Vote of the week: Which park is the top draw at the Disneyland Resort?

October 20, 2012, 12:53 PM · From all reports, attendance at Disney California Adventure continues to soar above its numbers from previous years, as Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the rest of the park's billion-dollar makeover draw fans to the Disneyland Resort's second gate.

In fact, California Adventure's become so popular that reports say, the park outdraws its older sibling on some days. Now, Disneyland and California Adventure stand closer to one another than any other theme parks (even closer than Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure). So park-hopping at Disneyland's a snap. Many passholders treat the two parks as one - easily switching back and forth throughout the day. But where do you start first?

Let's say you're magically transported to Anaheim tomorrow morning, and a Disneyland Resort park-hopper ticket appears in your hand. Where do you go?

Do you turn south, and head into Disney California Adventure, to see Cars Land and all the new attractions there?

Disney California Adventure

Or do you turn north, and visit the original Disneyland first, with its Halloween overlays and classic attractions?


That's our vote of the week. Keep in mind that you've got a park-hopper. You can visit both parks that day, so there's no missing out on a favorite attraction from either park. The vote's simply asking which park you would choose to do first on your next visit to the resort.

In the comments, tell us your dream itinerary for a one-day Disneyland Resort visit. And thanks again, as always, for reading Theme Park Insider!

Replies (19)

October 20, 2012 at 1:27 PM · This is a no brainer: DCA. Gotta avoid RSR waits!
October 20, 2012 at 1:38 PM · 3rd Option: I'm an APer, will go to the lesser voted park.
October 20, 2012 at 2:02 PM · My dream itinerary became reality last summer; I first went to DCA to get my FP for WoC, and to get to RSR's queue ASAP. Then I hopped to Disneyland, and hopped back to DCA in the evening. As a Florida resident, I was delighted to have 2 theme parks so close to each other! And Downtown Disney in between! My only complaint is that every time I wanted to go from Harbor blvd's hotel to Downtown Disney I had to go through security and take out my fanny pack. Then I had to do it again when returning to my hotel. They should do that at the entrance of the parks.
October 20, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Right now, I'd go to DCA first just due to the crowd levels, but I think long term Disneyland will still be the main driver of a trip.
October 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Disneyland. Until very recently (a couple weeks ago) I had an annual pass, and the only times I went to DCA first were when I couldn't make Disneyland's opening but could make DCA's, or when I had early entry to DCA. Even with all of the new stuff, DCA is still a half-day park to me.

Here's my one-day touring plan for the resort, which I've used on about half my visits.

1. Be inside Disneyland 10 minutes before opening. At opening, grab a Fastpass for either Space Mountain or Star Tours, then ride the other.
2. Ride (in order): Indiana Jones Adventure (possible single rider), Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Matterhorn Bobsleds.
3. Get lunch, use the Fastpass, then hop to DCA.
4. Get Fastpasses for Soarin' and California Screamin' (insider tip: Screamin' isn't connected to the loop), then ride Toy Story Midway Mania and Sky School before returning to Screamin' with the Fastpass. If it is not yet time to ride, do Little Mermaid.
5. Ride Grizzly River Run (possible single rider), Tower of Terror, and Radiator Springs Racers (definite single rider), then return to Soarin' and use the Fastpass. If time needs to be killed, ride Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and/or Paradise Pier flats. After Soarin', return to Disneyland.
6. Grab a Fastpass for Autopia and Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin, then eat dinner before using both Fastpasses (Roger Rabbit first).
7. Hit the Fantasyland dark rides (excluding possibly Peter Pan) during the evening parade, then enjoy remaining attractions in whatever order desired and/or do re-rides.

Using this plan, I've been able to do 30 rides in one day (although my normal total was 20-25). It may not work any longer once the Fastpass loopholes are closed and the return times are enforced, but this is still a great way to see everything in both parks in one day, even when it's crowded.

October 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM · Have to stay old school with this one. My first day is hands down disneyland. Cars Land will be there tomorrow. Disneyland just has the ELECTRIC atmosphere that I crave non stop that makes me want to go there all the time. How can anyone say no to a back to back morning ride on Indiana Jones and then a short hop to Pirates?
October 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Gotta tell ya, it depends on my mood. Also, how early I can get my - um, self outta bed.
October 21, 2012 at 12:41 AM · I chose Disneyland first cause carsland is simply gorgeous at night. Not only that but so is Paradise pier! I'd say if you haven't seen the new DCA yet its best to come around 5 pm, and as the sun goes down and the lights turn on you're in for a real treat. Also carthay theater is stunning at night too. I'd venture to say actually that apart from the castle, DCA actually looks better at night overall than Disneyland. Although I must admit I'm a sucker for visiting Matterhorn right around sunset. Its almost as if DCA is designed for night time with the victorian Pier littered with hundred(thousands?) of those iconic round newly invented lights, and of course the mickey wheel is dazzling also and all of that is compounded by the reflection in parsdise bay! Also, Radiator springs with its 50s inspired liberal use of neon looks fantastic and RS racers is actually funner at night too, well most thrill rides are!
October 21, 2012 at 8:07 AM · It's simple for me, Disneyland. 

RSR has a Single rider line and when you add the time you have to wait for the park to open, line to get a fast pass, wait for your return window, and the line for fast pass. The amount of time you spend waiting is more than what you would if you go to Disneyland park and enjoy the very light Morning crowds. 

October 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Easy question for me. I visited Calfornia only once, in 1979, as a soon-to-be 15 year-old. It was on a cross- country bus trip with my Mom, and we had a choice of going to Disneyland or Universal (then, of course, it was just the tram tour thing with Jaws, Earthquake, etc.) We decided on Disneyland, and it's a decision I've regretted to this day. Remember, this was before I became the amusement park and roller coaster junkie you "see" before you today. Having already been to the Magic Kingdom twice, Disneyland did absolutely nothing for me. So my answer here is California Adventure, as I think I would appreciate it more now than Disneyland, having never been there.
October 21, 2012 at 2:04 PM · What do you mean? It's just one big park separated by two entrances...

Seriously though, the idea of the "Disneyland Resort" makes the most sense to me. I.e., more so than WDW, you can think of the resort as a single entity.

October 21, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Put a gun to my head - Disneyland bc because its Disneyland. Walt's place.
October 21, 2012 at 4:19 PM · OK. I voted DCA just because I wanted to see how the voting was going. It still depends on my mood and the time I get my lazy self over to the resort.
October 21, 2012 at 6:06 PM · The survey needs more conditioning. I might visit DCA right now, but after getting my fill of Carsland, I will return to my old habit of visiting Disneyland first. Disneyland just has lots more to do. DCA not so much, but it is getting better.
October 21, 2012 at 7:48 PM · I agree, the resort is just one big park. I wish they'd run a people mover between the two parks because walking back and fourth eats up a lot of time. That said, when I AP holder we started to do half days between the two parks to keep ourselves from running each other ragged. First up is always CA, and then mid afternoon and evening as DL. Now that we let the annual passes go I don't really see us hitting up California Adventure all that often, the kids prefer Disneyland.
October 21, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Fastpass for WoC and RSR or not, Disneyland is the main draw. It's not even a close contest between the two parks. DCA still has miles to go before even coming close to DL's awesomeness.
October 22, 2012 at 10:28 AM · I always got to DCA first (even before CarsLand opened). I just prefer to do that park first (plus it closes earlier than Disneyland, so it's just easier to be in Disneyland last)

Obviously, Disneyland is the main park, but I've always liked DCA. It was less crowded (WAS) & there was something about it being the "unpopular" park that I gravitated towards.

California Screamin', ToT, Aladdin, Grizzly Rapids,, etc were all cool attractions, there was world of color, so it wasn't like it was worst theme park ever, it was just located across from Disneyland, which made its shortcomings all the more evident., but some talked about it like it was a the little merry go round outside the supermarket, lol!

So I guess I'm saying I like both parks equally.

October 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM · I think that no matter what Disney adds to DCA, it will never be the classic masterpiece Disneyland is.
October 24, 2012 at 12:29 AM · I agree that California Adventure is still a half-day park, while Disneyland is someplace our family will usually spend the whole day. Before Cars Land opened, we only visited California Adventure (if at all) after spending the morning at Disneyland until that park got crowded. On the last trip to Disney we paid for, we bought one-park tickets and stayed the whole day at Disneyland.

Coincidentally, we recently won a family pack of park hopper tickets through an internet contest which are good until mid-December. For our next trip, we will probably go to California Adventure first because our kids enjoyed Cars Land so much on an earlier June visit (also won through a contest), and that's where the biggest crowds are right now.

With the prohibitively high cost of Disneyland (resort) tickets, we can't justify buying park hopper tickets to go to California Adventure unless there is some discount or promotion like the 2fer deals usually offered starting in January.

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