The differences between Disneyland and Disney World

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The differences between Disneyland and Disney World

I had the pleasure last week to visit Disneyland for the first time thanks to my friends at Disney Interactive. Before I go any further I just want to thank them for a wonderful 3 days! I got to try out Epic Mickey 2 – The Power of Two and Power of Illusion and I was blown away by both games. You will want to run out and get them when they release next month!  You can read more about my trip here.

So while at Disneyland I wanted to note some of the many differences between the 2 parks. Keep in mind there are about 1000 differences between the parks and when Walt thought up the ideas for Walt Disney World it was not meant to be a clone of Disneyland. So having said that I wanted to highlight some of the more noticeable and major differences that you can look out for between Disneyland and Disney World.


  • Disneyland is broken into 2 parks. Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Disneyland is very similar to the Magic Kingdom in layout but you will find many elements of the other Disney World parks inside.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is about 1/2 the size of Cinderella’s Castle. That will take some getting used to. There is a walk through in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle which is pretty cool, while you can actually eat in Cinderella’s Castle.
  • Most of the same rides are shared between the 2 Parks. Rides like Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean are present in both parks but there is many differences between the rides. While some might just be the name difference… Soarin vs Soarin over California, both rides are identical to the T.
  • Disneyland and DCA combined is about the size of just the Magic Kingdom. So as you’re in the park you will notice how everything feels right on top of one another. Disneyland does a great job with landscaping and hiding the other rides so you don’t feel like cattle being herded around. I was able to stand next to Nemo and see Tower of Terror in DCA and it was not far away at all.
  • I think Disneyland has more themed areas that Disney World. For example they have Paradise Pier, Bugs Land, New Orleans Square, etc. Epcot probably has the best breakup as far as lands go but with the small size of Disneyland & DCA you do miss out on that.
  • DCA has Carsland which is phenomenal! The only negative I can think of with Carsland is the number of people. Imagine if you will, taking the 4 busiest rides at Disney World and putting them off in an area by themselves, then splash in a great place to eat , and finally load it up with people and there you have Carsland. I understand that area is new but 2 hrs just to ride Radiator Springs Racers…Geeze!


  • I know people at Disneyland are not going to like this statement but Disney World kicks Disneylands butt as far as variety and quality of food. There is so many places to eat at Disney World you can pretty much find every type of food on the planet. Disneyland not so much. I mean you do have some nice places to eat like Carnation Cafe, Flo’s V8 Cafe, Blue Bayou, etc. But I couldn’t even find a place to get sushi at Disneyland!
  • Same thing goes with snacks. Both parks have the Turkey Legs, Churros, Dole Whips but where were the non traditional things like School Bread, Carrot Cake Cookie, and the world famous Butterfinger Cupcake at Disneyland. There were a few things like Corn Dogs which I didn’t have a chance to try, and Smoothies from Schmoozies but overall Disney World has a better selection as far as snacks go.
  • Finally I think this is just due to it’s size but all the restaurants at Disneyland are packed! I remember on Wednesday I wanted to get a coffee from the Fiddler/Fifer but the line was out the door and around the block. I mean I like Starbucks as much as the next guy but come on. I know Disney World can get busy especially in the summer months but you have more options available to you.
  • I feel with Disney World you have to plan more as far as meals go while Disneyland is more open to walk ins. I walked in the Storyteller Cafe at Breakfast one day and was told there was just a 10 wait and the restaurant seemed pretty busy. Try that in Disney World at ‘Ohana’s and you can expect a 45 – 60 minute wait easily.


  • I know I am going to shoot myself in the foot here but I think the rides at Disneyland are more magical than those at Disney World. I think this has to do with the Walt factor. Walt worked with the designers to come up with the rides and to me that makes them more special. Many of the rides were cloned from Disneyland for Disney World but they are just different. For example Pirates of the Caribbean had several sections that are missing at WDW.
  • Rides like the Matterhorn,  Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and the Mickey’s Fun Wheel (just to name a few) don’t even exist at Disney World so I can’t even compare them but I did notice how Rock n Roller Coaster and California Screamin are very similar in take off.
  • Disney World finally has the little mermaid dark ride, and from what I hear is going to get Carsland soon which is a major plus for my Florida home. Disney World has a lot more room that DL so expect more growth.
  • While not really a ride the World of Color will take your breath away. Disneyland did a great job at this show. Illuminations doesn’t even come close. Lets cross our fingers that WDW will get something similar to this.

Like I said there are just so many things to list as far as the differences between the two parks. Disney World was not made to be a clone but since I have grown up going to Disney World after visiting Disneyland I have grown to appreciate both parks equally. Disneyland is more magical due to the Walt factor but Disney World has room to grow and  definitely has the WOW factor.

Have you been to both parks? What are some of the things you noticed between the 2 parks? Let us know in the comment box below.

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The differences between Disneyland and Disney World


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Chip is the owner, editor, and writer of Chip and Company. When he is not writing about Disney News or Planning Tips, you will find him counting down the days to his next Disney Vacation.
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3 thoughts on “The differences between Disneyland and Disney World

  1. I think that both parks have their perks but I am WDW all the way. Disneyland does feel much more crowded and a lot of the best restaurants are outside of the park. I like the direction DCA is going in because it had a rocky start and I feel like they are finally getting it right. If you are a Disneyland regular, WDW will be overwhelming. I mean, you can’t just walk across the way to another park.

  2. Disney put me up at the Grand Californian. Let me just say get to the DCA as soon as you can and make a bee line right for Carsland. It was packed all day long.

  3. Thanks for the great article you wrote comparing the two parks. I hope that Carsland isn’t packed when we go in 4 weeks. We haven’t gone to WDW, but have been to DL over 20 times, and we see something new everytime. I enjoyed the pictures you posted during your visit to DL too. Where did you stay? We are staying at the DL Hotel, as it is our favorite. The only bummer…no Fall discounts this year 🙁

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