There are always debates in my house on where we should go next – Walt Disney World in Florida, or Disneyland in California? There’s a lot to consider when choosing between the two, as they are VERY different, but both still offer that same brand of Disney Magic. Read on to learn about some of the differences and to decide which one might be the right vacation spot for you:
Size: WDW is WAY bigger than Disneyland (43 square miles vs 160 acres), and that means Disneyland has fewer attractions, but it also could potentially mean less walking (not to sound lazy – but walking all day every day for 5 or more days straight at Walt Disney World can really tire a girl out!). Size might not matter a lot to most people, but if you’re looking to spend a whole week in Disneyland, you might find that you have to branch out to some activities outside of the two theme parks (as it might be a stretch to fill a whole week JUST at Disneyland). Which brings me to…
The Parks: Disneyland has 2 – Disneyland Park and the much newer California Adventure – which opened in 2001 and recently went through an overhaul – adding new attractions and the all new CarsLand (themed after the popular Cars movies). Disneyland Park is home to many classic attractions, and it has many similarities to WDW’s. Speaking of WDW – you’ll find 4 theme parks as well as 2 water parks there too – so if you’re looking to do a different park every day or like to mix it up and try new things every day, then WDW might be the better choice for you as it is more diverse in it’s offerings
Disneyland – the Original Disney Park: History and nostalgia are definitely a factor in choosing where to go – and Disneyland is the older of the two locations (it’s celebrating its 60th anniversary this year!). It’s also the only one that Walt himself was there to see on opening day, making Disneyland Park truly “the land that Walt built”. Many of the attractions there now were there when the park opened – and others have been carefully selected and added over the years to make this a truly magical place
Where To Stay: Disneyland offers 3 onsite Hotels, whereas Walt Disney World has 27 Resorts on Disney property. While some people might appreciate the LARGE variety of places to choose from – others might prefer choosing from a short list of 3 at Disneyland, plus the Hotels at Disneyland are a lot closer to the action too – walking distance from the Parks, whereas very few of the 27 WDW hotels are actually within walking distance to any of the 4 parks (meaning you will need to wait for a bus/monorail/boat to get you to the Parks). Speaking of transportation…
Transportation Options: Walt Disney World has multiple ways to get around – buses, monorails & boats are all available to shuttle guests to and from the Parks, Resorts, and Water Parks. WDW also offers a free shuttle service from the Orlando Airport called the Magical Express. Disneyland has a monorail, but no boats or buses – mainly because they don’t need them – as their hotels and 2 theme parks are all within walking distance of each other. Disneyland offers the Disneyland Resort Express service from local airports – but it’s not free like the magical express (BUT it doesn’t require reservations, whereas the magical express does)
Planning: Walt Disney World offers the relatively new Magic Band system – which is essentially a bracelet that does it all – it acts as your WDW Resort room key, your credit card, your fastpass + ticket, and it stores your meal reservations too. Disneyland currently doesn’t have a Magic Band system in place – but they are slowly catching up – they now offer the option to make ADR’s, and they have an official Disneyland App too – where you can purchase tickets and view ride wait times. Books about both locations are available as well as tons of online info to help you plan too
Hopefully reading about the differences between WDW and Disneyland will help you make a decision about which place is best for your and your family to vacation – I personally grew up going to WDW every year and have only been to Disneyland once, and would LOVE to have the chance to go back to Disneyland, as I love the idea of it being completely designed and overseen by Walt himself – it makes me feel like I’m experiencing an amazing part of Disney history!
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