A Walt Disney World Veteran's First Trip to Disneylandby Richard Mercer, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Like many baby boomers, I grew up watching Walt Disney on TV telling the country about Disneyland. But it was a distant, impossible dream. Our family didn't have the money for that kind of vacation. So when a colleague suggested last year that I should come with her to a conference in California to help make a presentation, my eyes lit up and I immediately started conspiring to visit Disneyland as part of that trip. I made arrangements to stay at Disneyland two nights prior to the conference.Approaching the entrance to Disneyland is a very difference experience from Walt Disney World. After checking into the Howard Johnson hotel right across the street, I started walking down Harbor Boulevard toward the entrance. The only hint of Disneyland was Space Mountain peeking over the wall on the other side of the street. Across the street was a simple sign arching over the walkway that said "Disneyland" in blue letters. I walked under the sign, past the bus drop-off area and into a concrete courtyard. Only a few minutes after leaving my room I was at the gates of Disneyland bearing my park hopper pass.
I entered Disneyland at 1:00 pm on Wednesday. I stayed until closing (8:00 pm) that day, came back at 9:00 am on Thursday (early entry) and again stayed until closing. In a day and a half, 18 hours of park time, I did nearly everything I wanted to do in both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure
Rather than reporting my experience in excruciating detail, I will answer some questions I think other Disney World veterans might have.
Q: Is January a good time to go?
Q: What's the best attraction that isn't at Walt Disney World?
Q: Is there any compelling reason for those living far away to visit
Disneyland Resort rather than Walt Disney World?
Here are some possible reasons for those from the Eastern US to visit Disneyland Resort:
Q: What was better, what was worse, what was a surprise or
Worse: Mulholland Madness is just an inferior version of Primeval Whirl -- it doesn't spin. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters has fewer targets but at least you can tell when you've hit them. "Disneyland -- The First 50 Magical Years" is worth seeing if you have the time, but "One Man's Dream" at the Disney-MGM< Studios is much better.
Surprises: The Disneyland Railroad goes through a covered section with a large dinosaur display ["Primeval World," which is satirized/honored as "Primeval Whirl" at Disney's Animal Kingdom's Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama - Ed.]! Space Mountain has side-by-side seating and a very different track than at Walt Disney World; it has only one small drop and a smoother ride. The film about California, Golden Dreams, is somewhat like the movies in World Showcase, but better and longer. I watched a session of the Jedi Academy, which was a real treat for a Star Wars fan.
Disappointments: The Main Street Electrical Parade was not running during my visit. There is no Tomorrowland Transit Authority ("people mover") in Tomorrowland. Matterhorn Bobsleds was awkward to ride; you tend to slide around in the plastic seat and the restraint didn't feel adequate.
Q: What was the strangest experience you had at Disneyland Resort?
Q: Does Disneyland "feel" the same as Walt Disney World? Does it have
the same "magic"?
On the other hand California Adventure has an entirely different feel to it than anywhere in Disney World. The Hollywood Pictures Backlot area does feel somewhat like a small, through-the-looking-glass version of Disney-MGM Studios, but the rest of it is ...different. It feels like it was assembled from random parts. Nevertheless, I had a good time, spending nearly half of my park time there exploring this "part-Disney and part-something-new" park. "Adventure" really is the right word for it.
Q: Are you going back?
[Going to Disneyland? Check out our award-winning PassPorter's Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions guidebook!]
About The Author: Richard Mercer is a veteran of 11 Walt Disney World trips, three Disney cruises, four MouseFests, and now one trip to Disneyland! In "real life" he is a mathematics professor at Wright State University in the Dayton area.
This article appeared in our March 8, 2007 newsletter -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!