Disneyland versus Disney World. The struggle is real for those of us who are fans of either park. But what happens when a Disneyland fan(atic) decides to plan a trip to Disney World? This Traveling Mom recently visited Disney World with her family and the result? A Disneyland Fan’s Guide to Disney World is born!
Planning a trip to Disney World can be overwhelming when Disneyland is your Happiest Place on Earth. After all, it’s caused a debate in the past between our very own Traveling Moms. But I did it, and you should too. Why? Here is a Disneyland Fan’s Guide to Disney World, which will help in planning a vacation to Disney World!
Guide to Disney World #1: Fast Passes
I’m old school and Disney World’s method to reserve fast passes threw me off my game. Disneyland still has paper fast passes, and you can’t reserve them prior to your visit. Basically, everyone is on the same playing level when the rope drops as soon as the park opens.
Disney World, however, allows you to reserve fast passes 30 days before your scheduled visit, and 60 days before your scheduled visit if you are staying at a Disney hotel. My family and I did not stay at a Disney hotel, so we could only reserve our fast passes 30 days in advance.
The planner in me, though, quickly warmed up to Disney World’s system. I appreciated that I was able to link my family’s fast passes to one account and my husband didn’t have to run from one kiosk to another in order to get a fast past. I also reserved fast passes for Test Track, and the day we were at the park, I immediately received an email from Disney, saying that Test Track was currently not working and that we’d be able to use the fast pass for another approved ride at any time that day, or Test Track if it was operable.
Traveling Mom Tip: One of the main benefits of staying at a Disney hotel is the ability to reserve fast passes 60 days in advance as opposed to 30 days in advance.
Guide to Disney World #2: Tier System
Some of the parks in Disney World, like Epcot and Hollywood Studios, have tiered systems. This means that if you reserve a fast past for a particular ride, you can’t reserve a fast pass for another particular ride. For example, I reserved a fast pass for a ride called Test Track, but that meant I could not reserve a fast pass for Soarin’ Over the World. Disneyland, on the other hand, doesn’t have a tiered system.
Guide to Disney World #3: Extra Magic Hours
Guests of Disney hotels can get extra magic hours at both Disney World and Disneyland. However, the extra magic hours at Disneyland are in the morning, before the park opens for the day for the general public. On the other hand, the extra magic hours at Disney World are in both the morning and the evening (though never both in the same park on the same day). While this didn’t affect us during this last visit since we didn’t stay on property, this is something to keep in mind for those that are used to Disneyland’s system.
Guide to Disney World #4: Time Change
This usually doesn’t present a problem for us at Disneyland since we live on the West Coast, but we had a rough time with adjusting to the time change in Florida. We are used to gaining hours, not losing them. This is definitely something to keep in mind when traveling with children. We usually don’t have a problem arriving at the park early in the morning, but we definitely struggled with this at Disney World. This is when the extra magic hours in the evening at Disney World would become beneficial.
Guide to Disney World #5: Interactive Stations
Disney World has several interactive stations for children (and adults) while waiting in line, whereas Disneyland does not. Stuck waiting in line at the Magic Kingdom for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Winnie the Pooh? No problem! My son ended up glued to an interactive game that even younger children could play while waiting for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The Winnie the Pooh area also had several stations where children could play while waiting in line.
Guide to Disney World #6: Transportation
This is probably the main difference between Disneyland and Disney World. It’s called Disney World for a reason. We managed to visit three of the parks in one day, but it was not an easy feat. A large portion of that time was spent waiting for transportation. At Disneyland, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are in the same vicinity, which makes it easy to hop from one park to the other. The four parks at Disney World, though, are in different locations, which makes it more difficult to park hop. Modes of transportation at Disney World include the monorail, buses, water taxis, and ferry boats. At Disneyland, you can easily navigate from one park to the other by simply walking. That alone shouldn’t discourage a Disneyland fan from visiting Disney World – it just means more days to spend at the Happiest Place on Earth!
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