It’s time for the ultimate showdown: Disney World vs Disneyland. Both of them are incredible theme parks painstakingly curated by the brightest minds in entertainment and animation. But which one is better for your family vacation?
If you’re on the fence about whether you want to go to Disney World or Disneyland, keep reading. We’re breaking both parks down for you so you can make the best decision for your family vacation.
Disney World Is Bigger…
The most noticeable difference between Disney World and Disneyland is the size. Disney World is spread out over 40 square miles of land, occupying as much space as the entire city of San Francisco.
Disney World includes 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 25 resorts, several non-Disney hotels, a campground, 3 golf courses, and Disney Springs.
It would be impossible to completely explore every inch of Disney World in a single vacation. There’s so much to see and do.
Disneyland covers less than a single square mile. There are 2 theme parks, Disneyland Park and California Adventure. There’s also Downtown Disney and three hotels.
Disneyland is a much easier park to explore in a single vacation.
…But Disneyland is Full of Nostalgia
There is a lot more to do at Disney World. However, Disneyland packs a nostalgic punch and a history that is full of rich stories.
Disneyland is Disney’s original theme park. Walt Disney himself had a direct hand in lovingly crafting the guest’s experience every time they walked through the gates.
Disneyland opened in 1955 and has been expanded and renovated over the years to make room for more magic. They even added a second park in 2001.
Disney World opened in 1971. Walt Disney dreamed of expanding to Florida but sadly passed away in 1966, so he couldn’t see this dream come to fruition.
Unique Attraction Experiences
Magic Kingdom was planned and designed to be a lot like Disneyland. The two parks have a lot of the same attractions and are laid out in the same way. But, far be it from Disney to do anything the same way twice!
Even if there are duplicate rides in both places, the company makes noticeable differences. There is a Splash Mountain at both Disneyland and Disney World, but the Disneyland attraction is longer and much different.
You enter both parks by walking down Main Street USA towards a huge castle. At Disney World, you get to see the 189-foot-tall Cinderella Castle and at Disneyland, you’re greeted by the 77-foot-tall Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The castle at both parks acts as the main hub of the park’s wheel. You can take paths to the different sections of parks.
However, there is much more to do at Disney World. But both parks offer unique attractions that aren’t available anywhere else.
Planning Your Trip
That is pretty much where the resemblance between the parks stops. Everything else is quite different, even down to the way you plan your vacation.
Disney World, being much larger and more involved, takes a lot more planning. There is a new ticketing process called MyMagic+ that combines every aspect of your Disney trip into one location. You don’t get a ticket at Disney World, you get a MagicBand to wear around your wrist that contains all of the information you need for your trip.
MagicBands hold your tickets to the theme parks, your room key if you stay on-site, your dining reservations, your PhotoPass, and your resort charge card.
You don’t even need paper FastPasses at Disney, it’s all contained in an app on your smartphone called FastPass+.
Disneyland is much smaller and therefore much easier to plan. There are no MagicBands at Disneyland. You’ll need all the information for your resort, physical tickets to the theme parks, and your paper FastPass.
There is an official Disneyland app that you can use to buy tickets, check out the wait times on your favorite attractions, scan maps, find characters, and check showtimes.
Keep up with all the latest Disney news to make planning your Disney vacation easy.
Travel Around the Parks
As you can probably imagine, traveling around the parks is a very different experience. Disneyland is much smaller and easier to get around whereas there is a complex transportation system in place at Disney World.
You can easily walk between the parks, Downtown Disney, and resorts at Disneyland. The entrances to the different parks are close to each other and if you stay at a Disney resort, you can walk to Downtown Disney and the parks. There is also a monorail transportation system you can use.
Disney World is not a place you can expect to walk through. The resort has a free transportation system that can take you anywhere. Getting to the different resorts and parks can take as long as 10-30 minutes when you take a bus, the ferry, or the monorail.
Each resort has transportation that leads directly to the theme parks.
Resorts and Hotels
Both Disneyland and Disney World have resort hotels on their properties. Disneyland has Disney’s Paradise Pier, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.
Disney World has a whopping 30 hotels separated into three categories: Disney Value Resorts, Disney Moderate Resorts, and Disney Deluxe Resorts.
Both of the park’s resorts come with a ton of perks, including Extra Magic Hours where you get to spend extra time in the theme park.
The Disney World vs Disneyland Breakdown
So, in this classic battle of Disney World vs Disneyland, which park wins? Well, it depends on what your individual needs are for your Disney vacation.
If you have a long weekend and want to explore a park full of nostalgia and fun attractions while keeping things spontaneous and fun, Disneyland definitely wins. If you want to go all out on a Disney vacation and get totally immersed in all things Disney for a week-long vacation, you can’t beat Disney World.
Both parks offer unbeatable experiences that the whole family will enjoy. You can’t go wrong with the most magical place on earth!
For more vacation tips and tricks, keep reading!