Disneyland vs Disney World. West Coast vs. East Coast. When people find out that my family and I have visited both Disneyland and Disney World, the common question is “Which is better?” And as you can imagine, the answer isn’t simple. Both Disneyland and Disney World are amazing parks to visit. As a result, I’ve compiled a list between the main differences between the two theme parks in hopes that it will make your decision easier in planning a Disneyland vs. Disney World vacation.
Disneyland vs Disney World: Which is Better?
- Number of Parks
- Park Hopping
- Character Experiences
- FastPasses +
- The Rides
- Interactive Queues
- Dining and Character Breakfasts
1. Disneyland vs Disney World: Convenience
Convenience is a huge factor when planning a Disney vacation. There’s a reason why those who live on the West Coast prefer Disneyland, while those who live on the East Coast prefer Disney World. Flying from one coast to the other is expensive, even more so when it’s the entire family. My family loves Disneyland because we live in Arizona, which is within driving distance of Anaheim. We not only save money by avoiding airfare, but we can also pack our own food, drinks, and snacks. Flying in an airplane makes this much more difficult (and expensive).
2. Disneyland vs Disney World: Number of Parks
The Disneyland Resort has two main parks: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park (DCA). On the other hand, Walt Disney World consists of four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. And that doesn’t even include the two water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. For this reason, Disney World feels more like it’s a vacation, as opposed to a long weekend trip to Disneyland. But, there are rides at DCA that can’t be found at the other Disney Parks, and the same could be said for the theme parks at Disney World. More about that below 🙂
3. Disneyland vs Disney World: Park Hopping
Park hopping is a lot easier at Disneyland since Disneyland Park and DCA are located so close to each other. The four parks at Disney World are much more spread out, making it difficult to park hop in a day. Hopping from one park to another could include several modes of transportation: buses, ferry boats, water taxis, and the monorail. Because of that, transportation is one of the benefits of staying on property at Disney World. Even then though, it can take up to an hour to get from one park to another, as opposed to a 15 minute walk from Disneyland Park to DCA.
4. Disneyland vs Disney World: Character Experiences
While Disneyland and Disney World have some of the same character experiences, there are key differences between Disneyland vs Disney World. I think that Disney World does have better character experiences overall, especially for younger children. My son, especially, has picked up on the differences. For example, when we go to Disneyland, he’s very suspicious because Mickey Mouse doesn’t talk. For a 4 year old who loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV, that’s a huge deal. However, Mickey at the Magic Kingdom’s Town Square Theater in Disney World DOES talk. Once my son heard him talk, it’s all he could focus on and it definitely made for a more personal experience. For example, the family waiting in front of us spoke Portuguese and Mickey started speaking to them in Portuguese! Other character experiences that we enjoy at Disney World that aren’t at Disneyland are The Enchanted Tales of Belle, Baymax (from Big Hero), and Inside Out. With that being said, though, there are plenty of fun character experiences at Disneyland that can’t be found at Disney World, including the Marvel characters and Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.
5. Disneyland vs Disney World: FastPasses
FastPasses are one of the main differences between Disneyland vs. Disney World. FastPasses + at Disney World can be reserved in advance online, whereas FastPasses at Disneyland currently cannot. Disneyland is starting to incorporate changes to its system, though, with the MaxPass. While MaxPass will cost extra, it’s optional, and regular FastPasses will still be available. Essentially, though, guests will be paying for convenience. Since FastPasses are obtained by visiting a physical FastPass station, the MaxPass will enable guests to reserve their MaxPasses via the Disneyland App.
FastPass + at Disney World, though, is included in the general price of admission. It’s extremely convenient, especially if you are staying on Disney property and have a MagicBand. Another difference is that character experiences can be reserved via FastPass+ at Disney World.
6. Disneyland vs Disney World: The Rides
It’s interesting to compare the rides between Disneyland vs Disney World. For example, Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World are, in my opinion, better at Disneyland. But, Big Thunder Mountain is much better at Disney World.
Disneyland also has classic rides like Alice in Wonderland and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. DCA has one of my favorite rides, Radiator Springs Racer. My family and I love Cars Land and for that reason, the Disneyland Resort will always rank high on our list. As for performances, Frozen Live at the Hyperion can be found at DCA.
Disney World, though, has no shortage of fun rides. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom is one of my favorites. I also like Test Track at Epcot, as well as the Frozen Ever After Ride. And Animal Kingdom has several rides, attractions, and performances that can’t be found at Disneyland like Festival of The Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris, DINOSAUR, and the newest attraction, Pandora.
7. Disneyland vs Disney World: Interactive Queues
Disney World wins this category, hands down. Waiting in long lines with young children can be difficult. Interactive Queues can make this a lot easier. At the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, there are interactive queues at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s more difficult for Disneyland to incorporate the interactive queues, though, due to lack of space.
8. Disneyland vs Disney World: Dining and Character Breakfasts
Because Disney World has more parks, there are more dining options as well as character breakfasts. However, Disneyland doesn’t lack in this department either. Blue Bayou is my favorite restaurant at Disneyland, and there isn’t one at Disney World. But, Be Our Guest is comparable to Blue Bayou and it’s located in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
As for character breakfasts, Chef Mickey is a lot of fun at Disney World (located in Disney’s Contemporary Resort) but so is Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey & Friends at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland. And that doesn’t include all the other character breakfasts that are available!
With regard to dining outside of the parks, I prefer Downtown Disney (at Disneyland) over Disney Springs (at Disney World). Downtown Disney is within walking distance of Disneyland Park and DCA. However, Disney Springs requires separate transportation, and it can be a bit of hassle waiting for the bus.
Disneyland vs. Disney World: Conclusion
You can’t go wrong with visiting Disneyland or Disney World. They each have attractions and experiences that are unique to that particular Disney Park. And I’m sure that’s Disney’s intent 🙂
Do you have a favorite Disney Park?
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