Which One Is The Best?
So you are planning a Disney vacation this year, but how do you decide whether to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Which resort would be a better fit for you and your family? To be honest, I have been visiting both destinations my entire life and I truly love them both. It is hard for me to pick a favorite, because they are both so unique. Of course, you will find opinions all over the internet about which resort is better. Disney fans are a loyal bunch, and we will defend the love of our favorite Disney destination with great passion. I recently wrote a book called “A Tale of Two Resorts” that tries to answer this age-old question of whether Disneyland or Disney World is better by comparing them side-by-side in several areas. Let’s take a look at a few of main the categories and see if we can pick a clear winner.
Does size matter? Well, maybe when you are deciding between resorts. Disneyland is small and quaint while Disney World in massive and vast. Just think about this for a moment…the entire Disneyland resort, including both theme parks, the esplanade, Downtown Disney and all three Disney brand hotels would fit perfectly inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Disney World. That’s right, folks, the entire Disneyland Resort inside just one of Disney World’s four theme parks. With that in mind, Size goes to – Disney World!
This is a tough one, because you have two completely different feels with the rich history and ambiance of Disneyland competing with the spaciousness and elegance of Disney World. But I do love the idea of spending time where the dream began, so I’m going to give atmosphere to – Disneyland!
This is an easy one for me, with moderate temperatures and drier weather year round, the clear winner in the weather category is – Disneyland!
This a tricky one. Disneyland’s crowd patterns are heavily influenced my the large number of local visitors where Disney World’s crowd levels are strongly affected by school calendars. I’m going to call this one – A Tie!
One of the great things about Disney resorts are all of the entertaining events that they host throughout the year. Given its larger size, Disney World has more opportunities for these extravaganzas like the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. Events goes to – Disney World!
Another area that is always up for debate. When pricing Disney vacations, you will notice that there is very little difference in the pricing of admission tickets, food or merchandise between the two destinations. Where the big difference lies is in the cost of accommodations. I like to stay onsite when visiting a Disney destination and with only three Disney properties available in Disneyland, they are very expensive. However, Disneyland does have relationships with 39 surrounding hotels known as their “Good Neighbor Hotels” that offer more affordable options. With Disney World having 26 different onsite properties to choose from there is something for everyone’s budget. Onsite vs. off property? Good Neighbor Hotel vs. Disney Brand? Depending on where you stay, you could realistically visit either destination for about the same cost so that makes Prices – A Tie!
Judged on the ease of planning, this is a very simple category to decide. With dining reservations only available 60 days in advance and the Legacy Fastpass system still in place, the hands-down winner in Planning is – Disneyland!
As I mentioned in the Prices section, three Disney properties at Disneyland in comparison to 26 Disney brand resorts at Disney World, the clear winner is – Disney World!
Disneyland is a walker’s paradise. Once you arrive, you don’t have to use any transportation, but your own two feet to move yourself around the entire resort. On the other hand, Disney World is an approximately 40 square mile destination navigated by an intricate system of boats, buses and monorails. I prefer to be in control of my own destiny and not to need to rely on Disney’s transportation and for that reason, Transportation goes to – Disneyland!
Interestingly this area is not as easy to choose as it would seem. Disneyland actually has a few more attractions than Disney World (54 vs. 45), however Disney World has a tremendous amount of entertainment and experiences that are not available in Disneyland. And of course, there is the obvious two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) versus four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom). Theme Parks goes to – Disney World!
Disney World with its vast size has the edge in this category. You would have to leave the Disneyland resort to be able to parasail, play golf, horseback ride or fish, all of which are available in Disney World. Resort Extras goes to – Disney World!
Let’s end with another complicated one. Disney World has nearly 300 hundred dining locations with Disneyland offering just under 100. But I’m more of a fan of quality than quantity and I find the food in Disneyland to be far superior to anything I’ve eaten in Disney World, for that reason Dining goes to – Disneyland!
Let’s take a look at the results, shall we?
- Size: Disney World
- Atmosphere: Disneyland
- Weather: Disneyland
- Crowds: Tie
- Events: Disney World
- Prices: Tie
- Planning: Disneyland
- Accommodations: Disney World
- Transportation: Disneyland
- Theme Parks: Disney World
- Resort Extras: Disney World
- Dining: Disneyland
So after careful analysis, that’s five for Disneyland, five for Disney World and two draws; in other words – a tie. This is why it is so hard to choose a winner. Both resorts have so much to offer. So what is a traveler to do? Well, anytime someone asks me which resort they should visit, I always tell them to ask themselves some questions to help them decide which is a better fit for their family. If you have to travel during July and you have a family member that cannot handle the heat, Disneyland is the place to go. Or maybe you are vacationing with someone who has always wanted to travel the world, but could never afford it, by all means take them to Disney World and let them explore Epcot’s World Showcase until their heart’s content. Take a look at each category to see which ones are most important to you and give them more weight when making your decision. Rest assured that no matter what you decide, a Disney vacation with your loved ones is sure to be a magical and memorable experience!
A Tale of Two Resorts
Looking for a more in-depth comparison and full travel guide for both destinations? Please check out my new book “A Tale of Two Resorts: Comparing Disneyland and Walt Disney World – A Traveler’s Reference“! This reference guide is loaded with facts and information about all of the hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences, entertainment choices and resort extras that are available at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Each chapter begins with a handy side-by-side chart that compares each destination and concludes with a “For What It’s Worth” section that gives my personal thoughts and opinions. Topics include Lay of the Land, Atmosphere, Weather, Crowds, Events, Budgeting, Planning Timeline, Accommodations, Admission Tickets, Transportation, Theme Parks, Resort Extras, Dining and of course, there’s helpful advice about planning your trip and organizing your day.
As a mom with two boys of my own, I understand the many challenges of traveling with young kids. Throughout “A Tale of Two Resorts”, I’ve included several features for parents that will help you plan your Disney trip plus they’ll make your vacation easier once you arrive at the resort. Here are just a few of these invaluable features:
- In Chapter 8 Accommodations – I’ve included detailed information about every resort including room types available and resort amenities. If you need to know if a particular hotel has a kiddie pool, offers on site childcare or even how many people the room will accommodate, you’ll find those important answers.
- In Chapter 11 Theme Parks – I’ve included a Word of Warning for each and every attraction that needs one, giving you a heads up on what to expect and what you need to be aware of before taking your child on that particular ride.
- In Chapter 13 Dining – I’ve included specifics for every dining location from table service to snack stand such as atmosphere, cuisine type, dress code and even menu selections including the kid’s meals that are offered. So if you are like me and have kids that are picky eaters, you’ll know exactly where to find those all important chicken nuggets or macaroni & cheese.
Whether you are going to Disneyland or Disney World and especially if the decision between the two destinations is still being made, “A Tale of Two Resorts” will give you all of the information you need to make the better choice and plenty of advice for planning that magical vacation! To read an excerpt or to purchase, please click here.