DisneyLand 8-15 June 2019

Jack & Monica

Jul 19, 2002
Who: Me aka DH; DW and DD 14. DW and I had been to DL once before but only for a one day visit. We loved it but felt like we did not get to see everything (this was 10 years ago).
We are also annual WDW vets. I have read all of the back and forth about the parks. I sure hope that I am open minded.

First -- we stayed at the Grand Californian on the concierge level. I booked this a year out in the hopes that Star Wars Land opened later in the summer so that the parks would be fairly under-attended. As it turned out, we got to experience Star Wars Land which was really great. We loved the movies, but we do not live and breathe Star Wars. It was a lot of fun to be in the park with people that do eat and sleep Star Wars 24/7.

First -- the hotel -- Grand Californian is a massive hotel and was very beautiful. We loved all aspects of our stay. It reminded me a lot of our favorite hotel -- Wilderness Lodge.

Second -- the food -- I will be honest -- I was disappointed in the food. This was colored by the fact that my DD has a severe tree-nut allergy. Most of the establishments that we visited were not that accommodating for our daughter's allergy. I was surprised that most did not even have an allergy menu. Many times we just chose poor times to eat at certain restaurants. A buffet is almost always off limits for her.
Having said that -- one of the best restaurant experiences that we have ever had anywhere was in Downtown Disney. Naples Ristorante was out of this world. The service was exquisite. When we put in our name at the entrance, they sat us immediately, and our waiter was there to greet us. When we identified the fact that my daughter had a tree nut allergy, the waiter came back with an allergy menu, and he disappeared. A few minutes went by and the maitre d came to us to explain the menu items. They were very accommodating. My daughter is not a picky eater and loves plain spaghetti with meatballs in marinara sauce which is what she got. DW's and my food was unbelievably awesome.
I think that the limited number of options colored this quite a bit (limited even more by the unusual need for an allergy aware staff).

The parks were awesome! We could not have planned to come at a better time frame. Because Disney was restricting who could get into SWL, the other parks were really empty. We had the fast pass + and we did not wait in line for more than 15-20 minutes on any day. CMs were remarking on how lucky we were. We took full advantage of this. As has been mentioned before, the entrance to the two parks being a short distance away from each other was very convenient.

Rides we really really liked: The incredicoaster, splash mountain, hyper-space mountain, guardians of the galaxy, indiana jones ride, millenium falcon ride, it's a small world (differences), grizzly river run, and my wife and I really liked the story-book land canal boats (a throw-back to the earlier park rides made us wax nostalgic).

I was sad that Resistance and Marvel Land had not opened yet.

The only rides we were disappointed in were the radiator springs ride (a very good ride but I loved this movie and people had really built it up for me); all of the slow dark rides. They were good rides, but there are so many of them. They all seem to blur together and become the same ride. There really are about 8 rides that are basically the same ride just a different story.

All in all though, as I said, the parks were awesome.

Would I go back to DisneyLand Anaheim? Absolutely. I just would not go for more than 3-4 days.

You can compare DL to WDW but they really are quite different experiences. You go to Disneyland for the parks. I see the best way to experience it to get the most bang for your buck is to perhaps to stay just off property. You can really get around using the fast pass plus system without spending the large outlays that Disney World requires.

As I said, we had a blast on our DL vacation.

Would we go to WDW? Absolutely. It is in our DNA. And it is a different animal altogether than DL.

In reading a lot of the DL vets' WDW posts, I hear them approaching WDW the same way that they approach DL. I made the same mistake only in reverse. I planned my DL trip the same way I would for WDW. I planned out every hour's experience. This is not necessary for DL. This is part of what makes DL a wonderful experience. You can actually go and wing it and still have a great time.

Fortunately for me, if you overplan for DL, you still have an awesome time, about a day or two into the trip you realize you can shuck your detailed plans and relax.

This you cannot do at WDW. To maximize the experience, you have to heavily plan. You have to do crazy things to get the experience you want. At the 6 month mark, you have to call for your restaurant reservations. At the 60-day mark, you have to be ready to roll at 7:00 am to put in your fast pass reservations.

It is a lot of work, but it is worth it. There are so many luxuries at WDW, the work and sweat is all worth it. In fact, I have come to enjoy the process almost as much as the experience. If you plan correctly, you can ride every single ride without waiting in line. There are so many things to do on property. We have traditions that we love. We love winter summer mini golf. We love bicycles built for 4 and riding them around the board walk. We love exploring the monorail resorts on our arrival day. We love the camp fire sing alongs. My wife loves the shopping at disney Springs. We love the sorcerers of the magic kingdom and the soon to be opened duck tails scavenger hunt in World Showcase.

We also have become super spoiled by magic bands. The thought of not needing anything but your magic band is unspeakably awesome. Being able to have all of your purchases sent directly to your resort is great.
For me, the second biggest pleasure I get is the magical express. I love not having to worry about getting all of our luggage out of the airport and getting it to our resort. We just walk off of the plane and go to the disney welcome desk -- board the bus and go to our resort.

My biggest pleasure (and also for my family as well) is the hoop de doo revue. It is the corniest musical show, but it never gets old for us. The food is not out of this world, it is just good and all you can eat. There is also all of the beer or wine you care to imbibe without worrying about driving because you know you are taking the boat back to your resort.

There are many many experiences that are available at WDW, we always strive to experience something new.

Planning on how to game the fast pass system takes a lot of work, but it is worth it. There will be a lot of signature rides coming to WDW in the next year.
We are going back for the 50th in 2021.

I can see how a DL vet could approach the parks at WDW and just casually do it like DL. It would be disappointing. There are so many food options at WDW that you also need to be up on the best meals and the best values that you can glean from sites like this and the youtube posters. If you just eat when you feel hungry, you may have to experience the herds of people that will be with you and settle for some Meh fare.
But there are many great food places. We go almost every year, and we have not experienced all of the places that are on our recommended list. This includes counter service meals (my favorite is the chicken parm at Pinocchio's).

LOL I guess the bottom line is that both experiences are truly magical in their own right.


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