I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about Disneyland Parks before visiting for the first time last month. I had read the guidebooks, studied the maps, and heard all of the comparisons to my family’s favorite vacation location, Walt Disney World in Florida.
The truth is that Disneyland holds surprises I never imagined, especially for those of us who are much more familiar with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts. Here are the five most surprising thing about Disneyland Parks.
Disneyland for the First Time: 5 Things that Surprised Me 1 of 6
Disney California Adventure Park is amazing. 2 of 6
Everything I read before traveling to Anaheim, California, indicated that the real jewel in the Disneyland crown was Disneyland Park, the first kingdom in the Disney Parks and Resorts empire. California Adventure appeared to be an afterthought. This could not be further from the truth! California Adventure tells its own unique Disney story from the stunning Paradise Pier to the inventive new Cars Land. California Adventure is also home to my new favorite Disney Attraction, the California Screamin' high speed coaster.
Disneyland requires more than one day. 3 of 6
Those of us who frequently visit Walt Disney World like to believe that "our parks" are superior to those other parks on the west coast. Prior to visiting Disneyland Park, I believed that the Anaheim parks only required one day to experience all they have to offer. In fact, the two parks Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park really need at least one day each in order to enjoy the attractions and shows they feature. I'll be planning on a long weekend for my family's next trip to Disneyland.
Disneyland Parks are changing and expanding. 4 of 6
Another myth I believed before visiting Disneyland Park is that the construction of Disney California Adventure Park heralded the end of growth and change at Disneyland. Walt Disney World sits on about 30,000 acres and continues to grow with new Disney Parks and park expansions, such as New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom Park. Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park include fewer than 200 acres. What I learned during my visit, however, is that the Anaheim properties continue to grow and change including the addition of the impressive Cars Land in California Adventure Park and the new Fantasy Faire area of Disneyland Park.
Disneyland is the same as Walt Disney World … but different. 5 of 6
When I walked into Disneyland Park for the first time, I felt an eerie sense that I had been there before. It felt like I had come home from vacation only to find that someone had moved all my furniture. There are many similarities between Disneyland and Walt Disney World including some of the same attractions and the general feel of Main Street, for example but the differences are exciting enough to make traveling to both locations worthwhile. Attractions such as Indiana Jones Adventure, which are completely unique to Disneyland, make the park a must-do for any Disney fan.
Churros! 6 of 6
Every visit to Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts includes a Mickey ice cream bar, that special treat that reminds my family that we've come home to the Happiest Place on Earth. Somehow I didn't get the memo before arriving in California that the Disneyland Park equivalent to my family's ice cream obsession is the churro. Within moments of walking into Disney California Adventure Park, my daughter and I had churros in hand, ready to start our adventure. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how many churros we had consumed before returning to the east coast.