(note: this is one section of a longer California TPS Report. Click here to start from the beginning)
So one of the highlights of this California trip was getting to spend a few days at the Disneyland Resort. We’ve been to Walt Disney World in Florida dozens of times, but we’ve never visited Walt’s original park.
It’s really difficult for an east coast person to talk about Disneyland without inevitable comparisons to the Florida parks. There’s obviously going to be some degree of homerism in this thing, but I’m going to try to be as objective as possible.
I don’t know if I ever mentioned that the whole point of this thing was to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’m going to have a hard time competing with this when it’s Karen’s turn.
Whoa. Maybe we shouldn’t go here after all (seriously, is there ANYTHING the state of California doesn’t consider to be cause of cancer and birth defects?)
Before we even got into the park, I saw one really surprising difference between the Florida and California parks. You’d never see a Cast Member outside of their specific areas. Obviously this was something they corrected with the design of Walt Disney World (this is the kind of thing you only get bothered by when it’s pointed out to you).
A huge shock to me was how close the entrances are for Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. I wish I had thought to take a panoramic picture of the entrance plazas – they’re literally right across from each other (Google says they’re 23 feet away from each other. Bit of a lowball number – it’s closer to 300 feet from gate to gate).
Here’s the best I got – this is the Disneyland Railroad. Behind the train, you can see the backside of Disneyland’s turnstiles. Behind that you can clearly see the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the building for Soarin’ Over California (both DCA attractions).
The first thing people say when they’re comparing the World to the Land is that Disneyland Park is considerably smaller than the Magic Kingdom (I don’t know if the old “You can fit Disneyland into MK’s parking lot” legend is true or not). Whether or not this is a problem really depends on what your specific preferences are. There are pros and cons both ways.
I’m going to start off saying that the smaller size allows for a more intimate experience. Main Street USA is supposed to feel like the main street of a small town. I get that vibe at Disneyland, while Main Street USA at Magic Kingdom is like the supersized version.
Of course it’s all supposed to be reminiscent of Walt Disney’s childhood spent in Marceline, Missouri. Having been to Marceline, I can absolutely see it here.
I’ve always felt that Disney really nails the entire main street vibe. Lots of other parks have certainly attempted to do something like this to slowly get you sucked in to the overall atmosphere, but only Disney really manages to make it a thriving part of the park, as opposed to something to sprint through to get to “the good stuff.”
If you’re in the park and you have anything you’re celebrating, you should always swing into Town Hall and tell them. Birthday, Anniversary, whatever you’ve got. There are special buttons (like above) they’ll give you to wear in the park. There’s certainly no guarantee that you’ll get special treatment or anything, but you never know. That does NOT mean go to Town Hall and make some shit up. That’s not cool.
Getting back to the size issue, there’s really no question that Sleeping Beauty Castle is considerably smaller than Cinderella Castle. But again, that’s not really a bad thing.
Just like at Magic Kingdom, the storefronts are all facades and the interior shops are considerably larger and connected together.
The design of the buildings on Main Street USA utilizes forced perspective, wherein the second level is actually built on a smaller scale than the first. It’s a clever trick, fooling your brain into believing everything is larger than it is.
The Partners statue is the original geographical center of the park. Various expansions of the park have since moved the true center of the park further back into Fantasyland.