When it comes to enchanting adventures and unforgettable moments, few places on Earth compare to Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. For decades, the two destinations have gained worldwide acclaim and drawn in guests from all over the globe.
With plenty of fun-filled moments ahead, you might be wondering: What’s the difference between the two destinations? Let’s explore what makes each resort unique so you can get the most out of your Disney vacation.
While it all started at Disneyland Resort in California where today guests can walk between its two theme parks, entertainment district and resorts, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida spans over 43 square miles of fun that’s connected by internal transportation systems.
Walt Disney World Resort
Located in the heart of Florida, this sprawling resort could keep you busy for weeks with four theme parks, two water parks, a wide array of hotel options, a vast shopping, dining and entertainment district – all accessible by bus, boat, monorail or skyliner to reach this one-of-a-kind lineup of attractions and experiences.
Whether you’re dreaming of meeting your favorite Disney characters, experiencing thrilling attractions, or savoring cuisine from around the globe, Walt Disney World Resort — with help from its dedicated cast members and the Imagineers who develop its innovative experiences — promises a captivating journey through the realm of Disney.
Walt Disney World Resort is home to four theme parks, each with its own charming style and delightful themes.
- Magic Kingdom Park: Magic Kingdom is packed with the potential for unforgettable Disney moments. From fireworks at Cinderella Castle to character meet-and-greets and thrilling roller coasters, Magic Kingdom specializes in making dreams come true at themed lands like Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
- EPCOT: EPCOT offers a blend of technological innovation, exhilarating rides and experiences representing countries from around the world, inviting guests to discover all the magic of human possibility, from the bottom of the ocean to outer space.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Disney’s Hollywood Studios lets guests step into their favorite stories to live their own adventures! First, stroll through old Hollywood and explore the glitz and glamor of show business before diving into popular themed areas such as Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, giving guests an opportunity to interact with some of their favorite Disney characters.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to hundreds of species of animals, in addition to a variety of rides and experiences. This park offers a unique Disney experience where guests can connect with the natural world and learn about the importance of conservation, reflecting Disney’s commitment to supporting wildlife in Florida and around the world.
Attractions & Experiences
Walt Disney World Resort features more than 150 attractions across its four theme parks, providing endless hours of fun and entertainment for guests who make the trip. From timeless attractions like Haunted Mansion to cutting-edge and captivating thrill rides, Walt Disney World Resort offers experiences the whole family can enjoy.
A few of Walt Disney World’s popular attractions include:
- TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by Entreprise: This exhilarating attraction at Magic Kingdom features a high-speed, outdoor roller coaster where riders board futuristic lightcycles and race through a neon digital world, inspired by Disney’s “Tron” films. The ride is known for its modern technology and unique design, transporting guests to a computerized adventure.
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance: Located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance brings the drama of the Jedi to life by combining advanced ride technology, incredible storytelling and special effects that create an immersive journey through a galaxy far, far away.
- Avatar Flight of Passage: Disney’s dedication to innovation and creativity is on full display at Avatar Flight of Passage. Using 3D technology, this attraction invites guests to climb aboard one of Pandora’s winged banshees for a breathtaking aerial tour of the alien planet’s stunning landscape.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind: This reverse-launch roller coaster takes guests on an outer space adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. With a blend of scenery, Audio-Animatronics and state-of-the-art engineering, EPCOT’s Cosmic Rewind offers an out-of-this-world experience that transports riders into the heart of the Marvel Universe.
Guests have no shortage of options when it comes to finding accommodations at Walt Disney World, with more than 25 resort hotels to choose from.
At a Disney Resort hotel, guests can be immersed in the magic while enjoying the same amazing details, storytelling and service known from the theme parks. Plus, guests receive special perks, such as more time in the theme parks, complimentary transportation and more.
Food and drink
From tasty snacks to world-class dining, Walt Disney World Resort invites guests to a wide range of food and drink options, serving up satisfying meals for every appetite.
Possibilities abound, with options throughout the resort including the following and many more:
- Be Our Guest: This Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant offers a unique dining experience set in the Beast’s castle in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. The eatery features French-inspired cuisine for both lunch and dinner.
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria: After a long day in the park, nothing hits the spot like a delicious slice of pizza. At Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, located in EPCOT, diners are treated to wood-fired pies, authentic Italian ingredients and a wide selection of pastas and fresh salads.
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo: Here, guests munch on distinctive dishes influenced by cuisines all across the galaxy. The eatery, located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is housed within a working hangar bay inspired by Black Spire Outpost.
- Satu’li Canteen: At this fast-casual eatery in Pandora — The World of Avatar, health-conscious options with international inspiration are the name of the game.
- Steakhouse 71: This contemporary steakhouse offers a classic American menu with a modern twist. The restaurant provides a relaxed ambiance and a plentiful selection of steaks, seafood, and other dishes, providing a memorable dining experience for guests.
To support a stress-free guest experience, most of Walt Disney World eateries can accommodate food allergies and other dietary restrictions.
On the other side of the country, in sunny Southern California, is Walt Disney’s original theme park. Disneyland Resort first opened in 1955, kicking off Disney’s tradition of creating magical lands for all to enjoy.
Disneyland Resort upholds a tradition of ceaseless innovation. Similar to Walt Disney World, Imagineers and cast members continue to harness their creativity and world-class guest service to create magical moments.
Located in Anaheim, California, Disneyland Resort features two distinct theme parks:
- Disneyland Park: Opened by Walt Disney himself, Disneyland park is an enchanted theme park that brings fairy tales to life through innovation and creativity. Themed areas like Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland allow guests to step into their favorite Disney stories with character encounters and exciting attractions.
- Disney California Adventure Park: Also located at Disneyland Resort is Disney California Adventure park. This park celebrates the uniqueness and diversity of California’s history with themed lands that capture the essence of various settings throughout the state. Its themed areas, inspired by tales and epic adventures from Pixar and Super Heroes, take guests on a journey with every step.
Attractions & Experiences
So how many attractions are at Disneyland Resort? Like Disney World, the resort’s two theme parks offer dozens of attractions and experiences. Whether you’re looking for a high-stakes thrill ride or a leisurely escape into a world of imagination, these attractions allow any guest to experience Disney magic.
A few favorites include:
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure: Team up with the amazing Spider-Man on a high stakes mission to stop an army of Spider-Bots. This interactive attraction uses gesture-based technology and allows guests to sling webs themselves and save the day.
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: Located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run allows guests to step inside the legendary spacecraft and be a part of its crew. Guests can take on the roles of pilot, gunner or engineer to complete a daring mission through immersive gameplay and special effects.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: This laid back train ride quickly turns into a whimsical adventure through a cartoon world inspired by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. An ideal attraction for children and families, the Runaway Railway experience is filled with beloved Disney characters and captivating storylines that everyone can enjoy together.
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Venture into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in this attraction inspired by the Indiana Jones franchise. Guests embark on a quest to discover the secret treasure of Mara, facing collapsing bridges, giant insects and rivers of lava along the way.
- Radiator Springs Racers: Capturing the magic of the Disney and Pixar classic “Cars,” this attraction takes guests on a tour of Radiator Springs, where they’ll meet up with fan favorites Lightning McQueen and Mater. The innovative ride system allows for either a leisurely drive or a fast-paced racing competition, making it an ideal attraction for guests of all ages.
Altogether, there are three Hotels of the Disneyland Resort, each with its own theming, services and amenities:
- Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: This resort features a rustic arts-and-crafts-style theme, blending seamlessly into the nearby Disney California Adventure park. In addition to being a relaxing place to spend the night, this hotel offers fine dining, themed pools and easy access to the theme parks. The hotel is also home to the full-service Tenaya Stone Spa, where guests can recharge in between their adventures.
- Disneyland Hotel: For guests looking to celebrate the spirit of Disneyland past and present, Disneyland Hotel features four towers — Adventure, Fantasy and Frontier — inspired by the resort’s three original lands. Guests who prefer the comforts of home can now stay in a villa within the new Discovery tower. Steps away from the Downtown Disney District, the Disneyland Hotel puts guests at the heart of the resort, with excellent dining and recreation options waiting for them after a long day at the park.
- Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel features amenities like a rooftop pool and waterslide, beach-inspired dining experiences and charming Disney touches. This property will officially transform into Pixar Place Hotel on Jan. 30, 2024, becoming the first fully Pixar-themed hotel in the United States.
Food and drink
Disneyland Resort is known for its world-famous rides and luxurious accommodations, but there’s no shortage of delicious food and drink, either.
Select picks include:
- Blue Bayou Restaurant: Set inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, diners can enjoy the ambiance of a Louisiana bayou, complete with fireflies and the gentle sound of crickets, creating an atmospheric and memorable dining experience.
- Carthay Circle Restaurant: Located in Disney California Adventure, this restaurant reflects the themes of the surrounding park. A menu showcasing upscale California cuisine provides an excellent dining experience with the perfect blend of Disney storytelling.
- San Fransokyo Square dining: San Fransokyo Square offers diverse dining options, encompassing the fusion of Japanese and American cultures. From bustling food carts serving delicious street food to upscale sushi restaurants, guests can try a variety of flavors. Ramen shops and trendy cafes add to the culinary scene, creating a vibrant atmosphere for those exploring this unique and culturally rich dining destination.
As with Disney World, eateries at Disneyland Resort can readily accommodate many dietary restrictions with allergen-friendly, plant-based, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Adventure awaits at Disney’s resorts
Whether you find yourself strolling down Main Street, U.S.A., under the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Castle or wandering through the alluring lands of Magic Kingdom, both Disneyland and Disney World hold unforgettable experiences in store.
No matter which resort you choose for your vacation, both offer the opportunity to make cherished memories and bask in the magic of Disney for the entirety of your stay.