What Disneyland Fans Should Expect at Walt Disney World
For California residents, a Disney park visit isn’t possible locally right now.
Disneyland remains closed and will likely stay that way through the first quarter of 2021.
You do have a backup option, though. You can do the unthinkable and switch your loyalty to Walt Disney World this trip.
No, you’re not a traitor. You’re a pragmatist! You’re not cheating on Disneyland if it’s not open. Instead, you’re proving your loyalty to Disney.
Still, there are a few things you should know. Here’s what Disneyland fans should expect during a Walt Disney World Vacation.
You’ll Need to Stay at Least Four Days
The last time I visited Disneyland, I spent two full days at the parks. By the middle of day two, I had finished everything and was doing some repeats.
Don’t get me wrong! I could ride the original version of It’s a Small World over and over again! I feel like I’m a part of history every time.
Still, you shouldn’t miss my point. Disneyland locals know that they can cover both parks during a weekend visit.
MaxPass has streamlined the process, allowing guests to do more than ever at Disneyland.
Walt Disney World operates differently. Each park functions differently, as crowd behavior isn’t that similar.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests start early. At EPCOT, people stay late, especially when a festival is ongoing.
In short, you cannot do everything at a park in a half-day, particularly when you’ve never visited before.
As such, you should stick with the basics. Plan for one park per day and maybe give yourself an extra day or two if you have the vacation time.
I frequently stay for 10+ nights, and I never run out of things to do.
You Don’t Need a Car
This one will blow your mind. Yes, Los Angeles is a driving town, and that philosophy extends to Anaheim as well.
I won’t say that Orlando isn’t a driving town. The gridlock on I-4 proves that plenty of people hop on the highway each day.
However, Walt Disney World exists in a theoretical bubble. Park officials have constructed numerous features to achieve the ultimate goal.
Once you enter the Disney Bubble, you won’t want to leave. Also, Disney has introduced several amenities to encourage guests to stay.
Free transportation will take you anywhere on the Disney campus, starting with your Orlando International Airport arrival.
Magical Express will transport you to your official Disney resort, something that doesn’t happen at Disneyland.
Once you’re there, you’ll discover so many shopping and dining options that you’ll forget that the outside world exists.
Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth. Walt Disney World might be the most hypnotic. Once you’re there, time stops until your hotel checkout.
The Parks Are Massive
When Walt Disney built Disneyland, he nearly went broke acquiring the land. As it was, he had to sell his dream home to fund the project.
Almost a decade later, Uncle Walt wasn’t about to repeat the same mistake. He sneakily purchased thousands of acres of Florida land before anyone knew.
Once people learned the truth, the price of Florida swampland soared, but Mr. Disney had gotten what he wanted by then.
While the man never lived to enter the park that bears his name, his vision remains on display at Walt Disney World.
All four theme parks here dwarf Disneyland in scope.
Consider that Disney California Adventure spans 72 acres while Disneyland is just over 100 acres since the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
In fact, Disneyland Resort encompasses roughly 500 acres in total. Disney’s Animal Kingdom alone covers 540 acres!!!
You should plan to walk more while at Walt Disney World.
The Transportation Is Better
I touched on it a moment ago but let me spell this out. Walt Disney World crushes Disneyland when it comes to transportation options.
At Disneyland, people drive to the parking lot or walk from a nearby hotel. Anything beyond that isn’t feasible due to the location of the land and roads.
Even the monorail at Disneyland qualifies as ceremonial rather than useful.
At Walt Disney World, the monorail system will take you to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
Well, the EPCOT line is technically closed during the pandemic.
So, that monorail system may or may not work when you visit, depending on how soon you go.
The point is that three Disney resorts include monorail stations in the lobby. And each one WILL transport you to Magic Kingdom!
Disney also operates buses and boats to take you where you need to go.
Of course, one feature deserves special mention. The recently opened Disney Skyliner system connects several parks and resorts.
You can ride from EPCOT to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and back again via this gondola system.
Four different Disney resorts are on the monorail line as well. I could include two more near EPCOT’s International Gateway entrance as well.
In short, the Disney Skyliner marries convenience with a cool factor. You’ll want to ride it while you’re in town.
Classic Rides Differ
This one will require some adjustment. As a diehard Disneyland fan, you’ve ridden all the classics many times. You know them by heart.
Well, all these attractions play out differently at Walt Disney World. The explanation circles back to the extra space.
Imagineers could do more with that land, and so they developed longer attractions.
You’ll feel like Splash Mountain lasts forever since it takes about 15 percent more time.
You’ll lament that It’s a Small World starts indoors rather than outside, but you’ll love some of the interactive touches at the end.
You’ll momentarily freak out when your Doom Buggy heads in the wrong direction on Haunted Mansion. It goes up, not down!
As you experience each Walt Disney World attraction, you can’t help but acknowledge the differences. It’s somehow unsettling but enjoyable.
Over the years, I’ve learned that Disneyland and Walt Disney World fans are each convinced that their rides beat the competition.
Personally, I see a bit more nuance to the debate.
I favor It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight at Disneyland, but I’m Team Orlando on Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pandora Is a Must
Since you have a version of Galaxy’s Edge, the must-do attraction at Hollywood Studios doesn’t even involve Star Wars.
I’m referencing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which Disneyland fans will receive in 2022.
Those of you who visit Orlando right now can forgo the wait and experience it during your trip. You should check out Toy Story Land while you’re there.
However, Animal Kingdom hosts the best themed land that’s not at Disneyland.
Pandora – The World of Avatar justifies every ounce of hype it receives. This place will blow your mind with its theming, especially when you visit at night.
Imagineers emphasized bioluminescent features. You don’t need to master the natural sciences to understand what that means: lots of shiny stuff!
Plus, the rides are aces. Some dismiss Na’Vi River Journey, but I think it’s brilliant. And everyone agrees that Avatar Flight of Passage is a masterpiece.
Pandora should be at the top of your must-do list when you reach Orlando.
The Food Is Better
Finally, I’ll say something that doesn’t surprise you. Walt Disney World serves better food.
I know that some Disneyland fans believe that the parks have gotten much better over the years. Still, churros and Dole Whips aren’t enough.
One of Disneyland’s glaring weaknesses is the theme park cuisine.
At Walt Disney World, that’s a strength. Disney owns and operates literally hundreds of places, many of which score high on TripAdvisor.
While Disneyland Resort claims some terrific eateries like Blue Bayou and Carthay Circle, they’re a drop in the bucket compared to Walt Disney World.
In fact, you’ll eat better at Disney’s monorail resorts than you would at all of Disneyland Resort. I’m not even joking.
As for entertainment districts, everyone loves Downtown Disney.
However, even its most ardent admirers will admit that Disney Springs offers tons more activities. And the restaurants feature Iron Chefs and Top Chefs!
You’ll feast like royalty at Walt Disney World! Also, you can dine guilt-free since you’ll burn off all the calories by walking around the parks!