Is Disney World better than Disneyland?
It's a question that's been debated amongst Disney lovers for decades. East coast versus West coast. The Grand Floridian versus The Grand Californian. The Matterhorn Bobsleds versus, well, The Laugh Floor?
Before I get into it, I want to make it perfectly clear that I ADORE Disney World. I worked there for eight months on a Disney College Program. I'm in no way bashing one of my favorite places in the world.
I'm simply saying that one great place is better than a similarly great place.
Want to know my reasons? Let's get into it.
Ah, yes--the churro. Probably the most sought after snack besides the mickey ear ice cream bars. My best friend from California said he was incredibly disappointed in the churros from Disney World. At first I was kind of flabbergasted because I loved the churros at Disney World. However, after visiting Disneyland and trying the other churros, I can say the man is 100% right about one of the greatest snacks in the parks.
2. Park Hopping Is Easier
Disney World may have more parks, but by the time you get to a different one you've wasted close to an hour of your day. You have to exit the park, wait for the buses, board the bus, drive over to the other park, then wait in line again.
And what if you're park hopping three parks in a day? It's kind of a massive waste of time.
In Disneyland, all that separates California Adventure from Disneyland itself is about 100-150 yards of space. You're cutting out at least 30 minutes of wasted time from your day that you can immediately funnel into waiting in line. Speaking of lines, let's talk about fast passes.
Ah, FastPasses. They're probably the biggest reason I'm writing this article right now. Nothing maddened me more than when Disney World diverted away from paper FastPasses. Now they have kiosks where people can swipe second rate passes for second rate times. The reason?
Because they hand out FastPasses like restaurant reservations now. People can book FastPasses months in advance, which leaves no FastPasses for Florida residents who might want to visit the parks for the day. FastPasses for Toy Story Mania are a constant no-go. The same is true for so many of the best attractions at Disney World.
At Disneyland everyone gets a fair chance, and that's why I like it so much. You have just as fair of a chance at getting a FastPass as the family that booked their reservations month in advance. In the end, we're all paying the same price to get into the parks; we all deserve the same chance at FastPasses, too.
To be honest with you, I actually don't think the FastPass kiosks help large families who do want to plan their vacation months in advance. When I was with my family at Disney World, we used to get at least 4-5 FastPasses a day for all the awesome attractions. Now it's only limited to three.
4. Disneyland Is Like The Greatest Hits Of Disney World
Soarin', Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story Mania. You can find all of these attractions at both Disney World and Disneyland. The major difference? You have to visit three different parks to ride all of them if you're staying in Orlando. In Los Angeles? Not so much.
Disneyland is like the greatest hits of Disney World. Nobody likes Ellen's Energy Adventure anyway. Instead of diluting the parks with mediocre attractions (ahem, Disney World), why not use space efficiently and make every ride/show a knockout?
That's what Disneyland does.
They have Fantasmic, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and all the rides I mentioned above. It's basically the greatest hits of Disney World without mediocre attractions like The Great Movie Ride or Journey Into Imagination With Figment. I like both of those rides, but are they Soarin'? No.
5. World of Color
I'm about to really get blasphemous here. World of Color is by far the best show I've ever seen in any Disney park.
It's better than Fantasmic, the Epcot show, and, dare I say it, Wishes. The nighttime spectacular is a hallmark for the Disney parks, and Disneyland is home to the best one of them all.
With that said, I'm ready for the angry mob to show up at my front door with pitchforks now.
6. New Orleans Square vs. Liberty Square
This article is as much about Magic Kindom versus Disneyland as it is about anything else. Magic Kingdom, if you remember, houses Liberty Square on the east side of the park. It's a cool little homage to the Colonial Period of America. I certainly enjoy it, given that I'm the biggest Ben Franklin fan you'll ever meet.
Despite this, I believe Disneyland's east side offers a richer, more authentic experience for guests. As Walt Disney himself originally intended, New Orleans square puts a different spin on rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.
In Disney World these attractions are very much their own. The Haunted Mansion looks like a traditional mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean is a Spanish fort. In Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion looks like southern mansion minus the plantation. Also, the structure housing Pirates of the Caribbean still belongs in New Orleans, and when you get on the ride itself, there's more of a lead into the world of the Caribbean from the bayous of Louisiana.
These rides belong in the world of New Orleans square, while in Disney World they kind of don't fit with the theme of Liberty Square.
7. Cars Land
One of the coolest experiences in Disneyland is Cars Land. I must admit that Cars isn't my favorite Pixar movie by any stretch, but it's still fun to walk around Radiator Springs and ride the Radiator Springs Racers ride (which, yes, is better than Test Track).
8. It's The Original
There's nothing like walking down Main Street in Magic Kingdom. It's the number one moment for everyone visiting Disney World to see the castle for the first time. I'll be the first to admit that no other experience in Disneyland beats seeing Cinderella's Castle in Orlando.
There's a certain feeling you get walking into Disneyland that's very similar. You know why? It's because you know Walt designed this place and saw the construction through every single day. This was his baby. Disneyland changed everything we know about theme parks for the better.
It's impossible not to feel that history tugging at you as you enter this place. It's an experience that's impossible to get at Disney World.
9. Hyperspace Mountain / Twists On The Traditional Rides
Disneyland offers a few twists on the rides at Disney World. Yes, they both have Space Mountain, and up until a few weeks ago they both had Tower of Terror, too.
But Disneyland put a little twist on Space Mountain, renaming it Hyperspace Mountain for Star Wars. You're no longer just rocketing through space in California, you're now part of a squadron of X-wings dogfighting with Tie Fighters along the outer rim.
I got off Hyperspace Mountain as giddy as a child. I hadn't been that giddy since I did my Disney College Program.
But it doesn't end there. Disneyland is about to have a Guardians of the Galaxy themed "Tower of Terror" ride. And if this new twist on the familiar ride is as good as what Disneyland did with Hyperspace Mountain, I might just buy annual passes.
You heard me.
10. The Rides That Disney World Doesn't Have
Guys, Matterhorn Bobsleds is the best. You know what else is? California Screamin'. You wanna know another one? Indiana Jones Adventure.
Spoiler Alert: You can't find any of these rides in Disney World.
And that's really the nail in the coffin for me. Disneyland basically has all your favorite attractions from Disney World minus a select few. But what they lack in the absence of a Expedition Everest they make up for with a Matterhorn Bobsleds.
Now, Disneyland may have the upper hand now, but what I conveniently left out was the fact that Disney World has many more resorts than Disneyland. They have basically unlimited acreage down there in Orlando.
Also, Pandora will open in Animal Kingdom along with a totally revamped Hollywood Studios with a Star Wars Land. Guess what though? California is getting its own Star Wars Land, too.
And may the debate rage on and on and on.
One thing's for sure, I love both places with a burning passion, and I'll continue giving my money to Disney by the boatload until I physically can't go anymore.