Disney World vs Disneyland: The 22 Biggest Differences

Would you like to experience the magic of Disney but don’t know if you should visit Disneyland or Disney World? The Walt Disney Company owns both parks, so they have a lot in common.

While both parks are very similar, there are some important differences that you need to know before selecting which park to visit.

To help you decide which park to visit first, I’ve listed 22 differences between Disneyland and Disney World.

22 main differences between Disneyland and Disney World

01. Size Difference

Disneyland is smaller than Disney World – about half the size. This size makes navigating a little easier, especially if you’re visiting with young children.

Walt Disney World has more than 43 square miles of land, making it a much larger resort than Disneyland. So there is much more to see in Disney World.

02. Number of Parks Difference

Disney World has four parks, while Disneyland only has two. Therefore, Disney World is the better choice if you’re looking for a more action-packed vacation.

03. Location Difference

Disneyland and Disney World are located in different parts of the country.

Disneyland Location

The Disneyland theme park can be found in Anaheim, California, on the west coast of the United States.

Disney World Location

Disney World theme park is located in Orlando, Florida

The closest Disney park might be the easiest place for you to enjoy your first Disney experience!

04. Ride Differences

Disneyland focuses on classic amusement park rides, while Disney World has broader ride options, including thrill rides and water parks.

Disneyland Classic Ride Examples:

  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney World Thrill Ride Examples: 

  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Soarin’ Around the World

I’ve created a list of all the Disneyland Rides and all of the Disney World Rides in one place to make it easy to compare the different ride types and attractions.

05. Transportation Differences

Disneyland has a dedicated train system called the Disneyland Railroad that arrives every 10-15 minutes and takes you around the park. Disney World uses buses to get park-goers around. If you’re looking for an old-fashioned Disney train experience, Disneyland is the better choice.

Disneyland Transportation

The smaller area of Disneyland allows park-goers to walk between the resorts, parks, and Downtown Disney in a short amount of time. Both theme parks have entrance gates directly across from one another, and park-goers staying at on-property hotels can reach the Downtown Disney District and the park entrances by walking. The park offers a monorail system for park-goers who don’t want to walk within the park.

Disney World Transportation

Since Disney World spans a larger area, it is unsuitable for walking between the parks. The resort provides free transportation to solve this problem for park-goers to travel anywhere in the park they want. The trip from a resort to a theme park is usually around 10-30 minutes by bus, ferry, or monorail. A park-goer may have to transfer from one Disney resort to another or Disney Springs. Even so, every resort has transportation to and from the theme parks. 

06. Food Differences

Disneyland offers a wider variety of food options, including sit-down restaurants and character dining. Disney World also has more Quick Service Restaurants (fast food), which are convenient if you’re short on time.

07. Price Differences

Disneyland tickets are typically cheaper than Disney World tickets. For example, the average cost of a Disneyland ticket is $100, while the average cost of a Disney World ticket is $130.

08. Best Time To Visit Differences

Due to its setting in sunny Southern California, where temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year, Disneyland may have an advantage in this area. Even so, it can still reach temperatures of approximately 50 degrees in the winter and soar well more than a hundred degrees in the summer heat.

Disney World during the summertime is hot and humid, so summertime is not the best time to wait for hours for your favorite ride.

If the weather is your concern, the more pleasant spring seasons are also the best time of the year to enjoy both parks. There are a few other things to think of when arranging your park visit.

The two parks usually accommodate many park-goers during spring break, during March and April. Both parks can also get a crowd of park-goers during holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, and other occasions such as Halloween.

Avoid holidays and summer vacation periods when possible, and plan your visit during off-peak hours. Since fewer crowds will be present, you will see and enjoy more of the park in a shorter time. ​

09. Kid Friend Differences

Disneyland is great for families with young children as it offers a more manageable size and a focus on classic rides. However, if you want a more action-packed vacation, Disney World is the better choice.

10. Hotel Differences

Disneyland offers more on-site hotels that are closer to the attractions than Disney World. So if you want to stay really close to the park, Disneyland is the better choice.

A total of three Disneyland hotels are located on the property, namely the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Non-Disney accommodations are also available within walking distance or a short drive from the parks.

Disney World offers over 25 different hotels scattered throughout its grounds. You’ll find budget-friendly options like Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to deluxe hotels like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, as well as villas like those at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

11. Golf Course Differences

Disneyland doesn’t have any golf courses, but Disney World has five golf courses. So if you love the sport, Disney World is the better choice.

12. Annual Visitors Differences

Disneyland welcomes 15+ million visitors per year, while Disney World welcomes around 20 million visitors per year. As a result, Disney World is the better choice if you’re looking for a less crowded park experience as Disney World is huge in comparison to Disneyland.

13. Roller Coaster Differences

Disneyland is home to California Screamin’, while Disney World has Expedition Everest. Disney World is the better choice if you’re looking for more thrilling roller coasters.

14. Water Park Differences

Disneyland doesn’t have any water parks, but Disney World has Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. So if you’re looking for a day of fun by the pool, Disney World is the better choice.

15. Line Wait Time Differences

Disneyland typically has shorter line wait times than Disney World. So if you’re looking to minimize your time spent waiting in line, Disneyland is the better choice.

16. Crowd Differences

Disneyland typically has smaller crowds than Disney World. But Disney World has 4 parks and is much larger so even if there are larger crowds at Disney World it feels less crowded than Disneyland.

17. Purchasing Ticket Differences

There is a ticketing system at Disney World called MyMagic+ that combines pretty much everything about your Disney experience. MagicBand rubber bracelets contain a computer chip that allows park-goers to reach all of their information, including their room key, theme park tickets, dining reservations, and PhotoPass+. Park-goers can also manage their Disney Genie+ reservations with the Disney Genie App and My Disney Experience App.

18. Planning Differences

When planning to visit Walt Disney World, you should be aware that preparations begin months in advance. It’s not enough for you to purchase your tickets and fly to Orlando. You also need to book accommodation in advance, which can be more expensive than the admission price to the theme parks.

If you plan a trip to the Disneyland Resort, you need to make reservations at three sit-down restaurants or purchase Magic Morning tickets. You could then buy a one-day ticket from your local grocery store after purchasing your tickets online.

Disney World does require more planning because it is larger than Disneyland Resort, although Disneyland provides the same punch in a smaller package. Therefore, Disney World and Disneyland call for top-to-bottom checklists, while Walt Disney World requires a bottomless bucket. 

19. Outdoor And Indoor Attraction Differences

Disneyland Resort offers more outdoor attractions, whereas Disney World offers fewer. Walt Disney World also has more covered areas with fans or air conditioning than other theme parks. 

20. Nighttime Show Differences

Both resorts have unique nightlife entertainment that you can’t get anywhere else. But Walt Disney World has better shows. Disneyland Paris’ show, for instance, is cute but short compared to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth or Fantasmic!

The Walt Disney World Resort also offers Rivers of Light, a nighttime show featuring projected images of animals on water screens. In contrast, Disneyland’s Paint the Night Parade offers luminous floats but lacks characters like Tinker Bell, who hovers above Sleeping Beauty Castle. ​

21. Fireworks Differences

Both resorts have incredible fireworks displays, but I think that Walt Disney World’s are better. For example, the show at Disneyland Paris is cute but short and doesn’t compare to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth or Fantasmic!

22. Average Temperature Differences

Disneyland is typically hotter than Disney World, but both resorts have a variety of weather conditions. So if you’re looking to avoid extreme temperatures, neither Disneyland nor Disney World is the better choice!

Final Thoughts:

Disneyland or Disney World. Disney World is the better choice if you’re looking for a good value for your vacation dollar. If you need to save money on tickets and hotels, Disneyland is the better choice. If you want to experience more attractions in less time, Disney World is the better choice. Disney World is the better choice if you want to see more nighttime shows. Disney World is the better choice if you want to see better fireworks displays. However, if you like to avoid large crowds, Disneyland is the better choice. In the end, it all boils down to what you’re looking for in a Disney vacation.

So, is Disneyland or Disney World better? It depends on what you’re looking for in your trip. Both resorts have unique attractions and experiences that you can’t find anywhere else, so it ultimately boils down to your preference as a Disney fan.

My name is Olivia Smitherman. I’m a travel writer and theme park enthusiast! Florida has some of the best theme parks in the world. I love them all. Each time I visit a theme park, I gather tips and advice that I share with you, my readers. See my bio for more information about me.