Disneyland or Disney World? Welcome back to our four part series, where we will continue to debate this very question. In case you missed it, in part one we took a look at some of the key differences between Disneyland and Disney World in the areas of size and scope, atmosphere, and weather. In part two, we examined the topics of crowds, pricing, and hotels. In part three, let’s continue our side-by-side comparison of Disneyland and Disney World by discussing planning, transportation, and the theme parks.
Disneyland Resort Planning
Planning a trip to Disneyland is a fairly straightforward process. Let’s look at a basic timeline.
12 months or more in advance: This is the time to research where you would like to stay and book a hotel reservation or vacation package.
11 months or less in advance: If you are going to be flying to Disneyland, this is the time to start checking flights and booking one as soon as you find a great deal. Once your flight is reserved, you can book a rental car or make reservations for airport transportation. If you will be driving to Disneyland, this is the time to plan your route and make any hotel reservations that you will need for your journey to and from the resort.
3 months in advance: At this point, it is time to start researching restaurants and tours that interest you and make a list of reservations that you would like to book.
60 days in advance (exactly): This is the day you may begin booking dining reservations. Character Dining, Blue Bayou, and Napa Rose tend to fill up quickly and should be booked as soon as possible. If you did not reserve a vacation package that includes admissions and you plan to purchase your tickets in advance, this is a perfect time in order to allow for shipping. Purchasing admissions early is not a necessity in Disneyland, but it will save you a little bit of time once you arrive.
30 days in advance (exactly): This is the day you may begin booking any tours that you would like to try.
2 weeks in advance: This is a great time to research the attractions offered at Disneyland and California Adventure, make a list of what you would like to experience, and create your personalized touring plans. Also take a few moments to put together a packing list so that you don’t forget anything.
1 week in advance: It’s now time to confirm all of your reservations, print your travel documents, and pack.
You’ve seen them everywhere…the prolific elongated rod where people attach a camera or a phone to a clamp to help them take a selfie. Ah…the good old selfie stick. Many have strong opinions either loving them or hating them. So, while the rule has always been in place that all personal items need to be stored prior to riding an attraction, it would seem, that with the number of these sticks you now see in the parks, that guests would need a reminder.
As the announcements go when boarding attractions, guests are to keep their hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the attraction vehicles at all time; this includes selfie sticks. (Or really anything that would stick up out of the moving attraction vehicle.) All guests’ personal belongings are to be properly stored when onboard an attraction, tram, or other moving vehicle. If a Cast Member sees a selfie stick while boarding an attraction, the guest will be asked to put it away.
On another note, if you are in a congested area, you should also consider refraining from utilizing your selfie stick.
Keep in mind, this is not a full on ban of selfie sticks at Walt Disney World or Disneyland; the best tip is to just be mindful of the guests around you.
While I am clearly going to be opening a can of worms asking this question: what are your thoughts on selfie sticks?
Are you excited about the upcoming film, Tomorrowland? (How can you not be?! It looks fantastic.) Well, if you are anxious about the movie, which stars George Clooney, then you’ll need to make sure to catch the official sneak preview taking place at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
For those visiting Walt Disney World, you’ll need to head to Epcot and the Imagination Pavilion. I’m sorry to report that at least temporarily, fans of Captain EO, Hooter, Odie, Idie, and Fuzzball will not get to see the rag-tag band attempt to deliver a gift to The Supreme Leader. The preview for Tomorrowland will be taking place in the Imagination Theater, and will include in-theater effects. (Captain EO will see its last day of operation on April 9.)
Over on the west coast, at Disneyland, guests can go to Tomorrowland (good place for a preview about a movie named Tomorrowland) where they can catch the sneak peek replete with in-theater effects in the Tomorrowland Theater. In addition, in the Starcade, there will also be an exhibit available for guests to enjoy production art and props used in the movie.
The official sneak preview will begin in mid-April (no official date has been announced) and the preview will last approximately 15-20 minutes. Tomorrowland heads to theaters on May 22.
Traveling is an obsession. The more you travel the stronger this obsession becomes. And there is only one way to keep this “passion” in control and that is by (obviously) traveling. For me, staying put in one place gets harder and harder. This is why traveling is so important to me. Since living and traveling to a dozen different countries in the past several years, my obsession for traveling has grown and has become a part of me. It is something that I think about all the time, which is why every few months I go back home (Southern California) to visit family, friends, and to just get away. But discovering new and desirable places is my main goal. And if these places happen to have an amazing theme park—especially Disney—then that is icing on the cake.
Going to Disney World for the first time—back in 2012—was awesome. I had a great time with friends and exploring one of the best Disney theme park resorts on Earth. After my first trip, I decided to make Disney World a bi-yearly adventure. Unfortunately for me, a couple of things happened: Disney theme park prices went up and learning more about Tokyo Disneyland. I made the choice to forgo my Disney World voyages and invest that money—and time–on a trip would be more thrilling and exciting. Even if that means I will have to pinch my pennies as hard as possible.
If your main concern when traveling to Disneyland is crowds, then visiting Disneyland during the off-season (January-February, Mid-September, and after Thanksgiving-the week before Christmas) is a blessing. To put it into numbers (using TouringPlans’ data), during Disneyland’s off-season the crowd levels are around 6 out of 10 (give-or-take a bit). This is perfect if you want to experience Disneyland without bumping into people or dealing with long lines. But (there is always a “but”) even though you will not have to deal with crowds, you will unfortunately have to deal with another issue: closed attractions.
Because attendance levels are low, Disneyland decides to do a lot of maintenance on many of their attractions during this time. So even though you are going to the park with less crowds, you might miss out on your favorite attractions. However, that does not mean that your visit is ruined. That just means that you will have to make adjustments to your plans and have more time to experience different things you normally would not.
For example, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Disneyland this Valentine’s day weekend and many Disneyland attractions were closed (7 in all; including Critter Country). Because more than handful of attractions were closed, I had a chance to experience different attractions that I tend to skip or overlook. Below I break down 5 of the best attractions that every guest should experience during Disneyland’s off-season.
Enjoy a Ride on a Main Street U.S.A. Vehicle
Main Street U.S.A. vehicles never get enough love (unless your name is Guy Selga). Even though walking down Main Street is faster, it does not mean that it is the best way. Taking the time to grab a ride on a Main Street vehicle will give you a different perspective of Disneyland and a little more appreciation for it. It will also make other guests jealous that you are rolling down the street in style.
It’s back again! Guests will once again be able to participate in a special Easter egg hunt which has guests searching a Disney theme park, trying to find eggs that are designed to look like Disney characters. This year, the fun hunt will be returning to Walt Disney World’s Epcot and Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure and Disneyland from March 27 through April 5!
Here’s how it will work: Guests will be able to purchase a map for $4.95, plus tax. With each map will be stickers provided that correspond to the actual eggs that can be found in each of the the parks. Guests are instructed go search the park with map in hand and put the character egg sticker on the map where the actual character egg was found! Once all the eggs have been located, guests must return their map to the redemption station for a fun prize!
Here’s a glimpse of what the maps will look like and where eggs will be located:
Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney Park for her next trip. Where? The Disneyland Resort! But why? After all, the Disneyland Resort is much smaller, as is its castle, and many of the rides found at Disney World are also at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. There’s also no water parks or as nearly many resorts. But wait! I have some good reasons, many of which Disneyland fans are sure to back me up on. In fact, many of my fellow Disney fans argue that the Disneyland Resort is better than Disney World on a number of points. So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to visit Disneyland.
To Be A Park Newbie: My first trip to Disney World took place when I was nine months old. You see, both of my parents were Disney fanatics and couldn’t wait to introduce me to the Disney magic. Throughout my childhood, we took as many trips as we could. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is lying on my bed and studying the Disney World park maps from our most recent trip. I know that I was incredibly fortunate to have visited Disney World throughout my childhood, a tradition I’ve continued to this day; but I must admit that just once, I would like to see my favorite place on earth with new eyes, like a first-time guest who has no idea what’s around the next corner. But seeing how I can’t do that, I can go to the Disneyland Resort! I’ve always wanted to go. It’s Walt’s original vision and is the reason why there’s a Disney World in the first place. Not only would a visit be fulfilling as a Disney Fan, but I would love the chance to be a park newbie, to actually need those free parks at the entrance, and to sport one of those first-time visit buttons!
I have a confession to make. I have not always been the perfect theme park traveler. I know it may seem that way but unfortunately I am not. Out of the many different mistakes I have made going to theme parks, the first was thinking I could handle more than I should. It was my first time at Knott’s Berry Farm–maybe when I was around 10 or so–and one of their main attractions was metal roller coaster called Boomerang (which is still there today). It is a short, fast, metal coaster that sends you barreling forwards and backwards at 47 mphs with two quick loops. I remember hearing about this attraction on commercials, and I was hyped to experience it. Even when I was in line, I believed I could handle it. Well, I was wrong.
Right after the ride ended, I was the first one to run off, crying, and not ever wanting to experience any roller coaster again. As a matter of fact, I was not able to go on any other roller coaster again for a few years. When I look back at this incident, I wish there was something that would have given me the ability to know what it was like to encounter this attraction beforehand. Even while standing in line, I did not truly understand what it would feel like to sit in one of those coast seats. This is why my advice to everyone–first timers or not–is to take advantage of ride through videos. It is the only way to truly know what you are going to get yourself into before stepping one foot into any theme park.
The Disneyland Resort crowds are greatly affected by the number of local tourists that visit the Parks every day of the year. Disneyland Resort offers a variety of annual pass options that many local residents choose to purchase. Weekends and nice weather days will always see a jump in attendance throughout the year as annual pass holders take advantage how easy it is to just drop by the resort. Fridays and Mondays are also more crowded than the rest of the weekdays as locals extend their weekends. Another factor that impacts the Disneyland Resort crowds is the number of people visiting the area for conventions. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest facility on the west coast and hosts thousands of visitors each year. Although the attendees are usually occupied for several hours a day with business, these travelers often take this opportunity to bring their families with them to enjoy the Disneyland Resort while they work. Not to mention, the crowds are also greater when the Disneyland Resort is offering one of their special events such as Halloween Time or Happy Lunar New Year.
Disneyland or Walt Disney World? This has long been a debate among Disney theme park enthusiasts. I have been visiting both the California original and its flashy Florida cousin my entire life, and I love both destinations for different reasons. It is hard to pick a favorite, because both Disneyland and Disney World have unique and wonderful experiences to offer. Of course, you will find lots of opinions all over the internet about which resort is better. Disney fans are a loyal bunch, and we will defend the love of our favorite Disney destination with great passion. I recently wrote a book called “A Tale of Two Resorts” that attempts to answer this age-old question of whether Disneyland or Disney World is better by comparing both destinations in several areas. Please join me in this four part series where we will look at Disneyland and Disney World side-by-side to compare them. We’ll start with size and scope, atmosphere, and weather.
Resort Size and Scope
Disneyland Resort is approximately 500 acres (0.78 square miles) located in the city of Anaheim in the heart of southern California. The resort itself is a sanctuary surrounded on all sides by busy streets, hotels, shops and restaurants. To put that in perspective, imagine the feel of Central Park in New York City and you’ll have a little bit of a sense of what Disneyland Resort is like. The resort includes two theme parks, three Disney hotels, dozens of restaurants, and a shopping and entertainment district. The two theme parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, sit directly across from each on either side of the esplanade, requiring about a five minute walk from entrance to entrance.