Thursday, January 27, 2022

Disneyland vs Disneyworld

Now that we have been to both, I thought it’d be interesting to lay out all the differences between these two iconic places. 

DisneyWorld has my heart, but Disneyland was special too. I would say during pandemic times, DL was the better choice of the two for many reasons. You’ll see why in the breakdown below. We were also lucky enough to get there before genie+ launched (the new paid fast pass system that can add hundreds of dollars onto your trip) and didn’t have to deal with any major wait times. 



-It’s the original. It has a bunch of the original rides (many that WDW got rid of), smaller walkways, more charming character. Adventureland is one area that I found leaps and bounds better at DL than WDW. They light tiki torches at night and it felt so jungly and authentic. Same with New Orleans square (they don’t have that at WDW); it really put me right in the French quarter for a moment. Space mountain, pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world, splash mountain, and mad tea party are all better at Disneyland than DisneyWorld. The other ride copies are pretty much all the same though. 

-Smaller, easier to walk from park to park or land to land within the parks. We could easily walk from our hotel to DL to DCA to downtown disney without getting tired.

-Smaller crowds. It’s less of a world tourist destination and more of a locals spot. Seemed that a majority of park guests are Californians. 

-Better weather. More predictive and consistent. Less storms/rain

-Good neighbor hotels are walking distance, closer than most deluxe resorts at WDW, so it’s enticing to stay off property.

-Has cars land and marvel land (avengers campus), something WDW doesn’t have and it’s worth coming to. Radiator springs racers is definitely way up their for my top Disney rides, fantastic ride. It also has toontown, which is great for toddlers or kids interested in the Mickey/Minnie stage. 

-Does holidays way better; the decor and parties are better, the holiday food/treats are better, and they also do holiday overlays on rides. Haunted mansion (nightmare before Christmas), it’s a small world (Christmas), hyperspace mountain, soarin’ over California, guardians monsters after dark, just to name a few. Most people like the overlays better than the original ride. 

-The Disneyland park side has more rides and attractions than it’s counterpart, Magic Kingdom. Has a bunch of the classic dark rides that MK doesn’t. 

-A lot more rides for small children, better resort to go to if you have young kids. 

-A lot more rides and attractions are outdoors, probably due to overall better weather. This was fantastic for pandemic times. 

-Their corn dogs are to die for. I don’t know why WDW lets their corn dogs be so mediocre, but DL’s are what dreams are made of. 


-Right outside of the parks is a busy highway. Walking to your good neighbor hotel across the street is sobering, despite it being so close to the parks. It’s a reminder that the Disney bubble is small here and easy to pop.

-Staying on property would be nice but there are only 3 resorts and all are deluxe level pricing ($400+/night). The juice isn’t worth the squeeze when you can stay at a Marriott just as close. 

-Not nearly as many table service restaurants, reservations are generally much harder to come by.

-Smaller castle on main street 

-Fireworks are only on weekends during the school year (during the summer they’re every night), and not as grand as WDW. 

Walt Disneyworld 


-Has 4 parks vs 2 that each have a different vibe and something to offer. There’s nothing like Animal kingdom and Epcot. Expedition Everest and Flight of Passage are probably my top 2 Disney rides. And going around the world in Epcot, especially during a festival like food & wine or festival of arts, is seriously so much fun. Next time I’d actually make Epcot a 2 day event. 

-I don’t think DL is majorly missing out by not having toy story land (its only 3 rides), but slinky is pretty dang cool. As is seven dwarves mine train in MK. Both coasters that are fun for everyone, even a lot of 3 year olds can ride. Not to mention FOP, expedition Everest, and some other big rides. And next year MK is getting the Tron ride, which looks incredible.

-The Disney resorts add magic to the experience. They all have incredible and tasteful theming and accessibility to parks. Each resort comes with awesome pools, resort activities during the day, movies under the stars, their own restaurants and pool bars, shopping, and other amenities. They offer several price points to fit with families’ budgets, anywhere from $150-800 per night.  

-Disney transportation. You can get around WDW by bus, boat, monorail, or gondola. Depending on which resort you’re at, getting to and from the parks is usually a quick and effortless 10 minute ride.  

-There’s hundreds of restaurants to choose from, from quick service to Michelin starred, sprinkled throughout the parks, resorts, and Disney springs. A foodie’s paradise, honestly. 

-Disney springs is much larger than downtown Disney and you can spend a whole day here. 

-The night shows. Magic kingdom specifically has some of the best fireworks in the world. But each park has their own night show. 

-Magic bands. Using your phone is fine and all but magic bands is the easiest and most efficient way to use lightning lane, scan for photopass, dinner reservations, and purchases. It’s a nice way to eliminate having to constantly whip out your phone. Apparently Disneyland is finally getting these later this year! 


-Being large has its faults. Getting from A to B can be cumbersome, whether it’s land to land in a park, resort to resort for a meal, or park to Disney springs, it can take a while, often requiring transportation transfers or an Uber. You can end up wasting a lot of time trying to get around. 

-More crowds. It’s not only a hot spot for Americans, but internationally as well. More people staying at hotels. More people in line for the bus/skyliner every morning and evening. Lines for rides are longer. Being at Disneyland was a pleasant surprise with how low the crowds were and how little planning was required. DisneyWorld is basically Disneyland’s spring break every single week, and worse now more than ever because everyone pushed off their 2020 trips to now. 

-On that note, the people aren’t as nice here 😬. Lots of people have been saving for years to take their families on this once in a lifetime trip, and consequently become unhinged when something doesn’t go as planned. We definitely encountered not only families fighting with each other, but people berating cast members as well. Disneyland was way more chill. 

-Not to mention all the ECVs/electric scooters people drive. So.many. And people don’t care that they nearly run you over, they’re aggressive. Disneyland barely had any people driving these. 

-A lot of the rides WDW has that DL does are more commercialized looking here. WDW’s are just a little more “sterile” with less imagineering thought into it. They seem to focus more on making things larger scale to accommodate bigger crowds. 

-If you want to see characters dressed up for holidays or have special holiday treats, you typically have to pay for the after hours party (which is $$$). Disneyland offers these things during main park hours around the holidays. So if you’re going to spend a holiday at Disney, I’d recommend it be Disneyland. Halloween was incredible there. 

-Weather. Can be super hot and humid, then 50° and windy the next day. Rain and storms are always a concern, no matter what time of year.

Things that were the same:  

-Ticket prices, in general. The pricing structure is a little different at each, DisneyWorld being slightly more expensive. Not enough to make a huge difference though. 

-I won’t name every single ride that was the same, but lots of rides are duplicates.

-Besides the castles, Main Street is essentially the same at both. 

-Galaxy’s edge- exact same. Probably the only “land” that doesn’t have any variation between the two. 

I can’t say either one is better than the other. It’s almost like comparing a large metropolitan to a medium sized city. The larger one of course has practically endless options, but requires hefty planning and a lot more hustle and bustle. The smaller one has less to offer but you’re able to appreciate it more and not be as overwhelmed with people. Like I said, DisneyWorld has my heart but it’s drastically changed so much in the last couple years, Disneyland is the place to be right now. 

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