Differences between the Magic of Disneyland and Walt Disney World: Part I (Guest Post - Alyssa Bode)

Hello all again! Let me do a little introduction of myself quickly. My name is Alyssa and I am Stacy’s best friend of 17 years and an AVID Disney lover. No matter what shape, size or flavour, I love anything Disney. I have been lucky enough to have been going to either the Land or the World since I was 5 years old. Disney is in my veins.

If you look hard enough, you can see that Disney blood shining through!
Today I am going to be talking about the difference between Disneyland and DisneyWorld. Hold onto your mouse ears (or your hats and glasses). There’s more than you would think in the Wild Wilderness!

Many people think, “Hey, it’s a Disney theme park... they’re all the same”. Well let me tell you, that is WRONG! From being on the other side of the country, the ticket prices, the size of the parks, the different foods offered, the rides, accommodations and to the overall history of the park itself, nothing could be further from the truth!

Let’s all get this established. Disneyland is in Anaheim, California. DisneyWorld is in Orlando, Florida! Many people confuse this, so let’s set the record straight!


Well now folks, let’s start at the very beginning, (which we all know is a very good place to start). Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955. Who would have guessed that opening day of this 160 acre Wonderland would be referred to as “Black Sunday”? Women’s heels were melting into the concrete. There was also a plumbers’ strike on. Between having bathrooms or working water fountains, Walt decided on bathrooms (obviously). Finding a working water fountain was far and in between. The very few restaurants that were open ran out of food and drinks within hours! Could you imagine any Disney theme park now-a-days having a disastrous opening day like that? But through that rough day, all the kinks got worked out, ALL the rides finally opened, and Walt delivered his now famous opening day speech:

Since there are only two parks in the Land - Magic Kingdom and California Adventures - there are some obvious differences right there. In comparison, Disney World is 160 times BIGGER than Disneyland. It is actually roughly the size of San Francisco! That’s a huge difference! Disney World is also on its own private property. When you’re driving down the street in Anaheim and you turn your head down a public street, BAM! There’s Disneyland in all the hustle and bustle.

Park Tickets

With that noticeable difference in size, admission to both parks are also different. Disneyland has semi-cheaper admission. For 2 adults for a 5-day visit to the Land with the park hopper option added (which trust me, you need), is $740.00 US. Compare that to the $940.00 for the same amount of days in Disney World and you can see why some families may choose the original. Now I know most people will say, “But Alyssa! That’s still a lot of money!” Yes I completely understand that. BUT the other great thing about the Land is where you can stay. Disneyland is a smaller park, so there are only three Disney-themed hotels. They are all pricey. I personally don’t recommend staying on site, and this would be the only time I 100% recommend staying off-property. Remember me saying Disneyland was on a busy road? Ya wanna know what’s on that road? Hotels and motels for every budget and size of party you are travelling with. Plus, it’s totally walk-able to the front gates. The neighbourhood is very safe. But you can also get an ART pass - think bus pass, but only going to the happiest place on the planet. The price depends on how far your hotel is from the front gate. For further information on budgeting for the magic, click here.

Different Rides

Toontown fair, Mr Toad’s Wild Adventure, Guardians Break Out, Storybook Land Canal, Indiana Jones Adventure and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. These are just some of the different rides and attractions that are specific to Disneyland. The one huge difference I see between the rides in California and Florida is that this Disney Resort was Walt’s baby. His big dream. His hands personally touched these rides.

Did you know in the beginning, Pirates of the Caribbean was going to be a walk-through tour and not a ride? When word got around that they were changing The Tower of Terror to a Guardians of the Galaxy theme, people were outraged! I was in complete agreement with them. How dare they change a classic?! But then I actually went on it. When the line to get onto the ride is down the road and around the corner, you know something has to be good. The attention to detail is ridiculous, the storyline is great, the music is rockin’, and the most important part... the drop is just as good, if not better than before. So don’t knock it until you try it.

Looking at Disney World, some differences in ride offerings are apparent as well. For instance, Frozen Ever After in the Norway pavilion, Test Track, and Rockin' Roller Coaster cannot be had in California! This is along with Stacy’s favourite Animal Kingdom Ride - DINOSAUR (although the Indiana Jones Ride does operate on the same track sequence)!

Downtown Disney

With all the hype going on around Disney Springs in Florida, Downtown Disney in California can sometimes get overlooked. Downtown Disney is smack dab right in between both parks. You leave Downtown Disney and look to the right - there’s the front gate to the Magic Kingdom. Look to your left - there’s the front gate to California Adventures. You can sit outside, enjoy a late dinner and hear and see the fireworks from either park. Downtown Disney is just classic Disney. You need that last-minute gift for someone you forgot? Or you MUST have that stuffed animal, shirt, jewelry or set of ears you thought you didn’t need? Well that all is conveniently in Downtown Disney and you don’t need a valid park ticket to get in. Go listen, see and eat what Downtown Disney has to offer!

Disney Food

Disney food. Great food. Essential food. People would think, “It’s a theme park, with gross theme park food.” WRONG! Disney food is famous around the world. You think a churro tastes the same outside of a Disney park? WRONG! A churro at any Disney theme park is way better.

Or an ice cream bar. Anything Disney, really.
I would like to add that there is *currently* no alcohol served in the Magic Kingdom. Walt really didn’t like the idea of it being served in his park. There have been articles out there saying that this will change soon. But as of right now, the Magic Kingdom is a dry park. If you are looking for an adult beverage (or two!), alcohol is served in California Adventures, Downtown Disney and the three Disney themed hotels.

 There are a few items that are different and exclusive to Disneyland. In the New Orleans section of the Magic Kingdom, there is some truly magical food! There are two particular restaurants, Cafe Orleans and my personal favourite, the Blue Bayou, that you need to check out. Cafe Orleans offers some delicious snacks and drinks. The mint juleps (alcohol free,) the pommes frites and the monte cristo are just a few of the delicacies you can nom on there.

Growing up, when I would go on Pirates and I would see people eating in a restaurant I could see from the ride, I thought these people were fake or characters. Nope. Real people, and actual restaurant. Since the inside of the ride is supposed to resemble night-time, the same goes for the Blue Bayou. Getting a reservation is difficult to do for obvious reasons. The food is DELICIOUS. Fitting into the New Orleans theme, this restaurant has got it all. The gumbo is slammin'. But the real reason I love this restaurant? The atmosphere. Hearing fellow guests on Pirates of the Caribbean, seeing the attention to detail, and the smell of the water from the ride all play into the magic. Weird I know, but ask any fellow Disney nerd and they’ll know what I’m talking about. (Another honourable mention for a restaurant is the Bengal BBQ.)

A restaurant I wish I could eat at- heck, even just to go into the front entrance and look around - is Club 33. But I don’t have between $25,000 to $50,000 dollars for initiation fees or annual dues of $30,000. I unfortunately do not have that kind of pocket change (USD I may add). This restaurant is ultra-exclusive. The waiting list to even be considered for membership is up to 10 years.

There are no bright lights or signs pointing to where it is in the Magic Kingdom. The below picture is the door. It is tucked in and it honestly looks like nothing special. You can’t just walk in. You have to ring the doorbell, be a member, and have a reservation to go in. These memberships also have many perks. If something big is happening within the Magic Kingdom or California Adventures, members will get first dibs. The food (from pictures I have seen,) is what you would expect from an ultra-exclusive and expensive restaurant. The one benefit or Disney magic that can come out of this? If you have a friend or family members who are one of the lucky few to be a member and they happen to invite you to come eat there... Well guess what? You get to go! The pictures are spectacular. Look them up online - it’s pretty awesome.

That's an expensive door right there!

That's all for today! Stay tuned for Part II!

Do you have a preference for Disneyland or Disney World? Comment, subscribe and/or follow Stacy  and Alyssa on Instagram :)