A Disneyland guide for Walt Disney World veterans - Uncle Walt's Insider

A Disneyland guide for Walt Disney World veterans

A random building at Disneyland. Photo by Carterhawk [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons.

Are you a Florida Disney pro visiting the California parks for the first time? Here’s what to expect.

ANAHEIM, CA — You may be a seasoned pro when it comes to the Walt Disney World Resort and Spa. You know how to get around the parks, how to get the best Fastpasses, and how to find the best viewing places in Pandora for the Osborne Family Christmas lights. You know the location of all the churro carts. You know who Beverly is, and why it’s best to avoid her. 

But suddenly you plan to visit the Disneyland Resort instead. Maybe it’s because you have a L.A. business trip. Maybe you’re one of those stupid guests who made the mistake of asking a Walt Disney World Cast Member how to get to Disneyland, and then you actually followed his directions to take a four-day drive west. Or maybe you just have a bad travel agent who doesn’t know the difference between the two resorts.

Either way, you may be an expert on the World, but Disneyland is new to you. What are the differences, and what can you expect? Uncle Walt’s Insider is here to help with this handy guide.

It’s big

Walt Disney World may be over 486 square miles (16 square kilometers) in size, but California is, like, several bazillion square miles or something. Seriously, it’s a big place. Fortunately, Disneyland only takes up a small portion of that. You can hike from one end to the other in less than three weeks. (We mean California again.)

There are only two parks

So if your travel agent scored you a ten-day park hopper for Disneyland, you might run out of things to do.

You’ll wait longer for buses at your resort

That’s mainly because Disneyland doesn’t run resort buses like Walt Disney World does.

Many things are the same, but better

Disneyland has versions of attractions you will be familiar with from Walt Disney World, but which are better than their Florida counterparts. For example, Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean floats you through a restaurant, the Blue Bayou, where you can order appetizers to munch on while you ride. The nighttime spectacular Fantasmic is even more amazing at Disneyland, since they use real boats, real water, and a real dragon. And Soarin’, in the California Adventure park, flies you over the entire world, not just California!

Many things are the same, but worse

There are attractions that are on both coasts, but you may be disappointed by the California version. For example, the Tree of Life at California Adventure isn’t nearly as big, and right now can’t be told apart from the other trees there. (Give it time to grow, though.) Also, the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic at Florida’s Hollywood Studios is so much better than the Disneyland version, mainly because it has, you know, seats. Where you can sit. And speaking of Hollywood Studios, it is so much nicer and cleaner than the real Hollywood.

Many things are the same, but weird

Sure, Disneyland will feel friendly and comfortable and familiar — and everything will be wrong. The ice cream shop is on the wrong side of the street. The castle is tiny. And when you walk into Tomorrowland, Astro Orbiter is plopped right in the middle of the sidewalk! Then you come to Star Tours and think, “Wait, that’s not even supposed to be here!”

The churros are better

Seriously, churros are the best food ever in whatever Disney park you buy them in, but Disneyland’s churros are magical. Literally, we mean. They even have a churro-choosing ceremony where aspiring witches and wizards can wave different churros until they find one that makes sparks fly and things move. The churro chooses the wizard, after all.

It’s in California

Many veterans of Walt Disney World plan a Disneyland trip, but then their cars automatically drive them back to Florida. We can’t emphasize this enough: the Disneyland Resort is not in Florida. It’s in California. And, as repugnant as the thought is, you actually have to travel to California to visit Disneyland, subjecting yourself to all the craziness that entails, up to and including over-the-top warnings that Disneyland may give you cancer. Just tell yourself that it’s only for a short time, and you’ll be out as soon as possible. (Or remember, there are still ways to have a California vacation without going there!)

Have they ever considered moving Disneyland out of California, we wonder? Comment below with your thoughts!

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Cover photo: A random building at Disneyland. Photo by Carterhawk [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons. Thanks to X for his contributions to this article.