Disneyland vs. Disney World

December 2, 2014, 5:02 PM

Ah, the topic that's been driven into the ground: Disneyland vs Disney World. While the Cali residents like the original and Floridians like the idea of "Bigger and Better", the truth is, both resorts have so much to offer! Now I'm a resident of NJ and I've been to both, so I'll be neutral on this debate. I love how Disneyland has amazing exclusive attractions (Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, RSR), and so does WDW (Everest, Philharmagic, Aerosmith). Disneyland has 2 full-day parks, while WDW has 2 as well (in my opinion). Then comes the topic of what needs to be fixed in each. The things Disneyland needs to fix eventually are Hollywoodland, Bug's land, and Tomorrowland, while WDW needs to fix Future World, Tomorrowland, and most of Hollywood Studios. So with these topics in mind, which US Disney park do you prefer?

Replies (16)

December 2, 2014, 8:44 PM

Force me to choose, and I'd take Disneyland over Disney World if I was only going to visit Disney theme parks on my vacation. I'd waste less time traveling between points on property, as everything would be within easy walking distance for me in Anaheim. I find that, in general, stuff in Anaheim tends to be better maintained than in Orlando, and the quality of quick-service food in Anaheim blows WDW away. WDW has more table service restaurants (thanks to Epcot and the hotels), but there's more than enough in Anaheim for that not to matter on a short vacation.

That said, I usually do more than visit Disney theme parks on a vacation, and the superiority of Universal Orlando over any other parks in Southern California might tip the decision back toward Orlando. But summer weather in Southern California is far milder than summer in humid Orlando, so that swings the choice back west.

Ultimately, for a theme park fan, the decision is "both," so we're really talking about which to do first, or more often, aren't we? ;^)

December 2, 2014, 9:38 PM

Having worked at WDW and growing up going to Disneyland I'll choose the Anaheim resort. You simply have better rides overall at Disneyland. WDW offers lots of quantity but under delivers in quality in most cases.

December 3, 2014, 11:37 AM

Been to both. Was able to do all the cool stuff at DL in one day. It can't really compete with all that WDW has to offer. And DL seemed really run down and dirty compared to WDW.

December 3, 2014, 12:29 PM

I live near Anaheim and been to WDW only sporatically. Best takeaway. Anaheim is for weekend trips. Disney World is for full week trips.

Disneyland has the best versions of classic Disney rides. Disney World has tons of filler rides, but more opportunity to be a Disney princess or pirate.

Disneyland is tiny. Disney World is huge and getting bigger. Up to now, you can say Disney World has the same ride quantity as Disneyland Resort, but 4 times bigger. I anticipate the ride disparity to square footage to lessen as Disney World embarks in adding Avatar and Star Wars Land and whatever else they haven't announced yet. Don't forgo a trip to Disney World, which truly is another world.

December 3, 2014, 4:31 PM

I haven't yet made a trip to Florida to visit Walt Disney World (and the trip is probably a few years off) but it seems like both are better in different ways. Disneyland has only two parks, but between the two it seems that there are about the same number of significant attractions as all four WDW parks combined. Disneyland is also generally less crowded, but the smaller parks can still create bottlenecks. Meanwhile, Walt Disney World has a lot to do other than theme parks, something that Disneyland lacks. Disney World also has many more incentives for out of area visitors to stay on site and doesn't seem to have a passholder problem (or at least not one as bad as California).

Of course, I'll need to wait until I visit Florida to decide for sure, but at the moment it seems like if you're looking for a 1-3 day trip and only care about doing parks Disneyland is the better option, but for a longer trip or one with non-park activities you should go to WDW.

December 3, 2014, 10:16 PM

I actually agree with Anon, oh no!

I would pick WDW as well just because it has a lot to offer.

December 4, 2014, 12:13 AM

Yes, I agree with Anon Mouse that DLR is best for a tight window such as a weekend trip, and WDW is better if your trip's length is longer. Disneyland is much smaller, but it packs a lot more in to each park.

In time, as Star Wars and Avatar become more prominent, Pixar's presence is expanded, and slow progress is made at EPCOT, I'm hopeful that each of the 4 WDW parks is as packed full of quality attractions and entertainment as Disneyland and California Adventure.

Even when that day comes, there's still the advantage (to me) of DLR's parks being so close together, much like Universal Orlando Resort. Parking garages, entertainment complex, and the ability to walk to everything. You could say it's a lot like the difference between Los Angeles and New York City. Small and compact versus large and sprawling. Walking versus the need for a vehicle.

If I had to choose, I'd go with Disneyland Resort because its use of space is much more to my way of thinking than the sprawl that is WDW.

December 4, 2014, 1:26 PM

Impossible to say. So much more to do at WDW but it takes so long to see it all. With DLR everything is at your finger tips. So basically if you have 3 days, DLR is superior. If you have a week or more, WDW is superior. I would also add WDW has a superior supporting cast as well.

December 4, 2014, 2:13 PM

I prefer the layout of Disneyland's compared to Disney World's hub and spoke layout. Also, Disneyland's compact layout is easy on the legs. However, I may be speaking out of Californian bias.

December 4, 2014, 11:18 PM

I think you need to think of it more in the lines of the Original vs the Remake. DL is compact and nostalgic, WDW has much more to offer for anyone able to spend the time. I love DL and have not been to WDW, but would love to spend the time some day.

December 5, 2014, 7:04 PM

Just a random thought -

Disneyland definitely feels like a "locals" park while Disney World (Magic Kingdom, etc) feel like "tourists" parks.

When I visited Disneyland in August I couldn't help but notice the way people were dressed at the park. They weren't wearing suits and Sunday dresses of course, but most of the folks were dressed like they were going "casual out". Guys had on jeans or shorts with a nice dress shirt, girls wore casual dresses or jeans with a top. They stood out among the tshirt logo wearing tourists (like myself). Meanwhile at WDW you see most people in shorts with a tshirt or jersey blazoning some kind of logo. Everyone looks like they're from somewhere else. No one looks like a local. The only time I have ever felt like I was mingling with locals in Florida is during HHN at Universal.

Another funny "locals" anecdote for DL - My Dad and I were walking out of the theater of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln". Off to the side in the lobby area were five teenagers sitting on the floor. They had a small surge protector plugged into an electric outlet in the wall. Plugged into all the spaces on the surge protector were the power cords for their phones. They were hanging out, messing with their phones while waiting for them to charge. Obviously they were locals and they had done this before. You definitely wouldn't see something like this at WDW.

December 5, 2014, 8:59 PM

Good tip to bring your phone charger. Locals usually arrive after work and haven't changed their clothes. The weather in Southern Cal is not crazy humid like Orlando. It is mostly dry, sunny, and hot except in December to April when it can be wet, but not really since it doesn't rain much here.

DL is quite easy to get in and out. Many locals just visit for a few hours if you own an AP.

Edited: December 6, 2014, 5:47 AM

Id go for WDW. DL feels more like a locals day out or weekend park, WDW is better for a vacation (from the UK). Few other things in my opinion -

WDW has better/friendlier customer service.
DL has much better quick food options
DL seems more 'updated' - because of the size of WDW, the areas of in desperate need of updating really let it down (though change seems to be happening slowly)
Ive been to DL 3 times and WDW about 6 times (and worked there) DL always feels more crowded to me.

December 12, 2014, 2:49 PM

WDW is generally better for adults. Disneyland has nothing to compare to World Showcase. And let's not forget the hotels. While all of the work is put into two small parks at Disneyland, the entirety of WDW is filled with amazing, immersive themes.

You don't even need a park ticket to enjoy much of what WDW has to offer. For people who like to explore, it blows Disneyland out of the water. However, if you're just looking for the ride experience, I can understand how people would like the quick access and small footprint of the two Disneyland parks.

Edited: December 12, 2014, 8:15 PM

I prefer the Disney resort I am visiting at the time!

December 12, 2014, 8:21 PM

...until the last day of my visit, when I am overcome by the desire to go see the other one!

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