Why I would suggest Disneyland over Disney World to someone who suffers from chronic pain.


It is no secret that I love Disneyland.  Besides the magical memories made with family and friends, Disneyland provides me with physical and mental therapy.  Because of this, I never hesitate to suggest a Disneyland vacation to my friends that suffer from chronic pain.  However, I am not as quick to suggest they go to Disney World.  Before I list my reasons for why I feel Disneyland is a better fit for those who are chronically ill, I want to state that this isn’t a Disneyland is better than Disney World post.  While I’m partial to the park that Walt built, I believe all the Disney Parks are wonderful in their own ways.  Instead, this post is to show the differences between the two parks and why Disneyland would always be my first choice, even if I didn’t live nearby.

  1. Proximity of hotels to the parks and ease of going between them. Disneyland sits on less land than Disney World. The Disneyland hotels are conveniently located off of Downtown Disney.   Guests of the Disneyland hotels have direct access through the California Grand to California Adventure. The Monorail is also located near the hotel, allowing guests to enter Disneyland directly. Even without those options, it is only a five to ten (depending on crowds and walking speed) minute walk from a Disneyland hotel to the park gates. Guests staying at a Disney World hotel must take various modes of transportation to reach the parks. I read posts about it taking guests 30 to 60 minutes and some cases, longer just to get from their hotel to any of the parks on a daily basis. If it took me that long to get from my hotel to the park gates, I would need to rest when I first entered the park instead of being ready to tackle some of my favorite fast rides with shorter morning wait times.   With Disneyland, their hotels aren’t the only ones within walking distance of the parks. There are 20+ hotels that are located closer to the park gates than any of the Disney World hotels are to their parks. Having more energy while in the park is the result of having less travel time between your hotel and the parks. Close proximity also removes the guilt of needing a nap. At Disney World, the additional travel required increases your time away from the parks. Instead of a one-hour nap plus 5-10 minutes of travel time at Disneyland, travel time at Disney World could increase your time out of the parks by two hours! For guests that need assistance getting back to the hotel, this also results in someone else in your party losing time.
  2. Do more in less time. While Disneyland is smaller in land measurement, it has more attractions than Disney World. Disneyland and Disney World have 20 shared attractions. Disney World has 26 unique attractions, and Disneyland has 32. At Disney World, these attractions are scattered throughout four different parks, while the attractions are dispersed throughout only two parks in Disneyland. More attractions per park equate to having to walk less between attractions. At Disneyland, there are few attractions that don’t have an entrance to another near its exit.
  3. Waste less time traveling in between parks. Because of the proximity of the two Disneyland Resort parks, you could spend your day alternating between the parks several times throughout your day. You will lose hours traveling from one park to another at Disney World. It takes less than five minutes to exit the gates of Disneyland and enter the gates of California Adventure.
  4. Stress less. People who suffer from chronic pain aren’t able to predict how they will be feeling from one day to the next. We may have several good days in a row or only experience a few good hours a day.   Guests who plan their vacation at Disney World begin stressing about their stay 6 months prior, as this is when they are able to start making restaurant reservations. The only times a Disneyland guest needs to stress about making a reservation for food is if they are planning on visiting on a holiday or high peak period, and that is only if they really want to eat at a particular restaurant. Disneyland offers many walk-up food service options and food carts, making it easy to eat well without making reservations. This is not as easy at Disney World as most of their restaurants require reservations and must be made 3-6 months in advance. However, food is not the only thing Disney World guests stress about prior to their stay. Guests with a Disney World vacation package begin choosing their Fast Passes 60 days prior to their visit and 30 days in advance for guests with a regular ticket or annual pass. At Disneyland, there is no need to stress about securing a Fast Pass prior to your visit. The only ride at the Disneyland Resort that consistently runs out of Fast Passes early in the day is Radiator Racers in California Adventure. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to ride or will have to wait in line for 3 or more hours. The worst-case scenario is to wait for 3 hours on a peak day or weekend, but the average wait time is 1-2 hours during the week. That wait can be shortened by utilizing the single-rider line. By not having to stress about where and when I am going to be eating during my visit, I eliminate unnecessary stress. There is no way I could predict a time of day to eat for 10 consecutive days, let alone 5!

I have spoken with many guests who frequent Disney World at Disneyland.  They agree with me that a person can spend 5 days at Disneyland and quench their Disney thirst.  When asked what the equivalent would be at Disney World, they all replied with 10 days.  As someone who suffers from Fibromyalgia, Psoriatic Arthritis, MS, and more, I can hardly withstand 5 consecutive days in Disneyland.  There is no way I could power through 10 days at Disney World.  I still hope to visit Disney World someday; however, I would want to stay for more than 10 days for this dream to come true.  A more extended stay would allow for down days.  Because of the difference in climate, I know that I would experience more pain in Florida than I do in Southern California.  For me, a trip to Disney World will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but Disneyland will always be a part of my life no matter where I live.  The climate in Southern California has always been better for me than anywhere else that I have lived, making vacations while dealing with my chronic conditions doable in the past.

It is my opinion that Disneyland is best for guests like me.  Guests who, because of ever-changing pain and energy levels, require less structure and more flexibility while on vacation.

Wishing you a day filled with gentle hugs and Pixie dust!

The Disabled Diva

Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

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