Disneyland Rules, Disney World Drools

slithernoggin's avatar

Random thoughts....

-Disney World is a curious beast. You can show up and just enjoy the parks ... and restaurants ... and shops ... and miniature golf courses ... and regular golf courses ... and horse rides at Fort Wilderness ... and Disney Springs ... and ESPN ... and that balloon thing at Disney Springs ... and martinis at Mizners at the Grand Floridian ...

...but because of the sheer scale of the resort, the WDW experience can be significantly enhanced by doing some research. What I'm getting from her article is that research would have led her to better, for her, choices regarding Park Hoppers and accommodations, for example.

-Annoying Asperger's rant: since she'd never been to WDW she in fact did not know what she was missing.

-Transit at WDW feels like public transit in a big city because, basically, it is. WDW moves tens of thousands of people around a huge property on a daily basis. I get her point: Disneyland is smaller and more intimate. WDW is not. It is what it is. And what it is is huge.

-Florida is hot?

Last edited by slithernoggin,

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

I thought that was you in the picture, after you shaved of course!

slithernoggin's avatar

Hey, don't be dissing on Auntie Mame! :-)

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Too bad she didn't ask us first. We all know the park hopper is useless for a first time visitor.

But hey, she liked the teacups. So she gets a pass from me.

TheMillenniumRider's avatar

I visited DLR for the first time last year, in doing research between the parks I found that DLR has about the same attraction count as WDW, even though it is in a greatly reduced footprint. Everyone thinks bigger = more rides in Orlando but it isn't much of a difference at all.

Anyway I much preferred DLR to WDW and I grew up in Florida. The place was much better planned and the space much better utilized.

However, with regards to restaurants and hotels WDW winds hands down. But Napa Rose was the best meal I've ever had from Disney, and one of the best places I've eaten.

I grew up going to WDW, and then moved to Orlando and worked there for six and a half years. I visited Disneyland in 2014 and was blown away at how much I preferred it. Florida has the superior Tower of Terror (and this was well before CA converted to Guardians) but other than that Disneyland had the superior version of every attraction, with special props to Space Mountain and Pirates. I loved California Screamin' and just had a great time. The quick service food was on an entitely different level - it was the quality of the table service stuff at WDW. I was there for two days as a part of a larger Los Angeles area trip and had a phenominal time.

Last edited by BrettV,

Im not a Disney fan at all but out of the 2 parks i liked DL a lot more then DW.

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Sounds to me that her mind was already made up before she even stepped foot in Central Florida.

Jeff's avatar

Comparing the two with one as your growing up local park to the other you're visiting as a tourist doesn't make a lot of sense to me. After years of visiting WDW as a tourist, I can tell you that the experience is entirely different as a local. Also, why she'd go to DLR on her honeymoon when she grew up there, that's pretty weird, and indicative of some selection bias before she ever lands at MCO. She also engages in hyperbole... 100 degrees is pretty rare here, as I can only think of one day it hit that in the four years I've been here. Also, don't come in summer, because it will be 92 with late afternoon thunderstorms everyday.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I must be the only one on earth that prefers WDW's Space Mountain over DL's version.

I have to agree with the author. Other than the crowds I prefer the Disneyland resort or Disneyworld. Then again I am not there to see shows or eat at sit down restaurants.

Not sure about the selection bias. The author said up front she had heard her whole life how much better Walt Disney World was. If anything, she was a victim of unreasonable expectations. As much as I like WDW, anytime you tell someone "it's like Disneyland but way better," you are raising a very high bar that is hard to surpass no matter what.

So here's my take as someone who has visited WDW more but is hardly a local. Overall, I agree the two are different experiences but for me personally I prefer Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland pros:

  • Charm and nostalgia (not personal nostalgia which is subjective, 50s retro charm and seeing Walt's personal touches). Disneyland at dusk is magical.
  • Weather: Southern California has near ideal climate for parks year round (save for the rare Santa Ana winds blowing in distant wildfire ash).
  • Food: If all of WDW had Epcot options, this would be different but its not. On average west coast has much better food, particularly when comparing counter service options.
  • Operations: Sure it's crowded but the west coast parks are cleaner, better maintained and brilliantly effective in controlling the mobs. Watching Space Mountain load (assuming both load/unload in affect) is like a beautifully choreographed space ballet, complete with seamless ADA transfer track.
  • Walkability: Park hopping where you can literally hop. No buses. No lines. Easy and addicting.
  • Easier: No need to plan every second, get dinner reservations months ahead, etc. You can still have a great time without the complexity. if you don't have dinner reservations at Magic Kingdom and want something decent, may God have mercy on your soul.
  • Quality: It's the greatest hits. Sure WDW has a lot of great stuff too but there is a scale imbalance.

Walt Disney World pros:

  • Epic family adventures: More is more. The sheer variety of all the resorts make the experience feel bigger and grand - in and of itself a cool feeling. If I had a week or a big family trip, I would probably pick WDW. The resorts and waterparks are great. I'm excited to get back to Disney Springs too.
  • Immersive: Disneyland is a great place to visit for a few days. WDW is a resort where you can relax for an extended period of time.
  • Unique: Animal Kingdom and Epcot are cool experiences. No arguments here.

Again, you can land on either side for this but I certainly don't fault someone for leaving WDW underwhelmed given the high expectations they admitted. If anything, I appreciate more and more how different the experiences are from one another. I would encourage anyone who has done one but not the other to check it out and plan to enjoy what makes each unique.

^^^ Which while it's a fun topic to debate on these boards, and there is nothing wrong with that, the reality is that you really can't compare the two. They are two completely different animals, different experiences and offer different things to different people. I've been to both as a visitor and I would choose to visit either one for completely different reasons.

That was exactly the point I was going to make. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison.

There were a few issues I had with some of her points. Yes, WDW is more expensive due to length of stay, but my experience in pricing trips to both is that they are about the same $/day. And she wants the reader to think she was genuinely surprised that WDW is so much bigger (I lost count of how many times she pointed that out). I call bs on that. She presents herself as a prepared traveler. I have a hard time believing that the size of the resort and the parks was a shocker.

As far as use of space and the nostalgia factor, Disneyland wins easily. I'm not sure how anyone could make the very thin distinction that one is better maintained over the other. I work in the business and notice things that other people don't and I would have an impossible time of thinking that one is better maintained than the other. Counter service options at DLR were definitely better and I assume that's a by-product of catering to an audience that's made up of more locals and AP holders.

Rick_UK's avatar

I haven't been to Disneyland, but Disney World was a pretty painful experience for me. I didn't have a good time.

World Showcase at Epcot, in particular, was nauseating. The number of clichés and stereotypes made me feel uneasy and depressed. Everyone who seemed to enjoy it genuinely thought they were experiencing some kind of culture, not realising they were experiencing a sad caricature, for twice the price.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

That's been the case in the US for a century - attractions that mimic "world" experiences without having to leave. Previous examples have always been caricatures (to be kind) and most were downright racist.
My hope is that most of the population surely realizes that it's a representation and not at all what things abroad are really like.
Am I hoping against hope? Are we really that awful?

Rick_UK's avatar

^ Exactly. Stuff like Tiki Room etc isn't too dissimilar either.

That's why I didn't get involved with the discussion regarding the changes to Pirates. There's a conscious effort to change the auction scene but everything in World Showcase is fine and doesn't need a refresh? Please...

And the whole "Girls are princesses and men fight and are kings". It's like a trip back in time.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I feel as though this whole comparison is like comparing Six Flags Magic Mountain to Six Flags Great Adventure. They have some similar rides here and there, some are even the same. They're just so different, though. Another example is like Cedar Point and Kings Island, Canada's Wonderland and Carowinds, Six Flags Great America and California's Great America, and a few others.

Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.

And to be fair I've heard of parks overseas with USA sections where it's all about the Wild West and cowboys. So there's that...

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