Dueling Disney: Best Vacation Destination

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Busch Gardens Tampa, Discovery Science Center, Disney, Disney History, Disney Parks, Dueling Disney, Features, Florida, Gaylord Palms Orlando, Knott's Berry Farm, Legoland, Legoland Carlsbad, Orlando Parks, Other Destinations, Other Florida Destinations, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Southern California Parks, Universal Hollywood, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios, Wet N' Wild

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Published on May 08, 2013 at 1:00 am with 33 Comments

This time on Dueling Disney, we thought we’d take a look outside of the theme parks, and cast an eye on the surrounding state. “What’s that?” you cry. “There’s more to a Disney vacation than just the Parks?”

Why, yes, there is. In fact, there are plenty of other things to be seen in the surrounding areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In fact, you could even make a whole vacation out of it! So, let’s venture off Disney property and see what’s going on elsewhere.

(In this case: Keith will be representing Disneyland’s home state of California, and Jeff, Walt Disney World’s home state of Florida)

Topic 8: State as a Vacation Destination

Keith: I would like the readers to know that I chose this subject from our bank of Dueling Disney topics at this particular time because I thought it would be funny for Jeff to “oppose” California just days after he becomes a resident of it.

I love Florida. I actually prefer the humidity over dry heat. But as far as “state as a vacation destination” goes, I’m sorry, dear Floridians. Disneyland’s home state is going to come out on top here.

Jeff: While I will admit I like the opposite of Keith (I will take dry heat over humidity any day of the week…do you see what it does to my hair?!), I must disagree with his assessment of California winning out. Florida has an extremely rich history for those wanting to explore it. This, in turn, leads to an amazing vacation. And that’s not to mention the other variety of theme parks and tourist destinations you can visit!

Keith: From the Soouuth Bay, to the Vaaalley–From the West Side, to the East Side. Everybody’s… very happy–cause the sun is shining all the time. Looks like another perfect day…

Like beaches? Southern California has more than a few of them. Coronado beach is ranked amongst the best in the country. Practically perfect weather, paths for cyclists and skaters, a section for leashless dogs, and more beckon sun lovers from all over to this gorgeous area. Laguna Beach, Hermosa Beach, and the Santa Monica Pier all have great charm, while Venice Beach stands out as one of the most diverse collections of performers, sand sculptors, bodybuilders, and street artists in the whole world.

Like movies? Welcome to Hollywood! Millions of folks each year flock to the film capital of the planet to get a little taste of the silver screen. The Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese and El Capitan Theatres, all give each visitor a taste of Hollywood. You can also pose for a photo with people in hilariously bad movie costumes! Who wouldn’t love that?

Jeff: I won’t be quoting any song lyrics, because the first one about Florida that comes to mind is by Less Than Jake, and they don’t really help my case.

However, I will see your Coronado Beach, and raise you Miami, Tampa, and Key West. All three are absolutely beautiful destinations, no matter what time of the year. Now, personally, I would shy away during the Spring Break season, but if that’s your scene, then you would most definitely fit right in. I won’t break out the other local theme parks argument yet, but the three I just mentioned do have an assortment of locations that may be of interest to you.

Want to see where Ernest Hemingway spent his days in Florida? Key West has you covered! Want to see a gorgeous assortment of fish and sea life in breathtaking habitats? The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is the place to be. If you’re more into the wild side of things, then Zoo Miami will be right up your alley! These three cities alone are enough to fill up at least three vacations…and maybe more!

Keith: Theme parks? You want theme parks? We got theme parks! Roller coaster enthusiasts flock to Six Flags’ Magic Mountain in Valencia. Universal Studios Hollywood is the original movie studio/theme park, which to this day is home to many television and feature film productions. In Buena Park, just minutes from Disneyland, resides Knott’s Berry Farm. A sign reading “America’s 1st Theme Park” can be seen upon initial entry, and inside you’ll find areas themed around a boardwalk, a ghost town, even Snoopy. Since Cedar Fair took over in 1997, lots of new thrill rides have been added for those who prefer a more exciting experience. And every September-October, Knott’s Scary Farm sets the standard for all theme parks’ Halloween overlays.

A little south of L.A. you can dine with Shamu in Sea World, or enjoy more than 60 rides, shows and attractions at Legoland. Jump on the 5 North up to the Bay Area, and you can pick from places like California’s Great America or Six Flags’ Discovery Kingdom. And while not a “theme” park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (voted “world’s best seaside amusement park” by Amusement today) has been around for over 100 years. Rich in history, it is perhaps best known for being the backdrop in much of the film The Lost Boys. In Oakland, Children’s Fairyland has been delighting families since 1950. In fact Walt Disney visited the small Bay Area amusement park not long after it opened, and it’s been said he incorporated ideas from it into Disneyland.

Oh, and you mentioned zoos. California has a few of those as well. Our best, San Diego, consistently ranks not only higher than Florida’s best (Miami or Disney’s Animal Kingdom, depending on which list you’re looking at), but amongst the top five in the whole country!

Jeff: I wasn’t going to break out the theme park card yet, but Florida also has them in spades! Universal? Sure, we have one of those, too. Yours may make actual movies there sometimes, but ours is more fleshed out AND we have two of ‘em. Also, Harry Potter. Come on. That counts for a lot right there.

If movie-parks aren’t your thing, you can also check out SeaWorld, which has some truly amazing exhibits and coasters. Busch Gardens is also nearby.

We also have a LegoLand. It’s new, and it has some amazing stuff to see at it…including, gigantic scenes made of Legos! I mean, it’s an entire park built around my favorite toy. How could you go wrong with that? Oh wait. You can’t!

Keith: I agree, you can’t. That’s why I listed it for our side! Haha.

We could go on for days when the topic is an entire state. However at the risk of running long, I am going to wrap my argument up with my stomping grounds: Northern California. Like skiing or snowboarding? Check out South Lake Tahoe. Like wine? We have more than a couple of world-class wineries in the Napa Valley. Like nature? Visit Yosemite National Park, or beautiful Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco.

Speaking of San Francisco, the City by the Bay is consistently one of the most visited cities in the world. Home to classic neighborhoods like Haight/Ashbury and Chinatown, it is also where you can find some of the best restaurants in the nation. And while not exactly vacation spots, tourists have been known to visit some of our more famous companies’ campuses, like Facebook, Apple, and Pixar.

San Francisco’s Cable Cars are one of only two National Historic Landmarks in the entire country that move. Every year AT&T Park is voted amongst the top three ballparks in all of baseball. And over in the historic Presidio of San Francisco, we’ve got a little museum called The Walt Disney Family Museum.

Oh, and you didn’t think I’d forget to most iconic American structure west of the Mississippi, did you? The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest span in the world when it was first completed in 1937, and is one of the most visited, traveled, and photographed bridges on the planet. As far as “home state as a vacation destination” goes, Disneyland wins this time, Jeff!

Jeff: You want historical landmarks? That’s fine. How about ones that deal with outer space?! Cape Caniveral is the place to be. I mean, you can see all sorts of cool stuff there, and learn about our nation’s fantastic space program in the process. If that’s not enough, then why not visit the numerous forts that line the coast. Most of them date back to the 1600s, so you’ll be getting a real place from the past.

And did I mention pirates? That’s right, Florida had REAL pirates. None of that audio-animatronic stuff. You keep an eye out, and you may just be able to find some buried treasure yourself!

So, what do you guys think? Is California the better place to stay when not visiting the theme parks, or does Florida seem to be a better choice?

Dueling Disney is written by Jeff Heimbuch & Keith Gluck

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

You can follow us on Twitter: @DisneyProject and @JeffHeimbuch

About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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  • soletrain

    other than walt disney world i would never set foot in florida. the state seems really gross and filled with backwoods weirdos…outside of miami and orlando.

    • tofubeast

      Really? Stereotype much?

      And this is exactly why I think a DUEL of states is not really appropriate.

      • jasmineray

        It’s all in good fun. I don’t think anyone is taking this really seriously. Just a fun debate.

      • soletrain

        lol no seriously. i don’t think much of floridians..but they probably don’t think much of me lol

    • tofubeast

      Really? No stereotypes here. Nope.

      Yet, another reason why I think a duel of states (when we are really ‘supposed’ to be talking DISNEY here) is not really appropriate.

  • TheLuckyRabbit

    Florida weather is NOT lovely in the summer. The humidity makes Arizona summers look tame. I made the mistake of visiting WDW in July one year, and I thought I was drowning just walking around outside. SoCal truly has great weather all year round. Disneyland FTW.

  • disneyland255

    I think CA has to win in this debate. You can do every single sport imaginable. There is no snow in FL so right there it’s one less thing. LOL

    I prefer the CA Humidity to the FL any time. Plus, Disneyland is SO much better than WDW. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to this. Ha ha!

    Fun read. Thank you for sharing!

  • coneheads

    Florida is much more than beaches and theme parks, although in my opinion WDW outdoes all the SoCal parks combined. I’ll admit I might be biased since my Mom worked there from 1969 to 1973 and I got to watch the Park being built and my first visit was the pre-opening party for the employees and contractors.

    No one has mentioned the hundreds of beautiful lakes full of Trophy Bass and of course real live man-eating Alligators! Or the dozens of fresh water springs full of crystal clear water that you pay $4 a bottle for at the parks that are breathtakingly idyllic and have resident Manatees. What about the hiking trails that take from you ancient sand dune scrub land to swamps as biologically diverse as the Amazon.

    California and the West in general are amazing too and well worth an extended exploration for anyone. I guess these surveys just highlight what an amazing place and time that we live in.

    Any way I’m going over Memorial Day to the World for our annual Star Wars Weekend visit and the 24 hours at disney the day we arrive was an unexpected bonus, I’m Stoked can’t get here soon enough.

    Cheers, Andy

  • jcruise86

    I love Florida–even the humidity–and I won’t bash it, but here is an often eloquent & brilliant thread with excellent things to do in S. California:

  • wsiirola

    California wins by a landslide in my opinion.

  • mksgrist

    This is a landslide victory for California…. There shouldn’t even been a debate….. California has it all… Sand, Sun, Snow, Mountains, Valleys, Trees, and Desert. Parks and attractions from one end to the other…. This debate was lost before it started… ;-)

  • animatronic

    As a San Francisco resident I am a bit biased, but I think California is beautiful with oceans, national parks (heard of Yosemite anyone?), amazing cultural and cities for people from all walks of life. San Francisco alone offer culture, beauty, history, nightlife, thriving LGBT community. Waiting for that high speed rail to Disneyland, but it’s a plane ride away. Florida is nice and warm and fun every few years. Wouldn’t wanna live there.