With all the buzz surrounding the Disney California Adventure Grand Reopening, a great many Disney fans are heading west to Disneyland; a good number of them for the very first time. A while back I laid out my Summer Must Dos at the Disneyland Resort, which deduces that all the new and sparkling wonders are a bonus to experiencing the house that Walt built. In the 3 Disney Parks that I have visited, the completely unique act of walking in Walt’s footsteps cannot be replicated.
For first timers, it is difficult to not make comparisons to one’s “Home Park”. To bonafide Disney fans, there really is no good nor bad, yet simply “magic with a different point of view” as I like to say. It is those differences to Florida’s Walt Disney World that I’ll share with you; don’t let off the mark expectations mess with your brand of magic!
Before you leave:
The Disneyland Resort offers its Guests approximately a third of the number of restaurants available to Guests at Walt Disney World. (Which makes perfect sense, considering there are 2 parks in Anaheim and 4 in Orlando, and far fewer Resort Hotels.) While Florida Guests may be accustomed to making Advanced Dining Reservations by phone or on-line 180 days in advance of their visit, at Disneyland you can book your Priority Seating 60 days out by calling 714-781-DINE or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and if you speak with a Disneyland representative, don’t expect a confirmation number; it’s simply not how their system works.
Disney Dining Plan
Unlike its East Coast counterpart, this Disney Dining Plan is purely a voucher system for pre-paying your meals. While it is advantageous to budget your dining, it offers no savings whatsoever,and is never free.
There are roughly one tenth the hotel options at Disneyland; again, mainly due to the vast difference in size. Choose from the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel if you want to stay on-property. All are dynamite choices, and deluxe accommodations in my mind. Easy Peasy.
Once you are there:
It is important to note that there is no complimentary Magical Express equivalent in California; most likely because the bulk of Disneyland’s Guests are local or within driving distance of the parks. Your options for getting to and from the airport are taxi, towncar, a shared shuttle van service (such as SuperShuttle) or the Disneyland Resort Express . The bus and shuttle vans operate out of both John Wayne Airport (20-30 minutes away) and LAX (45-60 minutes drive), with an average roundtrip cost of $27 and $32 respectively. Call ahead for reservations.
300 acres vs. 30,000 acres! The terrific news here is that if your dogs are used to barking loudly at Walt Disney World, they will welcome the change at Disneyland; literally everything- Disney Resort Hotels, Disneyland Park, Downtown Disney District and California Adventure- is within walking distance. It is delightful to be able stroll from one to the next!
If you are typically armed with your mister bottle and poncho during the tropical summer months in Orlando, be prepared for a much more temperate and dry Southern California climate- all year long.
Because a large number of Disneyland Guests will be locals, expect and plan for larger weekend crowds.
This first of its kind transit system was discovered by Walt himself as he traveled through Germany. Erected in 1959, this monorail runs on a 13 minute loop with just 2 stops: Tomorrowland and the Downtown Disney District. Guests are afforded a wonderful overview of both parks from its heights. Though you could easily walk, I suggest taking at least one ride on this Disney classic.
Extra Magic Hour
For each day of their stay, registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests are entitled to enter a park one hour earlier than the regular posted opening time. Check the posted Park schedule for specifics. Alternately, all Guests with a 3 Day (or longer) park ticket, special promotional “bonus” ticket, or holders of a 2012 Southern California CityPass receive the same early admission on just one day during the length of their pass. Attention night owls: There are no Evening Extra Magic Hours!
Though Disneyland Annual Passholders and California residents do not have access to a discount program like Tables in Wonderland, Annual Passholders do receive up to 15% off select dining experiences throughout the Disneyland Resort, and Disney Vacation Club members receive a 10% discount at almost all resort restaurants.
With each new park adventure, I find a renewed love for all things Disney. Hopefully Disneyland Resort will be the spot for your ”Summer to Remember”.