Sunday, June 23, 2013

Disney World vs Disneyland

Even if you visit Walt Disney World on a weekly basis like I do, Disneyland is still definitely worth the trip.  My daughters have actually decided that they like Disneyland better, probably because everything was new to them, even rides they can go on in Orlando.  I recommend at least 3 days with a park hopper pass if you hope to see all the major attractions.  If you're from the east coast, also be prepared for some jet lag, which kept us from enjoying all the parks had to offer at night.  We spent our entire first day in Disneyland,  day two at Disney California Adventure, and visited both parks twice on day three.  Thankfully, the Fairfield Inn Anaheim was across the street from Disneyland, so we could easily walk back for a short afternoon break each day.  I would have liked to have used our DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points, but had no luck booking a stay at The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  If your home resort is in Florida, make sure you call on the first day you can book if you hope to stay at this beautiful resort.  We never made it off the waiting list because I waited too long to make the request!  

Disneyland Park is a lot like the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, but there are some notable differences.  Sleeping Beauty's Castle seemed smaller than Cinderella's Castle, but it has a cute little walk through that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty.

 In Fantasyland, you can still enjoy Snow White's Scary Adventures and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, two attractions that are no longer at the Magic Kingdom.  

We all thought It's a Small World was significantly better in California.  It was fun to search for the Disney characters interspersed throughout the ride. 

Fantasyland rides that are better in the Magic Kingdom include the new and improved Dumbo, Peter Pan, and the Mad Tea Party, because it's under cover.  Be prepared to stand outside in line for some rides in Disneyland.   I missed the shade, fans, and air conditioning of Florida as I waited for some of the rides.  Thankfully, Anaheim's weather is much cooler in the summer than Orlando's. Fantasyland in Disneyland included some rides that the Magic Kingdom has never had, like Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  Fastpasses are not available for any rides in Fantasyland in California, so get there when the park opens, or be prepared to wait in lines that usually averaged 30 minutes.  Sadly, we missed Mickey and the Magical Map, a new live musical show in Fantasyland.  

Tomorrowland in Anaheim is where you can find the Disneyland Monorail, Autopia (known as Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom), Space Mountain, Captain EO, Star Tours, Astro Orbitor, Innoventions, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  First, I have to talk about Space Mountain, because it was one of our favorite rides.  It is so much better in Disneyland!  Because my girls could sit next to my husband and I, they reluctantly went on the ride, which they have never been on in the Magic Kingdom because of the separate seating.  It was so much smoother than its counterpart in Florida.  No sore neck for me!  My twins loved it so much, that we decided to ride it a second time later in the trip.  We also loved the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which is a cross between the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from the Magic Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.  

The Disneyland Monorail travels between Tomorrowland and Downtown Disney and shockingly seemed to have no air conditioning!  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters was a lot of fun and I liked it better than Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom because you can pick up your blaster.  The ride itself was very different too, so make sure to ride it!  Star Tours had only minor differences -- the number of rows and seats in the vehicle, and the robots you encounter while you wait in line.  The Disneyland Railroad is worth a ride, especially between Tomorrowland and Main Steet because of the sites and displays you will ride past.  

In Frontierland and Critter Country, you will find Splash Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Tom Sawyer Island, Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which sadly, was closed for refurbishment.  Winnie the Pooh shocked us with its 3 minute wait....yes, that's what the sign said.  This was the first time I've ever seen that in a Disney park!  We enjoyed the ride and its slight differences from the Magic Kingdom.   

Our first day in the park, we had lunch at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante.  The grilled chicken was quite good and the chef brought out corn tortillas for me from the back.  

The four Adventureland attractions in Disneyland are the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's Treehouse, and the very cool Indiana Jones Adventure, which uses vehicles and technology similar to the Animal Kingdom's Countdown to Extinction. The Jungle Cruise was on par with the ride in Orlando, with only some small differences.  Indiana Jones was definitely my favorite ride in this part of the park, because it was something new and different, and I tend to like thrill rides.    The Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland has one of my favorite Disney treats -- Dole Whip!     

Mickey's Toontown is worth a visit because of Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.  Other attractions include Goofy's Playhouse, Donald's Boat, Chip 'n Dale Treehouse, and Minnie and Mickey's houses. 

Probably my favorite area of Disneyland was New Orleans Square, home to two of my favorite Disney rides -- Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.  The Haunted Mansion's exterior is very different in Orlando and the ride is better and longer in Disney World. Disneyland does not yet have the cool head swapping technology at the end, and the interactive line through the cemetery.  

Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland is much longer and easily beats out its sister ride in Disney World. New Orleans Square is also home to two great Disneyland restaurants -- Cafe Orleans and the Blue Bayou.   At the Blue Bayou, I had a delicious piece of salmon on a bed of corn risotto.  The salad, gluten free bread, and pear sorbet were also very good.  

At Cafe Orleans, I had a salad as my entree, and we shared an order of  their famous pommes frites with Parmesan and garlic.  Initially, the chef told me I could not eat them because of cross- contamination in the fryers, but I asked him if he could heat up some new oil, and he agreed as long as I was willing to wait.  

The Pommes  Frites were amazing, and were worth the wait.  

The “Crescent City” Salad at Cafe Orleans is described as  Pan-seared Atlantic Salmon on top of fresh Spinach and Mixed Baby Greens, tossed with Caramelized Pecans, Red Grapes, Navel Orange Segments, Caramelized Onions, Chopped Green Onions, Roasted Sweet Corn, and Orange-Cilantro Vinaigrette.  I loved everything about this salad, and would definitely order it again if I ever have a chance to go back to Cafe Orleans.  

We thoroughly enjoyed our meals at both restaurants and would be regulars at these establishments if they were in Disney World.  The ambiance of both was also great.  The Blue Bayou overlooks Pirates of the Caribbean and reminds me of the atmosphere of San Angel Inn, the restaurant in the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot.  At Cafe Orleans, most seating is outside, where you have a great view of the Rivers of America.  

Dining reservations are completely different in Disneyland. Currently, you cannot make reservations online and you can only call 60 days out.  Don't expect a confirmation number either!  Like Disney World, I found all the chefs to be extremely helpful, and knowledgeable about what dishes contained gluten.

On Main Street, U.S.A, the Holly Jolly Bakery Cafe has Udi's Blueberry Muffins, and OMG....It's Gluten Free brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  I enjoyed all 3 on this trip!  

I also read that Village Haus Restaurant, River Belle Terrace, and the Hungry Bear Restaurant are good quick service restaurants for people with allergies at Disneyland Park.  

About a two minute stroll from Disneyland, is Disney California Adventure, which contains the newly opened Cars Land.  Make sure you are in the park when it opens and go straight to Radiator Springs Racers or get in the long line for a fastpass.  They go quickly!  We went straight to the ride and had to wait about an hour, but it was worth it.  The ride is similar to Test Track at Epcot, but it has a Cars theme.  

We also loved Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, but I would skip Luigi's Flying Tires unless you have little kids.  It was pretty unexciting!  

I loved Paradise Pier, which reminded me of old-school amusement parks.  The centerpiece is Mickey's Fun Wheel, a Ferris wheel on which you can choose rocking or non-rocking cars.

I also enjoyed the Silly Symphony Swings, the Golden Zephyr, Jumpin' Jellyfish, and a great little coaster called Goofy's Sky School, which reminded me of Primeval Whirl in the Animal Kingdom.  I didn't go on California Screamin', the big coaster with the loop, because I don't like huge hills or crazy fast take-offs anymore, but some of my in-laws tried it and loved it.  Sadly, we didn't have time to go on Toy Story Midway Mania because it had a long wait and we had to get in line for World of Color, California Adventure's nighttime water spectacular.  My advice -- get a fastpass for World of Color, get in line early, and don't stand near the water unless you want to get really wet.  We stood on an upper tier against a railing so no one could block our view.  It was a great show, but we were standing for 2 hours altogether, which was not fun.  The Little Mermaid -- Ariel's Undersea Adventure, is almost exactly like the new ride in the Magic Kingdom, but there was no line in California!  I had lunch at Paradise Garden Grill twice. I loved the grilled steak on a skewer with rice, chimichurri sauce, and cucumbers.  Let them know you have a special diet request so they can give you GF rice.  Boardwalk Pizza, right next door, also told me that they could make me a cheese or pepperoni pizza.  

We passed on the Grizzly River Run (didn't want to get wet) and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail attractions in Grizzly Peak, but we did ride Soarin' in neighboring Condor Flats.  The ride seemed to have fewer seats than its counterpart in Epcot and it lacked the wonderful scents that the ride in Orlando has, which was a big disappointment.  I love the smell of oranges on Soarin' in Florida!  

On Buena Vista Street, we caught the Red Car Trolley and enjoyed a short ride to Hollywood Land to the attraction I will never, ever get on again for the rest of my life.....The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!!!!  Have I mentioned I don't like big drops?  I rode it once when it first opened in Hollywood Studios.  Been there, done that, been scared half to death....I'm good!  

We skipped Muppet Vision 3D, Animation Academy, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Disney Junior Live on Stage in favor of two attractions that Disney World does not have.  Disney's Aaladdin -- A Musical Spectacular was a lot of fun and worth the wait.  We also enjoyed Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, a ride that follows the storyline of the original movie.  

In Bug's Land, a great area for little kids, the girls and I rode Flik's Flyers, a cute little ride in which you soar through the sky in a hot air balloon made of leaves. 

We skipped  It's Tough to be a Bug, because we can see it at Animal Kingdom, and ran out of time for Francis' Ladybug Boogie and Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies.  Pacific Wharf only has 2 attractions -- The Bakery Tour, where you watch bakers create sourdough bread, and Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, which had this description -- "See the exciting changes in store"". We didn't get to see either one because we left California Adventure early on day 2 to spend a great afternoon with friends at Huntington Beach. 

Yes, Disney World has four parks, and Disneyland only has two, but it's worth the trip for several reasons.  For starters, I really wanted to see the place where all the magic began. Plus, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure both have many attractions that don't exist at Disney World.  Even the rides that can be found in both Orlando and Anaheim are worth riding because they are never 100% the same.  We enjoyed looking for and talking about the differences.  We were heading to Temecula for a wedding, so there was no way I was passing up a chance to go to Disneyland while we were in California.  I'm so glad we went!  


  1. Very interesting to see the comparison between the two parks, thank you and glad you enjoyed your trip so much!