Completing the RunDisney Coast to Coast Challenge required going the extra mile to California and visiting Disneyland for the first time. Having been almost a regular at Disney World over the past year I didn’t have any overwhelming expectations. I had heard the park was smaller and the nearly adjacent Disney California Adventure was smaller still and I assumed the rides would be similar since the characters are the same. More or less I had thought – same place different castle. I was wrong.

Disneyland combines elements from across Disney World and while smaller seems to have a better overall flow to move people around the park. I am a fan of EPCOT and usually see the Magic Kingdom as a place to go but not a place to stay. I learned that Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom while similar are not interchangeable. Disneyland has elements like Innoventions, Star Tours and Captain EO (now Big Hero Six Preview) that are not a part of the Magic Kingdom. Disneyland also has a sense of history and place that is missing in all the Disney World parks.

Disney California Adventure might be the most complete Disney Park I’ve been to. The balance of rides, attractions and the use of space are well thought out and designed. It starts with elements of Hollywood Studios and quickly becomes a very cohesive space of well defined “lands” that make a patchwork tour of the state of California and have themed areas for the kids in a Bug’s Life and Cars.

Overall the experience was a lot of fun and different. Don’t think you know what is about to happen just because you’ve been on a ride or through the same attraction in Disney World. A couple of them surprised us. The Christmas themed rides were really cool – the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World all get a complete makeover for Christmas. Something that doesn’t happen in the Magic Kingdom. While I hated to miss the ‘original’ I thought the holiday decorations were really cool.

More on the way – pictures, thoughts, etc. This is just a ‘First Look’ posted from somewhere over Oklahoma on the plane.

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