Disneyland, the original Disney theme park, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with plenty of special performances and decorations. This means that many Walt Disney World regulars are setting their sights on Disneyland instead. While there are certainly many similarities between the two, there are still lots of differences between planning for Walt Disney World and planning for Disneyland.
First of all, park hopping at Disneyland takes about two minutes, as compared to the bus or monorail ride needed to navigate between parks at Walt Disney World. The entrance to Disneyland and the entrance to Disney California Adventure are right across a plaza from each other, and walking between the two takes about as long as crossing the street. With the Park Hopper added to your ticket, this makes it extremely easy to hop between the two parks.
At Disneyland, you can walk to the park from most hotels. Disney has three beautiful resort hotels within walking distance from the parks and Downtown Disney – one even has its own entrance to Disney California Adventure. Unlike at Walt Disney World, the area surrounding Disneyland contains many non-Disney hotels, though guests can still book vacation packages at these locations because many of them are Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels. Some of these hotels are even directly across the street from the entrances to the two theme parks.
FastPass is still paper at Disneyland. If you’ve visited Walt Disney World in the past couple of years, you’ve likely booked your FastPasses online, but Disneyland still uses the paper FastPass system where guests can only acquire FastPasses in the park during their visit. Whereas Walt Disney World has expanded FastPass to almost every ride in the parks, many rides at Disneyland do not offer FastPass, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn, and the Finding Nemo Submarines.
Disneyland also has a much shorter dining reservation window. Whereas Walt Disney World visitors are getting their dining selections ready six months in advance, Disneyland’s dining reservations open only 60 days in advance.
If you’re a frequent Walt Disney World visitor trying out Disneyland for the first time, there are quite a few attractions you’ll want to try that you can’t find at Walt Disney World. Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land is one of our favorites. At Disneyland, be sure to try the Matterhorn and Indiana Jones Adventure. One of our nostalgic favorites is the Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland. Disneyland has several rides that are also in Walt Disney World, but the rides themselves are different. If you’ve heard that Pirates of the Caribbean is better at Disneyland, that’s because it’s true. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Haunted Mansion are also worth checking out for their differences from their Walt Disney World counterparts.
While most characters at Walt Disney World have established meeting spots (Mickey Mouse in Town Square Theater, Minnie and Daisy at Pete’s Silly Sideshow, and so on), many characters roam freely at Disneyland. You can often come across Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto in Town Square at Disneyland, or you may find other characters such as the Mad Hatter and Alice roaming around Fantasyland.
Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful family. Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong – but she also realized how good planning can make such a difference for having a fun, relaxing vacation! Elizabeth became her family’s go-to resource for Disney planning. Now she is dedicating her planning skills to helping other families create vacation memories as a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. She will plan your trip as if it were her own. Her blog, planningformagic.com, has tons of advice on how to plan your next Disney trip, including trip planning instructions, sample itineraries, dining tips, and more. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter for more planning tips and theme park news. Contact Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.