No matter how you slice it, Disney is magic for travellers young and old. But trying to decide whether to follow that magic to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, or to Orlando’s Walt Disney World is not an easy task. While the two are both generically referred to as “Disney,” there are differences between the two that go beyond their eastern and western locations.
Though die-hard fans will try to convince you their favourite is the one you should pick, we’re taking a more scientific approach and presenting Disneyland and Disney World by the numbers. For the math-phobic among us, fear not: The only right answer here is the park that sounds best to you. And whichever destination you choose, know that you’ll find everybody’s favourite mouse at both.
51 Disneylands fit into one Disney World
Though the two parks total just over 105 square kilometres, roughly the same area as the entire city of Paris, it’s not an equal split: Disney World takes up about 103 kilometres of that total to Disneyland’s 2 km.
Two times more theme parks
While Disneyland has two separate theme parks – Disneyland and California Adventure – Disney World offers four: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. But bigger doesn’t automatically mean better. For example, if you’re looking for areas themed after the hit movies Cars and A Bug’s Life, you’ll have to hit the park in California.
32 Disneyland-only attractions
Though there is some overlap, both Disneyland and Disney World feature a number of exclusive attractions. You can get spooked at the Haunted Mansion or toss pies and shoot suction cup guns in Toy Story Midway Mania’s 4-D reinvention of classic midway games at both Orlando and Anaheim, but if you’re looking to visit the Evil Queen on Snow White’s Scary Adventures, you’ve gotta go to Disneyland. In all, there are 32 attractions which are exclusive to Disneyland compared to Disney World’s 26 unique rides and sites.
Two ways to cool down
Looking for a splashing good time? While Disneyland has water-based rides such as Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run, if it’s full-on waterpark fun that you’re after, head to Disney World for its two full waterparks.
14 acres of Star Wars
For Star Wars fans, Disneyland is your best bet, especially once the park opens its Star Wars land next year (while the exact opening date is TBC, the park has already closed some attractions and begun preparing the area for construction). In the mean time, while both parks already offer some Jedi-themed attractions, only Disneyland has re-branded its classic Space Mountain into a Stars Wars space battle (and it’s awesome).
18 places to break bread with Mickey and the gang
For wee ones, character dining rates high on the list of Disney musts. And while you can breakfast or sup with your favourite Disney characters at both resorts, Disney World offers 18 total venues for character dining to Disneyland’s five.
30,000+ hotel rooms
Looking to crash on the Disney grounds? With more than 30,000 rooms across 36 different hotels and resorts (plus 799 campsites), Disney World outpaces Disneyland’s total number of rooms by more than 28,000. However, given its more compact size, only Disneyland allows you to walk to all of the attractions from your room.
That’s the difference in duration between the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland vs. the one at Disney World (with Disneyland’s clocking in at more than 15 minutes in total). It may be more than a thousand miles further from the Caribbean but with extra drops and a more consistent storyline, fans consistently give the California version a higher rating.
43 kilometres from Disneyland to downtown L.A.
Disneyland may come in below Disneyworld in total rides and square footage, but you’ll find a lot more to do in the area. From beaches (Orlando is inland) and hiking in the mountains to L.A. dining and nightlife, if you’re looking for a vacation that extends beyond the theme park, Disneyland can’t be beat.
6,072 feet of track on California Screamin’
This puts Disneyland’s speedy coaster (it starts off at a hold-on-tight 88 kilometres per hour) among the top 10 longest in the world. By contrast, Disney World’s Expedition Everest, located in the Animal Kingdom Park is just 4,424 feet.
104 kilometres per hour
But if it’s speed you’re after, Disney World claims the fastest ride: Test Track, the speed of which just surpasses the legal limit on the 401.
The steepest one-day admission you’ll pay under Disney World’s new busy-ness based pricing plan, which sees each month divided into value, regular and peak days. At Disneyland, admission goes from a flat $99 to $95, $105 and $119 respectively, while at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom the new pricing is $105, $110 and $124. The new “surge” pricing only applies to one-day passes.
33 rain days per year
While there’s no such thing as a weather guarantee, Anaheim’s average of 33 days per year – compared to Orlando’s 113 – makes Disneyland a surer thing, weather-wise.
70,000 cast members
From Goofy to Elsa, Cinderella and every beloved Disney character in between, Disney parks are crawling with familiar faces. But there’s a lot more of them in Florida – Disney World employs 70,000 cast members to Disneyland’s 29,000. But not to worry: whichever park you choose, you’ll spot your favourites.
1,000 fireworks shows per year
Nighttime spectaculars are a Disney tradition that date back to 1956, and Disney World’s 1,000 fireworks shows per year make it the largest consumer of fireworks in North America. In all, Disney World has seven nighttime spectaculars to Disneyland’s three. But with two new shows celebrating Disneyland’s 60th Diamond Anniversary – Paint the Night, which features 1.5 million lights and World of Colour, which lights up 1,200 fountains in full colour – you’ll still come away dazzled.
Let’s face facts: No matter who you are, Disney’s got your number, and whether you head east or west, you can count on a good time.