14 Reasons We Think Disneyland Is Actually Way Better Than Disney World

Uncover the 14 hidden treasures that make Disneyland the ultimate Disney destination.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Family gazing princess castle Disneyland

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When deciding where to take that bucket list Disney trip, you might be inclined to pick Disneyland over Disney World. They can’t be that different, right? Isn’t it all Mickey, Minnie, and Pirates of the Caribbean?

Not exactly. These two parks are surprisingly different. Disneyland could be the better choice for you and your family, depending on what you're looking for in a Disney vacation. 

From its sunny California setting to its status as the original, here are 16 reasons to start booking flights to Anaheim instead of Orlando if you want to step up your travel game.

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Disneyland is the original

Konstantin Yolshin/Adobe Walt Disney statue

While Orlando might be the first theme park that comes to mind when you think of Disney, here’s a spoiler: Disneyland is actually the original, opening on July 17, 1955. 

Disney World opened nearly two decades later, in 1971. At Disneyland, you genuinely get a feel for Walt Disney's vision.

Disneyland is smaller

Acento Creativo/Adobe Mickey Mouse

It’s not unusual to hear of families going to Disney World for five days or even a week. That’s how long it can take to cover the whole park. 

On the other hand, Disneyland is a much smaller park you can visit on a day or a weekend. How much smaller is it? Disneyland is only 500 acres, compared to over 30,000 at Disney World.

Anaheim has better weather

Syda Productions/Adobe smiling friends traveling by tour bus

Have you been to Florida in the summer? The heat and humidity make it nearly unbearable for several months out of the year. Then, in the fall, there’s hurricane season. While Florida has some gorgeous days, California is a better bet for consistently mild, sunny days.

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Fan favorites are better at Disneyland

russell102/Adobe mickey mouse character at disney kingdom

Those who’ve visited both parks agree that Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain are hands-down better than Disney World’s. 

Of course, that’s a personal opinion, but Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean is longer and has two drops, while Space Mountain has larger seats that are two across.

There are several of the same rides

AmeriCantaro/Adobe It`s a Small World Holiday in the Disneyland Resort

You can experience many of the same rides at Disneyland and Disney World but without the intimidation factor of the giant park. 

From Space Mountain to It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Wars, Disneyland offers the same rides as the larger Disney World.

You can pair your visit with Disney California Adventure

Courtesy of Disney Disney's California Adventure

Disney California Adventure adds multiple rides and attractions as the next-door neighbor to Disneyland. You’ll find the Incredicoaster, a replica seafront pier, and Avengers attractions.

If you visit during the holidays, you’ll enjoy a Mexican-themed holiday celebration that includes appearances by Encanto characters. Plus, because the parks are smaller, it’s easier to get between them than at Disney World.

Matterhorn Mountain

MVProductions/Adobe happy female friends riding roller coaster

Disneyland has several rides that Disney World doesn’t, including Matterhorn Mountain and the Matterhorn Bobsleds, built in 1959 as the first steel roller coaster. Other Disneyland-exclusive rides include Indiana Jones Adventure and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Disneyland actually has more rides

AmeriCantaro/Adobe dumbo elephant flying ride at disneyland

People visit Disney parks for many reasons, including shows, attractions, and more. But if you're there just to hit ride after ride, you might want to consider a trip to Disneyland. Despite its significantly smaller size, it boasts a few more rides than Disney World.

You can visit Cars Land

russell102/Adobe disney`s art of animation resort

Step into another world at Cars Land at Disney Adventure Park. This is more than a lively ride; it’s an entire experience. You drive (or walk) right into the town of Radiator Springs, where there’s shopping, dining, and more.

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Celebrity sightings are the norm

russell102/Adobe Winnie the Pooh character in Disney Magic Kingdom

It’s no surprise celebrities love all things Disney, and they're aplenty in California. That means you’re as likely to have a celebrity sighting while enjoying Disneyland as you are to run into Donald Duck — though both are celebrities, right?

Your ticket is cheaper

insta_photos/Adobe young indian man winner feeling joy using smartphone winning lottery game

While you’ll pay California prices for your hotel room- which means that, yes, your lodging will be more expensive at Disneyland than at Disney World- your actual ticket will generally be less expensive. 

Your food will also be nearly 10% cheaper at Disneyland than at Disney World.

The World of Color show

tanjaistudio/Adobe fountain dancing show with reflection

The World of Color show is one of Disneyland's most beloved attractions, featuring music and scenes from Pixar films. 

Jets of water dance across the sky, shooting straight into the darkness. Brilliant colors dazzle onlookers and bring a bit of Disney magic even to those dragged along by Disney fanatics.

Downtown Disney is walkable

Monkey Business/Adobe A family vacation

If you’ve ever tried to take a break from Disney World by going to Disney Springs, you know it’s a commute. You have to drive or get on a bus. But at Disneyland, Downtown Disney is walkable and convenient. 

Whenever you tire of rides or need downtime, you have shopping and dining right there.

The Avengers Campus is a fan favorite

Michael Mulkens/Adobe avengers campus at disneyland paris

From Guardians of the Galaxy to Spider-Man, Disneyland fans love meeting all the Marvel characters on the Avengers Campus. There are live attractions, rides, and superheroes walking around the campus at every turn. It’s an immersive experience.

Bottom line

MARCELO/Adobe building in the disney park in paris

If you’re deciding exclusively on cost when choosing between Disneyland and Disney World, your best bet is probably to grab your best travel credit card and go to the one closer to home or wherever you can find a cheaper flight.

But, if you’re more concerned with your experience and are not ready to dedicate an entire week to Disney, then the smaller, more approachable Disneyland is the way to go.

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Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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