Thursday, March 4, 2010
Disneyland vs. Disney World - Differences, pluses and minus, and when to go where
I've been to Disneyland and California Adventure several times, but until last August, I'd never been to Disney World. When I got the opportunity to go with my friends this past summer, I did a lot of research on it. I wanted to know what was similar about the parks, what was different, what was better, why was it better, were the rides any different, etc.
Unfortunately I found very little to help me in my search. I found all kinds of opinionated reviews, but I wanted more details. So now that I've recently been to both places (as well as Sea World San Diego and Sea World Orlando), I've decided to make the type of post that I had been searching for. Hopefully I can help anyone else like me who's curious to know what to look for when you're a first time visitor.
I've divided my review into 10 different categories. These include 1) Disney geography 2) rides and shows 3) weather 4) ride lines 5) water parks, golf courses, and Disney quest 6) fast pass and single rider lines 7) reviews on individual rides found in both parks 8)attractions found at Disneyland not found at Disney World 9) attractions found at Disney world not found at Disneyland and 10) Sea World.
#1 Disney World Geography:
Disney World is HUGE!!! The place has its own zip code for heaven's sake!
Positives: There's ridiculous amounts of stuff to do. Because they have so much space, they have enough room to have their own zoo, safari, interactive video game theme park, studio tours, world pavilions and exhibits, fantastic shows and fireworks, parades, water parks, golf courses, and more.
Negatives: The parks themselves are very big, and they're far away from the other parks as well. Park hopping is pretty difficult even if you have a car, and the Magic Kingdom even requires a ferry or a monorail ride after you've parked. Be prepared to get a lot less done than you think you can simply from trying to get from one place to another. Your feet will ache after you've only done half of what you could have been doing in Disneyland/CA Adventure.
Positives: Disneyland and California Adventure are a hop, skip, and a jump away from each other (well, maybe 10 hops, skips and jumps), so park hopping is very easy. On a very uncrowded day like when we visited, we did every ride we wanted to in both parks in less than half of our first day. The rest of our time was spent relaxing and repeating our favorite stuff. It would have been impossible to go on every ride we liked in all the parks at Disney World in less than half a day no matter how uncrowded.
Another plus about Disneyland geography is that it's easy to walk around. The area past main street is circular, so it's easy to go from Fantasyland to Frontierland to Adventureland, to Tomorrowland, etc. I got confused and came to several dead ends at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World because I was expecting it to be circular like Disneyland.
Negatives: Because it's circular, sometimes you end up in a part of the park you don't want to be in. I got confused on my honeymoon trying to get out of the park and ending up in Fantasyland.
Which is the better choice based on Geography?
For me personally, as a young, adventurous person who had lots of time, lots of energy, no children, a car, a kitchen in my hotel, and who was eager to see as much as possible - Disney World was the better choice. There was so much to see and do, and I had the time to do it all. I've never been able to really relax and enjoy the parades and shows at Disneyland (even during the off season), but it was easy to do so at Disney World, and I was actually there during the end of the busy season. There's just a lot more room to see what you want to see. And if you don't have a car while you're there, there are Disney World shuttles that will take you from park to park.
However, if you or your children don't enjoy being on-the-go all day long and rarely sitting down, this is not the place for you. You're not going to be able to get much done here if you're on vacation to "relax." And if you think a vacation that makes your feet ache isn't a vacation at all, scratch this off your list. So for those who have less time, less energy, children, no car, no hotel, and/or don't want to be constantly on-the-go, I'd go with Disneyland.
#2 Rides and Shows
DW positives: Disney World has many parades and shows due to it's extensive landmass. Some shows and attractions DW has that DL does not have include Finding Nemo: The Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Festival of the Lion King, Monster's Inc. Laughfloor, illuminations fireworks show, Flights of Wonder and other animal shows, Jungle Parade, stunt shows at Hollywood Studios, a whole bunch of cultural shows in Epcot, and more.
Additionally, Fantasmic is probably Disney's best show done throughout both parks. Because they have a whole amphitheater for it in Disney's Hollywood Studios, you get a much better seat and view for it than you'd have at Disneyland, and they're able to produce the show more often (sometimes twice a night).
DL: The great thing about Disneyland is that a ton of stuff is compressed into the 2 parks. I'd go so far as to say there are more rides in both CA Adventure and Disneyland than there are in all 4 DW parks. DW, however, makes up for this with all the shows and other things they have to see and do. California Adventure has many rides which have no Disney World equivalent, and you can get so much more done in one day here than you can at Disney World.
Though both parks have their good days and bad days, Disney World is extremely humid. When we went in August we were drenched in sweat, and we felt disgustingly hot even while it was raining. And speaking of rain, it rained hard everyday we were there that week. It was clear most of the time, but we couldn't go an entire day without intense rain. Though I've had both super hot and super chilly days at Disneyland, I'd definitely prefer the Southern California weather to Orlando weather.
#4 Ride lines at Disney World
Not that they're any shorter, but because they have so much space to work with, the lines can actually be fun to wait in since they're so well decorated. We enjoyed seeing all the board games and tinker toys on the walls of Toy Story, looking at R2D2 and other Star Wars stuff on Star Tours, and seeing all the fun atmosphere on Pirates of the Caribbean.
#5 Water parks, golf courses, and Disney Quest
This is a big benefit about going to Disney World. If you buy the Waterparks and more option, you get access to the awesome Disney Waterparks, one of their golf courses, and Disney Quest, an interactive arcade theme park. The water parks are super fun, and Disney Quest has some great attractions as well (see below for more details). I would definitely recommend buying this option as long as you're there while the water parks are open. It gives you extra choices while not taking away any time from your day passes. For example, if you bought a 5 day pass at Disney World with the water parks option, you could potentially go to a park everyday for 10 days. The 5 extra entrances you have to the other attractions do not need to be used on the same day as any of your theme park passes. You just have to use them within the time frame alloted for your pass (which I believe is 14 days). If you have a 3 day pass, you get 3 entrances; 10 day pass, 10 entrances, etc. You could also do like we did and go to both water parks and Disney Quest all in one day. That did take up 3 of our 5 entrances in one shot, but our trip was ending soon and we wanted to do everything we could.
#6 Fast Pass and Single Rider lines
Fast pass is Disney's answer to long lines. Basically you grab a fast pass for the ride you want, go on other rides until your specific time on the pass, then come back and get in the shorter, faster fast pass line. Let's say you want to go on Space Mountain but the regular line seems too long. What you'd do is grab a fast pass.
If you grab it at 10:00am, it might tell you to return between 11:30 and 12:30 to use it. You will need to go on other rides for the next hour and a half since you cannot grab a 2nd fast pass until after 11:30. I'd recommend getting a fast pass at 11:30 for the next popular ride you'd like, and then returning for your original ride. That will shorten your wait time for the 2nd ride. For the really popular rides (like Soarin' over California at Epcot and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom), grab it when you get there first thing. They might have run out if you try to grab one too late since they only give away so many for each time period.
Single Rider lines are a great option, even if you're there with friends. As long as you don't mind being in separate cars on the rides, you can get through lines a LOT faster.
Unfortunately they've removed this option from the Toy Story ride, but when we went in September of 2008, we rode Toy Story repeatedly with barely any wait at all, even though it was the longest line in the park! We also used this option at Screamin' in CA Adventure, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Rockin Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, and Test Track at Epcot. Keep an eye out for them because they will save you a lot of wait time.
However, DO NOT COMPLAIN WHEN YOU WAIT IN A SINGLE RIDER LINE AND THEY SEPARATE YOU FROM YOUR GROUP!!! It's idiocy like that that causes the park to have to shut down single rider lines. They've done it before and they'll do it again. What's happened is that people see the shorter single rider line, don't bother to read the signs saying "this is a single rider line and you will be separated from your group," decide to get in it, and then get upset with the workers when they won't let them sit together. If you want to sit with your group, get in the regular, longer line. The single rider line is for people who don't mind riding alone and just want to get through the lines as quickly as possible. When people get really upset like that, the workers end up letting them through just to calm them down, and then the people who've waited a long time in the regular line get upset that these other people got to go ahead of them. This causes the park to have to close down the single rider lines and ruin it for the rest of us who knew exactly what we were getting into.
#7 Reviews for individual rides found in both parks
Astro Orbiter (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
Disney has a lot of these types of rides (like Dumbo in Fantasyland, Triceritop Spin in Animal Kingdom, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at the Magic Kingdom). Basically you spin in a circle while flying your plane/carpet/elephant/triceritop up and down. I remember liking it a lot when I was a kid. I loved being able to hop in the driver's seat and guide my plane. As an adult, though, the only really good thing about it is the view. Riding Astro Orbiters at night in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom will give you a really awesome view of Tomorrowland. If you time it right, you can even see parts of the parade/fireworks as you ride. On the Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom), the camel sometimes spits on you and you get an unexpected shot of water in your face.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
Because this is Disneyland/Magic Kingdom's only adult roller coaster, it often has pretty long lines (I'd recommend getting a fast pass). However, I'm not a huge fan of this ride. This particular coaster rises up, but then comes down in loops. I prefer roller coasters that have big drops, and this has none. It's still fun, of course, simply because it's a roller coaster, but I vastly prefer the huge white roller coaster at California Adventure, Rock in Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. There's a lot more excitement and a lot more dips on all of those. I love to do roller coasters at night, and I'd highly recommend doing this one at night. The cool breeze and the view make the ride twice as fun.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This is a really fun ride. It's basically a huge video game that racks up your points. You try to shoot at Z targets, and there are certain targets that will give ridiculous amounts of points. My husband and I did it over and over again trying to improve our scores. The line moves very quickly since the seats come one after another and are constantly moving. This ride often has a fast pass option, but I'd save your fast pass for another ride since the regular line moves very quickly.
There are some slight differences between the ride at Disneyland and the ride at the Magic Kingdom. The scenery isn't identical. It's similar, but there were definitely enough differences for me to notice that it wasn't the same. Also, at the Magic Kingdom your car can spin. That makes the game even more fun since you're able to shoot at more targets, not just the ones on your side of the car.
Haunted Mansion (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This is my favorite Disney ride ever! I just love the scenery, the dancing ghosts, the ghosts in the mirrors, the paintings in the huge elevator you get into that takes you up to the ride, the crystal ball, the hilarious tombstones, and everything else that comes with it! It's definitely scary, but more fun scary than loud noises scary. I especially love when you go by the mirrors and see the ghost sitting in your car with you. It's fun to go back on the ride and see a different ghost.
It's a Small World (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
I haven't been on this ride at Disneyland since I was about 5, so I really don't remember it well enough to say if it's any different from the one at the Magic Kingdom. Though the song definitely gets annoying, it's nice to go on it once, especially if you have kids. There's a lot of interesting scenery to see as you float along. I was disappointed, however, that the ride at the Magic Kingdom has the song sung only in English. My memory was that the song was sung in all the different languages as you pass by their respective countries. I'd especially expect that to be true of Florida since they get a lot of European visitors. Though they added a bit of an Oriental and Polynesian arrangement as you passed the Asian countries, the lyrics were always in English.
It's Tough to Be a Bug (CA Adventure/Animal Kingdom)
This is a fun, entertaining, 3D show based on Disney's "A Bug's Life". Kids love it, and we loved it even in a group made up entirely of adults. I especially enjoyed being squirted at and tickled in my seat.
Jungle Cruise (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This was fun at Disneyland, but I wouldn't recommend it at the Magic Kingdom. Our tour guide was very fun and made the cruise as realistic as possible for us. We didn't do it at the Magic Kingdom, however, because we were going to Animal Kingdom the next day and thought it'd be silly to see fake animals on Jungle Cruise when we'd be seeing real ones on our Safari. At Disneyland we went on the cruise at night, which was nice for the breeze and the creepy atmosphere, but it was a bit difficult to see the animals.
Mad Tea Party (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
Everyone gets sick on the teacups, and I fully expected to. However, I actually felt okay. There's a handle in the middle that you can spin to make your own individual teacup spin faster. With 3 of us inside, we took turns spinning while the other 2 enjoyed the ride. It was definitely fun, but there's no way I could have done it a second time in the same hour.
Muppet Vision 3D (CA Adventure/Hollywood Studios)
I wasn't a huge fan of this show, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have kids. After seeing the adorable show "it's tough to be a bug," this one paled in comparison. But then again, I've never been a huge fan of the muppets.
Peter Pan's Flight (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This is Fantasyland's best ride. Sailing in the stars just above London is really pretty. I love the flying feeling the ride gives you. They do have fastpass for this ride at Magic Kingdom, and I'd recommend taking it since the line gets very long.
Pirates of the Carribean (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This is one of the better rides in my opinion. There's one drop at the beginning (you never get very wet) and then just a lot of really fun pirate scenery to sail through. I love the new stuff they've added to make it reflect the movie, and it's a pleasantly cool 10 minute ride, which is very nice after a long hot day.
At the Magic Kingdom, the line is decorated a bit more so you have a few more cool things to look at while you're waiting.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends (Disneyland/Epcot)
Though both parks have this ride, it's setup differently at each place. At Disneyland, they took the old yellow submarine ride and turned it into a Nemo ride.
Though it's fun to be inside the submarine, the line takes FOREVER, and your neck hurts after awhile from pressing up against the window. I vastly preferred the ride at Epcot. It still has the same cute story to watch, but you actually tour a large aquarium on clamshell cars. These load up one after another like Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear so the line moves extremely quickly. And with the clam shell cars you get a nice, large open view, which I definitely preferred to the submarine view. Plus they have dolphins in the Epcot aquarium, and you can tour the aquarium after you're done with the ride if you'd like a better look at them.
Snow White's Scary Adventures (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
Unless they've changed it at Disneyland since September of 2008, this ride is actually VERY scary. The witch jumps out at you a lot in the pitch black darkness, and we were jumping out of our seats. However, because people complained about it, they modified it at the Magic Kingdom, so now it's kind of dull. The scenery of Snow White with the dwarves is pretty, and the queen turning around as a witch is cool, but it's pretty boring besides that. I hope they don't change it at Disneyland because I loved how scary it was. It was definitely Disneyland's scariest ride!
Soarin over California (CA Adventure/Epcot)
This is a really fantastic ride. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a fastpass for it, especially at Epcot. We got there just after the park opened at 9:30, I went straight to the fastpass line, and our return time was at 12:30. They go through them quick.
Your feet dangle as you soar, and it really does feel like your flying, especially if you're on the top row and you don't see anyone's feet dangling above you. The shots of California are beautiful, and I love the scents of oranges, pine, and ocean that you can smell. Oddly enough, at CA adventure I smelled nothing but pine, and at Epcot I smelled the oranges and the ocean but no pine.
I'd love to see them do more places with this ride. They could rotate it with "Soarin' over Italy," or "Soarin' over London, over Morocco, over India, etc....
Space Mountain (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This was closed at the Magic Kingdom for long term maintenance, so I'm not sure if it's any different from Disneyland. It's a roller coaster in the dark with only starlight. It's really fun and I love all the drops, but I'm not a fan of the loops in those small 6 person vehicles. Those sharp turns can be a bit unpleasant. I'd highly recommend getting a fastpass as this is one of the "mountains." Anytime you're at Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are going to have the longest lines.
Splash Mountain (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
This is a great ride, though it actually varies slightly in both parks. This log ride has a huge drop, several little drops in the dark, and great scenery and music from Disney's "Song of the South." You will definitely get wet, you may get soaked, and if it's a hot day, you'll love it! I have to say, though, that I prefer Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom. The scenery was a bit different, and you sit in 2 person seater logs. At Disneyland, only 1 person can sit in each space, but at the Magic Kingdom, you can sit next to someone. I like that more since it's more fun to have your friend next to you instead of in front of behind you.
Star Tours (Disneyland/Hollywood Studios)
I remember loving this when I was 13, but now it just makes me feel ill. As I've gotten older I've begun having problems with simulators. The ride imitates being in space, being in a meteor shower, and going into lightspeed. I'm sure it's a lot of fun if you don't experience motion sickness from simulators, but I just found it more nauseating than enjoyable. The line at Hollywood Studios is at least fun to be in since they have lots of Star Wars stuff to see and cool photo opportunities.
The Tiki Room (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
I don't know if they've changed this at Disneyland, but at the Magic Kingdom it is now under the new management of Iago and Zazu. I'm not sure I like the change. The birds make a fun show singing to you amidst beautiful displays of plants and flowers. I just found Iago annoying when I saw it at the Magic Kingdom. I preferred the original birds and songs.
Toy Story Mania (CA Adventure/Hollywood Studios)
This is an awesome ride! It's similar to Buzz Lightyear in that it's a huge video game, but it's even better. They have several different kinds of moving targets to shoot at, and you can really rack up a lot of points. It will totally make your fingers hurt because it's so easy to get all into it. The scenery is cool, and at Hollywood Studios the line itself is full of several great photo opportunities with classic games and toys plastered everywhere. If they ever bring the single rider option back on this ride, do it, do it, do it!!! You'll have very little wait, and you can just continue improving your score and having tons of fun like we did.
Twilight Tower of Terror (CA Adventure/Hollywood Studios)
This is a fun elevator ride. You watch the creepy twilight stuff at the beginning, and then it's up and down flying out of your seat action. I love being able to shoot up fast as well as shoot down. For me there's just something really cool about being able to shoot against gravity rather than plummeting down with it.
Winnie the Pooh (Disneyland/Magic Kingdom)
The scenery is pretty, and it's fun to bounce in your car when you get to the tigger part, but all in all I thought this was pretty lame for the amount of time we spent in line. The day we rode it there were several problems with the ride, and it kept closing. They even had firemen come in. The biggest plus of this ride for us was actually the long line. It kept us out of the rain during the biggest downpour of the day. By the time we were off the ride, it had cleared up. Otherwise I would have thought the wait was completely wasted on such a boring ride.
#8 Rides at Disneyland not found at Disney World
Alice in Wonderland
Even though it's a kids' ride, I love it! Maybe that's just because I've always loved "Alice in Wonderland" the movie. My favorite part of the ride is the garden singing "All in the Golden Afternoon." The scenery is really pretty. I also enjoy that you travel inside and outside as you tour the ride. It's a good one to get in line on during the parades since you can see part of them as you wait in line and tour the ride.
You drive a car around. That's pretty much it. I think it'd be a lot more fun for kids. It had a monstrous wait (now there's a fastpass option), and my husband and I didn't think it was worth it at all.
Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes
I thought this was kind of boring. There's just so much fun stuff to do at Disneyland that these canoes pale in comparison. I'd rather do the big riverboat tour than have to paddle myself.
This is a fantastic ride. It's scary and fun and everything you could want from a ride. The best part is when you're convinced that the boulder is going to fall on your head, and when the snake shoots out at you (especially if you're sitting on the right side of the jeep). Disney World has a ride called Dinosaur which uses a similar concept of a bumpy jeep ride, but it's not quite as good as Indiana Jones. Plus it's cool to see all the creepy artifacts while you wait in line. Definitely get a fast pass for this one!
Though the yeti looks very fake, this coaster is still very fun. I'd recommend sitting alone, though, or it might not be so fun to go around the sharp corners in the little vehicles. I prefer the ups and downs to the twists and turns. I definitely prefer Disney World's Expedition Everest to the Matterhorn, but the Matterhorn is still fun.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
I generally like most Fantasyland rides, but I didn't like this one at all. I just found it boring and confusing, especially the flames at the end. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone since it's boring for adults, and the flames would probably scare children.
Pinocchio's Daring Journey
This one's decent if you're a fan of Pinocchio. There's nothing particularly exciting about it, though. You just tour through the movie scenes.
Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin
I can't remember much about this particular ride. The one time I went on it, the line was crazy long, and the ride was way too short. The spinning was fun, but it definitely wasn't worth the monstrous line. Definitely get a fastpass if you can.
#9 Rides at California Adventure not found at Disney World
First of all, I really don't understand why California Adventure is so much less crowded than Disneyland. My husband and I preferred it, actually. We loved all the rides like the awesome roller coaster, Soarin' over California, Grizzly River Rapids, and the Tower of Terror. When we went into Disneyland later, we were shocked by the difference in crowd size since we thought the rides at CA Adventure were better. There's definitely not the same "Disney magic" as there is at Disneyland, but as far as thrill rides go, we definitely preferred CA Adventure.
This is actually one of my favorite roller coasters ever, and definitely my favorite of all Disney coasters. It's super fun and incredibly smooth. I love the blast off going up the hill, I love the dips, and I love the upside down loop. I could ride this over and over again. It's fun to do with your eyes closed, and it's gorgeous to ride at night. I'd recommend taking the fastpass or the single rider option. I went on it repeatedly in a short time with the single rider option. One time they even put me in the front seat. You can't beat a 2 minute wait for the front seat on a busy Friday!
This flying ride is just okay. It gives you a decent view and a nice breeze, but it's not terribly exciting.
Grizzly River Run
This is one of the better water tube rides out there. We love the spin as you come down the biggest drop at the end. You'll definitely get wet, and you'll thoroughly enjoy the ride.
This is a really fun ride since you're shot straight up as well as down. After your initial shot up, you then go up and down a few times until it gets back to the bottom.
Mickey's Fun Wheel
Though this ferris wheel has a few added features (like sliding back and forth as you go around) it takes a LONG time to load. For us the ride was torture since there was a cold breeze and the wait to load up and get off was chilling us to the bone.
It's a cute ride and children would definitely enjoy it. There's nothing particularly exciting for adults except the amusing scenery in line (including the vending machine selling the candy bar called "sugar, salt, and fat.") My favorite part of the ride was the doors scene from the movie where you see all the doors of all the children in the world going along the factory lines.
This is a decent, small coaster in which most of the excitement comes from the car's front being ahead of the wheels. It makes it feel like you're going to fall off as you turn a corner. I've never been a huge fan of these types of rides since the sharp turns make me feel a bit nauseated. The Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom in CA Adventure is a similar ride, but your car spins as you go along, which adds a bit more fun.
Orange Stinger AKA Silly Symphony Swings
These revolving swings are a nice refreshing ride. I love feeling the breeze as I ride them. They're currently undergoing a renovation and will return as "Silly Symphony Swings."
CA Adventure also has a good number of kids attractions which aren't found at Disney World. These include Flik's Flyers, Francis' Ladybug Boogie, Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, Jumpin' Jellyfish, King Triton's Carousel, Princess Dot Puddle Park, and Tuck and Roll's Drive'Em Buggies. Obviously I couldn't go on them myself, but my friend's daughter seemed to enjoy them even more than the rides at Toon Town in Disneyland.
#9 Disney World attractions not found at Disneyland
This is a huge list, and I'm probably missing a few as well. With 4 parks, 2 water parks, and an arcade park, there is a LOT that Disney World has to offer.
Carousel of Progress
Revolving theater animatronics that goes through the beginning of the technological era up to the present. It's based off of the original ride designed by Walt Disney himself for the World's Fair. It's not that exciting, but if you need to cool off, this is a good stop.
Hall of Presidents
At this attraction you listen to great stories about former presidents and then see all of them in animatronic forms. They're all introduced and they nod or tip their hats off to you. I found it a bit dull, but my friend Rachael, who's in the military, found it very inspiring. It runs on a continuous loop, but you can't enter once the show has started. However, it's nicely air conditioned in the waiting room (which is full of presidential memorabilia), so it's a nice break on a super hot day.
You drive cars around at a max 7 mph speed. We opted out of this ride. It didn't seem like it would be worth the wait.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
It's basically Llike Dumbo except you're on carpets and a camel might spit on you.
Mickey's Philharmagic 3D Spectacular
This was a great show! I absolutely loved it! The story is that Donald has lost Mickey's hat from the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and he has to race through all the Disney shows to find it. It's a lot of fun, the 3D is cool, and the music is very moving.
Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor
This is a VERY funny show. It's different every time and it's interactive with the audience. We laughed our heads off and enjoyed every minute.
Stitch's Great Escape
The premise is basically that Stitch has escaped and run amok in the spaceship. You might be shaken and tickled in your seat as you watch the video, but you don't actually move anywhere.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
This 10 minute elevator ride gives you a tour of tomorrowland and introduces you to the attractions. It was closed while I was there so I don't have anything to review about it.
Ellen's Energy Adventure
This is a strange ride. You learn about what needs to take place in order to produce energy from Bill Nye the science guy, listen to the comedy of Ellen Degeneres, and then accidentally travel back to the time of the dinosaurs. It's like a show and a ride combined in one. It's worth a go one time, but be prepared to spend 45 minutes on the ride - not including the line.
This is basically a "making science fun" center. There's so much to see and do that you could spend all day just at innoventions.
Illuminations Fireworks show
This is a beautiful show to watch. We camped out spots at the cafe in the Mexican Pavilion and had great seats!
Kimpossible Showcase Adventure
This is pretty fun. You get a Kimpossible phone and can solve mysteries throughout the different countries. It's fun to find the hidden clues.
This is a boat ride similar to pirates of the Carribean except you're in viking ships and you travel through old Nordic myths. I really enjoyed it. It was very relaxing.
This ride attempts to imitate the feeling of launching into space. The take off was really fun, the weightless feeling was cool, and I loved how it felt like my skin was sucking into my face, but the actual journey through space made me feel a bit queasy. I didn't try the less intense option, so maybe that would have fixed the problem. I was afraid the less intense option would do the things that made me queasy and not do the fun stuff (since the fun stuff was a good deal more intense).
This omnimover ride goes from prehistoric time through to the future. You observe what life was like in the past, and can then create your own future based on what's most important to you. I enjoyed sending an Ecard of my own imagined future.
This ride tries to imitate the tests a vehicle must go through before it can be released to the public. It's pretty fun, and you can get through quick with single rider and fast pass.
There is just so much to see and do here that I can't even begin. It's like having the whole world in one place. I loved it and wish I'd had another several days to enjoy every little thing that was offered.
The American Idol Experience
You can sing kareoke live for the park, and whoever wins the vote for the day gets a chance to audition for the real show.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
It's basically Beauty and the Beast condensed into 30 minutes.
The Great Movie Ride
This is an animatronic ride taking you through classic movies. It was an okay ride, but for some reason the line was long and slow.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
A playground for kids where everything is monstrously big.
Journey into Narnia - Voyage of Prince Caspian
Aslan's How is cool to see, but this was actually kind of boring. It's like a large movie preview.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular/Lights, Motor, Action extreme stunt show
These are two live stunt shows. I didn't get a chance to go to any :(. They only show during the day and we were there in the evening.
Rockin' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith
This is a good indoor roller coaster that shoots you up the initial climb at top speed and then in a couple loops. All this is done to the music of Aerosmith. I recommend fastpass or the single rider line.
Sounds Dangerous - starring Drew Carrey
This was closed while I was there. It's a show experienced solely through sound.
Studio Backlot Tour
I didn't get a chance to do the tour. I'd been on the Universal Studios tour recently and couldn't imagine it'd be all that different.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
I tried to see this, but we got there just barely too late. It's a 15 minute recreation of the movie. This little is actually quite popular, so get there early.
This is a really fun way for kids to dig for dinosaur bones.
This is an exciting jeep ride similar to Disneyland's Indiana Jones. You race through the Jurassic age in your time machine. It's a good ride, but it's not quite as good as Indiana Jones.
This is a fun roller coaster that has you see a yeti and even ride backwards for awhile. I'd recommend fastpass or single rider.
Festival of the Lion King
This is an awesome show. I was almost in tears at the end. Everything is very well done and it's just incredibly entertaining.
Finding Nemo: The Musical
I didn't get a chance to see it, but I hear it's really good.
Kali River Rapids
This water tube ride is okay. I'd recommend fast pass. It's short and not as fun as CA Adventure's Grizzly River Run.
This is an excellent safari. The tour guides are great and you get to see a lot of different animals.
This coaster ride combines spinning with a sharp turned roller coaster. It was fun, but it did make me feel a bit queasy.
Animal Kingdom is a zoo and theme park combined. There are all kinds of trails to explore and animals to see.
This lift will take you up to the 3 most popular slides - summit plummet, slush gusher, and teamboat springs.
Cross Country Creek
This current pool goes around the entire park. When you finish with one section, hop in the pool and go to another.
Downhill Double Dipper
We didn't get a chance to go on these timed racing slides since the lines were long.
This is a bobbing wave pool. The waves aren't very big, but it's still fun to hop in and enjoy a few waves.
These are pretty fun single or double tube slides.
This is a fast wedgie-inducing slide, but without the crazy dip of the summit plummet.
These are fast mat slides. I had to make myself slow down since I got a little scared by the speed I was going.
This it the fastest wedgie-inducing slide. I'm not a fan of these since they're uncomfortable. They burn my back, give me a wedgie, and get water up my nose. Below is a shot of Summit plummet and slush gusher.
A large family raft ride. It's way fun, and you have to have at least 4 people to a tube. This is my favorite slide.
These are water slides with mats, similar to the huge slides you see at theme parks where you ride in itchy bags. You go side by side in a race with 8 total people.
This current pool also goes around the entire park, and there's a great view of all the beautiful plant life along your way.
Crush n Gusher
These slides are water coasters that go up and down. They're super fun and you can go with up to 2 additional people.
Gangplank Falls, Keelhaul Falls, Mayday Falls
These 3 tube slides vary in intensity. Unfortunately, none of them is very long.
These speed slides are a bit too quick for me. They result in wedgies, back burning, and water up your nose.
Here you can snorkel with colorful aquatic life in a salt water pool. However, you can't stay in it as long as you'd like. You have to be constantly swimming across.
These body slides are pretty fun.
This wave pool is intense. The waves are actually 6 feet high, and they erupt pretty continuously. I personally don't like crashing with the wave since you get slammed into the cement floor. I preferred going out to the deeper end where there are less people. There you can ride the waves without crashing with them.
Disney Quest attractions
In addition to these attractions below, Disney Quest has all kinds of classic arcade games to play. They also have a place where you can design your own toy, and a place where you can take a lesson in drawing Disney characters from a live instructor.
Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride
I wasn't able to go on this one. I heard it's a similar concept to the virtual jungle cruise (see below), but not as fun.
Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters
This seemed fun, but the ride was too long and, even worse, very slow. It looked like bumper cars but better.
This was a really fun opportunity to design your own roller coaster and then ride it. We loved ours.
Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
This was fun, but a bit confusing. I would have done better on it the 2nd time and if we'd had a 4th person. It was too difficult for us to do all the different jobs.
Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam
This was really fun. It's like an enormous pinball game and you move yourself around by bouncing.
Pirates of the Caribbean (Battle for Buccaneer Gold)
This was fun, but it would have been better with more people. The line moves incredibly slowly because they let small groups have a whole room to themselves. The game would actually be more fun if they'd put groups together. You'd be able to collect more gold, and the line would be shorter and faster.
Virtual Jungle Cruise
This was my favorite Disney Quest attraction. You row yourself down virtual rapids and waterfalls, and sometimes you even get shot with water.
Ride the Comix
This was a virtual arcade game. It was pretty fun. I was actually the top winner out of 9 players. Shocking!
#10 Sea World
I did notice a few differences between Sea World Orlando and Sea World San Diego. The parks are the same for the most part, but there are 2 really awesome roller coasters at Sea World Orlando that aren't at Sea World San Diego. They're called Manta and Kraken.
Both coasters are really fun and attempt to imitate the movements of sea creatures. I don't know why they wouldn't have them at San Diego.
Sea World San Diego has a water tube ride, Shipwreck Rapids, that's not at Sea World Orlando.
The tube ride is pretty fun, but I'd rather have 2 roller coasters than 1 tube ride.
The shows at Sea World are almost identical, but there were professional divers in the Sea World Orlando dolphin show that I don't recall seeing in San Diego.
The pet show at Orlando is indoors and outdoors at San Diego. I think it's a bit better to watch it outdoors, but it's basically the same show.
And that concludes my review of Orlando theme parks versus California theme parks. It took a long time, and I'm not sure exactly why I spent so many hours on it. I guess it's because I took just as many hours researching before I went to Disney World, only to find out that half of my information was incorrect and that I was missing a bunch as well. I figure it will all be worth it if someone out there finds my blog and saves themselves the hours of futile research that I went through.