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A WDW Veteran's Thoughts on Disneyland

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
In the spirit of Disneyland veteran @1LE McQueen and his first ever trip to Walt Disney World, I'd like to share my thoughts after my family's first trip to Disneyland. I'm on my phone on the flight back to Providence as I type this, so I won't be as detailed as I'd like, but I wanted to get my thoughts written down while they're still fresh.

Disclaimer: I'm going to do a lot of "complaining," but I don't intend it that way. It's just easier to note the things you didn't like than the things you did. Overall, we LOVED the trip and will definitely be returning in the near future.

My family consists of me (29), my wife (30), and our two daughters (4 and 1). The four year old is tall for her age and rode everything with a 42" or shorter height requirement, including Guardians, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Goody's Sky School, Matterhorn, etc.

Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, World of Color, and Fantasmic were down for refurbishment so we didn't get to experience those. Other than that, I believe we rode and saw everything.

Resorts: We spent three nights at the Disneyland Hotel and four nights at the Grand Californian. Both would fit comfortably in the "deluxe" category at Walt Disney World, but the Grand was far superior. I would put it in my personal top five along with Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Village, and Fort Wilderness. The Disneyland Hotel felt a bit tired and worn down. I don't know how long it has been since the last room refurbishment, but it felt like it was due. Our room at the Grand was immaculate. The sheets, pillows, and mattresses at both resorts were better than anything we've ever had at WDW. Both resorts had major refurbishments going on in the pool areas, but it was in the low 60s so we weren't looking to swim anyway. The only major complaint is that the Disneyland Hotel was poorly equipped to manage the closure of their quick service dining location. They were sending people to the bar at Trader Sam's to order food and that can be a rowdy environment where we weren't always comfortable bringing small children.

Food: Disneyland food is terrible. We had an amazing breakfast at Steakhouse 55 and a great character meal at Storyteller's Cafe, but the vast majority of quick service food we ate was cafeteria quality at best. I'm used to quick service like the half chicken at Cosmic Ray's or the pulled pork at Flame Tree BBQ, but the quality and selection at Disneyland were poor. Even the supposed "best" locations like the Plaza or French Market were very poor quality compared to similar offerings at WDW, and usually at a significantly higher price. Two exceptions that really shined were the skewers at Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland and just about everything at White Water Snacks, which were excellent.

IN PROGRESS
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
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FastPass: I really, really (really really really) hated FastPass at Disneyland. Anyone who says they don't like FastPass+ has never waited 40 minutes standby for Alice In Wonderland. On a WDW vacation, I travel for 8 nights. That's 24 FastPass selections plus 8 rope drops, giving me 32 attractions I'm guaranteed to ride with zero wait. No such luck at Disneyland. It's not so much the paper versus digital that's the issue, it's the complete lack of FastPass options at many attractions. Yes, I know that FastPass+ increases standby times, but if you're efficient at using the system (and I am), it's a huge time saver. We waited in far more standby lines in 6 Disneyland park days than we ever do at WDW in 8 park days. Another thing I didn't like is that Disneyland's FastPass is linked to your park ticket. I would have liked (for example) to have my wife using her Big Thunder FastPass with my older daughter while I went with the baby to get new FastPasses for Matterhorn, but since my wife physically needed the tickets in hand to redeem the Thunder FastPass, that was not possible. MaxPass would solve this, but that's a pay-for-play system that I dislike on its own merits.

Infrastructure: Absolutely loved being able to walk everywhere. Disneyland Hotel is the "further" of the two resorts we stayed in but I'd estimate it's about as far from the main gates as the Contemporary is from the Magic Kingdom, and it's a much more pleasant walk. So transportation gets an A+ simply because you didn't need any.

One problem Disneyland has is that it's completely unequipped for bad weather. It rained three of our six park days and the parks sort of came to a screeching halt during bad weather, even when it's just light rain. Almost all of the queues, ride loading areas, and quick service dining is outdoors and not under cover. If it's raining, you're going to get rained on. If it's cold, you're going to be cold. If it's hot, you're going to be hot. We got more soaked in a day of drizzle at Disneyland than we would in a midsummer monsoon at WDW because at WDW there are ways to stay out of it. Disneyland also has poor drainage so the streets flood very quickly.

Merchandise: Same quality as WDW, but slightly less selection from what I could tell. World of Disney at Downtown Disney was terrible. No "high quality" merchandise (books, watches, nice purses, Pandora beads, nice figures, etc.) All of that was in one specific shop in each park.

Cast members: Equal quality as WDW. Generally excellent, with one or two duds here and there.

Maintenance: Generally good, until the last night at Pacific Wharf when every trash can was overflowing. Bathrooms were generally clean, but a couple had stall doors that were somewhat off kilter.

Live entertainment: Much better talent at Disneyland, but the schedule for shows was often very limited during the week. Lots of shows were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only.

Attractions: Disneyland is like Magic Kingdom, only better. California Adventure is like Hollywood Studios, only better. Basically. The only two attractions where I said "HOLY COW THAT'S WAY BETTER" were Pirates and Cars Land, which is the finest themed land I've ever been in and it's not even close.

I'll share other thoughts as they come to me, or feel free to ask me anything.
 

TrainChasers

Active Member
The one positive thing about the rain issue... it really empties out the park vs. at wdw where everyone is on vacation.

Rides like Alice and Peter Pan should not have FP in my opinion. I prefer the DL system, but I currently get max pass free with my bi-coastal pass so it’s not a totally fair comparison.

Glad you were able to see some of the great entertainment at DL. Wdw has cut down live entertainment so much over the years you forget what it can be like with live, thematically correct music in almost every area of the parks. Plus shows like the royal theatre and Golden Horseshoe.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
I work at Cosmic's and I totally disagree on our 1/2 Chicken being better than say French Market's/Cafe Orleans' Monte Cristo which is the best sandwich I've ever had.
I was comparing chicken to chicken. Cosmic's is better chicken, better green beans, and better mashed potatoes IMO.
 

TrainChasers

Active Member
Yeah I think the chicken at cosmic rays and New Orleans square is about the same now that I think about it. I think the salmon at the plaza is better than Harbor house too.

Oh and the Mexican entrees in Frontierland are light years ahead of the super low quality at pecos bills.

Also all 3 of the above use real plates and silverware which add a touch of class.
 

1LE McQueen

Well-Known Member
In the spirit of Disneyland veteran @1LE McQueen and his first ever trip to Walt Disney World, I'd like to share my thoughts after my family's first trip to Disneyland. I'm on my phone on the flight back to Providence as I type this, so I won't be as detailed as I'd like, but I wanted to get my thoughts written down while they're still fresh.

Disclaimer: I'm going to do a lot of "complaining," but I don't intend it that way. It's just easier to note the things you didn't like than the things you did. Overall, we LOVED the trip and will definitely be returning in the near future.

My family consists of me (29), my wife (30), and our two daughters (4 and 1). The four year old is tall for her age and rode everything with a 42" or shorter height requirement, including Guardians, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Goody's Sky School, Matterhorn, etc.

Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, World of Color, and Fantasmic were down for refurbishment so we didn't get to experience those. Other than that, I believe we rode and saw everything.

Resorts: We spent three nights at the Disneyland Hotel and four nights at the Grand Californian. Both would fit comfortably in the "deluxe" category at Walt Disney World, but the Grand was far superior. I would put it in my personal top five along with Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Village, and Fort Wilderness. The Disneyland Hotel felt a bit tired and worn down. I don't know how long it has been since the last room refurbishment, but it felt like it was due. Our room at the Grand was immaculate. The sheets, pillows, and mattresses at both resorts were better than anything we've ever had at WDW. Both resorts had major refurbishments going on in the pool areas, but it was in the low 60s so we weren't looking to swim anyway. The only major complaint is that the Disneyland Hotel was poorly equipped to manage the closure of their quick service dining location. They were sending people to the bar at Trader Sam's to order food and that can be a rowdy environment where we weren't always comfortable bringing small children.

Food: Disneyland food is terrible. We had an amazing breakfast at Steakhouse 55 and a great character meal at Storyteller's Cafe, but the vast majority of quick service food we ate was cafeteria quality at best. I'm used to quick service like the half chicken at Cosmic Ray's or the pulled pork at Flame Tree BBQ, but the quality and selection at Disneyland were poor. Even the supposed "best" locations like the Plaza or French Market were very poor quality compared to similar offerings at WDW, and usually at a significantly higher price. Two exceptions that really shined were the skewers at Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland and just about everything at White Water Snacks, which were excellent.

IN PROGRESS
OP CONTINUED

FastPass: I really, really (really really really) hated FastPass at Disneyland. Anyone who says they don't like FastPass+ has never waited 40 minutes standby for Alice In Wonderland. On a WDW vacation, I travel for 8 nights. That's 24 FastPass selections plus 8 rope drops, giving me 32 attractions I'm guaranteed to ride with zero wait. No such luck at Disneyland. It's not so much the paper versus digital that's the issue, it's the complete lack of FastPass options at many attractions. Yes, I know that FastPass+ increases standby times, but if you're efficient at using the system (and I am), it's a huge time saver. We waited in far more standby lines in 6 Disneyland park days than we ever do at WDW in 8 park days. Another thing I didn't like is that Disneyland's FastPass is linked to your park ticket. I would have liked (for example) to have my wife using her Big Thunder FastPass with my older daughter while I went with the baby to get new FastPasses for Matterhorn, but since my wife physically needed the tickets in hand to redeem the Thunder FastPass, that was not possible. MaxPass would solve this, but that's a pay-for-play system that I dislike on its own merits.

Infrastructure: Absolutely loved being able to walk everywhere. Disneyland Hotel is the "further" of the two resorts we stayed in but I'd estimate it's about as far from the main gates as the Contemporary is from the Magic Kingdom, and it's a much more pleasant walk. So transportation gets an A+ simply because you didn't need any.

One problem Disneyland has is that it's completely unequipped for bad weather. It rained three of our six park days and the parks sort of came to a screeching halt during bad weather, even when it's just light rain. Almost all of the queues, ride loading areas, and quick service dining is outdoors and not under cover. If it's raining, you're going to get rained on. If it's cold, you're going to be cold. If it's hot, you're going to be hot. We got more soaked in a day of drizzle at Disneyland than we would in a midsummer monsoon at WDW because at WDW there are ways to stay out of it. Disneyland also has poor drainage so the streets flood very quickly.

Merchandise: Same quality as WDW, but slightly less selection from what I could tell. World of Disney at Downtown Disney was terrible. No "high quality" merchandise (books, watches, nice purses, Pandora beads, nice figures, etc.) All of that was in one specific shop in each park.

Cast members: Equal quality as WDW. Generally excellent, with one or two duds here and there.

Maintenance: Generally good, until the last night at Pacific Wharf when every trash can was overflowing. Bathrooms were generally clean, but a couple had stall doors that were somewhat off kilter.

Live entertainment: Much better talent at Disneyland, but the schedule for shows was often very limited during the week. Lots of shows were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only.

Attractions: Disneyland is like Magic Kingdom, only better. California Adventure is like Hollywood Studios, only better. Basically. The only two attractions where I said "HOLY COW THAT'S WAY BETTER" were Pirates and Cars Land, which is the finest themed land I've ever been in and it's not even close.

I'll share other thoughts as they come to me, or feel free to ask me anything.
Very cool! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

1. I definitely see your point with FP. I agree that it's pay to play at Disneyland, but it's soooo sweet when you have Maxpass. Otherwise it's just a lot of walking back and forth to get new fastpasses (which isn't too bad since Disneyland is fairly small, but still). Without MaxPass, I much prefer Disneyworld's structure.

2. Car's Land is amazing at DCA! Other then that, I can't say i'm a fan of their 'newest' additions like Mission Breakout and Incredicoaster. I think ToT and MV3D were two of my all time favorite things to do at DL, and since they're now only available at DHS it's become my favorite park in Florida.

3. I'm curious to know what you thought about DL's version of Space, BTMRR, Indiana Jones Adventure.. etc.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
Very cool! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

1. I definitely see your point with FP. I agree that it's pay to play at Disneyland, but it's soooo sweet when you have Maxpass. Otherwise it's just a lot of walking back and forth to get new fastpasses (which isn't too bad since Disneyland is fairly small, but still). Without MaxPass, I much prefer Disneyworld's structure.

2. Car's Land is amazing at DCA! Other then that, I can't say i'm a fan of their 'newest' additions like Mission Breakout and Incredicoaster. I think ToT and MV3D were two of my all time favorite things to do at DL, and since they're now only available at DHS it's become my favorite park in Florida.

3. I'm curious to know what you thought about DL's version of Space, BTMRR, Indiana Jones Adventure.. etc.
I prefer WDW's Space. There's one sharp drop that I really enjoy that isn't in the Disneyland version. But Disneyland's has a lower height requirement so my daughter got to ride for the first time, which is great.

I like the ride of World's Thunder better but Disneyland has better show elements, so it's a tie I guess.

Indiana Jones was amazing. Far superior to Dinosaur. But the onboard audio was EXTREMELY loud, which was actually a common complaint I had on several attractions. I felt like the audio on Indy, Space, Thunder, Matterhorn, RSR, and a few others were just jacked way too loud. Even some of the dark rides. But that skull room in Indy was amazing.
 

AJH219

Well-Known Member
FastPass: I really, really (really really really) hated FastPass at Disneyland
If I ever make it out to DL, this is the thing I know I will HATE the most. There is nothing I despise more than queuing up in standby for attractions when I can quickly grab a FP via the app. Like you, if I recall, I'm a planner down to the last second so I love knowing what I'm riding and when. I refuse to wait more than 30 mins for any ride now because I've become so spoiled with the FP+ system. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
If I ever make it out to DL, this is the thing I know I will HATE the most. There is nothing I despise more than queuing up in standby for attractions when I can quickly grab a FP via the app. Like you, if I recall, I'm a planner down to the last second so I love knowing what I'm riding and when. I refuse to wait more than 30 mins for any ride now because I've become so spoiled with the FP+ system. Thanks for your thoughts!
You should go. I was skeptical at first, but I'm a believer despite what I perceive as flaws. Disneyland (the park) really is superior to the Magic Kingdom. Save up for the Disneyland Hotel Downtown Disney view (which guarantees the Adventure Tower) or any view other than Standard at the Grand Californian. The "bubble" from either of those resorts is pristine. Picture the walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom, but the whole thing is Downtown Disney.
 

Chef Mickey

Well-Known Member
WDW Fastpass is so much better, it’s not even on the same planet. After the bugs were worked out, there is really no argument that the standard paper FP system is better.

Getting your FPs from the App > walking for paper ones.

I think the food is better at WDW, but only bc there are more table service options.

I think you are overrating Cosmic Ray’s. I’ve eaten there dozens of times and it’s always meh, particularly the dry chicken and overdone green beans.

I’ve had some really good quick service Mexican at DL. Flame Tree is good, probably the best quick service option, but WDW doesn’t have a lot of QS with Flame Tree quality.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
WDW Fastpass is so much better, it’s not even on the same planet. After the bugs were worked out, there is really no argument that the standard paper FP system is better.

Getting your FPs from the App > walking for paper ones.
The walking isn't even the worst part IMO. The biggest problem is no control over the return window
 

disneyspirit

Active Member
The only way paper fastpasses would work for me now is if they had kiosks around the parks where you could get them for any attraction. I don't mind walking but there's enough of that at WDW without making an extra trip to get passes for Safari/whatever. FP+ is okay with me.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
Thanks. I'm looking forward to returning later on this year. Our tickets already have MaxPass included with them (want it as much for the photos as for being able to book fastpasses on the phone). We're also staying "off property"- literally across the street from the gates, which at least in the past still provides a good portion of that "bubble feel" and at a much lower price. (we're staying in a 2 bedroom suite for less than what we would have paid for a single room at either Disney hotels, with a window view of both parks and a shorter walk)

The food comparisons are interesting and good to know. We haven't fully decided on dining yet, so that's something I'm happy to hear about. it does make me incline a bit to having at least a couple of meals off property.
 

JohnWD

Well-Known Member
One other thing that bugged me at Disneyland was all of the PeopleMover infrastructure. It's really an eye sore with nothing operational up there.
The People Mover remnants are just part of the theming. Tomorrow Land is not about a "great big beautiful tomorrow", but instead is adventure in Space and new worlds like in Star Wars - old with high tech, not new and modern.
 

cheezbat

Well-Known Member
I think when it comes to in-park food Disneyland resort overall is better than WDW. At least in all my dining experiences, I’ve really seen a decline at WDW lately.
Also, I laugh at those of you master planners who hate DLs Fastpass. I guess WDWs system works better for people like you, but I’ve found DLs to be a much easier experience to use...way more opportunities for fastpasses and you can kind of ‘wing it’ at DL. I like the spontaneity.

To each their own though.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Original Poster
Another random thought: WiFi at Disneyland, both the hotels and the parks, was terrible. It worked okay when you were connected but it disconnected and reconnected many times throughout the day, and it required me to sign on by agreeing to the terms of service every time I reconnected.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
Another random thought: WiFi at Disneyland, both the hotels and the parks, was terrible. It worked okay when you were connected but it disconnected and reconnected many times throughout the day, and it required me to sign on by agreeing to the terms of service every time I reconnected.
I've had some similar issues at WDW as well. Enough so that I finally turned my wifi off unless I was at my hotel because I got tired of it draining my battery with the constant reconnecting.
 
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