Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World – What’s the difference?


K and I recently returned from 5 whole days in the happiest place on Earth… Orlando! I had such a good time on my trip, I wanted to share my experience and some helpful tips with you on theculturebite.

Being from California and a regular at the Disney parks in Anaheim, it was hard to understand the difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World other than its size. WDW spans across 30,000 acres of land and consists of 4 parks – Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. When planning for our trip, our biggest questions were:

“What Disneyland attractions are in Disney World?”
“What makes Disney World different than Disneyland?”
“Do I need to visit all Disney World parks?”

With those questions in mind, I built a grid of all Disneyland / California Adventure attractions and mapped them to the corresponding Disney World park. I’ve also listed out the current unique attractions at each Disney World park.

If you were to ask me which park I’d recommend, I don’t think I could answer. I love each park in its own way. I love Disneyland because I grew up there. I also think the biggest draw of Disneyland and California Adventure are the thrill rides. There are so many between both parks that you could spend an entire day visiting each ride only once. If you’re interested in the entertainment and activities, Orlando’s Walt Disney World is for you. The new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is a must see as is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and the Main Street Electrical Parade.


Orlando Walt Disney World

Park Attractions Magic Kingdom Hollywood Studios Epcot Animal Kingdom
DL Alice in Wonderland
CA Animation Academy Similar: The Magic of Disney Animation
DL Astro Orbitor x
DL Autopia Similar: Tomorrowland Speedway
DL Big Thunder Mountain Railroad x
DL Big Thunder Ranch
DL Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters Similar: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
CA California Screamin’ Similar: Rock ‘n’Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
DL Captain EO Tribute x
DL Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse
DL Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes
CA Disney Junior: Live on Stage x
DL Disney Princess Fantasy Faire
DL Disneyland Monorail
DL Disneyland Railroad Similar: Walt Disney World Railroad – Main Street
CA Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular Similar: Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage Similar: Finding Nemo-The Musical
DL Donald’s Boat
DL Dumbo the Flying Elephant x
DL Fantasmic! x
DL Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
CA Flik’s Flyers
CA Francis’ Ladybug Boogie
DL Frontierland Shooting Exposition x
DL Gadget’s Go Coaster
CA Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
DL Golden Horseshoe Stage
CA Golden Zephyr
DL Goofy’s Playhouse
CA Goofy’s Sky School
CA Grizzly River Run Similar: Kali River Rapids
DL Haunted Mansion x
CA Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train
DL Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye Similar: DINOSAUR
DL Innoventions x
DL It’s a Small World x
CA It’s Tough to be a Bug! x
DL Jedi Training Academy x
CA Jumpin’ Jellyfish
DL Jungle Cruise x
DL King Arthur Carrousel Similar: Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
CA King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea
CA Luigi’s Flying Tires
CA Mad T Party
DL Mad Tea Party x
DL Main Street Cinema
DL Main Street Vehicles x
DL Mark Twain Riverboat Similar: Liberty Belle Riverboat
CA Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
DL Matterhorn Bobsleds Similar: Expedition Everest
CA Mickey’s Fun Wheel
DL Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey
DL Minnie’s House
CA Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
DL Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
CA Muppet*Vision 3D x
DL Peter Pan’s Flight x
DL Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
DL Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island x
DL Pirates of the Caribbean x
DL Pixie Hollow
CA Princess Dot Puddle Park
CA Radiator Springs Racers Similar: Test Track Sponsored by Chevrolet
DL Rafts to Tom Sawyer’s Island x
CA Red Car Trolley
CA Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
DL Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
DL Sailing Ship Columbia
CA Silly Symphony Swings
DL Sleeping Beauty Castle Similar: Cinderella’s Castle
DL Snow White Grotto
DL Snow White’s Scary Adventures
CA Soarin’ Over California x
CA Sorcerer’s Workshop
DL Space Mountain x
DL Splash Mountain x
DL Star Tours: The Adventures Continue x
DL Starcade
DL Storybook Land Canal Boats
DL Tarzan’s Treehouse Similar: Swiss Family Treehouose
CA The Bakery Tour
DL The Disney Gallery
DL The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln Similar: The Hall of Presidents
CA The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Similar: A Fish Out of Water
DL The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh x
CA The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror x
CA Toy Story Midway Mania! x
CA Tuck and Roll’s Drive’Em Buggies
CA Turtle Talk with Crush x
CA Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar
DL Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room x
CA World of Color

Current Unique Attractions in Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

Magic Carpets of Aladdin
The Pirates League
Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook
Country Bear Jamboree
Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Brave “Play and Greet” (Fairytale Garden)
The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as the Great Goofini
Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
Stitch’s Great Escape!
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Read more about attractions at Magic Kingdom here.

Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
ABC Sound Studio
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure
Studio Backlot Tour
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
Rock ‘n’Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Citizens of Hollywood

Read more about attractions at Hollywood Studios here.


Advanced Training Lab
American Heritage Gallery
Bijutsu-kan Gallery
Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable
Disney Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
Gallery of Arts and History
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
House of the Whispering Willows
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Impressions de France
Journey into Imagination with Figment
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE
O Canada!
Reflections of China
Spaceship Earth
The American Adventure
The Circle of Life
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Universy of Energy: Inventing the Wonders of the Future
Kidcot Fun Stops
Mexico Folk Art Gallery
The Spirit of Norway
Stave Church Gallery

Read more about attractions at Epcot here.

Animal Kingdom

Discovery Island Trails
The Tree of Life
Festival of the Lion King
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Wild Africa Trek
Harambe Village
Wildlife Express Train
Habitat Habit!
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Flights of Wonder
Cretaceous Trail
Fossil Fun Games
Kids Discovery Clubs
Primeval Whirl
The Boneyard
TriceraTop Spin
Affection Section
Conservation Station
The Oasis Exhibits

Read more about attractions at Animal Kingdom here.

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4 Responses to “Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World – What’s the difference?”

  1. Olivia says:

    Thanks for posting!!! Really helpful! I’ll be referring to this while I’m out here. Will also share with our entourage as well. Please let us know of you update this!

  2. Olivia says:

    Thanks for posting!!! Really helpful! I’ll be referring to this while I’m out here. Will also share with our entourage as well. Please let us know if you update this!

  3. Cailyn says:

    Thnx 4 posting, really helpful. I’ve been to Walt Disney world, and it’s great. Always building new rides, friendly employees(especially Darrell who works on the great movie ride),and fabulous hotels. I’ve been to Disney land and it’s cool, but defiantly doesn’t beet. WDW. Once again 4 posting this!!! 😄

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