I'm a lifelong Disney fan and have visited the Disneyland Resort almost more times than I can count. It's surprising to my friends and family that last month was my first ever trip to Florida to visit Walt Disney World and, I'll admit, I couldn't help but compare the two the entire time. Here are just a few ways I feel that Disneyland has an advantage over its younger east coast cousin.
- CURRENT - Many times during my visit I found myself aware of just how dated the attraction was. From Ellen's Energy Adventure to the broken Expedition Everest and an Enchanted Tiki Room introduced by its former name "Tropical Serenade", it appears Walt Disney World is more concerned keeping queue experiences up-to-date than the actual attractions themselves. Disneyland is always working to ensure that attractions and shows feel new and current every time you visit while still bringing old fond memories back from the past. I rarely consciously consider how old or out of date something is in California.
- TOMORROWLAND - It may sound petty, but Tomorrowland is my absolute favourite land in Disneyland and, though it's had a varied and difficult history, it's ideals will always hold a fond place in my heart. In an effort to eliminate the need for updating Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, WDW has chosen to create a falsified intergalactic city which takes extra care to mock itself. In many ways it works, but it hurts to see them want to wash their hands of the matter and leave Tomorrowland as it is. Walt Disney felt it should always be changing to showcase new technologies and ideas and they still have a desire and drive to do that at Disneyland, though they fall short from time to time. As a true Tomorrowland fan, I was a littled saddened by what I saw at the Magic Kingdom.
- DISTANCE - Walt Disney World encompasses acres upon acres of land in Florida and each hotel or theme park is spread out from each other. At the same time, each individual park is more sparsely populated and you can easily finish an entire park in one day. There are many wide open spaces that serve little purpose and you find yourself walking a considerable farther distance to get to the nearest attraction. California Adventure has that problem from time to time, but not Disneyland Park!
- TRANSPORTATION - Along the same lines as distance, you have to rely on Disney Transportation to get around WDW in a timely manner. Although they've worked their hardest to create a somewhat reliable service, unforseen circumstances can make getting around a pain. You never know when the monorail may be down and you're forced to use the ferry or when a bus is going to be twenty minutes late or take an overly circuitous route to your destination. This is all something you don't need to worry about in California - everything is so close together there's no overwhelming need for a great transportation system. Walking will get you pretty much anywhere!
- IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE - One of the major purposes of Walt's "Florida Project" was to make a more immersive experience where guests were protected from the influence of the outside world. Disneyland is immediately surrounded by hotels and restaurants and other shopping districts while WDW is alone on its massive property. However, you find yourself more in the middle of transportation nightmares in the middle of this magical land in Florida and get to witness the logistical side of Disney: dump trucks, taxis, waste management and the like. For me, once I step into the gates of Disneyland it's like I'm leaving the world on the other side and entering a fanciful world where I'm not privvy to any of those mundane tasks. I know what's on the other side of the berm, but within Disneyland's gates I can't see or hear it. To me, California already succeeds at that immersive experience.
I don't know about all of you, but these are just a few of the things I noticed between the two. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast at Walt Disney World and will be returning shortly! It's just difficult for anything to compete in my mind with Walt's original dream! What do you think?