Disneyland Resort has been an integral part of my adult life. I've invested more than 20 years as a cast member, annual passport holder, and writer living the Disneyland Resort life. There are some great reasons Disneyland fans should take the trip across country to see Walt Disney World. Here are our top ten reasons for a Disneyland Resort fan to visit Walt Disney World Resort.
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1. Size of Disney World
Starting with the obvious, Walt Disney World Resort is roughly 50 (!) times larger than Anaheim's resort. Disneyland Resort has two theme parks–Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park–and a shopping district–Downtown Disney District. The Resort also houses three hotels onsite including Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel. There is not a lot of room left to expand. As many of Disneyland Resort's loyal guests know, it can get crowded at the Resort. Plus waiting to enter any of the adjacent parking lots can eat up some of that precious theme park time.
Walt Disney World Resort has room to stretch and flex. Developed on almost 25-thousand square feet of property, the Resort encompasses four theme parks—Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, and Disney's Hollywood Studios. In addition, Walt Disney World Resort boasts two water parks as well as a full-fledge sports complex. Disney Springs is the Resort's shopping district. Add in the more than 30 on property hotels, several golf courses, and a major transportation system and Walt Disney World Resort definitely beats Disneyland Resort in the size category.
2. Disney World Water Parks
The second reason a Disneyland Resort fan should visit Walt Disney World Resort is those water parks. These locations are open year-round with the exception of a few months at a time for refurbishment.
Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
Disney's Blizzard Beach offers everything from floating on inner tubes, racing on a high-speed slide, to plummeting down a near vertical drop on a freefall body slide. Younger guests can enjoy the smaller pools. Guests wanting to hang ten can also sign up for surfing lessons.
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
More thrill slides and plunging head first into the clear pools await you at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. Guests of all ages will immerse themselves in a water wonderland filled with magical memories.
Disneyland Resort guests know that the three lodging facilities fill up fast and they are extremely expensive compared to the many non-Disney owned hotels near by. If visiting Walt Disney World Resort, guests have dozens of lodging choices, each with a specific theme and within various price ranges that make staying on-site much more affordable.
Wistfully dreaming of the great outdoors? Hop on a water taxi to visit Disney's Wilderness Lodge. Inside you'll find an almost replica of a National Parks Lodge. Or discover the charm of a bygone Atlantic City at Disney's Boardwalk Inn. Here you'll find carnival games and an entertaining nightlife along the waterfront hotel. South-Pacific themed? Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Love movies and music? All-Star Resorts. You get the idea.
Walt Disney World Resort's hotel pricing has a variety of categories for budget-friendly itineraries to splurging on the exotic.
Don't limit yourself to just going to the theme parks either. Take an afternoon off to explore some of the hotels. Hop on the monorail that loops around Seven Seas Lagoon and stops at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, and the Resort's crown jewel hotel—Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Visit the shops, savor the cuisine, and take in the different experiences each hotel offers. I highly recommend just going to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort if you're short on time. This majestic Victorian-themed hotel drips with elegance. You'll find a live ensemble in the lobby playing none other than Disney show tunes. During the holidays Disney bakers showcase works of gingerbread art and chocolate Easter eggs.
I specifically didn't mention Walt Disney World Resort's most popular hotel for a reason–animals–and not the animatronic kind. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (and Villas) fill up quickly due to the fact they are surrounded by live animals. Sure, Disneyland Resort has the draft horses on Main Street U.S.A., but since the closure of Big Thunder Ranch to make way for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the live critters in Anaheim are mostly absent. The giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and other safari animals that are housed in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park are a definite reason any Disneyland Resort fan should visit Walt Disney World Resort.
5. Unique Lands at Disney World
Disneyland Resort hosts two theme parks; the Walt Disney World Resort has twice the amount which means more “lands”. Nothing in the west coast Disney Parks can come close to the experiences a few of these “lands” offer guests.
Based on James Cameron's movie Avatar, Pandora- The World of Avatar, is a subdivision of Disney's Animal Kingdom. The area features fictional characters and wildlife from the blockbuster film. Exotic foods and specialty shops add an immersion element to this fantasy location. The 3-D Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the parks' E-ticket attractions often labeled one of the best in any Disney theme park. That alone is a viable reason for any Disneyland fan to visit Walt Disney World Resort.
Located in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the newly opened Toy Story Land showcases everyone's favorite Pixar toys—Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie the Cowgirl, and the rest of the Toy Story gang. Guests visiting Disney Resorts on either coast can find Toy Story Mania! (Toy Story Midway Mania! in Anaheim) but only in Florida will you find Slinky Dog Dash Coaster, Alien Swirling Saucers, and an entire area dedicated to Andy's best friends.
One of the big draws for me to return to Walt Disney World Resort is World Showcase in Epcot. Featuring 11 different countries of the world–including Canada, Italy, and Mexico–guests can immerse themselves in the culture and cuisine of each location. I'm a huge Disney Parks foodie so the idea of savoring a lemon chicken tagine from the Moroccan Pavilion, crunching authentic fish and chips from England, or tasting the delicate pastries from France is a huge pull for me. In addition to the foods, each pavilion showcases music, costumes, and rotating exhibits honoring its nationality.
6. Unique Disney World Attractions
With more theme parks come more attractions. There are several iconic attractions at Walt Disney World Resort including a handful of past Disneyland Resort attractions which will tug on the nostalgic strings of Disneyland Resort fans.
For guests wishing for the yesteryear, Walt Disney World has your favorites. Visit Magic Kingdom Park for a trip back to past decades with Tom Sawyer's Island (Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island is Disneyland Park's version), Carousel of Progress, Swiss Family Treehouse (Disneyland Park has Tarzan's Treehouse), and the zany antics of Country Bear Jamboree. In Disney's Hollywood Studios Park, the original Twilight Zone Tower of Terror looms over the area. Disney California Adventure Park's Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Brekaout! is popular but many fans miss the original.
As mentioned earlier, Avatar Flight of Passage is one of a handful of E-ticket attractions. (E-ticket refers to the past Disney theme park's system where individual tickets were exchanged in order to go on a specific attraction. E-tickets were deemed the most popular and best attractions.) Also in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, guests can board Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain- a thrilling coaster ride to the top of the “mountain” (or Disney's version of Mt. Everest). In Epcot, take your created “sim” car for a test drive on Test Track. Here, cars can reach up to 65 miles per hour. Rock legends Aerosmith star in Disney's Hollywood Studios' Rock ‘N Roller Coaster- a high-seed coaster set to the sound of original music from Aerosmith.
Attractions Better than Disneyland's Counterparts
The west coast versus east coast debate continues. Which resort has the better attractions? After some careful research and polling fans who've visited both locations, there are a handful of attractions which might be a tad superior at Walt Disney World Resort.
Florida's version is a goth-style home which fits in with the Liberty Square-themed land. Guests can hop aboard their doom buggies right from the start. And this mansion has more rooms which means a few more storylines than Anaheim's version.
Bigger is better. The Magic Kingdom Park's Splash Mountain is located in Frontierland as there is no Critter Country. In addition to being larger than Anaheim's version (five drops as opposed to three), the storyline flows better and the animatronics are newer. Disneyland Park's version uses the recycled characters from America Sings!, a past attraction from Tomorrowland. The log flume seats are side-by-side instead of front-to-back, allowing a more comfortable ride through the mountain.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Right off, this attraction in Walt Disney World Resort holds more guests. Why? Because there are two Dumbos spinning around. Located in a section of Fantasyland called The Storybook Circus, a big-top tent separates the two circling Dumbo rides. Inside the air conditioned tent is a playground for younger guests.
7. An Abundance of Food Options
There are more than 440 restaurants listed on the Walt Disney World Resort official website. In addition to the typical Disney Parks food such as churros, turkey legs, and Dole Whip, Walt Disney World Resort offers a bountiful of gastronomical delights from fast food to exquisite sit-down experiences. Here area few of options from Walt Disney World Resort kitchens.
- Fast food- Bacon macaroni hot dog from Casey's Corner (Magic Kingdom Park)
- Fine dining- Victoria's and Albert's (Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel and Spa)
- Character dining- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot)
- Family show- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wildnerness Resort)/Ohana at Polynesian Resort
- Asian- Morimoto Asian (Disney Springs)
You can read our full dining guide to Walt Disney World to get an idea of where to start when it comes to the best foodie options.
8. Disney World Festivals
Another valid reason for a Disneyland Resort fan to visit Walt Disney World Resort is because of the year-long events that take place in the Florida Disney Resort. With so much land space, the Resort is the perfect location to host some of the biggest festivals in the country. Two of the more popular celebrations are both hosted in Epcot.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
Every fall, wine and food lovers father at Epcot to savor the almost-three month long festival. Guests can enjoy beverages from around the world, attend culinary workshops with celebrity chefs and even master cake decorating! And music lovers will enjoy the “Eat to the Beat” concert series which occurs every night during most of the festival.
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Returning every spring, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival features exhibits, tours, displays, and even outdoor kitchen presentations. Guests can learn horticulture, topiary, and even take behind-the-scene tours including Gardens of the World and Behind the Seeds.
With so much land space, Walt Disney World Resort has transportation options for easy travel. As soon as you step off the airplane, Disney's Magical Express whisks you away to your onsite hotel. (Call 407-939-1936 to make reservations.) Once on property, board the buses which will transport you to the theme park or water park of your choice. Or hop aboard a water craft to zoom you to your destination. And don't forget Walt Disney World Resort's monorail system. Three separate tracks can accommodate traveling guests. The new Skyliner is also open connecting Disney World hotels to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
10. Disney Springs
The Downtown Disney version in Disney World is called Disney Springs and it is massive compared to our small little counterpart. There is such a huge abundance of food options, entertainment, shopping, and more. Check out the Edison for unique jazz music or spend an afternoon cruising the water with the boat rentals!
Plan Your Disney World Vacation
I've already started my to-do list for my next trip to Walt Disney World Resort. I can't wait to visit Pandora- The World of Avatar, and to hop on Rock ‘N Roller Coaster. For some terrific tips for your next Walt Disney World vacation, sign up for our free Mickey Visit newsletter. Our travel partner Get Away Today always has discounted prices for tickets.
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