If you followed along with us last week you know that we had some of your favorite agents visiting the West Coast Disney parks. They spent two days exploring “Where it all began” and this is their opinion on East versus West.
Where it all began …
Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955 with 18 rides and attractions. Originally named “The Mickey Mouse Park” later changed to “Disneylandia” before finally settling on “Disneyland”. Everyone knows the story of Walt Disney taking his kids to Griffith Park, watching them ride the carousel, wishing there was a place families could go together. And there Disneyland was born. Originally slated to be a small park with a boat ride on 8-acres across from the Walt Disney studios. As Disney’s vision grew, so did the realization they needed more land, and they found it. Purchasing a 160 acres of orange and walnut orchard in Anaheim. And that’s where it all began….
Turning a Disneyland parking lot into Disney California Adventure with an opening date of February 8th, 2001. Originally encompassing three districts, Golden State, Hollywood Pictures Backlot and Paradise Pier. Since that opening the park has expanded and even opened Marvel Campus, a place to see your favorite Marvel characters up close and in person. After WestCOT, a west coast version of EPCOT, was black-lined, DCA was created and it’s an amazing park !
Walt Disney World is made up of four parks. Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and of course, Magic Kingdom. Disneyland consists of DCA and of course Disneyland. Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are similar, but the differences really stand out. Starting with Park Hopping, which is way easier in California. The parks face each other, park hopping literally takes 5 minutes. Once you enter the main gates of Disneyland, you can chose left or right, DCA or Disneyland. They are across a courtyard from each other. Walt Disney World, you have to take a bus (or boat or monorail) to the other parks. It’s known that you should plan an hour travel time between the parks in Florida.
Parkhopper, Reservations and the Genie + System
Both parks are similar when it comes to all 3 of these things. As of the writing of this you still need to make park reservations, although that will change in January of 2024. Disneyland allows park hopping starting at 11:00 am, while Walt Disney World is still 2:00 pm. The Genie + system works the same at both parks. It still, in my opinion takes a little bit of getting used to, but as the day went on, easier to manage.
The rides, ohhh the rides are different. They do have some of the same rides, but they are very different. DCA is similar to Hollywood Studios and Disneyland to Magic Kingdom, with both having Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World and Space Mountain, among others.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a prime example of a ride with major differences, starting with ride time. Disneyland runs for a whopping 15 minutes and 30 seconds (with lots of extra scenes) and Magic Kingdom has runtime of 8 minutes. I do feel, in my humble opinion, that the cue in MK is a better experience. Although, with Disneyland running along the restaurant, Blue Bayou and having an additional drop makes this version this author’s favorite.
There is no point in living in “de-nile” the Jungle Cruise on both coasts is a great experience. The skippers are hilarious, the puns make any dad proud, and the nostalgia makes everyone smile. There are some differences in scenery, the main one being no Cambodian temple and a piranha attack in California. Disneyland also had to make room for Indiana Jones and remodel the cue to include a second level, which gives a unique view of the parks. Whether you are in Florida or California, the “back side of water” will be there to greet you. Once again, west wins over east in this attraction.
Hollywood Studios has Tower of Terror, an experience through a haunted hotel that ends with an amazing drop ride. DCA has Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, where you follow Rocket and help “breakout” the other Guardians. This is an amazing, pulse pounding, music filled, thrill ride ! While there are some scenes with the Guardians (that are different each time you ride), it’s mainly just a drop ride. And it’s intense ! The music, the show, the comedy and did I mention the music? Making this an EPIC ride unto itself. I was never a fan of drop rides or ToT, but something about the music of Guardians, the vibe, gets you going and makes you LOVE it. So once again, the west coast wins.
These are just a few of the comparisons. Each coast has comparative rides, or similar lands. Batuu, the Disney Railway, the Tea Cups, and so much more. Disneyland / DCA also has unique rides such at Mr. Toads Wild Ride and the Incredicoaster (which I rode 4 times in one day). Walt Disney World offers more variety of rides, especially since they have two extra parks to put them in. It’s hard to compare apples to apples, but if we were, ride by ride comparison, West Coast wins hands down. If you want a variety of rides or more to choose from, than East Coast is the place to be.
There is a huge difference between the coasts when it comes to resorts. Disneyland offers three “official” Disney resorts and Walt Disney World has over 35 “official” Disney resorts. Good neighbor hotels are a huge play on both coasts, but a bigger deal on the west coast. West coast hotels are all on the same street, and you walk to the parks ! YES, you walk to the parks ! There are over 30 Good Neighbor hotels and everyone staying there walks to the parks. At Walt Disney World you are dependent on Disney transportation (not always a bad thing) to get from the resort to the parks. There is a shuttle that runs to the parks in Disneyland, but hardly anyone takes it, it’s so much easier to just walk. Both coasts do a GREAT job of offering different levels of accommodations for every budget.
These are just a few of the comparisons of these two parks. They are so similar and yet so different, with each having their own uniqueness to them that make them worth visiting. In this author’s humble opinion, both coasts warrant a visit to experience them yourself. While I can see spending 4 days exploring Disneyland, I believe you need 6 for Walt Disney World, to really see most of it. Your favorite Enchanted Adventures Travel Advisor will help you plan your own East Coast versus West Coast trip.