Disneyland vs. Disney World: Where To Travel First With Your Toddler

Walt disney world vs disneyland
Credit: Disney / Canva

It’s tough to plan to go to the supermarket with a little one, so rightfully, going to a theme park that spans 40 square miles (as Walt Disney World does across its four Parks) is terrifying. There’s plenty you can do to prepare yourself for such an ordeal; we’ve shared all our tips and tricks here to get the most out of your Disney vacation.

But we realized that we’ve never really weighed in on which Park is actually the best to take toddlers to if it’s your first visit to a Disney Park.

Walt Disney World Entrance

Credit: Disney

We were going to weasel out of it and say, “It depends,” because, in all honesty, it does depend on you, your toddler, your budget, and your location. If you live in Los Angeles or even southern California, then chances are, you’ll head to Disneyland, regardless of our sage advice.

But we will give our unsolicited opinion on which Disney Resort is better for your first trip with a toddler… Disneyland or Disney World? You might be surprised by our pick.

Size matters, or does it?

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Disney World’s Size

Based on its size alone, Disney World is intimidating for most parents of young children. The possibilities of things to do are endless, and with the different needs of toddlers, it may be too overwhelming.

But I have three words for you that should make you think differently: Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Do I need to say more? I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid that didn’t love animals, so there’s a whole theme park devoted to them. For parents, there’s a Wildlife Express Train that gets you off your feet for 12 glorious minutes at a time, where you can see various animals.

Disneyland’s Size

Looking at the west coast, California’s Disneyland is significantly more manageable, sprawling across 500 acres rather than 25,000 acres. Disneyland Resort boasts of Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. Disney’s California Adventure is home to Carsland, Pixar Pier, and the Avengers Campus—all favorites with toddlers.

Disneyland has a little sprinkle of all the main movies and characters that you and your toddler would hope to see. The route is easier to navigate with kids whilst keeping them entertained.

Does the weather differ between the 2 locations?


Credit: Disney

The climate of central Florida is greatly different from the climate of Southern California. Orlando, home to Disney World, is typically more hot and humid, while the weather in Anaheim, home to Disneyland, is pleasant all year round. Hotter, more humid weather requires more snacks and drinks to be purchased throughout your stay, increasing the price of your vacation. Remember, we said budget is definitely a consideration; no trip to Disney is cheap.

Decision time: Disney World or Disneyland first?

Both locations will be filled with laughs, good times, and memories that will be remembered for years to come. BUT…. the winner is… DISNEYLAND!

mickey toontown

Credit: Disney

There’s no doubt that Disneyland is easier to manage if you have toddlers. The weather makes it easier, and getting around the Resort is much more manageable. But, if you aren’t local to Disneyland and can’t afford a flight from the east coast to the west coast, Walt Disney World is, of course, worth the additional effort (and pain). They are both simply magical, especially for toddlers.

While Disneyland may be more manageable with a toddler, if you have the time and money, a vacation to Walt Disney World is much more expansive than a Disneyland Resort vacation. Just ensure you plan in advance, especially at Walt Disney World, and understand it’s impossible to tackle everything the massive Resort offers. The more budget-conscious family with less time to explore the Parks may find Disneyland to be the perfect dose of pixie dust.

The bottom line… they’re both awesome.

About Roy Jenks

Roy is the father of two boys who are obsessed with everything Disney. Roy also harbors a deep, dark secret he doesn’t like to share with everyone. He’s also a little obsessed and has been since he was a kid. The first movie he ever watched was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;" he’s seen "The Lion King" hundreds of times (sometimes even when his children aren’t around), and he’s seriously disappointed that his boys think "Tangled" is “too girly” for them. Naturally, his boys love Disney Parks, and he pretends he loves theme parks too. The reality is that he’s scared half to death by the rides. With two thrill-seeking youngsters to entertain, he’s become somewhat of an expert on Disney, their Parks, and movies… now he writes about it too.