Are you trying to figure out which is better, Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Or perhaps you’re just trying to figure out which Disney Park is best? Whatever your reasons, now that there are distinct differences between Walt Disney’s east coast park in Florida and his west coast park in California. Here are the big differences to consider if you’re trying to choose Disneyland or Walt Disney World for your next vacation.
Disneyland or Walt Disney World?
As avid Walt Disney World vacationers, we were curious to get the details for ourselves. So, we hopped on a plane and headed west to Disneyland Resort. But, before we dive in, it’s important to know one big similarity. Walt Disney World Resort is a complex of 4 parks, resorts, water parks, golf courses, and a shopping center. Disneyland Resort consists of 2 parks and a shopping center; Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Downtown Disney. To get a full vision of everything to do at Disneyland, check out the Disneyland Ultimate Bucket List Challenge for everything you can do there.
Disneyland is A LOT like Walt Disney World! It has all the same magic, similar rides, and features everyone’s favorite characters. But, since our biggest question about Disneyland was “how is it really different than Walt Disney World” we decided to get particular and really dive into the differences. Here are the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World you’ll notice between these two parks.
Disneyland Rides are Better
Mind you. Not better in the sense that they are more fun or have better themes. But, in the sense that Disneyland rides are smoother, less rickety, and generally “better,” as rides. No offense to Walt Disney World rides. We do love you and have become very familiar with all our local chiropractors as result. The smoothness of many of the rides is the result of frequent repairs and upgrades that simply don’t happen at Walt Disney World as much as they need to. We understand that this is mostly due to the nonstop international travelers that expect the rides to be running. In contrast, Disneyland is very much an elaborate local theme park. With mostly locals visiting, they are used to a basic refurbishment schedule. For this reason, if you’re visiting Disneyland Resort, we recommend checking the Disneyland Refurbishment Schedule. Just to be sure your favorite rides will be running during your vacation.
While we were only at Disneyland Resort a short time, we would bet Disneyland rides don’t break down as much as they do at Walt Disney World either. But really, if we could get their version of Space Mountain in Orlando, we’re sure a lot of people would save thousands on their chiropractor bills every year. Just sayin’.
Everything at Disneyland is Walkable
There are only two Parks at Disneyland Resort; Disneyland and California Adventure. And each park is directly across from the other. Not only are the Parks within walking distance of each other, but there are also many Hotels within walking distance of Disneyland Resort. As inconvenient as it can be to have to walk home after a long day in the Parks, it’s better than standing in a long line at the busses for that 30-minute ride back to the resort.
Disneyland Doesn’t Require as much Planning
If you visit Walt Disney World you know that planning is EVERYTHING! Especially since it’s 4 parks, all of which require park pass reservations, and transportation. And all of which require a Disney ride strategy if you’re hoping to ride the best rides. Disneyland and California Adventure Park, however, while still requiring park reservations, have fewer rides, restaurants and fewer shows to fit in. While we do recommend more than just one day at Disneyland Resort, but as smaller parks, they’re easy to get around and easy to fit everything in.
Locals are Everywhere
Unlike Walt Disney World, filled with out-of-state and international travelers, Disneyland is not considered a major travel destination. This means almost everyone knows what they are doing, most of the time. As much as we love Walt Disney World, there are times when crowds at Walt Disney World are horrible and we feel like no one has a clue what they are doing. It becomes almost chaotic. At Disneyland, if you’re confused about how something works, you can easily ask another guest waiting in line, or just follow the crowd to see what everyone’s excited about.
It Feels Like a Local Theme Park
Perhaps the biggest difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World is that Disneyland Resort feels like a theme park. When you’re at Walt Disney World, it feels like you’re in a “whole new world” filled with magic. The castle is bigger, the lands are bigger, and the space is more open. Walt Disney World is 43 square miles of land, compared to Disneyland’s 500 acres.
Unique Rides and Shows
As home to Walt Disney’s original vision, Disneyland includes some classic rides that you can’t do at Disneyland. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Radiator Springs Racers, and more are only available at Disneyland Resort. Magic Happens and World of Color are also exclusive to Disneyland park. Check out our Top 5 Best Rides at Disneyland to add to your Disney Vacation itinerary.
In addition to different rides and shows, these Disney Parks have different lands too! While both parks have almost identical Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge areas, other areas are distinctly different. Disneyland’s California Adventure includes Pixar Pier, Cars Land, and Avengers Campus. None of which are available at Walt Disney World. While Walt Disney World features Toy Story Land and Pandora.
Should you choose Walt Disney World or Disneyland?
If you’re wondering which Disney Park will be best for your Disney vacation, it really is a matter of preference. If you’re looking for something smaller, that will only take 2-3 days and is easier to get around, then Disneyland may be your best bet. However, if you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime Disney Vacation, then Walt Disney World is well worth the trip.
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .