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8 Big Differences Between Walt Disney World And Disneyland

Disney fans love spending time in a Disney Park whether it is in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort or in Anaheim at the Disneyland Resort. Even though they are located on different coasts, the two Disney Resorts are very similar in that they both have some of the same attractions, experiences, and Disney magic. Despite these similarities, Walt Disney World and Disneyland are completely different in some aspects, making it fun for guests to visit both Disney Resorts and have new and exciting Disney experiences. From the location of certain attractions to completely different focal points, there are some pretty substantial differences between the two Resorts but no matter how different they are guests love visiting both. Here are eight big differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland!

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8. The Castles –

One of the biggest differences between Walt Disney World and Disneyland are the castles! Walt Disney World is home to Cinderella Castle which soars high in the sky over the Magic Kingdom’s hub reaching nearly two hundred feet. Cinderella Castle is obviously based on the Disney Princess Cinderella and features the full service restaurant Cinderella’s Royal Table where guests can dine amongst the princesses. Disneyland is home to Sleeping Beauty Castle which is much smaller than its Florida counterpart, but still as elegant and regal. With pink coloring and gold and blue turrets, Sleeping Beauty Castle is charming and invites guests further into Disneyland to enjoy themselves. Guests who visit Sleeping Beauty Castle can walk through an attraction which retells the story of Princess Aurora through dioramas and special effects.

7. Number Of Parks –

Walt Disney World has the blessing of size and is home to four theme parks and two water parks. Guests can explore worlds of fantasy in the Magic Kingdom, enjoy technology and culture in Epcot, feel like stars in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, celebrate the environment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, hang ten with huge waves at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, and splash around in a melting ski resort at Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Disneyland differs greatly in size and is home to only two parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Disneyland Park is similar to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and Disney California Adventure Park invites guests to enjoy everything from Cars Land to “a bug’s land.”

6. Number Of Resorts –

Since Walt Disney World is nearly forty seven square miles, it has plenty of room for over twenty Disney Resorts. Guests can choose from three different price categories (Value, Moderate, and Deluxe) and stay at resorts with themes including the South Pacific, turn of the century Atlantic City boardwalk, classic Disney animation, and New Orleans’ French Quarter. Disneyland is home to only three official Disney Resorts given its smaller size. Guests staying at a Disney Resort in Disneyland can choose from Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa.

5. It’s A Small World –

One of the most quintessential Disney experiences is taking a ride on the happiest cruise that ever sailed and enjoying It’s A Small World. While the attraction can be found in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, the experience is fairly different. The Walt Disney World version has guests enter into a covered loading area and enjoy a trip through the world with the classic singing dolls. The Disneyland version of It’s A Small World has guests load into boats and begin their experience with an outdoor portion of the flowing river. In addition, the Disneyland version features dolls representing beloved Disney characters like Aladdin and Alice in scenes that depict their native countries.

4. Liberty Square v. New Orleans Square –

Both the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park in Disneyland are home to a land that features several of the same attractions and similar names, but are completely different. Walt Disney World is home to Liberty Square which celebrates colonial America and the Revolution. The land is home to classic attractions like the Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents and is a favorite of many guests. Disneyland Park features New Orleans Square which is themed after New Orleans’ French Quarter with a Mardi Gras spirit and beautiful wrought iron balconies and details. The land in Disneyland is also home to the Haunted Mansion as well as Pirates of the Caribbean which is found in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Adventureland instead.

3. The Haunted Mansion’s Style –

Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square is styled like a colonial home traditionally found in New York’s Hudson Valley. With an impressive brick façade and plenty of gothic details, the mansion seems stately and definitely makes a presence to guests brave enough to pass through its gates. Disneyland’s version of the Haunted Mansion is themed around an old antebellum style mansion traditionally found in the south with white lattice work and high foreboding pillars.

2. The Mountain Range –

While Walt Disney World and Disneyland are both home to some similar thrilling attractions based upon mountains, they differ slightly in the experiences. Walt Disney World is home to Space Mountain which allows guests to go on a thrilling journey out of this world, Splash Mountain which invites guests to follow Br’er Rabbit on a thrilling adventure, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which whips guess around the mining town of Tumbleweed, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which brings guests into the workplace of the Seven Dwarfs. Disneyland Park is also home to Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain as well as the Matterhorn Bobsleds which brings guests into the fabled mountain where they come face to face with the Abominable Snowman.

1. The Location Of Toy Story Mania –

Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland are home to the guest favorite attraction Toy Story Mania which shrinks guests down to the size of a toy and brings them through a series of 3D midway games hosted by the characters of Toy Story. While the attractions are similar in both Disney Resorts, they are found in completely different parks! Toy Story Mania in Walt Disney World can be found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Toy Story Land and the Disneyland version can be found in Disney California Adventure Park in the Pixar Pier Area.

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane first started visiting Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of that trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning all about the history and small details of the parks and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York and spends her time counting down the days to her next trip.