If you haven’t grown up in North America and aren’t a huge Disney fan, then any talk of Disneyland and Disney World seem like they could be one and the same. But noooo … (!!!) is the very short answer to that question!Disneyland is the first, original Disney theme park opened in California in July 1955 and Walt Disney World is the second, much larger Disney theme park located in Orlando, Florida.
Disneyland in California is the smaller of the two parks and has the original Disneyland park and a second park, Disney California Adventure (opened in 2001) as well as three hotels on the property – the iconic Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. The complex also has a shopping and dining precinct called Downtown Disney linking the two parks. Disneyland is located in the suburbs of Anaheim in Los Angeles and it does definitely feel like the suburbs are all around you.
Disneyland is home to many famous rides including Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters, the Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure, Splash Mountain, Hyperspace Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight. Disney California Adventure boasts California Screamin’, Soarin’ Around the World, Toy Story Mania, Radiator Springs Racers and Mickey’s Fun Wheel, all in an old style boardwalk setting.
Over in Florida, on the east coast of the USA, Walt Disney World is something else entirely! The size of a small city… well, not even a small city, just a city, the Disney World property in Florida equals some 48 sq miles of land (approx 123sq km), offering guests the choice of 4 enormous theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom (based on the original Disneyland theme park), Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.
Walt Disney World also has two full size water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon and the shopping and dining precinct of Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Not to mention a whopping 34 hotels, ranging in budget from camp grounds to deluxe 5 star hotels, all inside the Walt Disney World property.
One of the many great things about Walt Disney World is that once you are inside the Disney property, it is practically its own city – it has it’s own transport (including buses, monorail and ferrys), police and fire departments, road signs, maintenance and gardeners.
There are many iconic rides throughout Walt Disney World, including Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and the famous It’s A Small World (which you’ll be singing for days…) in the Magic Kingdom; Soarin’, Test Track, Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE and Frozen Ever After (in the Norway pavilion) in Epcot; Expedition Everest, Avatar Flight of Passage (the new ride in Pandora), Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids in the Animal Kingdom and the Tower of Terror, Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not to mention the 2 huge water parks also inside the Disney property.
With this in mind, we would recommend a minimum of 5 days in Walt Disney World, but 10 days would allow you to comfortably see it all, and over in California, 2 days would enable you to spend a day in each park, but 3 days would give you the opportunity to revisit your favourite park and rides.
As you can imagine, there are days of fun and adventure to be had at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World and both are highly recommended to appreciate the differences between these two wonderful parks!