I've posted something similar to this in another thread (that I hope more people would have commented on ), but it will be our first time visiting Disneyland Resort this September. Also, any suggestions for dining, hotel preferences, attractions, shows or anything you can think of would be greatly appreciated. I noticed the DL section of this site doesn't get as much love, so is there a good DL fan site anyone can reccomend for my questions as well?
I was a five-time WDW visitor before I visited WDW, so I was in a similar situation as you.
We stayed at the Grand Californian for easy access into both parks, since we were only there for two and a half days.
There is plenty of stuff to do in both parks, so a park hopping option would probably be your best bet. Disneyland generally has better maintenance than WDW, and the theming, especially in Fantasyland, is a lot more cohesive. It's also worth it to keep in mind that WDW is a true resort, cut off from the rest of the world by the use of forests and undeveloped wilderness as buffers. The thing about Disneyland (or Tokyo or Paris) compared to WDW is that it's compact and very walkable.
And yet at the same time, there are nearly as many attractions packed into Disneyland and DCA than there are in all four WDW combined.
Then there's entertainment, which is widely thought to be superior at Disneyland compared to WDW. As a multiple visit vet of both resorts, I think the notes on this page are the best that I have ever seen on the differences in the locations. One question for the above response, what exactly is "Buffeteria" style of dining?
I think it's important to go in with an open mind and try to enjoy each one for what they are. The Little Mermaid, Goofy's Sky School, the completed pier refurbishment (2 new restaurants, shops and paradise park) and in DL the new Star tours and new parade will all be up and running for your trip in Sep as well as all the other great rides and shows. Roast Beef Royale - Slow-roasted, generously sliced, and served with Cognac Peppercorn Jus. Seafood & Chicken Jambalaya - A Savory Medley of Creole Rice, Zucchini, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Okra, and Tomato.
Four-Cheese Pasta & Vegetable Gratin - A creamy blend of Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Provolone and Asiago surrounding tender pasta and smooth, subtle bites of Shiitake Mushroom and Cauliflower Florets topped with Seasonal Breadcrumbs.
Dixieland Cajun Chicken Salad - Cajun Breast of Chicken, Roasted Corn, Peppers, Onion, Black-Eyed Peas, Avocado, and Tomato - atop a crisp bed of Romaine, Arugula and Frisee Lettuce.
Chowder & Salad Duet - Our signature Clam Chowder, piping hot in a Boudin Sourdough Bread Boule, with our Garden Salad. You walk in and pick up a tray and slide along and choose from a handful of surprisingly delicious Southern themed salads, entrees and sides that are prepared for you by CM's on the other side of the counter.
The same basic buffeteria concept is also found at Rancho Del Zocalo and Riverbelle Terrace in Frontierland, the fabulously lavish Plaza Inn on Main Street USA, and Redd Rockett's Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. We leave for Disneyland on Sunday and have to say that this thread is the most informative I've read!
If you want to be indoors, the ESPNZone at the far end of Downtown Disney just past the monorail station has several options for grabbing a beer. Estimated delivery dates - opens in a new window or tab include seller's handling time, origin ZIP Code, destination ZIP Code and time of acceptance and will depend on shipping service selected and receipt of cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab.

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Being accustomed to WDW for over 20 years, I have a preset notion of what the 2 parks, the hotel, DTD and the whole experience in general will be like. The atmosphere is much more busy - you have few areas that are filled with dead space, as they need to fit the maximum amount of attractions into minimum space. Most WDW versions of Disneyland originals such as Pirates of the Caribbean are regarded as inferior to their predecessors, and in some cases this is true. But due to the maintenance, variety and theming of Disneyland, I will probably find myself booking many more trips to California in the future.
I always suggest folks do a Google Map thing and check out the Resort area that way to get a feel for the place before you arrive. I think the important thing to focus on is to try and do as many attractions as possible that only exist at Disneyland. We were there last Oct and had planned to go to WDW this yearfor 40th but had such a good time we have booked to go back last week in Sep this year again. They are a step up in quality and price from the fast food restaurants, but not as expensive as the waiter-service places, and you just walk in without a reservation. There's a small bandstand, and they do a great job of having a live jazz band out there playing while you dine. Paradise Pier will be finished so hopefully you will only have major construction happening on Buena Vista Street and Cars Land.
They have good bar food brought down from Catal, and a decent cocktail menu and good beer selection. Packaging should be the same as what is found in a retail store, unless the item is handmade or was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount.
The Disneyland Hotel is amidst an extensive renovation project, and I haven't heard fantastic things about the Paradise Pier Hotel.
I would also recommend making reservations for Blue Bayou at Disneyland and Storytellers at the Grand Californian, as I frequently hear great things about both eateries. However, you're best off visiting Disneyland with the mentality that this is NOT Disney World. But pictures like this do a pretty good job of explaining how compact and tidy the Disneyland Resort is. If you go after the 16th you'll get to do Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday! If you like character breakfasts i would recommend the Story Tellers breakfast as the best at the resort and it has some unusual characters such as Turk from Tarzan and Koda from Brother Bear.

The French Market also serves the famous Southern drink, a Mint Julep (non-alcoholic version). Outdoor patio dining is rampant at Disneyland because of that, compared to the climate-controlled sealed dining rooms in WDW.
If you are going later in the month then the Haunted Mansion will have the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay which is so cute and mixes things up. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. I participate occasionally on MiceChat, but I'm not sure how conducive it will be for your purposes. I am going for about 5 days (give each park 2 days to hopefully do rides we like twice or more), staying either 3 or 4 nights at Disneyland Hotel (its a little cheaper and I heard the refurbs will be complete mostly by then). If you go in the first half of September you'll hit rehabs for both those rides, and no real Halloween decor.
Plaza Inn or French Market are great for the Buffeteria option, something that doesn't exist any more in WDW parks. I would agree with the poster above that said walking down Main Street isn't quite the same at DL and its probably because the castle is so much smaller, but its the original so that is cool and you can go in it!
Hope you grow to love DL as much as WDW its a fantastic resort and has Walts touch to make it that bit more special. Also if they do it again Space Mountain will have the ghost gallexy overlay which was really cool too! There are also many attractions you cannot otherwise experience at WDW, including Pinocchio's Daring Journey, the Matterhorn (which is grossly oversold in my opinion), Mr. If you go in with an open mind you will have a splendid time and enjoy tons of things that you can't experience at WDW, from live entertainment, New Orleans Square, aesthetics, and attractions. However I am going to try to sell the Grand Californian to the wife (she is not enthused with the Wilderness Lodge style too much).
In Downtown Disney I recommend Catal or Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen for great non-Disney meals. The resort isn't seperated from the city like WDW so that is different too, but it is great to have both parks and DTD within walking distance. And the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian is one of the top restaurants in SoCal, and often thought to be the best restaurant in the Disney empire. Lincoln, and the Indiana Jones Adventure, which vies with Tower of Terror for the #1 best Imagineering creation of the modern age.
There are rides there that are not in WDW so I think those will be really enjoyable to you. For the attractions that are at both parks some are better at DL and some at WDW, it just depends. If you can stay on property I would because once you leave the resort you are right on Harbor Blvd and it looses the Disney feeling. DCA is getting a lot better but there are construction walls everywhere, but if you are there after May the pier will be finished and the new resturants and TLM will be open.

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