What’s the Difference Between Walt Disney World and Disneyland California?

Travel Advice
What’s the Difference Between Walt Disney World and Disneyland California?
Unique differences between the Disney parks
From incredible themed lands to exhilarating attractions and everything in between, here are just a few of the differences between the Disney resorts that you might not know…

There are lots of exciting differences that make both Disney resorts unique. So, if you’re a Disney super fan, visiting them both will give you the opportunity to enjoy even more amazing experiences. Here are just a few of the difference between Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort in California…



The Disneyland Resort is made up of two parks- Disneyland Park and the Disney California Adventure Park. These parks span over 155-acres and while this may seem like a lot, the Disney theme parks over at Walt Disney World are much larger! For a start, there are six Disney parks in Florida- four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot) and two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). The parks alone cover more than 1240-acres, while the entire resort is around the same size as San Francisco!

While there are lots of similarities between the two resorts, the fact that there are more parks means there is lots more to see at Walt Disney World.


Cinderella Castle VS Sleeping Beauty Castle


Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World


No matter what Disney resort you’re visiting, your trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a selfie in front of the castle! At Walt Disney World you’ll find the famous Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom Park, standing at an impressive 189-feet. When you enter the park and walk down Main Street USA, this is one of the first things you’ll see- it's the sight that fills you with that warm, magical feeling you can only get at Disney. There’s even a restaurant inside the castle called Cinderella’s Royal Table, where you can enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by the Disney princesses!


Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland California


At Disneyland California you’ll find the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Its design is inspired by the real Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein and has acted as an iconic symbol of the park ever since it opened in 1955. You can actually walk through the castle and rediscover the classic tale of Princess Aurora and Maleficent through beautiful 3D displays and interactive moments.

Top tip- One of the easiest ways to spot the difference between the two is by looking at the colour. The Cinderella Castle is white with blue and gold turrets, while the Sleeping Beauty Castle is pink with blue and gold turrets.


The Original Disney theme park

The Disneyland Park in California was the first ever Disney theme park to be built and the only one that was built under the supervision of Walt Disney himself. If you want to see where it all began, this is the place to go. The park first opened its gates on 17th July 1955, with the Disney California Adventure Park opening in 2001.




Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World


With the Walt Disney World Resort being much larger in size, there are lots more attractions to enjoy but it's good to know that both Walt Disney World and Disneyland California have a lot of the same attractions. For example, you can experience Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Toy Story Midway Mania and Soarin’ Around the World at both. Both parks also have lots of different attractions, including some that you will only find at that particular park.

A visit to both parks will give you the chance to experience the unique attractions- and there are plenty of them! Some of our favourite attractions that are unique to Walt Disney World are Test Track, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Mission Space and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Walt Disney World also has incredible lands inspired by Toy Story and Avatar!


Pandora- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World


At Disneyland California, you’ll find unique attractions like Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Incredicoaster, Radiator Springs Racers and the huge Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris wheel. Disneyland California also has a land themed on Cars, as well as the all-new Pixar Pier which has areas inspired by The Incredibles, Monsters Inc and Toy Story.


Incredicoaster at Disneyland California


The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror VS Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: BREAKOUT!

The Tower of Terror is not only one of the most popular Disney rides of all time, it’s also one of our favourites! Guests could experience this amazing ride at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland California, but in 2017 this iconic ride had an epic super hero-inspired makeover at the Disney California Adventure Park.


Guardians of the Galaxys Mission Breakout


The thrilling drop sequence that guests know and love remained the same, but the theming of the ride was changed completely to fit an all-new storyline featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. The new attraction sends riders plummeting through the darkness while hit songs from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies blast through the speakers. If you’ve visited either of the Disney resorts before and love this ride, you’ll definitely want to try it again to experience this incredible makeover.



One of the most magical parts of a visit to any Disney theme park, is getting the chance to meet your favourite characters. So, make sure you’ve got your camera at the ready at all times! You can expect to meet classic Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland California, but at the Disneyland Park, you’ll actually be able to step inside their homes.


Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland California


At Disneyland California you can meet super heroes like Captain America, Black Panther & Spider-Man, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Frozone and Edna Mode (from The Incredibles), Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater (from Cars) and Gamora, Groot and Star Lord from the Guardians of the Galaxy. You won’t find these characters at Walt Disney World, so if you’re visiting, make sure you snap a few selfies. You’ll also notice that a lot of the characters at Disneyland California are free-roaming, so you might see them when you least expect it.


Joy and Sadness at Epcot


If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, make the most of the chance to meet some characters that you’ll only find at the Disney parks in Florida. Look out for Rafiki, Russell and Dug (from UP) and Joy and Sadness (from Inside Out) to name a few. Keep a look out during your visit and see how many characters you can find.


Night-time shows


Happily Ever After at Walt Disney World


One of the best ways to end the day at a Disney theme park is by taking in one of the stunning night-time spectaculars. Whether it’s a dazzling firework show or an impressive light display, these evening performances will leave you with another magical memory from your trip. At Walt Disney World finish the day by watching the Happily Ever After firework extravaganza which takes place above the Cinderella Castle. The show features lasers, lights, projections, pyrotechnics and of course lots of familiar faces- you really do need to see it to believe it!


Disney California Adventure Park


At the Disney California Adventure Park, the World of Colour show is a must see! Watch in awe as classic moments from the most beloved Disney and Disney•Pixar films stream across a huge “water screen”. There’s music, fog, fire and more than 1000 fountains that shoot water up to 200-feet into the air, as the night is filled with bursts of colour. Trust us when we say you don’t want to miss it.


Walt’s apartment


Walt Disney's apartment at Disneyland California


When Walt Disney was working on the construction of the Disneyland Resort, he decided it was vital that he was right in the middle of the action. That’s why he had an apartment built at the park, where he could stay with his family and watch his vision come to life. You might not know, but the apartment is actually located above the Main Street Firehouse. This apartment is completely unique to the Disneyland Park and if you want to, you can actually go inside and explore. You’ll have to book a place on the "Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps" Guided Tour to do this, but if you’re a Disney super fan, it’s well worth it.


Water parks


Water parks at Walt Disney World


Florida is famous for its sunshine and when you’re feeling the heat, there’s nothing better than making a splash at one of the Disney water parks. There are two water parks at Walt Disney World, with plenty of exhilarating water slides that will put your bravery to the test. There are also lots of tamer attractions that families can enjoy together like the lazy rivers, which are perfect for relaxing!  

There aren’t currently any Disney water parks at Disneyland California, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of theme park fun to be had!



One of the great ways to ensure you never have to leave the magic during your holiday, is to stay on-site at a Disney hotel. The good news is, you can do this at both Disney resorts. At Disneyland California there are three fantastic hotels to choose from which are located just a short distance from the parks. Hotel guests get an extra hour in the parks each morning, plus access to the amazing hotel facilities like the huge Disney pools.


Disney's All Star Resorts


At Walt Disney World, there are more than 25 hotels to choose from with more affordable value options to luxury resorts. You’ll also get lots of benefits by staying on site, like more time in the parks with Extra Magic Hours, early access to FastPass+ planning and complimentary MagicBands to name just a few. The resort is much bigger than Disneyland California so your hotel may be located a bit further away from the parks, but don’t worry because Disney provide free transport to and from the parks as well as complimentary airport transfers. There are also lots of fun, themed rooms to choose from, swimming pools with water slides, amazing restaurants and much more. 


Already dreaming of your own Disney holiday? Check out our great value Walt Disney World tickets or Disneyland California tickets and start planning your dream holiday!

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