California Adventure Park vs Disneyland. Disneyland vs. California Adventure: Which One Wins? I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday a little early this year at The Happiest Place on Earth! I have a wonderful friend who gave me a park hopper pass to California Adventure Park vs Disneyland for the day, and I can never pass up a trip to Disneyland so I went with my sister. I may be an adult but going to Disneyland never gets old, and with the recent additions to Disneyland California Adventure, there is just as much to be excited about now as there was when I was a child!
I celebrated my birthday at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure last year too. California Adventure Park vs Disneyland. Since then many people have asked: which park is better? Everyone knows that Disneyland is expensive, especially after the recent price increase. An adult park hopper costs $150, which is steep on almost any budget. You can save a little money by visiting one park, which can be a good idea for those who don’t want to exhaust themselves by jamming two parks into one visit. So for all those inquiring minds out there, I’ll do my best to help you decide which park is right for you!
California Adventure Park vs Disneyland
California Adventure Park vs Disneyland. On July 17, 1955, the world was introduced to a new force in family entertainment and vacations: Disneyland. Though many critics predicted that it would fail, the park’s millionth guest passed through the gates just seven weeks after its debut. Since then, Disneyland has set the standard for the theme park industry, eventually paving the way for nearly a dozen more Disney parks around the world.
A second park, Disney California Adventure, was added to the Anaheim complex in early 2001, delivering a completely different experience. Here, on the resort’s 60th anniversary, we take a look at some of the major differences between the two.
California Adventure Park vs Disneyland
1. Size & Attendance
The entire complex that comprises the two theme parks, three hotels, and the Downtown Disney District is 500 acres. Among those acres, Disneyland claims 85 and Disney California Adventure takes up another 72. According to the Themed Entertainment Association’s 2014 Theme Park Index, more than 16 million visitors came to Disneyland in 2014, and about half of that visited Disney California Adventure.
2. Themed Areas
Disneyland: Guests get their initial taste of Disneyland as they enter onto Main Street, USA — the first of eight themed sections in the park. Others are Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square, and Adventureland. Sleeping Beauty Castle serves as the centerpiece, standing behind Partners, a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands.
Disney California Adventure: Here, you can meander through seven themed areas: Buena Vista Street, Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land, Cars Land, and “a bug’s land.” There isn’t an official icon here, but Buena Vista Street sets the stage for what the rest of the park has in store. (Fun fact: Buena Vista Street is home to a reproduction of the Carthay Circle Theater, the venue where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — Disney’s first animated film — hosted its premiere in 1937.) This park has its own statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse; called Storytellers, the piece depicts Walt arriving in Los Angeles in 1923.
The parks each have around 30 quick service and table service restaurants, where you can snack on Mickey pretzels and lobster nachos or sit down for duck wings and shrimp scampi. There’s one major difference when it comes to drinking in the parks: Disneyland doesn’t serve alcohol, but Disney California Adventure has a number of places where you can imbibe.
4. Big-name Attractions
Classic attractions abound at these two parks. Even if you’ve never been a visitor there, chances are you’ve probably heard the name of one of their world famous rides at least once.
Disneyland: Did you know the first Pirates of the Caribbean film is based on the ride of the same name at Disneyland? Coming full circle, the popularity of the film series has since inspired some additions to the park. Other headlining attractions at this park include Splash Mountain, Dumbo, Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the adorable “it’s a small world.”
Disney California Adventure: It may not be as old as Disneyland, but the park has certainly has produced some modern classic rides, including Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Soarin’ Over California, Radiator Springs Racers, Toy Story Midway Mania, and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. And Disney California Adventure claims something Disneyland doesn’t have: an inverted rollercoaster, California Screamin’.
Note: In early 2017, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will close so that it can become an all-new Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout.
5. Nighttime entertainment
Entertainment goes well into the evening hours at Disneyland resort, with stage shows and street performances to 3D productions and parades that dazzle guests.
Disneyland: There’s a fireworks display that lights up the night, plus a show called “Fantasmic!” that features your favorite Disney characters, floats, puppets, and music. New this year for the Disneyland Diamond Celebration is Paint the Night, a parade of more than one million lights and tons of characters.
Note: On September 5, 2016, Paint the Night will end its run, though it will be presented on select nights during the 2016 holiday season. The Main Street Electrical Parade will be brought over from Florida’s Magic Kingdom to start a Disneyland stint in early 2017.
Disney California Adventure: You won’t want to miss the “World of Color — Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” show. “Hosted” by an on-screen Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse, the show incorporates mist, water, color, and projection to showcase the incredible imagination of Walt Disney. The visuals are impressive, but equally mind-boggling are the logistics behind it: World of Color uses a whopping 1,200 fountains that shoot water up to 200 feet in the air, casting a 19,000-square-foot aqua projection screen.
Note: “World of Color — Celebrate!” will have its last show on September 5, 2016, followed by a return of the original show the next night.
Disney California Adventure Park
Explore 7 exciting lands that bring to life Disney and Pixar stories and characters through amazing attractions, entertainment and dining! The 2 most recent additions—Buena Vista Street and the awe-inspiring Cars Land—join the themed lands of Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier, Pacific Wharf, “a bug’s land” and Hollywood Land. With so much to do day and night, Disney California Adventure Park has something for every member of your family.
Since we’ve written about Disneyland, we can’t forget about Disney’s impressive little sister park next door, Disney California Adventure. It doesn’t require quite as much time to explore as the Big Mouse Trap but it’s well worth a two-day park hopper ticket price. My best advice: Go see Disneyland Park first. Then the next day, see Disney California Adventure. Probably by afternoon you’ll feel like you “did” the whole park, so skip back over to Disneyland to see what you missed the first day and then in the evening head back to California Adventure for the World of Color closing ceremonies.
As a native Southern Californian, here are my best recommendations. Please feel free to disagree with me or add your own suggestions in the comments section.
Buena Vista Street (DO IT)
Like Disney World, Disneyland California Adventure has a main street, Buena Vista Street. Except this main street has a very distinct Southern California/Old Hollywood feel to it. Make sure you check out the windows at Big Rock Candy Mountain and if you’re needing a drink, a friend of mine says Carthay Circle Theatre has the best “rides,” aka drinks for grown-ups.
Red Car Trolley (DO IT)
The Red Car Trolley ride only takes you from the park entrance to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and back but it’s fun if only for the narrating trolley drivers. If you don’t have a clue what’s going on or you’d like a little back story on the park, jump on for a stop or two.
A BUG’S LAND (DO IT)
What I love about Bug’s Land (aka Flicks Fun Fair ) is that most of these rides children can go on by themselves (parents watching vigilantly from the sidelines of course). This brings a lot of pride to the “I do it myself” set.
Which one is better for adults to visit in LA, Disneyland Park or Disneyland California Adventure Park?
If you’re a thrill junkie, you’re probably better off at DCA, since it has a looping coaster (California Screamin’), a drop ride ( Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) and a wild mouse (Goofy’s Sky School). Disneyland has more thrill rides (3 coasters & a flume ride), but they’re tamer by thrill ride standards.
If you enjoy the classic Disney characters, Disneyland is the place to go. Although both parks have immersive Disney experiences, DCA’s focus is more on the more recent Disney characters and Pixar characters, where the theming of the Disneyland attractions focuses more on characters from Walt’s time.
If you’ve never been to Disney theme park before, and you can only make it to one park, it’s no contest – go to Disneyland and focus less on the number of rides you get on and more on taking in the whole experience. If you’ve been to another Disney park, especially a “Magic Kingdom” park, and want a different experience, go to DCA – you’ll experience some things you haven’t seen before and you’ll spend less time comparing the park to the ones you already know.
Oh, to heck with it – put aside the time and money to see both parks – trust me, you won’t regret it! Don’t expect to do even one park and do it well in one day – to really take in as much as possible, consider at least 2 full days for Disneyland and at least one full day for DCA.
If I had to close my eyes and pick a park that would make my visit the best it would be Disneyland over Disney’s California Adventure, but not because one is better than the other. The element I consider is the speed of the ride and I admit that I prefer the attractions that offer some thrills along with a little fun.
Sitting down on the boat for the Pirate’s ride or it’s a small world is fun for me. It’s not just the wind in your hair, but also a song, a story and even a little surprise (have you been hit by the air cannons as you go through the ship scene?) Other attractions that I love that have some speed include the Indiana Jones Ride, Big Thunder Mountain and Matterhorn.
Now even though I do start at Disneyland and enjoy my day, I always go to CarsLand before ending my day at DCA. It helps that I have a pass so I can quickly skip over to ride at Radiator Racer Springs. This is one of the best rides at the theme park and sometimes I spend a couple of hours riding this attraction.
My Disney time is the best as I go to the theme park once a week. It’s cool to scream my head off in delight and if you hear a middle aged woman yelling like crazy, come over and introduce yourself because you have found me!
I go to both parks by myself, for me I prefer Disneyland but I enjoy California Adventure as well. For California adventure has some riders that I like like racers and soaring over California, among other things. With Disneyland, I am visiting my childhood, for I growing up knowing Disneyland unlike with California adventure of where I was over twenty when I entered it for the first time.
But like Pauk Schnebelen, it depends on what you like and enjoy. For if you are a thrill junkie, go to California adventure but if you enjoy Classic Disney go to Disneyland. I also suggest of spending a few days there to see which pair you prefer to go to. When I go there, I would spend one full day in Disney and there be one or two days of where I spend half of my time in both parks.