Okay, so you thought that the toilet paper over vs under debate was contentious? Try talking to Disney fans about the merits of Disneyland in California vs Disney World in Florida. Anyone who wants to say that one is better than the other had better be prepared to take some flak from people who take personal issue with any criticism for their favourite park. So, let me say right from the start: I love both. I’ve been to Disneyland twice with my family, plus two visits as a child, and Disney World once and I’d happily go back to either one. But there are differences. Everyone will find things they like better about one park or the other, but these are my personal opinions about how the parks compare in several different areas.
Florida is not a fun place in the summer. Not only are the temperatures sky high, but the humidity will make you miserable. Winter can be nice, but temperatures in Orlando can occasionally drop quite low. Spring is usually nice, but fall brings hurricane season. Southern California can also get uncomfortably warm in summer, but high humidity is rare. It does experience the occasional cold snap in winter, but good weather is the norm all year round. And of course, no hurricanes.
Disney World has four theme parks; Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom and two water parks as well as multiple shopping and entertainment areas. Disneyland has two parks; Disneyland and California Adventure. Now any Disneyland fan will be able to tell you that California has approximately the same number of rides in two parks as Orlando has in it’s four parks. But when you add all the shows in Orlando as well as the water parks and the variety of the Animal Kingdom and the World Showcase at Epcot, I have to say that Disney World gives more bang for the buck in the attraction department.
Disney World Orlando is huge. The parks and resorts are linked by miles and miles of roads,rails and canals and are crisscrossed by busses, boats and monorails. There are two options for getting around; having your own vehicle or relying on free Disney transportation. While it is clean, reliable and convenient, there is no denying that every minute you spend on the road getting around is a minute not spent in the parks. Park hopping, or getting from one hotel to the other, can take up a significant portion of anyone’s trip. In comparison, Disneyland is miniscule. Park hopping involves walking two minutes across a plaza. Both the resort hotels and multiple nearby hotels are within a 15 minute walk of the front gates. One hotel even has an entrance directly into one of the parks.
Both resorts have a variety of counter service and sit down dining options. Disneyland has some nice restaurants, but nowhere near the variety of Disney World. Epcot especially stands out with the variety in the World Showcase. The deluxe resorts also have many beautiful restaurants and you could stay for weeks and still not try every place. Disneyland offers 5 different character meal options; Disney World has 12.
And the winner is: it depends on the trip.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages of both. So for me, I would chose Disneyland California for a trip of up to 3 or 4 days because of it’s more compact layout and ease of transportation. If I was going for longer than 5 days or so, I would chose Disney World in Florida for it’s greater variety of attractions and dining options. Unless it was July or August. I hate humidity, so California weather would win every time. Of course, if you offered me a free trip to either place for any length of time, I’d be there in a second!