Disneyland and Disney World have existed since the 1950s and 1970s respectively, and most people visit them to enjoy the “magical” experience. The two theme parks are often confused sometimes, and for a long time the age-old debate about “Disneyland versus Disney World: Which is better?” has never been concluded. Both parks have something unique to offer, but what are the major differences between these two adorable American resorts?
- A Brief History
- Theme Parks and Theme Lands
- Featured Disney Castles
- Unique Attractions
- Which Is Better?
Disneyland was established on July 17, 1955. The resort, nicknamed the “Happiest Place on Earth, was designed and supervised by Walt Disney. At the time, it only had a few areas, including Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland. Disneyland is located on the west coast of the United States, in Anaheim, California.
The resort is developed on about 500 acres of land with no room for expansion. Commute times are shorter at Disneyland, and visitors can quickly navigate between parks. Disneyland is usually considered the ideal destination for shorter vacations and families with younger children.
Walt Disney World, on the other hand, was opened in 1971 by Roy Disney, five years after his brother Walt Disney died. According to sources, Walt Disney was dismayed by the fact that Disneyland was surrounded by non-Disney hotels and theme parks, feeling that it “broke the illusion.”
To prevent this, he bought a huge chunk of land in Orlando, Florida, so he could build a bigger theme park to accommodate more guests. The Orlando park rests on a 43-square mile of land (around 30,000 acres), making it the largest resort between the two. It is nicknamed the “Most Magical Place on Earth.”
- Fun fact: Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are situated in their state’s Orange County.
Disneyland has nine themed parks, including Star Wars, Fantasyland, the Downtown Disney District, and Galaxy Edge. Walt Disney World is home to the Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.
It also consists of two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, several golf courses, ESPN sports zone, and the Disney Springs District.
Interesting fan fact about Walt Disney Resort in Florida: It is managed by a small government named the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Disney will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on October 1, 2022. The event will take place for 18 months at Disney theme parks in Florida and California. According to Disney Parks Live Entertainment Vice President Bettina Buckley, guests should expect a lot of magical experiences in all the themed parks.
She stated that “each of our icons are adorned in light in a completely different way. The Cinderella castle and the iridescent pixie dust. Think about magical fireflies that are inhabiting the tree of life at Disney’s animal kingdom. That’s in a glorious light at the Disney Hollywood Stuart studios with the Hollywood Tower Hotel the glimmer and shimmer of the golden age and over at Epcot, if you imagine the reflective panels that are all connected in light, its almost like Star Dustin in a night sky.”
“So, I think that it's going to be something that everyone’s going to really enjoy. You’re going to have to go to every park to see it. I can't miss it”!
Did you know that the featured castle at each park is different? At Disneyland, the Sleeping Beauty Castle, standing at about 77 feet tall, is one of the top attractions. At Disney World, the Cinderella Castle, standing 189 feet above the ground is the iconic centerpiece of the resort.
You’ll find on-property resort hotels on both Disneyland and Disney World. At Disneyland, there are three resort properties: Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disneyland Hotel.
Disney World has more than two dozen resort hotel properties, including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, with also provides campsites.
As noted, each resort offers unique attractions to keep guests entertained. While both offer Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and “it’s a small world”, the versions vary.
Disneyland is the only place for rides like Storybook Land Canal Boats, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Disney World’s version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was closed.
You’ll find rides specific to Disney World including Avatar Flight of Passage, Spaceship Earth, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, and Rock n’ Roller Coaster.
Disneyland, being smaller, makes it easy to walk between parks, hotels, and Downtown Disney. The entrance gates to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are literally across from each other and even share the ticket booths.
If you stay in one of the three hotels, it's an easy walking distance to the parks. You can take the monorail in Downtown Disney and be transported directly into Tomorrowland inside Disneyland Park.
Disney World is much bigger, geographically and has more of everything. With a few exceptions, walking between parks is not an option. All their hotels offer complimentary transportation to the parks and Disney Springs.
Depending on your hotel, you can take the boat, bus, monorail, or the Disney Skyliner (a new aerial gondola system connecting Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and several hotels).
Disney World offers free airport transportation to and from your Disney hotel via the Magical Express. They also offer free airport transfers if you're flying into Los Angeles or Orange County in southern California for a vacation in Disneyland.
In many ways, asking which is better between Disneyland and Disney World is like comparing strawberries and apples. They are all delicious and healthy, but with unique tastes and sweetness. It all depends on what you're in the mood for.
Both parks have unique characteristics, and it will come down to the kind of experiences you are after.
Any thoughts? Let us know your comments!
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