The excuses are many! I’ve heard everything from “It won’t be as good because it’s smaller” to “It’s just a copycat of Walt Disney World” to “It’s not worth the extra flight to the West coast.” Many people who go to Walt Disney World don’t think they need to go to Disneyland, too, but there are several reasons to go to both if you are a Disney fan!
Reason number one is actually 17 unique reasons to go. The parks are not exact copies of each other. In fact, there are at least 17 attractions at Disneyland that you can not experience at Walt Disney World. This list includes Alice in Wonderland, The Bakery Tour, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Incredicoaster, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Pixar Pal-A-Round, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Storybook Land Canal Boats, and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. I would go to Disneyland just for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and WEB SLINGERS alone!
Many of the classics are at both resorts but have distinct elements and characteristics that make it worth riding both versions. For instance, Pirates of the Caribbean is my all-time favorite Disney attraction, and as much as I love the one in Walt Disney World, the one in Disneyland is better. The Disneyland version is longer, has two drops, and a New Orleans charm. While I enjoy the fort-style queue more at Walt Disney World, I like the ride better at Disneyland. Both Haunted Mansion attractions are amazing, but I love seeing the Hatbox Ghost at the Disneyland one.
Then, there are the attractions that have the same ride mechanism but completely different theming. The Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland is hands down the better attraction over Walt Disney World’s DINOSAUR! I don’t always ride DINOSAUR while in Florida, but I wouldn’t miss The Indiana Jones Adventure in California. I also prefer Radiator Springs Racers at Disneyland over Test Track, but my two teenage boys would disagree with me here. They love to design their own cars and compete at Test Track. The similar attractions I can’t decide between are Walt Disney World’s The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Disneyland’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT. While I love the classic theming of the Tower of Terror, I love the music and pure fun of Guardians of the Galaxy. That is the great part, though! You don’t have to decide. You can go to both coasts and enjoy all the similar attractions.
Walt Disney World is spread out and going between the four main parks can sometimes be difficult and time-consuming. At the Disneyland Resort, the two parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, sit next to each other with the Downtown Disney District for shopping and dining, in between. It is so easy to move between the two parks multiple times throughout the day. I rarely purchase Park Hopper tickets at Walt Disney World, but I wouldn’t want to visit the Disneyland Resort without a Park Hopper. While there are more parks to explore at Walt Disney World, Disneyland is much easier to navigate, which can make for a more relaxing time.
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer some fun and engaging character interactions. My family’s best character experience was with Gaston at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. He was the best! He completely embodied Gaston’s attitude, personality, and look in a comical exchange.
There is a surprising difference between the characters at Disneyland, however. They are more accessible and unplanned. Walking through Avengers Campus on my last trip to Disneyland, I ran into Ant-Man, who was also just walking through the park, greeting fans and taking photos when asked. I also looked up and spotted Dr. Strange on a rooftop, looking down at me. Just the day before, Sleeping Beauty walked past me and said hi. I didn’t even know she was there until she spoke to me. The characters are without handlers and freer to interact with guests at Disneyland, which is so charming.
The Hyperion Theater
At the Disney California Adventure Park, there is a special place for me. The Hyperion Theater is a gorgeous facility large enough to provide guests with Broadway-style shows. The first show I saw at the theater was Frozen – Live at the Hyperion. On my last trip this summer, I got to see Rogers: The Musical, based on the story of Marvel’s Captain America. The dancing, acting, and singing were superb, and it was such a fun, well-done show to experience. You cannot get this quality of live entertainment at any other theme park.
The biggest reason to go to Disneyland is history. Disneyland is Walt’s park. He dreamed it up and opened it with his brother Roy in 1955. He was there on opening day and many days after and worked hard to make the resort the success it is today.
Even though the park has seen many changes since 1955, it is so good to walk the same sidewalks and ride some of the same attractions that he did. To learn more about Walt’s time at Disneyland, I highly recommend the in-park Walt’s Main Street Story Tour. On the tour, you will hear behind-the-scenes stories and even visit Walt’s legendary apartment above the fire station in Town Square. That was the highlight of my last Disneyland trip!
Have I convinced you? I hope so! Disneyland is worth the trip. Don’t just go to Walt Disney World, go to Disneyland too! The unique and similar attractions, ease, characters, Broadway-style shows, and history will not disappoint.
Laci Post is a travel agent for Dreams Unlimited Travel and would be happy to help you with your next Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal, or Disney Cruise Line adventure. She can be reached at [email protected].