Disneyland and Disney World are kind of like Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper. They both have some of the same ingredients but they couldn’t be much more different than they are. Disney World is HUGE and Disneyland is much more ‘contained.’ Disney World has all of the new gadgets, ticketing, resorts, and rides; but Disneyland has done a great job including new elements while really preserving the history of the place Walt built. We had such a blast at Disneyland over our three day visit this past Summer.
I’ll start off by saying the cursed words we’d never say at Disney World: We didn’t stay at a Disney hotel. I know, taboo! We stayed at the Best Western Plus Park Place Inn. The mini-suites are larger than a normal room and you can get a room for less than $200 per night. You also get free breakfast and are literally right across the street from the entrance of Disneyland (no buses, no parking, just a 3 minute walk to the front gate)! In my opinion, it’s closer to the parks than the rooms at Disney that are $400-700 per night. It may not have the ‘magic’ (as Amy says), but it’s a great bang for your buck.
Disneyland is so much different than ‘world’ when it comes to their FastPasses. World has a FastPass system that you better be familiar with about 60 days from the start of your trip. Land really allows you to show up clueless and figure it out as you go, and that’s “kinda” what we did. I’m a planner so that was really difficult for me, but the FastPass system at Disneyland was super simple and we were able to ride every single ride we wanted at the parks.
My first bit of advice is download the Disneyland app on your smartphone and purchase the MaxPass. It’s $10 per day, per person, but it keeps you from running all over the park to ride rides. From your phone you can book your first FastPass of the day. As soon as that hour long window for your ride begins, you can book another FastPass. Your other option is walking around the park, scanning your ticket at the ride you want, getting a return time, and heading off to another ride to scan your ticket while you wait for your other ride. That sounds confusing right? Now add two kids to the mix….don’t do it. It’s worth the $10 per person!
Here’s how it works: You want to ride Guardians of the Galaxy (because it’s literally the best ride on planet earth) so you go into your app and find a time that works for you. Let’s say you get 10-11am for your ride time. You can show up any time between 10-11am to ride Guardians. All you have to do is scan your ticket once you are at the ride. When the clock strikes 10am, you’re allowed to start booking your next FastPass, even if you haven’t been on Guardians yet. It kind of helps you stay ‘ahead of the game’ for rides. These FastPasses are unlimited for your day so use it as many times as you want. But remember, you can’t book your next FastPass until the time slot for your current one. If you enjoy riding rides, aim for earlier FastPasses for rides to get more in.
Our favorite park was California Adventure, simply because we LOVED Guardians of the Galaxy. Joelle and I rode Guardians FIVE times. That’s kind of sad to admit. However, each time you ride it’s a different experience. They play 6 different songs, and have numerous different videos as you work your way through the ride so each ride is a different experience. It’s really cool. I honestly giggled like a school girl every single time I rode it.
Our other favorite rides were:
Radiator Springs Racers – such an incredible ride, and SO well done. Israel was in Disney heaven on this ride and we all enjoyed it so much too!
Incredicoaster – This ride is intense and SO much fun! They just recently re-made this ride to include the Incredibles and we actually were able to ride it in it’s first week of opening. Pixar Pier is such a neat place at Disneyland. Be sure to stop and grab a cookie right outside of the ride when it’s over. Or grab one while you’re in line and then grab another after the ride! That’s the Lemons’ way!
Pirates of the Caribbean – This is one of the classics that has be re-done over the years. Riding a ride that Walt himself came up with was really neat.
Space Mountain – Who goes to Disney without riding this classic? Our kids both love Space Mountain. Space Mountain at Disneyland is different because it is a side-by-side coaster which makes it a lot of fun.
Indiana Jones – This is such a well done ride! It does jostle you around a bit if you have back issues, but it wasn’t too bad at all. There are so many different elements to this ride. It had us wide-eyed and excited the entire ride.
I’m going to move on to food really quickly:
Flo’s Cafe – This is a quick serve spot near Cars Land and it’s a great place to stop in.
Cozy Cone – Do yourself a solid and get real hungry, then go grab a cozy cone full of chili or mac-n-cheese. This was a fun stop in Cars Land as well.
Cafe Orleans – Skip the food (although it’s good) and go straight for the beignets! Oh my word! Wade and Hope love the Monte Cristo here as well.
Blue Bayou – This is a really cool restaurant inside the Pirates ride. It’s a cool atmosphere with upscale New Orleans style food. It is a little more expensive than the normal restaurant but was a really cool experience. BOOK EARLY if you want to eat here!
Goofy’s Kitchen – This is the character meal we chose at the Disneyland Hotel and we had a ton of really good food from their buffet. You also get to meet Mickey, Goofy, Chip & Dale, and Pluto. This was a really fun dinner.
If we had to choose Disneyland or Disney World, you guessed it – we’d choose both! They both have a lot to offer, great weather, and unique experiences. Disneyland is much more do-able in just a few days, and the weather during the Summer is really nice weather compared to the heat Orlando experiences at times. We definitely hope to head back to Anaheim in the future to give it another go, but in the meantime, you go check it out and let us know your favorite things!