If you grew up on the West Coast and wanted to go on a fun family vacation, you probably went to Disneyland. If you grew up on the East Coast, your family getaway was more likely to Walt Disney World. Both are members of the same Disney family and have much in common. However, there are also quite a few differences between the two siblings. Just like a parent would love each child for who they were, if you love Disney, you will love visiting both Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Walt Disney World in Orlando (Lake Buena Vista), Florida. With that said, the following list highlights some of the major differences. Can you think of any others?
Disneyland covers about 300 acres of land in the middle of Anaheim and most of that land has been developed. Walt Disney World is massive. It covers 43 square miles (27,000 acres) of Central Florida land and a good portion of the land can still be developed.
Disneyland has two parks. Disneyland Park is home to many of the original rides and attractions like it’s a small world(Disney uses all small letters to name this ride) and Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney California Adventure is newer and has newer attractions like Cars Land. Walt Disney World has four major theme parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Disneyland’s signature castle is home to Sleeping Beauty and is often described as small and charming. Walt Disney World’s Signature Castle in the Magic Kingdom is home to Cinderella and is described as being large and grandiose.
4. Proximity of Parks
Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure entrances are right across from each other. Park-hopping is a snap. Walt Disney World’s four parks are a good distance apart from each other. You either have to drive or take Disney transportation to go from one park to another.
Disneyland has three on-site hotels and all of them are within a short walk to the entrance of the two theme parks. From Disney’s Grand Californian resort hotel, guests can use an exclusive entrance to avoid lines and get in to Disney California Adventure. There is also the option of taking a short walk to the Downtown Disney District, catching a monorail, and being dropped off in the middle of Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park. Walt Disney World has 34 resorts and hotels on its property and 28 of them are owned by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Disney’s flagship hotel, The Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Village Resort are located in the Magic Kingdom, while many of the others are a few miles away from the entrances to the different parks.
6. Non-Disney Hotels
Disneyland is within walking distance of dozens of hotels located just a few blocks away. Visitors to the Anaheim Park can avoid the high-cost of staying at the Disney resorts and save some money by staying at more affordable hotels like the Anaheim Express Inn Maingate. Usually, for less than $100 per night, you can get a nice room and a free breakfast and still enjoy all that Disneyland has to offer. Walt Disney World is not within walking distance of any lower-priced non-Disney hotels. While there are hundreds of lodging facilities near Walt Disney World, you do need to drive or take a hotel shuttle bus to get to any of the four Disney theme parks.
6. Live Animals
Disneyland has a small petting zoo located inside the Big Thunder Ranch attraction in Frontierland where kids can see goats and pet some small barnyard animals. Walt Disney World has Animal Kingdom and the Seas Pavilion at Epcot where you can see everything from lions and tigers to sharks and angel fish.
7. Things to Do Outside of the Parks
Disneyland has a Downtown District where you can dine, shop, see a movie, or go dancing in a nightclub. If you just want to relax for a while, you can spend some time lounging poolside at one of the three Disney resorts. Disney World offers four 18-hole golf courses, miniature golf, two water parks, boating, biking and a host of other outdoor activities in addition to similar dining, shopping and entertainment options at its Downtown Disney area (currently undergoing an extensive facelift).
8. Cast Members
Disneyland employs more than 23,000 cast members each year while the much larger Walt Disney World employees over 66,000 cast members each year. Disneyland Resort is the largest single-site employer in Orange County, CA and Walt Disney World is the largest single-site employer in the United States.
9. Rides and Attractions
Disneyland has two unique attractions that help differentiate it from its East Coast connection. You have to come to Anaheim if you want to see the Indiana Jones Adventure or get behind the wheel of a car in Cars Land’s Radiator Springs. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom still has the Country Bear Jamboree and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse which are no longer part of Disneyland. Overall, Walt Disney World has a few more rides and attractions due to its much larger size.
While the sun shines brightly in both California and Florida, there is a definite difference in the weather between the two states. Disneyland, in Anaheim, gets an average of 15 inches of rain each year and experiences a more comfortable dry heat than tropical Florida. In general, the weather is pleasant year-round. Walt Disney World has to contend with more rainy days as it receives an average of 55 inches of rain each year. On a hot summer day, the temperature, combined with the humidity, can make you quite uncomfortable.
You don’t have to choose a favorite. When you are staying with us at the Anaheim Express Inn Maingate, walk on over to Disneyland. If you find yourself in the Orlando area of Florida, spend a few days exploring Walt Disney World.