East Coaster heading to DL in September. I know WDW like the back of my hand but feel clueless when it comes to DL. Can anyone give me recommendations on attractions, restaurants, etc? Much appreciated!
Here’s a link to my DLR blog, written specifically for “WDW vets new to DLR”.
It’s best viewed on a PC. Select the “Sidebar” view, and read the 12 posts in order. This was written based on a Sept 2012 trip, and there have been a few changes in the interim, but I would say it’s still mostly on the mark. It’s pretty long, but has a lot pictures, recommendations, opinions, historical notes, etc. I’ll be there for 3 days at the beginning of August, and plan on doing a couple of “2015 Update” posts after I get back.
Don’t miss things you think you’ve already done just because they are at WDW and DLR. Several rides are very different, including Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. Be sure to hit the rides that aren’t in WDW at all, and enjoy the relatively short walks everywhere!
I recommend seeing all of the things that are unique to Disneyland, as well as the rides that are located in both parks. I’ll provide a breakdown of attractions here.
Better at Disneyland: Disneyland Railroad, Autopia (though if you don’t like the Speedway, you won’t like Autopia), Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo (there’s a nicer view, though the waits are longer and the ride is the same), Mad Tea Party (the ride is uncovered and beautiful at night), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat/Sailing Ship Columbia, Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room (different and better preshow and a longer main show), Pirates of the Caribbean, Soarin’ Over California (new digital projection)
Better at Walt Disney World: Astro Orbitor (it’s on a higher platform), Tom Sawyer Island (Disneyland’s has a lazy pirate overlay), Swiss Family/Tarzan’s Treehouse (the Tarzan theme is just a light reskinning), Haunted Mansion (though not by much), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror
The Same in Both: Main Street Vehicles, Star Tours, Carousel, Animation Academy, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Toy Story Midway Mania, Turtle Talk
Unique to Disneyland: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, PInocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Storybookland Canal Boats, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, Big Thunder Ranch, Indiana Jones Adventure, Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes (if you don’t like manual labor, steer clear of this one), Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Bakery Tour, California Screamin’, generic carnival rides in A Bug’s Land and Paradise Pier, Grizzly River Run, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, Radiator Springs Racers, Red Car Trolley, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
My Personal Favorites: Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Tiki Room, Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Casey Jr, Storybookland Canal Boats, It’s a Small World, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain, Five and Dime, California Screamin’, Radiator Springs Racers, Monsters Inc Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, Tower of Terror, Soarin’ Over California, Grizzly River Run, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Yes, @bswan26’s blog was super helpful to me when I did my first and only DLR trip in April. FWIW, I LOVED it and though Florida is easier for me to get to, I can’t wait to get back to DLR. Look around on here, too. The Disneyland section has some pinned posts with hotel and restaurant ideas.
As for hotels, one big difference from WDW is that there are tons of nice hotels within easy walking distance from the parks. Being able to walk back and forth was incredible to me who usually stays at value resorts at WDW. In Anaheim, I stayed at Park Vue Inn, which I thought was an excellent deal for the price. The pool was very basic, and the rest of the place was nothing fancy, but as I wrote on another post, it had fireworks views, free breakfast, bunk bed, and was literally across the street from DLR.
Another thing to be aware of is that there is no free Disney transportation. I used a service called Jag transportation and I was impressed. It does add up though, so be prepared for that expense. Many places have free parking, so a rental car is also an option. I liked not having to worry about that, though.
I never get a park hopper at WDW, but I do think it’s worth it at DLR with the parks so close together.