disney goofy in toontown giving kids high five
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Which is Better Disneyland or Disney World

Are you planning a disney vacation but not sure if you should go to Disneyland or Disney World? Well the parks are both great, but in very different ways. So if you are wondering is disney world better than disneyland – let me help you explore some of their differences . After we uncover which is better Disneyland or Disney World, you will be ready to plan your next family vacation.

Are you planning a disney vacation but not sure if you should go to Disneyland or Disney World? Well the parks are both great, but in very different ways. So if you are wondering is disney world better than disneyland - let me help you explore some of their differences . After we uncover which is better Disneyland or Disney World, you will be ready to plan your next family vacation.

Which is Better Disneyland or Disney World

Planning a Disney vacation but torn between Which is Better Disneyland or Disney World? The good news is you really can’t go wrong with either. They both  offer a magical experience, but in very unique ways. Disneyland, located in California, is the original park and is smaller in size, making it easier to navigate and perfect for a quick getaway. There are only two parks which are seperated by a plaza, making it way more walkable. On the topic of walkable, Disneyland California has benches everywhere making it a relaxing park perfect for multi-generations. Disneyland has a more intimate feel and is rich in nostalgia, with classic attractions like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White ride, and Pinnochio ride. But they have also worked on keeping up with technology so on rides like Alice in Wonderland you will see both classic figures and screens allowing the ride it age beautifully. Plus with additions like Galaxy’s Edge and Marvel, this park as something for everyone! There are fewer Disney owned hotels, but plenty of less expensive options literally accross the street.

On the other hand, Disney World in Florida is massive, with four theme parks, two water parks, and countless resorts, ensuring there is something for everyone. You need a week to explore all the unique offerings like Pandora – The World of Avatar, new rides like Guardian’s Cosmic Rewind roller coasters, fabulous dining, over-the-top shows like Festival of the Lion King, and just to get around as you will need to allow at least 30 minutes to get from resort to park on the compilmentary bus system, monorail, or skyliner.  World is biggers so there are interactive queues and lots of walking with fewer places to just sit and watch the day go by; as such you will see lots of strollers and so many scooters.

Plus as you look at planning your Disney vacation in California, don’t miss the Disneyland rides post so you can decide disneyland vs california adventure

alice in wonderland ride Disneyland California
alice in wonderland ride Disneyland California

Is disney world bigger than disneyland

Disney World in Orlando, Florida is absolutely MUCH larger than Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Covering over 25,000 acres, Disney World is not only home to four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), but also two water parks, numerous resort hotels, and a shopping and entertainment district. On the other hand, Disneyland sits on around 500 acres and consists of two theme parks (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure).

So if you had been wondering how much bigger is disney world than disneyland, the answer is 50x bigger!

disney goofy in toontown giving kids high five
Goofy in toontown giving litlte girl high five

what is better disneyland or disney world

Growing up my parents took me to visit both Disneyland California and Disney World Florida, along with Disneyland Paris (which we called Euro Disney back then). So while our family loves heading to Disney World, we have also ventured over to Disneyland multiple times. They are completely different experiences.

Besides that Disney World is bigger and requires more time, because it is larger you will need to allow more time to transport between areas, walk farther distances, and wait in longer lines. But Disney World has more hotel options to choose from, more variety of restaurants, better discount offers like the popular free disney dining plan, and a variety of transportation options. You will be in a Disney bubble for your entire vacation – and that is pretty magical!

Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at Disneyland, California
Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at Disneyland, California

The rides themselves are different. Now I’m not just talking about rides that the park on the other coast doesn’t offer, but the rides that are both parks are different. For example, both park have Pirates of the Carribean, but they are very different. The scenes offered and flow are all uniqe. We love Disneyland’s pirates because you can see them guzzling drinks and watch it go down their skeleton, see the pirate captain in a giant bed resting, or watch the endless game of chess. Winnie the Pooh not only has slight differences, but the vehicles are different. I think one of the most dramatically different rides is Small World. Disneyland’s small world is massive, ques outdoors, and completely transforms inside and out around the holidays! You really must visit in December.

Not only are the rides very different, but the subculture and atmosphere is too. People head to Disneyland for the day with friends, for a playdate. The castmembers can be seen entering the park the same route as the guests (Disney World has tunnels under the park for emplyees to keep the magic; you will never see an employee with Small World custome in the Tomorrowland area). In addition the cast members know guests, they are all local which changes the vibe. There is less pin trading, way fewer autograph books, and fewer dressed up princesses. You wont see may massive families taking their pictures in matching t-shirts they made just for this trip in front of the castle.

Finally, this is worth noting. The weather in Anneheim California is much more mild than in Orlando Florida. While Disneyland stays mild pretty much year round with dependable weather, Florida is unpredicatable at best. FLorida can range from hurricane rain and winds to incredibly hot and muggy weather, snow flurries during one of our visits in December to perfect days. So Disneyland wins for weather. BUT if it is raining at both parks, Disney World is doable in the rain, whereas basically everything shuts down in Disneyland.

disneyland nighmare before christmas overtakes the haunted mansion in the fall for the holidays
Disneyland Nighmare before Christmas Haunted Mansion overlays

Disneyland does offer more themed offerings like Pixar Fest, Haunted Mansion transforms into the Nightmare Before Christmas in October / November / December, and Star Wars Days annually with unique character offersings and Hyperspace Mountain that World sadly doesn’t do.

Character interactions are also different. Disney World has very scheduled times their characters appear, lines form and everyone in line gets a time to get a picture and autograph. At Disneyland, just like the more relaxed atmosphere, the characters mainly appear at random and are more interested in interating with guests authentically in the park than posing. Makes sense since locals would already have many pictures with Mickey. Chip and Dale might sneak up behind you and tap you on the shoulder, or a princess might walk with your little girl for a while. At first, I missed the dependability of schedules, but now I actually prefer letting my kids play with pluto at his house in toon town than just lining up to get a perfect picture and missing the whole experience.

Disneyland california adventure park pradiator racers is the best Disney ride anywhere
Radiator Racers in Carsland, California


Let’s take a peak at Disneyland individually. The California park is geared more at locals who come more frequently for just the day.  Here are some of the ways Disneyland is different from WDW because of that difference:

  • Park is made up more of moms with kids meeting for playdates, teens without parents, etc.
  • No “Vacation Mentality” – as this isn’t the big annual vacation most people aren’t as tuned into their kids; they brought them to hang out for the day, but Mom is still on her cell phone and kids are not on their “best” vacation behavior
  • Fewer girls dressed as princesses (again because they come more often to just play)
  • Characters do less posing and more interacting (once you know to expect this, it’s actually kinda fun)
  • Not as many restaurant choices, but much better quick serve options (plus you can just walk out of the park and across the street for McDonalds)
  • Churros are everywhere – enjoy them, they are delicious!
  • Hours are shortened tremendously during “low” times (or special events)
  • Fewer Employees with pins to trade (locals seem to be more into getting the “best” ones and not just trading for the fun)
  • Rides tend to go down all throughout the day (this seams to be power grid related, but just expect that at least a handful or more of rides will go down during the day; but at least they go back up soon although you will loose your spot in line)
  • Fantasyland, ALL of Fantasyland closes 1 hour before fireworks during fireworks, and takes a while to re start the rides afterwards.
  • You will be disappointed by the size of the castle! (but at least you can go inside and enjoy the retelling of Sleeping Beauty story)
halloween parade at disneyland california adventure parade with haunted mansion float and dancers with mickey ferris fun wheel behind
Halloween Parade at Disneyland California Adventure

what’s better disneyland or disney world

  • Unlike WDW, benches abound at Disneyland making taking a break and watching parades very comfortable! Including sitting to watch the parade and fireworks
  • Because of the limited space Disneyland has to work with the park feels more crammed together. That means it isn’t a great stroller park, scooter option, and the line ques are not interactive, or very well themed. They are typical amusement cattle coral style.
  • Only 3 official Disney hotels which are both expensive so most stay at partner hotels a quick walk away. It doesn’t save money over Value hotels at Disney World and means that you are no longer “in the magic” for evening food, movies, theming, etc. Plus you need to keep your regular wallet with you. At World we can just run to the parks with our Magic Band and it will take care of everyting for a week-long trip
  • There is a shuttle (for a fee) from nearby airports, but it stops at many hotels, including Disney hotels and good neighbor hotels. The buses run less frequently and it is not as seamless as in WDW. (Although Disney World has since closed the free Magical Express as well)
  • If you stay at a partner hotel make sure to look at how far, and how walkable it is. If you are over 1/2 mile you may need to take a shuttle to get to the parks and besides the inconvenience, it isn’t free. Look for across the street or less than a 1/2 mile for a convenient option.
  • They’ve crammed all the best rides in a small space. That means that instead of having to visit 4 parks to see the “best” you can just see two that are literally across from each other! HUGE time saver!
  • The rides seem to be upgraded and maintained better (maybe because guests return so may times in a year) – for example Big Thunder Mountain has a great use of technology to have it look like the flame is moving up the mountain and then explodes.

mr toads wild ride at disneyland fantasyland

Disneyland Unique Rides

  • There are a lot of unique rides that are only in Disneyland including:
    • CARSLAND! This is the best themed are of any Disney park in my opinion. It includes Radiator Racers, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and Luigi’s Tires plus Flo’s Diner (a great place to eat!)
    • Toontown where you can go inside all the different Fab 5 homes including some great places to play, meet and greets, and Roger Rabbit’s Ride (great fun for Preschoolers!)
    • Storyland Boats
    • Casey Jr. Circus Train
    • Pinnochio Daring Adventure
    • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
    • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
    • Matterhorn Bobleds
    • Finding Nemo Submarine Subs
    • It’s a Small World (way better!)
    • Autopa (aka Tomorrowland Speedway which is way better here)
    • Pirates of the Caribbean (way better!)
    • Marvel’s Avengers Campus with character meet-and-greet, yummy food, Web Sliger ride, and Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout (rethemed and reprogrammed Tower of Terror that is super fun!)
    • Paradise Pier – lots of more traditional amusement/carnival rides like a ferris wheel, swings, and more!
    • Incredicoaster – super fun themeing and a thrill ride that goes upside down
    • Monsters Inc Ride
    • Mickey’s Fun Wheel – with traditional cars and ones that sway
disneyland california sleeping beauty castle is much much smaller
Disneyland California Sleeping Beauty Castle

Tips for Visiting Disneyland

  • Visit when kids are in school, but make sure the parks are open “enough” hours to make it worth your visit
  • Visit during the week, especially tuesday, wednesday and thursday for a less crowded experience
  • Fireworks and World of Color do not operate every night, so make sure to plan your 3-5 days at the parks accordingly
  • There are lots of extra paid events, or companies that rent out the facilities, so check park hours carefully, multiple times before you visit
  • Skip the stroller, photopass, and dining plan
  • If you frequent Disney World go ahead and skip Fantasmic here and instead enjoy shorter wait times for rides
  • Don’t bother bringing a stack of trading pins
  • Get a hopper so you can go back and forth between the parks super conveniently
  • Head to Carsland first!
  • Take full advantage of 30 minutes of morning magic hours if you stay at a Disneyland hotel
  • BEST FOOD – Flo’s V8 Cafe, Pacific Wharf Café, Cafe Orleans, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, and Ariel’s Grotto for a princess meal
  • Everything you need to know about Visiting Disneyland California! Lots of Planning Advice, Tips, & Tricks!

Best Disneyland Rides

Make sure you visit our post on the best Disneyland rides if you want to learn more and plan the best vacation!They cram a lot of rides into one space! The good news is you will get to see all almost all your favorites from Disney World + a few more all in one park! The bad news is that something has to give so the ques are not as fun & themed.

disney world magic kingdom fireworks over the cinderella castle
Disney World Magic Kingdom fireworks over the Cinderella Castle

Disney World

Disney World is huge which allows guests to be immersed in the magic, but means guests will need way more time to see it all. The large, impressive Disney World castle is not only iconic for taking pictures, but it makes it easy to navigate through the park using the castle as a reference point. Plus the park which is actually on the 2nd level allows employees to magically appear by using the tunnel system.

  • Parks are made up mostly of families on vacation who are all engaged and trying to create priceless memories together
  • Families wear Disney t-shirts, mouse ear hats, and kids wear costumes (and are treated as royalty as a result)
  • Lots of characters to see; very organized so you know where to be at what time, with cast members to oversee the lines
  • Tons of food choices and restaurants including LOTS of character dining and amazing snacks
  • Although there are best times to visit Disney World, any time might have long hours with plenty of shows and attractions
disney world animal kingdom kilamanjaro safari ride
Disney World Animal Kingdom Kilamanjaro Safari ride

which is best disneyland or disney world

  • Lots of pins for trading – at shops, on cast members, resort lobbies, resort gift shops, Disney Springs, and more!
  • The parks are very spread out and a stroller for kids 5 and under is a must. Those who have trouble walking long distances will want to consider renting a scooter. Because of all this space Disney World has been able to make incredibly well themed areas and lines that will be to wait in together (including some interactive ques)

If you are taking a week to immerse in the amazing Disney magic this is the park for you! You will never have to leave the magic and there is lots to keep you busy for at least a week if not 2!

  • There are dozens of hotels to fit every budget and family style.
  • From the moment you step foot on property you will be immersed in the magic your entire vacation, from characters, music, theming, and magical surprises in your resort to a bus driver who announces royalty is on board when your princess daughter walks on the bus – it is so special!
both disney world and disneyland have rise of the resistance ride in star wars galaxy edge land
Rise of the Resistance ride in Star Wars Galaxy Edge

Tips for Visiting Disney World

Don’t miss our post detailing the best Disney World rides so you can compare what you will be seeing. Sorry this post was too long already!

Disneyland weather in the spring is lovely

is disney world better than disneyland

So where should you visit? In my personal opinion, you need to see them both! They are both such different parks with so much to offer. Opt for Disneyland when you can travel mid-week at an off-peak time and have fewer days off. Choose Disney World when you have more time to immerse yourself in the magic. Either way both Disney World and Disneyland offer a plethora of fun and entertainment that will delight the entire family and allow you to make magical memories with your family!


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