One of the most heated questions in all the Disney Universe…
I primarily grew up closer to Disneyland so that is where my family vacationed. We were there for all the new additions: Indiana Jones, Toon Town, and of course the building of California Adventure! I remember when Fast Passes became a “thing” and how annoying it was to watch people cut in line! But that is beside the point here.!
I remember the first time, as a teenager, my parents took us to Disney World. We headed into Magic Kingdom and I remember walking down Main Street USA- thinking, “okay…okay this is all the same or really close to the same….” And that is about where that line of thought stopped! So many differences good and bad with Disneyland VS Magic Kingdom.
I am in an active duty military family now, and we have lived on the East side of the country for the last 5 years. Naturally, Disney World has become our family’s destination.…. And let me tell you what, it’s a bit of a shock when you switch! You think you “know Disney” or that both parks run the same, and that my friends- is just not the case. Today I thought I would point out some obvious differences and some not so obvious differences for each location. For those of you that either want to try out both parks someday or are still deciding between LAND or WORLD.
Let’s start with Disneyland located in Anaheim, CA. This land just keeps growing and growing! Presently this land is 500 acres total (compared to Disney World at 43 squared MILES). This park has Disneyland, California Adventure Park, and as of 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a new land located inside of Disneyland Park. Disneyland consists of 10 different lands or areas. Main Street, USA, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Frontierland, Mickey’s Toon Town, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Some attractions that you will NOT find at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida would be Indiana Jones Adventure, Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure, Casey Jr Train, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mickey’s Toon Town, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride just to name a few.
Star Wars, Galaxy Edge is also part of Disneyland and you can access it from multiple lands. Both Disneyland and Disney World will have this new addition. Disney World has its Star Wars, Galaxy’s Edge, located inside Hollywood Studios Park. You might notice a couple of differences like the rock color schemes, and where the ships are located at each park. You can book the most popular attractions (Savi’s Lightsabers, Droid Depot, and Oga’s Cantina) which can be reserved 180 days out.
You will notice the layout of Disneyland is different from Magic Kingdom and it is definitely recommended to check out some maps before you head to either location so you have a little bearing before you start! (you want to hit those rope drops running!)
You can then literally walk right across the road (the awesome road that turns into Downtown Disney) and you are right inside of California Adventureland! So as far as park hopping tickets go- Disneyland is definitely the place you can easily take advantage of that perk over and over again!
California Adventure has 7 main areas, Buena Vista Street, Hollywood Land, A Bugs Life Land, Cars Land, Grizzly Peak, Pacific Wharf, and Paradise Pier. This land might seem a little like “Hollywood Studies” in Disney World, but again they are very different. You are going to get all sorts of fun changes in this park including Cars Land, Bugs Land, Pacific Wharf and instead of Tower of Terror you now get, Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: Breakout! You can easily spend a day or two at each park!
One of the biggest differences in Disneyland vs Disney World is the amount of time you need to reserve things in advance. You need to stick pretty close to your 180 dining reservations for Disney World if you want to get the times and places you have your heart set on and definitely 60 days for all your Fast Passes. Disneyland is a little more “relaxed” in your pre-trip-prep! You can book everything 60 days in advance but it’s not as necessary.
Speaking of dining, Disney World offers 3 dining packages (Quick Service, Disney, and Deluxe) that can be added to any Disney Resort Hotel reservation. Disneyland, at this time, does not offer that option. However, both parks have amazing food options throughout!
Disneyland has 3 main resorts, The Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and the Grand Californian Hotel. Each is within walking distance to both parks and has great added bonuses to staying with them! Disney also partners with many hotels and motels right outside the park entrance, they’re Good Neighbor Hotels. There are a couple of options for transportation to and from the airports close to Disneyland, none are complimentary though.
You also do not deal with Magic Bands, My Disney Experience app, or Fast Pass Plus. This means being there right at rope drop each morning is a pretty great idea! Your Disneyland experience can typically be wrapped up in a 3-Day Park Hopper Pass! And in case you were curious, 5 days of tickets is the longest pass you can purchase there.
Overall this will be a great experience for the whole family!
Now as we move across the country to Orlando, Florida. Home to the massive swamplands, also known as Disney World! Disney World is made up of 4 main theme parks and 2 water parks along with ESPN Wide World of Sports Center. You can get single-day tickets all the way up to 10-day park tickets here! They offer a complimentary shuttle from the Orlando airport called The Magical Express. The Magical Express is free to any families staying at one of the many Disney World Resorts.
Disneyworld is where you will want to really pre-trip plan! You will first want to select your travel dates, reserve your resort room (they have over 30 resorts available!) and then set up your “My Disney Experience” account as this is where you can book everything from dining to fast passes to special events. It is the central hub of your vacation. You also can get the app on any smartphone and utilize it to keep your Fast Passes going, check wait times, and special events during your trip. You can reserve your dinning up to 180 days in advance and your Fast Passes 60 days in advance.
Disney World has Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Each park has its own theme with many, many attractions that will appeal to every age. We normally suggest at least a 4-day park hopper pass to enjoy your experience, but 5-7-day passes would be best!
What most people find surprising is how large it is, and how long it takes to get to each park! We suggest you plan on at least an hour to park hop! You will spend a lot of your time waiting for the bus, monorail, ferries as you park hop. I tend to tell my clients, no more than two parks a day or you end up wasting too much time traveling to and from places! You will want to check out the park hours during your stay and plan your itinerary around which park stays open the longest, Extra Magic hours, etc.!
Again, Disney World provides a wonderful family getaway that will give you such fun memories together! The best way to find the park that fits your family, have a blast and try both! We, obviously, suggest trying both parks out to see which one works best for your family!
Contact your awesome agent with A Touch of Magic Travel to start planning your dream vacation and you can finally decide once and for all, are you a Disney- LANDER or Disney -WORLDER…. Or maybe you are like the rest of us and you’re a bit of are BOTH ☺
If you have any questions I can answer, please feel free to reach out to me at Katie@ATouchofMagicTravel.com.