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Disneyland Resort vs. Walt Disney World Resort
Geek's Overview

Trying to compare Walt Disney World(WDW) to Disneyland is like trying to compare a desktop computer to a laptop. What I mean is they each have there own purpose and identity and its hard to make a blanket statement that one is better than the other. They are just different.

For one thing it is extremely unfair to compare Disneyland to the entire Walt Disney World complex. Yes Disneyland is continuing to expand, but it will never be as large as WDW because it is "landlocked". Disneyland is located in the heart of Orange County California, which is a densely populated area. Disney does not own that much additional land to expand on, so they have to acquire new land or reshuffle their existing property each time they want to have a major expansion and this is time consuming and extremely expensive, hence the reason their first major expansion of the resort happened in 2001 with the opening of a second park. Where as WDW is located on over 47 square miles of property in Central Florida. Disney owns enough property that they can expand with relative ease.

Now if you want to do a comparison of the Magic Kingdom in WDW and Disneyland Park that is a more even comparison, but still not completely fair since at WDW they distribute attractions over 4 parks where as in Anaheim they only have two. To me Disneyland edges out the Magic Kingdom. The reason being it just has a "better feel" to it. It is a much smaller and more intimate park. Also it has several "Walt touches".

The two parks share several attractions, and I think the Disneyland versions are better for the most part. For example in Fantasyland both parks have a Small World attraction. The one at Disneyland has the world's fair facade, where as WDW's version looks like any other attraction (and you could miss it if it were not for the big sign). Another winner for Disneyland is Pirates of the Caribbean. The ride is longer and more detailed at Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom in Florida does have some advantages though. The castle and Main Street are much more impressive in size but I think Disneyland's has a certain charm to it.. Also Tom Sawyers island and Rivers of America are much larger.

There are also several attractions that are unique to each park. At Disneyland you will find Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Walt Disney Story, Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Sailing Ship Columbia, Tarzan's Treehouse, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Storybook Land Canels, Casey Junior Train, and Roger Rabbits Cartoon Spin. At the Magic Kingdom in WDW you will find: Stitch's Great Escape, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Carousal of Progress, Swiss Family Treehouse, and Hall of Presidents.(This is not the complete list, just what came to mind while writing this piece. Also be aware a couple attractions that are at Disneyland are also at other WDW parks. For example Star Tours is at the Studios. And the same can be said going the other direction with the Littler Mermaid being at Disney California Adventure).

The other difference between the two parks is the types of visitors. The most obvious thing is that Disneyland has a higher percentage of locals. The park draws less people than WDW, with a large majority of them being people that live within a couple hour drive of the park. WDW draws many more tourists from all over the world and most fly in or have to travel a much longer distance. Many of the guests at Disneyland have grown up and are second or third (and some case more) generation visitors visiting an a regular basis. Walt Disney World has seen a growing number of these types of visitors thanks to Disney Vacation Club and programs like that but it still is not the same as Anaheim.

So in conclusion… its really a personal preference and I definitely think each resort is worth visiting. I think of WDW as a complete travel destination. When going there that is all I do for a week or two… you never have to leave Disney property to enjoy everything from fishing to golfing to race car driving plus the theme parks. The Disneyland resort expansion with the re-imagineered Disney California Adventure that came online in 2012 has dramatically altered the Disneyland Resort traffic flow. So it should be interesting to see how this plays out in the years to come. If you are a true disneygeek you need to visit both sometime in your life. Then add in the international parks to really get a good comparison.

In the sections below I take a look at comparing some attractions from resort to resort.

More comparisons....
  • Attractions: This section contains a more in depth look at particular attractions between the two resorts.

  • Pictures: On this page I have several photo comparisons of the two resorts

My Pictures, Trip Reports, Thoughts & Observations from both resorts:
Disneyland Resort Pictorial updates
Disneyland Resort Pictures as well as Thoughts and Observations
Walt Disney World Pictorial updates and Trip Reports
Walt Disney World Resort Pictures Thoughts & Observations
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