Most guests of the Disney parks have only been to one or the other, but when they do get the chance to visit both, they are often shocked by the differences between Disney World and Disneyland. One thing is for sure, if you have only ever visited one and not gone to the other because you felt that it would be the same thing only bigger or smaller, you would be mistaken. Both destinations are worth a visit. Picking one over another as a favorite isn’t going to be as easy as you’d like to think. These are the ten major differences between Disney World and Disneyland that you wouldn’t realize unless you were to visit both.
10 Major Differences Between Disney World and Disneyland
They Have Different Rides
A lot of people think that both destinations have all the same rides, because everyone knows that you can ride the classics at both parks. However, both Disneyland and Disney World have unique rides that can only be found at one park or the other and those rides are among some of the more popular rides at each location. For example, you’ll only find the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom in Disney World and you will only find Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland. These kinds of differences between Disney World and Disneyland are deciding factors for many people on which park to visit, especially when a new ride opens.
The Difference in Size is Incredible
We all know that Disneyland is just the two parks, compared to Disney World’s four, but the overall size of both the parks and the entire properties is incredible. Disney World is basically a city within a city, while Disneyland is more like a complex within the city. Expect to require much more time and stamina to see all of Disney World. Fun Fact: Disneyland is approximately 160 acres, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom alone is 107 acres.
The Resorts Are Unique
Both parks have unique resorts for their guests to call home while they are visiting, and they also have different flagship hotels. What’s so different about the Walt Disney World resorts is that they are true resorts and not just hotels, so you can have an entire experience at your hotel versus just a place nearby to sleep. Also be sure to check out Disney affiliated hotels like the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World that cost less, are bigger, and give you all the same perks!
Disney Splits Its Shows
Wouldn’t it be great to see every Disney show that is based on your favorite movie in one destination? I agree, however, you’ll need to travel to both parks in order to get all your favorites in. Disney has some of the same live shows at each park, but they also perform several unique shows at each location. Like the Diamond Mad T Party at Disneyland or the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage at Disney World. Differences between Disney World and Disneyland such as these can be a big deciding factor as to which park to visit, especially if you’ve been to both before.
Off Park Entertainment Varies
For most, the time and ticket price to the parks is enough to fill their vacation, but others like to have some off park entertainment to round things out. Disney World has two non-park centers for guests to enjoy, Downtown Disney – also known as Disney Springs (there are lots of renovations taking place) and the Boardwalk, and these are so fun that guests and locals flock here. While Disneyland has a Downtown Disney District, it is not quite as expansive, nor does it have as much to see or do. Alternatively, you can always head out of the area to find alternate entertainment in the Anaheim area.
If you tried walking everywhere at Walt Disney World you would not be a happy camper, so not only are the buses, boats, and monorail helpful, they can be tons of fun and a new way to get around. Disneyland does have the option to walk everywhere, between places, because it is so compact that rarely is there a need for a bus.
Castles Are Just Castles
When it comes to castles, everyone can agree that a castle is a castle, but in reality some just take our breath away. Cinderella’s Castle is simply breathtaking and you can be see it from anywhere in the park. Sleeping Beauty’s castle is just as incredible, but once you’ve seen the other it is apparent that they are so different. For starters, Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland is 77 feet tall, while Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World is a grand 189 feet tall and has a fine dining character restaurant inside.
Walt Is Everywhere, Almost
One thing Disney lovers and historians love about Disneyland is that Walt is everywhere. Walt is in a lot of Walt Disney World too, but Disneyland was Walt’s home and he is the one that laid the plans out for it.
If you have a thing for celebrities, both parks attract them in droves, but Disneyland is more likely to have random celebrities roaming around. Disney World hosts celebrities too, as well as the random visiting celebrity. Although, they are more likely to be cordoned off and accompanied from place to place, when compared to California impromptu visits. One of the biggest differences between Disney World and Disneyland is that only Cinderella’s castle can house special celebrities for an overnight magical stay.
Disney Characters Aren’t Equal
Everyone loves time with Disney characters at the parks. You should know that there are far fewer characters at Disneyland and they get around less too. Disney World is chock full of the classics, new TV favorites, and they show up all over the place. And although there are multiple characters, even within the same park, you will never see two of the same ones together!
Have you been to both parks before? What major differences between Disney World and Disneyland have you noticed?