This is Part 2 of my Disneyland Resort vs Walt Disney World Resort post. If you missed Part 1: Top 8 Disneyland Resort Wins, you can read it here. The same disclaimer applies. In this post, I will discuss my Top 8 Walt Disney World Resort Wins.
Part 2: Top 8 Walt Disney World Resort Wins
As soon as you set foot on WDW property, you’re “there”. The road signs, fire department, restaurants, gas stations, etc. all look like they belong to WDW. The term “cast member” really does hold true in WDW in that you don’t have many chances to see backstage. The way each park was constructed ensures that guests see attractions only from the angle they were intended to be seen.
Since most of backstage is hidden at WDW, cast members are rarely seen out of their element. Conversely, on our most recent trip to DLR, when we were crossing Harbor Boulevard heading toward the esplanade, we saw several cast members in full costume walking to the parks to start their shift. Seeing someone walking near McDonald’s on Harbor in a Soarin’ Over California flight attendant costume can sort of suspend the magic.
As Walt Disney said, they have “the blessing of size” in Florida that they never had in California. WDW is about twice the size of Manhattan. I’m calling this a win for a few reasons. First, it affords guests more opportunities for experiences outside of the four major theme parks. With the resorts, golf courses, shopping, restaurants, water parks, stage shows, and outdoor activities, WDW has a lot of options for entertainment.
Along with the extra land, WDW has a lot more Disney-owned resort options at varying price points. You can stay at a value resort for a respectable rate without ever having to leave the magic.
Also, the large resort gives guests more places to escape the crowds without leaving the property. And finally, the Walt Disney Company has plenty of land for expansion, should they choose to do so. Although the size of the resort can be daunting when it comes to park-hopping, for the reasons above, I still consider it a win.
I know I already discussed that I prefer the FP system at DLR, but there is one aspect of the FP system at WDW that I like: offering FP’s for attractions with consistently long wait times. If Disney is set on continuing the use of FP’s in all their domestic parks, there are a few rules of thumb I wish they would use when deciding where to offer them. I would like to see a breaking point where Disney would offer FP’s for attractions that consistently exceed around a 50-minute wait. I chose 50 minutes because I personally feel that it’s not unreasonable to ask guests to spend a total of one hour to both wait and ride a headline attraction; anything longer than that is too long for me. When the standby queue exceeds 50 minutes, and I don’t have the option of getting a FP, I will choose to skip that attraction.
This happened a few times with both Toy Story Midway Mania and Haunted Mansion Holiday in DLR when the queue hovered around 65 minutes during most of the day. I wish they had offered FP’s for those attractions during that time of year. I like that I have the option of obtaining a FP at most WDW attractions with consistently long wait times. All of that being said, when WDW removes their standard Fastpass system in favor of Fastpass+, I’m sure I will have plenty of new recommendations for improvement.
This really isn’t a fair comparison because DLR does not have an Epcot equivalent. But nonetheless, Epcot is a win for WDW. It’s essentially two-parks-in-one with a year round world’s fair on one side of the park and a progress-themed area on the other side. It’s the most mature of all US Disney Parks, and no other park challenges its uniqueness. Epcot alone is reason enough to visit WDW if you’re a DLR veteran who is hesitant to make the trek to Florida.
5. Table Service Restaurants
WDW wins this category for me. I’ve had a lot of great table service meals at DLR, but WDW has more to offer in my opinion. WDW has at least four times as many table service restaurants to choose from, and fortunately, they have yet to homogenize the menus too terribly much (notice I said “yet”). And not only do you have a wider variety of table service menus to choose from at WDW, you also have some really exceptional theming at many of the table service restaurants.
6. Unique Attractions
WDW has several attractions that are unique to the east coast (Note: I apologize if I have missed any. Some attractions have a west coast relative that provides a similar experience):
Magic Kingdom – The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Swiss Family Treehouse, Country Bear Jamboree, The Hall of Presidents, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (opening in 2014), Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, Stitch’s Great Escape, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, Main Street Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Magic, Wishes, Electrical Water Pageant (on the Seven Seas Lagoon), and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Epcot – Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission: SPACE, Test Track, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, World Showcase (all pavilions) including Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, Norway’s Maelstrom, China’s Reflections of China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France’s Impressions de France, United Kingdom, Canada’s O Canada.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Great Movie Ride, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, The American Idol Experience, Streets of America, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure, Studio Backlot Tour, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Festival of the Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Wild Africa Trek, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Flights of Wonder, DINOSAUR, Finding Nemo-The Musical, Primeval Whirl, The Boneyard, TriceraTop Spin, and Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade.
7. Attraction Comparisons
Besides the attractions that are unique to the east coast, WDW has several attractions that I believe are the better version of its sister attraction at DLR.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – The exterior and queue of this attraction is much grander than The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at DCA. I still don’t understand why Disney chose to alter the attraction name slightly when it was installed at WDW. No wonder guests just call it “the mermaid ride”.
Splash Mountain – The attraction is slightly longer at WDW and I like the two-by-two seating configuration.
Tower of Terror – I don’t enjoy either version for motion-sickness reasons, but the exterior theming and Fifth Dimension scene in the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version give it an edge over the DCA version.
Monorail – This is not just a ride at WDW; it’s a mode of transportation. For guests staying at the monorail resorts, it’s usually the most efficient way to travel to Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
Cinderella Castle – While I do love Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park (especially the walk-through with dioramas), Cinderella castle is much more spectacular in person. It’s more than twice as tall as Sleeping Beauty Castle and is the focal point of Magic Kingdom Park.
Jungle Cruise – I thought the piranhas were a nice addition to the Disneyland version, but I think the temple portion of the Magic Kingdom version gives it a leg up.
Haunted Mansion – The recent updates to this attraction with the interactive queue, the never ending staircase room, and techy hitchhiking ghosts are what make this version better than Disneyland Park’s version, in my opinion.
It’s Tough to Be a Bug – The exterior queue and location of this attraction (it’s housed inside the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom) are more visually interesting than DCA’s version.
8. Conditioned Spaces
Because of the thunderstorms and humidity during Florida’s spring and summer months, WDW has a lot more indoor seating options and air conditioned queues. And while the outdoor seating and open queues at DLR are comfortable most of the year, it can still get very hot in Southern California. When it does, it’s not as easy to find conditioned spaces in DLR. There are ample conditioned spaces to retreat to in WDW.
What have I missed? Does Walt Disney World Resort win in other areas? Do you agree with the Top 8 Walt Disney World Wins? Please share in the comments section!
I am not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.