I have to admit: I went into my first (and second) trip to Disneyland with a bias. For this true Walt Disney World fanatic, Disneyland was already at a disadvantage when I walked through that main gate for the first time nearly 20 years ago (before Disney California Adventure Park was even created). I had a preconceived notion of what I would find, and it was going to take a whole lot of magic for Disneyland Park to live up to my Disney park expectations To be honest, on that first visit, it did not. All I saw where the ways the park and surrounding area were different. Less than. Inferior to my beloved WDW.
Fast-forward to 2017…and my second (and third) visit to Disneyland Resort. Though I was excited to have the chance to experience DCA for the first time, I still had a chip on my proverbial Disney shoulder about what I would experience at Disneyland Park. Based on my long-ago visit, I was still a little jaded. However, I had done a great deal of reading on Walt Disney and the history of Disney as a company since that visit, so I did aim to keep an open mind and see the park with fresh eyes. I am so glad I did.
I can say now that Disneyland Resort has definitely grown on me! I have had the opportunity to visit the parks multiple times this year, and definitely have a new appreciation for Walt’s original park. When I convinced myself to think like a Disney fan instead of a WDW fan, I realized how much the parks have to offer, and how in some ways Disneyland Resort outshines Walt Disney World Resort.
I love the proximity of the 2 parks, Downtown Disney and the resorts at Disneyland Resort! Wouldn’t us WDW frequent fliers LOVE to be able to walk not only to another park effortlessly but also to Downtown Disney within minutes? Or stay at a resort where one can literally walk outside directly into a park? Park hopping is an absolute breeze, and with Downtown Disney so close to the parks, there are tons of dining options right at hand outside of the parks. No taking a crowded bus or trying to figure out resort-to-resort transportation to get to all the dining options!
As a WDW fan, I find it fun to compare the attractions that are on both coasts to see how they differ. I have found that I enjoy several of the Disneyland attractions more (Space Mountain is so much smoother and Pirates of the Caribbean is much, much longer!). On the other hand, I also love checking out those attractions that aren’t at Walt Disney World (including the much-loved Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!). I have some new favorites that I can only experience on the west coast now.
Of course there are still many ways that I feel Walt Disney World takes the cake. Four parks to visit is obviously better than 2 (even though Cars Land at DCA is truly not to be missed by any Pixar fan; the theming is magnificent). The sheer size and infrastructure of Walt Disney World will never fail to amaze me; after seeing all the businesses that had popped up right outside of Disneyland’s gates, it makes me happy that Walt learned his lesson in that regard. Disneyland Resort can’t hold a candle to Walt Disney World’s vast assortment of on-property lodging, dining, and non-park entertainment options.
All in all, I finally was able to allow myself to see Disneyland Resort in its own light, as opposed to a direct comparison to Walt Disney World. Disneyland is amazing in its own right; it shines its Disney magic in its own unique- and original way. I am thrilled to add regular visits to Disneyland Resort to my Disney life!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Disneyland Resort, make time for a visit! Go in with an open mind, and you won’t be disappointed!!