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Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland: THE BASICS

I’m sure you have said at least once in your lifetime, “Aren’t Disney World and Disneyland the same thing? What is the difference?”


Well, let’s first make sure that you know where these two iconic theme parks are located.

Disneyland is where it all began. You can find Disneyland or the “Happiest Place on Earth” in Anaheim, California just about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.

Walt Disney World or the “Most Magical Place on Earth” is located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida which is just about a thirty-minute drive from Orlando, Florida. 


​​Now that we are on the same page with the locations… Let’s talk about castles.Cinderella Castle Magic KingdomDisneyland is home to Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is home to Cinderella’s castle.Disneyland Castle

If you have had the chance to visit these two parks, the first thing you’re going to notice walking down Main Street is the size difference.

While the castle at Disneyland may be smaller, there is a hidden gem here that you can’t do at Cinderella’s castle in Magic Kingdom.

At Disneyland, the castle is a walk-through attraction of Sleeping Beauty’s story! There are special animations, effects, and moving figures inside. It’s a fun little segway into Fantasyland! 

Theme Parks

Disneyland Train Station

Let’s move on to parks.

Disneyland consists of two main parks:

  1. Disneyland
  2. California Adventure.

Disneyland (park) is extremely similar to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Not only can you find Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland like at Magic Kingdom, but at Disneyland, you can also visit Mickey’s Toontown and Galaxy’s Edge!

When comparing California Adventure to Walt Disney World, I would personally compare it to Hollywood Studios. California Adventure does have some unique attractions and places to visit (different from Hollywood Studios) such as Cars Land, Avenger’s Campus, Pixar Pier, and Hollywood Land. Carsland California Adventure

Pixar Pier Disneyland California Adventure

So what about Walt Disney World?  What does it have to offer different from Disneyland?

Walt Disney World is one of the most popular theme parks in the world.

When you visit Walt Disney World, it truly feels as though you are escaping reality and literally entering a different “world.”

There are four theme parks here:

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Hollywood Studios
  3. Animal Kingdom
  4. Epcot.

You can also find two waterparks here which are Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. 

As previously mentioned, Magic Kingdom is where you find Cinderella’s Castle. It is very similar to Disneyland but also has its own unique attributes and many attractions that are similar yet still very different like Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.

Animal Kingdom is home to just that, animals! But it’s not “just a zoo”!  My favorite part of Animal Kingdom is going on the Kilimanjaro Safari and getting a glimpse of real African animals in their natural habitat at Harambe Wildlife Reserve. It’s pretty neat what Disney is doing to protect these animals and also their habitat! Animal Kingdom Mickey Mouse

Are you itching to travel the world but just haven’t been able to make it happen yet? Well, you can do just that at Epcot in Walt Disney World!

Stroll the World Showcase and visit Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, Mexico, Morocco, the United Kingdom, and France to get a glimpse into the unique cultures of each of these countries.Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

At Hollywood Studios, you can immerse into a world of Star Wars at Galaxy’s Edge or envision life as a “toy” at Toy Story Land. Don’t forget to enter the Twilight Zone and go for a ride on the Tower of Terror (my favorite!) Tower of Terro

While Disneyland and Walt Disney World may seem similar, they also have so many unique qualities about each of them. I get asked all the time which is my favorite. They are just different and it’s hard to explain unless you visit both of them! I do love them both and they are definitely worth visiting to experience it yourself! 

For more information and to plan your next Disney vacation email

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Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumph
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.


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