June 14, 2015

Disney Theme Parks - Compare and Contast

I'm not a Disney fanatic.  I know some Disney fanatics, but I am definitely not one.  My life is quite complete with out Mickey, Minnie or any one of the assorted princess in it.  My son was not a Disney fanatic, though he did love Disney movies.

For the record, I have been to Disney World 6 times.  Two of these trips were great.  The rest were great because of the company, but not because of the park.

My first trip to Disney World was in 1977.  The park had been open for about 6 years the first time I visited.  It was with my parents, after my oldest brother's wedding in Atlanta. I had fun, riding rides, hanging out with the grown ups.  Back then, you purchased a book of tickets and each ticket was good for certain rides.  The lines were not bad - we visited in mid-April, after the Easter rush.

In 1995, my parents treated our whole family to a trip in late October.  It meant pulling 5 kids out of school, backpacks full of school books and work, but, again, it was fun. Short lines meant that we could ride rides over and over again.  I think we rode Splash Mountain 5 times in an hour - we were all soaked.  By then, the ticket system was gone and in it's place was a general park admission that included all the rides you could ride.  After three days of Disney, I was finished.  So we spent two days at Universal Studios.

Fast forward to 2007 and my third trip.  It was hubby and I and three friends in October.  The price of the tickets had gone up and the lines were certainly longer.  There were three parks to visit, beer to be consumed in Great Britain in Epcot, rides and my husband having to take business calls back at the condo.

In 2011 and again in 2013, we visited with our good friends Fly Boy, Nurse Nancy and Junior Birdman.  Ticket prices were getting outrageous and the lines were horrible.  On one trip, we spent three hours in line for Soarin', only to find out that the ride had malfunctioned earlier in the day and everyone in line had been given a Fast Pass. Those of us in line did not find this out until we were almost at the front of the line.  A whole day in Epcot and we rode Soarin' once and Test Track once. It was, in my opinion, a waste of a day.  Thank goodness, the company was the best and some Hot Passes to Daytona saved the trip.

In November of last year, we made what was, in my opinion, my last trip to Disney World.  Who would have thought that the park could be so crowded only two weeks before Thanksgiving.  And school age children weren't the worst of it - the number of children in strollers was unbelievable.  Stroller parking at any given ride was worse than any mall just before Christmas.  And rude patrons…ugh!

So last week, we were in California for a "business" trip - a reward trip provided by an insurance company.  We stayed a few extra days and, at my request, we went to Disneyland.  What a refreshing experience!0 hour

I wasn't sure what to expect with a smaller park - more crowded???  But much to my surprise, it was busy, but not awful.  The longest line was only about 60 minutes and that was an overestimate - I timed The Matterhorn ride - the entrance said that it was a 60 minute wait, so I hit the stopwatch feature on my phone and, low and behold, I was at the front of the line in 28 and a half minutes - clearly less than half the estimated wait time.  You can actually get Fast Passes at the park, something we could not get on our last two trips to Florida (now that you can get Fast Passes on line, there are almost none available at the park).

Our favorite was the Radiator Springs Racers - similar to Test Track but based on the movie Cars.  We tried to hit the things that they didn't have in Florida.  The two park pass, while a bit pricey at $150 per person, was worth it for a trip that may not be repeated.  We saw and did more in 10 hours than we could have in two days in Florida.

All in all, Disneyland in California is the clear winner for me in the Disney parks competition.  I would definitely go back. As far as Disney World, I think I would go if we are one day blessed with grandchildren, though I think I'd much rather waste time on a plane than time in a line.

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