One has been called the happiest place on earth. The other is often referred to as the most magical place on earth. Disney World and Disneyland are both dream vacations for many people. But how do you decide which park to visit? What is the difference between Disney World and Disneyland?
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland are teeming with exhilarating attractions and amazing rides that will take your breath away. But there are some key differences between Disneyland and Disney World, the main one being size.
Keep reading to learn about what’s the same and what’s different between Disney World and Disneyland. We love them both, but if this is your first time planning a Disney vacation, this blog might just help you pick one over the other.
Is Disneyland or Disney World bigger?
Disneyland sits on around 500 acres. Now that is massive. It’s almost a township. But wait till you hear this… Walt Disney World is an astronomical 27,000 acres or 40 square miles. So, in terms of size, Disney World easily surpasses the Disneyland Resort. In fact, 51 Disneylands can fit inside Disney World.
Disney World and Disneyland: What are the similarities?
Right off the bat, let’s just say that the Disney magic is very much evident at both locations. Both Disney World and Disneyland are designed in a similar way with many of the same rides. When you enter Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California, you see a Mickey mural made of flowers. This gives way to Main Street U.S.A. At the heart of both parks is a soaring castle (it is the Cinderella Castle in Disney World and the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland). Some rides that can be found in both Disney World and Disneyland (with minor differences) include favorites like:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railway
- It’s a Small World
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Haunted Mansion
- Jungle Cruise
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Mad Tea Party
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Space Mountain
- King Arthur’s Carousel
…and many more.
Disney World vs Disneyland: What are the differences?
Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between Disney World and Disneyland.
- Disney World opened on October 1, 1971
- Disneyland has been welcoming guests since July 17, 1955
- Disney World is in Orlando, Florida on the West Coast of U.S.A.
- Disneyland is in Anaheim, California on the East Coast of U.S.A.
- The nearest airport to Disney World is Orlando International Airport (MCO). Another option is Orlando Sanford International (SFB).
- The nearest airport to Disneyland is John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, California. Another option is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
- There average temperature in Orlando is 72 degrees Fahrenheit with 233 sunny days per year and 52.1 inches of rain per year on average.
- The average temperature in Anaheim is 63 degrees Fahrenheit with 280 sunny days per year and 13.7 inches of rain per year on average.
- There are 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- There are 2 theme parks at Disneyland – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.
Rides and Attractions
- There are more than 170 attractions at the four Disney World theme parks.
- There are more than 60 attractions including rides, shows, and exhibits at Disneyland.
- Disney World has more formal meet and greet areas for interactions and photos with your favorite Disney characters.
- Disneyland offers fewer standard meet and greet areas but more chances of unexpected and rare character encounters.
- There are around 400 restaurants in Walt Disney World, including full-service restaurants and casual eateries to grab a quick bite.
- There are around 160 restaurants Disneyland.
- There are 2 water parks in Walt Disney World – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
- There are no water parks in Disneyland.
- There are 4 world-class golf courses in Walt Disney World – Disney’s Palm Golf Course, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.
- There are no golf courses in Disneyland.
- There are more than 25 Disney Resort hotels in Disney World.
- There are 3 Disneyland Resort hotels located close to the theme parks.
- If you don’t have a car, Disney World has tons of complimentary transportation options. Many Orlando hotels offer free shuttles to Disney.
- While you can manage without a car, there is not much public transport near Disneyland. However, if you don’t have a car, there are rideshare apps (Uber, Lyft). Guests with park tickets can ride the monorail between Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park and Downtown Disney.
Which is better Disneyland or Disney World?
We love both. It’s hard for us to choose between the Florida vs California Disney parks. Which Disney park is better for you will come down to personal preferences. Many people love Disney World because it gives them the chance to completely immerse themselves in Disney magic. But Disneyland California has slightly better weather. Also, due to its smaller size, it can be an easier vacation to plan and less overwhelming for first-time visitors. You will have to try both Disneyland and Disney World to see which one you like better.
What does Disneyland have that Disney World doesn’t?
Disneyland is significantly smaller in size compared to Disney World. But it packs a mighty punch when it comes to fun and entertainment. Here are some attractions that you can only see in the California Disney parks.
World of Color
An electrifying laser show that brings Disney stories to life. Only available at the Paradise Gardens Park at Disney’s California Adventure Park.
Fans of the Cars movies should make a beeline for Disney California Adventure Park to hang out in Radiator Springs, meet their favorite characters, and enjoy some of the best themed Cars rides.
An iconic ride that thrills and provides unparalleled views of the Disneyland park from above.
This Disneyland restaurant serves Creole and Cajun-inspired cuisine and is a must-visit destination for many people. The food is delicious and you have views of the Pirates of the Caribbean boats.
Anna and Elsa’s Boutique
Located in Downtown Disney, this makeover studio is every little Frozen fan’s dream come true. Best of all, the prices here can be considerably lower compared to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
What attractions are at Disney World that aren’t at Disneyland?
Some of the attractions that are only in Disney World and not in Disneyland include:
- Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
- Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Four unique festivals at Epcot
- Rides such as The Barnstormer, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Na’vi River Journey, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash, and many more.
- Attractions like Enchanted Tales with Belle and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
Is it cheaper to go to Disneyland or Disney World?
Ticket prices at Disney World tend to be slightly more expensive than tickets for Disneyland. The average price of a 1-day base ticket for adults at Disney World ranges from $109 to $159. The 1-day 1-park ticket for Disneyland California starts at $98 and goes up to $146.
Now that you know the main difference between Disney World and Disneyland, which parks are you tempted to visit first? Let us know in the comments below if you have a favorite Disney park, Florida vs California.