You may be aware that I made a trip to Disneyland this past Halloween in celebration of my birthday. I’ve been to Disney World a few times but this would be my first time to Disneyland, where it all began. It was kind of exciting.
I had a great time but Disneyland isn’t the same as Disney World and I’m not just talking weather or size. In my opinion, the only connection Disneyland has to Disney is the name. The things I love about Disney World weren’t part of my Disneyland experience or at least they weren’t that obvious:
**** Photo Pass ****
At Disney World there are PhotoPass photographers throughout the park, at all parks. They take pictures of you at key locations and save them on your PhotoPass card which you can order from later. They’re usually super kind enough to take pictures of you with your own camera too. We’ve never really taken advantage of the PhotoPass photographers but on this trip, probably my only trip to Disneyland, I had decided to get photos at every spot I could and order a CD with all the pictures. As the family photographer in our house I’m not in many family vacation shots, so having a collection of pictures of my family AND me would have been great.
Problem of course, the PhotoPass photographers were nowhere to be found (I think we had one picture taken). Even during the special Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Trick or Treat party they weren’t there. So needless to say I have very few family shots from this trip.
**** Pin Trading ****
Our kids were first introduced to pin trading during out last trip to Disney World and they loved it, especially my seven-year old daughter. All three of my kids have pin trading books at home and they plan which sets they want to collect and have an amazing time trading with the staff.
In Disney World you can’t pass a staff person without a sash of pins up for trading; even those cleaning up in the stores have these on. In Disneyland we were hard pressed to find anyone with pins to trade. On our Disney World trip the kids went through almost 100 pins in one week; in Disneyland we were lucky to have traded 10 pins. A bit of a disappointment.
**** Costumed Characters ****
My youngest was so excited about going to Disneyland. On the plane ride there (two planes actually) all she talked about was seeing Mickey and Cinderella and the other characters. In Disney World there are designated areas to see certain characters, but walking around the parks we would see Captain Hook or Buzz Lightyear or Chip and Dale walking around, waiting to greet people. Our whole trip we saw Goofy and Minnie Mouse and that was it (though there were more characters at the Halloween Party).
**** For the little Princesses/Princes ****
My first trip to Disney World, years ago, the first thing that struck me was how much the people in the parks focused on the kids. They talked to them. They called them princess and prince. The kids are the focus and parents second, which is what I want for a trip to Disney. This has stuck with me and is one of my favourite things about Disney World; something that I thought was a Disney trait. But in Disneyland this isn’t the case. Sadly I didn’t feel a lot of Disney magic in the park.
I think my husband said it best: Disney World is a destination. Disneyland is only a theme park.
The big advantage to Disneyland is it’s size; it’s much smaller and easier to get around and to the other parks. Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney all branch off from a central courtyard so it’s easy to hit all three without taking a bus (not true in Disney World). And there are some differences in the rides too. Haunted Mansion has the Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it was amazing. It’s worth the trip to Disneyland just to see that. Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean were different (and I actually preferred the Disneyland versions), plus there are all new rides.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time, but I expected a little more from Disney; Disney World has set the bar high. If given the choice of travelling to Disney World or Disneyland, Disney World would be my choice hands down. And good thing because we’re back there in December for the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I can’t wait!