Trip Report WDW lost magic? Go to Disneyland.


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Original Poster
For those of you who are losing faith in WDW, there is good news, go to Disneyland.

I recently took the family (myself, wife, and a 3 and 6 year old) to Disneyland to experience Disneyland/California Adventure while WDW looks less attractive to us with all the construction currently, and my girls are still young and into some of the IP that is out in California, Cars, Monsters, Bugs….

Starting off with the hotel:
We stayed at the Grand Californian, and although similar to our stays at Wilderness Lodge, the hotel was noticeably cleaner. No visible carpet stains, no grout behind the sink, and overall didn’t fell dirty. The staff seemed equally as pleasant to us, so we did not notice any different there.

The Park:
Disneyland is by far more beautiful than the Magic Kingdom. The first thing we noticed is how green the park is, better landscaped, with mature trees, and more shade. Less concrete, and several pathways were more attractive stamped concrete, or pavers.

Disneyland is cleaner and better maintained than the Magic Kingdom. We never saw any garbage on an attraction, all the paint, fit and finish was top quality on all attractions we experienced. After the second day, I began to look even more closely for imperfections, and was not able to document any major defects or eyesores.

More excitement. Disneyland has a feeling of being more alive, and WDW a little more stale. We noticed more laughter and smiles. One reason can be most of the attractions actually board outside, so while waiting in line at Alice in Wonderland, you can hear the laughter from the Tea Cups, see the Monorail, and view the Matterhorn.

Also, Main Street vehicles were always present. Whether it was a vehicle, or horse drawn carriage. It always felt like there was so much more going on at Disneyland opposed to WDW.

No Fastpass + (I know this will change). However, it was amazing how nicely the lines moved at the attractions. Only the headliners had legacy paper fast passes. Its amazing how well it worked. The return times were never out of bounds, and we only used a few times the whole week. Other attractions, the line actually moves, opposed to standby at WDW where almost everything has a fastpass, and we remain stagnant in line while dozens return in front of each person with a fastpass. Fastpass + has been a hot button topic here, with most resisting, then accepting, but at the end of the day, touring a park without it is definitely better.

The Attractions: The attractions are better at Disneyland/California Adventure from what we experienced.

Buzz Lightyear has removable guns. It felt more engaging to have better control, and even a little more fun.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has more effects and tells the story better. The attraction was better than it is at WDW.

Radiator Springs Racers, is the pinnacle, and goes without saying how much better it is than Test Track.

Hyperspace Mountain is better than Space Mountain.

California screamin’ is better than Rockin’ Rollercoaster. California Screamin’ is a lengthy 2:08 attraction, and is way better, opposed to an 82 second ride, with a 90 second pre show video. Some will argue only one inversion is not as exciting as the helix and indoor lighting, but for me, Rockin’ Rollercoaster is just too short, and I am not an Aerosmith fan.

Haunted Mansion is better and it makes better spacial sense to walk in the front door.

Big Thunder Mountain, New track, 3rd lift hill effects, it will take a major refurbishment in Florida to make this comparable.

Pirates is better, longer, WDW version is the weakest of all the parks.

More to do in Disneyland for the Kids. Mickey’s house (for the time being) is still there in Toontown. Storybook Land, Cars Land, Bugs Land, Alice in Wonderland, Monsters Inc, Pinoccino is not in WDW, to name a few.

The Frozen show was amazing, great effects, very well done, and compared to the WDW singalong is embarrassing.

Disneyland Monorail. Although smaller, and does not act as official transportation, it was refreshing to see modern, clean trains.

Gadget Go Coaster is smoother and does not have a chain lift, better than the Barnstormer, most will not care about this, but it mattered to me when the girls want to ride this over and over.

Autopia is better, the scenery was fun, and the cars are better. My 6 year old was actually able to drive it, opposed to bouncing off the rails at WDW.

Paint the Night Parade. I was curious on how creatively they could flash lights in a parade, but it was very tastefully and modernly done, opposed to the outdated Main Street Electrical Light Parade. I know, this is changing....

Attractions that felt the same. Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin’, Small World, and Turtle Talk, all felt the same.

The attractions that are better in WDW was the afternoon (3pm) Parade, Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest is also better than Matterhorn, WDW has a people mover, and we also actually prefer Finding Nemo at Epcot more desirable than the 20,000 leagues Nemo overlay.

We also spent over a 5 days at the parks, and still did not experience everything. It was not because of lines, or boredom, it was just running out of time.

Please do not misunderstand this post as a WDW bashing. As a kid from the 80’s I hold WDW dear, but in the current state, this is worth pointing out. Overall it was a very enjoyable experience, and we look forward to returning to both WDW, Disney California, and beyond.
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Well-Known Member
I always appreciate thoughts on Disneyland. I love hearing that they have trees! So simple, yet so important. Sounds like you had a memorable and special trip.
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