Welcome to The Disneyland® Guide for Families (Unofficial). You don't have to be part of a family to use this reference guide. By all means, anyone is welcome to use it. Just find what is useful for you and your situation.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Disneyland Resort instead of Walt Disney World?

I have encountered some confusion between Disneyland Resort (in California) and Walt Disney World (in Florida). Mostly it is expressed in the form of “Disneyland…that’s the one in California right?” While those would be fighting words with a lot of folks on the big fan sites, I just take it with a smile. “Yes, Disneyland is the one in California.”

There are however some significant differences, and while neither is bad, it’s nice to know what the differences are so that you are better able to decide which resort best suits your family’s preferences. And before we start, I must confess to a distinct Disneyland bias, which should only be expected, but I will try to present only the facts.

Walt Disney World

Disney World is located in the Orlando Florida area. The resort has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and I don’t know how many hotels, including RV parking and camping. They have a Downtown Disney District, a Disney Boardwalk, the ESPN wide world of sports complex (the Atlanta Braves do spring training there), and 4 golf courses. Over all there are more attractions, more shows, more parades, and more attractions with height requirements than at Disneyland.


Disneyland is located in Anaheim California. The resort has two theme parks, three hotels, and a Downtown Disney District.

In comparison, Disneyland appears to come off the loser. However, Disneyland packs as much into one theme park as Disney World packs into two. The Magic Kingdom park, in Disney World (the largest and most attraction rich park in the resort), has 39 attractions. Compared to Disneyland Park’s total of 50 attractions, the Magic Kingdom seems a little empty. That was my impression of all of the parks at Disney World. None seemed to actually be full. I have the same feeling about California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort, but that park is starting to fill. The second thing to think about is that there are more rides with height requirements at Disney World, which when combined with fewer rides per park, means there just may not be that much to do, for a family with younger children, in all of the Walt Disney World parks. Which means feeling like you’re done with a park after a relatively short day, but not having enough time to jump on a bus or tram and go to another park. Which brings me to my third point: Distance. At Disney World to travel from hotels to water parks or theme parks, you will HAVE to take a transport of some sort; your own vehicle, a shuttle bus, the Monorail, a ferry, something. And it doesn’t matter if you are switching theme parks or going to downtown Disney, things are just too far apart to walk. Disneyland Resort is the opposite. Most of the time, walking is the most efficient way to get around, because things are SO close. The first time we went to Disneyland Resort, I kept telling my husband “California Adventure is just across from Disneyland Park”. It wasn’t until we got there, and he saw that they are literally facing each other across an open plaza area that he understood what I was talking about. They’re really close. The resort’s hotels are closer than the parking structure. Even many of the non-Disney owned hotels are easily within walking distance.

So in conclusion, Disneyland Resort in California has a cozier feel, is easier to get around in, and has more to do for little ones in one place, than Walt Disney World in Florida. Plus, it’s Disneyland, the one that started it all. Am I sentimental and totally biased toward the place? You bettcha! But now maybe you can see why

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