Disneyland vs Disney World - Which is Better?

We just returned from a trip to Disneyland (Disneyland Resort in California or "DLR"), having previously visited Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida twice (Christmas 2013 & 2014). We had a great time in California, but of course we're Disney people so no surprise there. Now that we've seen both parks, everyone who knows us asks "which one is better?", a question which as an optometrist I am well versed. So I'll do to you the same thing my patients all do to me when I ask them "which is better 1 or 2?" - I'll answer "let me see them both again"! Here's a short list of some of the differences: WDW is bigger. Way bigger. More parks, more things to do and see, etc. But DLR has a "classic" look and feel that I didn't think WDW matched. DLR has some better rides: Pirates of the Carribean is considerably longer and better in DLR, and there's no Matterhorn in WDW, which both of my children said was their all time favorite Disney ride. DLR Indiana Jones just absolutely kills its WDW counterpart "Dinosaur", it's not even close. Space Mountain is longer and better in DLR, and we got to do the Star Wars themed "Hyperspace Mountain", which is absolutely awesome and not yet available in WDW. Our son loved California Screamin', which is only in DLR. All of us loved Radiator Springs Racers, which is significantly better than it's WDW counterpart "Test Track". But WDW has it's share of unique and better rides as well: There is no Rockin' Roller Coaster in DLR, and all of us were THOROUGHLY disappointed in the DLR version of Tower of Terror. DLR Tower of Terror sucks. It's about half as long as the WDW version, there's very little story to it and it doesn't do anything but go up and down - no "track" at all. I will likely never ride that one again at DLR. The WDW version of Tower is exponentially better. Two of my personal favorite rides of all time are Spaceship Earth and The Great Movie Ride, neither of which have DLR counterparts, and all of us missed riding the WDW People Mover through Space Mountain. There are quite a few rides that are identical or virtually so between the parks: Peter Pan's Flight, Soarin', Star Tours, Astro Blasters, etc // The people at DLR are generally ruder haha...I feel like a bunch of the California locals and season pass holders kind of act like they own the place. Didn't get that feel at all from WDW, where everyone was generally friendlier. Also apparently the DLR annual pass holders get all kinds of discounts and special prizes and stuff, because at every checkout we were asked if we were pass holders and we got the sad face "oh, sorry wah wah waaaah" response when we said no. We love the FastPass Plus system at WDW and DLR has no real counterpart. The DLR Fastpass system works totally differently and is confusing to an outsider/newbie. It took us a whole day to really figure out and master it. We ended up making great use of it and it works okay but being "planners" we much preferred being able to make our fastpass selections weeks/months in advance and not have to hurry into the park to wait in a fastpass line to draw a fastpass that we couldn't choose the time for, hoping it didn't conflict with some dinner or show reservation we already made. The "rope drop" ceremony at DLR is a total downer - nothing at all like the grand show of the WDW rope drop. It was, however, very handy to walk to the DLR park from our hotel down the street in Anaheim - in Florida you must ride a bus or monorail to pretty much every park from nearly every resort. It was also handy to have a CVS closeby in Anaheim...when our daughter jammed her thumb on our 1st WDW trip I had to literally fabricate a makeshift splint from popsicle sticks in the Pop Century gift shop because the nearest pharmacy was like 25 blocks away and we had no car! // So which is better? Well, they're different. They're both great. We will likely go to both again! But if I *HAD* to choose...I guess we'd probably do Orlando's WDW over DLR in Anaheim if we could only do one. It's very close but the Fastpass Plus system, the more friendly atmosphere and the sheer volume of attractions/rides edges WDW ahead of DLR by just a little. It is really very close, tho! Have you been to DLR or WDW? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!


  1. I used to work for Disney, and you did a fair job of the pros and cons for each park. Walt learned a big lesson about land planning when he built DLR, and it translated into the behemoth that WDW is today :) In all, I like both, but if you are under time constraints, DLR is better. If you have a whole week, I recommend WDW.

  2. someone on twitter said: "the stroller people are more aggressive at DLR", which they totally are. we have BRUISES from people running over our feet and into our shins with strollers. it's insane and much worse than WDW! my wife said she's pay DOUBLE for a "no stroller day"!

  3. update: had a week off in Oct and chose to go back to...............WDW in Orlando. Sorry, DLR!


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