We were very lucky to have the opportunity to visit Disneyland so soon after our visit to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom with Gran and Pop last Thanksgiving. Both were unforgettable trips, but the differences between the two parks were striking.
In case this is something you’ve been wondering about, I’ve got a few pictures to share.
Main Street at Disneyland (Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background)
Just past Main Street in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World (Cinderella Castle in the background)
Sleeping Beauty Castle decorated to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland (just past Main Street)
Cinderella Castle after Elsa had decorated it for Christmas in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World (on Main Street)
Disneyland is a wonderful adventure. It is more dynamic than the Magic Kingdom – things change there all the time (probably since their primary audience remains the same – locals). This is actually kind of a weird statement since Disneyland still has so many of the “vintage” rides (like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) that have been phased out in the Magic Kingdom. To explain, right now Space Mountain is haunted with ghosts for Halloween and will transform into “Hyperspace Mountain” to celebrate the return of Star Wars in November. The live shows change often. If your timing is good, you’ll always have a unique experience. It’s smaller, so it’s easier to navigate. Since a good percentage of the visitors are local, the crowd doesn’t really pick up during the week until after work or school. If you stay at one of the resorts, you can get back to your room in less than half an hour so a rest in the middle of the day is super easy (at Disney World, even if you stay in a resort, plan on a two hour round trip just to grab something from the room). Even with all that, I could really see why Walt Disney wanted a do-over after creating the original park. It is close quarters. The Matterhorn overshadows Sleeping Beauty Castle. Cast Members move through the park in costume since there are only a few ways in or out – it’s disconcerting to see a group of Haunted Mansion butlers strolling through Fantasy Land. Disneyland doesn’t take “there’s only one Mickey” seriously: Mickey rode in a parade and hosted Fantasmic (both outdoor events) simultaneously.
Many of the attractions in the two parks are similar – if not the same. The jokes on the Jungle Cruise are equally…remarkable (you have to be a special kind person to lead a Jungle Cruise).
The Tea Cups at Disneyland
The Tea Cups in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World
The Magic Kingdom at Disney World is a machine. Cast Members enter and leave the park through a network of underground tunnels so you’ll never see a cowboy near Prince Charming’s Carousel (unless he’s 5 years old and dressed up as Woody). If Tiana is in a parade, she is not meeting visitors in Liberty Square. Everything is bigger. Brighter. I found that it was tidier – I never noticed trash in the bushes or under the benches. While the park doesn’t change as often, there is perfection in its stability. Maintenance happens each night. MAGIC BANDS are amazing! The wait lines are better sheltered from sun or rain. Every Cast Member addressed Ellie as ‘Princess’ whether she was in costume or not (she mostly was, but still). At Disney World, every Cast Member contributed to the magic. Our housekeeper was the Star of my personal Disney Experience. Our towels were origamied every day (I wanted to take the elephant home but I didn’t). We came back to the room one night and all of Ellie’s stuffed friends were playing hide and seek in the bed. I felt as if the Cast Members enjoyed having us visit.
Remember how our beds at the Disneyland Hotel had fireworks? The headboards in our room at the Port Orleans Resort in Disney World room did this:
Disneyland is a splendid proof of concept. DisneyWorld is the actualization of a dream.
You should absolutely visit one if you’ve visited the other, there are unique attractions and events at both. If you wish to pick, my opinion is that the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is the better experience.