Disney World VS Disneyland: Comparing the World’s 2 Greatest Theme Parks

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The most magical place on Earth is actually in more than one location, causing quite a stir when comparing Disneyland vs Disney World. Disneyland in California was built first, while Disney World in Florida was a later creation.

When it comes to comparing Disney World vs Disneyland, there are hardcore fans on each side, and then there are those that love the magic of both. Regardless of which one you favor, it can be fun to learn the differences and similarities of each. 

Keep reading for some fun facts and maybe a few secrets about two of the world’s original theme parks

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.

Disney World vs Disneyland size.
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Disneyland as seen from above.

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 Disney World vs Disneyland in total acreage. 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 that when it comes to Disney World vs Disneyland, the Florida park is bigger, the larger size is not always a good thing. 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.

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


What are the Differences Between the Two?

When comparing Disney World vs Disneyland, there are so many big differences to consider besides just size. 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.

Disney World has four main parks, including Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios, and 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, with some of them being split into regular and Disney Vacation Club resorts. A complete Disney World Resort list can be found here.

Expedition everest in Animal Kingdom. In Disney World vs Disneyland, Disney World has more parks.
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The Disneyland resort has two parks, the first being the traditional Disneyland, and the second being California Adventure. Disneyland has three resorts on site, but is surrounded by many third party hotels very close by.

Comparing Disneyland to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

There are certainly a lot of differences when comparing Disney World vs Disneyland, but there is one big similarity. . Disney’ World’s Magic Kingdom is a near replica to Disneyland in California.

Magic Kingdom in Florida was based off of Disneyland’s design. 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. Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Fantasyland exist in both parks. 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

For this section of Disney World vs Disneyland, we will focus on rides. Disney World has 171 attractions according to the Disney website. But this figure includes things like shows, experiences and individual animals in Animal Kingdom as their own attraction.

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.

A section of the Defunct People Mver tracks in Disneyland.
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Some of the rides overlap between the two. For example, both resorts have Splash Mountain, 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 Splash Mountain is taller in Disneyland.


Disney World Vs. Disneyland Cost

To get into Disney World, a one-day base ticket starts at $109. If you would like the basic park hopper, meaning you can visit another park that same day, the price will start at $169. For the Park hopper plus ticket, the price is $194 for a one day visit. The Park Hopper plus allows for park hopping to all four main theme parks, plus the water parks.

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.

Cinderella's Castle is bigger in the debate of Disney World vs Disneyland
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Disneyland’s one day ticket prices vary based on the day you are going as well, with prices that escalate over weekends and holidays. For this current month, (May 2021,) the ticket prices range from $114- $154.

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 4-day tickets at each park. These prices do change based on dates.

(May 2021) 4 Day Park Pass without Park Hopper option for guests over ten:

Disneyland: $340

Disney World: $440

(May 2021) 4 Day Park Pass With Park Hopper option for guests over ten:

Disneyland: $395

Disney World:  $525

(May 2021) 4 Day Park Pass without Park Hopper option for guests under ten and above three:

Disneyland: $320

Disney World: $423

(May 2021) 4 Day Park Pass With Park Hopper option for guests under ten and above three:

Disneyland: $375

Disney World:  $508

When it comes to Disney World vs Disneyland, Disney World is a little bit more costly, but worth it!

Which One is Better?

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 more. There is not right answer about which one is better, because they are both amazing!

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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.
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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.

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