Why I Will Always Choose Disneyland Over California Adventure

In front of the Disneyland Castle
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I love Disney’s California Adventure. I love Disneyland. I am “one of those” people who can quote any Disney movie, owned multiple stuffed Disney characters, and was on my way to collecting all of the Disney movies ever created. For 3 years, I worked at Disney’s California Adventure: I worked 6 days a week, varying from 4-hour to 18-hour shifts, and I spent almost all of my free time before and after shifts playing in the Parks. I was living the dream!


With Disney friends


Normally, I stay away from most questions asked on Facebook. My feed tends to fill up with people asking for recommendations for homeowner upkeep, stuff for their kids, and places to visit. I don’t own a house, I don’t have kids, and unless their trips are taking them to Utah or along the I-15 corridor between LA and Salt Lake City, I still consider myself a newer traveler and only offer my opinion if I feel strongly about something they’re asking.


However, a blogger that I follow posted a question on Facebook, asking which Park to take her kids to: Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure. As per usual, people started to comment and give their opinion.


Paradise Pier


So did I.




I did it. I commented and gave my opinion. I said something along the lines of: do your research. Look at the rides, shows, parades, and food in each Park and determine what your family would rather see. When in doubt, default to Disneyland: The Mothership. And after a few back-and-forths with a few other commenters, she decided on Disneyland. Now, I’m pretty confident that my comment had absolutely NO influence upon her decision, but it got me thinking.


Am I turning my back on my roots? On the place that provided my livelihood for 3+ years? The place where I once was paid to rollerblade and take pictures with kids? 


Rollerblading at Disney California Adventure


Not at all. I love Disney’s California Adventure and it will always be a part of me, but if given a choice between it and Disneyland, I will ALWAYS choose Disneyland…and here are a few reasons why!

Some of my earliest memories take place at Disneyland

Back in the day, you know, long before ToonTown was even a thing, there used to be so many lesser-known character interactions. Since the amount of Disney movies and cartoons were still minimal, there wasn’t as much variety with which characters you would see out and about. And there was still ROOM for said character interactions to actually take place within FantasyLand or whateverLand they were associated with…none of this stick-all-the-princesses-in-one-location mess.


When I was about 6, my family visited Disneyland (we always had passes growing up…back when they didn’t cost you a kidneyand we participated in one of my favorite character interactions at the time. In FantasyLand, you can find King Arthur’s Carousel smack-dab in the middle, with The Sword in the Stone right in front of it. During the day, Merlin used to come out and meet guests at the Sword. He scoured the audience that had congregated, looking for the one person who could pull the Sword from the Stone. Only the pure of heart and mind would be able to pull it. After having one of the strongest-looking men try to pull the Sword, Merlin chose me! I ran up and with the roaring support of the large crowd that was surrounding me at this point, I pulled the Sword from the Stone! I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, a 6-year-old little girl and was able to successfully pull the Sword when a very strong man couldn’t!


Once the Sword was pulled, music filled our ears and I was suddenly draped in a heavy, velvet cape, a too-big crown was placed on my head, and a scepter thrust into my hand. Merlin had adorned me in “typical” regalia for royalty. We took a picture together and (here’s where I date myself) then Merlin put the polaroid in a fancy, aged scroll, declaring that I was “Queen Rachelle.” I have the scroll somewhere and will cherish it forever. Maybe it will become a family heirloom!



Disneyland Castle is the image we all saw at the beginning of every Disney movie

Remember when I said at the start of this post that I could quote almost every movie? Yeah, that’s no joke. I loved Disney movies and got so excited every time we stuck a tape in the VCR. Remember that little jingle as the blue screen appeared, then the white castle, then the white “rainbow” over the castle? Then, when technology improved, we actually got to see Tinkerbell doing her thing and making the “rainbow” happen? And nowadays, the actual colorful castle with a moat and usually a little village or whatever fit the movie (thinking about the live-action Beauty and the Beast)? As much as I love California Adventure, there’s no way we’d be able to have the large grizzly bear from Grizzly River Run at the start of those movies!



We all revert to our inner child as soon as we enter Main Street, USA

As a Cast Member, I’ve been present for numerous Park opening ceremonies: they’re amazing! Characters come from everywhere, singing ensues, and even sometimes, confetti. No matter how many times I’ve seen this spectacle, I get so excited and just want to run down Main Street, USA, doing cartwheels and other acrobatics that, in real life, I would probably shatter a hip or two. I once went to Disneyland with my mom and sister, just a quick girl’s trip. When they open the Park, there’s usually a long red velvet rope that the Guests get to hold and carry as they enter the Park as the “first Guests.” We were right behind those folks, and as soon as the opening song started and they began walking, we tore off over to TomorrowLand, angry voices behind us, yelling that we had to slow down. Whatever. We were 5 again.


Main Street USA confetti


My trip feels unfinished when I only visit Disney’s California Adventure

The last time I was at the Disneyland Resort was for my nephew’s birthday, and due to timing restrictions, I was only able to visit Disney’s California Adventure with them. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to adequately describe the hole in my heart when I finally realized that I wasn’t going to be able to return with them the next day to “finish” my Disneyland Resort experience. I needed to scream on Space Mountain. I needed to yank on the rope in the Indiana Jones ride. I needed to fly with Peter Pan. I needed to sing along with the Pirates of the Caribbean. I needed to practice my driving skills at Autopia.


Rocking the fanny pack at Disneyland


And with that, I think I need to start planning a trip to Disneyland with all this talk about it! Have you ever been to Disneyland before? Any Disney Park? What are your thoughts?


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21 thoughts on “Why I Will Always Choose Disneyland Over California Adventure

  1. I went to Disneyland a long time ago, but totally understand your preference! I remember walking down Main Street and also feeling like 6 years old again! It’s just one of those places you can let your inner child out! Btw, that photo of you as a kid is just adorable!

  2. I never actually knew there was a California Adventure park! I have only been to the Disneyland park in California. I agree with you about the feeling of starting and finishing by a walk down Main Street. I can still remember that from when I went as a kid. Of course the castle is iconic, as a kid you do need these things as part of the experience. By the way I’m impressed you can ride those rollerblades, I would not be able to!

  3. Yes, we all have Disney memories growing up. I haven’t been to a Disney themed attraction in a while. But it’s something that I have been planning to do for some time. It’s such a nice way to bring out the inner child in you and leave your worries behind!

  4. You know so much about Disneyland that Disney ought to give you a VVIP offer to work with them. Didn’t do much of Disney as a kid. My parents had always been worried about my I’ll health but now that I’m a adult and better health wise, I’m beginning to think I missed a lot. I might consider a Disneyland tour with my little cousins.

  5. AGH! You and are must be kindred spirits, I love everything DISNEY! I love both parks but I will always be a sucker for the Ariel ride and the former Tower of Terror (still sad that they closed that ride) – I don’t remember what they are putting in its place though. Love the throwback pic of you as a kid, that was adorable 🙂

  6. I’m with you. I wouldn’t want to have to choose – I love both places – but, really, there is no place like Disneyland. There’s a reason they call it the happiest place on earth. It’s magical!

  7. working at Disney really looks like it was an interesting experience. i’m sure you have lots more stories to tell. I have never been to any Disneyland before, but it’s still on my list!

  8. Interesting to read what Disneyland meant for you after you’ve worked there and also as a kid. I visited both Disneyland California and Disneyland Paris with my kids when they were still quite small. It’s not a place where I would go as an adult, to be honest. However, it was a great experience for my kids.

  9. I have been to Disneyland, California Adventure, and the theme parks in Disney World! It was too long ago so I couldn’t quite remember the difference between Disneyland vs California Adventure. I just remembered they were both fantastic. Your post brought back so many great memories, reminding me that it is probably time for another visit!

  10. I went to Disneyland looong time ago and I remember I enjoyed the visit much even though I was in middle school at that time. But I haven’t been to California Adventure so I can’t say which one I prefer.

  11. Though it was a childhood dream, I have never been to Disney. I am 35 now, but might still go with nephews. I would love to take them to both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.

  12. I love Disneyland! 🙂 I’ve always been a fan and always look forward to visiting Disneyland in HK when we were there. I must agree that it makes you feel like a little kid again and again and it never gets tiresome! 😉 Love your story about Merlin, too! Such a wonderful memory!

  13. Well, I have only been to Euro Disney in Paris and my daughter was 7. She loved it and I loved seeing her excited about those parades and meeting Mickey and her favorite princesses. I suppose there is still some magic left there for the kids. For me, I did feel that I had been to better parks. Ah well! I suppose maybe I have grown out of it.

  14. I have not been to Disneyland USA but I have been to the one in Paris and our experience was wonderful. I would choose Disneyland for sure, over any other entertainment. No doubt, it is called one of the happiest places in the world. You have given a nice comparison here for people to decide

  15. I haven’t been to either park, but I love Disney World in Florida. There’s something magical that only comes from Disney. In fact, right now my daughter is in Disney World with her grandparents. She’s 24 and this must be like her 10th trip to Disney World. Disney love definitely runs in the family!

  16. I haven’t been to Disneyland till now. Though I am not a huge fan of Disneyland as I am more of a nature lover traveler. But I would like to experience Disney’s California Adventure once in life. Its a paradise for kids with so many entertainment options.

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