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Disney theme parks are basically cities. In fact, Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is about the same size (in acres) as San Francisco. But is bigger better when choosing between Disney World and Disneyland? And how do you compare Disney World’s size versus Disneyland?
Here's a look at these two different locations, what they have to offer and how they differ when it comes to size.
Disneyland vs. Disney World size
How big is Disneyland? The original Disney theme park began percolating in 1954, when Walt Disney purchased a 160-acre plot in rural Anaheim to develop his amusement park. When it opened in 1955, it became an instant success and Disney’s vision for a larger theme park started to formulate.
Although California has since become the home of two Disney parks, including California Adventure, it’s still on the small side when compared with Disney World. If you’re wondering “How many acres is Disneyland?” you’ll be interested to learn that the original 160-acre plot has since grown to encompass 500 acres within a now-bustling Anaheim.
Both Disneyland and Disney World have a shopping and entertainment district outside of the parks. In Florida, it’s named Disney Springs; in California, it’s called Downtown Disney.
With space in California limited by the surrounding city, Disney bought a much larger parcel of land in Florida in 1965. Ringing in at a total of 43 square miles — or 27,520 acres — Walt Disney World is substantially larger than its older sibling. The park also has grown and it now covers 47 square miles.
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How many parks are in Disneyland?
Although Disneyland is tiny when compared with Disney World, it still manages to pack quite a punch. It features two distinct theme parks within its grounds.
At the park that started it all, there are nine distinct lands, rides, merchandise, character meetings, food and other attractions. Each land is themed, from light fixtures to architecture. These lands include:
Main Street, U.S.A.
New Orleans Square.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
ToonTown (temporarily closed).
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Disney California Adventure
Opening nearly 50 years after Disneyland, California Adventure began welcoming visitors in February 2001.
Originally focused on celebrating the various highlights of California, the park has seen new themes, including the conversion of Paradise Pier — a tribute to California beach boardwalks — to Pixar Pier, which focuses on Pixar’s movies.
» Learn more: Ways to save on your first — or next — Disney vacation
How many parks are in Disney World?
You would hope that Disney had managed to create a more expansive theme park in Florida with a much larger parcel of land — and you’d be right. First opened in 1971, Walt Disney World consists of four distinct theme parks and two water parks. These parks are a major tourist draw, with parks such as Magic Kingdom drawing upward of 17 million guests annually.
Magic Kingdom is Disneyland’s doppelganger. With similar structure, including various highly-themed lands, Magic Kingdom retains the original fantasy aspect created by Disney’s first park.
Epcot, short for the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, actually came to life as a self-contained city. While this was the original idea as imagined by Walt Disney, upon his death the park was altered to its current version. Within Epcot you’ll find a few different “worlds,” including:
» Learn more: How to go to Disney World for cheap
Hollywood Studios is home to the newest expansion at Walt Disney World, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in 2019 to great fanfare and remains a popular attraction.
Hollywood Studios also offers plenty of other entertainment, such as Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Toy Story Land.
The most recently opened park at Disney World is Animal Kingdom, which began greeting guests in 1998. This park focuses on animals and features a variety of interactive experiences with wildlife, including an off-road safari. It’s the largest theme park in the world, at a total of 580 acres — or more than the entire Disneyland resort combined.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
The first water park at Walt Disney World was Typhoon Lagoon; although it’s currently closed for refurbishment, it usually features different water slides, pools and water rides.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
The second water park at Disney World is Blizzard Beach, where winter-themed attractions include a chairlift, waterslides and toboggan racing.
Disney World vs. Disneyland resorts
Both Disneyland and Disney World feature their own branded hotels, though you’ll find more located within the vast Walt Disney World complex than at Disneyland.
Disneyland’s hotels include Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier.
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Disney World, meanwhile, has a wide variety of resort options for its guests. It separates these into different tiers based on luxury and price; deluxe resorts are the most expensive, followed by moderate and then value resorts. These include options such as overwater bungalows and a safari-themed lodge.
» Learn more: Best Disney World hotels to book with points
If you’re trying to compare Disney World vs. Disneyland size
Although these two resort complexes have a lot in common, size isn't one of them. As the one that started it all, Disneyland is significantly smaller than the much-larger Walt Disney World. As a result, it features fewer parks and hotels, though both locations will give you that much-needed dose of Disney flair.
Featured image courtesy of Disneyland Resort.
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