How different is Disneyland Resort from WDW?

Edited: August 3, 2015, 2:37 PM

I'm a senior now in high school. I live in Orlando and I go to WDW Parks at least once a month .I might move to the L.A area for college next year so I wanted to know what makes Disneyland a completely different resort than WDW?

Replies (11)

Edited: August 3, 2015, 2:36 PM

Imagine a Disney version of Universal Orlando - two parks, within walking distance of one another, sharing a CityWalk-style shopping and dining district, and with most of the parking in a remote parking garage.

Disneyland is the Magic Kingdom's older and smaller brother, yet it has more attractions packed into its smaller space than the MK has. California Adventure has the same entrance as Hollywood Studios, but has completed its refurbishment and is now more popular than ever, with a 1920s-style "Main Street" at the front and a beautifully detailed Cars Land in the back.

There is no Fastpass+ at the Disneyland Resort, just the old paper Fastpasses, and at fewer attractions that they were used for at WDW. You can get dining reservations anywhere on property by calling just a few days in advance, if not walking up the day of your visit.

On average, I find quick-service food to be far better at the Disneyland Resort than at WDW, though you won't find nearly as many table-service restaurants here. Entertainment is better at Disneyland, too.

The majority of visitors to the Disneyland Resort are locals, as annual passes are wildly popular here, thanks to monthly payment plans. There are three levels of APs available, though the cheapest (the Southern California Select) is blocked out on all but workdays during the school year.

So, to recap: two parks, a walkable resort, better food and entertainment, no advance reservation hassles, and many more locals.

August 3, 2015, 3:17 PM

The best way I can describe is Disney World has loads of people. Easily double the attendance of Disneyland at any particular time. You wonder where all these people are coming from. Disneyland is a lot more intimate. You don't feel so rushed. You enjoy more with less time. Less walking although there's still much walking. Disney World have the wide open plaza's and walkways. Disneyland is much smaller and less grand.

Disneyland has Walt Disney's imprint. His decisions are all over the park. I do caution that the recent changes removed some of the old Disneyland. Sadly, more old stuff is getting removed. Enjoy it while you can.

August 3, 2015, 3:17 PM

Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

The biggest difference as Robert mentioned, you have two parks within walking distance. You can spend an entire day at each park or spend an entire day hitting the E-ticket attractions.

There's more in a smaller footprint.

Also, it rarely rains.

August 3, 2015, 6:44 PM

Because Robert already covered the basics, here are the major rides that the two parks do not have in common.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye- EMV ride, very similar to Dinosaur

Matterhorn- Dueling, bobsled coaster, similar to Space Mountain at WDW

Autopia- A longer, better verison of Tommorowland Speedway

California Screamin'- Intamin launch coaster with 1 loop, themed to an old wooden coaster

Grizzly River Run- River Rapids ride w/ 2 drops and fun rapids

Radiator Springs Racers- Cars dark ride, very similar to Test Track

7 Dwarves Mine Train
Test Track
Mission SPACE
Expedition Everest
Kali River Rapids
Kilimanjaro Safari
Rockin Roller Coaster

Tower of Terror- California doesn't have the 5th dimension scene, and is inferior to the Florida version

Pirates- California has a much longer Pirates ride that features 2 drops

Space Mountain- Space is only one track in California. Also, instead of having a lot of drops, California's SM is more about the banked turns

Buzz Lightyear- California's version uses a wire to attach the gun to the vehicle, making it much easier to use

Jungle Cruise- California doesn't have the temple scene

Big Thunder Mountain- Both versions are very similar, but not identical

Haunted Mansion- California has less scenes

Toy Story Mania!- Same ride, although Florida's queue is superior by a mile

August 3, 2015, 7:44 PM

Disneyland is Walt's beta version, with WDW being the more thought out and better planned version. If you want a quick one or two day trip DL is fine, but you'll need at least a week to explore all WDW has to offer. But at least if you run out of money at DL you can run across the street and pawn your camera or get a check cashed at one of the many fine establishments right outside the gate. ; )

August 3, 2015, 8:02 PM

FWIW, Maelstrom's gone, and Dinosaur and Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye are the same physical ride, with different themes and characters.

August 3, 2015, 10:47 PM

While I haven't been to WDW, I can definitely say they are very different. The Disneyland Resort features only two parks with their entrances located 100 yards apart. These two parks are both relatively small, but they feature nearly as many attractions as the four WDW parks combined. Disneyland is similar to Magic Kingdom, with about half of the attractions being very similar between the parks. The remaining attractions are either unique to Disneyland or are significantly different from their Florida counterparts. Disney California Adventure Park contains mostly attractions that don't exist in Florida, though there are a handful of duplicates. The theme of DCA is also unique.

August 4, 2015, 7:32 AM

Thanks everyone for their help.

August 6, 2015, 7:44 AM

Disneyland adds great Christmas extras to Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise & Small World that are worth making a special visit. There seems to be more parade & fireworks crowds at Disneyland. I was told that was because the season pass holders often come to the park just for evening festivities. To me, Disneyland is more a relaxed family "park" where many locals visit a few hours a day at will. WDW is more a destination filled with tourists who go for 12+ hours a day, rain or shine. Both parks are great, but the subtle environment differences clearly make them different locations.

August 6, 2015, 8:09 AM

Disneyland > WDW in their current forms. Seems like that will change drastically in the coming years, but as of today you'll get a much better more fulfilling experience at Disneyland Resort.

August 6, 2015, 9:40 AM

Juan gave a pretty good summary, but he missed quite a few things that WDW doesn't have that Disneyland does. To touch on a few things that are Disneyland Exclusive:

-Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
-Snow White's Scary Adventures
-Alic in Wonderland
-Casey Jr. Circus Train
-Storybook Canals
-Pinoccio's Daring Journey
-The Subs with Nemo
-Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue
-Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin
-The entirety of Toon Town
-The entirety of Cars Land

Now while most of these seem like minor rides, if you're a hardcore dark ride enthusiast (such as myself), many of these rides are priceless and timeless testaments to the golden age of WED/WDI. Juan also forgot to mention that, though Disneyland's HM has less scenes, our Mansion has a different flow and the recently added Hatbox Ghost, which is by far one of the best Animatronics you'll come across in any theme park in the world. Also, Disneyland's Fantasmic is far superior to the Florida version (though seating isn't as easy and accessible).

Overall, Disneyland adds a lot more value for your money. You will get to experience more attractions in two parks than WDW offers in four parks, both of which are situated about 100 yards away from each other. Park hopping is a real thing at the DLR, as opposed to the crazy chore it is at WDW.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive