I could call this continuation of my Disney 2K17 Vacay series ‘California versus Florida.’ After considering how I would write this article, I decided to share how our family thought about our experience over our two days at Magic Kingdom: a comparison of “our” Anaheim, California park to Orlando, Florida’s.
Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort is the park that most resembles Disneyland here in California. It has many of what we think of as being classic Disney attractions: the Disney Railroad, It’s a Small World, the castle, and so on. While there were many similarities, there are some notable differences:
How to get to the park:
At Disneyland, you may take either the Disney shuttle or the parking lot tram. Or you may walk from Downtown Disney. It is very accessible, and as California Adventure is just across the way, it’s easy to park hop.
Magic Kingdom was the farthest park from where we were staying within the Disney complex. We drove almost six miles to get to the parking area, from which we took a tram to the ticketing area. After going through security, we had the option of taking either the Monorail or the ferry to the actual park. As we’ve taken the Monorail at the California park, we opted for the ferry both days. This added novelty to the experience, and added to the excitement, as you could watch your approach to the Magic Kingdom from the water.
Disneyland has the Sleeping Beauty Castle. It is a lovely backdrop for all one’s Facebook and Instagram photos, especially when decked out for the holidays.
Magic Kingdom has the iconic Cinderella Castle. This castle is larger in comparison and has Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant inside it. This castle is better utilized for the mini princess shows that happen throughout the day. We especially loved the welcome ceremony at the 9 a.m. park opening, complete with some fireworks. It was the perfect way to get super-jazzed up about the day before dashing off to Tomorrowland.
Many of the rides were about the same, with minor differences. This is where we spoiled So Cal tourists kept comparing each experience. What was consistently nice about the Florida setup was that the lines for a majority of the attractions had either fans or air conditioning. An absolute must in Florida heat and humidity, this would also be nice in California, which is known to have a few sweltering heat waves several times a year. The park itself was also rather more spread out, which lent to the feel of it being less crowded. There were also some fantastic experiences that we don’t have at our Disney California park. We had fun with some of the interactive, treasure-hunt type activities, such as the Pirate’s Adventure and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. The Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train ride was great fun, and Stitch’s Great Escape, a rather odd, poorly executed ‘ride,’ was for some strange reason a hit with my boys.
But I wasn’t entirely won over. It’s a Small World is way better at Disneyland. Its iconic structure can be seen from the outside, and is just beautiful any time of year, but especially at Christmas. The ride itself is the expected slow-moving boat ride, but the Disneyland version incorporates the Disney characters into their respective countries. And in my opinion, it’s just prettier. I also liked Disneyland’s Autopia with its park-like theme over the more industrial Tomorrowland Speedway, and much to the disappointment of the husband and older kids, there was no “Indiana Jones and the temple of the two-hour wait” ride or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World.
Main Street and Disney shopping:
Main Street and it’s shopping areas were very similar between both parks. There are a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants to drop more than a few dollars. My favorite stores at either park are always the jewelers where I can pick up a Disney Pandora charm and the Disney Starbucks. Both parks have both, and as a birthday gift, I was allowed to pick out two Disney World- themed charms to add to my Disney bracelet. The Starbucks carried Disney parks coffee mugs, so I added a Magic Kingdom ‘You Are Here’ mug to my growing Starbucks place mug collection back home.
All that said, I didn’t feel the sentiment I have heard expressed by many a travel writer or Disney enthusiast that Disney World- or Magic Kingdom in particular- was better. I almost feel that this opinion is formed in part because it’s bigger, but to me, bigger isn’t always better. Our Disneyland was what I fell in love with on our first visit to California when I was three years old and was what I since grew up on. There’s also just something special about the park that Walt Disney himself had a hand in building. That said, I did enjoy Magic Kingdom and was glad to spend two days at the park. Especially when we “owned” Adventureland after everyone else cleared out for the fireworks. Then it really did feel like a Magic Kingdom.
How have your experiences at Disneyland and Disney World match up? Feel free to share your thoughts below.