There has been all this talk about Disney’s California Adventure Park getting this big makeover and that people need to go see it. As much as I love Walt Disney World I have always felt there were things worth seeing at both locations even before the big makeover. Growing up in California has allowed me to visit Disneyland many times. My first visit was when I was 1974 and since the 90s I have gone just about every year at least once. While watching a special on TV I saw a new park that was opening at Walt Disney World. It was EPCOT Center. When I saw this place I had to go! Before then there was no real reason to travel across the country to see Walt Disney World since we had Disneyland so close by but now there was a reason.
I still remember staying at the Sheraton World and driving into this long road into Disney property and seeing the monorail going by to EPCOT Center. I also remember Disney Village and eating on the Empress Lilly (now Fulton’s).
Another favorite memory was visiting River Country and everything seemed so far apart. There was no Wilderness Lodge or Grand Floridian. There was nothing on the side of the road into the Magic Kingdom. The monorail stopped at some place that had Hawaiian music playing and I remember thinking how lucky people were to be staying at a resort that was so close and there was nothing like the big A-frame Hotel that we actually traveled through. It left an impression on me and my family so we returned again in 1984.
This would not be our last visit to the world but Disneyland was still something I did often with friends and family. For me both parks are still a destination and really have a different feel even if some of the rides are the same.
Most people that live closer to Walt Disney World don’t come out to Disneyland because they never had that reason to come like I did when Epcot opened. They figure it is not as big and it really has the same stuff or less. Others want to see where it all started. Over the years people that visit Walt Disney World often have asked me why they should visit Disneyland and some of my friends here ask me why they should visit Disney World so for years I have had multiple discussions comparing both destinations.
Telling people on the west coast about Disney World is a challenge to get them to understand the size of the place. Telling people on the East coast about Disneyland is a challenge to get them to understand the detail and feel of that destination. I still find things at each location that I like more than the other. Deciding which place is the better vacation destination is really no contest. Disney World is much more complete and can entertain you for more than a week while I feel Disneyland is a 3-5 day destination.
So let’s take a look at things that are at both destinations that are the same and I will give you my opinion on which one is better.
Let’s start in Adventureland (my favorite) and the Tikiroom. In Disneyland the Tikiroom is the first attraction to greet you and it is also the keeper of the Dole Whip. By the way if you are ever in Oahu you must visit the Dole Plantation and see the many desserts they have made with Dole Whip http://dole-plantation.com/ I love the original Tikiroom show so for years Disneyland won while WDW had the “Under new management” version. I am one of the few that appreciated the new twist to the Tikiroom and since I could still get the original out here on the west coast I was fine with the change to the one in WDW but even though they are both back to the original format, Disneyland wins for 3 reasons, It’s the original, Its got better themeing around the building and you can get Dole Whips while waiting for the show to start.
Next is the Jungle Cruise. Disney World wins this battle. The cue for the ride at WDW has a better flow and not as cramped and it is a much longer ride since the Disneyland version does not have the whole cave part.
Then we come to the tree house. Disney World wins this one also. I love Swiss Family Robinson and I want to go build a tree house every time I watch it. Turning the Disneyland one into Tarzan was fun for about 5 minutes and now it is just a disgrace to something Walt himself walked with the cast of the movie through.
Now we come to a ride that is sort of in both locations and is a ride that gives my number one reason to visit Disneyland. It’s the Indiana Jones Adventure and Disney Worlds version is the Countdown to…..I mean Dinosaur (who gets paid just to change the name of a ride anyway?). The Indiana Jones ride is a ride I was able to go on the first day it opened and yes there was a 4 hour line. It stretched through the whole ride cue, down Adventureland, out to the hub and back down Frontierland. Disneyland wins this one.
Heading out of Adventureland we run into New Orleans Square which is another reason to visit Disneyland. The theme and feel is just so well done and so Disney done right. Besides their version of Pirates of the Caribbean being so much better than the one in Disney World, they have two of the most unique places to eat with the Blue Bayou (inside the ride) and Club 33. Well Club 33 is not open to anyone and I was lucky enough to eat lunch there but it is something that makes Disneyland unique.
While we are at New Orleans Square I should mention Fantazmic. I still remember seeing it for the first time in Disneyland and it was the first real show with characters, and fireworks. It was part stage show part night time lazer and fireworks display. Now I have to say the original at Disneyland is much better than the version created for Hollywood studios. The only advantage that the one out east has is that there is seating but the differences in the show don’t make that enough of an advantage to even call it a tie in my opinion.
The Haunted Mansion would be next and I like the new stuff they did to the one in Disney World and the ride itself inside does not seem much different so I might call this one a tie even if I think they did a better job on the exterior of the one in Disneyland.
Splash Mtn would be just around the corner if I were in Disneyland and this one goes to Disney World. The ride is much longer in Disney World and while longer should not be a reason to be better, it is when you have waited an hour or more to get on something. Also I like siting side by side instead of in a row like at Disneyland.
Thunder Mtn. is a tough one to pick a better one. This one might be a tie also and I am sure someone out there can find a reason one is better than the other but I really can’t.
Let’s shoot on over to It’s a Small world. There is no contest here. The one in Disney World seems like it was just thrown in the park where ever they had some empty space while the one in Disneyland is the original reassembled from the 1964 World’s Fair. Disneyland wins!!
I was lucky enough to get to go on the opening of the redesigned Space Mtn. in Disneyland during the Cast Member only night and I was amazed at how much better and smoother and more exciting it was. I was not really a fan of the ride before and now I was. The one in Disney World needs the same upgrades and until then Disneyland will win this one.
We can’t compare the Submarine ride since it is now gone from Disney World but both costs have their version of the Nemo ride and while they are both just as fun they are both two totally different experiences. Disneyland’s version being in the old sub ride and Disney World’s version being put in the Living Seas. I think they are both worth going on and I will not call one a winner over the other.
Before we leave the Disneyland Park and head over to Disney’s California Adventure I want to say that after spending so much time looking at the castle in the Magic Kingdom it is still a little sad to see the little castle they have in Disneyland. I feel like I need to place a colored golf ball down on the ground of Main Street and wait for the door to the castle to open so I can putt through it.
Moving on.DCA has its version of Tower of Terror and I was very disappointed when I first rode it. As I was told by and Imagineer friend, Disney went cheap with the west coast version of it and it shows. Disney World wins the battle of the towers.Soarin’ Over California is the same ride at both parks but the building and the cue on the west coast is better than at Epcot and after all it is a better movie when you are in California.
DCA’s version of Kali River Rapids is Grizzly River Rapids and they are both well done but getting that wet it is nice to be in California heat where you don’t have humidity and you actually dry off after a while so I will give this one to DCA.
California Screamin’ can only be compared to Rockin Roller Coaster and this is a tough call but I might have to lean towards Rockin Roller Coaster…but who knows, tomorrow I might feel the opposite.
I know I did not compare everything like Peter Pan and Toy Story Mania and the list goes on but I don’t want you falling asleep on me.
I am guessing most people reading this are those who travel to Disney World so maybe this gave you a good idea of why you may or may not want to visit the West coast Disney. I know I did not compare all aspects but really they both have their own unique things and both locations have great Disney accommodations, shopping and food. The nice thing about the west coast version is you can walk from your hotel, through Down Town Disney to the park and from one park to the other with relative ease. Not something you can do in WDW. Now with all the new stuff going in at Disney’s California Adventure it really is worth the trip out to visit the parks.
If you ever have any questions about this topic or want some advice on visiting Disneyland you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org