There’s no place as magical as a Disney theme park, and if you’re planning a trip to one of these wondrous locations, you’ll need to pick the right one.
Not everyone realizes it, but Disneyland and Disney World are two different places, and everything from their size to the attractions is unique.
What’s the difference between Disneyland and Disney World? Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, and Disney World is found in Orlando, Florida.
The biggest difference is their size, with the latter spanning 40 square miles and the former 0.75 square miles, but they also have different prices, attractions, rides, and other stuff to check out.
Many families struggle to come up with the best choice between the two because bigger isn’t always better.
If you’re weighing up which of these Disney destinations you should check out on your next family location, we can help you decide with our detailed comparison of the two.
What is Disneyland?
Disneyland Park, or as it’s more commonly known as Disneyland, was the first theme park built by Walt Disney, in 1955.
When it was first built, it was the only attraction on the site, but as the park expanded and started to include other things, they decided to change the name to Disneyland Park.
When Walt Disney first conjured up the idea of Disneyland, he was visiting amusement parks with his young daughters and hired a consultant to help him create his vision.
The 160-acre site in Anaheim California still stands today, and they currently use around 41 acres of the property, with new attractions being added all the time.
What is Disney World?
Disney World was designed as a way to supplement the original Disneyland Park, but it wasn’t developed until much later in 1971.
Originally considered, the “Florida Project”, it was originally intended to be a completely unique park with its own attractions, but today there are many of the same things.
The entire property, located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista in Florida encompasses almost 25,000 acres of land, and at last count, only half of this had been used.
Inside, you’ll find four separate theme parks, 27 Disney-themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, a camping resort, golf courses, and two water parks.
Their Main Differences
To get the best idea of what theme park you should head to, we’ve compared Disneyland and Disney World in the most important categories.
Here’s how they stack up in location, size, cost, attractions, and more.
Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida while Disneyland is found in Anaheim, California.
Both locations are known as popular tourist spots and there are lots of options nearby for accommodation, and some built into the parks as well.
There’s no doubt that Disneyland towers over Disney World with over 39 square miles more space.
You’ll need to spend many days, and even weeks here, to explore the entire area, with the smaller Disney World being less than one square mile in total.
Inside Disneyland, there are two different parks and nine lands to enjoy, and within Disney World, there are four parks including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The theme parks are a pretty solid tie when you look at prices, and you’ll need a fair bit of money to enjoy a full day at either.
A single-day ticket to Disneyland Resort is $117 and a single-day ticket is between $114 and $199 for adults at Disneyworld.
Kids under three are free, and if you want to add multi-days to a ticket you’ll end up saving a little more each day.
Being the bigger park, there are more rides at Disneyland, but the parks share a lot of the same attractions.
Each also has unique rides and events that the other doesn’t, so you’ll want to plan out what’s important and what you and your kids are dying to see before deciding on the right one.
Which One Should Your Family Visit?
One of the toughest choices you’ll ever make in life is deciding what Disney park to visit, and it’ll also be one of the most fun choices.
Both parks have a lot to offer, but Disneyland is larger and the preferred option for those with a sentimental heart.
Disney World is favored by visitors who want something that’s easier to navigate but still has many of the important attractions.
Although Disneyland is the bigger park, that doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice.
There are more restaurants, golf courses, water parks, and accommodation options at Disneyworld, so you’ll have to decide what entices you to a park and what it is you hope to get out of the trip.
The truth is, both Disneyland and Disney World are magical places, so it all depends on what your family wants to see and which one is easier for you to access.
Some find the Florida location a simpler journey and others are closer to California, so there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy that Disney magic.
Tips for Planning a Trip to Disney
To make the most of your time away to Disneyland or Disneyworld, we’ve got some helpful tips that you can follow.
These tips will guarantee minimal stress and ensure you see as much as possible while you’re away.
- Have a written plan: Some people find it helpful to consult with their family or group and figure out what sights and attractions everyone wants to see. from there, you can come up with a plan to hit all of the most important spots and the best order to do them in, which takes the stress out of it.
- Mix it up: Instead of planning your whole day around walking here and there, mix it up with the type of activities you do. Experience the many things these parks have to offer like swimming, golf, or renting a bike, and don’t just focus on the rides.
- Take naps: If you’re staying close by, we recommend starting early and then taking a break around lunchtime to have a nap. The temperatures are high at this time of day and a small snooze can recharge your batteries and get you ready for the afternoon.
- Reserve dining plans: Although there are countless dining options at the parks, they can also get busy. If you want to grab a sit-down meal somewhere, make a reservation to guarantee your spot and avoid disappointment.
- Prepare for comfort: Wear good walking shoes, take a misting fan along, and dress is something you’re happy to wear all day long. Being physically comfortable will allow you to enjoy the park and do as much as possible.
- Be okay with saying no: A trip to Disneyland and Disney World can be overwhelming and you feel as though you have to cram everything in at once. Learn how to say no and give yourself permission to not do it all.
A Disney Dream
No matter which of the two Disney theme parks you choose from, you’re guaranteed a full day of entertainment, magic, and fun.
For families that are lucky enough, you can visit both parks and have a new experience every time, with that reliable Disney charm that they’re known for.
Theme parks are a great way to spend a family vacation, and they can be just as fun for adults traveling alone as well.
If you’ve been planning a trip in the United States or across the globe and want at least one theme park to be on your list, we’ve answered some FAQs about them that can help you decide.
What is the Best Rollercoaster Park in the US?
If your goal is to ride as many rollercoasters as possible, there are some US theme parks that stand out.
SeaWorld Orlando, Kings Island, Silver Dollar City, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Dollywood are all great options for thrill-seekers wanting to ride a few different rollercoasters.
What is the Most Visited Theme Park in the World?
The Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World is rated as the most visited theme park in the world.
In 2019, there was a recorded 21 million guests that walked through their front gate putting it miles ahead of the competition.
Where is the World’s Oldest Theme Park?
The oldest theme park in the world can be found at Bakken in Denmark, which is in close proximity to Copenhagen.
The theme park first opened in 1583 and is still operational today as an amusement park that combines history and nostalgia for a unique day out with the family.