Disneyland vs Disney World Compared

An In-Depth Look at Disneyland vs Disney World

Welcome home! If you are anything like those of us who love anything Disney then just the mere mention of Disneyland or Disney World will shoot excitement through your body.

The thought of stepping foot into a world of where dreams come true and happiness knows no bounds, is enough to make any grown-up feel like a wide-eyed child all over again!

But then comes the age old question: Disneyland vs Disney World.. which is better?

Come along as I explain some differences between the two and definitely give you some things to think about or dream about next time the question comes up!

Which came first? Disneyland or Disney World?

Disneyland is the original, or the OG as the kids say, the one that started it all. Disney World came sixteen years later where dreams met new heights.

There is something truly special about strolling down Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland knowing you are walking the footsteps of where it all began, where Walt himself once strolled sketching out his dreams under the California sun.

Disneyland was where Walt Disney fulfilled his dream of providing a place where families could enjoy grand entertainment and experiences together. It is the only park that was designed and constructed under the direct supervision of Walt Disney.

If you are looking for a more nostalgic, original, and historical visit then Disneyland would be the option for you!

Location of the Happiest Places On Earth

If you were to travel by vehicle from Disneyland to Disney World you would be traveling about 2,500 miles. That is over an entire 24 hours of driving!

Disneyland is in Anaheim, California which is situated right in the heart of Southern California. The park is surrounded by urban development, with hotels, restaurants, and other attractions nearby. The climate in Disneyland is typically pretty mild with warm summers and cool winters. There is usually minimal rainfall and low humidity which makes it an appealing travel destination year around.

Disney World on the other hand is located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Most of you would know it better as, Orlando, Florida. The park is situated in a more rural and suburban area than its counterpart. That does not mean it is lacking any parks, resorts, or recreational areas though! The climate in Disney World is hot and humid in the summer.. did I say hot? The summer months also features frequent rainfall which can be a blessing or a curse. The winters are fairly mild and not much to worry about. So if you are planning a trip here then be prepared for the high humidity and temperatures.

If you were planning a trip to either location and were basing it solely on weather, Disneyland would be the better option.

How big is Disneyland vs Disney World?

Disney World is much larger than Disneyland. Disney World encompasses four different theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), many resorts, as well as two mini-golf courses and four golf courses. The property spans around 30,000 acres which is only half used so far!

Disneyland is on a much smaller scale and consists of two theme parks (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure) and three resort hotels. The property spans around 500 acres.

Despite the major size difference, both Disneyland and Disney World will have plenty to help cure the Disney fever that you may have!

Attractions

Both Disneyland and Disney World offer many of the same iconic attractions such as Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, it’s a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more, however each park has its own unique layout and exclusive attractions too.

Disneyland hosts several exclusive experiences such as the charming Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, or the magical experience of Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, all the way to the thrilling escapades of Indiana Jones Adventure. Matterhorn Bobsleds is also an exclusive which is a high-speed journey with thrilling dips and turns through the snowy peaks of the Matterhorn mountain. Disneyland has a few other exclusives that are worth checking out too whether it is at Cars Land or Pixar Pier

Disney World on the other hand is host to many more exclusives. You can conquer Mt. Everest through gravity-defying drops on Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom to designing and testing your very own vehicle on Test Track in Epcot. If that is not enough and you’re feeling a waterpark then you could take the exciting plunge down Mt. Mayday on Humunga Kowabunga at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park!

If you are looking for the more iconic rides then both Disneyland and Disney World can scratch that itch. However if you are looking for more rides and attractions then Disney World is the better option here.

Events

Disneyland offers multiple events throughout the year such as, Lunar New Year and Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure Park, all the way to Star Wars Season of the Force and Pixar Fest. There are also celebrations within Disneyland for Halloween and the winter holidays. Experience Halloween with all your favorite characters at the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party or celebrate the holidays during Holiday Magic at Disneyland Park where everything has a festive touch.

Disney World offers multiple events throughout the year as well, such as, New Year’s Eve and Easter at Disney World, all the way to Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival (a personal favorite of mine). Just like Disneyland, Disney World hosts various holiday celebrations as well. Guests can experience Halloween at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom or celebrate Christmas at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom. If you are a runner or fitness enthusiast then Disney World also has something for you! runDisney hosts marathons throughout the calendar year that are worth checking out if that intrigues you.

Both Disneyland and Disney World also offer After Dark or After Hours as well. Purchasing a ticket to these allow guests to attend festive evening events during after-hours park admission featuring themed entertainment, characters, attractions and more!

Whether you want to indulge in a fulfilling culinary experience, have happy hauntings, or celebrate the holidays with your Disney friends there is always something going on at both Disneyland and Disney World!

Resorts

When visiting Disneyland or Disney World choosing where to stay can be a major task and pretty important. Disneyland only has three to choose from if you want to stay on property. Disney World has a lot more to choose from due to the size of their property.

Disneyland offers Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Pixar Place Hotel. All three feature their own themes and amenities. If those three do not work for you, then there are plenty of hotels surrounding Disney property that are Disney-approved!

As for Disney World, they offer over 25 different resort hotels that feature their own themes and amenities. Across the array of choices you will find there are budget friendly options all the way to more luxurious options, the choice is yours! If any of choices do not work for you, then there are plenty of hotels surrounding Disney property that are Disney-approved!

If you are looking for more options and a more expansive experience when it comes to resorts and hotels then Disney World would be your better choice in my opinion.

Dining Experience

When it comes to food service Disneyland boasts over 130 options to indulge in across their property. From enjoying the rustic charm of the Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square to the whimsical delights of the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland, each dining establishment in Disneyland offers its own unique theme and atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for classic American cuisine, international cuisine, or just about everything in between, then there is surely an option for you.

Disney World keeps up with its extensive book of options with over 400 restaurants to choose from across the property. Whether you’re dining at the heart of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, savoring the flavors of the world at Epcot’s World Showcase (my personal favorite), or enjoying a fine dining experience at one of Disney Springs’ many upscale eateries, there is something for every palate in your party!

I know some of you thoroughly enjoy taking part in the character dining experiences and there are a few options at both Disneyland and Disney World.

Disneyland offers four character dining experiences. You can visit Storytellers Cafe to have breakfast or lunch with Mickey Mouse and some of his closest friends or stroll down to Plaza Inn to have breakfast with Minnie Mouse and her friends. If you would rather enjoy breakfast with some of your favorite Disney Princesses then Napa Rose inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa would be for you! Maybe you’re like me and would rather a more goofy experience, no pun intended. Go on over to the Disneyland Hotel and join Goofy and friends for a fun-filled breakfast or dinner!

Disney World offers around thirteen character dining experiences. There are multiple breakfast, lunch, and dinner options to dine with Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse and friends, and other just like Disneyland. However, Disney World offers character dining options that Disneyland does not offer such as breakfast with Lilo and Stitch at ‘Ohana (highly recommend), dining with Chip ‘n’ Dale and their Disney pals at Garden Grill Restaurant, or even savor the African-inspired flavors with Donald Duck and friends at Tusker House Restaurant!

Whether you are dining at Disneyland or Disney World, you are in for a culinary adventure like no other. However if you want a more diverse catalog to choose from when dining, like me, then Disney World would be the better option!

Surrounding Entertainment

As mentioned before Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California which is in close proximity to the city of Los Angeles. This gives guests visiting Disneyland a wide variety of entertainment from exploring nearby beaches to visiting iconic landmarks around Hollywood. Another option would be to visit Downtown Disney which is adjacent to the Disneyland Resort. This area is a vibrant entertainment hub that features anything from shopping and dining to nightlife options.

There is definitely something for everyone at Downtown Disney. If you’re looking for another theme park that is not Disney then you also have the nearby options of Universal Studios Hollywood and Knott’s Berry Farm!

Disney World being self-contained within Lake Buna Vista, it is a destination in its own right. With the complex being so vast guests will have wide range of entertainment options within the resort itself, without having to venture far from the property. Disney World is home to Disney Springs which is their equivalent of Disneyland’s Downtown Disney. Disney Springs has four distinct neighborhoods – The Landing, Marketplace, West Side, and Town Center – each offering a unique mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Again, there is something for everyone at Disney Springs.

A perk to being on Disney World property is that you have many different resorts to explore and take advantage of. Each resort offers its own themes, recreational activities, dining experiences, and many other entertainment options that are worth checking out. If you are here and looking for other theme parks that are not related to Disney then there are some nearby options of Universal Studios Orlando, Universal Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld.

Regardless if you want a break from the parks or want some outside entertainment then both Disneyland and Disney World can provide that for you whether it is on or off property.

Transportation

Traveling around Disneyland Resort is pretty east to do, and that is thanks to its compact size and convenient transportation options. Guests can easily walk between the parks and resort hotels, or hop on the Disneyland Monorail, or take a complimentary shuttle bus for a quick ride.

With Disney World having a more sprawling layout traveling around is a little more difficult and requires a bit more planning and coordination. Disney World tries its best to accommodate those that rely on public transportation with multiple options from buses, monorails, boats, and the Disney Skyliner gondola system. Some resorts are closer to certain parks and are definitely walkable, but not every resort is walkable to every park so that is something to take note of when planning, if need be.

If you are pitting Disneyland and Disney World solely on transportation and ease of such, I would say Disneyland is the better option here.

Which Will You Choose?

So tell me, if you had to choose Disneyland vs Disney World, which would you choose?