UPDATED FOR 2016!
You've got your work cut out for you. Between Disneyland and Walt Disney World, there are over 400 places to eat, over 300 things to do, and scores of accommodations where you can lay your weary head at night. Crunch that data!
Or don't, because Kristi Fredericks has done it for you. In A Tale of Two Resorts, the most comprehensive reference book available for Disney's two biggest U.S. destinations, Fredericks cuts out the fluff and sticks to the facts, and boy, what a lot of facts! Everything imaginable about both resorts is covered, including:
Whether you're going to Disneyland or Disney World - and especially if you're still trying to make up your mind between the two! - A Tale of Two Resorts will give you all the information you need to make the better choice, and plenty of advice for planning the perfect stay.
1Lay of the Land
14Organizing Your Day
A Tale of Two Resorts: it was the best of times, it was the…best of times. That’s right, friends, there is no “worst of times” when you are talking about a Disney vacation. Any Disney trip, whether you choose Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World in Florida, is destined to be an amazing and magical experience.
I have a love and passion for all things Disney. I have visited Disneyland and Disney World countless times throughout my life. I’ve celebrated many special milestones at both resorts, including my senior Spring Break, graduation, honeymoon, and several birthdays. The memories I have from times shared with family and friends at Disneyland and Disney World are cherished ones.
Both of these resorts have unique and wonderful experiences to offer. As far as which is best, well, that’s up to you. I don’t declare a “winner” in this book.
Instead, I provide you with detailed descriptions of both resorts and important things to consider when visiting either—or both. Each chapter is broken down into a side-by-side analysis, valuable information about each resort, and then my own personal thoughts.
I hope this guide will help you to make an informed decision and pick the place that is the best fit for you and your loved ones. And if you can’t decide, we’ll call it a draw; you’ll just have to visit both Disneyland and Disney World, and then get back to me.
Whatever you do, prepare to enjoy the “best of times”.
Kristi Fredericks is a lifelong fan of all things Disney and has been visiting the resorts since she was a baby. She is thrilled to share her passion for the Disney parks and feels that there is nothing better than enjoying a Disney vacation with the ones you love.
Kristi is the founder of the website DisneyWorldEnthusiast.com and a blogger for TouringPlans.com. When she isn’t busy reading about, writing about, or planning for Disney, Kristi enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, watching movies, and playing games.
Kristi lives in Colorado with her Prince Charming husband and two sons who are growing up to be huge Disney fans as well.
In this excerpt, from Chapter 1, "Lay of the Land", Kristi Fredericks takes a quick birds-eye view of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Disneyland is an approximately 500 acre (0.78 square mile) resort located in Anaheim in the heart of southern California. The resort itself is a sanctuary surrounded on all sides by busy streets, hotels, shops, and restaurants. To put that in perspective, imagine the feel of Central Park in New York City and you’ll have a sense of what Disneyland is like. The resort includes two theme parks, three Disney hotels, dozens of restaurants, and a shopping and entertainment district. The two theme parks, Disneyland Park and California Adventure, sit directly across from each other on either side of the esplanade, requiring about a five-minute walk from entrance to entrance.
Walt Disney World is an approximately 25,000 acre (40 square mile) resort located in Lake Buena Vista in steamy central Florida. The resort is expansive, about the same size as San Francisco, with roughly one-third set aside as conservation land. Disney World features four theme parks, two water parks, twenty-six Disney hotels, a campground, four golf courses, hundreds of restaurants, and a shopping and entertainment district. The four theme parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom—are scattered across the property and connected through a transportation system of boats, monorails, and buses. Getting from one park to another usually requires a ride of about 30 minutes of less.
Now that you’ve read the first few pages of this book, you might be thinking…sweet, problem solved, I’m going to Disney World. It has so much more to see and do. More is always better, right?
Well, it’s all relative. As I tell my kids, more is better when you are talking about dessert, but not when you are talking about how much homework the teacher gave you. The same applies for visiting a Disney resort.
With all that it has to offer, Disney World might be perfect for a family taking a weeklong trip or someone visiting from overseas for an extended holiday. However, for some people, a place of that size and magnitude might be overwhelming. Disneyland, though smaller in scale, may be exactly right for someone on a long weekend getaway or who plans to spend time visiting other sites in the area. Having made that comparison, I know people who spend just a weekend in Disney World visiting their favorites spots, and other people who can easily have a week’s worth of fun at Disneyland.
To get beyond the obvious, we’ll have to look quite a bit deeper at each Disney resort.
Don't be fooled by the big picture: A Tale of Two Resorts contains enough at-a-glance, hard data about Disneyland and Disney World to satisfy even the most grizzled trip planner.
In this excerpt, from Chapter 4, "Crowds", Kristi Fredericks explains the differences between Disneyland and Disney World crowds.
Disneyland crowds are greatly affected by how many local tourists visit the parks each day. Disneyland offers a variety of annual pass options that many locals choose to purchase. Weekends and nice weather days always see a jump in attendance as annual pass holders take advantage of their close proximity to the resort. Fridays and Mondays are also more crowded than the rest of the weekdays as locals extend their weekends.
Another factor that impacts the Disneyland crowds is the number of people visiting the area for conventions. The Anaheim Convention Center is the largest facility on the West Coast and hosts thousands of visitors each year. Although the attendees are usually occupied for several hours a day with business, these travelers often bring their families with them to enjoy Disneyland while they work. With the extremely large conventions, you can see a slight bump in the attendance levels at the parks which can make it challenging to find a hotel room. The facility is only a short 15-minute walk to Disneyland, so it always a good idea to check the calendar of events at the Anaheim Convention Center’s website (AnaheimConventionCenter.com) to see whether a large event is scheduled during your vacation.
The crowds are also greater when Disneyland has a special event. During the year, the resort hosts unique celebrations and happenings like Mickey’s Halloween Party (more on Disneyland events in Chapter 5). For the most up-to-date details, visit the calendar of events at Disneyland’s website (Disneyland.com) to see if there is something scheduled during your trip.
Unlike Disneyland, Walt Disney World is visited most frequently by out-of-town tourists. Because of this, Disney World doesn’t normally see the unexpected swings in attendance due to weather or weekends.
Disney World crowds are most affected by the school calendar. Whenever kids are out of school, expect the parks to be more crowded. This includes traditional school breaks during spring (generally March or April), summer (June through August), and winter (the week before Christmas until the Monday after New Year’s Day). However, you will often see larger crowds develop during other holidays as well, such as Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and Columbus Day, as families try to make the most of these long weekends.
Disney World crowds grow during special happenings. The resort is host to several special events throughout the year (more on Disney World events in Chapter 5) such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. For the most up-to-date information, visit the calendar of events at Disney World’s website (DisneyWorld.com) to see what is scheduled during your vacation.
A Tale of Two Resorts includes a detailed month-by-month crowd level calendar to help you pick a travel time when everyone else is staying home.