It’s no secret that I’m a Disneyland (DL) fanatic. I go several times a year because I can. I don’t get sick of it and I don’t get bored of it. It is my sportsball and I wrote all about that here.
Recently, I got to visit Walt Disney World (WDW) for a family Christmas trip, and boy-howdy was it different. I have a lot of friends who swear that WDW is so much better than DL, but, after visiting WDW as an adult, I’m going to have to disagree. I actually like DL better. It might be because I’ve spent so much more time there that I have a more personal connection to DL. It might be the cast members or the people. It might be the cleanliness of the parks. Here’s some of the observations that I made while in WDW.
Let’s start with the good. WDW is huge. There are four main parks, three water parks, Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney), and 27 Disney resorts. We were there for 7 days and probably did a quarter of the things there are to do. We didn’t even fit in all of the rides at the parks, although we did try. There are so many things to do at WDW compared to DL. I could have easily spent those 7 days just in one or two parks in order to see all the attractions, parades, shows, and eat all the food. I never felt bored in WDW despite the amount of time we spent there. I think if we spent 7 days in DL, we would have been bored by the end of the trip. Yes, there are lots of things to do in DL as well, but not 7 consecutive days worth. WDW definitely wins on the amount of things there are to occupy your time with.
Ok, time to get into the bad. WDW is dirty. I’m sorry, but it has to be said. I’m not sure why, but there was trash everywhere! We were in line for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride at 7:05am, right when the park opened, and there was already a pile of trash in the line que. Cups and wrappers and water bottles littered the areas around the queues for all the rides. I had to step around multiple gum-landmines in all of the parks. Trash cans were just as prevalent in the Magic Kingdom and the other parks in WDW as they are in DL, but for some reason, people seemed less inclined to use them. And the cleaning staff seemed to have a difficult time keeping up with the litter-bugs. DL, on the other hand, always seems clean. I have actively watched their cleaning staff scoop trash as people drop it. The line queues are monitored better and trash is dealt with swiftly. DL wins on the cleanliness of the parks.
The cast members
Since we started talking about cast members on trash duty, let’s continue that train of thought. The cast members at WDW are kind of rude. Many seem like they don’t want to be there. I overheard several cast members complain about their schedules and days off. My sister listened for many moments to two women in the France area of the World Showcase complain about their paychecks before they gave her any attention (I don’t think they realized that my sister speaks French!). I watched a cast member literally snap her fingers at a group because they weren’t moving fast enough in the line. I had a cast member yell “Ma’am” at me over and over again because, yes, I had crossed a rope barrier to take a picture of some lights. I realize I wasn’t supposed to cross the barrier, but yelling “Ma’am, ma’am, ma’am” at me over and over again wasn’t working. I honestly didn’t realize she was talking to me. It wasn’t until a family member called my name that I realized the cast member was talking to me.
I’ve never had that happen to me at DL. Even if I’m in a place I’m not supposed to be, the cast member is polite in asking me to follow the rules. While I have heard some complaints from cast members in DL, it is few. It seemed like every person who was working at WDW hated their jobs. The wait staff at the restaurants were pleasant, but most of the store clerks and quick service staff were at best indifferent and at worst flat out rude to customers.
There also seemed to be a lot of new people training at WDW. There were several times that cast members seems flustered or overwhelmed by what was happening around them. One notable occurrence happened at Hollywood Studios when we boarded Star Tours. The cast member responsible for placing people in rows was having all sorts of trouble placing people correctly. So much so, that she was using a cheat card that showed her the number of seats per row. I have never seen a card like that in DL and Star Tours is my favorite ride.
All in all, I give major points to the cast members at DL. They are always polite and rarely flustered. Maybe there was a lot of season help at WDW, but I was not impressed by their staff.
Not all of the problems at WDW were caused by cast members. The people are WDW were just as much at fault. There is a different clientele between WDW and DL and it’s not something I can put my finger on. It was just a different vibe from the people in the park. For starters, rarely do I see people just dump their trash on the ground in DL, but, as mentioned, trash was a big problem in all of the parks in WDW. More than that, the people in WDW just seems more pushy and less likely to help out. I watched several groups just push past others to get into lines. One group cut me off in line, separating me from my dad and my sister. When a member of their party tried to stop me from squeezing past them, I had to mention that they cut me off from the rest of my party. Even then, they seemed annoyed that I wanted to get past them to ride with my family. One of the people in my group was walking down the street and an older couple refused to unclasp their hands so he could walk through them. They literally let him walk straight into their joined hands and kept walking without saying or doing anything. He could have walked around them, true, but for anyone who hasn’t been to WDW during the Christmas holiday, the streets are packed with people. It’s difficult to walk around because there are people on all sides of you.
The people at DL seem more friendly, polite, and willing to let you meet up with your party in line without giving you attitude. Although, I will give people in WDW props from not using their flash on rides. That is a much bigger problem in DL.
Let’s end on a positive note. WDW has some of the best food I’ve ever had in a Disney park. Cream cheese filled pretzels aside (and if you haven’t had one of those, you are missing out, my friend) WDW had amazing selections of food. We didn’t have a bad meal there (except at the hotel). From Yak and Yeti at the Animal Kingdom to the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom to the many offerings in the World Showcase at Epcot, it was all good. The dining plan also allowed us to eat larger than usual portions, so we only needed to eat twice a day with some snacks in between. The sampling of food was fantastic, though. DL has some good food as well, but the sheer range of foods you could eat at WDW was a treat. We had French one night and Moroccan the next with some Norway in between for lunch. There was seafood and grilled food and healthy food and not so healthy food (I’m looking at you, pastries). We definitely did not go hungry.
Our WDW trip was super fun and I am definitely going back in the next few years, but I still think DL will always be the special park in my heart.