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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Planning: A Comparison of Disneyland and Walt Disney World

When others learn that we are headed to Disneyland this summer and then realize that it is different than Walt Disney World, we inevitable get 1 of 3 comments:
  • It’s smaller at Disneyland right?
  • Won’t it be the same?
  • Can’t wait to hear about how differences.

The third comment is my favorite, as I am already making comparisons to Walt Disney World and we haven’t even left the state!

As Walt Disney World dare I say “veterans” with twelve trips under our belts, planning a Disneyland trip has been a very different experience.  My comparisons range from ease to cost.

Transportation
This category contains both flights to get to the happiest place on earth, and transportation to/from the Disneyland Parks.   As far as flights go, this part was easy and relatively cost effective.  We were able to get direct flights and good times and for a good price on the days we wanted to travel. 

Transportation to/from the Disneyland Resort was a different story.  Disneyland does offer transportation via bus for a fee, although children travel free with paid adults.  At Walt Disney World, Disney’s Magical Express operates 24/7.  The Disneyland transfers do run daily, but not all day.  The timing of our return flight required an early trip to the airport outside of the Disneyland transfer operating hours.  And since the fee for the Disneyland transfers are round trip, it did not make sense for us to use them for one-way, but pay for round trip.  We sought out different transportation through a private company.  So cost-wise, Disneyland is more expensive when it comes to transportation to/from the airport and it takes more work to make your arrangements.


Dining
Yeah, we’re not the typical travelers as we like to make dining reservations and feel that dining is just as much a part of the experience as attractions or resorts.  We are the ones who make Advanced Dining Reservations for Walt Disney World 180 days prior to our trip.  At Disneyland, dining reservations can also be made prior to one’s trip, but at 60 days.  And, while at Walt Disney World, dining reservations can be made for your entire stay at 180 days prior to your first day, at Disneyland, reservations can be made 60 days ahead of EACH DAY!  So, guests have to get on-line or call 60 days ahead of every day you want to make a reservation.  A credit card hold is the same at both and guests do get a confirmation number, and dining/show packages are available at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, such as a Fantasmic Dining Package that includes reserved viewing for Fantasmic.  Then, there’s the Dining Plan.  Guests staying at the Walt Disney World Resort have the option of adding a Dining Plan—there are 3 different versions—to their package.  At Disneyland, guest can pre-purchase character dining vouchers.  Walt Disney World comes out ahead in this category for ease and options.


Park Tickets
Guests at the Walt Disney Resort have the option of park tickets ranging from 1 day to 10 days.  Other options can be added to park tickets such as park hopper, water parks and more fun, even the Dining Plan can be added to the park tickets.  If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, your park ticket is also your room key and room charging privileges can be added to the ticket and most importantly, all of that information is linked to a guest or traveling party’s MagicBands, including Photopass.

At Disneyland guests have the option of selection 1 day to 5 day tickets and can add a park hopper option.  If staying at a Disneyland Resort, an additional room key will be provided and that may allow for room charges—we don’t know that as of yet.  And, we already have our park tickets!

Walt Disney World’s implementation of the MagicBand has made all of this very easy!

Photopass
 Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer guests an opportunity to pre-order and pre-pay for their Photopass products.  At Walt Disney World, it's Memory Maker and if making your resort reservation on-line or with a travel professional, guests have the option of adding Memory Maker to their reservation.  Disneyland offers Photopass + and their website alludes to the product, provides a link to the Photopass website, but is difficult to find as it is under the "HELP" section of the Photopass website.  I understand why--as the Photopass website is for both parks and folks could get confused and order Photopass+ for Walt Disney World, although that product isn't available there any more.  

So far, in terms of planning, Walt Disney World is an easier trip to plan.  One phone call or login can do it all—resort stay, park tickets, dining, transportation to/from the airport, even airline reservations if you want.  Guests may feel like planning a Walt Disney World vacation is harder due to the need/want to make FastPass+  selections and Dining Reservations prior to arrival.  Some guests may want to just show up for their vacation and not do anything prior.  This strategy will work at Walt Disney World, but would work better at Disneyland. 

As I read through this, it sounds like we are disappointed with Disneyland.  We definitely are not and are quite excited about our upcoming trip.  It is just that I learned how different it is to plan a Disneyland trip compared to Walt Disney World.  It would have been difficult for me NOT to compare. 

Maybe the work/ease equation will balance out when we arrive at the Disneyland Resort—less walking, no other transportation needed, smaller parks, etc.  We’ll see. . .

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