Disneyland California vs. Walt Disney World Orlando: 8 differences

Any Disney Theme Park has a reputation for being the happiest place in the world! Upon entering the gates that say, “Welcome to Disney,” you instantly smile and it some how brings out the inner child in you.

If you didn’t know this already, Disneyland in Anaheim, California is the first Disney Theme Park that opened in 1955. It’s the original! Walt Disney World in Orlando opened in 1971, and has since been the most visited resort in the world. But which one is better? I’ve put together 8 differences that may or may not help you decide with which one to visit.

 


Which one is bigger?

Disneyland California is home to 3 Disney owned hotels and 2 Parks (0.89 square miles):

  • Disneyland Park
  • Disney California Adventure Park

Walt Disney World Orlando covers 40 square miles of land. This is twice the size of manhattan! The main amusement parks are:

  • Magic Kingdom Park
  • Epcot
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It also has additional areas such as:

  • Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • Disney Springs (exclusive boutique stores, restaurants and entertainment)
  • Disney’s Boardwalk (more shops and restaurants, known for it’s active nightlife)
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex  (a series of sports fields. Athletes come here to play various sports!)
  • Over 30 Resort hotels

Winner:

Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle

Obvious, isn’t it? Walt Disney World Orlando is gigantic. The land they use to occupy all these parks + additional areas are so large, that they even have their own highways/freeways to navigate from one park to the other!




Lines and Waiting Time

Disneyland Park

My last visit to Disneyland California was in August of 2018. It was summer time, so many were still on holidays, therefore there were long lines, and lots of people! Waiting times ranged from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

 

Walt Disney World

When I went to Walt Disney World in November 2018, I imagined there would be shorter lines, and less people. I was wrong, very wrong. The lines were actually longer, approximately 2 to 3 hours. In some parts of the park, people were shoulder to shoulder, and bumping into one another.

Winner:

Disneyland California takes this one. Although it was summer time when I went, it still did not compare to the amount of people in Orlando.


Tickets and Fast Pass Plans

This was The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Castle at Walt Disney World

For the most part, prices of tickets are generally the same. Both provide special Canadian pricing and California/Florida resident prices. Prices also vary on how many days you decide to visit. Each ticket you purchase includes 3 fast passes, free of charge. This enables you to skip the long lines.

Disneyland  

In California, Max Pass tickets are available for purchase. Max Passes have unlimited Fast Passes, for an extra charge of $10. The fast passes can only be booked on the day of visit, one at a time. If you decide you don’t want the Max Pass, it includes 3 fast passes per day. For an explanation of what Max Pass/Fast Pass is, watch this video I found on Youtube.

Walt Disney World

Orlando does not offer the Maxpass. Instead, each ticket you buy includes 3 fast passes which can be booked 30 days prior to the day of your planned visit.

Winner:

Disneyland California! Because they offer Max Passes, this makes it much easier for visitors to book their fast passes, not to mention that it’s limitless! My husband and I purchased the MaxPass for our visit in November 2018. With it, we were able to complete the Park in one day, because we did not have to wait in the long lines.


Food

It’s a Small World at Disneyland

Disneyland – better quality ‘fast food’ style options with more variety, better ingredients, and shorter lines.

Walt Disney World – provides better specialty dining inside Cinderella’s and the Beast’s castle. This is not offered at Disneyland.

Winner: 

It’s a tie! 


Transportation

Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland

Getting around Disneyland is very straight forward, and much smaller than Disney World. Walking between the two parks is not difficult, because they are literally facing each other. If you drive there, they provide a shuttle that takes you directly to the parks.

Walt Disney World is the same size as San Francisco. So, driving from one park to the other (depending on traffic) will take you anywhere from 15-30 minutes. They also provide a Monorail, buses, and ferries for those staying at the resorts.

Winner:

Disneyland California


Characters

The Magic Kingdom’s entrance gate at Walt Disney World

Disneyland – harder to locate characters such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mickey Mouse, etc. In some cases, you probably wont even see any!

Walt Disney World – has a better meet and greet system. There are houses/locations for each character, and entertainment plays where you can meet each character afterward.

Winner:

Walt Disney World


Rides

In general, both sides have just about the same attractions, like It’s a Small World, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Road, and Space Mountain. However, Walt Disney World has more rides that cannot be found in Disneyland. Also, Walt Disney World has the Avatar ride, located at the Animal Kingdom Park (Only the best ride ever created, in the history of ever, in my opinon)!!

Winner:

Walt Disney World


Visitor Amenities

Disneyland

What do I mean by ‘Visitor Amenities?” By this, I mean the complimentary services that each park provides such as wifi, air conditioning, and the phone App. Let’s Break it down.

Wifi: In Disneyland, there are specified spots seen on the map, but I found it frequently difficult to locate a signal. It’s not as strong as Walt Disney World’s wifi connection. At Walt Disney World, you have connection almost everywhere you go.

Air conditioning: Imagine waiting hours in line, in direct sunlight! This is not the case at Walt Disney World. Most of their ride lines are air conditioned in covered areas, or indoors. They did not have this at Disneyland as most of their lines were located outdoors.

Phone App: They both have an app that you can download, and they’re both easy to manage and navigate through. You can even pre-order food through the app!

Winner:

Walt Disney World


So there you have it! If we tally up the score, Walt Disney World takes the prize. But let me just mention that they are BOTH Disney Theme Parks, and that you will still enjoy regardless of which one you decide to visit! I hope these will help you with your decision making. If you have any questions or noticed that I’ve missed some important points, please do not hesitate to ask me and comment them below!

Are you thinking of visiting Walt Disney World, but don’t know where to stay? Visit my CLC World Regal Oaks Review. It’s close to all the theme parks, and perfect for families!

Thank you for reading 🙂

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