WDW vs. DLR thoughts before upcoming WDW trip

Have taken 2 trips to DLR in the last 3 years. Have my first trip to WDW (since I was a lot younger, first with my own family/children).

I’m looking at the wait times at MK at WDW today on a CL 4, and they’re depressingly long. I think the FP system is way better at DLR–doesn’t have nearly the amount of work to plan and I was able to get on every ride we wanted to get on with max pass and probably use 6-8 FP per day easy. And EMH at DLR is incredible. With only 3 resorts we absolutely killed it every morning, lines didn’t even seem to really get long until 10:00 AM or so. As an example we rode TSMM I think 4 or 5 times in a row in the first half hour of EMH. I don’t think we stood in a line over 20-30 minutes long our whole 4 or 5 day trip.

WDW takes more planning (I won’t say it’s stressful because I enjoy it, but it’s way more work) and I don’t even think we’ll be able to get on every ride we want with the tiering of fastpasses and inability to get fastpasses for the best rides day of–and that’s with me booking FP 60 days out for our whole trip. I think lines over 30 minutes are deal breakers with young kids, no way I’m waiting 45-60 minutes for anything.

I want to hear from the big WDW fans why I’m wrong. Make me feel like I didn’t make the wrong choice going with a trip to WDW instead of DLR (wife was saying DLR). What’s better about WDW that I’m not aware of? I know AK should be something different and cool.

So… I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m going to DLR for the first time and trying to plan for it is so difficult. The idea of MaxPass seems awesome and I’m excited to try it, but I can’t build a TP around MaxPass.

I have an outline of what I want to do. I’m just planning out everything w/out MaxPass. If it all fits that way, then I know I can do it all with some bonus time. My DLR plan is more like a checklist to make sure I do all the things I want. My WDW plans are an itinerary to follow.

It seems to come down to the size of each place. Personally, to do “most” of everything at WDW takes at least a week and you still won’t get to it all. WDW is a destination resort. There’s just so much to so and see there!! DLR is a theme park for locals & families - as Walt Disney intended.

I’m planning a 2021 trip for 12 days at WDW and it looks like I’m still only doing about 90%. (So much going on at Epcot’s World Showcase!!) :crazy_face:

never been to DLR but I’m hearing it’s much less stressful. …so if after my WDW trip in October I can talk DH into more Disney it will be DLR

Well the obvious (massive) difference is the size. That and the location imo make WDW much more of a secluded world of it’s own. It’s difficult to put into perspective but I think once you have a more recent visit to it, you’ll appreciate both parks for both entirely different and the same reasons. Yes AK is great and obviously there are a number of exclusive rides etc.

The downside is, the wait times apparently are longer all around at WDW (I haven’t been to DL in over 15 years so I’m just going by what I’ve gathered). We’ve gone at peak times in recent years and yes, it’s crowded, but with the right mindset it’s not a big deal. If you are going at a busy time you have to accept that you won’t be able to catch short lines to everything and may have skip some things. Prioritize. Pick the most important things for FP’s, EMH, RD’s etc and then work around the rest.

We usually pick the most important things to really plan for and wing it after that. It’s less stressful. We’ll also pick one or two things we are willing to wait for a bit longer. I’ve done 60-100min lines with small kids and we lived (with snacks, phones, make up games and trivia etc).

I don’t know if this really answers any of your concern, but there it is any way.

VN—thanks for the perspective. It seems to me that even though wdw has twice as many parks it doesn’t have twice as many rides, or even close to that. Your wdw strategy with a vague plan of highlights is how we did dlr, the difference is at dlr that still allows every major attraction and short lines b/c you’re able to do 6 or 7 FP pretty easily.

Bet and DM2–honestly touring plans are way less important at DLR because it’s so much easier to get on rides (at least when we went, I suppose that’s crowd level dependent). EMH are tremendous there. We would get to the parks about 20-30 minutes before RD for emh and that would put us about 8th-10th in line at one of the 15-20 gates. At mk everyone books for Peter Pan b/c it’s not an FP ride but it’s popular. At California adventure everyone books for radiator springs racers. Even if you go for either of those the most you’ll wait is 15 min or so during emh. Every other open ride you’ll be able to ride back to back almost. Like I said we did tsmm 4 times within about 25 or so minutes. We used our touring plan until we’d stop for breakfast and after that we just used fast passes and the lines app to check wait times and winged it. We’d have almost everything done we had on our list before lunch. Max pass costs extra so I think a good portion aren’t using it so you have an even bigger FP advantage. Many people still use the kiosks.

Also seems like food carts and quick serve are better at dlr from what people are saying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for the wdw trip, I’m just disappointed by the line lengths I’m seeing on the app and disappointed there’s rides I won’t be able to get FP for, either because they’re unavailable at 60 days (which is really cruddy btw, cmon Disney) or because of the tier system. DLR wins handily in the rides per day category. Plus park hopping is a 2 minute walk which helps even more.

You can call me spoiled, but I’m one of those people that thinks lines over 30 minutes are unacceptable. I may have to change that idea on this trip and deal with it.

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This appears to be true from my research. However, IMHO, this goes back to the local theme park versus resort. WDW does super table service.

My main point is - WDW is just a whole different style of park. It’s going to be great.

From what I understand, character meals are slim at DLR. there are tons at WDW. I think the other big difference is you are in a huge bubble the whole trip at WDW.

I get your thoughts though. I haven’t been to DL in over 20 years but plan to go back in a few. It does seem much more relaxed. Not to mention the weather is better.

I just went with young kids and refused to wait in long lines. We didn’t wait ore than 25 minutes. We didn’t do some major headliners though. You won’t be able to do everything. If you plan well and get morning FPP, you should be able to pick up more, especially at MK. We were able to pick up 3 additional FPP and that was with a 2 hour in-park break in the afternoon and leaving by 7.


Having visited DLR last year I now strongly prefer it to WDW. But I’d still encourage anyone to give WDW a try. It requires so much more work. I agree. But it’s worth the effort to improve the experience.

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First of all, much thanks for the responses. Love the suggestions and positivity. Like I said, I’m spending way too much time on this website so I’m still super pumped about the trip.

As far as the bubble goes at DLR we stayed at the Grand Californian and didn’t have a car, so we were firmly in the bubble and LOVED how close we were to both parks from our hotel–especially heading back for nap time daily with little ones. That short walk alone was worth the extra $$ for Grand Californian.

There are more character interaction opportunities (looking forward to that) and more character meals. But I kinda prefer the DLR approach to dining–my general opinion is I’m not going to Disney for the food. I’m from Chicago, there are better restaurants here, especially for the type of money they charge at Disney for a sit down meal. I’ve got one character meal and one dessert party booked for 2 adults and 2 kids (both 5 and under) and just those 2 bookings are $500. I’d love to do one of the dinner shows and another character meal, but I can’t justify spending $1000 on 4 meals as part of my 5 day trip after splurging on a deluxe resort and park hopper tix. Plus charging $40 each or whatever for kids that will eat mac and cheese, chicken tenders or a hot dog may be the biggest scam that Disney pulls off.

And the thought of having to skip headliners is a real bummer. I’m just now coming to the realization that there’s a chance we won’t ride FoP, SDD, Test Track or Soarin, and SDMT, (and that’s not even including skipping ToT, Space Mountain, RnR, and other rides our kids probably couldn’t handle) and I’m disappointed. I get it, if I’m not willing to stand in line that’s on me, but I’m viewing this from the perspective of my recent trip to DLR a year ago (at the same time of year as well) and not only did we not skip any headliners we wanted to do, we were able to ride almost all of them multiple times.

I’m still excited for WDW, but in my head DLR was the appetizer and WDW was the main course we were looking forward to. My gut is telling me now that DLR may be a better choice for how we like to do Disney because I’m someone who is unwilling to wait in lines over 30 minutes and appreciates the close proximity to both parks. Yes WDW has more and that will be exciting and I’m really looking forward to the AK day which is completely unique, but I still can’t shake the idea that I’m going to have to listen to my wife say, “I told you we should have gone to DLR,” when I was super excited and convinced WDW would be better. Hopefully I’m wrong.

We shall see…first test will be which FPP I’m able to get in a little over a week.

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In our November trip we didn’t wait in line any longer than 20-25 minutes for anything, aside from being at the park early for rope drop. A touring plan can save so much time compared to not using one. We also had a lot of luck with same day fastpasses. Our last day in Epcot we were able ride our Tier 2’s and Test Track, and then went on to get Soarin’ and FEA. Early in the morning the day before our last MK day I picked up a SDMT FP DD told me she wished she could ride it again. (I found 5 am ET to be a good time to look for better FP and last minute ADR’s).

Wishing you luck on your FPP. If you don’t get exactly what you hope for you can keep trying right up to the day of to improve them.

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Nocapes, good to hear, thank you. How early do you need to be in line for RD at EMH for each park? As much as I’d like to RD for HS, that would mean getting my kids up at 4:30-5:00 AM to try to get there by 5:30 AM ish for the 6:00 AM opening of EMH. I just don’t know if that’s realistic. But certainly planning on being at RD at the other parks.

Also, what’s the best way to use a TP? I assume it’s to put in the rides we want and optimize, but when I do that and I see a 47 minute wait somewhere I get frustrated–like when it says I’ll have a 50 minute wait at SDD 6:45 AM. Makes me want to scrap the whole thing.

Even though we’ve been on property, we’ve only done EMH once. The extra hour of sleep and a regular park opening seems to work better for my family. The EMH day we were at least 30 minutes before EMH started. We also like PPO breakfasts such as Garden Grill and BOG. You get into the park early without a long wait for opening.

After I optimize I might move things around a little if I don’t like how something looks (eg. I would rather do a water ride later in the morning) and evaluate to see how much the time is affected. There are different FP strategies and not everyone would agree but mine is: Get FP for some combination of the 3 most important (i.e. can’t leave the park without riding), longest waits (to save time), or longest waits that don’t seem worth it (eg. I enjoy Peter Pan but I would not stand in a long line to ride it). I try to get FP earlier in the day. Once we use the FP we start searching for same day FP. Depending on how much is left on the touring plan we might just wing it from there or we might add the FP to the plan, re-optimize and continue. But we are also ok with skipping a headliner if we don’t feel like standing in the line and try again later or another day if we can.

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I am a bit biased since I lived 25 mins from DL for the first 45 years of my life. One of the big plusses of DLR is that it’s great for a last minute vacation. There are plenty of reasonable hotels to choose within walking distance or ride sharing makes it even easier. I LOVE that you don’t have to plan so much. Both parks are very walkable and you aren’t exhausted at day’s end even if the parks are open late. WDW of course has two additional parks…my favorite being AK. Table service at WDW is much better with great options. But as a person already said, who really goes to DLR for the dining? The best restaurants are more for the atmosphere (Blue Bayou) anyways. We grab a quick breakfast at the hotel, have a quick service lunch (usually the pizza place near SM), and dinner at the Plaza Inn. MaxPass has made the FPs very convenient. And best of all Disneyland blows the socks off MK any day.