Friday, August 21, 2015

Land or World - Which Disney is for You?

To be fair, for most of us I suspect the biggest deciding factor between visiting Disneyland or Disneyworld is distance. Which one is closer to you? On the East coast we hit Orlando, and on the West, Anaheim makes more sense. In the middle of the continent though some more thought might go into the decision. We have traditionally been a Disneyworld family, since it's so much closer, but this past January we made that trek to California, so we had a chance to compare.

The biggest difference is definitely size. I loved how compact Disneyland was! Right off the bat you have two parks instead of the four at Orlando, but even within each park the rides and attractions are closer together. At check in the cast members warned us to be prepared for longer line-ups, but less time walking. To be honest I didn't find the lines bad, but I really appreciated how quickly I could move from one area to the next. Even a bigger deal for me - the two parks are located right next to each other, across a courtyard beyond a single ticket entrance. This was such a treat given that I'm used to long bus rides among parks. And - Downtown Disney leads into the ticket booth area. Everything is right together!
Let's be honest - as long as these two are there, you know it'll be a good time!
We stayed at Disney's Grand Californian, which has the Disney Vacation Club suites. The property is gorgeous, with 4 pools and 2 hot tubs, and a private entrance into the California Adventure Park. That's right. To enter the park we just walked downstairs in the hotel and walked out the door directly into the park. Super convenient access, especially on extra magic hour mornings.

California Adventure Park at night, from our room
Many of the same rides and attractions are featured at both parks - Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Dumbo, Jedi Training, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and many more of our favourites can be enjoyed at either location. Bonus at Disney's California Adventure Park - Carsland and the Radiator Springs Racers for all the Lightning McQueen fans. Disneyland Park also has the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage - re-visioning of the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride, which I really miss at Disneyworld.

What does Disneyworld have the Disneyland doesn't? Well, more variety in rides and attractions, and more shops and restaurants in Downtown Disney. The Animal Kingdom park is a true treasure, and something Disneyland can't rival. If your family is interested in wildlife, this is a real draw. On our last visit we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Villas at Kidani Village. Although we had a long drive to get to most parks, we had an amazing experience with the African wildlife living just outside our room.

You won't get zebras unless you visit Disneyworld
Overall, I think the big difference really does come down to size. Both Disneyland and Disneyworld provide incredible experiences, and they share the top hits in terms of rides. But "Land" is more contained and "do-able." It's not as overwhelming, and you feel you can actually see pretty much everything there is to see during your trip. Meanwhile Disneyworld has incredible variety and will continue to provide new experiences over many visits. Disneyland provides the thrill of being the original, while Disneyworld just keeps expanding and adding the new.

And I truly felt the "Welcome home!" when I visited both. Basically, you can't go wrong.

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