Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World – What’s the difference?


K and I recently returned from 5 whole days in the happiest place on Earth… Orlando! I had such a good time on my trip, I wanted to share my experience and some helpful tips with you on theculturebite.

Being from California and a regular at the Disney parks in Anaheim, it was hard to understand the difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World other than its size. WDW spans across 30,000 acres of land and consists of 4 parks – Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. When planning for our trip, our biggest questions were:

“What Disneyland attractions are in Disney World?”
“What makes Disney World different than Disneyland?”
“Do I need to visit all Disney World parks?”

With those questions in mind, I built a grid of all Disneyland / California Adventure attractions and mapped them to the corresponding Disney World park. I’ve also listed out the current unique attractions at each Disney World park.

If you were to ask me which park I’d recommend, I don’t think I could answer. I love each park in its own way. I love Disneyland because I grew up there. I also think the biggest draw of Disneyland and California Adventure are the thrill rides. There are so many between both parks that you could spend an entire day visiting each ride only once. If you’re interested in the entertainment and activities, Orlando’s Walt Disney World is for you. The new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is a must see as is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

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A Little Bit of Everything on Day 3 of Sydney

We managed to cram a lot of things into day 3. We started off at the Sydney Fish Market. Raw oysters and salmon sashimi for breakfast? Yes, please! After about a 20 minute walk from Darling Harbour to the Pyrmont district, we were at the fish market. The fish market itself is pretty small with 8 or 9 stalls. The most famous is Doyles, but it was closed by the time we got there which was around 11am.

Sydney Fish Market

After pacing the isles back and forth, we finally decided on a dozen Sydney Rock Oysters, 4 chili prawns and one fried soft shell crab from Nicholas Seafood. We also grabbed a small container of tuna and salmon sashimi from the stall next door (can’t remember the name) and a liter of orange juice from the stall in the back (highly recommend). Then we feasted, first starting with the oysters. These oysters were much different than the sweet ones from the Bay Area. They were much creamier with a slightly bitter after taste. Still tasty, but I would prefer Hog Island Oysters over these. The salmon sashimi was extremely fresh and had the texture of butter, while the tuna was slightly mushy. I’m assuming tuna isn’t something they import every day. The prawns were the filler of the meal. These big guys were stir-fried in Thai sweet chili sauce with shells and all. Really tasty, but we were pretty full at this point. Last but not least was the soft shelled crab. We did some research prior to visiting the fish market and all of the blogs warned us to stay away from the fried foods. About every stand in this market sold fried seafood, assuming that they used day old fish. But, the crab looked so delicious with its little jalapeno on top that we couldn’t resist. After the first few bites, I understood the warning. The soft shell crab was so battered and deep fried, oil kept collecting in my mouth with each bite. We quickly washed down the oil with our very fresh orange juice and moved on to our next destination.

Manly Beach

We headed over to Circular Quay to take the Sydney Ferry to Manly Beach ($14 round trip). The ferry ride is about 30 minutes and you’ll get great views of the Harbour and the ocean. There is also a Sydney Fast Ferry that can take you there in 18 minutes, but we opted for the former. The beach was beautiful and completely packed with locals and tourists. We only spent about an hour here because I had to work a bit (yes, this was a work trip for me). There’s a 5 minute walk from the ferry station to the beach and all along the way are cute little tourist shops selling Ugg boots and t-shirts with “Manly” on them. It was a little funny to see Ugg boots all around Sydney (even the convenience stores!) in 70-80 degree weather. On our way back to the ferry, we stopped at Copenhagen for some ice cream. I got the passion fruit and K got honeycomb. Honeycomb ice cream is bomb. I “secretly” wanted to eat all of K’s ice cream in addition to mine. Notice how I mentioned secretly with quotation marks?

Sydney Aquarium (Darling Harbour)

So, I checked into work at the convention center for a few hours and realized that we still had time to stop by the aquarium in Darling Harbour since it closes at 8pm. With an hour to spare, we purchased 2 tickets and headed inside. At first, I was a little underwhelmed. The exhibits looked temporary and like they needed a deep cleaning. Seahorses here, jelly fish there, frogs over there. Been there, done that. Then, we came across a giant room with a giant pool in the center. What’s this? After a closer look into the water, I noticed the silhouettes of sting rays, manta rays and… a shark fin? The room was called the Shark HQ. We hung out at the top for a while to take pictures of the predatory sea animals then realized that we could go under the tank! There are 2 tunnels that go through the shark tank – tunnel 1 had some sharks and the sting rays, tunnel 2 has the much bigger, scarier version of everything in tunnel 1. They had 7-8 foot great white sharks! SO cool. The best part was that it didn’t force you to move down the tunnel with one of those people movers like at the SF Aquarium in Pier 39. K and I spent most of our time in here trying to take silly pictures of us and the sharks. The last section was another large pool with fish in front of you, on top of you and under you. I think this aquarium did a great job of capturing what it’s like under water without really being underwater. I saw schools of fish floating around, a leopard shark, and other fish native to Australia. The aquarium’s most famous fish, the sawsharks, were in this tank too. They actually looked kind of lazy, but the description says that it kills its prey by slashing its snout (which is covered in teeth) back and forth until they can eat. Pretty scary guys…

Dinner at Yee King (Chinatown)

For dinner, K and I headed to Chinatown and ate homemade noodles at Yee King. We wanted to eat at Chinese Noodle Restaurant which is famous for their handmade noodles, but they didn’t take card. One thing you’ll notice in Australia is most places do not take credit cards. Debit cards are a new thing for them, so that’s accepted everywhere. Credit cards, on the other hand, are not widely accepted and if they are, the vendor will most likely charge you a credit fee. Okay, back to Yee King. K and I ordered the Dan Dan Noodles and a plate of pumpkin coated with a salty egg batter. The dan dan noodles were soupy and coated in loads of dry chili flakes. Their homemade noodles had a great texture – chewy, firm. And, it had that great handmade noodle look to them. The pumpkin wasn’t very good. The batter was a little too thick than what we’re used to and tasted like old oil. This dish is much better in SF.

Whew, that was a long day. The next few days, I had to work, so K will be posting about his adventures.

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Pure Gluttony on Day 2 of Sydney, Australia

There has been no shortage of eating on this trip. Even as I write this post, I am bursting at the seams. Diet starts when I return. I swear…

Early Monday morning, K and I headed for Circular Quay to grab a ferry to Taronga  Zoo.

Meal #1

On our way, we each grabbed a personal pie for breakfast at Pie Face, an Australian fast-food chain restaurant that has been taunting me since I arrived. K got a breakfast pie filled with scrambled eggs and sausage and I got one filled with chicken and mushroom. The pies sound better than they taste. Dry and flavorless is what I would describe them. I was disappointed since the pie took up a good portion of my stomach and I still had tons of eating to do.

After the short delay, we were back on track to Circular Quay. We purchased a ferry/zoo combo pass (Zoo Express) for $50 per person. It was a little overcast that day, but the skyline of the Sydney Harbour was still picturesque. We stood out the back of the ferry and took pictures like there was no tomorrow, as did everyone else on the ferry.

After about 20 minutes, we arrived at Taronga Zoo. This zoo is amazing! The animals were so alive and happy, completely opposite from the zoo in San Francisco. You start by taking a gondola to the top of the zoo and work your way down. There are about 9 areas of the park each dedicated to a series of animals – seals, giraffes, koalas, etc. The best part of the zoo was the gorillas. They were hilarious! There was a sign outside of the gorilla pin stating, “The gorillas are getting used to a new adult gorilla that has recently joined the group.” And after watching them for several minutes, we immediately figured out which one of the gorillas was the new kid on the block. The poor adult gorilla was being picked on by the 2 younger gorillas!

Meal #2

While there, we split an order of fish n chips from one of the stands. It what you would have expected purchasing food from a stand at an amusement park. Frozen, mass produced.

Meal #3

When we got back to Circular Quay, we walked over to the Woolloomooloo district for the Tiger Pie at Harry’s Famous Pies. Now this combination is the strangest combination I’ve ever seen. This Australian favorite is a personal beef pie with a scoop of mashed potatoes and a heaping scoop of “mushy” peas. All that topped with gravy. We doused a couple of their sauces on the pie and dug in. It’s an interesting mix. Tasty, meaty, salty, heavy. It was pretty good, and I’ll probably grab another if I ever come back to Sydney.

Meal #4

At this point, I have no idea why we stopped at the Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar at the Westfield Center. But, we did and ordered 3 golden lava buns to snack on.

Meal #5

After killing some time at the mall and in the hotel room, we headed out for dinner at Mamak, the most recommended restaurant from my Australian coworkers. Mamak specializes in Malaysian food. Sydney seems to have a great representation of really good Asian foods because of its proximity to the native countries. With a fully packed restaurant and a line out the door, it was obvious this place had it going on. Luckily, K and I were seated right away. We ordered the Roti Canai, the chicken satay and fried chicken with coconut rice. To drink, we order 2 hot frothy milk teas. The best meal of the day by far. The roti is much different than the one back home at Banana Island. It was soft and chewy with a little bit of crunch on the outside. It came with 3 dipping sauces – mild, spicy and a little dab of shrimp paste. The chicken satay was uh-mazing. 6 skewers of really tender, juicy chicken with a giant bowl of sweet peanut ginger sauce for dipping. There was obviously way too much sauce for the amount of chicken, but we managed to consume it all somehow. Last but not least was the fried chicken and coconut rice. I have never had a piece of fried chicken like this. The coating on the outside was orange and extremely thin and crispy. The inside was flowing with juices. Oh gosh, I hope I can find this meal back home somewhere.

At the end of the day, I did not want to look, smell or talk about food for the rest of the night. Tomorrow, was a new day.

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Greetings From The Future

Sydney Day 1

I’m writing this post Monday morning in Sydney, Australia. K and I are still very jet-lagged having been on a flight for 15 hours and changing our clock 18 hours ahead. But like we do on any trip, we fight our droopy eyes to see the world.

We’ve kept it pretty low key so far. No scheduled itineraries prepared for this trip. We’ve decided to keep Sydney an eating tour. Of course, we’re going to see the Sydney Opera House, the zoo, aquarium, and possibly some beaches. But, from what we can tell from Sydney already, it is a very diverse city. And with diversity comes food.

K and I are staying in Darling Harbour. This area seems to be a recent development to Sydney. It has an aquarium, a convention center and a bunch of other tall buildings. We dropped off our bags and walked about a mile and a half to the Sydney Harbour to check out the view.

We then headed over to the Sydney Opera House for their hour-long tour. It’s about $50 per person, but we found 20% off discounts in one of the tourist books from the hotel. The tour is highly recommended. You’ll learn about their Danish designer Jørn Utzon and the controversy behind the construction of the building. From there, we we took a quick stroll through the Botanical Gardens.

By this time, our hotel room was ready, so we headed back to our room to clean up a bit. We stopped at the Queen Victoria Building, one of the many shopping centers, for a latte and a cookie called a Melting Moment. Man this cookie was amazing. It was 2 English shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with a light lemon cream. To this minute, I’m still thinking about when I can go back for another.

Before we even left for Sydney, we knew we had to eat at Din Tai Fung for dinner on our first day. Din Tai Fung is a world famous Shanghainese restaurant serving the best soup dumplings you’ll ever taste. In addition to that, we ordered the spicy, tangy wontons over noodles, pork and vegetable dumplings, spinach with garlic and a golden lava bun for dessert. The dessert was a surprise. I’ve had the sweet egg custard buns back at home in SF, but this one was entirely different. The center was a glorious golden salty egg ooze. It tastes better than what I just described. Trust me.

It was about 6pm after we finished dinner, so we walked back to the Harbour to take some night time shots. Enjoy!

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Bye bye with Versailles – Day 13

Just like WWI and Marie Antoinette’s reign of France, our two-week European vacation ended with a trip to Versailles. We did have one more day, but all we did was shop. So, the last post will only be of our last meals in Paris.

Versailles is about a 1.5 hour train ride from Paris. We were lost in the train station for a bit, so it took us a little more time to get there. Tip: take any train that starts with a “V.”

When we got there, the weather was nasty. Cold, rainy and cloudy. The grand palace of Versailles was actually closed when we first got there due to poor weather. So, we decided to roam the famous gardens first. The place is huge! Rick Steve’s rule of thumb is 1.5 hours in the museum, 1.5 hours in the gardens and 1.5 hours at the chateaus. The gardens were beautiful, although I seemed to enjoy the Tivoli gardens near Rome more. I’ll blame it on the rainy weather. Also, Versailles’ garden is famous for it’s fountains, but unfortunately, they’re only open in the spring and summer so we didn’t get to see the garden at it’s full caliber. Here’s a funny story I’ve heard. Louis XIV built Versailles way before there was actual plumbing, so in order for the fountains to work, his servants would run from fountain to fountain to manually pump the water as the King roamed the garden.

K and I stopped for a quick lunch at one of the many restaurants in the garden. We each ordered a savory crepe which we were both dissatisfied with. The crepes must’ve been pre-made and frozen. The cheese was cold and hard, the crepe was almost as thick as a pancake and it was topped with perfectly cubed frozen veggies. Blegh!

We walked to the far end of the garden to see the Grand Trainon, a large pink chateau where Louis XIV used to spend time with his mistresses.

Nearby sits Petit Trainon, a chateau given to Marie Antoinette by Louis XIV.

Last but not least, we visited the grand palace. The rooms were filled with gold trim, velvet curtains, and crystal chandeliers. If there’s anything I’ve learned being here, it is that Louis XIV is not one to skimp. There was an exhibit for a Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, on display at the palace and I found it really weird to see the modern cartoon sculptures sitting in each of these old rooms. Although it was very cute, I thought the exhibit took away Versailles’ limelight since most of the visitors were paying more attention to the sculptures rather than the rooms themselves.

We rushed back to Paris to see the Orsay before it closed. The Orsay was included in our Paris pass, so I figured, “Why not take advantage of the free admission?” We had about 30 minutes in this museum – only about 3 hours too short. It was very different than the other museums we’ve been to on this trip. The Orsay houses one of the world’s largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art which includes works by Van Gough, Monet, Manet and Gauguin. Unfortunately, a lot of the museum was on loan at SF’s de Young Museum. So when we were in Paris, the famous pieces were right in my home town. Bummer!

On our walk back to the hotel, K and I stopped at Angelina which serves the “best hot chocolate in Paris.” Although it was very good, I think the hot chocolate at Cacao Sampaka in Barcelona is the winner. Angelina’s hot chocolate was sweeter. I preferred Cacao Sampaka’s because it seemed to be made with a darker chocolate and I could really taste the complexity of flavors in the drink. If you’re not heading to Barcelona though, Angelina is a great alternative for a hot, thick, chocolaty drink. I can’t find my hot chocolate photos, but I’ll get them up soon.

Throughout this entire trip, I wanted so badly to go on a double-decker tour bus. We finally got around to it this day and paid a hefty amount for a night time tour around Paris. The sights are beautiful lit up, but for some reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I was so exhausted, I kept nodding off. It wasn’t until I saw the Moulin Rouge that I stayed awake. That site was a must see on my list.

From here, we called it a night.

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