Disney World vs. Disneyland: A Closer Look at Two Awesome Parks

With its four theme parks, Disney World offers a more expansive experience, but Disneyland is more affordable.
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Written by Carissa Rawson
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Edited by Meghan Coyle
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Disney World and Disneyland are some of the most well-known landmarks in the United States. Even if you’re not a fan of its animated films, Disney’s property runs the gamut from Marvel movies to the Star Wars universe.

You’ll find characters from many of Disney's hits at the theme parks, though exactly what rides you’ll encounter and whom you’ll meet will vary depending on where you go.

Let’s look at Disneyland versus Disney World, including tickets, resorts, locations and attractions.

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What's the difference between Disneyland and Disney World?

Among the biggest differences between Disneyland and Disney World is the resort size. It is 500 acres in size compared to Disney World's over 30,000 acres.

Disneyland comprises two theme parks and three hotels, while the Walt Disney World Resort complex includes four theme parks, two water parks, 31 hotels and a golf course.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Just how many Disneylands can fit in Disney World? AAA estimates that nearly 51 Disneylands can fit into the Disney World resort.

The Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts have their own hotels on property. However, Disneyland’s options are much more scarce than Walt Disney World's. Within Disneyland, you’ll find just three options from which to choose, with price points that vary based on luxury.

At Walt Disney World, there are a whopping 31 on-site hotels. All of these feature incredible theming — such as overwater villas — and also run the gamut for pricing depending on where you stay.

Disneyland vs. Disney World location

Disneyland is in Anaheim, California while Walt Disney World is in Orlando, Florida.

Disneyland is 35 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), though traveling to the park can take a while because of traffic.

If you’re flying in, there are other airport options in the Los Angeles area, including:

  • John Wayne Airport (SNA).

  • Long Beach Airport (LGB).

  • Ontario International Airport (ONT).

Disney World's nearest airport is Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is about 16 miles away from the resort.

Disneyland vs. Disney World theme parks

Disneyland and Walt Disney World have two very different vibes, in part because of the theme parks each contains.

Disneyland Resort

Disneyland is the first theme park Walt Disney opened, doing so in 1955. Inside, the park features nine distinct lands, all of which include different theming and attractions:

  • Adventureland.

  • Critter Country.

  • Fantasyland.

  • Frontierland.

  • Main Street, U.S.A.

  • Mickey's Toontown.

  • New Orleans Square.

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

  • Tomorrowland.

Disney California Adventure is the second theme park within the Disneyland Resort. Just across the walkway from Disneyland, this park is home to a more adult atmosphere than its sibling. You’ll find bigger rides, such as a looping roller coaster and a drop tower, as well as far more opportunities for purchasing alcohol.

Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World debuted in 1971, roughly 16 years after Disneyland's launch. Clear across the country, Disney World is far larger than Disneyland — and its four theme parks reflect this.

Magic Kingdom: Built similarly to Disneyland Park, Magic Kingdom offers a central hub ringed by different lands. These are much the same and include Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland, among others.

Epcot: The second of Walt Disney World’s parks, Epcot focuses on two things: world culture and the future. This can be seen from rides such as Mission: Space, which simulates a trip to Mars. It can also be seen via the World Showcase, whose 11 pavilions highlight global food and culture.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: With a focus on the movie and film aspects of Disney’s property, this park has attractions such as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: A wholly unique park in that it blends live attractions, such as a safari, with more standard fare like roller coasters.

Disney World vs. Disneyland castle

The difference between the Disneyland castle versus the Disney World castle size is stark. The Disneyland castle, also known as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, is 77 feet tall. Disney World's Cinderella Castle, meanwhile, is more than double in size, standing 189 feet tall.

While both castles are visually stunning, Disney World boasts a significantly grander and more imposing structure.

Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland prices

Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets start at a similar price range: Disneyland’s tickets start at $104 for a one-day ticket, while Walt Disney World’s tickets begin at $109 per day.

However, Walt Disney World tickets will vary in price according to demand no matter what type of ticket you’re purchasing; this is true for single-day and multiday tickets. For example, a four-day ticket for a visit in late August will cost $485.

At Disneyland, multiday tickets are a fixed price. You’ll be able to visit anytime and pay the same cost, no matter how busy it is. A four-day ticket to visit Disneyland costs $395.

Both theme parks offer annual passes, though a Disneyland Magic Key pass is more costly than one for Walt Disney World. For 2024, a top-tier Inspire Key Pass for Disneyland will run $1,649 — and that pass still includes blockout dates.

Walt Disney World’s most expensive annual pass is the Disney Incredi-Pass, which costs $1,399 and allows you access to all of its parks every day of the year.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Normally Disney tickets don’t code in a credit card statement as a travel expense. However, you can buy Disney tickets online in many different places, including travel agencies, which typically code as travel. Top cards for rewards on travel expenses include The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Terms apply.

Which is better for adults, Disneyland or Disney World?

Disney World offers more parks and experiences, plus has Epcot — which is attractive for its international focus and unique dining options. Disney World also offers a wider selection of luxury resorts with high-end spa experiences (which can be awesome after a couple days of walking around the parks).

But Disney World's vibe is family-oriented, which might come off as too kiddie for adults. Plus, it's larger and more sprawling.

Disneyland, for its part, is compact, walkable and has retro charm. Disney California Adventure has several bigger rollercoasters such as the Incredicoaster and Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!. The Downtown Disney area is more vibrant than Florida's counterpart (Disney Springs) and offers several bars and entertainment options, but luxe hotels in the area are sparse.

How to save money on a Disney vacation

Consider off-property hotels

When heading to Disneyland or Disney World, you can stay at a hotel outside the park or at one of Disney’s owned-and-operated on-site resorts.

Off-site hotels are often cheaper, but Disney properties come with valuable perks like Extra Magic Hours and transportation to the parks.

Keep reading:

Take advantage of budget-friendly activities

There are plenty of cheap or free things to do at Disney World. You can hop the monorail and visit area resorts, wander Disney Springs or sail on the Friendship Launch boats. You can even score some of the best fireworks views outside a theme park.

Disneyland's assortment of affordable activities includes window shopping in Downtown Disney, sitting by the fire at the Grand Californian Hotel Lobby or enjoying a tiki drink (or Dole Whip) at Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel.

Spend smartly with the right credit card

The best credit card for Disney World might surprise you, as the Disney® Premier Visa® Card actually isn't all it's cracked up to be. Paltry rewards and few opportunities to redeem mean you're better off using a more general travel credit card to get money back in your pocket when paying for a Disney World vacation.

Top cards for Disney trips
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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The Platinum Card® from American Express
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• 5 points per $1 on travel booked through Chase.

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• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 10 points per $1 on Chase Dining, hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Chase.

• 5 points per $1 on air travel purchased through Chase.

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• 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

• 5 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 spent per year.

• 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

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• Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.
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Terms apply.

Frequently asked questions

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park can be found in California.

There are five Disneylands worldwide. The parks can be found across North America, Europe and Asia.

  • Disneyland Resort (California, U.S.).

  • Disneyland Paris (France).

  • Tokyo Disneyland (Japan).

  • Shanghai Disneyland (China).

  • Hong Kong Disneyland (Hong Kong).

There are four parks in Disney World and two water parks.

  • Magic Kingdom.

  • Epcot.

  • Hollywood Studios.

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The two waterparks are named the Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach.

The best thrill rides are the Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! and Space Mountain. Popular family-friendly rides include Peter Pan's Flight, Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise. Other notable rides include Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Pirates of the Caribbean and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

Is Disneyland or Disney World better?

The one you prefer is going to come down to the type of vacation you enjoy. Because Disneyland is so much smaller, it’s easier to pack more into your day. This also means it’s possible to explore everything within the Disneyland Resort within a couple of days.

Walt Disney World has twice as many theme parks as Disneyland but also has other activities, which means that if you’d like to thoroughly explore the resort, it can easily take you more than a week to do so.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland feature theme parks with rides, characters and classic Disney favorites, but at their heart, they’re distinct. Before visiting either of these theme parks, you’ll want to do some research to see which is right for you.

Disneyland is smaller, features fewer theme parks and hotels and costs less than Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World is a sprawling complex that encompasses four theme parks, more than two dozen hotels and other attractions to boot.

(Top photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort)

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

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