Over the last two weeks, my wife’s Canadian relatives joined us for a family reunion here in Southern California. Every six years, the Canadian side leaves the wintery chill of Winnipeg and comes out here to sunny So Cal. As this is only their second time being out here, they decided to do some of the Southern California standard day trips. We visited Hollywood, the beach, and many amusement parks. Being a Disneyland diehard, I hadn’t been to many of the other local theme parks in many years. Read on to hear what we thought…
We visited the following parks; Sea World San Diego, Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, and Wild Rivers Waterpark. Now I did not go on these trips to blog about the differences I noticed. Instead, I planned on just enjoying myself with family. What easily became evident was that Disneyland is head and shoulders above the rest. I am not talking about rides or food. In fact, the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood may have been the best ride I have ever been on. Disneyland’s professionalism, cast members, and overall experience is second to none.
First of all, Disneyland is cleaner than the other parks. After visiting the other ones, you could easily see that they need to focus some of their budgets on the painting and cleaning of their parks. The other parks weren’t necessarily dirty, but in Disneyland you don’t even think about how clean it is. It just is. Second, the organization of Disneyland is all done behind the scenes. As a guest, you never know the internal workings of the park as it is happening. While at Universal Studios, it became obvious that they were not as concerned with being “on stage.” As we went to Shrek 4-D and the Terminator 3-D attractions, the loud speaker announcement by the employee said the following, “Please use all of the rows as time is very limited.” This was not said in the most friendly tone and was repeated and repeated and repeated over and over again. While waiting in line for the Simpsons Ride, we heard directions over the loud speaker to change the line to a different format. As a guest, I don’t want to hear internal employee directions for how to change the queue.
Our last observation regarding the other parks involves the idea of purchasing a year pass. Sea World, Universal Studios, and Wild Rivers all offer good deals to upgrade a one-day ticket into an annual pass. Upon entering, I thought I would consider getting a pass at the end of the day. At the end of each day, I realized I was in no great hurry to return quickly. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Sea World or Universal Studios, but I felt that I had done enough and would be satisfied for the next couple of years. At Disneyland, I do often want to just go to eat, see a parade, or people watch. Sea World and Universal Studios didn’t have the same “feeling” for me.
Now for those of you that are reading this and thinking of me as being biased towards Disney, just ask my Canadian relatives. They all said basically the same things and made the same observations. They said that they noticed how much “cleaner, professional, and enjoyable” their experience was at Disneyland despite how crowded and hot it was. I love living here in Southern California with all of the places you can experience within a few hours. However, it is Disneyland that is the happiest place on earth!