What’s the Difference Between Disneyland and Disney World: Comparing the World’s 2 Greatest Theme Parks

DISCLAIMER: Our posts may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive commission. You won't pay more, but you will be providing us with a small commission, which helps to keep the lights on. All recommendations are based on our own opinions and preferences. You can read our complete disclaimer here. Thanks!

If you’ve found yourself asking the age old question, “What is the difference between Disneyland and Disney World?” then you’ve come to the right place. The most straightforward answer is location and timing. Disneyland in California was built first, while Disney World in Florida was a later creation.

However, when comparing Disneyland vs Disney World, you’ll find a number of differences and each can impact your vacation experience. Keep reading for some fun facts and maybe a few secrets about two of the world’s original theme parks

What are the Differences Between Disney World and Disneyland?

Expedition everest in Animal Kingdom. In Disney World vs Disneyland, Disney World has more parks.
  • Save
Expedition Everest ride in Animal Kingdom Park is unique to Disney World.

When comparing Disney World vs Disneyland, there are a number of differences to consider. One of the biggest is location. Disney World is located in Florida, outside of Orlando and is surrounded by Disney owned land. Disneyland is in the heart of Anaheim California, right off the highway. It is easy to access, and you do not have to travel very far from the park to find other entertainment options.

However, there is another big factor to consider when isolating the differences between Disney World and Disneyland: the number of parks you’ll find to visit and the number of things you’ll have to do. Disney World has four main parks, including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. There are also two water parks called Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, as well as a large shopping complex called Disney Springs. The Florida resort has over 25 hotels onsite, split into regular and Disney Vacation Club resorts. A complete Disney World Resort list can be found here.

The Disneyland resort has two parks, the first being the traditional Disneyland, and the second being California Adventure. The Downtown Disney shopping and dining district is also considered one of the guest parks. While Disneyland has three resort hotels on site, it is swamped by a number of third party hotels very close by.

Disney World vs Disneyland size.
  • Save
Aerial view of Disneyland and California Adventure with surrounding hotels and development.

If you’re looking to understand the advantage of either arrangement, it depends on what you value most in a vacation. If time is of the essence, then you’ll appreciate Disneyland’s compact size and the easy proximity between parks, hotels and offisite accommodations.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to get away from it all, you’ll find less hustle and bustle at Disney World, with plenty of peaceful spaces for retreat. Natural areas abound, and it’s easy to head out on a walking path surrounded by natural Florida vegetation or peaceful waterscapes when you need solitude.

Disneyland and Disney World Size

When Walt Disney came up with the idea for Disneyland, his imagination ran long, but funds were short. Thanks to investors, he was able to round up a significant amount of financing but was unable to purchase the amount of land he needed to realize his dream.

Once it became clear what a hit attraction the park was, all available surrounding land was quickly bought up and filled with hotels, attractions and more. This left little room for Walt to expand, and little room for his own hotels. For a long time, Disneyland remained a park, rather than a resort.

Magic Kingdom Aerial SALAZAR disney 1
  • Save
Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park aerial view. Courtesy Jonathan Michael Salazar: https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/aerial-photos-show-an-empty-walt-disney-world-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-keeps-the-parks-closed

As a result, when Walt began the Florida project, he did not want to run out of room for his ideas, so he bought land, a lot of land. This creates quite a disparity when comparing the differences between Disneyland and Disney World. The Walt Disney World Resort encompasses 43 square miles, or about 27,000 acres. Disneyland on the other hand is a little over 500 acres.

While it may be a no brainer when it comes to Disney World vs Disneyland, that the Florida park is bigger, the larger size is not always an advantage. While it does mean more rides, more resorts, and more adventure, it also means more time spent driving or riding one of the transportation options to reach any one of the parks.

On the other hand, park hopping inside the Disneyland resort is as simple as exiting one park and walking directly into the other one.

Comparing Disneyland to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

walt Disney tells MIckey Mouse to take a trip to Disney World on a budget
  • Save

Another common question people have when trying to understand the difference between Disneyland and Disney World centers on the Magic Kingdom Park. When Walt built Disneyland in California, he initally built one park. This is where Sleeping Beaty’s Castle resides and is the park that started it all. It’s name is Disneyland.

When building Disney World in Florida, Walt took a similar approach, constructing somewhat of a replica of Disneyland to anchor the Florida travel destination. The intent was to develop a revenue generator that could fund Walt’s vision of a prototype city of tomorrow, but that’s another story. You can read all about it in our article on the real history of EPCOT, but let’s stay focused on our Disney World VS Disneyland discussion for now.

The Disneyland replica built in Florida became known as the Magic Kingdom Park. While it shares a lot of similarites with Disneyland in California, it is one of only 4 parks located in the larger travel destination known as Disney World. To the contrary, Disneyland in California is both a resort, encompassing 2 theme parks, as well as the name of one of those parks.

Both parks have a grand entrance that opens up to Main Street and a castle. Magic Kingdom has Cinderella’s Castle, while Disney World has Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. For a comparison of the castles, click here.

Both parks also have the central hub and spoke design leading into different themed lands. In both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, you will find Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Fantasyland. However, Disneyland does have a few additional lands, including Critter Country, New Orlean’s Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge.

Magic Kingdom at Disney World has none of these but does feature an additional land called Liberty Square. A Star Wars land is also located inside another park, Hollywood Studios.

Disney World vs Disneyland Rides

The number of rides as well as the experiences offered provide another big difference between Disneyland and Disney World. Disney World has 278 things to do according to the Disney website. But this figure includes things like shows, experiences and individual animal attractions in Animal Kingdom.

If we narrow this list down to only rides, the number looks a little different. According to Nerd Wallet, Disney World has 52 rides across its 4 theme parks. Business Isider reports 51 rides. We counted 63, but we’re also including things like Hall of Presidents and Country Bear Jamboree which, explicitly speaking, some people won’t consider to be rides. However, we did not include the ever popular character meet and greet attractions in our counting.

mickey minnie newsletter signup
  • Save

Disneyland is listed as having 91 attractions, including shows and experiences.

When it comes to the actual number of rides in each park, the figures are a little muddled based on what is considered a ride. It surprisingly seems, both resorts have about the same number of rides, somewhere in the mid to high fifties.

Some of the rides overlap between the two. For example, both Disneyland and Disney World offer Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, Soarin’, Star Tours, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Rise of the Resistance, and more.

While the overlapping rides have the same concepts and themes, there are small differences between them in the different parks. For example, Space Mountain in Disneyland has different ride vehicles than the one in Disney World, and the track for Big Thunder Mountain is different at Disneyland due to the tighter space constraints.

What Is the Difference Between Disneyland and Disney World: Cost

  • Save

To get into Disney World, a one-day base ticket starts at $109. Ticket pricing at Disney World can vary depending on the day of the year you are visiting. Pricing is also offered on a sliding scale, meaning the longer you stay, the cheaper each subsequent day on your ticket will cost.

Disneyland’s one day ticket prices vary based on the day you are going as well, with prices that escalate over weekends and holidays. As of this writing (March of 2024) a one- to five-day ticket starts at $96 a day for non-California residents. Residents of Southern California can by a 3-day ticket to visit one park per day beginning at $92 a day.

As mentioned before, when you buy tickets for multiple days at a time, a discount is applied. Below is a breakdown of the cost of 5-day tickets at each park. These prices do change based on dates.

(May 4, 2024) 5 Day Park Pass without Park Hopper option for guests over ten:

Disneyland: $480 plus tax

Disney World: $627.71 plus tax

Book Your Vacation With Us AND Get Help With ALL YOUR PLANNING NEEDS!

Request your FREE, no-obligation vacation quote today!

Disneyland quote image

What’s the Difference Between Disneyland and Disney World Resort Hotels?

Exteriro image of Animal Kingdom Lodge blends into an exterior shot of Disneyland Hotel, exploring the questions What is the difference between Disneyland and Disney World.
  • Save

When comparing Disneyland hotels to Disney World hotels, it’s almost like comparing apple to oranges. Disney World offers a stunning variety of theming across its 20-plus properities. Care to stay on an African savanna with animals right outside your balcony? At Disney World, you can. Or perhaps you fancy a trip to a time long past. When you visit the Beach Club or Boardwalk inn, you can easily stroll down memory lane into a time that once was. At some Disney World hotels you can even board the monorail directly from the lobby, hop on the Disney Skyliner or take a leisurely boat ride to reach the parks.

In contrast, the 3 resorts at Disneyland are slim on immersive theming. While Disneyland’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa does a nice job of displaying the Craftsman style to its fullest, you won’t feel immersed in a new experience. It’s a beatiful resort, and probably the top recommended Disneyland hotel in our opinion, but it just doesn’t have the same feel as the upper tier of Disney World resorts.

The one caveat might be the Disneyland Pixar Place Hotel. Recent renovations have gone all out, bringing Pixar characters to commune with guests in new and exciting ways. Even the architecture makes you feel like you’re inside a Pixar film.

Disney resort collection 2

Possibly the biggest drawback when it comes to the Disneyland hotels is a number problem. Disneyland offers only 3 onsite hotels. Since the property is surrounded by multiple hotel chains, a lot of guests often stay offsite, taking advantage of Disneyland Good Neighbor packages to get the added convenience of bundling their tickets and room. However, it also means losing out on benefits such as early theme park entry.

Disney World’s vast network of hotels come in all sizes and price points, making it easier for guests to find the accommodations of their choice at a price point to match. Disney World hotels offer early theme park entry and complimentary transportation to and from the park.

Which One is Better: Disney World or Disneyland?

When it comes to the two parks, each one has its pros and cons. At the end of the day, everyone seems to have a favorite, and it seems to always be the one they grew up attending. There is no right answer about which one is better, because they are both amazing!

Learn More About Disney Parks

  • Save
Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Ali Patton

Ali is a travel blogger for Seconds to Go, where she shares her experiences traveling the U.S. with her co-blogger Mom, Kathleen. She is also an avid Disney travel enthusiast, and with multiple Disney World trips under her belt, is a knoweldgeable resource for all things related to Disney vacations. Ali can be found managing the Seconds to Go social media accounts as well as the famed Double Z Farm pages on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

Leave a Comment