After years of visiting Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, we finally had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney’s original theme park in Anaheim, California. Checking Disneyland off our bucket list was very exciting, and while there were many similarities between the Disneyland and WDW, there were many differences, as well.
Here are 10 things that we appreciate more about Walt Disney World Resort after visiting Disneyland.
1. Cinderella Castle
One of the biggest differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World in general is their size. But of all the ways Walt Disney World is bigger, the one that struck us the most was the castles. Rounding the corner from Town Square on to Main Street just wasn’t as impressive at Disneyland.
Sleepy Beauty Castle, for all its charm, just doesn’t grab you the way Cinderella Castle does. Cinderella Castle has a majesty that its sister castle does not possess.
Even up close, a tree or even a person standing in your way can block a good portion of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, making it more difficult to get good photos of it. And it doesn’t help that the Matterhorn is so close nearby, dwarfing it.
2. Having a “Magical Day!”
We’ve become so accustomed to being wished a “magical day” by Cast Members at Walt Disney World that it was a total shock to not hear the phrase once during our visit to Disneyland. Instead, everyone simply referred to us as “friend”.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Disneyland is the “Happiest Place on Earth” and Disney World is the “Most Magical”. So, it makes sense that they wouldn’t use that phrase on the west coast.
But, it just makes us appreciate hearing it that much more knowing that they don’t say “Have a Magical Day” at every Disney park.
3. Immersiveness and the “Disney Bubble”
One of the things Walt Disney wanted to do differently in Walt Disney World was to better preserve the illusion by not having guests see out-of-place Cast Members. So, they built the Magic Kingdom on top of the famous Utilidors to prevent guests from seeing Cast Members walking through lands they shouldn’t be in.
At Disneyland, not only did we see Cast Members who were occasionally out of place, we also saw them in costume outside of the parks! There were times we were waiting to cross Disneyland Drive and there were Cast Members walking by.
That was strange, to say the least.
Another thing Walt Disney addressed when building Walt Disney World was making sure to have plenty of land to serve as a buffer between Disney and the outside world.
Guests have come to refer to it as the “Disney Bubble.”
The Disney Bubble is one of the most enticing reasons to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort as opposed to off-site, as you never have to step outside the Disney magic unless you really want to.
4. Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom
There are numerous shared experiences both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. The two destinations’ Magic Kingdom parks are very similar, and we found a number of elements from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida at the Disneyland Resort, as well.
But, there really wasn’t anything to truly compare to what WDW offers with Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom parks.
And it isn’t just about the rides. Epcot is a park dedicated to celebrating innovation and the global society we live in. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is focused on our relationship with the Earth and the animals we share it with.
You don’t see much of that at the Disneyland Resort.
5. Water Parks
In addition to having more theme parks, WDW is also home to two themed Water Parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Both of these water parks are refreshing ways to have some wet, cool, Disney fun in the Florida heat.
Why doesn’t the Disneyland Resort have a water park? Probably due to a lack of real estate. They just don’t have the spare land to build a water park, let alone anything else.
Might they build one in the future? We don’t know.
6. The Monorail
We rode the Disneyland Monorail two times during our visit, and it was just okay.
Granted, the Disneyland Resort doesn’t require the complex transportation systems of Walt Disney World. But, the WDW monorail that we know and love is so much better. Disneyland’s monorail doesn’t even tell you to “stand clear of the doors”.
On top of that, the Walt Disney World Resort has Ferries, boats, and the new Skyliner as fun ways to get guests from one place to another.
7. Disney Springs
Disneyland still refers to its marketplace as “Downtown Disney”, and it sits just outside the gates of both theme parks. Walt Disney World’s marketplace area has always been a destination in its own right, and has evolved through the years to become Disney Springs.
Disney Springs boasts much more to do in the way of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
I know that Disneyland is supposed to be getting MagicBands+ sometime, maybe even later this year. But, as of our August visit, we did not see any being sold or used.
With the push for guests to utilize Disney’s new Genie+ service, MagicBands are a useful tool for allowing guests to redeem their selections. It also gives them a way to make purchases and even open their hotel room door without having to always pull out the phone.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed expressing our individual style with personalized MagicBands on our trips, which also adds to the fun.
9. Refillable Popcorn Buckets
Popcorn at Disney is one of Lisa’s favorite Disney snacks. At Walt Disney World, we always buy a bucket of popcorn and take advantage of the refills during our stay. Much to our disappointment, Disneyland’s popcorn buckets weren’t refillable on our trip.
10. Miniature Golf
While none of us plays actual golf enough to add Walt Disney World’s world-class golf courses to this list, we do enjoy a good game of miniature golf. And WDW has a few great miniature golf courses! We always make a point to enjoy a round of mini golf during our stays.
Our favorite is Winter Summerland located right outside the entrance to Blizzard Beach. The course is a lot of fun. And we love the theming!
How hard would it be for Disneyland to add a little miniature golf to one of its resorts or the Downtown Disney area? I’m just thinking out loud here.
This is NOT a Dig at Disneyland
To be fair, we had a great time visiting Disneyland. We even noted several things about Disneyland that we liked better than Walt Disney World.
This is just some of things that stood out to us as long-time guests of Walt Disney World.
Have you visited both resorts? If so, let us know what differences stood out to you in the comments!
Have a Magical Day!