Many people wonder which theme park area is better, Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World in Florida. Having been to both parks, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is not an easy one. Both areas are so unique that at times it feels like one is trying to compare apples to oranges.
Here are some things that both areas seem to have in common:
• Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are full of that “Disney Magic”. The overall feeling as my family walked through the gates of each one of the theme parks was that of excitement and awe. We quickly left our everyday cares behind and let the Disney enchantment just sweep us away.
• All of the theme parks on each coast are very clean. Disney prides itself in creating a near spotless environment.
• Overall, the Cast Members (employees) are very friendly.
• Both areas have lots of characters around the theme parks who are ready to sign autographs and pose for pictures. The lines can be very long at either area depending on the time of year.
• Both areas have some attractions in common such as: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, Peter Pan’s Flight, Tower of Terror, Soarin’, Toy Story Mania, Haunted Mansion, Innoventions, Buzz Light Year Auto Blasters, Autopia (although not the same name), Space Mountain, Tom Sawyer’s Island, Riverboats, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Teacups, a Carousel, a Tree House, Disney Animations, Turtle Talk with Crush, as well as a few others.
Here are some of the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World:
• The Size – Disneyland Resort in California is much smaller and completely landlocked, with the city of Anaheim totally surrounding it. Walt Disney World in Florida is huge, and a large part of the total acreage that Disney World owns is still undeveloped.
• The number of theme parks: Disneyland Resort in California consists of 2 theme parks and the Downtown Disney area. Walt Disney World in Florida consists of 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a Downtown Disney area and much more.
• The Distance between the theme parks: The two theme parks in the Disneyland Resort are right across a plaza from each other. You can easily walk from one park to the other, and also to Downtown Disney, in minutes. Walt Disney World’s theme parks and other offerings are very spread out. You can only get to them by car or other transportation. Walt Disney World does have an excellent, free bus, monorail or boat transportation system between the theme parks, hotels, water parks, Downtown Disney and their other offerings.
• The Climate: Walt Disney World is generally a little warmer year-round than Disneyland in California. Both areas can get very hot during the summer months, but Disneyland’s heat might be easier to take due to the lower humidity. Walt Disney World generally gets more rain in the summer, while Disneyland generally gets more rain in the winter.
• Lodging: Disneyland has only three resort hotels on its property while Walt Disney World has around 18 resort hotels plus a campground on its property.
I’ve only mentioned a few of the common things and just some of the differences between the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. There may be many more things in each of the categories above that one might add.
Here are some of my favorite things about each area:
• Disneyland is the original Disney theme park. This theme park was Walt Disney’s brainchild and prototype for all of the Disney theme parks that have followed.
• The theme parks in the Disneyland Resort are easier to get around and generally require less walking to get to the different attractions than in the theme parks at Walt Disney World. The Disneyland theme parks are also much easier to “park hop” to as they are right next door to each other.
• Disneyland has the show, “Billy Hill and the Hillbillies”. This is an incredibly funny show that takes place at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon many times a day on three to four days a week.
• Disneyland has New Orleans Square as one of its lands. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is located here and they serve their famous “Monte Cristo” sandwich. They’re located in the same building as the attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean and its’ fun to watch the boats go by while you’re dining or to view the restaurant from the boat if you’re on the attraction.
Walt Disney World:
• Cinderella’s Table – This is a wonderful restaurant that is actually located inside of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and diners get to meet 5 princesses. Cinderella greets everyone after they come into the castle. Once you are seated at your table upstairs, you have the opportunity to meet 4 other princesses. When we were there, the princesses were Belle, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine. If you’re not into the characters, it is still a special treat to be inside of the castle, and the meals are generally very good.
• The Shows: If you like shows, Walt Disney World has a lot of them. They have “Finding Nemo, the Musical” and “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. At Hollywood Studios, they have “Beauty and the Beast” and “Voyage of the Little Mermaid” as well as two amazing stunt shows.
• The Water Parks: There are two incredible water parks on the property. If you’re fortunate enough to be at Walt Disney World for more than a few days, these water parks provide a wonderful, relaxing break from “pounding the pavement” at the theme parks.
• Dine with an Imagineer – this is an amazing opportunity to eat either lunch or dinner with one of Disney’s “behind the scenes” creators and artists. The Imagineer shares lots of fascinating stories, plans and experiences over the course of about 2 to 3 hours. You have a great opportunity to ask all of those questions about Disney that you’ve always wanted to know.
These are just a few of the things that I love about Disneyland and Walt Disney World. If I had to choose one area over the other, I would probably have to choose Disneyland as my favorite. This is because it was the first Disney Park that I went to as a child and also the first one that my children went to. So, Disneyland has a lot of sentimental value to our family.
If you’re lucky enough to experience both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the secret might be to just appreciate each area for both their similarities and their uniqueness. Whether you’re in the Disney theme parks in California or the ones in Florida, you’re sure to experience that wonderful Disney magic!
Rebecca James is the author of two books: “Disneyland Resort Insider Tips Revealed”, available at http://www.DLtips.com and “Pet Sitting Basics 101” available at http://www.petsittingbasics.com She is the married mother of two children and also has a dog named Nala. Rebecca loves to travel with family and friends. During her family’s frequent trips to the Disney theme parks, she loves to gather tips for new and unusual things to do as well as ways to save money.