I'm busy gathering my notes and thoughts on Disneyland to share with you. I got half way into a post I'm really excited about before I realized it was getting longer and longer and longer. . .
I'm breaking the information down into more digestible chunks to help with your planning and I realized that the best place to start would be an overall primer of Disneyland. Before our trip I had never really given much thought to the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World and I was surprised by how unique it really is from what we've already experienced in Florida.
Today I'm sharing a very basic, "What to know before you go" post but I promise more detailed reviews and opinions are coming soon!
Do you have any questions you'd like to see answered? Let me know and I'll be sure to work them in!
What to know about Disneyland before you start your planning:
First, open up this map in a new browser window. You'll get a much better sense of this tour if you can follow along.
The Parks: There are 2 main parks in California (as opposed to the 4 in Florida.)
Walt Disney's original park. Where the magic began. This park has experienced transformation over the years but was the inspiration for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. You will find many of your favorite rides in their original form here.
Familiar to WDW fans:
- Mad Tea Party (the teacups ride)
- It's a Small World
- Sleeping Beauty's castle
Unique to California:
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
- Pinocchio's Adventure
- Several live shows including "Mickey & the Magical Map"
- and so much more. . .
I am in love with this tilt-shift video overview of Disneyland, check it out:
This is the second park in California. It only opened in 2001 and is still very new. As a first time visitor, it feels like a cross between Florida's EPCOT & Hollywood Studios. You will find several familiar favorites and lots of extremely unique offerings.
Familiar to WDW fans:
- Toy Story Mania
- Muppet*Vision 3D
Unique to California:
- California Screamin'
- World of Color
- and so much more . . .
They made a tilt-shift video of California Adventure, too. Great way to take a peek in the park!:
Downtown Disney: Similar to Florida, California has their own version of this popular entertainment spot. It is a bit smaller but much more accessible. Fantastic dining and retail options with live performers and entertainment make this a great place for taking a break outside of the parks or on your arrival/rest days when you don't have park passes.
The Hotels: There are currently 3 Disney Resorts on property in Disneyland.
1. Disneyland Hotel: This is where our family stayed for our visit. It was a phenomenal hotel option. We loved the pool area and the location best of all. We were able to walk out the hotel lobby, turn left and be right at Downtown Disney.
2. Disney's Grand California Resort & Spa: This hotel is located right in the middle of Downtown Disney even closer to the parks than the Disneyland Hotel. The lobby was amazing and we enjoyed a character breakfast at the Storytellers Cafe. The pool looked gorgeous but otherwise I have limited experience with the property. The location cannot be beat.
3. Disney's Paradise Pier: The most budget friendly option of the Disney resorts. We did not have a chance to visit first hand but I wanted to mention it.
The Biggest Difference:
The top reason Disneyland is worth a visit is the sheer walkability of the parks. The entrance gates to Disneyland and California Adventure are right across from each other. They share a welcome area in the middle. This makes the park hopper option for your passes highly practical. You could easily park hop from one park to the other by simply walking across that open area in between.
We stayed on site at the Disneyland Hotel and simply walked from our hotel room door straight to the entrance of both Disneyland and California Adventure park.
Because Downtown Disney borders the hotel property, it is just a short walk through the main thoroughfare before you come to the gates of the parks. In our 6 days of visiting we never once saw the inside of a car, bus, tram, or monorail. They had those things available but it just wasn't necessary!
If you are traveling with kids that need a stroller or you have a medical scooter, Disneyland is a perfect option for you! None of the hassle of loading that gear on and off the shuttles to get where you need to be.
The close proximity of everything makes going back to the hotel for an afternoon break infinitely more practical than in WDW. Our girls were finally able to stay up later and visit the parks in the evening because we had solid rest time every afternoon. Tim and I both agreed that the size and scale of the parks would have made our first visits with our very young girls a lot easier than it was in Florida.
I highly recommend following Disneyland on Twitter if you're planning a trip. I love that they share park hours, restaurant suggestions, and event information so you can get inspiration on the go:
To all who come to this happy place—Welcome! Today's hours: Disneyland 10a-9p & Disney California Adventure 10a-8p. pic.twitter.com/cna8EXkcL0
— Disneyland Today (@DisneylandToday) April 29, 2014
I was thrilled to attend the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Disneyland, California. My family and I loved experiencing the magic on the opposite coast from where we live. We provided our own transportation and paid a conference fee in exchange for the opportunity to walk in Walt's footsteps and be introduced to fantastic behind the scenes Disney information that I'm excited to share with you in the coming months. You may view my full disclosure here.