View Full Version : WDW/MK vs. DL/DCA (Toontown! World of Color! More!)

03-31-2014, 02:32 PM
Not exactly a trip report, but this seemed like a reasonable enough place to post, as I thought it would inspire some responses.

After just getting back from three days in the DL parks, here is my comparison, which I've been eager to make for a long time. I tried to keep it to MK vs. DL, but got a little carried away and dragged in DCA and some of the WDW parks, also.

Space Mountain, Pirates, the refurbed Big Thunder, and Small World all better out west.
DL +1

Queues Ė DL had some just awful queues. Some of them are holdovers from the early days when Imagineering wasnít concerned with queue entertainment. But the TSM queue, for example, is nowhere near how awesome it is at WDW. In fact, itís just a snaking line and almost entirely outside.
WDW +1

Cast members Ė I had heard that they were out-of-this-world at DL. But what I found was the same mix I find at WDW: Some great, a lot good, and a few who shouldnít be there. I even had one ticket-taker grumpily say, when I asked how he was doing, ďIíll be better in 30 minutes.Ē

The Castle Ė Oh, there was a castle at Disneyland? Huh. You sure? That pink thing?
WDW +1
BUT Sleeping Beauty Castle has a neat walkthrough attraction. Not enough for a wash, so I maintain WDW +1

Everything being all close together Ė I walked from Toontown (in the back of DL) to Luigiís Flying Tires (in essentially the back of DCA) in 16 minutes. That includes standing in a bit of a line to get in to DCA. Compare that to going from Splash Mountain to, say, the American Pavilion at Epcot, which would be...much longer than 16 minutes.
DL +1

Escapism Ė Iím less than a mile from pulling in to the DL parking lot and I seeÖTinkerbell? The Beast? No, a 7-11. Itís just not as escape-from-the-world as Iíd like or as you get at WDW.
WDW +1

Carsland/Radiator Springs is one of the most immersive themed environments that accurately represents the source material that Iíve ever been in. You are plopped down into that movie. Itís just stunning. At night when all the neon is on it looks just like that evening scene in the movie
DL +1

Downtown Disney - Most malls near us are bigger than the one at DL.
WDW +1

TSM has much shorter standby lines at DL, but no Fastpass, so you donít wait for 2.5 hours...but still have to wait 50 minutes to an hour.

World of Color, the DCA evening show - just amazing. Really amazing. AND there is also Fantasmic and fireworks out west. Even with Illuminations at Epcot, nod goes to DL.
DL +1

Wayfinding - This is probably just my familiarity with MK vs. unfamiliarity with DL, but I found the signage/wayfinding at DL to not be particularly good. And I felt like I was forever searching for restrooms when I needed them.
WDW +1

THEY DO NOT HAVE VANILLA DOLE WHIP AT DL. So your float is pineapple on pineapple which is just too much pineapple. The woman apologized a lot, particularly when I started yell-swearing, and she said that it was a storage space issue?? Come on! (As I told her when she started crying, I wasn't really yelling at her.)
WDW +..... 30

Earthquakeyness - WDW, essentially zero chance. We experienced a 5.1 while at DL. If you live through it and it's not destructive, in hindsight it's pretty neat to experience. And hurricanes aren't as awesome, what with that annoying wind and rain and predictability. So
DL +1

Exposure to that awful Autopia - At WDW you always smell/hear it. At DL...they have Autopia?
DL +1

Things seemed a little crowded and on top of each other at DL and some of the theming of the separate lands kind of Ö.bumps into each other. You even notice this from the hub.
WDW +1

One park STILL HAS Mr. Toad and Snow White. That park isÖ
DL +1

Tarzan Treehouse vs. Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

Streetmosphere and shows

Toontown is awesome, awesome, awesome if you have a little one.
DL +1

Dual Dumbos with better waiting area.
WDW +1

Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters/Space Ranger Spin has better scenes out west AND the guns are freemoving, not anchored.
DL +1

RnR vs. California Screaming

Crowdedness - DL occupies 85 acres vs. MK's 107 and MK only outdraws it by a little bit on a per-day average. Thus, DL is going to feel more crowded. Consider that we usually go to WDW during slower times and our DL trip was around spring break and thus I'd estimate that DL was probably 30 percent more crowded than we've ever experienced MK being. Tomorrowland at DL is really charming, but at the height of the day you could barely get through it. So, just based on that, I give
WDW +1

Other odds-and-ends:
DCA is really gorgeous and we found each land to be very, very well done and unique and immersive. It really exceeded our expectations.

We rode the Matterhorn because it is a classic attraction. There is nothing special about the Matterhorn.

Blue Bayou theming > San Angel Inn theming, but it's very, very close. On food, it is not at all very, very close. (And you know which wins.)

Character lunch at Arielís Grotto was not something weíd do again. The princesses came around and we got a few minutes with each. It didnít feel rushed, but they just didnít hang out (Iím sure tables with 7yo girls get more time). The food was downright eh. Character breakfast at the Plaza Inn was great - itís just breakfast food but there were lots of characters throughout and lots of character interactions. My son was happy showing off his two little Chip and Dale figures, and many of the characters interacted with them, including Rafiki doing his whole broken-fruit-voodoo-forehead-swipe anointment thing.

Overall, we really enjoyed our three days, of course, and could easily have spent another couple days there. There were still things we didn't get to, and that's with our open-to-close park touring style. I have to say that I expected to be blown away by DL vs. MK, and wasnít, really. DCA exceeded expectations, as I noted. It may be because itís where Iíve been most frequently, but I just really prefer WDW. Primarily and obviously because there is SO much there that DL/DCA just canít replicate. Four parks, a huge downtown Disney, the World Showcase, and several hotels that are fun to just explore, even if youíre not staying in them. Plus, the whole sense of being removed from the world is just more palpable at WDW. I would never make a trip to Southern California just to visit Disneyland, but would certainly plan a few days there during a trip I'm already taking there.

03-31-2014, 03:15 PM
I can find no love for WoC. And I went with zero expectations. The seating/standing arrangements are dismal. They make HS Fantasmic seating seem admirable. I chalked it up to newbie ignorance however, everyone around me appeared mesmerized by the whole event even when it appeared they could see nothing of the show. :confused: I even had a FP for optimal viewing, or so I thought. Ultimately I walked away early feeling disgruntled. It was then I discovered how much better the show is from a distance, looking down versus standing behind hundreds of people at eye level.

Overall, it was a wonderful first time experience for me last summer. I agree with most of your other assessments. I think all fans, if able, should visit CA and FL for comparisons. :-)

03-31-2014, 03:31 PM
If I didn't know better, I'd say I wrote this piece. I'll also agree with the first protest. WoC is amazing! But the arrangements to see it stink to high heaven. You definitely have to see it from far back because of all the giant heads in the way - my children especially hated not being able to see over people.

As for Pirates, IASW, Space and Big Thunder being better, I give DL +2 because they're soooooo much better than the WDW counterpart.

And yes, when I first saw DL castle after all my trips to WDW, I almost cried it was so pathetic.

Overall, DL is a far better park than MK. But that's because so much more is shoved into it from parks other than MK (Star Tours, Indy [Dinosaur], Innoventions).

And it's worth going to DL Resort just for Cars Land. It's that good.

Overall, I like WDW more than DL because of the sheer size and the ability to escape from reality. But it's good enough for when I don't have the money to shell out $400/person to fly to Florida. That 300 mile drive for me ain't so bad when you think it only costs $100. Still, if I had the money it would be no contest.

03-31-2014, 03:47 PM
If I didn't know better, I'd say I wrote this piece.

Perhaps you did...and this the Matrix. Or is it Inception?

Understood on the WoC complaints...we got the pass, got there 45 minutes before and the area was packed. I asked the CM for her recommendation and she said to stand on the ramp going out, as it lifted us above the rest of the crowd, and this turned out to be a good spot. I saw it just as well as I've ever seen that globe for Illuminations.

04-02-2014, 10:10 AM
I enjoy both the east coast & west coast parks (& WDW feels like home to me), but walking under the train station KNOWING you are standing where Walt was = DL +100