I want to start this post off by saying that I think the rivalry between some Disneyland and Walt Disney World fans is a bit silly. No one should feel the need to pick a favorite Disney resort as both offer plenty of unique experiences. But obviously comparisons are inevitable. My first visit to Walt Disney World as an adult was in 2008 and I have visited twice a year since then. As a frequent Disneyland visitor there are some things I hate about Walt Disney World (and some things I love more at WDW, but that’s for next week’s post). These are the top five things that bug me the most when I visit:
Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is downright awful. I made the mistake of watching this at DHS before I knew it was different than the one at Disneyland. I noticed a problem as soon as I got in the massive line for the show. That’s right, you have to wait in a line to see Fantasmic! After waiting in this long line you are herded in to a large outdoor amphitheater where you are forced to sit on extremely uncomfortable metal benches. The amphitheater that Fantasmic! is performed in at the Studios lacks any of the charm that can be found on the Rivers of America at Disneyland. Personally, I think what makes Disneyland’s Fantasmic! so special is that it is performed in an area that you would never guess is a stage for a nighttime spectacular. Another huge problem I have with DHS Fantasmic! is the pacing is terrible. At one point there is a THREE MINUTE LONG segment of animated footage being projected on to water, most of the footage in this scene is bubbles containing random clips from Disney animated movies. Other major differences are the Peter Pan and Ursula scenes are completely missing. This means no Captain Hook’s ship, no Flotsam and Jetsam, and no Tick-Tock the Crocodile floats. Obviously, there is no Sailing Ship Columbia in the Studios so a long, and frankly boring, Pocahontas scene takes its place. There’s a few other minor differences but the biggest one is the dragon. Walt Disney World did not update its dragon in 2009 like Disneyland did, so what’s left is a dragon that is still cool looking but not nearly as impressive.
For the most part, the quick service dining in Walt Disney World is bad. Especially in Magic Kingdom. I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have tried to find some decent food for dinner in MK, only to settle for the same old bland and expensive burgers from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. It’s unfortunate that the dozens of excellent quick service meals in Disneyland simply have no equivalent in Magic Kingdom. Some quick service establishments do deserve praise, such as Sunshine Seasons at Epcot, and Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom. Not only is the food seriously lacking in WDW, but the surroundings are, as well. You won’t find any food seating area as peaceful as the one at Hungry Bear Restaurant, or with the live entertainment of the French Market. Speaking of live entertainment, that brings me to my next point:
3. Where’s the live entertainment?
Just by glancing at a Disneyland schedule from a random Friday in September, I see 10 separate acts of live entertainment (The Dapper Dans, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, The Disneyland Band, and many more) with multiple performances throughout the day, and that doesn’t include fireworks, Fantasmic!, or the bands that play weekends at Tomorrowland Terrace. Live entertainment brings a fantastic energy to areas of the park. It also offers a chance to relax for a moment and enjoy some live music. Looking at the same schedule for the same day in Magic Kingdom I see two acts: the Dapper Dans and the Casey Corner Pianist.
4. Park hopping takes forever
The walk from the front gate of Disneyland to the front gate of Disney California Adventure takes less than 5 minutes. Park hopping from one park to another in Walt Disney World can sometimes take more than a half hour. That’s precious vacation time. This again leads me in to my next point. In Disneyland and DCA there is less reason to park hop because in Walt Disney World…
5. There’s less to do in each park
WDW fans are quick to point out the size of the size of Walt Disney World as one of the reasons why “their” resort is better than Disneyland. But the fact is that there is almost as much to do in the two parks at Disneyland than there are in the four parks in Walt Disney World. There are 107 attractions (rides, shows, and meet and greets) in Walt Disney World compared to 92 in Disneyland. Disneyland has the highest number of attractions with 58. Magic Kingdom is second with 40 attractions, which is not a huge difference, but you will notice the lack of attractions when you try to spend a full day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Those parks have 19 and 23 attractions. Also, a frequent Disneyland visitor may want to skip most of the equal or inferior cloned attractions in WDW. For example, Soarin’ Over California at Disney California Adventure is not nearly as popular as its direct clone in Epcot (called Soarin’). The only difference is that you’ll end up waiting twice as long for the Epcot version. Same goes for Toy Story Midway Mania. These two attractions aren’t even the most popular rides in DCA, but in Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios they are extremely busy from rope drop to closing. A few of the other attractions you’ll want to skip, Pirates of the Caribbean is a shorter and inferior version of the one in Anaheim, the Enchanted Tiki Room has the singalong portion cut from the show, and Star Tours is the exact same ride except it’s not in Tomorrowland, and that’s just weird. Of course, there are a few attractions that are better or completely unique to Walt Disney World. But I will discuss that next week in “Five Things A Disneyland Local Will (Probably) LOVE About Visiting Walt Disney World.”
I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment in the section below and tell me what you dislike about visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland.