Friday, May 13, 2016

5 Reasons To Visit Walt Disney World Instead of Disneyland

The internet is filled with posts, stories and opinions about why Disneyland is better than Walt Disney World, and vice versa.  This is NOT one of those stories. A true Disney park fan loves both of these amazing places for different reasons.  It's hard to understand people's intentions when they argue how one place is better than the other.  To do that requires a level of narrow-mindedness that I just don't get.

For this article, I've decided to explore some of the reasons why people should visit Walt Disney World instead of Disneyland over the next couple of years.  This is in no way to make Disney World seem "better" than Disneyland.  I am a huge Disneyland fan, and would never try to diminish the magic and wonder of the theme park that Walt Disney built, or the resort that has evolved in the sixty years since Disneyland opened.

Disneyland is winding down its 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration this year.  And while the event, which will turn one year old next week has been wonderful, it has lost a bit of its dazzle.  The parks are also experiencing record attendance thanks to the popularity of Disneyland's annual pass program.  In addition, Disneyland Park has started the largest expansion in the park's history with what will be the new Star Wars themed land.  This construction has impacted the crowds with the temporary closure of several rides while the project gets underway.

While Disneyland is, and will always be the original "Magic Kingdom", Walt Disney World is an entirely different beast.  It has always been dubbed the "Vacation Kingdom", and it certainly lives up to that nickname. For many years, Disneyland was a 1-day theme park.  Today's Disneyland Resort is a vacation destination in itself.  But while people generally spend three to five days at the Disneyland theme parks, they can easily spend two weeks at Walt Disney World.  Here are five reasons why you may want to consider a visit to Walt Disney World instead of Disneyland for your next vacation.

5. SIZE MATTERS - People who have never been to Walt Disney World simply cannot comprehend how big the property is.  It's huge!  Theme parks are generally measured by acres.  Disney World is measured by square miles.  The entire property occupies more than forty square miles.
Disneyland's Matterhorn Mountain rises 147 feet above the park,
making it the tallest structure in the park.
At 180 feet high, Spaceship Earth
welcomes guests to  Epcot.

The icon of Walt Disney World is Cinderella Castle.
 It stands 189 feet high, making it the tallest
structure at the Magic Kingdom.

Where Disneyland literally put Anaheim, California on the map,Walt Disney World did the same for Central Florida. To give you an example of how big this property is, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks are about six miles apart, and everything in between is Disney.
Park icons like Cinderella Castle (Magic Kingdom) and Spaceship Earth (Epcot) are taller than Disneyland's Matterhorn.

Because of its size, Walt Disney World can absorb crowds better than Disneyland.  That's not to say the parks don't get crowded, because they do.  But bigger theme parks can make navigation much easier.

4. NOSTALGIALAND -  Fans who have visited Disneyland for years long for the "good ole days", that featured many bygone attractions.  Several fan favorites that are long gone from Disneyland can still be found at Magic Kingdom Park.  The Peoplemover and Carousel of Progress can be found in Tomorrowland, while the toe-tapping fun of the Country Bear Jamboree can be relived in Frontierland.  Another favorite of Disney fans for generations is the Main Street Electrical Parade. This dazzling extravaganza is presented nightly along the Magic Kingdom parade route.

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover glides along
a covered, elevated track, touring all of Tomorrowland.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress debuted at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair,
before moving to Disneyland, and eventually finding a permanent home
 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

The Country Bear Jamboree has entertained audiences at Magic Kingdom
for more than forty years.  
The Main Street Electrical dazzles park goers up to two times every night
along the Magic Kingdom parade route.

Walls are commonly erected during
major refurbishment projects.
This sign lists the attractions closed
inside the parks.
Due to Star Wars expansion and regular refurbishments, many of Disneyland's attractions are experiencing an extended refurbishment that will last well into 2017. This includes most of the Frontierland attractions, the Disneyland Railroad and the popular nighttime show, Fantasmic.  Many rides close temporarily each day for a variety of reasons. It has also become somewhat common to have times of the day when more attractions are closed than open at Disneyland.  To be fair, Walt Disney World is also experiencing expansion and refurbishments itself. Temporary ride closures also happen over there.  But because of the size of the resort and the parks, the impact to guests is relatively minimal.

2. BLING AND THINGS - One of the best innovations to launch at Walt Disney World in the past several years is the My Magic Program, with the My Disney Experience app, FastPass+, and of course,  Magic Bands.
Tap your Magic Band to the Mickey head
to access a FastPass+ attraction.
 This new guest service has made the Walt Disney World experience even more enjoyable.  With FastPass+ service, guests can now schedule a time to experience up to three attractions in a park each day of their visit (up to sixty days in advance). Then when they arrive at the attraction, they touch their Magic Band to a lighted terminal that changes color, allowing them to enter the FastPass+ queue. Magic Bands also act as theme park tickets, hotel keys and much more, and have quickly become favorite souvenir items for fans.  A scaled back version of the FastPass+ program is slowly making its way to The Disneyland Resort.  It is not expected to feature Magic Bands or many of the benefits of the My Magic Plus program.

1. A TRUE DISNEY BUBBLE -  Many people stay at the hotels of The Disneyland Resort for the convenience of being able to walk from their Disney hotel to the theme parks.  Due the compact nature of this, guests can experience a Disney "bubble", just steps away from the hustle and bustle of the Anaheim Resort District, which is lined with hotels and motels that date back to the 1950s.
One of several entrances to the Walt Disney World Resort.

But at Walt Disney World, the "Disney Bubble" takes on an entirely different meaning.
From the time you travel under one of the resort's welcoming archways, you are transported into a world that is uniquely, all Disney.  Miles of Disney roadways are lined with grass and tall trees, hiding the resorts, and backstage areas from view.  Even the road signs have a Disney theme.  Complimentary Disney monorails, buses and boats transport Guest to all areas of the resort.
Purple road signs direct traffic through
Walt Disney World.

In addition to the four theme parks, guests can enjoy
two thrilling water parks, along with two miniature
golf courses.  There are three golf courses for hitting
the links, lakes for fishing, jet skiing and parasailing.
A campground nestled inside a lakeside forest offers horseback excursions, campfires and hay rides.  A massive sports complex features scheduled sporting events and other competitions.
The all-new Disney Springs area comes alive at night.
Guests will enjoy endless shopping, dining and entertainment at the brand new Disney Springs, as well as Disney's Boardwalk.  And with more than twenty Disney resorts to choose from, there are thousands of hotel rooms available for all vacation styles and budgets.
The Magic Kingdom Resort Area offers five of Disney's best resorts.
All of them offer Monorail and/or boat service to the Magic Kingdom.
It's easy to see why the Disney resorts on both coasts each have something very special to offer guests.  Disneyland will always be a magical destination because of its compact size, unique attractions, and treasured history.  Plus, it will always have the exclusive bragging right as the only theme park Walt Disney ever walked in.  But Walt Disney World takes the Disney experience to an entirely different level. Nowhere can guests be more immersed in Disney magic.

I am fortunate to live so close to Disneyland that I can visit the parks any time I wish.  But I always look forward returning to Walt Disney World for a memorable vacation. There's enough Disney magic in both destinations to keep me going back for years to come.
July, 2014 - Inside Walt Disney's Main Street
apartment at Disneyland.
September, 2013 - Standing in front of Cinderella
Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World.