373 to 0
That’s the score…at least as it stands today.
In my lifetime I have visited Walt Disney World a total of 373 days and the 400 mark is probably less than a year away. The other number represents the number of days I have visited Disneyland, but that’s about to change.
On Labor Day weekend I will get my first look at the House That Walt Built, as I am heading to California to run in the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon. This plan has been in place for almost two years and it’s finally here. More on this half marathon business later.
I’ve talked to many people about the differences between the two coasts, Florida and California, Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I have heard many opinions.
There are those who love the grandeur and spaciousness of Walt Disney World and the abundance of theme parks, including the water parks. There is also the draw of the many themed resorts; the number of things to do; and most of all, the buffer from the outside world that Walt Disney World provides its guests.
Then there are those who swear by the “original” theme park, and knowing that Disneyland is the one and only Disney theme park that Walt Disney himself ever had the opportunity to experience himself…the one he personally had a hand in creating from the ground up. Of course, there are some who have also said that neither one is their favorite because each coast has its own unique set of components that appeal to Disney fans.
As I anticipate my first visit to Disneyland, I have made a list of things I want to see and certain expectations I have in my mind. I thought that I would share these thoughts with you BEFORE I get on the plane and then revisit them when I return.
Let’s see if I can give you a proper account of what these expectations and/or curiosities are.
I know Disneyland is smaller. I’ll always remember the first fact I learned about Walt Disney World when it first opened. That fact made the point that the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom parking lot, known as the Ticket and Transportation Center Parking Lot, could fit all of Disneyland and still have room for over 100 vehicles. I also get the impression that the Disneyland theme park allows for shorter distances between attractions. So I am looking towards experiencing a more “cozy” Magic Kingdom out west.
Quality of the Character Experience
Since the Disneyland Resort has been around a bit longer than Walt Disney World it would make sense that there is a bit more experience in several areas than its East Coast cousin. I am not sure that statement is entirely true for all aspects of resort operations. I’m sure Walt Disney World may have taught Disneyland a lesson or two. One area that I have heard Disneyland is supposedly better than Walt Disney World is the character experience. I have been told that the characters, both fur and face, just “do it better” in California than in Florida. We’ll see.
By nighttime spectaculars I mean shows like fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasmic, and World of Color. I could be wrong but I’m guessing that Fantasmic cancels each other out, although I’m giving a slight edge to WDW’s version before I even get on the plane to California. Why? Because once while watching Orlando’s version I sat next to some Californians who said it was much better just because they were able to sit comfortably and watch, whereas in Disneyland they had to stand.
I will be interested to see how the West Coast version of fireworks high above Sleeping Beauty Castle compares with Wishes above Cinderella Castle. This is another case of two different performances and I’m already ready to say that they both will have their own highs and lows. However, I am most looking forward to seeing the World of Color and how that compares with Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. One wonders if perhaps Epcot’s show may someday be replaced with its own version of World of Color.
I am not sure I will have ample time to give this area an honest look but I can at least tell you what my expectations are. First, I think that Walt Disney World obviously offers more choices for its guests. As far as quality goes, my inclination is to assume that the signature restaurants on each coast strive for the same level of quality. However, as the years have gone by, I have, seen unevenness in the quality of restaurants across the WDW resort. This may be another area in which each resort will have some pros and cons regarding the Disney dining experience.
This could be an entire blog in itself. This will be an ongoing exercise. I don’t know if I will get to explore all the attractions. I do know that there are V1.0 attractions in WDW that became V2.0 attractions in DL and vice versa. I also know how space was a huge factor in how such attractions as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were constructed. I keep telling myself that for these and other reasons, not to be judgmental and to just enjoy the attractions. However, I’m sure I’ll come back with some opinions.
Disney Zone Effect
This is a big one. I will be using my virtual Disney Zone gauge to give me a sense as to how well Disneyland gets me into the Disney Zone as compared to Walt Disney World. What do I mean? Well I will try to measure how efficient Disneyland is in helping me leave my troubles behind as compared to how well WDW accomplishes this objective. I think Disneyland has in its favor the fact that it is the only park in which Walt has actually walked through and I will be very conscious of that fact. Stay tuned for this one.
This is a bit different from the character experience discussed earlier and the entertaining I discuss next. I’ve had almost 40 years of castmember experience from WDW…I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’ve seen how the quality of service has varied over the years so it will be interesting to see how my overall experiences on Disneyland compares with that of WDW. If I were to make a guess my thoughts tell me that I should expect a more consistent and high quality level of experience in Disneyland than in Walt Disney again because they have been at it longer and should know the importance of maintaining it.
By entertainment I mean the shows and how the performers compare from coast to coast. This will range from everything to parades, to stage shows, to even how the skippers handle guests on The Jungle Cruise. I’m not sure exactly how I will objectively compare the two coasts but at least I have a good sense of what WDW has to offer and it gives me a benchmark to compare what I experience in Disneyland. I am looking forward to this exercise.
Shopping is HUGE in Walt Disney World. The size of WDW offers its shopping guests many options regarding specialty shops and the number of places to shop. Perhaps when it comes to shopping and stuff I should be comparing the two Downtown Disney areas. We’ll see.
I really feel I will have a difficult time being objective here. I think this will be no contest because of once again the vastness of Walt Disney World and how the many things you can do in Orlando dwarf the opportunities in Anaheim. However, I plan to be very objective and give my honest opinion as if the two resorts were just a hundred miles apart instead of over 2000 miles apart.
I don’t want to lose sight of why I am making this trip. There is a carrot by the name of the Coast-to-Coast Challenge that is waiting for me.
This Coast-to-Coast Challenge is open to all those who have aspirations of running the Walt Disney World half marathon and the Disneyland half marathon in the same year.
A number of members from Team AllEars, including my fellow co-captain and AllEars writer/blogger Michelle Scribner-MacLean, will be in California for this Coast-to-Coast Challenge.
We all hope to to parlay this medal…
…with this medal…
…and receive this bling…erh… medal…
So this looks to be an interesting trip. There is so much to explore; so much to see; so much to observe; and so many miles to run…that I’m sure my next blog will be filled with many impressions that are right now just expectations.
There is only thing I am sure of and that is the title of my next blog…
…Walt Disney World 373 – Disneyland 1
Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!