Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Orange loop. Today we compare Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort.
When it comes to Disney, the age old question is almost always “Which is better? Walt Disney World or Disneyland?” In this post for the Magical Blogorail Orange Loop, I’m going to look at the parks as a whole and try to help determine which is better. Let’s see where this journey takes us, and see if we can get a consensus result!
Five Key Areas
For this post, we’re going to look at five key areas at both resorts and grade them as to which resort takes the cake on each of them. Those five areas are Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain attractions, as well as a look at the intangibles that are unique at each park.
Pirates of the Caribbean
In my opinion, when it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean, hands down, the best place to ride it is at Disneyland. For starters, it is longer by a full 7 minutes — almost doubling the length of the ride at Walt Disney World. Additionally, it has two drops instead of just one. It also starts out with a meandering path right past diners at the Blue Bayou, and it is as if you are in the bayou of Louisiana, almost as if you are immersed directly in the movie the Princess and the Frog. However, there are some things about the Walt Disney World version that I like better. For starters, the queue for the one at Walt Disney World is much better in my opinion. Additionally, Pirates at Walt Disney World opened up on December 15, 1973, seven years to the day that Walt Disney passed away. For me, that is a tribute in Walt’s honor. However, all of those things doesn’t sway my choice, and for this attraction, Disneyland has the better attraction.
Space Mountain at Disneyland has rockets that are two seats wide, whereas the one at Walt Disney World is single file seating. Sophie has finally gotten to where she likes Space Mountain — it took her a while to get to that point — and I think it was partly because of the side by side seating at Disneyland. For that reason alone, I think the Disneyland version is better, but it’s really a toss-up for me more than anything.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
When we last visited Disneyland, two years ago, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed for refurbishment, so by default, right now, at least, the version at Walt Disney World wins the vote for me. I do reserve the right to change that as I experience the ride at Disneyland, but right now, Walt Disney World wins this challenge.
At Disneyland, Splash Mountain incorporates single file seating, and at Walt Disney World, it features side by side seating. That’s completely opposite of Space Mountain. Sophie’s first experience at Splash Mountain was at Walt Disney World, and as a result, I think that wins my vote for which is better.
The intangibles at each park are striking. At Disneyland, you’ve got the whole history factor to consider. It was Walt’s park, he built it, he walked those paths, he slept there. At Walt Disney World, that isn’t the case, but Walt Disney World has the economy of space that gives it a distinct advantage. They have so much space that you truly feel like you have entered an entirely different world when you get there, and that isn’t the case at Disneyland. Additionally, at Walt Disney World you have four parks and two water parks, whereas at Disneyland Resort you have two parks. Those two parks do a great job of putting in the best things from Walt Disney World, but they don’t have the space to put them all in, so you end up missing some things, like Carousel of Progress, the TTA, and others. I could go on and on, but at the end, the simple fact is that you can’t choose one over the other because of the intangibles simply because each experience offers unique things that the other doesn’t.
Because of all of this, the answer to the question “Which is better, Disneyland or Walt Disney World?” comes up with a resounding “It depends” answer. Most likely, if you have the time and opportunity, you are going to go to Walt Disney World because that is a destination vacation. If you are going to Disneyland, chances are that you are going to Disneyland as part of a further Southern California vacation, and not just to go to Disneyland itself unless it’s for a short trip. Because of all of that, I think you can’t really put one in front of the other, but what do you think? Please let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Walt Disney World vs Disneyland Loop:
- 1st Stop – DISTherapy | runDisney
- 2nd Stop – Frontierland Station | The Castles
- 3rd Stop – My Dreams of Disney | Which is Better?
- 4th Stop – Magical Memories with the Mouse | Differences in Planning
- 5th Stop – Trips with Tykes | Shared Attractions – Who Does It Better?
For the reason you shared about Walt Disney World feeling like you truly enter into another world I prefer WDW to Disneyland. However in fairness the time I visited Disneyland I went while my husband was at a work conference and took my 18 month old son so I was unable to experience some of the great experiences it has to offer.
Thanks Cara for your comments. I am flying back home today and one thing I would amend would be that if you have the opportunity to go back for the 60th birthday celebration I highly recommend it!
Love the article! I agree. When people ask me which I like better, I do tell them, “It depends.” I love that I can walk from park to park at Disneyland and love that Walt Disney World has so much more to offer. I also agree on your attraction picks.
Thank you Kim for your comments! I’m glad that you enjoyed our posts!
I think overall I prefer Walt Disney World but there is one thing about Disneyland I can’t get past there. Walt walked there and participated there. That’s something pretty special
Absolutely right, Casey! Thanks for commenting!
I’m almost positive that I will always prefer WDW simply because it feels like “home” to me. However, that being said, I really, really want to visit Disneyland at least once, just to see!
Is Jack Sparrow part of the Disneyland Pirates attraction?
Hey Heidi! You need to visit Disneyland at least once, and if you can make it work during your California trip this year, do so. It is absolutely incredible the things they have done for #Disneyland60. Also, yes, Jack Sparrow is part of the Pirates attraction at Disneyland, but isn’t quite as involved as #WDW. Thanks!
Leslie H (tripswithtykes)
Love your perspective on the various rides. As for the intangible, the history factor you mention at Disneyland does it for me. (I’m a history geek though!)
Thanks Leslie! I really like the history angle as well, and it’s great. Thanks for the comment!
Frontierland Station (@FrontierlandSta)
I would love to ride Disneyland’s Space Mountain someday. The rockets at WDW are very small; I think the 2-seater rockets at Disneyland would be much more comfortable. Plus you don’t have to ride by yourself!
I think you would enjoy it, Kimberly! It’s a fun ride, as many of them are at Disneyland. Thanks for commenting!
Your point that WDW is a total destination while DL is a short visit option is right on. So which is best depends on what vacation you have time for.
Absolutely true, Lee, that’s the biggest factor in determining which location to visit in my opinion. Thanks for commenting!
Fresh from your Disneyland 60 adventure, I couldn’t wait to read this post Mike. This “contest” certainly is a daunting one- thank goodness there are only winners! I think we now need to travel to EVERY Disney Park around the world for a fully fair comparison. Game?!
I’m up for it Didi!
Great article, Mike. Walt Disney World has been my “second home” for so long that it will always be my favorite but you are spot on about the ride differences and I LOVE being where Walt actually walked as I would follow his footsteps anywhere.
Thanks, Brenda, for the comment! I know you gladly go to both parks whenever given the opportunity! :)
I agree with you that I have soft spots for both versions of an attraction. As much as I love the extra time in Pirate at Disneyland I really do like the queue at Disney World.
Thanks for commenting, Mary! I think you and I are on the same page with Pirates of the Caribbean!
Mike, sorry for taking so long to get to this! So here’s my two cents. Three out of four attractions listed below I prefer Disneyland over WDW. Definitely Pirates. Definitely Space and Big Thunder. I also can’t get over the nostalgia factor. I cried most of the time I was at Disneyland and it wasn’t because I spilled my ice cream! Nonetheless WDW is my home and that’s what it all boils down to. WDW is fully immersive. All sorts of families can stay and enjoy themselves. You can’t lose.