Anybody who's visited both DLR and WDW knows that when it comes to environment and park surroundings, these two Disney properties are polar opposites. My interest in park surroundings concerns what Mouse Planet's Mike Scopa calls "the Disney Zone":
The Disney Zone is a state of mind in which Disneyland and Walt Disney World guests no longer care about problems or the time of day. They are released from the stress of everyday life, and stress is most likely replaced by a feeling of carefree happiness. I argue that a place's surroundings-- much like an attraction queue-- are almost the sole contributor to the mindset with which we enter that place. This is not a new concept. Most of us here have mulled this comprehensively in our own minds.
The question of DLR's surroundings in regard to the Disney Zone was never a big one to me as a lifelong Disneylander until I visited WDW for the first time a few years ago. While I prefer DLP to MK in a strict park-to-park comparison, WDW wins the Disney Zone comparison hands-down.
Like most DLR vets, my first thought when driving into WDW was it's sheer size. Miles and miles of unpaved, unthemed, and mostly untouched forest. I had read about this, of course, but the real experience was still overwhelming.
Convenience issues aside, WDW's immense size and dense forestation creates a tangible physical separation between Disney World and the real world, thus greatly enhancing the psychological transition. The journey from the resort boundary to the TTC, then over the lagoon by ferry or monorail is both physical and emotional. So by the time you reach MK, you're quite immersed in the Disney Zone.
Compare that to the DLR experience. Again, convenience issues aside (I really love that I can jog from DL back to my hotel to grab that mini DV tape I forgot), the experience couldn't be more different.
In Anaheim, many parts of the parks are readily visible from the streets outside them. The cheery Anaheim resort decor aside, you're in SoCal and there's no mistaking it (no offense to you SoCal residents, but the greater LA area isn't exactly the most magical or inviting locale, sorry).
The physical line between reality outside the park and the fantasy inside is very thin. One minute you're being honked at by rowdy drivers on Harbor, then at the base of Main Street Station the next (I know, depending on crowds). The transition is even more jarring when you leave the park after spending several hours to a full day in the Disney Zone.
My point is that in Anaheim, the process of entering the Disney Zone- at least as far as park surroundings are concerned- is woefully lacking. Don't get me wrong- I understand why. Disney only has so much property to work with there.
The question is how can DLR, assuming that at some point there is a budget for it, influence its surroundings to improve this Disney Zone immersion process? Is this a big deal for anybody besides me? Is it only an issue for those that have been to WDW and really appreciate the spacial and vegetational role in the process there?