross walk as we can on S.Harbour. Del Sol is one that we have often stayed at because if the cost but they only have a microwave and small fridge. With those hotels across the street I don't feel taken out of the bubble. This trip we are trying Desert Inn & Suites which is next door because the cost was quite a bit less.

I love both DL and WDW but find I lean towards DL as my favorite. I love the historical fact that Walt was there etc, I also love the ease of the park. Being able to park hop back and forth multiple times a day if we want. Max pass helps with that allowing us to get fast passes easier and do the rides everyone wants multiple times. Downtown Disney is also nice and close and isn't as overwhelming to me as Disney Springs is now.

I hope someone can chime in and give you some help on options with kitchens. I haven't traveled with anyone with allergies but when we had a picky eater with us and she was asking about certain things they asked if she wanted to talk to the chef who could go over options with her. She declined and told them it wasn't an allergy she just had a hard time with some foods etc.
 
  • baozi

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 18, 2017
    Everyone has his/her own angle, and everyone has different priorities. So depending on how you weight them, there is just no "right" or "wrong" overall feeling. I think people talked enough about specific good (like convenience, compact layout such that you do not need to walk a lot, fastpass system such that everyone has equal chances on the day of) or bad aspects (small park, less apparent boundary between Disney and outside, less food choices), it is still up to you when you make a decision.
     

    StarlitNight05

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 6, 2016
    The Residence Inn on S Harbor & W Katella may be a good option for you. They have kitchens with larger fridges, a microwave, and a cooktop (no oven, just the burners). They also have a nice free breakfast, but not sure how great it is for someone with allergies (but others could partake). The walk from that location isn't bad at all, I'd say about 10-15 minutes depending on how fast you walk. It's not the same feeling as being onsite of course, but most everyone else out and about is there for Disneyland so it doesn't feel like you are just smack dab in the middle of a random city. There is also a CVS and Walgreens nearby that comes in handy for last minute items you may need. I personally love being within walking distance -- so much less stress and more flexibility.

    As for why I love Disneyland, it's the Disney history that really gets me. There is something downright magical about being at the only park Walt stepped foot in. I also love the compact feel of the resort and being able to park hop on a whim.
     
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    Erin M

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 12, 2018
    A few years ago we stayed at the Clementine Inn and Suites when it was still a Residence Inn. It had a kitchen and a good enough pool for kiddos. The walk was also manageable, 15 minutes or so. The ART bus was an option as well, but always just walked. The rooms were spacious and clean. We'd stay there again if we needed a kitchen.

    I have never stayed on property at WDW so I don't know that I understand the bubble people are talking about, but I know that part of my DL magical bubble (when I stay on or off property) experience is just remembering that I am in Walt's park. We also do at least one really special thing each trip, maybe a Fantasmic Dining Package or the World of Color Dessert Party. They are spendy but they really add that extra magic to our stays. We also do little extras like pack our Disney pjs and bring Disney snacks. So from the get go, we're in a Disney sort of mind. But then there is also magic in just being in sunny California with the music and smells, and no humidity! :)
     
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    BrianL

    Doom Buggy Driver
    Joined
    Jul 24, 2013
    I felt that too when I first went to DL - it feels a little quaint compared to WDW at first - I mean, that castle is small! ;) What you've gotta do is focus on the details, which I actually think they do better at DL. Think about how Walt was there and what a special thing he built. As you walk up Main Street, look not to the castle, but to the Matterhorn towering above it. Ride those original Fantasyland dark rides and bask in pure Disney magic! Also, I can't recommend Mickey and the Magical Map enough - make sure to see this show! Across the Esplanade, nothing impresses like Cars Land - what a lovely sight! Enjoy the scenic surroundings of Grizzly Peak and Pixar Pier. Also, the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride is a ton of fun and will have you coming out singing!

    Sure, things are a bit different. It's a little smaller and has a little less of that "bubble" feeling, but if you just go with it I think you can warm up to the DL style just fine. Have fun!
     
  • cdatkins

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 30, 2011
    We spent two days at Disneyland earlier this year during an RV trip around the west. My daughter LOVED it, my husband thought it was just as much fun as Disney World, but for me, I just didn't feel the "magic" (I think partially because we stayed offsite which we've never done at WDW and partially because we'd just spent a week in comparatively quiet and uncrowded national parks!).

    We're visiting family in Texas this fall and have a week afterward to do... something. That something was going to be WDW but the resort prices are so high, even with the new discounts, that I'm looking elsewhere. My daughter is begging to go back to Disneyland and my husband is on board with the idea, so I want to get excited about it. I'm sure there's so much more to it that we didn't explore or experience. So please tell me what you love about Disneyland!

    We won't be staying onsite as we need a kitchen for severe food allergies (another reason I'm hesitant, I think, as I've read Disneyland isn't quite as good with the food allergies as Disney World -- we didn't attempt any in-park meals last time). I'm trying to decide if we should stay as close to Disneyland as possible (in a hotel suite or VRBO) or if we should rent something on the beach (I think I read Newport Beach is pretty close... 20 min drive or so?) to add another layer to the vacation. But I'm not sure if that would take us out of "the bubble" even more.

    Any feedback or advice is very much appreciated!!
    Disneyland is immersive in a way that Walt Disney World is not.

    Bear with me here.

    Disneyland is smaller, physically. This is a challenge that they have had to overcome. DL has to cater to local guests mostly, and provide lots of reasons for them to come back multiple times.

    So they have to pack a lot more new and better experiences into a much smaller space.

    So, the result is complete immersion.

    As an example, we were visiting Tarzan's Tree House. As we were coming down, a few feet (literally) away from us on the left was a little character greeting spot, where Moana was. She was literally feet away from us and we weren't even in line. And then yards away from us was the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and queue, and then in the other direction was the Indiana Jones attraction and queue.

    There is no place you can be in Disneyland where you don't feel this. And there is music and sound at every turn that supports this feeling.

    On the other hand, at WDW, they have much more space, and consequently things are more spaced out. To me it feels "empty" in a way that DL does not.

    I had the privilege of visiting DL and WDW within a space of 3 months a few years back, and I could not believe how much bigger and lifeless WDW felt in comparison.

    I know it's hard to describe but that is the feeling you get at DL that you don't at WDW.

    DL feels like great effort had to be taken to provide this immersive experience, and many challenges had to be overcome.

    WDW really feels like a clone that was made in a much less challenging fashion.

    Does this make sense at all?
     

    redleader74

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 10, 2019
    I’ve been to DL many times and so on one visit, way back in the 90’s I decided to focus less on chasing down the big rides and spending more time on the things that I ignored as a child:

    Checking out the art galleries and museums
    Ride all the different transports up and down Main Street (horse drawn wagon, omnibus, fire engine, etc.)
    Penny Arcade
    Watch all the “street” performances
    Shop (and not just the typical Mickey t-shirts, etc., but land themed items)

    I plan to do many of these things on our visit next month, there’s so much Disney history on Main Street alone. I also downloaded the Play Disney app and plan to use that too.
     

    redleader74

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 10, 2019
    So, the result is complete immersion.
    Yes, totally agree. I'm going to add to this and say that DL and the Disney experience is also transportive. It is also a time machine and a time capsule. No cheap flimsy facades where you can easily look around a corner and see the cheap backlot. The idea is that once you enter the gates you forget you're in Anaheim. You are wherever Disney wants you to be.
     

    seasalt81

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 6, 2019
    Does this make sense at all?
    It totally does... I think I went last time expecting it to feel like WDW and it just didn't. I'm excited to go again with a different perspective and actually look for the immersive nature, the history, etc.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this viewpoint!
     
  • seasalt81

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 6, 2019
    I felt that too when I first went to DL - it feels a little quaint compared to WDW at first - I mean, that castle is small! ;) What you've gotta do is focus on the details, which I actually think they do better at DL. Think about how Walt was there and what a special thing he built. As you walk up Main Street, look not to the castle, but to the Matterhorn towering above it. Ride those original Fantasyland dark rides and bask in pure Disney magic! Also, I can't recommend Mickey and the Magical Map enough - make sure to see this show! Across the Esplanade, nothing impresses like Cars Land - what a lovely sight! Enjoy the scenic surroundings of Grizzly Peak and Pixar Pier. Also, the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride is a ton of fun and will have you coming out singing!

    Sure, things are a bit different. It's a little smaller and has a little less of that "bubble" feeling, but if you just go with it I think you can warm up to the DL style just fine. Have fun!
    Thank you! You know, I don't even remember really taking in the details while we were there. I think I also felt way less prepared for DL than I always do for WDW (after allllll of the planning it takes!) and I was kind of thrown off. Your response had helped me see that there's SO MUCH there to appreciate that I hadn't even really considered. Looking forward to it now :)
     

    seasalt81

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 6, 2019
    As for why I love Disneyland, it's the Disney history that really gets me. There is something downright magical about being at the only park Walt stepped foot in. I also love the compact feel of the resort and being able to park hop on a whim.
    Thanks for the hotel recommendation... will def check that one out. And the more of these responses I read, the more I see how much I overlooked the history aspect last time. Thanks so much for sharing that and pointing it out!
     

    Castlequeen5

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 20, 2019
    We live in the south, so WDW is where I went as a child and where we go the most. But in 2016-2017, we had annual passes to DL that started with a summer vacation to CA. I love Disneyland! Here's why...

    *Both parks are right next door, so you can park hop very easily and often. And Downtown Disney is right there too. Super convenient!
    *You can stay right next to DL and not pay a huge amount of money. There are a plethora of hotels for every budget. Plus getting back to your hotel room is much quicker than staying at most of the WDW resorts.
    *Same day paper fastpasses (at least at the time)- way less planning.
    *60 Day ADRs- again way less planning.
    *Weather. We often wore jackets in the morning and night, even during the summer. Temperatures were perfect for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Spring Break. I love sitting under a blanket while watching the parade.
    *Blue Bayou. The food is fine (love the Monte Cristo), but the atmosphere is very cool to me!
    *Mickey Beignets. Delicious! Do they exist in WDW?
    *Plaza Inn. The best chicken!
    *Cars Land. I think it's the best land of both US parks. Radiator Springs is my absolute favorite ride. Test Track just doesn't compare.
    *Pirates ride is better, or seems so to me.
    *Splash ride is better, or seems so to me.
    *Haunted Mansion is cooler looking on the outside at least.
    *Paint the Night parade is or was the BEST parade ever! It was at DL when we were there. So I don't know much about it since it moved over to CA. I'm all about nostalgia, but the electrical parade got old to me after about 5 minutes. I could watch PTN every day. The music and the floats were awesome!

    I love WDW too. We actually have APs there right now. But Disneyland was a wonderful experience for us. I have no doubt we'll go back there in a few years.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    There are quite a few hotels with kitchens or kitchenettes near DLR. Off the top of my head: Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Homewood Suites, Clementine Hotel (used to be a RI), etc. You can either shop for your own groceries (for allergies, there is a Sprouts health food style market on Harbor in Fullerton -- about 15 minutes? north of the parks) or have groceries delivered (Vons.com or Amazon.com are popular here).
    I have lots of allergies and sensitivities and have never had a problem with food at DLR. With TS, always note on your reservation what the allergies or needs are. Repeat this at check in and with your server. A chef will come to your table to talk with you or you can request that a chef come to speak with you. At buffets, a chef can walk you through the buffet to show you what will be safe for you or something can be made custom for you. Be aware that customized food can take longer to prepare, especially if it must be made in a special area to avoid cross contamination. So planning your meals for off peak times can really help so that chefs and staff can take time to help you. If the kitchen is already swamped, they won't have the time to give you the attention you might need.
    For CS, ask for a lead or a manager if your questions aren't being answered. Suppliers change all the time, so a cashier might not know all the details needed to answer every question. A chef can come out to speak with you at CS locations, too. But, again, planning meals at off peak times will be to your advantage. If a CS location is swamped, staff will not have the time to look up information for you or to customize food for you. And making customized meals can take time, so have safe snacks with you all the time to avoid hanger.
    Even at DTD, most places are great at dealing with allergies. (Salt & Straw Ice Cream and Jamba Juice are stellar!) Speak up, be proactive, make your needs known on all reservations so the kitchen can prepare for you.
    It can help if you print out index cards with your allergies that can be handed to servers and chefs. I print out my major allergies on one side and my absolutely safe foods on the other side (in different color ink so the two sides can't be mixed up). My allergies are a little weird, so I understand that they can be confusing to some people. But no chef at DLR has ever been flummoxed by my "safe foods" list! Everyone has managed to come up with tasty dishes using those ingredients every time.
    My experience has been that as long as I communicate my needs clearly and early, DLR CMs are more than willing to work with me to make my meals fit my needs. You're going to be fine.
     

    RainyDayPixie

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2007
    A friend has a daughter with very severe food allergies (including contact allergies to wheat and dairy). The first time in her 11 years she had eaten in a restaurant was at Disneyland. They were terrified! They had very good luck at table service venues, particularly at Storytellers at GCH.
     

    wowsmom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2006
    I agree with theluckyrabbit. I have multiple food allergies and we actually drive 40 miles to the DLR every week for dinner out, because they've always done a great job dealing with them.

    They are always willing to help, are very careful, etc. Things do take longer - for example, if I get the corn chowder at the french market, they will go down to the kitchen and get my soup directly from the cooking pot and will cut a fresh bread bowl for me, which can take 10-20 minutes, depending on how busy they are.

    Also, I've had times where they just couldn't safely accommodate me - like when DH wanted to eat at the Cove Bar and they couldn't guarantee my food would be shellfish-free due to the amount of lobster they handled there.

    Once at Carnation Cafe, the item I ordered actually had something I couldn't eat, so the chef came out and offered to make something off menu for me.

    Since I have multiple allergies, I actually type them up and print them out, then stick the little papers in my wallet. I always have extra copies, so the server can take one to the chef. That way, I don't have to worry about the server forgetting something (or me forgetting to mention something!).
     

    wowsmom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2006
    A friend has a daughter with very severe food allergies (including contact allergies to wheat and dairy). The first time in her 11 years she had eaten in a restaurant was at Disneyland. They were terrified! They had very good luck at table service venues, particularly at Storytellers at GCH.
    Just be aware that Storyteller's discontinued their menu last year, so the buffet is the only option. I'm still sad/mad about that. :(
     

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