Thanks all for your comments to my post. A few thoughts:
I was giving my perspective traveling with young kids and looking for an immersive Disney experience, purposely spread out over many days to avoid a military ops type of one day or die experience. If you have preteens/teenagers and/or are traveling with adults and really just want to maximize your ability to hit and re-hit as many thrill rides as possible over the course of one or two days, I do think Disneyland with its new addition of MaxPass, could have the edge, depending on where in the country you live. The parks are MUCH smaller, so criss-crossing to get to one Fast Pass window to the other is very simple. We benefited from that a few times as well. You can load up your passes such that you can do many throughout the day. And, if you don’t enjoy pre-planning your trip, then DL is the ONLY way to go. Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the fact that I had to be on my phone quite a bit throughout the day, even on a few rides (albeit boring ones such a Storybook Canals), securing my next Fast Pass. Young kids notice that, and I kept telling them when I was distracted that I was booking our next big ride. Of course, if we had visited in June, pre Max Pass rollout, you would have seen a much more critical review of DL, as our ‘family’ time would have been decimated with me having to criss cross the parks trying to pick up fast passes from machines. The 2 times I did it for Fantasmic and WOC took me away from my family for 1.5 hours! I can’t honestly figure out how families with young children enjoyed Disneyland at all before Max Pass roll out, unless the adults just forewent going on any of the super headliner rides.
Again, if the park had been more operationally sound, and the castmates had delivered on that ‘magical’ experience, we’d strongly consider going back.
Some other thoughts for families traveling with little ones:
The Disney Jr. Dance Party at DCA was a HUGE hit with my little one. He jumped up and down the entire time. Fun for all of us to watch him. Definitely worth hitting if you have a toddler.
My kids (including my incredibly squeamish 8 year old boy) loved the It’s a Bug Life show…not scared, and we thought it was cute. However, Bug’s Land in DCA overall was a big disappointment. I had thought it would be a great place for my 2 year old, but the rides were almost too tame for him, especially if your children go to local amusement parks and enjoy the kiddie rides there. Even the bumper cars were so pokey that there wasn’t much bumping. I’m thinking that will be the next land to renovate over there for sure.
The live show at Fantasyland Theatre (ours was the comical rendition of Beauty and the Beast) was OK for toddlers, but most of it went over their heads, but cute for adults with good acting by the castmates. Little girls loved Belle. Since I had boys, and my 2 year old hadn’t yet seen Beauty and the Beast, it was just OK for him. Plus it was an open air theater (read VERY HOT), and very little true interactivity with the young kids. We loved the live pianist, but if you are short on time, even with toddlers, I’d skip unless you have Belle or bust young children in tow.
Mickey and the Magical Map was also open air, so read VERY HOT. I think b/c Orlando is just hotter/more humid more in the year, they have more of their shows in nicely air conditioned theaters. We were melted by the end of the Magical Map (in our 104 degree heat wave). Sit close to the stage though so when the streamers come down, the kids get delighted.
The other young child ride I’d skip if short on time was Storybook Land Canal Boats. Super inefficient loading, so even when lines looked short in the AM, took awhile. Very ho hum experience.
Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Alice, Snow White all delivered, and were especially appealing b/c we walked on to all those in the early AM with no waits. We saved Peter Pan till the last day, and just after getting in a 40 minute wait line, the ride broke down. This turned out to be in our favor, as we headed to Dumbo instead, and then just as we were getting off Dumbo, a hoarde of people were rushing back in the previously closed line. We joined the hoarde, and waited just 19 minutes, just about as good as you can get on that one.
And finally, yes Max Pass sign up in the AM was easy, when it worked! We had a 20% failure rate (1 of our 5 days it seized up), making me have to go wait in a customer service line. My recommendation was to just prepay for all the days of your ticket, just to avoid the potential day of failure, unless you know in advance there are days you won’t use, or some on your party won’t use. The day our e-max pass sign up didn’t work was on the day I had to leave my family anyway to park hop to DCA for the WOC tickets, so I went to the DCA customer service line. Two veteran Californians in front of me told me that the DCA customer service line is always much shorter.
As I said, we had a great time, made unforgettable memories, and my kids, who don’t watch regular TV so have little exposure to Disney outside of movies, are now true Disney fans.
We are watching Little Mermaid tonight for our Friday Night Movie night so my little one, who has been singing Under the Sea nonstop since our return, can see it for the first time.