Quote Originally Posted by HydroGuy
Combined with typically longer park hours at DL and overall better weather in California, we found that we spend about 50% more time actually at the parks at DLR than we did at WDW.
Quote Originally Posted by HydroGuy
But the fact that you can spend up to 50% more of your daily hours actually in the parks and have a room literally across the street from the parks can be immersive in a different sense.
I posted my DLR Guide on my three favorite DLR forums and on one of the other forums a WDW vet with one recent trip to DLR (and liked my post, BTW) questioned my above statements about spending more time at the DLR parks than at WDW. So in my usual thorough way I referred to my trip report for our most recent DLR multi-day (four-day) trip in Aug 2005 (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=886607) and our ten-day trip to WDW in June 2006 (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1152459).

Here is what I found out:

Average Hours Per Day Inside Parks

At DLR - 11.25 hrs per day
At WDW - 7.35 hrs per day (for me - counting the 7 full park days and not the three partial days)
At WDW - 6.5 hrs per day (for my kids - counting the 7 full park days and not the three partial days)

In my case it was 53% more time inside the parks at DLR. In my family's case, it was 73% more time inside the parks at DLR.

Total Hours Inside Parks Over Whole Trip

At DLR - 45 hrs over four days
At WDW - 58 hrs over nine-and-a-half days (for me)
At WDW - 50 hrs over nine-and-a-half days (for DS10)
At WDW - 45 hrs over nine-and-a-half days (for the three older boys)

Did everyone get that last number? Except for my DS10, my kids spent the same amount of time inside the DLR parks over 4 days than they did over 9 1/2 days at WDW! 45 hours. Wow!

Here is a ride and show count. The DLR count was easier because we were almost always together for everything, but at WDW we split up on numerous occasions. I know that I did more rides and shows than anyone else in my family because they either left the parks earlier than I or did not come back out with me after a break on some days. I was in the parks for 9 out of 10 days.

Total Number of Rides

At DLR over 4 days - 68 (for everyone)
At WDW over 10 days - 68 (for me)
At WDW over 10 days - 66 (for DS10)
At WDW over 10 days - 59 (for three older boys)

Total Number of Shows, Dinner Shows, Parades and Fireworks

At DLR over 4 days - 7 (for everyone)
At WDW over 10 days - 13 (for me)
At WDW over 10 days - 12 (for DS10)
At WDW over 10 days - 10 (for three older boys)

Overall we did less rides as a family over 10 days at WDW than we did at DLR in 4 days, but we saw more shows. This counts the Hoop-De-Doo Revue which is a Disney show but outside the parks.

On the other hand, we also did things at WDW like DisneyQuest, Downtown Disney (the boys saw movies there on rest days, which was a good use of time for them and helped them conserve energy), watercraft, horseback riding, water pageant, and a water park on one afternoon. I am not saying that "DLR let's you do more". But it is interesting how many more rides we were able to do at DLR. We got a more diverse experience at WDW because of the four parks and outside activities.

I outlined the reasons for this in my OP, but will pull them together more succinctly here:

1. The nearness of the DL and DCA parks meant that we could always easily hop to DL in the evening. We stayed out until midnight at DL every single night. It is possible to stay out late at WDW every night, but not very practical at WDW because of the need for late night parkhopping.

2. The nearness of the DL and DCA parks meant that we could stock up on FastPasses at each park throughout the day and use them in the evening. This is not practical at WDW.

3. We did not buy parkhoppers at WDW because it was too much of a hassle to hop and without FastPasses at the second park our ability to ride headliners would be significantly reduced.

4. The shorter park hours at WDW, especially at AK and Epcot, and the desire to not hop, meant that the evenings finished earlier.

5. The significantly increased transportation time at WDW meant that even with shorter park hours, we often did not get any more extra hours back at our hotel as compared to DLR.

6. The weather at WDW disrupted things with heavy rains on about half our days. One day it rained all day non-stop.