Walt Disney World vs Disneyland - The Great Debate

"Which is better...Disneyland or Disney World?" 

One of life's age old questions to which there will never be an answer.

When friends or family would ask where we traveled over the last couple weeks, most seemed to have the same reaction when I told them Disneyland and Vegas. "Disneyland?" they would ask, perplexed as to why a guy would travel cross-country to visit a place that he can find 90 minutes away in Orlando. As any Disney fan can tell you, however, there are many stark differences between the two resorts, and the debate as to which is better is one that will never be resolved.
Proof I Won at Toy Story Mania

My heart of course belongs to "The Florida Project," and as I walked the grounds of Disneyland last week I couldn't resist making comparisons to Disney World in Orlando. While any attempt to resolve this Great Disney Debate would be futile, what follows is this Disney World fan's perspective on the original House of Mouse. 

Things I love about Disneyland 

The Original - There is a aura of nostalgia around Disneyland that one can never experience in Florida for one key reason....Walt himself. As you enter Disneyland you're quickly reminded that this was Walt's park, with the sight of his still intact apartment above the fire station on Main Street. 

The Monorail - In Orlando the monorail serves as a source of transportation between some of the parks and resorts, while in California it is basically a ride. There is one important difference, however, which makes this version better than it's Florida counterpart....you can ride in the back. As a monorail junkie, being allowed to ride in the back ranks among the top 5 coolest things I've ever done....OK so "coolest" might not be the right word here.

Park Hopping - Try walking out the front gate of any park in Orlando, and enter another within 2 minutes. Yeah, it can't be done. At Disneyland, however, the entrances to both parks are literally a stone's throw apart, making park hopping quite easy. Which is good because I quickly grow tired of the crowds in Disneyland, and prefer the more laid back California Adventure (more on that later). 

Space Mountain - The Disneyland version is better...Trust me.
Music, Faster, Side by Side Seating = Better

Food - In Orlando your choices for quick food on the go are pretty much limited to lame burgers, chicken nuggets, turkey legs, and cardboard pizza. Try finding spicy Korean beef and rice or soups served in a fresh sourdough bowl in the Magic Kingdom. Go ahead, I'll wait...

Things I not-so-love about Disneyland 

Seclusion - There is none. Thanks to its thousands of acres of property, the outside world rarely makes an appearance in Orlando, however this is not the case at Disneyland. There are 14 IHOPs within a two block radius of the resort, and guests of such fine establishments as the Jolly Roger Motel and Candy Cane Inn could pole vault into the park if they so chose. Staying at one of the Disneyland hotels can help in overcoming this obstacle, but your wallet will also be far lighter as a result. 

Crowds - OK, so at any theme park there are going to be crowds, Cartman taught me that. But at Disneyland park in particular, the layout can cause the experience to feel less like a theme park and more like Times Square on New Years Eve. California Adventure seems to handle the crowds much better, although I guess one could argue that is also due to a lack of attendance. Either way, prepare to take lots of baby steps...literally. 

The Matterhorn - As a kid, I always wanted to experience this ride...As an adult, it leaves me feeling like I was in a head on car accident.
On The Matterhorn - The Smile Belies My Pain

I tried really hard here to come up with more things I don't like about Disneyland, but in the end I failed. The fact is I love Disneyland, just in a different way than I love Disney World, sort of like the relationship I have with my dog and cat. 

As expected, my trip to Disneyland had no impact on my allegiance in the Great Debate. What I learned, however, is that it is imperative to have an open mind when visiting Disneyland as a Walt Disney World fan.  The differences between the two far out number their similarities, but as my mom told me when I was a kid, being different makes you special, and Disneyland certainly is different.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 



  1. I'm looking forward to comparing them in 2013, I hope. Thanks for the insight! :)

  2. What's up Deej!
    I went to Disneyland maybe 3-4 times when I lived in O.C. for nine years. I only went to Disneyworld once and that was because I was in Orlando returning from a cruise. What I can say is that I was open-mouth in awe of how vast Disneyworld is. Like you mentioned, Disneyland isn't secluded at all. It basically feels like it is smack dab in the middle of an urban neighborhood, where maybe every one walking around isn't actually going to the park. Whereas at Disneyworld, you know every one is going to the park and as you ride past all the cool looking hotels, you start to feel like a kid because you know you are getting closer and closer.
    For some reason too, a lot of the rides at Disneyland were always closed for repair. At Disneyworld, it appeared that every ride was working.
    What I really liked about Disneyland was Downtown Disney. I remember the popularity of it when it first opened, especially the House of Blues. For some reason, Californians like having everything all in one place and Downtown Disney gave us that. It's a cool addition to the theme park as is California Adventure.
    Although Disneyland was the first, I think Disneyworld is the best. I will have to go to Disney Tokyo and Disney Hong Kong and let you how they are.
    By the way, do you know the secret stories about Disneyland? How there are supposedly secret restaurants, tunnels and entrances for celebrities, etc.?

  3. As a Disneyland guy, I'd say you've laid out a pretty fair comparison. Riding in the private compartment of the monorail is pretty cool, and (when it's working) Disneyland's Space Mountain is better. 
    Let me give Disney World a couple of nods though. Parking is way better in Florida. It's gotten better over time in Anaheim, but it's so simple at the Magic Kingdom that it's inspiring.
    Also, the number of decent hotel choices is a million times better in Florida. At Disneyland, there's the Grand Californian, then everything else is three stars or lower. I loved the number of great choices in Florida (even if I did choose the wrong one).

  4. I look forward to someday making my way out to Disneyland.  Being a WDW fan, I am sure I will find that I love both, though as you found, just in different ways!

  5. They both are great Beth...just don't expect the same kind of great as WDW!

  6. Yeah I couldn't imagine having to park to go to DL...It stressed me out just watching. Next time in Anaheim give the Marriott a whirl, since you're having an affair with them. I wouldn't call it 4 diamond, but it was nicer than our stay at Disneyland hotel a few years ago for a fraction of the price...

  7. Please Fidel..if you don't do anything else over there hit up Tokyo and Hong Kong for me:) At least Tokyo...Hong Kong has some work to do to be worth a trip.

    I've heard about the tunnels, etc at WDW, but never Disneyland. By chance remember the name of that book you mentioned?

  8. I think you'll love it Melissa...hard for any Disney fan not to like DL...

  9. We had never been to Disneyland until 2010. While Disney World brings a vast magic across it's 40k+ acres, we loved the nostalgia and differences in rides at Disneyland. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is great going through the Blue Bayou restaurant and the multiple drops. The outside entry to It's a Small World was cool as opposed to World's inside a building. We also loved some of the rides and things to do that are not available at the World including the Storybook boat ride, Matterhorn, and Alice in Wonderland.

    For those reasons we tend to like Disneyland slightly more since it is a completely different experience than at Disney World. That's why we will be stopping back in 2012. Thanks for reminding us how great it is there!

  10. While I don't think you'd be able to change my mind in the Great Debate, any advice for a DLR Vet going to the World next year? Mainly do-not-miss restuarants and attactions? If you tell me what the best of the best is and that's all I experience on my trip it might sway my vote ... ;-)

  11. I agree...I like Pirates and just about every other ride better at DL than I do WDW. Glad I was able to remind you of good memories:)

  12. This is a challenge, but I'll try...Here's my favorite restaurants in no particular order...

    Narcoossee's, Citricos, Brown Derby, Teppan Edo, Beaches and Cream, ESPN Club, and Yacthtsman Steakhouse.

  13. Great article! I'm dying to get to disneyland. I love things that shed light in the meantime. I visit orlando like 6 times a year. Thanks!


My Instagram

Copyright © The World of Deej.