Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom

I touched on the comparison in a blog post entitled Compare and Contrast a few weeks ago, but thought it might make some sense to elaborate on the differences. Magic Kingdom is much bigger.

Other than that, Disneyland beats Florida's flagship park hands down, I believe. Oh, Florida has things to recommend it. The Carousel of Progress is really fun. I don't know why really, but both of my kids love it. And I appreciate it and what it represents for Disney, and I value the connection to Walt himself. We also really enjoy the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, with its slow paced tour of Tomorrowland.

I have to give the edge to California, however, on Fantasylands. I am amazed that they fit as much as they do into such a small space. Storybookland, Alice in Wonderland, Mr Toad, the Casey train ride, and Pinocchio's Daring Journey are all only found in Disneyland. Florida does have Winnie the Pooh, (which is in the California park but not in Fantasyland, and which I've not ridden there) and Mickey's Philharmagic (a major plus for Florida), but otherwise, there isn't much comparison - Disneyland wins the battle.

I don't much care where things are placed. I have read "complaints" (mild, but still offered as negative criticism) that the placement of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad so close together in Frontierland at the MK is not ideal, but to me, who experienced the Magic Kingdom much more than, and prior to, Disneyland, the separate nature of the rides in California feels odd. I will say, however, that the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor seems really out of place in Tomorrowland, and that I don't like the Stitch attraction at all, but that's got more to do with theming than with location.

Pirates of the Caribbean is, hands down, better in California than in Florida. The Castle is better in Florida, so much more imposing. It's the first one I saw, so it remains the gold standard for me. The train ride around the park is better in California, if only because of those dioramas between Tomorrowland and the Main Street Station. There's no Matterhorn in Florida, so even though I think the rollercoaster itself doesn't hold a candle to something like, oh, say, Expedition Everest, we're not including Animal Kingdom for the sake of this comparison. Advantage California again.

The ride on Space Mountain in California is better, though that may change after this refurbishment that is going on in Florida. Disneyland has Indiana Jones with its theming and exciting ride, Florida has nothing really like it in the Magic Kingdom. Florida has the Country Bear Jamboree, which is fun, but, well, sort of old. California has the Nemo Subs, which might not be as good as the old 20K Leagues, but is still better than the nothing offered in its place in Florida. And the Aladdin Flying Carpets are nothing to get too excited about in Florida. A time filler that loads and unloads quicker than Dumbo (which both parks have).

Florida has Tony's, the Crystal Palace, the Princess thing in the Castle, and a handful of good counter service options for dining. California has the Blue Bayou, which has a very cool atmosphere, and a couple other table service offerings. I like the food choices at Tony's better, but have to admit that there isn't a huge advantage to the Magic Kingdom. In fact, I think Disneyland might have more offerings for table service, but I'm not sure. When in California we've generally eaten outside the parks.

Toontown in California is much, much better than its counterpart in Florida. Enough said.

The smaller size makes Disneyland feel very crowded, whether it is or isn't. (I think that both times I've been there, it actually WAS quite crowded.) This isn't as big of a negative as one might otherwise think.

Advantage overall: Disneyland. In fact, I don't think it's even close.

8 comments:

Mary Beth said...

Oh, I am so glad to find this post! I went to Magic Kingdom for the first time on Mother's Day. I'm a born & raised Californian, woman, 58, married, empty nester. I've gone to D-land at least 35 times beginning with opening year. I was so disappointed with MK. I had to tell myself that it was just because D-land was imprinted on my brain. But MK just lacked something. I missed Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, Monorail & other little things. Loved seeing Carousel of Progress since I loved that at D-land.
We also went to Animal Kingdom and I give it two thumbs up. I could go there every day but this isn't about that park...
Love to see how other people feel about the two parks.

Future Guy said...

Interesting post. I've never been to DL myself, but I've often heard that it's better. It's amazing how much they cram into the Fantasyland there. WDW's Fantasyland seems positively empty by comparison.

I've heard that one big reason for the difference is that, since it's a smaller property than WDW, Disneyland has a smaller management team, and thus there's not as much of the kind of turf wars and other corporate silliness that WDW has.

Scott said...

MaryBeth: I can't say I've been "disappointed" with the Magic Kingdom, and I'd go there again in a heartbeat, but I still think DL is the better of these two parks.

FutureGuy: I wonder if that could be it, re the size of the management team. I suspect there are simply more bean counters now than there were in Walt's days. I would guess that it would affect DL too were it being built at the same time as WDW...

Erica said...

Biggest disappointments about MK (was just there for 3 days) 1. No Matterhorn 2. It's a Small World placement and exterior - totally loses it's magnitude accross from Peter Pan's Flight like just some other ride - train doesn't go thru it, isn't focal point of park at all 3. No Alice in Wonderland 4. No Submarines 5. No Raiders of the Lost Ark 6. Placement of Space Mountain off to the side 7. No interior upstairs ride to Pirates with fireflys and restaurant and no uphil climb at end of ride upstairs return to exit 8. No Storybook land 9. No Casey's circuis train 10. with all the missing rides what do they fill in with at MK? - Aladdin's Magic Carpets and Pooh? Also park hours not clear - every day was diff than posted, almost non-existent vegan or organic food options; should distribute a daily 'happening today' program to call attention to things you don't want to miss & best places to position yourself to catch them

Erica said...

Biggest disappointments about MK (was just there for 3 days) 1. No Matterhorn 2. It's a Small World placement and exterior - totally loses it's magnitude accross from Peter Pan's Flight like just some other ride - train doesn't go thru it, isn't focal point of park at all 3. No Alice in Wonderland 4. No Submarines 5. No Raiders of the Lost Ark 6. Placement of Space Mountain off to the side 7. No interior upstairs ride to Pirates with fireflys and restaurant and no uphil climb at end of ride upstairs return to exit 8. No Storybook land 9. No Casey's circuis train 10. with all the missing rides what do they fill in with at MK? - Aladdin's Magic Carpets and Pooh? Also park hours not clear - every day was diff than posted, almost non-existent vegan or organic food options; should distribute a daily 'happening today' program to call attention to things you don't want to miss & best places to position yourself to catch them

Erica said...

Biggest disappointments about MK (was just there for 3 days) 1. No Matterhorn 2. It's a Small World placement and exterior - totally loses it's magnitude accross from Peter Pan's Flight like just some other ride - train doesn't go thru it, isn't focal point of park at all 3. No Alice in Wonderland 4. No Submarines 5. No Raiders of the Lost Ark 6. Placement of Space Mountain off to the side 7. No interior upstairs ride to Pirates with fireflys and restaurant and no uphil climb at end of ride upstairs return to exit 8. No Storybook land 9. No Casey's circuis train 10. with all the missing rides what do they fill in with at MK? - Aladdin's Magic Carpets and Pooh? Also park hours not clear - every day was diff than posted, almost non-existent vegan or organic food options; should distribute a daily 'happening today' program to call attention to things you don't want to miss & best places to position yourself to catch them

Erica said...

Biggest disappointments about MK (was just there for 3 days) 1. No Matterhorn 2. It's a Small World placement and exterior - totally loses it's magnitude accross from Peter Pan's Flight like just some other ride - train doesn't go thru it, isn't focal point of park at all 3. No Alice in Wonderland 4. No Submarines 5. No Raiders of the Lost Ark 6. Placement of Space Mountain off to the side 7. No interior upstairs ride to Pirates with fireflys and restaurant and no uphil climb at end of ride upstairs return to exit 8. No Storybook land 9. No Casey's circuis train 10. with all the missing rides what do they fill in with at MK? - Aladdin's Magic Carpets and Pooh? Also park hours not clear - every day was diff than posted, almost non-existent vegan or organic food options; should distribute a daily 'happening today' program to call attention to things you don't want to miss & best places to position yourself to catch them

Erica said...

Biggest disappointments about MK (was just there for 3 days) 1. No Matterhorn 2. It's a Small World placement and exterior - totally loses it's magnitude accross from Peter Pan's Flight like just some other ride - train doesn't go thru it, isn't focal point of park at all 3. No Alice in Wonderland 4. No Submarines 5. No Raiders of the Lost Ark 6. Placement of Space Mountain off to the side 7. No interior upstairs ride to Pirates with fireflys and restaurant and no uphil climb at end of ride upstairs return to exit 8. No Storybook land 9. No Casey's circuis train 10. with all the missing rides what do they fill in with at MK? - Aladdin's Magic Carpets and Pooh? Also park hours not clear - every day was diff than posted, almost non-existent vegan or organic food options; should distribute a daily 'happening today' program to call attention to things you don't want to miss & best places to position yourself to catch them