5 Things About Walt Disney World For Disneyland Fans
1. It's easier to spend your entire vacation within the "Disney bubble."
I started with this point, because it’s something that impacts you immediately, as soon as you arrive in Orlando. If you’re traveling to Disneyland – even if you’re driving yourself – you don’t really get the feeling that you’ve “arrived” until you check into your hotel, at the earliest. And if you’re staying at (even a very nice) Good Neighbor Hotel across the street, it might not even hit until you walk through the gates into a theme park. At Walt Disney World, you enter the Disney bubble almost from the minute you step off of the airplane.
No matter what time you arrive, you can step off the plane and head to Disney’s Magical Express for your ride to a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. (More on this later). You ride to your resort in a comfortable motor coach, playing Disney promotional videos and classic Disney cartoons.You’re immediately inside the bubble.
Once you get to your resort hotel, you have a huge array of Disney entertainment options available. Sure, there are four major theme parks. But there are also two water parks, two miniature golf courses, four golf courses, a foot golf course, 100s of restaurants, bars and lounges, stores and shops, multiple live music venues, a bowling alley, a multiplex movie theater, a BoardWalk – even touring the dozens of resort hotels can be an enjoyable diversion. It’s all linked together with a complex network of transportation including buses, a monorail, a few different kinds of boats, a special ride sharing system and (soon) a Skyliner. Sure, you could rent a car or take a cab somewhere else if you wanted to. But there really is no need. You can easily spend more than a week at time at Walt Disney World and never feel the need to set foot off of Disney property.
2. Size matters
The 25,000 acres of Walt Disney World impact every aspect of your Walt Disney World vacation. For some perspective, AFTER Galaxy’s Edge opens next summer, Disneyland Resort will clock in at a bit under 550 acres. Walt Disney World is more than 45 times larger than Disneyland. Sometimes, that can be a positive thing. It allows Walt Disney World to more readily protect the thematic integrity of themed lands, and allowed for the development of all of those amazing entertainment venues.
The extra space has some more subtle impacts as well. Pathways around the theme parks at Walt Disney World are substantially broader than the paths around Disneyland theme parks. Even with more people in the park, it doesn’t feel as crowded. Extra space has allowed Walt Disney World to enclose and/or cover many more queues than Disneyland theme parks, so you spend less time exposed to the sun while waiting in lines. But you’ll also walk farther to traverse the park – there’s even more space between attractions.
Additional space also means that you need to allow for more time to get from place to place around Walt Disney World than at Disneyland. Going from Disneyland Theme Park to Disney California Adventure is about a 10 minute walk – including the time it takes to go through the turnstiles. At Walt Disney World, going from one theme park to another almost always involves at least one form of public transportation and about a half-hour of transit time.
3. More options for everything
Restaurants, resort hotels, theme parks, character meals – whatever the category, Walt Disney World offers more options and more opportunities.
Table Service Restaurants
|Character Dining Meals
Princess Dining Meals
4. Advance planning is more important
Planning for any theme park vacation is important. But planning for Walt Disney World starts becoming important farther in advance. And there are more elements of a Walt Disney World vacation for which advance planning is important. Restaurant reservations are made three times earlier at Walt Disney World (180 days in advance) as compared to Disneyland (60 days in advance). At Disneyland, FastPasses are drawn on the same day they’re to be used. Guests staying in a Walt Disney World resort hotel (as well as select partner hotels) begin making FastPass reservations 60 days before resort check-in. While it’s possible to plan a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World, if you want a vacation with thorough advance planning, the process needs to start much earlier than for a Disneyland vacation.
5. It's not better. It's not worse. It's different.
This is probably the single most important thing for a Disneyland veteran to keep in mind about a Walt Disney World vacation. Because of the similarities between the two resorts, it’s only human nature to think about Walt Disney World in terms of the known experience from Disneyland. But given the big picture differences between the resorts, you’re better off simply letting the experiences at each resort stand on their own. In fact, while there’s a temptation to seek out the attractions that you know well at Disneyland, and experience them at Walt Disney World so that you can see how they’re the same or different, I recommend the opposite approach. Start with the things that Walt Disney World offers that simply don’t exist at Disneyland. Enjoy an entire theme park full of immersive theming at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Experience the unique design and attractions of Epcot. And when you’re at the Magic Kingdom, leave Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain for later. Start with elements unique to Walt Disney World, like Enchanted Tales with Belle, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and character dining inside Cinderella’s Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
If you want to go back and make comparisons later, go ahead. But give Walt Disney World a chance to shine on its own, before you start comparing it to your old favorites at Disneyland.