Disney World vs. Disneyland

After vacationing at Disney World many times over the past five years, I was excited to get the opportunity last year to go to Disneyland for New Year’s Eve.  I was anxious to compare the park that started it all to the parks I had grown to love.  Before we left for California, I did research online and saw a lot of familiar sights – many rides looked exactly the same as Disney World, which was very comforting to me.  However, after spending 4 days at Disneyland, I’d have to say there is no contest on which I like better – and that’s Disney World!

Here’s a quick comparison of the two:

The Castle

  • Cinderella Castle is tall and majestic, the figurehead of Magic Kingdom
  • Aurora’s Castle was small in comparison – I actually asked someone if that was really it


  • Disney World is ‘in the bubble’ – on it’s own secluded property, one of the things I love most
  • Disneyland is in Anaheim – it felt similar to driving up to any amusement park, right off the highway across from IHOP


  • At Disney World, there are indoor areas to get shelter from heat and rain
  • At Disneyland, everything is outdoors – no cover from the elements. ‘it’s a small world’ had the loading area outside and when the boats broke down for a few minutes we just sat there getting rained on.


  • Disney World has 4 parks and 2 water parks
  • Disneyland has just 2 parks

Downtown Disney

  • DTD in Florida is a separate shopping and entertainment area away from the parks
  • DTD in California is right outside the exit to Disneyland and California Adventure. The benefit is that everything is within walking distance once you’re there.


  • Disney World has over 20 resorts on the property
  • Disneyland has 3 hotels in Anaheim

Not to say that it was bad by any means – we still had fun and there were certain attractions that were exclusive to Disneyland that were awesome!

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes – we got to paddle a canoe around Tom Sawyer’s Island, the same route taken by the Mark Twain Riverboat.  The canoes were real – we had to paddle to keep moving – but I think the guides did most of the work for us.  My husband accused me of taking too many pictures of our guide’s muscular arms, but I think he was just imagining things….

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes Disneyland

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes Disneyland

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes - Disneyland

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes – Disneyland

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes next to Mark Twain's Riverboat - Disneyland

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes next to Mark Twain’s Riverboat – Disneyland

We ate at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, which was a family style outdoor restaurant serving barbecue chicken, ribs, kielbasa, coleslaw, corn, baked beans and corn bread.  Delicious!!

Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque Disneyland

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Disneyland

At California Adventure, there was Mickey’s Fun Wheel, California Screamin’ and Radiator Springs Racers (which we were never able to get on because of the 4 hour wait!)

Mickey's Fun Wheel & California Screamin' at Disney California Adventure

Mickey’s Fun Wheel & California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure

The World of Color nighttime show was amazing.  This was the first (and only) time I’ve seen the ‘Glow with the Show’ Mickey ears.  It was very cool to see how all the ears changed colors in sync with the light show.

World of Color at Disney California Adventure

World of Color at Disney California Adventure

The other must-see area that is not available at Disney World is the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at California Adventure.  It’s an obstacle course where Wilderness Explorers complete missions to get badges and become a Senior Wilderness Explorer.  We spent over 2 hours in this section of the park! You can read more about it in my previous post here.

Overall, Disneyland had some unique attractions, but I would definitely choose Disney World for my family vacation.  Not only is it larger with more to see and do, most importantly, it’s away from the real world and ‘in the bubble.’  And that’s what I love most!  Which do you like better? Vote below!


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