HOTELS: ON CAMPUS VS. NEARBY
Theoretically, at least, Disneyland is one of the most democratic places in America. Julia Roberts stands in the same line for Pirates of the Caribbean that you do. Bill Gates does not get a better ride on the Matterhorn. But guests at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (714/635-2300; disneyland.com; doubles from $320)—the hulking Craftsman-style lodge that looms over Downtown Disney—do enjoy certain advantages. The hotel's back entrance opens directly into California Adventure, and the monorail to Disneyland is only steps away. The proximity makes it easy to take a break from the action. The concierge level—where rooms start at $500—has a simple free breakfast, and peanut butter sandwiches in the afternoon. The desk is happy to arrange breakfast with Disney characters and the dinner reservation at Napa Rose that you probably forgot to make three weeks in advance. And the redwood-shaped waterslide is nice, too.
Disneyland Hotel (714/778-6600; disneyland.com; doubles from $165) and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel (714/999-0990; disneyland.com; doubles from $215) are nearly as close to the park proper as the Grand Californian, and both have big pools, but they offer fewer frills.
In addition to the Disney properties, there are outposts of every American hotel chain within a mile or so of the park; most have shuttles.
THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD OF DISNEYLAND ONLINE
Having inspired as much devotion as any place this side of the Vatican, Disneyland offers virtually infinite online resources.
Disneyland.com The official Disney site is the best place to take a virtual park tour and find out about hotel packages and ticket prices.
Mouseplanet.com A massive site devoted to all things Disney, it includes discussion boards, news reports, and reviews of rides and even bathrooms.
Miceage.com Another site for Disneyland obsessives, it offers excruciatingly detailed park updates and exhaustive chat boards, often frequented by pseudonymous Disneyland employees—a recent thread covered Fastpass strategy in the kind of detail usually reserved for the Talmud and Fantasy Football.
Jonathan Gold is the dining critic for L.A. Weekly and the author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. He recently won his fourth James Beard Award for restaurant reviewing.
Disneyland Resort vs. Walt Disney World
Disneyland Resort 1955
Walt Disney World 1971
Disneyland Resort 430 acres
Walt Disney World 30,000 acres
ONE-DAY PARK HOPPER
Disneyland Resort $79 adult/$69 child
Walt Disney World $103 adult/$92 child
NO. OF VISITORS IN 2005
Disneyland Resort 20.3 million
Walt Disney World 42.8 million
OCCUPANT OF THE CASTLE
Disneyland Resort Sleeping Beauty
Walt Disney World Cinderella
Disneyland Resort Churro
Walt Disney World Mickey Mouse Ice Cream bar