Monday, July 16, 2012

In Defense of WDW: Take A Chill Pill

   Summertime around our house can be a gloomy time.  We DO NOT visit Disney parks during this busy time, thus creating the longest period of time between trips. We've made it through these lean months every year so far, but something about this upcoming October trip to Disney World has us both stricken with new zeal and anxiety.
   It is normal for us to act like crazy little kids on Christmas Eve in the few months leading up to an extended WDW vacation, but this one is particularly menacing! This reason? Disneyland did it.  In the long winded anticipation of our first Disneyland trip we managed to get all caught up in the hype of Disneyland. (which we absolutely love SO MUCH in a totally different way.)  Walt Disney World, the amazing Project Future, though technically more popularly attended is often times regarded as an evil step sister of Disneyland.  But Disney World is something that Disneyland was never meant to be, relaxing.

Ugly castle, but at least I'm not having a panic attack...

   We understand the resentment toward the world that many park fans have. The gaudy nature of the design in the Magic Kingdom has been the topic of conversation in our home many times. And though that park does in fact pale in comparison to Disneyland's unique and unexplainable charm, there are also unique/unexplainable/wonderful things about WDW as a whole, especially outside of the Magic Kingdom.
   When entering into a conversation with a diehard Disneyland fan, remember that they have a mission. Specifically, a mission to destroy your ego and make you feel horrible about even considering Disney World a worth while place to visit.  Inevitably they will mention how "this is Walt's park!" or "this is where Walt walked!" and there will be nothing you can say about those statements.  In all fairness, Walt did walk around Disneyland...and upon doing so, quickly realized the faults inherent to the worlds first theme park.
   The fact is that Walt Disney World is, and always has been, closer to the vision that Walt wanted for his theme parks.  This resort is aptly named in tribute to its creator, being a somewhat true to form idea that Walt had for a vacation kingdom, as the nickname was in the 1970's.  Extensively themed and wonderful resort hotels, functional and sleek transportation, and tons of recreational options all act in a symbiotic relationship with The Magic Kingdom, and subsequently the other three theme parks.  All of this is fine and dandy on its own, but added to the mix, something that no Disneyland fan can ignore, is sprawling green wilderness surrounding the area.  These swaths of land act as a buffer from the outside world.

relaxed much? 

   Upon entering WDW property you are immersed in a carefully constructed sense of ease.  Whether or not your objection is to relax (we all know it can be challenging when all you want to do is tour the parks.) Disney makes the option easy and accessible.  Each resort is lousy with pools / pool bars all wonderfully themed in a variety of styles to suit all people.  In being immersed and secluded at the same time we have the ability to forget reality.  This sense of wonderment is promoted further by the cast members eager to accommodate any problem that might arise and make your trip more relaxing.
   Disney World is huge, and getting from one destination to another might be daunting.  The distance between themed areas isn't just to annoy bus drivers, but in separating the areas by green landscape it creates effective transitions from one area to another.  The jarring lack of transition at the Disneyland Resort creates an unintentional anxiety that is hard to shake when visiting those parks, that I can only equate to living in NYC.  The feeling is surprisingly similar. (to be fair, inside the Disneyland park is actually pretty well guarded from reality...)  Walt Disney World is the ultimate place to chill the $&%@ out.  Our day to day lives are filled with obligations to work, family, and social lives...and those can all go to the wayside.
   Just before entering the property, take in the biggest deepest breath you can.  Slowly exhale and let all your worries out.  This resort is meant for relaxation in a way that Disneyland could never be.  This is why Disneyland can never take the place of Disney World as our home resort.  The ability to let go of the outside world is a hard task to achieve, but the measures taken at Disney World make that a distinct possibility.  If only I wasn't so obsessed with 8AM rope drops...


  1. As a lifelong, West Coast Disneylander, I gotta say, "Wow, are some Disneyland fans really that hostile toward WDW?" Shame on them! I enjoy both DL Resort and WDW -- they are completely different kinds of vacations. I like WDW for exactly the reasons you list: You go to WDW for the experience of the resort as a whole. You go to unwind.

    While Disneyland and DCA are my favorite theme parks -- and it's convenient to have them yards apart from one another -- DL Resort is not an ideal place to relax, and its three hotels and Downtown Disney cannot compare to the mind-blowing variety of leisure time offerings -- and sheer beautiful away-from-it-all acreage -- at WDW. I wouldn't exactly call DL Resort anxiety-inducing, but everything outside the park gates themselves certainly does feel like a Disney Times Square (except in the early morning when heading out to be first in's pretty awesomely calm, then. Calm and...compact). :)

    Great post! Have a fantastic time at WDW!

  2. I, too, enjoy both! I grew up on WDW and only discovered DLR about five years ago (and have admittedly preferred it since). Maybe it's because I like the more urban feel or the concentration of attractions in "best of" format, but I enjoy the West Coast resort for exactly the things you mentioned as possible detractors.

    I also think that, in a way, DLR has its own "relaxation" elements. I always stay along Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim (as most tourists do, I imagine) and walk to the parks via the east entrance. For me, that in itself is a transition from the real world to something different - landscaping, pathways, lanterns in the trees... They sort of create a separation that's fantastic to me. And in all fairness, a new, incredible cohesiveness exists BETWEEN the parks there - as I'm sure you recognize, when you walk south down Main Street U.S.A. and then pass directly into Buena Vista Street, you literally make the exact same journey as Walt, from sleepy 1900's Missouri to bustling 1920s Los Angeles. To me, that binds DLR's two parks together in an incredible way.

    In other words, I see the merit of both resorts and absolutely adore both for very different reasons. That said, I think I would choose Disneyland over Walt Disney World 7 / 10 times, and (even though this is blasphemy) when I DO get to Orlando, it's usually with Universal's resort as the "main attraction" and Disney World as a quick refresher trip - I think it's no coincidence that Universal Orlando is practically identical to Disneyland in the ways I mentioned above - small size, unique park placement, "best of" ride collection, etc. Great reflection, though.

  3. i'm a west coast girl and an annual DLR passholder, but i gotta say that i truly love DLR and WDW equally! they are both magical places that allow me to lose myself in fantasy and fun for the hours i am there. perhaps being a passholder has allowed me the freedom to not worry about going on each and every ride during my visits to DLR - i take the time to stroll around and enjoy the beauty and charm that disneyland is famous for. my best friend and i love to get a snack, sit on a bench near sleeping beauty's castle, and just enjoy the sights, scents, and sounds of disney. no agenda, no rush to fight for a place in line. just another lovely day at the happiest place on the west coast :)