Some Disney World fans are hesitant to venture out of their comfort zone. Let’s face it: going on a Disney Cruise or visiting an unfamiliar Disney park other than Walt Disney World can be intimidating and scary! Sometimes, facing your fears can be worth it if you are well informed.
Here are the top ten things Disney World fans and veterans need to know about Disneyland.
1. Where to stay
Many Disney World vets will argue that the only option for a Disney World vacation is to stay on property. I agree that this is true in Disney World, but things change on the other side of the country.
Staying off property at Disney World puts guests too far away from the action of the parks and likely will not save any money. On the other hand, staying offsite at Disneyland is not only a viable option but also probably a better decision.
Disneyland hotels start around $250 per night, which is about the price of a moderate resort at Disney World and outside of many visitor’s budgets. Though these are on property with free transportation to and from the main park, many of the offsite hotels are actually closer and will definitely save money. Disney is aware of this and is considering offering an extra magic hour at Disney’s California Adventure to guests who stay on property. Have no fear, though; guests who stay off property can still enter the park early on select days by purchasing a three or more day pass.
FastPasses at Disneyland are still of the old school variety. When you enter the park, you have to rush around to get your FastPasses. What you need to know before you go, though, is that Disney occasionally disconnects some ride’s FastPass machines from the system so you can get more at a time. What’s more, know that Radiator Springs Racers is always disconnected. That’s a nice tidbit of information!
3. No Reservations Necessary
Okay, this might not be entirely true, but dining reservations are much less necessary at Disneyland than at Disney World. More often than not, guests at Disneyland can simply walk up to a restaurant and get day-of reservations at a table service restaurant. Counter service food at Disneyland is also very good, so on busier days, when a table is not available for the time you want, you can still have great food!
4. Attraction Hours
An open park at Disney World generally means that all attractions are open, but this isn’t the case at Disneyland where Mickey’s Toontown opens an hour after park opening and Fantasyland closes before the fireworks. Also, Paradise Pier at Disney’s California Adventure closes during World of Color.
5. Prepare for Fantasmic!
Fantasmic! at Disney World is great partly because – sometimes – you can enter the stadium a few minutes before the show and still get a seat. There is no such luck at Disneyland. Instead of a stadium, Fantasmic! takes place on Tom Sawyer Island, which is a nice setting, but is often difficult to see if you don’t plan hours ahead. Think of it this way: Fantasmic! is to Disneyland as Wishes Nighttime Spectacular is to Disney World.
6. No Dining Plan
Again, this might be stretching the truth. Disneyland does have a dining plan, but it is dramatically different from the plan at Disney World. Depending on your eating habits, Disney World’s dining plan can save you money; at Disneyland, the dining plan is a dollar for dollar voucher system, so if your lunch costs $8.75, and you use a $10 voucher, you’ll actually lose $1.25. More over, Downtown Disney (it’s still called that out West) in California does not accept the “dining plan,” so any meals there will be out of pocket expenses anyway.
7. Annual Passes
In order for an Annual Pass to make sense at Disney World, you’d have to visit at least twice a year. At Disneyland, guests cannot purchase more than a five-day ticket; if you want to stay for six or more days, buying an Annual Pass is the way to go. What’s more, AP holders at Disneyland get more discounts on rooms, food, and merchandise than AP holders at Disney World. AP holders also don’t have to purchase a discount card; you get the discount just by showing your card!
8. Everything is slower
If you are a non-planner, take a minute to rejoice! It is not unusual for park hours, dining reservations, and discounts to be announced just three months out. On the other hand, if you are a hardcore planner, you’ll need to take some deep breaths and relax. Although not knowing the resort discounts way in advance like Disney World can negatively affect planning, it can be good for those who are last minute planners.
Some Disney World classics are still available at Disneyland. Guests can experience attractions like Toontown, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
10. Timing makes a difference
Crowds at Disney World are equally large on weekdays as on weekends. This isn’t true at Disneyland where locals come out in droves on the weekends. Even very slow weeks end with super-crowds on the weekends. The takeaway? If possible, visit during the week!
Which is your favorite: Disney World or Disneyland?