A common misconception people may have is that there’s little real difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Nothing could be further from the truth. Disneyland is a truly different beast as it may be just two parks and the Downtown Disney area, but it’s got more than enough to make even veteran Walt Disney World parkgoers exhausted if they go in with the wrong plan.
After scores of Disney World visits, my family visited Disneyland in March of 2023, and I was struck by these differences. From the rides to the park layout, there are tons of differences. There’s also a bit from the climate to the location that leads to different dynamics. A lot of park prep can be the same for either coast, but these are some mistakes long-time WDW veterans can make when visiting Disneyland, possibly missing some of the magic The Happiest Place on Earth provides.
Needing a car
Guests who stay off-site at Disney World are used to renting a car to drive to and from the parks. Even if you stay on property, some might be expecting to use the buses and other transportation means to get around, so it’s easy to assume a Disneyland trip requires a car.
However, because so many hotels are much closer to the parks than in Florida, a rental car really isn’t required. That’s especially true for the high costs of the Disneyland parking garage and the length it takes to get from there to the parks. It’s easier to just Uber from the airport to your hotel and then use the shuttles (or, if you’re close enough, just walk) to get around Disneyland than the added cost of car rental.
Magic Kingdom has two entrances
This is a very easy mistake for WDW veterans who are used to only one entrance into the Magic Kingdom. Imagine how thrown someone is to be there at the rope drop and head to what they assume is a quiet Tomorrowland, only to find it already packed. That’s because the monorail from Downtown Disney drops off there, so guests can hit Space Mountain and the like first.
That plays into the rest of the day, with guests from the monorail also heading toward Fantasyland while folks are coming in from the main entrance too. Thus, WDW fans have to realize that there’s a second entrance in Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom that can throw off their usual routines.