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Disneyland vs Disney World: A Comparison

When considering a Disney trip, lots of people get stuck on deciding where to go: Disneyland vs Disney World.  

People often say “I love going to Disney” or “we went to Disney on vacation,” but for the non-Disney adult that can be confusing to know if they mean Disneyland or Disney World.  

Both parks have great things to see and do, but there are some very distinct differences.  

Well, we’re here to help you know exactly which is which!  Having spent time in both destinations, we can help you break down these differences and decide which one you’d like to visit.  

disneyland vs disney world castles

Disneyland vs Disney World:  The Main Differences

While both Disneyland and Disney World celebrate all things related to the House of Mouse, they have some pretty major differences that can be broken down into a few categories:  location, size, and attractions. 


This may seem obvious to many people, but some folks don’t realize that Disney World and Disneyland are two entirely separate destinations, located on opposite coasts of the United States.  

Disneyland, the original Disney Park, is located on the West Coast of the United States in Anaheim, California, just outside of Los Angeles.  

Disney World is located on the East Coast of the U. S. in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, just outside of Orlando.  

These two places are over 2,500 miles apart and a direct flight from one city to the other would take over five hours to complete.  So needless to say, they aren’t exactly neighbors. 


There is also a massive difference is the size of Disneyland vs Disney World.  

Disneyland takes up just 500 acres of land right in the middle of a metropolitan area.  That number converts to just over three quarters of one square mile (0.78125 square miles to be exact). 

Disney World covers 43 square miles of property, spread out so much that it forms two different municipalities, Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake.   

Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World lit up for night time

There are actually two parks located on that property in Anaheim: the original Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to them collectively as Disneyland.  

Disney World features four separate theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) and two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach).  

Both locations feature non-ticketed dining and shopping areas.  Disneyland has Downtown Disney and Disney World has Disney Springs.  


When it comes to making a decision to visit Disneyland vs Disney World, knowing what attractions are located at each place at is going to be a big factor. 

While both Disney Destinations feature some of the same attractions, both locations have lots of exclusives that may make one more attractive than the other.  

We’re going to break them down into lists for you, just to make it clear.  

Attractions At Both Disneyland AND Disney World

While some of the attractions might have slightly different names or some differences in ride experience, the concepts are pretty much the same overall.  The rides in both locations include:

  • Disneyland Railroad / Walt Disney World Railroad
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Adventureland Treehouse/Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Mark Twain Riverboat/Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Frontierland Shooting Exposition
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • It’s A Small World
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • The Mad Tea Party
  • Kind Arthur Carousel/Prince Charming Regal Carousel
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Autotopia/Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Star Tours
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin/Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Space Mountain
  • Millenium Falcon Smuggler’s Run
  • Star Wars Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Soarin’ Around The World
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Goofy’s Sky School

Attractions Unique to Disneyland

Even with all those shared attractions listed above, there are still a LOT of attractions that are unique to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.  

Disneyland Attractions:

  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
  • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes
  • Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Mickey’s House
  • Minnie’s House
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Chip n Dale’s Gadget Coaster
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train
  • Alice In Wonderland
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Lightning McQueen driving through Radiator Springs at Disney's California Adventure Park

Disney’s California Adventure Attractions:

  • Red Car Trolley
  • Monster’s Inc: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue
  • Guardian’s of the Galaxy:  Mission Breakout
  • Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Games of Pixar Pier
  • Pixar Pal-A-Round
  • Jessie’s Critter Carousel
  • Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
  • Incredicoaster
  • Golden Zephyr
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Jumpin Jellyfish
  • Silly Symphony Swings

Both Disneyland and Disney World have great atmosphere and ambiance for park goers, but there are some key differences.  Both locations can be absolutely magical, but there are some small but noticeable things that might affect which parks you want to visit.

Disneyland has that original spirit of Walt Disney magic about it, since this was the park that Walt himself had the most involvement in building.  But there are a few logistical issues about Disneyland that can make it hard to navigate.  

When Disneyland was built back in the 1950s, park designers weren’t expecting it’s popularity to be at the heights it has reached today.  Consequently the layout of the original parts of the park are a bit confusing don’t accommodate the sheer crowd sizes that are frequently there. 

This design flaw is very evident in the queues for some of the original rides.  Many of these queues are quite compact, especially on rides like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  The lines really cram park goers into small spaces to try to accomodate for how long the lines get.  

In comparison, Disney World designers seemed to have learned a lot of lessons from these queues and have designed them to be much more spacious and even entertaining.  

California Adventure is another story.  It’s queues are more spacious, like those at Disney World, and layout is definitely more well thought out.  

Disneyland vs Disney World:  What Will You Choose?

Both Disneyland and Disney World are wonderful places to vacation.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time on both coasts, and plan to go back to all the parks in the near future.  

Have you been to both Disneyland and Disney World?  Which destination is your favorite and why?  Tell us in the comments!




Disneyland vs Disney World: A Comparison