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Walt Disney World® vs. Disneyland® Park

 As a Walt Disney World®  veteran I have always been snobbish about Disneyland® Park.  Yes, I know it’s the original park and it never rains in California, but come on, Walt Disney World® is the best!  Disneyland® Park only recently added another park, there are very few on-site hotels, it’s land-locked, and it’s all the way in California.  Well, when I decided I wanted to become a leisure travel advisor specializing in all things Disney I realized I had better get to California.

Me in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle

After a long weekend exploring Disneyland® Park (DL) and Disney’s California Adventure® Park (DCA) I have grown to love the park that Walt built, but for very different reasons.

  • Size and location

DL and DCA are located right next to each other across a promenade so there is no reason to take a bus between parks.  And, these parks are also smaller.  In DL you can stand in Tomorrowland® Area and see into Adventureland® Area without any problems.  That is almost impossible in WDW.  All this means you can see more in less time so instead of having to spend 7 days in Orlando to see everything you only need 2-3 days in Anaheim to see it all.

View from Adventureland looking towards Tomorrowland

  •  Food

The food in both parks is fantastic!  If you happen to have a craving for a churro then you don’t need to look too far because there are churro carts all over both parks.  If churros aren’t your thing then how about Café Orleans where you can have garlicky parmesean pommes frites with remoulade dipping sauce and beignets.  Or try Hungry Bear restaurant with their fried green tomato BLT and lemon “bumblebee” cupcake.  Maybe because it’s located in health-conscious California but you are always within reach of fresh-cut fruit.

Cafe Orleans – pommes frites

Cafe Orleans – beignets

Hungry Bear Restaurant – “bumblebee” cupcake

  • Different rides

CarsLand anyone?  Hopefully some version of this will appear in Florida but until then you can experience it in California.  Other rides you can find in Disneyland® Park include Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Storybookland Canal Boats, California Screamin’, Goofy’s Sky School, plus the many rides in “a bug’s land”.

Mr Toad’s Wild Ride

Storybook land Canal Boats

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage


  • Abundance of hotels within walking distance

There are only 3 hotels on property and all are considered deluxe hotels but right across the street from the main gate are several hotels owned by companies other than Disney that are less expensive and sometimes closer to the park than the actual park hotels.  These are called “good neighbor” hotels and can offer similar perks to staying on property such as an early entry and the ability to bundle tickets and hotel accommodation into a package.

Disneyland hotel

  • Minimal planning required

For some reason the need for Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) in Disneyland® Park isn’t as stressful as it is in Florida.  You only need to make reservations 90 days in advance and even some of the most coveted restaurants still have availability just a day in advance.  This helps those who don’t like to plan their mealtimes 6 months in advance and locals who decided to pop by for the day.  We called on Saturday afternoon and were able to get a table at Ariel’s Grotto the next afternoon for lunch.

Ariel’s Grotto

There are still a lot of similarities between the two parks and if I had to choose just one to visit then it would be a hard decision.  They’re both Disney parks but each one is special in its own way and if you’ve never visited both then I challenge you to decide which one will become your favorite!

As to Disney photos, logos, properties:  ©Disney

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