Today I thought we could talk about the differences between Walt Disney World, located in Florida just outside of Orlando and Disneyland located in Anaheim, California. Now, this is a topic near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts because almost everyone has a favorite! If you are someone who doesn’t frequent the parks, than you might be thinking, “how different can they really be?” I’m here to tell you, VERY! Even though both resort areas share some of the same lands and rides, they are extremely different from one another. Check out the below for what I think are some of the biggest differences between the parks.
- Park visitors – while WDW draws in a significant amount of out of town tourists, Disneyland is much more of a local’s park. Of course, both parks have a heavy mixture of both local’s and tourists, but the ratio of local’s in Disneyland is major. Because Disneyland is located right in the middle of Anaheim it is filled with people who can hop over in under 30 minutes. Could you imagine living that close to Disney? I know that’s my dream!
- Size – This is one of the biggest differences between park resort areas. Disneyland is much smaller than its Florida counterpart. The Disneyland resort area only sits on around 500 acres of land while WDW is on a whopping 25,000 acres, more than half of which has not even been developed yet! This makes the park going experience very different between resort areas. Disneyland is very walkable, with only 3 on property hotels you can walk to both parks and Downtown Disney from any of them. WDW on the other hand has 30 hotel options with more on the way. That does however mean that walking is just not an option. You may have a room walking distance to one of the parks depending on where you stay at WDW but for the most part you will need to take transportation. Not to worry though! WDW has an abundance of on site transportation so if you want to leave the car at home you will be A-Okay. Keeping that in mind – Disneyland is made up of only two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and Downtown Disney. WDW has 4 parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios), 2 water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), Disney Springs, and other entertainment and activities such as Wide World of Sports, mini golf courses, and real golf courses. Another big difference due to size is that at WDW you are basically in your own city. For the most part you can’t see anything outside the resort area. Disneyland however, being in a more populated area, doesn’t have that luxury. You can walk right into Anaheim and even see it from some of the rides.
- Weather – this seems like an obvious one, but lets talk about it anyway. Disneyland is in California so they definitely win on this one! It is almost always nice out, with little rain, and no humidity. I always say if we could have Disneyland weather in WDW it would be even closer to perfect than it already is. In WDW you will get sun and shine, but also a lot of rain and storms. It can also get extremely humid. But, rain usually only last for a short time, and hey, you are still in Disney! Grab a poncho and keep on keeping on.
- Rides – some people may not realize that even though both resorts have the same rides they are not all carbon copies. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is a great example of this. The ride is much longer than the one found at WDW. This is actually because of space. The ride takes you down a drop that brings you outside of the park into another building! This is one of the creative ways Disney gets around the space issue. Other rides that are not exactly the same are Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Haunted Mansion. Some of the differences are very slight such as the ride vehicles but different nonetheless. Disneyland is also home to more classic dark rides than WDW and both resort areas also have rides specific to them like Indiana Jones in Disneyland or Flights of Passage in WDW.
- The Castles – the last differences I am going to discuss are with the iconic castles. Everyone knows of the beautiful castles that you see upon entering Disney Parks. It is the first thought a lot of people have when thinking about visiting Disney. But did you know that they have very different looks and special features to them? Disneyland is home to Sleeping Beauty castle. This castle is much smaller than the one found in WDW. It was modeled after a Bavarian castle. You can walk through the castle and also inside and look at some of the interior. It also has a working drawbridge. In WDW you will find Cinderella Castle. It is at a much larger scale than its counterpart but it does not have a working drawbridge. While you can’t tour the interior, you can eat inside the castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
These are some of the biggest differences between the resort areas in my opinion. As far as favorites go I have a hard time picking! But ultimately, I have to say Walt Disney World is where I call home and will always be just a tad closer to my heart. Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments.