I’ve visited and written about Walt Disney World® Resort countless times, but Disneyland® Resort has really become a favorite Disney Destination. In fact, I’ve come to love it for many reasons. Let me count the ways:
Disneyland® Park was built by Walt himself, and while quite a few changes has been made over the last 60 years the magic lives on. “The Happiest Place on Earth” remains in many ways as it was in the ’50s—nostalgic, enchanting, and enduring. Who can resist zipping down Splash Mountain, that charming pink Sleeping Beauty Castle, or the sentimental Fantasyland attractions? I love nothing better than to see Mickey Mouse leading a brass band marching their way down Main Street!
You’ll be shocked to realize that at this walker-friendly destination neither bus nor even monorail are required to reach the parks (although a monorail is conveniently located in Downtown Disney® District just outside the Disneyland® Hotel. At most it’s an easy 10-minute stroll to either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure® Park from any Disney resort. The ease of transportation (or lack of the need for it) is incredible! So different from Walt Disney World Resort where traveling via bus, monorail, or boat from most resorts to a park is almost a requirement. And even better, if you want to switch between the parks it’s just a matter of strolling across a broad plaza. How refreshing!
Southern California weather . . . need I say more?
Talk about nostalgia! Disneyland Hotel originally opened in 1955 with only 104 rooms. In its new incarnation there are 975 rooms in three renamed themed towers—Adventure Tower, Frontier Tower, and Fantasy Tower—spread out over this fun, fun resort. Each tower embraces a theme from the original “lands” of Disneyland Park, each a time capsule of sorts filled with memorabilia and classic Disney artwork. Guest rooms that offer touches of magic, an expanded pool area, and new dining and entertainment options makes this remarkable hotel better than ever. And most exciting are the fantastically themed Signature Suites on the Adventure Tower’s 11th floor!
The remarkably transformed Disney California Adventure Park has created more excitement than ever with the atmospheric Buena Vista Street and sensational Cars Land, real bonuses to your experience. The imposing Cadillac Range serve as the backdrop for the neon light-filled town of Radiator Springs where you’ll find Disney California Adventure Park’s most popular attraction, Radiator Springs Racers, along with Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Flying Tires. It’s worth the trip here just to see this amazing place!
Incredible Shows and Fireworks
Disneyland Resort’s nighttime shows and attractions are remarkable with World of Color perhaps the most spectacular of all. The Magical fireworks show at Disneyland Park is oh-so-nostalgic with the addition of Tinker Bell and Dumbo literally flying around Sleeping Beauty Castle. And the shock of seeing a full-size pirate ship and the Mark Twain riverboat as part of the Fantasmic! show is a real kick.
Although Walt Disney World Resort has many more dining options, Disneyland Resort has great choices including the infamous Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa, Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel, and Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure Park. And even though they come from a cart, no one can forget the corn dogs at Disneyland Park!
Dining on a Whim
You know the routine at Walt Disney World Resort . . . up at 7 a.m. Eastern Time exactly 180 days prior to arrival if you want to nab some of the top dining spots or a character meal such as Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, California Grill, etc. Not the case at Disneyland Resort where even the best restaurants can be had at the last minute with maybe the exception being Plaza Inn character breakfast at Disneyland Park.
In fact, dining can’t even be reserved until 60 days prior. It’s a much, much less stressful system.
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Cara Goldsbury is the author of The Luxury Guide to Disney Vacations and The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World Resort. She is Chief Executive Concierge at Glass Slipper Concierge®, a travel agency specializing in Disney vacations, and has appeared as a leading Disney expert on two Travel Channel specials, Disney Splurge! and Disney Royalty. She has also been cited numerous times in national news articles, in such notable publications as Forbes Traveler, as an expert on the Walt Disney World® Resort.