As a big Disney World fan, I was eager to see how Disneyland and California Adventure stacked up to what I consider the “Gold Standard” of Disney World. What I like best about Disney World is the immersive experience. When you stay on property and a Disney resort you can go all week without being exposed to the outside world. A lot of people call that the Disney Bubble. I have probably been to Disney in Orlando about 15 times with most of the stays being for 7-8 days. I was only able to give Disney in Anaheim two days so probably not a completely fair comparison. Obviously I didn’t get the Disney Bubble experience, but I stayed using hotel points at the Marriott right by the front gate and it was still a good experience. I did like walking to the parks and Downtown Disney rather than riding a bus.
The first day I went to California Adventure. California Adventure has been much maligned over the years but it has settled into a pretty cool experience. I was mostly excited to ride the Mickey’s Fun Wheel as to me that seemed to be the iconic experience here. Despite my fear of heights, it was very enjoyable. I was determined to ride everything unique to this park so I bravely jumped into the single rider line for California Screamer. Somehow I didn’t notice this had an upside down loop. Single rider lines are something that Disney World needs to copy from Disneyland. I can only think of the Expedition Everest ride at Disney World that is single rider, whereas Disneyland has a bunch of single rider attractions. Anyway, I managed to survive California Screamer and yes I did scream when I realized in mid loop that I was going upside down.
I wasn’t too impressed with “Bug’s Land”. It was all small fair type attractions for kids. However, Cars Land blew me away. The Radiator Springs Racers quickly jumped to the top of my favorite Disney attraction list. I felt like I was really in the movie. That one ride was worth the trip across the country. I would love for something similar to come in the rumored Pixar land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Other attractions here that I enjoyed included the Monsters Inc ride (which is way better than the Laugh In we have in Orlando) and surprisingly the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
Food wise, the choices were not as varied as in Orlando but some favorites were the drinks at the bar at Carthay Circle, the bread bowls at Boudin Bakery, and the corn dogs. I don’t think I’ve ever had a corn dog in Orlando, but I ate several during my stay in California. They are hand dipped and delicious. I’ll have to see if Disney World makes them the same way during my next trip there.
After a nice dinner at Wine Country Trattoria, I was excited to see the World of Color show. It didn’t disappoint. I compare it quality wise to Fantasmic at Disney World. It was great first day.
I made sure I was thru the gate at Disneyland as soon as it opened the second day. I raced over to the Indiana Jones Adventure and rode it a few times. Even though I knew it had the same track as Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, it felt like a unique ride experience. Very fun! Space Mountain was a much bigger ride vehicle which I liked and the Matterhorn was a quick fun ride. I got a bunch of turns on these rides by taking advantage of the single rider line and FastPasses. Having to get a FastPass at a kiosk instead of booking on my phone and using with a Magic Band seemed quaint and reminded me of how it used to be in Disney World. The biggest surprise of the day was New Orleans Square. New Orleans Square is really cool and unique experience that Disneyland has. It was also amazing how they packed so many attractions into such a tight area in Fantasyland. It isn’t nearly as spread out as it is in Orlando.
Now I knew that the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland was going to be smaller than Cinderella’s in the Magic Kingdom, but wow! Sleeping Beauty is getting gypped.
I was disappointed in food choices at Disneyland though. I couldn’t get in to try the iconic Monte Cristo at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. I ended up eating way too many of the corn dogs. I’ll need to plan better on a return trip so I can get into the restaurants that I want.
The Paint the Night parade really connected with the locals, but I found myself missing Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade. It seemed strangely wrong to me watching Paint the Night. The Electrical Parade is coming back to Disneyland soon before it is permanently retired. I’m sad I won’t get to see it again.
All in all, Disneyland and California Adventure is wonderful and I had a great time. I’m not so sure I could stay 7-8 days like I do in Orlando just because there isn’t as much stuff to do, see, and consume. I do highly recommend visiting though if you are a Disney World nut like me. You’ll gain some new appreciation for Disney and have a great time.