My first Disney parks experience was the Walt Disney World Resort. And from my window Walt Disney World was all I ever needed. Seriously, everything I needed was just a bus ride away so why would I ever go anywhere else for vacation again?
Then I rethought things. Well, Disney rethought things for me. With the Fantasyland expansion kicking up a few years ago the Between Family made a decision. We did not want a Magic Kingdom Park that was filled with construction walls. So, we decided to look elsewhere for a vacation, one somewhere in Betweenland. We considered Kansas City since we have a lot of friends in the area. But we wanted a vacation where we could relax and not impose on others. So we limited our search to Duluth, Minnesota and The Wisconsin Dells.
|The Matterhorn and the Lagoon |
Faced with the brochures of two Big D vacation destinations, we chose Disneyland!
It’s a choice we never regretted!
But on our journey to prepare to go somewhere new, I was kind of shocked about the amount of disrespect Disneyland has received from Walt Disney World fans. It makes me sad, because in many ways Disneyland is better than Walt Disney World. In fact at this moment I claim Disneyland as my home park (which will probably change the next time I go to Walt Disney World). Here is why the Disneyland Resort is a superior vacation experience.
· Walt’s Park: Disneyland may have changed a lot since 1955, but it’s still Walt’s Park. Even when one watches “Dateline: Disneyland” from opening day you get the general sense that it is the same park we have today. And you know that Walt helped design a number of the attractions that we see today like Autopia or the original non-punny version of The Jungle Cruise. For me a big moment when I leave the park is to look up at the lamp in Walt’s old apartment over the Firehouse and remarking to the kids that as long as that light burns the spirit of Walt Disney is still here. Sometimes I imagine that Walt still walked the streets before the guests arrive, something he never got the chance to do in Orlando. I have never gotten the sense that Walt Disney was with me in Walt Disney World, but I have always gotten a feeling that a visit to Disneyland was a visit to Walt’s Park.
· Walking Distance: At Walt Disney World we assume that it going to take us at least 30 minutes to get from room to park and back again. Being planners we actually give ourselves an hour in our planning for when to leave for the park. At Disneyland this is a non-issue. If staying off property, feel free to stay across the street. Yes, across the street! From off-site hotel rooms we have watched fireworks over The Matterhorn, Monorails zooming to their next stop, and guests walking onto Disney property. When we have stayed on-property I have literary gone from pool, to FASTPASS machine, back to pool. And there was nothing like the nights we spent with the curtains open looking into Disney California Adventure wondering when Mickey’s Fun Wheel would no longer be illuminated. One of the Between Kids and I once got soaked on Splash Mountain at the back of the park. We left the attraction, walked to our room, changed, and were back in the park within 30 minutes from our off-property accommodations. That is a trick we could have never pulled at Walt Disney World.
|Matterhorn from the Hotel |
· Walking Distance II: It really is location, location, location! One night a few years ago a Between Kid and I finished a night alone in the parks. We went from Disneyland Park to Downtown Disney to Disney California Adventure and hopped back to Disneyland. We did this in a few hours time and rode rides that we could find in The Magic Kingdom Park, Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot if we were in Orlando. But we had ridden the same rides in Orlando we would have spent at least an hour and half traveling between locations instead of just completing quick walks.
· Disney California Adventure Park: Even filled with construction parks DCA is likely my third favorite Disney park! There I said it. I have lost all credibility. But for me DCA has some of my favorite things from Epcot (Soarin’) and Disney Hollywood Studios Park (Toy Story Midway Mania) and enough original attractions (World of Color, California Screamin, Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue) to make me very happy. Basically with the addition of Cars Land this summer there is so much awesome I think we seriously have to consider this question with future trips, “Which park first?”
|Paradise Pier Before World of Color |
· Kid Friendly: The Disneyland Resort is so much easier to get around with kids. There is no loading and unloading of strollers on buses. It is easier to get a crabby kid to nap time within10 minutes, and back again when we are happily rested. Attractions are closer together making it easier for one parent to be riding a E-Ticket while the other parent is taking their shift on a kiddy focused dark ride, I can’t tell you how many times I have waited for Splash Mountain while riding The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh over and over and over again. Basically when things are closer together it is easier to navigate the needs of a small child.
Yes, Disneyland Resort is my home today. I really wish someone had told me these things before my first visit to Anaheim. I love this park and considering a visit to Walt Disney World almost makes me feel dirty. Seriously, should I be scolded for considering Orlando over Anaheim? Disney fan, you really have to give Walt’s original theme park a chance.