Welcome to installment one of Dueling Disney. This new monthly column will run the length of 2013, and entail two friends on different coasts battling it out for Disney park supremacy.
Keith Gluck grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has been to Disneyland every year since birth. Jeff Heimbuch grew up in New Jersey, and was exposed to Walt Disney World at the ripe old age of 3.
We both love not only our respective home resorts, but the “other coast’s” as well. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you see one columnist concede a point or two throughout the series. Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World is always a fun (and lighthearted) topic, so comments are definitely encouraged. Show your “home resort” pride and let us know which point of view you agree with most.
THIS MONTH’S TOPIC:
Keith: Okay Jeff, you got me here. This is a point that not only will I concede, but concede 43 times over (in honor of Disney World being a gargantuan 43 times larger than Disneyland). However I maintain that my home resort being much smaller does have its advantages. For example, park-hopping is a breeze! The two closest parks in Disney World are Epcot and Hollywood Studios. At a brisk walking pace (or even a light jog, provided you’re up for that while on vacation), you’re looking at about 10 minutes to get from one park to the other. Disneyland to California Adventure, however: 10 seconds!
Jeff: You conceded already? Well, that’s it, folks! Column’s over!
OK, fine, you want me to list some of my points? Fair enough.
Like you said already, Keith, Walt Disney World wins by a mile…42 square miles to be exact! As I’m sure most of you know, Walt, when looking to building Walt Disney World, was looking for the blessing of size, something he didn’t have when building Disneyland. Tons of cheap, low-rent motels popped up around Disneyland within its opening years, and Walt thought that was tacky. So, when it came time to build Walt Disney World, he wanted a large space so he could control what went up around his Parks. And control it, the Walt Disney Company does!
Now, I’m not necessarily going to say that the size factor is a huge score for us, but it has its ups and downs. But my main point to start with will be that we do have an over-abundance of space, which leads us to more room for expansions, a vast, city-like network, and controlled eye lines!
Keith: You are absolutely right, Jeff. Walt knew how valuable the land around Disneyland was going to be, but he just plain and simple had no more money. In fact he even told his friend Art Linkletter to consider purchasing the surrounding land prior to Disneyland’s opening, so together they could develop properties on it in the future. Mr. Linkletter, unfortunately, did not share Walt’s vision. He passed on the offer, and later probably set the world record for the amount of times one can kick oneself.
Walt was obviously in a better position when it came time to purchase land for “The Florida Project,” and the Disney Company has utilized said land by constructing (so far): four theme parks, a shopping district, two golf courses, a transportation hub, dozens of hotels, and more. However, Monsieur Heimbuch, I have only conceded that Disney World wins in resort size, because, it’s bigger! In terms of size management, you must concede that Disneyland does a much better job. In fact if you compare the similar parks, Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, you’ll notice that while MK is over 20 acres larger than its older sister, it contains fewer attractions!
Jeff: You definitely have me there, good sir! I think, in this case especially, that bigger is not always better! Like you mentioned, Magic Kingdom has fewer attractions than Disneyland, despite being much larger in size. However, it does make up for it in excellent theming. But, overall, I would have to say that the size of the resort may be more of a curse than a blessing. Just ask anyone that has used the Walt Disney World bus system, and I can almost guarantee you that they’ll say the same thing: It stinks (hat tip to movie critic Jay Sherman). The resort is just too huge to have an effective transportation system to keep everyone happy. Everything is so spread out that you almost always have to wait 30 minutes or more to get to your destination. Unless, of course, you’re staying on the Monorail loop, and you’re heading to Magic Kingdom. Then the Park is only a short walk (or Monorail or boat ride!) away! But even then, the boats and Monorails get over crowded during peak seasons.
Keith: Yep, that is a huge plus for our side, bud. If you are staying on-property at Disneyland, you are never more than a 10-minute walk to either park (and if you’re staying at the Grand Californian, you’re looking at a 30 second walk to California Adventure). Plus there are several reasonably-priced two to three star hotels right across the street from the Disneyland Resort (which I like to call “the strip”) on South Harbor, that are all also only a 10-minute walk (or less) away. I’d also like to add that being smaller adds to our charm. In the case of Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom (which very well may end up being its own column in this series), Disneyland appears far more quaint, whereas the Magic Kingdom can look a little too big/spread out in certain areas. So, to wrap up our first duel, I’m going to say: charm, convenience of park-hopping, and space management are all reasons why even though Walt Disney World is bigger, Disneyland is the winner in terms of resort size!
Jeff: To further your point, I’ll quote my good friend, Disney Legend, and former Imagineer Rolly Crump (excuse me for a moment while I pick up this name I just dropped): “Disneyland hugs you. Walt Disney World just made way for all the strollers.” And he’s right. While I think the sheer size of the resort comes in handy for the other Parks, you lose the feeling of quaintness at the Magic Kingdom that you find at Disneyland. It’s too big, not as charming, and definitely a check against it. I do have to say that SOME areas of Magic Kingdom exceed their Disneyland counterparts, for the most part, Disneyland wins. So, while Walt Disney World wins for physical size…I think Disneyland wins this round.
What do you guys think? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of your home resort’s size?
Dueling Disney is written by Jeff Heimbuch & Keith Gluck