A Disney vacation is on every bucket list, especially for families with small children. Moms and dads want to experience the magic with their little ones before the tots outgrow the world of fantasy and make-believe. When it’s time to make the dream a reality, you have a tough decision to make between Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Here are a few things to consider.


Disney World in Orlando is massive, 43 square miles, making it similar in size to some major American cities, like San Francisco. This includes four theme parks, two water parks, 27 Disney hotels, plus another dozen non-Disney properties, golf courses, shopping, and dining. More than 18 million visitors per year make the pilgrimage to the House of Mouse.

By comparison, Disneyland in Anaheim is much smaller, just 510 acres with two theme parks, shopping, dining, and three hotels. It draws around 12 million visitors each year. However, with the difference in size, Disneyland probably feels just as crowded as Disney World, even if there are fewer tourists on a given day.

One major difference between the parks is how many days you need to see and do it all. While you can enjoy all Disneyland in California has to offer in about three days, you can easily spend a week or even longer at the Orlando parks.

Guest Loyalty

Disney as a company is a guru on the topic of the customer experience, sharing what they’ve learned with other industries through leadership institutes and training all over the world. Seventy percent of visitors to Disney’s theme parks say they plan to return, so they’re obviously doing something right. While data is not available for each park separately, across all avenues, including the parks, cruise ships, hotels, and more, Disney is a master at the art of the individualized customer experience.

Rides and Other Attractions

Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim have about 20 rides in common that you find either place, but each park has a few unique rides and attractions of its own. Only in Florida do you find Expedition Everest, Mission: SPACE, and Kilimanjaro Safaris to name a few. On the other coast, you can experience the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Radiator Springs Racers.

The two parks also have a few shows in common and some that are exclusive to each site. Walt Disney World has Finding Nemo – The Musical, Mickey’s PhilHarmagic, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Disneyland boasts Frozen – Live at the Hyperion and World of Color.

Disney Orlando may have a slight edge when it comes to activities outside the park, just because of its massive size. It offers two water parks, golf courses, and more that are not available in Anaheim. Both locations have a shopping and entertainment complex to pick up souvenirs and travel necessities.

With so many things about the two being equal, choosing between Disneyland and Disney World may just come down to visiting one this year and one next!