We were so excited to be able to recently make the trip out west to visit Walt’s original park. In this post we’ll look at the major differences between Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando. Now before I go any farther, let me emphasize that I really am not writing this to choose one park over another. Both are incredible in their own ways and I appreciate and cherish the uniqueness of each. I just want to compare the 2 and let you know my thoughts. Ready? Let’s go…
We all know that food is one of the most fun aspects of visiting the Disney parks. Dole Whip, Mickey bars and pretzels are about as iconic to Disney as Dumbo and the spinning teacups. Disneyland is especially famous for their hand-dipped corn dogs, Matterhorn macaroons, and churros. Both parks serve Dole Whip, and we discovered the popular ritual of ordering the frosty pineapple treat and sitting in the courtyard of the Enchanted Tiki Room watching the preshow and waiting for the main event with Pierre, Fritz, Jose and Michael at Disneyland. Disney World has many more character dining restaurants and more table-service dining overall. Florida also has Epcot, where you can eat and drink around the World Showcase, sampling sushi for lunch and schnitzel for dinner. None of the table service meals at Disneyland were standouts for us, but the snacks were everything!
We’re mainly comparing Disneyland park to the Magic Kingdom so it’s more of an apples to apples comparison. Of course, WDW has twice the parks as its west coast counterpart. But some of our favorite rides were in California! We adored Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy and the Incredicoaster at Disney’s California Adventure. Disneyland also has many of the OG dark rides that made me absolutely swoon. We spent an entire morning in Fantasyland one day riding Peter Pan, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey as well as Casey Jr. train ride and the Storybook Canal Boats. Absolutely nothing beats this collection of classic rides, in my book. Of course, Magic Kingdom in Florida has almost all of the same attractions and has several attractions that are no longer at the original Disney park. The Peoplemover, Country Bear Jamboree and Carousel of Progress are some classic attractions that can only be found on the east coast.
General Park Experience
Here’s where you can see a definite difference between the two resorts. We had such a warm reception from cast members at DCA and Disneyland. There was a real feeling of experiencing the “Disney difference.” We had some great conversations with cast members who took the time out of their day to ask us questions and get to know us. We loved how intimate and walkable the Disneyland resort is. Walking to the parks in the morning was a magical experience. Of course Walt Disney World resort is so large, you can remain in the Disney bubble for your entire stay, forgetting the outside world exists until you have to eventually end your vacation. The dramatic approach on the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Magic Kingdom builds anticipation and is something to look forward to each time. Having 4 parks means more fun as well, and Animal Kingdom is by far one of our favorite parks. So, although the Florida resort is less intimate, it has so much more in the way of food, attractions and entertainment, you may never run out of things to do.
Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is a gorgeous and awe-inspiring icon that softens the hardest of hearts. The first time you see it at the end of Main Street is an experience you never forget. Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland may not be as large or as showy but it is the original castle and you have to give it credit for that. It also has a really cool walk through attraction telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. It was so neat to actually go through the castle. Cinderella Castle houses Cinderella’s Royal Table, a princess character dining restaurant, and dining there is something everyone should do once. It’s so great to peer out the stained glass windows onto Fantasyland below. Cinderella Castle also provides a beautiful centerpiece to the Happily Ever After nighttime show and the projections on it add so much to the fireworks.
So, there’s a look at our thoughts on Disneyland and Walt Disney World. We are itching to go back to the west coast and visit Disneyland again, but are so glad WDW is our “home” park, as it has so much to see and do, and magic abounds around every corner. Have you visited both parks? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!