We have a great guest blog for you all today by John Leever, enjoy!
Disneyland or Walt Disney World, By John Leever
When I mentioned to people that I was going to a conference for my work which was at the Anaheim Convention Center and that I would be staying at Disney’s Grand Californian allowing me to go to Disneyland, the response I most often got was “I like Disney World” or “I prefer Disney World”. And the reasons were usually centered around that Disney World is bigger and there is more to do. Now I could not argue that the 27,000 square acres of Walt Disney World is bigger than the 500 square acres of Disneyland. Nor could I argue that Walt Disney World’s 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 27 hotels, 99 holes of golf, fishing, tennis, numerous places to rent boats, gave more to do than Disneyland. So I wondered if the people I spoke to were right, if WDW was so much bigger, was it worth going to Disneyland, but I still was excited to be going to Disneyland. It was called the “Happiest place on Earth” how could I not want to go there.
Checking in to the Disney’s Grand Californian was similar to checking into a resort at WDW. I even had a nice chat with the cast member checking me in who got to meet Robert Sherman. The room I had was on the ground floor; the sliding doors opened to a small patio which gave us a partial view of Goofy’s Sky School. The carpet had hidden Mickey’s, the shower curtain Bambi, the picture on the wall was of Snow White at the wishing well. I felt like I was in Disney, which I was. But that is not all that Disney’s Grand Californian offered. You can walk through the resort turn a corner and you’re walking through a hallway and then in one step you’re in Downtown Disney. It was so cool. “World of Disney” was right nearby or “buy”. When in Downtown Disney you can walk to the Disneyland Hotel which we did one day to have breakfast at Goofy’s kitchen. You can take a seriously short walk the other way to get to Disneyland Park, this was awesome. But probably the coolest thing about Disney’s Grand Californian is that you can walk through the resort and out into “Disney California Adventure”; our own personal entrance to a Disney park.
Disney California Adventure is not like any park at WDW. It has some similar rides but is still unique. Toy Story Mania was just as fun as at WDW Hollywood Studios (MGM Studios). Soarin’ is a great ride at EPCOT and Disney California Adventure. Muppet Vision 3D east and west coast, a good show. Now Grizzly River Run is only at Disney California Adventure and it was a lot of fun and a lot of wet. But let’s talk Radiator Springs Racers, kind of like EPCOT’s Test Track but the theme adds so much to the ride. I have not seen the Cars movies but the ride gave me a glimpse into them. And while it is not as fast as Test Track, Radiator Springs Racer ends in a side-by-side race with your car and another car, and both times I rode it we won. Disney Imagineers really went all out, the scenery on the ride is beautiful.
The food was good at the Carthay Circle Theatre. One night I had a nice pasta dish, but the service was not the best, 45 minute wait for our entrees. I had a nice chocolate shake at Flo’s V8, really I only had a taste, my 21 month old cousin sucked down about half when I offered him a taste, the little guy has good taste. We even played some games on the boardwalk and won a stuffed Timothy the mouse and Dumbo the elephant which we turned over to the little guy.
And there is more to Disney California Adventure then I mentioned here. But I have to mention World of Color. It is Disney California Adventure’s night time show presented on Paradise Bay. The show is a projection of scenes from Disney Animated features on water screens with amazing fountains of different colors and flames that rise from the water. This show is a must must must (not a typo) do. We got FastPasses (Disneyland still uses FastPasses they have not switched to FastPass+) and it was well worth it. We got there about an hour before the show and with my Glow with the Show ears we were able to sit on ground with other guests and wait. A little before the show there was a game to play on your smart phone and the winner got to control the lights on the Mickey fun wheel. Once the show starts you are captivated by the Disney entertainment. This show I would love to see again.
Disneyland Park! This is the park that started it all, Walt’s inspiration for family entertainment. It’s counterpart at WDW is the Magic Kingdom, which is my favorite park at WDW. Disneyland has more attractions than the Magic Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom is bigger. Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle at only about 77 feet is more like a movie set façade but there is a walkthrough with scenes from Sleeping Beauty with surprising special effects. I did it at least twice because I do like the story. The Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle is about 190 feet and is as close to a real castle as I have ever been in. It has a receiving area where you can meet Cinderella, a restaurant, the Biddi-boddi-boutique, and a room where a lucky guest can spend the night (I have NOT been so lucky but fingers are crossed). Both parks have night time fireworks that are great shows, and Tinkerbell flies at both, but the difference is at WDW she flies from the Castle and across the hub, at Disneyland Park she flies over the castle back and forth up and down several times while fireworks explode around her. She is the bravest person I have ever seen.
Now WDW has the New Fantasyland which looks like a real fairytale setting which the rest of Fantasyland lacks, but Disneyland already has. The Snow White Ride at Disneyland has the Evil Queen looking out from the 2nd floor window from time to time, Fantasy Faire has Figaro the cat sleeping on a window sill next to a bird in a cage and when the bird sings Figaro wakes up. To enter Frontierland you pass through the gates of a cavalry fort, in Adventureland you can buy your Dole Whip in the waiting area for The Tiki Room. Buzz Lightyear, the blaster is in your hand not mounted to the ride. The Autopia takes you off rode. The show Mickey and the Magical Map is a wonderful story for any Disney fan with some truly amazing special effects. However, I did miss my favorite WDW attraction Philharmagic a 3D show of Donald going through different Disney Classics as he tries to recover Mickey’s Sorcerer hat .
So how do I answer the question WDW or Disneyland? I don’t! I had a great time at Disneyland. The closeness of everything made it so easy to go from one park to another or back to our room. In minutes we could be anywhere. What I like better at Disneyland is the fireworks, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Autopia, Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain, and it has the California Adventure. What I like better at the Magic Kingdom in WDW is Splash Mountain, the Castle, the shopping, the Monorails, and WDW has EPCOT, the Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and more.
My recommendation is don’t choose which you like better but go to both, and enjoy them both for while they have many similarities there is so much different that you can have unique Magical Disney experiences at both resorts. And I think you will want to go back to both.
I had my family help with totaling up my trips and I have been to WDW 35 times (which surprised me) and Disneyland this was my 5th time, the time before being in 2005 for the 50th anniversary 9 years ago. The reason we have not been to Disneyland more often is the travel distance. I don’t think I will let it be another 9 years until I go again.
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