Personally, I enjoy spending time at Disneyland Resort in California more than Walt Disney World. I attribute this mostly to my frequency at both resorts; I’ve been to WDW many more times than Disneyland. There is also something extra special about knowing you’re in the same place Walt Disney dreamt of, and walked on.
Disneyland requires much less planning than Walt Disney World, and there are some key differences in both resorts that are important to remember.
- Disneyland does not use Magic Bands.
- Disneyland has two parks, not four; it is significantly smaller than Walt Disney World.
- Disneyland has three hotels on property.
- FastPasses are gotten at distribution points throughout the park, unless you’ve purchased Disney MaxPass.
- Everything is in walking distance within Disneyland, including Downtown Disney.
In Disneyland, I believe it is more of a significant decision whether or not to stay on property. I suggest doing so, because it provides convenience that is impossible to find at any other hotel or resort in the area. There are three options you may select from:
- Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
- For dining, you can find Disney’s PCH Grill, the Sand Bar, and Surfside Lounge. I don’t have much to reference for this hotel, because we didn’t stay here; however, we did take a picture of the outside.
Paradise Pier Hotel
- Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
- For dining, you can find Disney’s PCH Grill, the Sand Bar, and Surfside Lounge. I don’t have much to reference for this hotel, because we didn’t stay here.
- Disneyland Hotel
- Other than the restaurants, I would much rather prefer staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for the extra price. This is mainly because I spend most of my time poolside, and Disneyland Hotel’s pool doesn’t compare to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa’s pool. You aren’t in your room very often, so consider that as well. This is home to Steakhouse 55, Tangaroa Terrace, and Goofy’s Kitchen. Goofy’s kitchen is my favorite character dining experience and all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet between both WDW and Disneyland; the food is inventive and different than any other. I’ve attached pictures from our brunch at Goofy’s Kitchen; warning, they might make you drool :).
- Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
- This is my absolute favorite hotel on any Disney property! I love the convenience of the special entrance to California Adventure, as well as the relaxing atmosphere of the pool. White Water Snacks, the poolside quick service, is also one of my favorite quick service restaurants. If you’re looking for a table service, Napa Rose and Storytellers Cafe are also within Disney’s Grand Californian. Storytellers Cafe offers character breakfast and brunch, which is one of my favorites as well! Basically, if it is at Disney’s Grand California, it is probably on my list of favorites.
This park is very similar to Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It offers many of the same attractions. One of the distinct differences is the addition of Toon Town in Disneyland; you are able to visit many of the houses of your favorite characters (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, etc). This is definitely the park to get tickets to if you want to feel the classic Disney experience; A Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps tour is also available. One of the most difficult restaurants to get reservations for is the Blue Bayou, which is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. It is on the pricier side, but the location and ambiance is unparalleled. My mom’s personal favorite is the Monte Cristo Sandwich. We also dined at Carnation Cafe during Pixar Fest, which was just as tasty and a bit less expensive.
California Adventure Park
My personal favorite Disney park is this one; Cars Land is one of a kind, as well as the newly renovated Pixar Pier. Radiator Springs gives you a reason to purchase the MaxPass in itself; the wait times are astronomical without a FastPass. My family loved Pixar Pier, and thought the theming was brilliant. In Pixar Pier, the main attractions are the Silly Symphony Swings, the Pixar Pal-A-Round, Toy Story Mania, and the Incredicoaster. One of the coolest things about this park is seeing everything at night, especially Cars Land. It feels like you’re in Radiator Springs, and you can even dine in Flo’s V8 Cafe and the Cozy Cone Motel for quick service/snack options. The new Guardians of the Galaxy ride mimics Tower of Terror, but we liked it even more. We aren’t huge Marvel fans, but thought they did a fantastic job and felt the thrill level was equivalent or even a bit more intense. If you’ve already been to Magic Kingdom at WDW, I strongly suggest going to this park over Disneyland because of the theming and uniqueness.
I hope this guide helps you in planning your next vacation to Disneyland Resort in California!