A lot of people have been asking me the question: “Which do you like better, Disney World or Disneyland?” And in all honesty, I don’t think I can pick one over the other. They are both special and unique in their own ways. Disney World has more parks, but Disneyland is more compact and easy to get around. Even the feel of each of them is different. It’s hard to pit Disney World vs. Disneyland!
For those of you more familiar with one park over the others, let me highlight some of the key differences:
- Disneyland is much, much smaller in area. It has two parks (Disneyland, which is similar to the Magic Kingdom, and California Adventure). The parks, Downtown Disney, and the three Disney hotels are all within walking distance. On the other hand, Disney World has many hotels, four theme parks, 2 water parks, Downtown Disney, etc., and most aren’t walkable – though they do offer a bus system between locations.
- You’ll find many different rides on each coast. While there is some overlap (and I’ll get to that more below), for the most part there are very few rides that are carbon copies of each other.
- With only 3 hotels in California, all of which are pretty expensive, you see a ton of “Good Neighbor Hotels” owned by other companies which are very close by, many also within walking distance.
- Disneyland does not offer complimentary transportation to and from the airport – Disney World does.
- Disneyland is not using the new MyMagic+ system you’ll see in Disney World. They have fastpass machines with paper tickets (like the old ones at Disney World), and no magic bands.
- Disney World does a lot more to separate its cast members from the guests to preserve the magic. It was odd for us to be in Disneyland walking out of the parks and down the streets of Anaheim with a cast member in full costume right beside us!
- The characters are less structured at Disneyland, which leads to fun interactions.
- And yes, the castle at Disneyland is much smaller. It’s still beautiful though.
If someone absolutely made me choose, saying I could only ever visit one of them again, I would pick Disney World – but I think that’s because it feels more like “my” park because I’ve been there so many times. Plus I love Epcot and Animal Kingdom and Disneyland doesn’t have anything like that. But Disneyland is so special because it’s Walt’s park. I honestly just love them both.
The Rides and Attractions
That being said, there are some rides that appear in both Disney World and Disneyland, often slightly different, and those I can compare! Here is the list of rides that you’ll find on both coasts:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters/Space Ranger Spin
Pirates of the Caribbean
Mad Tea Party
Tower of Terror
It’s a Small World
It’s Tough to Be a Bug *
Peter Pan’s Flight
Star Tours *
Tarzan/Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh *
Tom Sawyer Island
Enchanted Tiki Room *
Toy Story Mania *
The ones I marked with an asterisk are ones that are basically identical in each place. The other major ones I experienced I would like to do a blog series on comparing the two. So look for that in the next couple of weeks! Is the attraction better at Disney World or Disneyland?
Are you curious to hear how the attractions stack in Disney World vs. Disneyland? Let me know in the comments!