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Disneyland vs. Disney World, Our Views

It is the age-old discussion that probably got started the day after Walt Disney World opened, which is better Disneyland or Disney World? Aren’t they the same thing? Is it worth going to one of them, if you know the other? The answer won’t surprise most people, but they are very different places. In this blog, I want to talk about our experiences, share a few extra pictures, and discuss the differences as we saw them.

Our Disneyland Experience was at the end of January 2019 – in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago – and in other ways it feels like yesterday. We have had so many life interruptions since then (and another trip to Disney World), that I have not had the time, or maybe more honestly, the energy, to write like I wanted to about Disneyland. I may still come up with some things I want to share later on – but I thought I would wrap this up with just some general thoughts and my take on the age old debate – should you go to Disneyland if you have been to Disney World?

 

We have already shared how much we loved the convenience of two parks – right outside our resort. The parks feel so quaint and at the same time have more than you could imagine seeing and doing. I feel like we didn’t get the full experience of the wonder that we should have had at the Disneyland Park. Sleeping Beauty Castle was closed for refurbishment while we were there. Because the center of the hub was closed off – it felt very awkward and there were a lot of construction walls. I am looking forward to going back and seeing it in all of its glory.

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I enjoyed experiencing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride again, an attraction I had ridden when I was young and my husband had never seen before. Toon Town was really cute, and there were lots of interesting little differences in almost every attraction that mirrors WDW. Some of these differences made the attractions so much more exciting to me – and just made me love them more. Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were so cool – they were my favorites at the Magic Kingdom. I could have ridden them all day. I was fascinated by how many of the loading areas for the rides were located outside. I was not as impressed with the differences in Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. (Space Mountain really bothered my vertigo at DL and apparently, I have become far too comfortable with the safety bar in the WDW version of Splash Mountain – it felt very out of control to me!)

 

California Adventure was the big hit for me – I cannot wait to go back. I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! I was not expecting this at all. I really enjoy Tower of Terror and the theming – so I thought I would be disappointed in Guardians. The music, story, video, and immediate drop shaft without going through the Fifth-Dimension scene made the ride so exciting. I am so glad there are two different versions of the attraction to enjoy. The Frozen Show, Monsters Inc. attraction, and Soarin’ were great – but another reason I loved California Adventure so much was Radiator Springs. I am not going to lie; I think I cried a bit the first time I walked through that entrance. I have never felt so much like I had truly walked onto a movie set. The visuals are stunning, it just looks so much like the movie. Radiator Springs Racers was a spectacular attraction. The queue was perfect, I felt totally immersed and the race was so much fun. @drsql really liked Pixar Pier, even though my vertigo kept me from many of the attractions in that area, it was fun to see him enjoy it so much and I liked soaking up the atmosphere.

 

Another experience that I enjoyed at California Adventure was our anniversary dinner at Carthay Circle. The food was excellent and the service exceptional. They made our special night even more special. @drsql does not like to take too much time away from attractions for table service restaurants, but Hollywood Brown Derby is one of my favorites, so I really wanted to go to Carthay Circle for our one extraordinary meal. The atmosphere was beautiful, and you felt immersed in the time period. I wish that we had taken the time to really dress for the event – just for the fun of it. We were dressed nicer than our usual park attire, but still very casual and I did not feel out of place. It exceeded my expectations and I look forward to dining there again.

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We also enjoyed Downtown Disney since we had the opportunity to spend more time there than we do at Disney Springs. It is smaller, so much more manageable, and we walked through it often to get to our resort. Due to our schedule, we had an extra day to spend there and the opportunity to do The Void: Step Beyond Reality.

 

The Void was an incredible experience, one unique for me because I had never really played any type of virtual reality game before this one. I had been a little worried to try it because of my vertigo, but I always wanted to give it a shot. While we were there, The Void had two experiences that they were running, Star Wars and Wreak it Ralph. I definitely wanted to choose Star Wars and that was our intent when we first spoke to the cast member. We decided to go ahead to do some walking, eat lunch, and come back to The Void later in the afternoon. What the cast member failed to tell us is that at that time, they were only running Star Wars in the morning and that Wreak it Ralph was the only one available to play in the afternoon. We sadly decided to go ahead and try it since we would not have another time during our trip. It was so much fun. I didn’t have any issues with dizziness and the games were great! The only negative to the experience is that you do not have much time. There is really no practice before the first game starts, so you have to be ready to go. And the cost for 15 minutes of play is pretty high. I would have like to have had some practice before the scoring started and have it last at least 25-30 minutes for the cost.

Even though we knew some attractions and shows would be in refurbishment (that is always a possibility anytime you visit) – we really expected this to be our one and only trip to Disneyland. Due to the distance for us and lack of DVC options, it is just so much more expensive, and we can spend so many more days at Disney World. The only way I finally got @drsql to go…it was for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Even though we didn’t expect it- we were not there very long before we realized we have to visit again.

I have often seen people discuss the need to visit Disneyland if you have been to Walt Disney World. As a matter of fact, over the years we have had many people tell us that due to the size we never really need to visit DL. I can honestly say, now I would advise any Walt Disney World fan to definitely go to Disneyland at least one time. It is absolutely a great experience, so similar but so different, we had a wonderful time.

There are so many things we didn’t get to do even though we spent two days at each park. I have my list already prepared for our next visit. Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasmic, World of Color, Grizzly River Run, and a Backstage Tour are high on that list. I wanted to visit Blue Sky Cellar and too many restaurants to count. Hopefully we will be making reservations for that visit soon – and now that we love Disneyland – maybe I can talk @drsql into Paris!!

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Pal Val’s #16 – Up: A Great Bird Adventure?

Alright, I will admit this is a stretch for even me to believe I added this one to the list – but hear me out. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I spend a lot of time roaming around Animal Kingdom. While my husband is off setting records on riding Expedition Everest, I try to spend my time doing the attractions I love most, while enjoying the scenery and shows. One of the attractions that my husband did not like to visit was the former “Flights of Wonder”. Now, I am not a person who just loves animal shows or is even particularly extra fond of birds. But, there was something really appealing about that show.

For those who may have never experienced “Flights of Wonder”, it was a demonstration that showcased some of the amazing birds at Animal Kingdom. A bird trainer would be on stage to share facts about the birds to an actor portraying an explorer/tour group leader who had a fear of birds. It had some humorous moments, it just felt fun, and they gave a very natural performance. The setting in Asia was lovely and it was a nice place to sit and enjoy the show. I tried to see it every time I was at Animal Kingdom.

Recently the “Flights of Wonder” show has gone through a refurbishment and reworked as “Up: A Great Bird Adventure”. We are big fans of the movie Up – so we were looking forward (at least the kids and I were looking forward) to seeing the new show that now includes Russell and Doug.

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My daughter, youngest granddaughter, and I were able to catch the show late one afternoon while the others were riding Everest for the 15th time. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the changes – I left so very disappointed. I felt like the show lacked the pace of its predecessor and the timing of the dialogue felt awkward. It just wasn’t as funny and lacked the charm of the original. To be fair, we were there in July, it was incredibly hot that afternoon. We were sitting in the very back, and there was no air (or even a breeze from a fan) hitting us. I was incredibly surprised that as we left the show the girls were excited about it. They thought it was great and loved seeing their favorite characters. My granddaughter especially, she thought the birds were amazing.

After I arrived home I started wondering if I had let how uncomfortable I was influence how I felt about the show. It was very hot, I had run out of water, and we did not have great seats. I felt like I needed to give the attraction another chance – so I decided to make it a priority this trip. This is why: “Up: A Great Bird Adventure” is on my list. When you visit WDW, it is sometimes easy to let your surroundings or impatience affect your opinion of a ride or attraction. Whenever I think I really didn’t enjoy something, I always give it another chance. Sometimes I see it with different eyes, or I realize that it wasn’t the attraction that was at fault, but my attitude in the moment.
On the other hand, sometimes it isn’t just me. After I made my list and began this blog post there was a new development. We received this notice through the media today…maybe I wasn’t too hasty in my judgement after all…

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https://wdwnt.com/2018/08/disney-is-having-up-a-great-bird-adventure-rewritten-due-to-poor-guest-response-to-new-animal-kingdom-show/