The main portion of my City of Angels trip focused around the granddaddy of them all. Everything was planned way back in February. The anticipation for Cars Land, Space Mountain, Matterhorn, California Screamin', and World of Color reached off the chart levels for me. The Walt Disney World Resort seems like a second home to me with all the visits and stays the past five years. Disneyland offered a fresh perspective for me into the world of the mouse.
Side note: The Quality Inn and Suites offers a fantastic deal for those looking to stay close to the park. The walk is roughly the same length from the Disneyland Hotel, the rooms blew my expectations away (a little over a hundred a night), and you don't ever hear the traffic on I-5. Definitely recommend this as an option for anyone looking to plan a vacation out here. Staying on "Disneyland property" gives you no more added benefit, honestly.
I'll mainly format this trip report as overall atmosphere/impressions, comparisons, and overall experience. It took a good three days in getting a real feel for both parks compared to any sort of counterpart which exists in Florida.
Atmosphere and Impressions
Both parks definitely possess the Disney feel to them. The same magic that exists in Florida exists in California. The parks feel open, logically laid out, and perfect for random exploring.
I feared the smaller footprint would be detrimental to my experience as I'm used to The sprawling Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and the other two smaller parks in Florida. Both parks make the most of the space they're given. California Adventure feels like a brand new park with obvious areas of expansion opportunity around the raft ride, the dead section around bugs land/Tower of Terror, and random odd corners which exist on both sides of California Screamin' and Midway Mania.
The theming of both parks outdoes everything you see at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. The rockwork of The Matterhorn, Radiator Springs, and Big Thunder puts everything to shame in Florida.
I enjoyed the fantasyland/storybook area of Disneyland. Still was shocked to see a two hour line for the Frozen meet and greet. Still not quite as bad as the 4-5 hour norm in Orlando, though.
The Toon Town area remains a hidden gem barely anyone talks about. I love the cartoon look of the area. Unfortunately Roger Rabbit had too long of a wait (1.5-2 hours) the whole trip. I'd rather spend my time other places in the park.
World of Color almost unseated Illuminations: Reflections of Earth as my favorite night show. The only thing lacking from WoC were fireworks. It's still an absolutely stunning show which exceeded all my expectations. I caught The Dapper Dans twice over my three days. The group
Room For Growth
Crowd management remains a huge issue at Disneyland. California Adventure wasn't as bad as Disneyland. The pathways felt narrow, jampacked, and slightly uncomfortable with all the people. This took me by surprise because I visited the week before memorial day. Kids were still in school, vacation season starts the week after, and it's the middle of May! Even a normal day at Magic Kingdom would feel like hell at Disneyland. Hopefully their new policies will curb much of the crowd issue.
Space Mountain remains one of my favorite coasters. It's just a wild mouse with long track, down out drops, and tight transitions at a frantic pace. I figured nothing would top the pod seating style in Orlando; turned out that I was completely wrong. Disneyland's Space Mountain blew my expectations out of the water. I loved every single moment of the ride. California's is far superior.
Haunted Mansion, especially after the refurbishment/additions, in Florida tops my list of Disney dark rides. The exterior of California feels awesome within the area. Florida's feels much more sinister with the long walk, graveyard, and everything else surrounding it. This remains the only superior attraction found in Florida. (Oops...spoiled my impressions for the rest of the park)
Pirates of The Caribbean opened up the last day I was there. I had no idea how different the California version is compared to the Florida version. I definitely prefer the California version compared to the Florida version. Sure, there's a bit more potential for getting wet but I still like it much more then Florida.
Splash Mountain seemed more "intense" and in your face at Disneyland. I got completely drenched in California compared to the moderate sprinkling I'd always receive in Orlando. I prefer California's ride vehicles over the ones in Orlando.
Didn't get a chance to try Tower of Terror or Soarin' due to extremely long waits. I've heard Florida's is much better due to Eisner giving DCA the second rate treatment.
Radiator Springs is everything and more that's been praised about the ride. We did make sure to get fast passes for this ride. The animatronics blow me away with the mouth movements, overall range of motion, and how entertaining they can be. The race part blows test track away, too. Definitely one of my favorite Disney experiences.
There's a fantastic roller coaster hidden somewhere in California Screamin'. Remove the trims, take off the OTSRs, and let the ride run wild t. I'm sure removing all of this would vastly improve the ride experience.
Mickey's Fun Wheel is an evil incarnation of an amusement park attraction. Good thing I didn't eat any breakfast before choosing the swinging cars...
Size of crowds, frantic pace to try and get everything in, and the general crazy pace of a vacation meant we skipped over some rides. The Matterhorn had a ridiculous wait, I kept passing up Little Mermaid, and the Schwarzkopf styled rocketship attraction scared me away due to my motion sickness from the fun wheel.
Definitely plan on coming back in 6-10 years. I'd visit Disneyland more if EPCOT had a home on the westcoast.
Overall satisfaction: 10/10
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