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  • Why is Disneyland the best?

    For me its the details. I love immersing myself in things most people just don't see, or don't care about. It seems most only care about "rides", but for me, Disney is just about the total immersive experience. I loved all the tours they used to do, however they don't do much anymore. I feel a slow decline around revenue generation solely vs. crafting very carefully thought out lands and attractions. Still the best park in the world, but Disney Tokyo Sea has to be a close second.
    Matt's 40th Birthday Disneyland Trip. Club 33, Napa Rose, and Adventureland Suite!!! ~~|~~ Katherine's 11th Birthday Dapper Day trip with Club 33 ~~|~~ Matt's Review of the Art of the Craft Tour at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel ~~|~~ My Spring, 2017 Dapper Day Trip Report ~~|~~ My Fall, 2016 Dapper Day and Club33 Trip Report ~~|~~ My Summer, 2016 Walt's LA tour with Bob Gurr and Marty Skylar ~~|~~ My Summer, 2016 Family Firsts Trip Report ~~|~~ Matt's September, 2015 Solo after the Safari Sunrise Trip Report ~~|~~ World Famous Jungle Cruise Safari Sunrise Premium Experience Trip Report ~~|~~ My February, 2015 Dapper Day Trip Report ~~|~~ My October, 2014 Family Vacation with Mickey's Halloween Party ~~|~~ My September, 2014 Dapper Day Trip Report ~~|~~ My August, 2014 Solo Trip Report - 1901/C33 Jazz Club ~~|~~ My June, 2014 Solo Trip Report ~~|~~ My February, 2014 Dapper Day Trip Report ~~|~~ My Epic May, 2013 Trip Report ~~|~~ My October, 2011 Trip Report ~~|~~ My October, 2010 Trip Report

  • #2
    If DL is still considered "the best," they're hanging on by a thread--and it's unravelling quickly.

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    • #4
      It's probably easier to debunk the popular theories about its greatness than it is to pin down what does make it great.
      Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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      • #5
        It has more attractions than any other Park.

        I love just how much their is to do, plus we have New Orleans
        Happy Halloween!!!

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        • #7
          Originally posted by whoever View Post
          For me its the details. I love immersing myself in things most people just don't see, or don't care about. It seems most only care about "rides", but for me, Disney is just about the total immersive experience. I loved all the tours they used to do, however they don't do much anymore. I feel a slow decline around revenue generation solely vs. crafting very carefully thought out lands and attractions. Still the best park in the world, but Disney Tokyo Sea has to be a close second.
          I’ve hung around for awhile, but haven’t made an account to post until now.

          I have to agree. I haven’t been to Tokyo Sea, but Disneyland has always been my favorite place because of the details. Everyone has always taken great care to make sure you feel lost in the park away from all of the cares of everyday life.

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          • #8
            Well, for me it's because it's bound up in my childhood. My first time was as a babe in arms on opening day (yes, I'm old!) and I've gone over 200 times since. When I enter the parks (mostly DL, but I've found 'my love' for DCA too) I truly 'become' Walt's words "Here age relives fond memories of the past". I truly become a child again, my problems fall off my shoulders the minute I step foot on Disney property. I've only been to DLR and WDW. WDW is wonderful in its own way and I love it too. But the 'feeling' just isn't there like it is at DL.

            Yes, DL has changed quite a lot over the years, not always for the better. But in my heart its still the magical place of my childhood and I see it with the eyes of a child.



            "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

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            • #9
              I actually used to lecture on this topic. I often used Disneyland as an example while teaching at the Academy Art University in San Francisco. I ran the Visual Effects Department there after leaving Industrial Light & Magic and before I began freelancing for Disney.

              I think there are three main factors why the original Disneyland is considered by many to be the best. The first and perhaps obvious reason is because it is the only Disney theme park personally supervised by Walt Disney himself. It was his baby. He oversaw its development, construction, opening, and the first eleven years of operation. It is the only Disney park that directly has the master's touch.

              The second and less obvious reason is that Disneyland Park was designed by filmmakers. People like Ken Anderson, Herb Ryman, Marc Davis, Claude Coats and others came from the world of film. They had a strong understand of cinematic storytelling and infused the park with that perspective. Yes, several of them went on to work on the design of Walt Disney World and that design philosophy carried over, yet at a certain point the design of the parks was handed over to the next generation of imagineers and then the next, many of whom did not have a strong background in film. Instead of bringing their own cinematic sensibility to the design of the newer parks, these next gen imagineers grew up studying theme park design and the cinematic influence brought to it by the old guard. The next gen's designs are wonderful, however the tone and feel is different because their background is different.

              Finally, the third reason which is one that a lot of people miss is the power of limitations. Disneyland has always been limited by the size of the land it sits on. It is utterly surrounded by the urban development of the City of Anaheim. This has forever placed limitations upon what can be done at Disneyland, yet it has also sparked some of the very best design ideas. As I often say when teaching art students or lecturing around globe or speaking at conventions & events...

              ...Limitation inspires imagination and innovation...

              In other words, what can you do with what you have? At Disneyland, the imagineers have been and continue to be forced to get very creative with their designs in order to fit everything into the park's footprint without it all feeling excessively cramped. This approach of looking at limitation as a challenge rather than a burden is what lead to the waterfalls in Pirates of the Caribbean, the stretching of the gallery in the Haunted Mansion, the shared roofs of certain building on Main Street and Adventureland, the wonderful use of forced perspective throughout the park, and the amazing queue for the Indiana Jones Adventure. Let's take that last one for example. If space had not been an issue we might have ended up with a very different queue altogether. It no doubt would have been nice, but probably not the same immersive experience where we feel like we are venturing deeper and deeper into the jungle and then deeper and deeper into the catacombs of an ancient temple. Of course it's all there to get us outside of the berm and into the show building, but it also serves the purpose of making it feel as if those few acres in downtown Anaheim are a vast jungle. Without the limitation of space and size we may never have gotten that. Overall the workarounds to the limitations have made Disneyland a far more clever and immersive experience, simultaneously making the park feel larger than it is while instilling a sense of intimacy, which is often termed the "charm" of Disneyland.

              This is why I believe Disneyland is the best.
              Last edited by C. Andrew Nelson; 07-10-2020, 02:22 PM.

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              • #10
                C. Andrew Nelson, I don’t think it can be said any better. 👍🏼
                Mike_M

                Disneyland Trips
                Walt Disney World
                Disneyland Paris

                1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                1990, 1992, 1993

                2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                2020

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                • #11
                  Originally posted by whoever View Post

                  It used to be (ans still barely is) the most immersive park. It's losing that to the bean counters however.
                  Yes and no. Some of the best spots in Disneyland are where it's not immersive, but jumbled, because it was put together experimentally on a shoestring budget. I'll have more to say on this below.

                  C. Andrew Nelson, I want to add my own observations on your three points.

                  1. I try not to subscribe to "Great Man Theory" when it comes to either history or culture, but any large-scale project that requires the input of many different people benefits immensely from having a single leader who keeps track of the big picture and directs the rest of the team accordingly. Disneyland had exactly that with Walt, and because the vision he had in mind was so intimate to him personally (a scale model of his imagination, basically), that direction flowed from him naturally. Despite all its disparate lands, Disneyland mostly seems to tell different versions or chapters of one story. Even 65 years later, despite the best (worst) efforts of corporate management types motivated solely by the bottom line, that cohesion is largely intact.

                  2. Cinematic framing is a help in some instances and a hindrance in others. It's fantastic in interior ride design, where the motion along the track and, later, the tightly controlled motion of ride vehicles such as the Omnimover acts as a "camera" of sorts, doing with time and space what a literal camera does with time and editing. It doesn't do to apply film design principles too literally, however, in spaces where guests have complete freedom of movement and can, in effect walk around the back of the camera to see the crew and the boom mike. I think for these areas, theme park designers might benefit from studying open-world video game design, since the control exerted by the player makes it more analogous to the experience of visiting a theme park than watching a movie does.

                  3. That said, Disneyland is sometimes at its best when you can see the wires. I think we sometimes forget just how experimental it was when it was first built, how much the OG Imagineers had to stretch both their budgets and their creative faculties to get the darn thing to hold together, let alone appear seamless. The seams are everywhere in Disneyland, but those seams betray the influence of the tailors. The park didn't just happen; it was made to happen, by people who in many cases didn't entirely know what they were doing because it had never been done before. That gives it a charm that the more technically polished Magic Kingdom cannot duplicate. Disneyland feels sincere even though we know it's actually a soulless business enterprise...because nobody would put the Matterhorn smack in the middle of everything else ironically. You only do that if you get so excited to have a big snowy mountain in your park that you don't care whether it matches your submarine ride and your fairy tale village and your small American town ca. 1900.
                  Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Mike_M View Post
                    C. Andrew Nelson, I don’t think it can be said any better. 👍🏼
                    Well, thank you. Disneyland is something I have been studying pretty much my entire life. My first visit to Walt's original Magic Kingdom back in 1968 at the age of six was my "artistic awakening" as a child. I didn't buy into the fantasy of Disneyland like many young kids do. I understand right away that it was all pretend - that it was "show" - and that fascinated me. I wanted to know who made this place, how did they do it, and how could I do it too. Because of Disneyland I began studying drawing, cartooning, acting, costuming, makeup, theater, lighting, effects, animation, filmmaking, and more. This eventually lead to be becoming an actor, visual effects artist, animator, and voiceover perforner. It also eventually lead me to doing some work on a few Disneyland and DCA projects, bringing me full circle.

                    For me the factor that I find most fascinating as to why Disneyland is often viewed as the best of the parks is the second one I mentioned: being designed by filmmakers. The whole park is infused with that sensibility. It's in Disneyland's DNA. That makes it entirely unique compared to the other. Filmmaking is all about visual storytelling.

                    I also think that is why over in DCA the two most satisfying areas are Buena Vista Street and Carsland. Divorcing ourselves for a moment from his scandalous and despicable behind-the-scenes behavior, John Lasseter's film background and his hands-on shepherding of those projects from a design sense is why I believe they are the stand-out sections of DCA. He's gone now (and rightly so), but I wish that the Disney parks had more people with a deep film background to replace him.

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                    • #13
                      @C. Andrew Nelson

                      As someone who sees DL strictly through the 'eyes of the heart' you've given me a more 'practical' (for lack of a better word) view of what I think of as DL's 'magic'. I can see where the perspective of a filmmaker (a storyteller) would make it all 'work' in a cohesive way. Thanks!

                      But when I walk in the turnstile I'll banish those practical thoughts and just go back to thinking of it as 'magic'.
                      "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

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                      • #14
                        A lot of what makes Disneyland great today is based on people's association they have with the place growing up. People are nostalgic and Disneyland makes them feel warm and cozy. Disneyland also does a marvelous job of playing on those emotions with their advertising. But Disneyland is a shadow of its former self and 30 years from now will likely not be held in the same esteem as today. The lack of corporate vision with their charge more for less/quick buck mentality will ultimately be its downfall.
                        Last edited by tarheelalum; 07-11-2020, 07:19 AM.

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                        • #15
                          I think it's cause of it's size. They cram so much into such a small space when most other parks are super spread out. It makes it feel more homey and cozy. Not to mention that Walt was around for this park and watched over so much of it; you can feel his influence in the little touches. Also, for us history buffs, it definitely has the most history by a long shot! I really hope we get a third gate soon, because the only problem I have with it on a day-to-day basis is the fact that it gets crowded so fast since the parks are relatively small.

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                          • #16
                            The feeling of history and originality as it was Walt's creation, his dream and the only one he saw open to the public. No other park in the world can claim that.

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                            • #17
                              Originally posted by YellowTugStrap View Post
                              I think it's cause of it's size. They cram so much into such a small space when most other parks are super spread out. It makes it feel more homey and cozy. Not to mention that Walt was around for this park and watched over so much of it; you can feel his influence in the little touches. Also, for us history buffs, it definitely has the most history by a long shot! I really hope we get a third gate soon, because the only problem I have with it on a day-to-day basis is the fact that it gets crowded so fast since the parks are relatively small.
                              I always notice park size and ride density when I’ve visited other Disney theme parks. MK and to a lesser degree DLP have more space between attractions which made those parks feel more empty to me. There is simply more to do in DL vs all the other castle parks in the world.
                              Mike_M

                              Disneyland Trips
                              Walt Disney World
                              Disneyland Paris

                              1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                              1990, 1992, 1993

                              2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                              2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                              2020

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                              • #18
                                I'm not trying to be a contrarian, but I think I speak for a lot of people by saying that Disneyland isn't the best anymore. Every year what made it great keeps getting stripped away and dumbed down. When I hear people say that Disneyland is the best, it just screams to me it's being said by a person who hasn't seen the other parks around the world.
                                :blink: Bullets for Breakfast :blink:
                                Join the party. Face the music.

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                                • #19
                                  I feel best isn’t like the greatest or biggest...I think it’s about the subtleness of Disneyland...it’s about walking across the drawbridge entrance into Fantasyland...or waking up and knowing today is going to Disneyland with family or friends day...or humming the music to Pirates of the Caribbean...or for myriad other things about making Disneyland a special place...
                                  I am old. But still love Disneyland.

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                                  • #20
                                    Originally posted by manifest View Post
                                    I'm not trying to be a contrarian, but I think I speak for a lot of people by saying that Disneyland isn't the best anymore. Every year what made it great keeps getting stripped away and dumbed down. When I hear people say that Disneyland is the best, it just screams to me it's being said by a person who hasn't seen the other parks around the world.
                                    I assume you mean the other Disney parks.

                                    I have been to half of the Castle parks (both in the US and the one in France), and I rank them as follows from worst to best:

                                    3rd - MK: Bigger, but as a result feels emptier. The reservation system (FP+) may be fun for planner personalities, but it’s no longer a place I feel I could just drop in on a whim for if I was in the area unless I’m ok with hour and a half standby lines for just about everything. Many DL versions of the same attractions are better IMO.

                                    2nd - DLP: Beautiful, magical, but still has more growing to do. Needs more attractions. Needs better dining (spending any time in Paris first makes the food in DLP feel and taste like bad imitations of American food. Would prefer more french food options instead of American). Overall though, I liked it a lot and the unique takes on classic attractions (POTC, Phantom Manor, BTMRR & Space Mtn especially).

                                    1st - DL: Intimate, nostalgic, and nothing beats NOS and the personal touch of Walt himself throughout the park. For me, the charm is alive and well and I enjoy much of the improvements that have happened (outside of most of Tomorrowland which we all know needs serious attention). Maxpass is far superior to FP+. Most of the dining experiences are very good.

                                    Sure, familiarity and nostalgia plays a part in it, but I can’t stress how much more there is to do in DL vs the other castle parks. A trip to DL by itself, includes attractions (or ride systems) you’d have to go to 3 of the 4 parks in Orlando to experience. I believe DL has more attractions that DLP and DHS Paris combined. In that way alone, DL is an outstanding value comparatively.

                                    I know quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, and there are many different opinions here about what is quality and what isn’t, but aside from the reputed high quality of TDL, I think the remaining parks are fairly equal in that regard (i.e. Galaxy’s Edge in DL is pretty equal to Galaxy’s Edge in DHS Orlando).

                                    I can’t directly speak to the Asian Castle parks as I haven’t been to them, but from what I’ve been able to understand from others is that they are unique experiences, and worth doing, but I can’t see them replacing DL in my heart and mind.
                                    Mike_M

                                    Disneyland Trips
                                    Walt Disney World
                                    Disneyland Paris

                                    1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
                                    1990, 1992, 1993

                                    2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
                                    2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
                                    2020

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