The Great Debate, Part One: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland (Guest Post)

(Rachel is taking over the blog today with a new guest post…enjoy!)

After Allen’s and my recent visit to Disneyland – our fifth in three years – it got me thinking about the similarities and differences between it and Walt Disney World. I have park experience only as a guest, and more frequently as an adult than as a child, so I can provide only a narrow perspective, but I thought it might be fun to do a little comparing and contrasting between the bi-coastal empires. I also added a completely arbitrary and meaningless point system, just for funsies.

The Properties

Walt Disney World (for our purposes, WDW) is a giant, sprawling spate of resorts, shops, restaurants, roads, trees, and most importantly, four unique parks. It lies outside of Orlando proper, and you can’t see any its iconic landmarks from I-4 (unlike its counterpart, Universal Orlando, which recently has developed property so close to the interstate that surely little magic could be conjured within its borders). Between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, there are offerings for everyone across this consortium of consumerism (and magic, of course!).

Whereas WDW has plenty of room for yet future growth and expansion, Disneyland Resort (comprised of two parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, herein collectively referred to as DLR) is landlocked in Anaheim. It’s located about 45 minutes (depending on traffic) from the gigantic city of Los Angeles, and is commonly thought of as a “local” park. Oddly enough, its intimate size feels a little less inundated with tourists.

WDW: +10 for lots of space
DLR: +10 for using space wisely

The Transportation

WDW is, as I mentioned above, sprawling. Google tells me that it’s 40 square miles, or roughly the size of San Francisco. And it feels every bit as huge as its own city. Unless you’re staying at a rare within-walking-distance resort, you have to travel by car, bus, or monorail to visit each of the parks (especially Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom). The transportation runs pretty smoothly for the most part, but you likely know…traffic is a part of life, no matter how magical the setting.

DLR, conversely, is completely walkable, among both of parks, Downtown Disney, the three on-property resorts, and multiple nearby “Good Neighbor” hotels. There is a monorail system, but it’s presented more as an attraction than as pure transportation. Bottom line: it’s quite convenient to walk everywhere, but you’ll definitely give your record step count a run for its money.

WDW: +6 for organization; −3 for traffic
DLR: +8 for fitness; −4 for exhaustion

The Attractions

I could probably write an entire blog post just about the various attractions on both coasts. Actually, you know what? I’m going to do just that. Look for part two in the coming days.

WDW: ??
DLR: ??

The Weather

Have you ever noticed that the majority of the queues in Disneyland are outside? California is no stranger to blistering temperatures, but generally, SoCal has what some (including yours truly) refer to as fairly perfect weather.

In comparison, WDW is literally built on a swamp. Although I think (having zero research) Florida actually gets colder than California in the winter, the non-January through March months are brutally hot and humid. Hence why there are considerably more indoor attraction options.

WDW: −10 for humidity; +4 for seasons
DLR: +10; −1 for >100 temps

The Food

Between the two parks, DLR has a churro stand in every land. And Mickey-shaped beignets and mint juleps in New Orleans Square. And Blue Bayou. And those hummus and pretzel snack pack things (it’s the simple things).

But WDW has Epcot, where one can eat “around the world.” So maybe it wins by default? (It also boasts a Five Diamond Award-winning and Forbes Four Star-rated restaurant in Victoria and Albert’s, so there’s that.)

WDW: +8 for World Showcase
DLR: +5 (because churros!)


Stay tuned for part two, wherein I’ll go deeper into the nitty gritty of what makes the parks special – their attractions!

Who will come out on top?!

3 thoughts on “The Great Debate, Part One: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland (Guest Post)

  1. Yay! I love this. I like hearing someone’s views because mine are quite bias. I know after my first WDW experience I would have to give FL -8,485 points…. soooooo… 😉
    Can’t wait for part 2!


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