Disneyland vs. Disney World, which is better? Comparing two great places is easy, but picking a “winner” is not. There are so many variables to consider, and what makes one resort “best” for one person may be totally unappealing to another. In many ways, the resorts are alike; both locations receive the same great service and the same attention to detail that the Disney Company is known for worldwide.
Size: The biggest difference between Disney World and Disneyland is the sheer size of the resort areas. Disneyland covers slightly more than 500 acres of land in Anahiem, California, and includes three resort hotels, two theme parks and a shopping district. Disneyland is dwarfed by Disney World, which sprawls over 25,000 acres of prime Florida real estate, and is home to four theme parks, two water parts and over twenty themed resorts.
Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean “better”. Because of Disney World’s sprawling size and sheer number of offerings, you won’t be able to see everything in a single visit; it can take years to fully explore the parks and sample the resorts!
Disneyland is most similar to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, they share many rides and attractions. Even “shared” attractions have some differences. The Haunted Mansions are fraternal, not identical twins and feature many of the same effects, but the layout and exterior differ. Guests used to riding “it’s a small world” in Disney world will be shocked to see that the boats travel outside as part of the “happiest voyage that ever sailed”; Disneyland visitors will be shocked to see that the World’s boats stay indoors.
Disneyland and Disney World also share attractions like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise, though like the Haunted Mansion, the rides differ slightly between parks.
The other Disneyland theme park, Disney’s California Adventure is similar to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in terms of setting and feel. Some rides here are similar to those seen in Disney World, and some are unique. “Soarin’” is incredibly popular in both locations, and is almost identical.
Disney World has two additional theme parks, the Animal Kingdom and Epcot, which do not have Disneyland counterparts. The World is also home to two large water parks and the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment complex.
So, choosing between Disneyland vs. Disney World based on theme parks depends on your personal preferences. If you like everything laid out before you in a compact manner, and don’t want to travel from place to place, then Disneyland is a good bet. If you want a huge selection of offerings, and don’t mind traveling a bit to get to them, then Disney World is for you.
While the resorts of Disneyland and Disney World all offer the service and amenities that Disney is famous for, you will have a wider array of budget flexibility at Disney World. Disney World has 23 on-site resorts to choose from, including a sprawling campground, so you can stay on site at any budget. All three of Disneyland’s resorts are lovely, but they are not as diverse in price; they fall into the moderate or deluxe category.
The flagship hotels, the Grand Floridian in Disney World and the Grand Californian in Disneyland are similar in quality and luxurious appeal, though they have different themes and decorating styles. Both offer unsurpassed service, fine dining and excellent amenities.
Travelers choosing to stay in a deluxe resort won’t notice a difference between the lodgings in Disneyland and Disney World; guests on a tighter budget may not be able to find lodging right in Disneyland; though value lodging is easy to find right on Disney World property.
The clear, moderate year round temperatures in California are a clear winner, though expect some rain if you travel in the winter. Florida is ideal from the late fall to the early spring, but temperatures rise rapidly, peaking in July. If you can’t stand the heat, head to Disneyland for summer travel.
Both Disneyland and Disney World have similar schedules in terms of the busiest times of year. While more people go to Disney World each year, it’s sheer size and the number of offerings make it seem less crowded even in peak times. The tight quarters and long lines at Disneyland may make it difficult to have fun on very busy days.
The easiest way to tell if you should choose Disneyland or Disney World is the ease and affordability of travel. If you already have plans to be in Florida or California, then choose the resort you are closest to. If you need to drive or fly to get there, be sure to account for your travel costs when you decide between the two Disney locations.
Travel by air will usually be less expensive to the Disney resort you are closest to geographically. If you are unsure, check online to get a general sense of the cost of flying to each destination and figure this cost into your budget. Adding in travel costs may make one destination a clear winner for your family.
Conclusion: Deciding between Disneyland and Disney World is a matter of geography and personal preference. If medical considerations or the age of some members of your family make it difficult to travel in hot weather, choose Disneyland for mild weather and less walking. If you are fit, don’t mind the heat and want to maximize your fun, give Disney World the edge. Comparing Disneyland vs. Disney World can take some time and thought, but whichever resort you choose, you are guaranteed to have the trip of a lifetime.