As we waited to get into Disneyland (their ticket entrance is a joke, you need to be scanned, then present your ticket&more to come) it actually felt like I was waiting to get into the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. As you are waiting to enter (and as you can see from above you wait) you can see the Main St. Station and hear the train whistle. Both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland have a beautiful welcome area where families line up to take their first picture of the park. As you enter under the Main St. Station and walk down Main St. USA it is difficult to tell the parks apart. At the top of Main St. I was a little taken back by the castle. I never remembered Sleeping Beautys castle being much smaller than Cinderellas castle in Disney World. Still the sight of the castle is always magical and we had to stop for a picture.
Having been to Disney World so many times it is hard not to compare the two parks. Here are some interesting comparisons I found in some of my favorite rides. The Haunted Mansion is very much the same. A few differences are the stretching room in Disneyland actually acts as an elevator lowering you to the actual ride. As you exit the stretching room you walk through the hallway and library where you find the changing pictures and watching marble busts. It wasnt until my second time through this ride that I realized that. I dont recall seeing the stair case room and the hitchhiking ghosts seem to be the original three (more interactive now in Disney World). The scariest part of any haunted mansion ride for me is Little Leota. You know her she is the one that says, Dont forget to bring your death certificate! As we exited the last room I was glad I didnt see my little friend. However, once we exited our doom buggies, she was there waiting for me at the exit ramp. I do believe she is a little creepier at Disney World.
The ride queue at Pirates is far different as a majority of the wait is outside (like many of the rides). The actual ride is much longer in Disneyland Park as well. As you first enter the ride you pass by a restaurant on your right and a bayou scene on the left. In addition to the longer ride, you actually have two drops in the Disneyland version. In comparing the two, I would say Disneyland is the winner here.
The first thing you notice as you board your adventure into Space Mountain in Disneyland is there are two seats next to each other. I actually think that makes the ride more enjoyable. To me it felt as the ride in Disneyland was longer with less tight turns than Disney World. Both my 15 year old daughter and I instantly decided that Disneyland was the winner here too!
The first thing you notice as your board Small World is you are actually boarding the boat outside. There seems to be much more room for the ceremony clock that goes off every 15 minutes because it is outside and you can hear it in several places in the park. The ride is pretty much the same and yes the song does become just as annoying, however one thing I found interesting was you see Disney movie characters throughout the ride in Disneyland. Some noticeable are Ariel, Lilo & Stitch, Woody & Jessie as well as Nemo & Dory.
Disneyland has its share of rides that are not at the Magic Kingdom, for example the Matterhorn, Mr. Toads Wild Ride (formerly at Disney World), Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Indiana Jones to mention just a few. For our west coast trip we only planned 2 ½ days at Disneyland. We should have had at least one more day as I didnt have the time to ride a few of the above mentioned rides.
There were a few other key things I noticed between Disneyland and Disney World. In Disneyland not every ride leads you into a gift shop and that was actually very nice! I thought there were less fast passes available in Disneyland and that is a real shame as I feel it gives you a better opportunity to ride more of the bigger attractions. Disney characters seem far more accessible and more throughout the park in Disneyland.
The biggest difference was in the way you enter the park. I really could not understand how Disneyland has messed this up so much. When we first arrived they actually took a picture of us that was linked to our passes. You would think this would speed up the process. However it was just the opposite. There was an area before the turnstiles where they would check your tickets and picture. Then when you got to the turnstiles, they also scanned the ticket (so it would work with the fastpass system) and also checked for hand stamps if you were park hopping. I couldn’t believe this as on one day they couldnt see my hand stamp (yes I actually wash my hands) so they asked if I had a photo of myself in the other park. Why go through taking a picture of me and then the additional 3 steps? It was obvious this was a nightmare as it was about a 45 minute wait to get into the park.
Overall as I diehard Disney World fan I would say take the time to visit Disneyland. Although it is much of the same, it is well worth the time. I can definitely see another trip to Disneyland in my future; hopefully I wont have to wait 34 years for my next trip!