Should You Visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

by | Sep 1, 2020

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Are you planning your Disney vacation but don’t even know which park to visit? Here are some things to consider about whether you should visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

Should you visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

There’s a lot of factors that come into play when visiting, especially with kids. Here’s what we take into account when deciding between visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

Ages

Older kids are going to have more fun in Walt Disney World parks simply because of the focus on adult-oriented entertainment. Epcot especially includes a lot of exciting culture and experiences for older crowds.

Not to say the experiences in Disney World are not suited to small kids (mine loved it) but Disney World simply offers more to do for them.

Scale

It’s important to understand that Walt Disney World consists of 4 parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Switching between parks takes a few minutes but it’s free via monorail, ferry, or bus. There are also 2 water parks not included with your park hopper ticket.

Disneyland, on the other hand, is only Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. 43 square miles vs 500 acres.

Favorite Characters

Disneyland has some unique character environments: Radiator Springs (from Cars) and Mickey and Minnie Mouse’s houses to name a couple.

Disney World,  on the other hand, has an area from Tangled including hanging lanterns and Rapunzel’s castle and a Beauty and the Beast section featuring Belle’s House and castle.

Visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World – Pros and Cons

Disneyland Logo

Pros: Disneyland

  • Smaller parks are more manageable and it’s easier to see everything.
  • The original park made by Walt Disney (more history).
  • Often enjoyed with other California attractions like SeaWorld.
  • Perfect for shorter trips or smaller children.
  • Short travel time between parks and nearby hotels.

 

Cons:

  • Much less to do in the parks (because there’s less of them).
  • Not as many experiences for older kids or adults.
  • Fast Pass system has you rushing to get tickets taking time out of your day or costs additional money.

 

Defining Features:

  • Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
  • Radiator Springs
  • Pixar Pier
  • Mickey and Minnie Mouse Houses
  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel ride
  • Disney’s World of Color show

disney-world

 

Pros: cinderella_castle_at_magic_kingdom

  • Lots to do, over 43 square miles in the park.
  • 4 parks to choose from.
  • Epcot offers something different with its pavilions and food from around the world.
  • Excellent transportation system between parks.
  • Fast pass system is tied to cards and booked on a smartphone app so you can easily plan your day.
  • Has 2 waterparks.

Cons:

  • Overwhelming: you could go an entire week all day, every day and not come close to experiencing everything leaving things missed.
  • Not as Mickey Mouse focused.
  • Travel time is very long between parks or resorts. If you stay outside the park it’s annoying to get to without a vehicle.
  • Florida water smells of sulfur. It’s fine to drink the water inside the park but depending on where you stay (or swim) there’s a possibility of smell if it’s unfiltered.

Defining Features:

  • Cinderella’s Castle
  • Epcot ball
  • 4 unique parks
  • Isolation: Disney World is secluded from the “real world”
  • Rapunzel’s Tower
  • Beauty and the Beast Town
  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine ride

Visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World – Theme Park Breakdown

Disneyland Logo

disneyland Disneyland Park

  • Original park opened in 1955
  • Main park for classic Disney experience
  • Sections:
    • Mainstreet, USA
    • Tomorrowland
    • Fantasyland
    • Mickey’s Toontown
    • Fronteirland
    • Critter Country
    • New Orleans Square
    • Adventureland
    • Galaxy’s Edge

 

california-adventure Disney California Adventure

  • More Pixar focused
  •  Sections
    • Buena Vista Street
    • Cars Land
    • Grizzly Peak
    • Pixar Pier
    • Pacific Wharf
    • Hollywood Land
disney-world

magic-kingdom Magic Kingdom

  • Main park for classic Disney experience
  • Sections
    • Adventureland
    • Frontierland
    • Liberty Square
    • Fantasyland
    • Tomorrowland
    • Main Street, U.S.A.
epcot

Epcot

  • Disney’s dream city of the future
  • Has the famous Epcot ball
  • Sections:
    • Future World
    • World Showcase:
      • Mexico
      • Norway
      • China
      • Germany
      • Italy
      • the United States
      • Japan
      • Morocco
      • France
      • United Kingdom
      • Canada

Disney’s Hollywood Studios hollywood-studios

  • Sections:
    • Hollywood Boulevard
    • Echo Lake
    • Muppet Courtyard
    • Sunset Boulevard
    • Commissary Lane
    • Pixar Place
    • Animation Courtyard
    • Galaxy’s Edge

Animal Kingdom animal-kingdom

  • 300 species and over 2000 animals
  • Sections:
    • Oasis
    • Discovery Island
    • Africa
    • Rafiki’s Planet Watch
    • Asia
    • DinoLand, U.S.A.

There really isn’t one better or worse park, it’s all about who’s going and the type of vacation you want to have. Walt Disney had a different dream and vision for each and that’s reflected in their style and scale. If your family LOVES Disney they’ll be happy anywhere and quite honestly you’re probably going to want to get to both parks, maybe even multiple times.

Whether you choose to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World it’s going to be so much fun. Have a magical vacation!

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