How I Fell In Love With Disneyland

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, The 626

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626

Published on July 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm with 42 Comments

I recently had the privilege of flying out to California for a few days to work with Disney Legend Rolly Crump on our forth-coming book about his life, It’s Kind Of A Cute Story. While there, I obviously was going to visit Disneyland.

But, I was a bit apprehensive. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in over 20 years. How would it compare to Walt Disney World, which I had been to numerous times since then. Would I enjoy it?

Short answer, yes, I absolutely did. I know I’m one of the MiceChat columnist that tends to write about Walt Disney World stuff (because that’s my home turf), but I wanted to post this so you Disneylanders can see I’m totally on your side, too.

While reading this, please keep in mind that my visit was LAST summer, so many of the changes that have since taken place at Disney Parks worldwide did not occur yet (the new Matterhorn ride vehicles, WDW bringing back the original Tiki Room show, etc). But I think you’ll enjoy my initial thoughts and feelings from this trip.

Suffice it to say, I fell in love.

It started off like one of those typical, romantic stories. We first met when we were both younger. I was only about 5 at the time. We had a few fleeting moments together, but I wasn’t old enough to remember any of it. Of course, that didn’t make our time together any less special. In fact, after being reunited after so long, those long forgotten memories began to flood back, and it was like love at first sight all over again. It was like we were destined to have our paths cross again, and I’m happy they did.

.

I’m an East Coast guy, so my home turf has always been Walt Disney World. I grew up with the place, visiting at least once a year since I was very young. I’ve always had a loyalty to it, and it’s all I’ve ever known (despite those few fleeting memories of my singular visit to the West Coast).

Growing up, I’ve always heard Disneyland was inferior to the gigantic empire Disney created in Florida. “Disneyland can fit in Magic Kingdom’s parking lot” is a popular phrase amongst people I know. “It’s quaint and a much smaller version of what you’re used to,” others told me. So, leaving for Disneyland, I was nervous, and afraid that I’d be disappointed.

My fears were unjustified. Despite my years of Walt Disney World experience, it took only minutes for Disneyland to win me over as my favorite park. I know Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland has been an ongoing debate for years in the Disney blogger community, but I have defected to the Disneyland side.

Allow me to explain why…

Size Doesn’t Matter

Or, in this case, it does. Walt Disney World is huge. Like, super huge. It’s bigger than some Third World countries. Of course, this allows it to have more attractions, more resorts, more everything. But is bigger always better? Well, in this case… no.

It hugs you.

Those are the three words that Rolly Crump used to describe Disneyland to me. The first thing that struck me was how small everything was. Walking through the main gate, and seeing the Main Street Train Station for the first time, was almost a cultural shock. But I felt as if it was more at home with a small town setting than the monster at Walt Disney World. Even Main Street itself was much smaller. The buildings, while still making use of forced perspective, don’t tower over you as much. The street isn’t as wide, so Rolly was right – the park begins to ‘hug’ you the second you walk in. And it fits perfectly!

In Disney World, Cinderella Castle can be seen towering in the distance; Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland cannot. It’s much, MUCH smaller. But again, it fits in better. It looks more like a quaint castle in the countryside, and it’s more suitable for Fantasyland, than the massive building on the East Coast.

The entire park is much smaller, without a doubt. I can take a few laps around Disneyland and still feel fine, while a single lap around the Magic Kingdom might make me feel like I just ran a 13K Race! But to me, this makes it nicer. No longer was I completely exhausted at the end of the day after walking (what feels like) 500 miles of the Magic Kingdom.

Even the queues were smaller. I’m used to traversing an entire fort before getting on Pirates. Here, it was a few simple pathways, and suddenly I’m on the boat. It was amazing to me how small the lines were – perhaps in peak season, they are a little longer and maybe even extended. But here, I was on the rides before I even knew it.

The smaller size of the park fits right into its theme.


Celebrating Epcot’s 30th Anniversary!


 

Theming

Disney has always went the extra mile with theming. But Disneyland makes Walt Disney World look like a red-headed step-child. Every square inch of the place was COVERED with theming. Everything.

Sure, you’re thinking, so is Florida.

No. No it’s not. I can’t even begin to tell you how much more is at Disneyland. They truly do make use of of every square foot of the park. Because of its size, they need to get their point across much faster than they do at Disney World. While it may be a smack in the face at first, you come to find it’s richer in detail.

Toontown was a great example. While the Magic Kingdom’s version was a half-assed, re-done version of a temporary birthday celebration, this Toontown made you feel like you stepped right into something straight out of Roger Rabbit. The many buildings and facades, with local businesses such as the Clock Repair or Glass Factory, made it seem like this was a living, breathing community filled to the brim with toons.

On top of that, everything had a gag! See that big button that says DO NOT PRESS on it? Go ahead and press it. Or that door that says DANGER in blocky cartoon letters? Try to open it. Everything was interactive, and waiting for you to come explore. It was amazing.

In fact, all of the lands looked lived in.

They were places that you felt like a resident of each could appear at any moment, and in some cases, they did. I was walking past the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Frontierland when a cowboy and the Mayor came walking out of the building in the midst of a conversation, just like we really were in the middle of the Wild West. Once they noticed me staring, they stopped and included me in their chattering as well. We had a conversation that lasted about 10 minutes over how the cowboy was due to marry the Mayor’s daughter, and he wanted to make sure he would treat her right. What’s amazing is that they didn’t do this in front of a large crowd – it was just the three of us. It was a great little experience and a nice magical moment for me.

I definitely have to mention the Small World facade here, as well. I’m so used to a covered building without much else to see. Having the entire facade, with working clock face, outside adds a whole new layer to the attraction. Having seen the original model just days before at Rolly’s, and then to see the real thing in action, was a truly wonderful experience. It’s a gorgeous show building, and something that is needed in Florida.

To me, the only place where Walt Disney World won in this category was Tomorrowland at night. While it was still very nice looking, it was kind of crowded in there. Walt Disney World is more aesthetically pleasing at night, with more vibrant colors and a better representation of a thriving metropolis of the tomorrow that never was.

Attractions

Much like the rest of the park, I found the original attractions to be far superior in every way to their East Coast counterparts. The easiest way for me to go through this is a (kind of) short list!

Haunted Mansion  If you’re a regular reader of my column, you know that I’m a huge Haunted Mansion fan. I didn’t think I could become an even bigger one, but Disneyland proved me wrong. Going through the original attraction was like seeing it again for the first time. While much shorter than the one I’m used to, it was definitely superior. It just flowed better. I enjoyed hearing the individual components of Grim Grinning Ghosts in the graveyard when passing a certain set of ghosts. At Walt Disney World, it seems like everything is thrown in at once, making it one big mess of a song. Here, I could actually hear each ghost reciting the song in their own unique way, and it was wonderful. I found something new on every one of my 10+ (no, I’m not joking) ride throughs. And yes, I spotted the infamous spider web gunshot in the Ballroom!

Pirates of the Caribbean  Also fantastic. The extended cavern sequences and a more coherent storyline seemed to help the flow here. The burning town scene also seemed much more realistic. The pirate’s torches seemed to contain REAL fire in them. These simple effects are still astounding today, many years after they were originally introduced.

Jungle Cruise  I love the corniness of this ride overall, so how could I hate it here? I enjoyed hearing some new jokes (“Guys! You’re in the wrong line! The Jungle Cruise is over HERE!”), and a slightly different layout (hello Piranhas – you scared the hell out of me). Magic Kingdom has a sliiiight edge over this one, though. Just a slight.

Indiana Jones  Truly amazing. I went on it at least 5 times. This is a MUCH better use of the same ride system used in DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Some of the effects are amazingly simple, but they still look great. Not really a ride for kids, I thought, as it can be a little frightening. But it is a great addition to the park.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room  I am an avid fan of the original version, and seeing it here was an absolute delight for me, especially after hearing so many of Rolly’s stories about it. The first time I sat down in the theater, the wave of nostalgia came over me. As soon as it was over, all these memories also came back, prompting me to call my grandmother and reminisce how she used to sing “Let’s All Sing Like The Birdies Sing” to me as a child.

Tom Sawyer Island  I enjoyed it, but the caves were also the cause of a panic attack, which created the chain of events that led me to meet Miley Cyrus. But that’s a story for another time.

Star Tours  I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but I really enjoyed this ride. You’ve all read the massive amounts of coverage on it, so no need to go into more detail. I will say it was lots of fun, even though my first ride went 101 within minutes of its opening for the day. But they made good by giving us all FastPasses to come back later. My second ride through went off without a hitch, and I was even the Rebel Spy!

Captain EO  I remember watching it as a kid and loving it, and nothing has changed. It was a great show then and still is now. The audience broke out into applause when it was over, and it was great to re-live it all over again.

Matterhorn  I made a point to go on each side of this ride to see the difference – and what a difference it was! The right side was much more intense, but both were incredibly enjoyable. A great, old school coaster ride!

Space Mountain  Much, much better than WDW’s version. The music, the track layout, the intensity – absolutely amazing. Imagineering out-did themselves with their redesign a few years ago.

Small World  This original version far exceeds any other version. It was incredible. I felt more like I was in displays with the the dolls than ever before. I also had no issue with the Disney character additions to the ride. I barely even noticed them my first time through!

Fantasyland Dark Rides  Some were the same as their WDW counterparts, but it was fun to experience some new ones like Alice and Pinocchio. Mr. Toad was, of course, my favorite. I miss that ride dearly. Where else can you get hit by a train, die, and go to hell at Disney?!

Roger Rabbit Car-Toon Spin  Silly me didn’t realize you could actually SPIN your car until halfway through the ride. It was very enjoyable, and definitely worth all the good things I’ve read about it.

Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye…

I could go on and on talking about how wonderful Disneyland was, but I’m sure you have other things to do (and I’m sure I do, too!).

All in all though, in case you couldn’t tell already, I absolutely loved every minute of it. I cannot wait to go back. I’m converted, and need another fix again soon.

I’d love to hear from you guys about this. How many of you have been to both parks? Which do you prefer? What do you like the best and the worst? Which is better for you the awe inspiring hugeness of the Magic Kingdom or the tightly packed and hyper-themed Disneyland?


Tickets are now on sale for the

COMMUNICORE WEEKLY 38TH WEEKAVERSARY
&
EPCOT 30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!


Come celebrate EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat’s Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with MiceChat’s Dusty Sage, Kevin Yee, and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly.

Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2912 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT’s World Showcase for this one of a kind event!

Your ticket includes:

  • Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)!
  • Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!
  • Decadent dessert reception!
  • Short scavenger hunt hosted by Kevin Yee before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)!
  • Prizes, giveaways and more!
  • The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history!
  • Endless Five Legged Goats and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break!
  • Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening!

 

For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit MiceChat.com/store!


by Jeff Heimbuch

If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

You can read past columns of The 626 by clicking here!

Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.

Jeff also writes another column called From The Mouth Of The Mouse. We invite you to check it out.

Jeff co-hosts the weekly VidCast Communicore Weekly as well!

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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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42 Comments

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  1. So glad you had such a great time! I’m just the opposite of you; I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Disneyland but I’ve never been to WDW. Yet, at least!

    You’re one of few who like DL’s Haunted Mansion the best. Three things I like about Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is one, the exterior. I know MK’s looks more spooky but that’s exactly why I like DL’s. In real life if you were to see a house or mansion that looked like MK’s, your natural instinct would be to avoid it (I hope). A house that looks like DL’s seems and looks fine so you would think to yourself, I bet it’s nice inside, when really it’s not. That to me is more scary; entering a haunted house that looks completely fine and inviting on the outside. The element of surprise, LOL!
    Another thing I like is the fact that you actually walk onto the porch and walk into the front door at Disneyland. I was looking at a ride through of MK’s on youtube one day and I noticed the guests walking off to the side into what was obviously the showroom. I was shocked.
    Last, but not least, I like the actual elevator in Disneyland’s version. Once again, I was surprised to read MK’s “elevator” isn’t an elevator at all!

    I hope to make it to WDW someday! I’m glad you were able to experience Walt’s park, it truly is a special place. Hope you can get out here to California again soon!

    • What you said about Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion “not” looking spooky; that was Walt’s intention. He didn’t want it to look scary on the outside. It also had to fit the look of New Orleans Square.
      And that’s the big difference between Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom…Disneyland IS Walt’s park. He designed it, created it, and made it his offering to the world. In Florida there’s a reason why, in addition to the Partners statue, there’s one of Roy Disney. Roy came out of retirement to run the project after Walt passed away. So in many respects, it’s “Roy Disney World”.

      • Yep. Walt Disney wanted everything in his park to be clean looking, including the Haunted Mansion. I love our Mansion.

    • You should really get out to WDW at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love it, but DL just won me over with it’s charm.

      And you’re right…it was so weird being in an actual elevator on the HM! Haha

  2. I loved this thoughtful column! Thank you, Jeff Heimbuch!

    –Tom Sinsky

    • Thanks for reading!

  3. In the debate of Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World, I find that most of the time, the park you like the best is the one you visited first. I think your first park experience forms your opinion of what a Disney park should be. After that, you can’t help but compare every other Disney park to that first one.

    In my case, even though I grew up on the East coast, my first Disney park experience happened during a family trip to California when I was 11. During that visit we had lunch at the Blue Bayou, and that just blew me away.

    4 years later I finally made it to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. I remember desperately wanting to eat at the Blue Bayou again. I was extremely disappointed to learn that there wasn’t one in the Magic Kingdom. I remember being told there was a restaurant in the castle, which I thought was cool, but that we couldn’t eat there because it had to be booked in advance—another disappointment. How do you book a reservation at a restaurant you don’t even know exists? I’m sure many WDW visitors still grapple with that conundrum.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the Magic Kingdom and I had a great time when I was there. But it was the little things about the trip that gnawed at me, expectations that Disneyland set that the Magic Kingdom just couldn’t deliver on.

    Now I’m sure there are many, many people out there whose first experience was with Walt Disney World, people who fell in love with the scale and grandeur of the place and who are disappointed when they discover that Disneyland is not like that. I can certainly understand and respect their feelings, even if I don’t share them.

    I have since been back to Walt Disney World many times, and I have visited the parks in France and Japan. And even though Disneyland Paris is beautiful, if a little shabby, and Tokyo Disney Sea is amazing, Walt’s original park—the park I first visited—still remains my favorite.

    • It’s a mixed bag. I’d been to WDW at least 3 times before going to DL when I was 6, so it was hard to compare in my little kid mind. But I can definitely see what you are saying…a lot of people hold allegiance to their first park, and that will always be their “home!”

  4. Well, I have to weigh in on this one. I’ve been to the Magic Kingdom 4 times, including ’74 when that’s all there was. I grew up in Long Beach, so I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Disneyland. A lot though. And my favorite Magic Kingdom is….

    The one at Disneyland Paris. Sorry.

    I’ve only been once (in early April when it was, literally, freezing) and everyone was having fun anyway. Except the British. They were complaining about how expensive everything was.

    It’s just about in the middle in size, with very good theming. There are no sight lines where you look down on air conditioners on the roof of a show building. And it’s 20 minutes from Paris on the train.

    I would say the best Haunted Mansion, at least the exterior. The best Space Mountain. A very good Pirates.

    My only hope for my next visit is that I go in a warmer part of the year.

    • I’m hoping to get out to DLP at some point, period, winter or not! Haha.

  5. Jeff, I am in complete agreement. Growing up as an East Coast park goer since 1975, my first trip to the Motherpark was in 2000. I was immediately converted, and have been back to DL one additional time. I do love the Magic Kingdom, but the difference is in the incredible amout of detail and care that they strive for at Disneyland. If only they would bring back the Wedway Peoplemover! Although the disparities in some attractions (like Space Mountain and Pirates) were obvious to me, I did not notice anything significant in other attractions (such as the Haunted Mansion – other than the facade). I will be traveling to the Disneyland Resort this September with a couple DL noobs, and I’ll be paying closer attention this time.

    • Some of the differences are VERY subtle, but after going on them multiple times (hey, I was by myself, I was allowed too!), I started to notice them. I can’t wait to get back again next year!

  6. Makes me glad I live in Orange County, California. I’ve always felt that Disneyland was better. I just wish they would dump their bogus changes and restore it to it’s previous glory. It’s rapidly approaching the point where it needs to be renamed “Dinoland”–Disneyland in name only.

  7. I couldn’t agree more Jeff. As a kid growing up in California I had many an occasion to visit Disneyland. But In 87 or 88 I had the chance to go to Florida as part of a boy scout trip and remember being pretty excited. Two of the days were to be spent at the Magic Kingdom and one at Epcot. I remember being extremely bored. The lack of rides, the inferiority of the rides that they did have. I also remember growing tired of the constant mile long walks just to get to a ride. All I could think of was when we were going to Wet N Wild to go look at girls. My buddy and I would spend our money on Transformers at some shop in Fantasyland (I still have those in a box somewhere with the receipts). It was dull and boring.

    Flash Forward about 15 years and I’m living on the east coast. I’d grown up and my memories of disappointment surrounding the Magic Kingdom had subsided and I was taking my mom and sister on a vacation. So we went to Disney World. I remember having a great time that first trip with them. I took it upon myself to show my sister all the cool things about the rides and attractions since she was not born yet when I was going to Disneyland. Unfortunately that is when alot of the disapointment surfaced. I told her about the dinosaurs on the train ride. There weren’t any. I told her we could go inside the castle and walk the stairs. Nope. I mentioned the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. But it wasn’t there. I asked her to play some of the penny games with me. But the Penny Arcade was just a store. I looked for the giant ship around Tom Sawyer’s island or the cool bridge. Not there. How about Star Tours? No, we had to pay to go to a different park for that. No Matterhorn, no Casey Jr train ride, no Alice in Wonderland, No Story Book boats, no submarines. None of the things I remembered were there. We still had a great time. But it would be several years before I got the chance to go back to California and experience those things again. Thankfully, one of our family vacations was to Cali last year and my sister got to experience these things with her brother. Though its looking more and more like they are doing things on the cheap…fake Christmas tree, a candy arcade? I hope Disneyland never loses its luster. Florida can have its shell of a park. It is a very beautiful one. But it pails in comparison to the original. Might help if they actually put some rides in the Magic Kingdom. Looking back to when I was a kid that was my number one complaint. Disneyland was just that much better even if it was smaller.

    • I’d have to disagree about the lack of rides in Florida. The Park is huge, yes, but there is definitely enough rides to go around! Sure, you have to walk a bit more to get to some of them, since it is a bigger park, but there are a ton of rides at MK alone!

  8. Lovely article, I am glad you enjoyed your visit to the First Disney park!

  9. I have been to both parks, but I’ve been to Disneyland far more than to WDW’s Magic Kingdom. As such, it just seems as though Disneyland is the one I’ve grown more attached to.

    • Oh, I forgot to mention, another thing Disneyland has going for it is its history. It is, after all, the one that started it all in terms of theme parks, just as “Snow White” was the one that started it all in terms of animated features. And Disneyland has the honor of being the only Disney park that Walt himself lived to see open.

      • You bring up a good point. Walt was able to walk through DL, but not WDW, and it shows.

        But, despite that, both parks have an incredibly rich history, although DL’s is a bit longer!

  10. I’ve never been to Walt Disney World, but I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Walt’s original park. I have always seen WDW as a far grander and superior park compared to Disneyland but I would always keep DL as my favorite no matter what. reading your opinions about the parks makes me appreciate the smaller version more than ever. Still, I can’t wait till I get the chance to visit WDW and form my own opinion about it.

    • I highly recommend it! It’s still a beautiful resort, and well worth a visit!

  11. Since the 50′s my favorite attraction has been the Columbia sailing ship at Disneyland. Walt helped Emile Curry on picking out all the tools and props within it’s interiors and love it’s figurehead. And only Disneyland has one. Tokyo Disney Seas of course has a 1912 SS Columbia steam ship that’s much bigger, but until they finish the wheel house, it’s stuck in port. You didn’t mention going on Big Thunder and I was interested how you compare it to WDW’s? PD

    • To be honest, despite it being different, I didn’t feel any different about Big Thunder in either Park. They are both great rides, in their own right!

  12. I live down the road from Disneyland, so when I made my first visit to Walt Disney World last year, I wanted to keep an open mind.
    As a resort there’s no comparison. Walt Disney World IS a resort. Disneyland and California Adventure are simply two theme parks. So the vacation isn’t the same. Most will spend a week at WDW on property. But a week at The Disneyland Resort is part of an overall Southern California vacation.
    Now comparing the original Magic Kingdom to Florida’s Magic Kingdom is what I was curious to find out. In Florida, it felt like I was walking through the “old” Disneyland. I’m sure they’ve had upgrades over the past 40 years, but I just couldn’t see it.
    And yes Florida’s park is bigger. But only in acres, not in entertainment. Disneyland is much more entertaining. It has to be. With limited space, every inch has to dazzle the guests, and it does. It seemed like there was a lot of open, wasted space in Florida.
    As for the castles, I knew Cinderella’s was twice the size. But how did it feel to me? It felt distant and unapproachable. Those huge patches of grass and water keep you at a distance. And during the day, it’s off limits to go through. Sleeping Beauty Castle is “huggable”. You can get close to it, you go through it, and you can go inside it. And when you get your photo taken in front of it, you’re actually in front of it. Cinderella’s Castle has that huge, ugly stage. So your vacation photo is of the stage…with a castle in the background.
    I really tried to keep an open mind…honest! Because I wanted to feel the need to go back. But as one local told me, “most people will come here once in their lifetime and never return.” So far, that sounds like me.

    • A lot of people feel the same way, especially about the Castles. WDW’s is closed off, but DL’s invites you in. That makes a big difference!

      • And Sleeping Beauty Castle, despite being smaller, seems more like a real castle. It even has a working drawbridge.
        Cinderella Castle (to me) seemed like a theme park castle. Big, over the top design and look. And what’s with that huge stage in front? I don’t recall any “real” castles in Europe with a stage in their front yard. That’s why it didn’t seem real to me.

  13. I was born and raised here in Northern California so Disneyland was the only park I knew until 2010 when I traveled to WDW to do a 1/2 marathon. I have been to WDW many times since and I have to say that I love all the Disney parks and there are things on both coasts that make all the parks worth visiting. Walt’s hands were all over Disneyland so I have a special place in my heart for Disneyland and I always think about what he did for all of us and what the imagineers continue to do.

    • I have to agree with you about “Walt’s hands” being all over Disneyland. You can feel it when you’re there, mostly because there are so many photos of him at the park. For example, you can look at the back of Sleeping Beauty Castle and recall that famous photo of him walking through it. And of course, looking up at his apartment above the firehouse let’s you know that the man didn’t just run it, he lived there too. So many details in the park that were put there by Walt.
      You don’t feel his “presence” in Florida. Lots of tributes to him everywhere. But knowing he never saw the place beyond a blueprint made me miss Disneyland for that real “Disney” feel.

  14. I took my family to DLR in Dec 06. I worked at Typhoon from 95-97 and, having grown up in Florida, I knew WDW like the back of my hand. WDW was the best. That is until Dec 06. I, too, was shocked at how small everything on main street was. I quickly fell in love with DL and knew it was going to become my new favorite park. Here are my reasons why DLR is better than the MK (and all of WDW for that matter):

    1. DLR: BTM, Pirates, HM, and Splash Mountain all right next to each other.
    WDW: BTM is in a back corner next to SM, but I can’t get to BTM from HM without walking a half-mile around the darn lake. Pirates in Florida? Oh, that’s in another land that is missing at least 30% of the ride offered at DLR.

    2. DLR: 80 acres.
    WDW MK: 120 acres. More walking, less riding. FAIL!

    3. DLR: Fantasyland has 13 rides (at least that’s how I counted it in 2006)
    WDW MK: 6 rides and one of those is in another land at DLR.

    4. DLR: Park hopping is actually doable.
    WDW MK: Pay to park hop is really paying to waste over an hour of your valuable park time. Disney has really fooled people on the park hopper. I never recommend park hopping at WDW because of this.

    That’s it for me. Now I live in Europe and between DL, DCA, DLP, and WDS, we’ve seen everything worth seeing that Florida could ever hope to offer. The two exceptions I can think of are the Indy Stunt Show and the ToT at the Florida Studio park (or whatever they’re calling it now). Those two attractions hardly justify visiting the Studios when I’ve visited Cali and Paris. My next Disney vacation stateside will definitely be Cali. I’m completely through with Florida and they’re bean counting shenanigans.

    Peace!

  15. I have to respectfully disagree. I grew up in Southern California. Spent a lot of time in the park in the early 80′s. I was there for the Star Tours 100 hour party and the 30th Anniversary Party in 85. Disneyland was “my land”. But…

    Then I discovered Walt Disney World. Truly the Magic Kingdom is Magic. I have been going back multiple times each year. For a while, I had an annual pass to WDW, even though I lived in Missouri.

    My pleasure at WDW was driven home, when I returned to Southern California 2 years ago for a weekend. My partner had never been to DL, so we planned a whole day of Disney fun. We visited both parks and still made it to Hollywood by sunset. Smaller or original does not mean that it is better. (God I never thought I would have ever seen those words make a sentence.)

    I found the park quaint and it left feeling compacted. Views that I thought I remembered just seemed small and forced. There was no magesty to the park. While some individual rides were definately better executed in DL, the overall appeal was not there.

    Some impressions we had:

    A single mountain towering over Main Street. Out of place and break to the theme.

    Splash Mountain looked out of place next to the Haunted Mansion and ruined the scale of the house.

    The trek to Critter Country for … nothing of value. Just a burger at the Hungry Bear.

    That sculpture in tomorrowland that was the place where memories were made of flying high above the future.

    The architecture that used to be the people mover looked forlorne and lost.

    The carosel theatre that doesnt show a show

    Videopolis invaded by princesses.

    The fort that isnt a fort to experience anymore.

    Everybench and vista filled with pintraders, and people camped out for the parade hours in advance.

    A better Fantasmic, but a logistical nightmare of … people camped out for the show hours in advance.

    Crowded walkways, crowded streets, crowded buildings, crowded ____________ (fill in the blank).

    Just my humble opinion

    • Don’t get me wrong, I still love WDW. It will always be my home! But DL just had a bit more charm to it.

      Trust me, nothing beats a week at WDW! Haha