Which is better? Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

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Photo by Tara Fisher

I never thought I would loathe a question so much. To a Disney fan this is asking me to choose between a chocolate chip cookie and a double chocolate chip cookie. They are both delicious, but one may have a few extra chocolate chips to make it stand out.

My husband and I recently celebrated our two year anniversary at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. We had a wonderful time, and really enjoyed seeing Walt Disney’s original vision. Now, we are four hours away from Walt Disney World so we visit there frequently. I can walk through each park in WDW with my eyes closed.  I figured I had Disneyland under control, but apparently I did not.

Here’s what happens when a Walt Disney World fan enters Disneyland:

Wait…What? I have to check into my resort?

Yes, you have to check into your resort. This means you actually have to go to the front desk. No online check in and no magic bands. You receive your Key to the World card, guide maps for each park and buttons if you are celebrating.

There’s only one…I repeat ONE… bag check area

You mean I only have to go through bag check once. I don’t have to go through it again at each park. It’s a miracle! Disneyland has a few different bag check areas surrounding the resort so once you enter you are free to go to Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. If you leave to go to your resort, then you will have to go through bag check again.

Downtown Disney is not Disney Springs

Downtown Disney is small and it reminds me of what WDW’s Downtown Disney used to be before its transformation. There are plenty of Disney themed shops, restaurants, an AMC, ESPN Zone and nightly entertainment.

The Disneyland Hotel vs. DVC Villas

As Disney Vacation Club owners, we were not able to get a villa at the Grand Californian so we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. It was a wonderful experience. It is very Disney themed with each tower named after a land in the park. There is a huge pool, restaurants, Trader Sam’s and a great view from the E-Ticket Club. I recommend using more DVC points to stay at this hotel!

Entering the parks requires a ticket…(NO MAGIC BANDS)

Remember the days of paper tickets to enter the parks at WDW. Well, that’s what you get at Disneyland. Remember to have room in your wallet for all the extra tickets. Remember no magic bands here.

Paper FastPasses…what?  Get your running shoes on

Ahhh…the days of having to jog to your favorite attraction to try to snag a fastpass before they are gone. I never thought I would see those days again. I have a bittersweet love for this method. WDW‘s FastPass Plus system on the My Disney Experience App is a very convenient way to plan your day. You don’t have to worry about running to your favorite attraction or losing your ticket. Everything is linked to your magic band. At Disneyland, the old method keeps the day spontaneous, and you tend to just go with the flow.

Disneyland is a Different Kind of Magic Kingdom

It is a little disorienting to walk into Disneyland for the first time. It looks like home, but it feels different. Once you make the turn down Main Street and see Sleeping Beauty’s castle, you realize it’s not as big as Cinderella’s.  As we walked through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, FrontierLand, Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Adventureland, we realized we needed the guide maps to navigate around the park. I found myself walking to attractions thinking another attraction was near it, but it’s in another area in the park.

The majority of the attractions were the same as Walt Disney World, except they may be longer or add more to the story. What made them different were the cue lines or the outside theming. There are some attractions which lacked story such as Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain in WDW has a stronger story and more comfortable seats.

We did enjoy Mickey’s Toontown, which Walt Disney World used to have until they expanded Fantasyland. We also loved the Alice in Wonderland theming around Fantasyland. The best part of this park is the history surrounding it. You can see the news articles, the bench Walt Disney sat on when he first thought of Disneyland, and his quotes are everywhere! Overall, it was a very thrilling experience.

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Photo by Tara Fisher

Let’s bring some California Adventure to Walt Disney World

Disney’s California Adventure is definitely worth the trip. Cars Land is the highlight of this park. It is perfectly themed from Mater’s Petting Zoo to Radiator Springs Racers. Sorry Test Track, but Radiator Springs Racers is so much more fun! After venturing away from Cars Land, we went to Paradise Pier to ride California Screamin. This rollercoaster makes Aerosmith’s Rockin Rollercoaster look like child’s play. Everything in this park is nicely spread out so you aren’t stepping over people. If Walt Disney World decides to change Hollywood Studios’ name they should consider adding “Adventure” to it.

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Photo by Tara Fisher

Overall, I would highly suggest a Walt Disney World fan to experience the Disneyland Resort. You will have an appreciation for both parks and also for Walt Disney’s vision.

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