I think, as Disney Parks fans, it's a constant debate for us, and there's seriously a lot of factors at play here. I can tell you that, after visiting Disneyland for the second time, I feel a lot more equal in my evaluation on which is better, although there are certainly a few things that are absolutely one way or the other. Pirates of the Caribbean, for instance, is just plain better at Disneyland, but even with the extra addition of the Hatbox Ghost, Disney World's Magic Kingdom still has Disneyland's Haunted Mansion beat. So let's take a look at some of the similarities and differences and see if we can't quite pick a winner here:
Walt Disney World Pro:
The blessing of size. I talked a few blog posts ago about the actual size comparison between Walt Disney World and Disneyland. As I mentioned there, Disneyland Park is only made up of 160 acres, meaning it could almost fit into Epcot twice, and the entirety of the Disneyland Resort can just about fit into Animal Kingdom if you include the parking lot. Plus, the entirety of Walt Disney World is 25,000 acres, in which Disneyland could fit 50 times over. When Walt planned out Disney World, so much of it was based on the blessing of size, especially after the cramped quarters that make up Disneyland. It's definitely a downfall there, but...
...the one thing about Disneyland being small? It's all super close together and you can get from one place to another very quickly. Not Park Hopping at Disneyland would almost be a crime, as you can see so much more but utilizing hopping from park to park based on hours. Disney World is so spread out that it can be difficult and sometimes not even worth the extra time it takes to parkhop. Sometimes you can walk, but the distance from Epcot to Hollywood Studios is a lot more than the distance between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. It's all close together in California, and that gives it a whole difference sense. It's nice, and while you do walk more, it also seems less exhausting at the same time.
Walt Disney World Pro:
The Variety of attractions at Walt Disney World goes far beyond what you can find at Disneyland. Disneyland is very focused around movies, and that's a little bit different at Disney World. Spaceship Earth, for instance, isn't focused on a movie at all, as are many of the attractions at Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Instead, they're focused on other ideas, which leads to a variety of elements at Walt Disney World. You can easily go from a Roller Coaster to Playhouse Disney Live on Stage within a matter of minutes, and when you get sick of that you can head back to Epcot for fine dining in Japan.
However, as versitile as the attractions at Walt Disney World are, Disneyland almost always has them beat. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, it's a small world, Space Mountain and the Autopia are just a few examples of attractions that are better at Disneyland than their Walt Disney World counterparts. Many of the attractions, despite being crunched into a smaller amount of space, are longer or more elaborate than the versions back at Walt Disney World. There are a few exceptions, of course, such as The Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion, but for the most part, Disneyland wins here.
Walt Disney World Pro:
More dining! Disney World is absolutely filled with some of the greatest restaurants in the world, and you can basically spend a lifetime trying everything the resort has to offer. From Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to classics you can find at the 50's Prime Time Cafe, Disney World has it all. Disneyland, on the other hand, is more selective in their dining locations simply because they have to be. Space is at a premium there, and while you might just be able to uproot an unused area or building for a new restaurant at Walt Disney World, such possibilities don't exist out in California.
That being said, on the other hand, Disneyland offers signature foods unavaliable anywhere else in the world. Walt Disney World, of course, has a few such items as well, such as the Carrot Cake cookie or the Butterfinger Cupcake, both avaliable at Hollywood Studios, not to mention signature dishes served at restaurants throughout the various resorts (zebra domes anyone?). But at Disneyland you can find everything from a classic dole whip to Mickey Beignets, an alcohol free Mint Julip, a Matterhorn Macaron, and Chili Cone Queso. Oh yes, it seems that when it comes to fun snacks, Disneyland outwits Disney World, but back in Florida, the restaurants overpower all in California. It's really a win-win if you're able to visit both.
These are just a few of the comparisons we can make between the two Resorts, although there is one that Disneyland regulars really like to pull out on Walt Disney World: the fact that it's only at Disneyland that you can walk in the footsteps of Walt himself. Sadly, Walt was never able to visit his dream park of Walt Disney World, and he never got to see EPCOT in completion, but I live on comfortable knowing that the parks I call home were his dying wish.
In the end, Disneyland and Walt Disney World really should never be compared as one better than the other though, mostly because they're both amazing. Plus, when it really comes down to it, there's one key factor that makes the biggest impact in which we see as better: which of them is our "home" resort. I've grown up at Walt Disney World. Many of my favorite childhood memories occur in the parks there, and I still look forward to each visit like some people look forward to returning home from college. In that sense, Walt Disney World will always be home to me, and therefore, I'm always going to lean towards it as the "better choice." I know every little detail, I could walk the parks blindfolded, I know the words to pretty much every song, and can narrate Spaceship Earth right along with Judy. For some people, the same can be said of Disneyland, as maybe they know every word to Mickey and the Magical Map, or have visited the exclusive Club 33. It's all about what we love and where we've been, but in the end both resorts are spectacular, and both will continue to live on for a long, long time.
Which do you think is better? Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Why? Let me know in the comments below!
Have a magical day!
(Note: This blog post was written on September 17 due to a tight schedule).