If you want to visit a Disney theme park in the US, you have two options: Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. While both are worth visiting in their own right, some visitors may have to choose between the two parks. So how does Disneyland vs. Disney World fare? Which park is better?
Disneyland and Disney World resorts have some of the most visited theme parks in the world. While they are similar in many ways, some differences may make one of them better for you.
- Disney World is considerably bigger than Disneyland, so it has a broader variety of theme parks, attractions, hotels, and restaurants.
- The classic rides are better in Disneyland. However, Disney World has some of the most sought-after rides of all Disney parks (like Avatar Flight of Passage).
- Disney World takes longer to cover as it has four theme parks, whereas Disneyland can be visited in a day or two.
- Disneyland has pleasant weather most of the year, whereas summers at Disney World can be hot and sweaty. It also rains frequently during summer at Disney World.
The better of the two parks is the one that excites you to visit and is within your budget.
This article compares Disneyland and Disney World resorts in the US, discussing the differences and similarities. I’ll also discuss choosing between the two parks for your vacation.
Disneyland vs. Disney World: Compared
Disneyland was the very first park that Walt Disney created back in 1955. Disney World opened in 1971, five years after Walt Disney’s passing. However, he was involved in the idea of the park. Epcot, one of the four theme parks at Disney World, directly resulted from Walt’s imagination.
While both resorts are run by Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products and share some of the rides, there are plenty of differences. Let’s compare both in different categories.
Location & Weather
Disneyland is in Anaheim, California, whereas Disney World is at Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Disney World is also called Disney World Orlando because it’s near the central Floridan city of Orlando. However, it’s actually in Bay Lake.
Disneyland enjoys a temperate climate and very little rain year-round because of its location in California. Even at the peak of summer, the temperature doesn’t exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
When visiting Disney World, you must brace for the heat and humidity from May till September. The temperature can exceed 90 degrees, and the humidity is over 50%. During the summer, the morning’s scorching sun turns into thunderstorms in the afternoon. Summer is also the wettest in Orlando, so you must come prepared for downpours. Fall and winter weather in Orlando is relatively cooler, especially during nights when it can get chilly. It’s also not as wet, with fewer rainy days.
So if we’re talking location and weather, Disneyland has the upper hand.
Of course, theme parks are all about the rides, so the comparison comes down to the attractions for many. Disneyland California has two theme parks, Disneyland and California Adventure. Disney World Florida has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. As the latter has more theme parks, it offers more attractions.
Although you’ll find some classic rides in both parks, each park’s experience is different. For instance, Space Mountain exists in Disneyland and Disney World, but the one in Disneyland allows two guests to sit across. Other popular rides in both parks include Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.
Both parks offer something for everyone. At Disneyland resort, Disneyland has some great rides for kids. Its equivalent at Disney World is Magic Kingdom. Both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom have iconic castles.
As some rides are unique to the parks, deciding which one offers better rides is difficult. You may need to visit all parks to decide for yourself!
Disney World is huge, and when I say huge, I mean it. The area of Disney World is over 43 square miles. In comparison, Disneyland is just 0.78 square miles.
Even though Disneyland is smaller, it has two parks and nearly 50 attractions. So it can take a full day to explore each of the two parks.
Disney World’s properties include four theme parks, two water parks, golf courses, and many hotels. If you want to explore all the parks, you’ll need at least four to five days. The huge size of Disney World requires a multiple-day trip, but many guests also make single-day or two-day trips to visit a specific theme park.
Disneyland only has three hotels on-site, whereas Disney World has over 25. At Disney World, there’s plenty of variety in terms of hotel prices, with three tiers of resorts: value, moderate, and deluxe. It also has exclusive villas for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members.
Disney World is a winner in this category, as guests have many choices. From budget-friendly hotels to ultra-luxury villas, you can find Disney’s best accommodations at Disney World. These hotels typically have a theme, which makes the experience all the better.
Other than the on-site Disney hotels, there are also off-site hotels nearby. Disneyland and Disney World have many off-site hotels, many providing transportation to the parks.
Disney World in Orlando offers a broader selection of restaurants than Disneyland simply because of its size. While you can find similar attractions at Disneyland and Disney World, the restaurants are different at each resort, except for the Enchanted Tiki Bar.
Both Disneyland and Disney World offer character dining options. Similarly, both have high-end restaurants and quick-service restaurants. However, Disney World has some of the best restaurants in all Disney parks. So no matter what you like, you’ll find it at Disney World.
Epcot’s World Showcase is another reason the culinary experience at Disney World is simply better than Disneyland’s. You have restaurants offering cuisines from many different countries.
Both Disneyland and Disney World have major airports nearby. Disneyland has Los Angeles International Airport and the John Wayne Orange Country Airport. In addition, Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport can reach Disney World.
As for transportation inside the parks, Disneyland and Disney World offer free transportation for guests. Getting around isn’t much of an issue in Disneyland as it’s a smaller park. However, they provide a shuttle service from the parking to the parks.
Disney World is quite big, so it requires transportation from hotels to parks and from one park to another. There are several options, including buses, a monorail, and boats. The routes are well-mapped, and the services run frequently. Journey times can be as little as five minutes or as long as half an hour.
The cost of a Disneyland or Disney World vacation depends on various factors, including the season, where you’re coming from, and the number of days you plan to visit. Ticket prices vary based on demand and supply but are generally similar for all US Disney parks. Park hopper tickets are more expensive but give you access to all theme parks.
Similarly, Disney hotel prices also vary based on tier and availability.
The Genie+ service is more expensive at Disneyland, starting at $25 per person per day. This service starts at $15 per person per day at Disney World.
How To Pick One?
Disneyland and Disney World have unique experiences with fun rides, great food, and character meet and greets. So which one should you choose? Well, you should consider where you’re located, your budget, and your particular preferences.
For instance, if you’re living on the East Coast, it would be cheaper to fly to Disney World. Similarly, if you’re flying in from outside the US, especially across the Atlantic, you may find more affordable flights to Orlando than Los Angeles. That would make Disney World a better option for you.
If there are any specific attractions you want to visit that are unique to one park, then you have your answer.
Also, the number of days you plan to visit should help you decide. For more extended vacations, Disney World is arguably a better choice. This is because you’ll have more parks to see that will keep your days busy and exciting. For shorter vacations, you can visit Disneyland or one or two theme parks at Disney World.
Bottomline: Which Is Better?
It’s hard to pick the best between Disneyland and Disney World, as both are great destinations. This is why I tried to compare them in different categories. If you’re looking for the classic Disney charm, Disneyland is the place to be, as it was the first park and still has many classic attractions.
In terms of the variety of attractions, experiences, and restaurants, Disney World has the edge over Disneyland, thanks to its massive size. But if the weather is to be considered, Disneyland, with its sunny LA weather, is better than the hot and wet Disney World in Orlando.
Do your homework and learn about the attractions, especially the unique ones exclusive to one park, to help you make up your mind. Also, consider the costs of travel and stay.