If you want to spark debate among Disney fans, just ask which is better: Disneyland or Walt Disney World.
Loyal fans fiercely defend their favorites, but there are no wrong answers.
“It’s like picking a favorite kid,” says Lisa Ellens, who loves the two so much that she becomes a Disney Program team member, sharing tips and tricks with other Disney guests.
However, travelers have a way of determining which destination is right for them.
“You need to think about your family and what’s important to them, what attractions they might like, what characters they might like, how many days you have,” Ellens said.
What is the difference between Disneyland and Disney World?
“The biggest difference for me is that at Disneyland, there’s a lot more nostalgia. There’s more ‘this is what Walt did,’” said Ashley Ryan, a director at Disneyland. The World Grow Up Project Disney team member. PlanDisney panelists aren’t Disney actors, but park experts who apply for consultant roles and get a Disney trip in exchange for sharing insights with other guests.
Disneyland is the only park opened by Walt Disney himself. There, guests can see him sitting on a bench in Griffith Park when he first dreamed of Disneyland, sipping Walter’s peppers at Carnation Cafe, and enjoying attractions he worked on, such as the Matterhorn bobsleigh and Walt Disney’s Magical Tiki Room, and as part of Walt’s Main Street Street Stories tour, even visiting his former apartment above the fire station in the town square.
“For a true Disney fan, if you’ve never been to Disneyland, you appreciate the history and the fact that that was Walt’s original dream,” said Ai, who has held Disneyland and Disneyland annual passes for many years. “It’s a very different experience than Disney World,” Lens said.
Among other differences, parking at Disneyland is easier because its two theme parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, are separated by a plaza from each other and a short walk from downtown Disney.
Disney World is much bigger, and its four parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom — are further apart. The Florida resort also boasts two water parks, multiple golf and miniature golf courses, ESPN World of Sports and Disney Springs.
“There’s definitely more variety out there than Disneyland,” Ellens said. “For me, when we go to Disney World, I also love spending some time at the resort. It’s a great way to have a good time at the park… We can still keep Disney’s on the property magic.”
While both Disney World and Disneyland feature lodging, attractions, dining options, nighttime views and other unique experiences, there are many attractions that guests can ride at both resorts. However, even some of them, like Pirates of the Caribbean, are executed differently.
Sleeping Beauty Castle shines at Disneyland at dusk.
“I really like the nuances,” Ryan said. When she and her husband took the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland for the first time, she said, “We immediately thought, ‘Okay, even if the setup is different.’ We had to sit next to each other, and at Disneyland we sat front and rear. And I think Space Mountain at Disneyland is a smoother ride overall.”
Disneyland is also overhauling “It’s a Small World” and a haunted house for the holidays.
“The holiday lighting that happens at night is amazing,” Ellens said. “It’s one of my favorites to ride ‘It’s a Small World’ and listen to the holiday tunes they set and see all the holiday decorations.”
Other differences that longtime fans may notice is that Disneyland still has Mr. Toad’s wild rides, which closed at Disney World decades ago. Disney World still has the Tomorrowland PeopleMover and Carousel of Progress, which were transferred from Disneyland in the 1970s.
What activities are there at Disneyland and Disneyland?
Each resort hosts unique festivals and events throughout the year, but all participate in Celebrate Soulfully.
• EPCOT International Arts Festival
• EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival
• EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival
• EPCOT International Festival
• Magic Kingdom’s Mickey Halloween is not so scary
• Mickey’s Merry Christmas in the Magic Kingdom
• Earth Day Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
• Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival
• Disney Festivals and Disney¡ª Viva Navidad! Street Party at Disney’s California Adventure Park
• Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure
• Eggstravaganza at Disneyland
• Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland
• Día de los Muertos Celebration at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Is Disneyland cheaper than Disney World?
The cheapest tickets to Disneyland are slightly less expensive than their Disney World counterparts.
One-day Disneyland tickets start at $104.
Disney World starts at $109.
Ticket prices fluctuate based on the time of year for both resorts. The more days a guest adds, the less the cost per day.
Which has more attractions, Disney World or Disneyland?
With double the number of theme parks and two water parks, Disney World overall offers more attractions than Disneyland.
Guests can find detailed information on all of the attractions and experiences at Disneyland and Disney World on their respective websites.
Which one is right for you?
Ashley Ryan’s family considers Disneyland their sanctuary. “Of course, this is where everyone is happy,” she said. “But it’s a place where we can go and my husband and I can be kids with our kids and see them go through the same things we go through growing up.”
“You can have a really great vacation from either,” Ryan said. “What do you want from your trip? How long do you want to be there? What kind of things do you want to experience?”
Both destinations take multiple days to enjoy at a leisurely pace, but guests with limited time can experience more of Disneyland in less time than Disney World. Other practical considerations include airfare and other transportation costs, and even the weather, since it almost always rains in Florida and rarely in Southern California.
Fans may also be a factor. Guests who love classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Disney Princesses, Star Wars and Pixar can indulge in either destination, but Disney World is the only place guests will find Pandora – Avatar World and all of Disney’s animals kingdom. Meanwhile, Disneyland is home to the Avengers campus and car park.