5 Reasons Disneyland is Better Than Disney World

When it comes to the Happiest vs. Most Magical Place on Earth, it can be a tough choice! We love them both so much for different reasons — Disneyland is the original and has a quaint charm, whereas Walt Disney World has twice as many parks and a bunch of fun resorts!

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle

They are both fabulous places in their own right! It would be like choosing a favorite child to say which one we like more. But as with anything, there are differences and sometimes, one is better than the other.

Here are five times Disneyland beats out Walt Disney World.

1. Haunted Mansion Holiday Overlay


Haunted Mansion Holiday

One of the coolest things at Disneyland  is at the Haunted Mansion. Every fall they completely transform the attraction with characters and scenes from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t amazed — and you don’t even have to be a huge Nightmare fan to enjoy it!

Sadly, this is exclusive to Disneyland because of the annual passholder population. Well over half of the visitors at Disneyland are annual passholders, and therefore will have a chance to come back and see Haunted Mansion in its original form. Fewer than 10 percent of Walt Disney World vacationers are annual passholders — with some only coming once in their whole life. If you’re only going to see Haunted Mansion one time ever, it does make sense for it to be the original.

Still, Haunted Mansion Holiday is pretty awesome, and Disneyland gets major props for this one.

2. World of Color


World of Color

Recently, I proclaimed that Fantasmic! is my favorite nighttime show. And that’s true — if we’re talking Walt Disney World. But if we’re talking bi-coastal, World of Color wins hands down!

Lighting up Disney California Adventure nightly, World of Color brings together projections on a 300-foot water screen, bright colors, a beautiful Disney score, and clips from classic and new Disney movies. It’s a beautiful and moving way to end a day at the Disneyland Resort!

3. Marvel Characters 


Captain America Meet and Greet in Disneyland ©Disney

Thanks to its licensing agreement, Disney cannot use certain Marvel characters (or the word Marvel in any theme park land) in any of its holdings east of the Mississippi River, most notably Walt Disney World.

But that’s not the case at Disneyland. And in Hollywood Land in California Adventure, you can encounter Black Panther, Spider-man, Captain America, and most recent to the roster, Captain Marvel! For Marvel fans, this is an absolute must-do and it can only be done at Disneyland.

4. Walking Between the Parks 


Disney California Adventure Entrance

Yes Walt Disney World is blessed with size, and this means there’s room for four theme parks, more than 25 resorts, two water parks, golf courses, and more! But because it’s so big, it can take a long time to get from location to location.

This is one way Disneyland’s small size makes it better. You can easily walk from any of the Disneyland resorts (or Good Neighbor hotels) to Downtown Disney and both theme parks! This makes for a lot less strict planning and more flexibility in your day.

5. Walt Was There


Disneyland Fire Station

One of the best things about Disneyland is that Walt was really there! Unfortunately, Walt Disney passed away before Disney World was finished, but he was there for the entire construction and opening of Disneyland.

Call me cheesy, but you can kinda feel Walt’s presence in Disneyland. Look at the Fire Station window and you’ll see a glowing lamp. This was Walt’s apartment that he’d use when he was visiting, and now the lamp is always on to remind us that Walt’s spirit is always with us.

What do you think — Disney World or Disneyland? Don’t worry, you don’t have to choose! But let us know where you think one outranks the other in the comments!


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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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7 Replies to “5 Reasons Disneyland is Better Than Disney World”

  1. hands down disneyland is better than magic kingdom. they have mickey’s toontown, at least a hafl-dozen disneyland exclusive fantasyland rides, small world is better, splash mountain is better, pirates is better, i could keep going. but never shell out the money to stay on property at disneyland when for a fraction you can stay at a nice hotel directly across the street and walk and actually be closer.

  2. Perhaps the title of this article should be, “ 5 things that are better at DisneyLand. Debating which place is better is like debating which of the 3 stooges is funnier.

  3. I love both disneyland & disneyworld but I find staying in Anaheim cheaper & you can have a choice of great eateries on a budget. I like to go from Australia every 2 years. See you soon.

  4. Better Pirates of the Carribbean, Alice in Wonderland Ride, PIXAR Cars Land come to mind as well. Having said that I would say that Disneyland is not better but is different and worth a visit for East Coast folks. Don’t spend a week trying to do everything unless you want to venture outside the parks.

  5. I first went to Disneyland was in 1967 then in 1968 again in 1971 and 1972…I got to experience a Magic Kingdom that has changed since the 90’s…The magical STAR Sound is gone, along with fairy tale chorus like sounds…Sure wish they would bring them back, Walt would expect it to remain, as it is The Magic Kingdom…I’ve been to Walt Disney World many times, and it was okay, but ever since I experienced the sounds they use to have, it’s just not the inspiring place it use to be, as I am a musician and musical scholar…They don’t have a Matterhorn Horn mountain in WDW, but they do in Disneyland✨🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈

  6. I’ll always choose World over Land, because of its proximity and the fact that it was my first introduction to Disney parks, so there’s an emotional attachment wrapped up in nostalgia. But I will confess, in addition to the reasons mentioned in this piece, there are a few areas where I find the West Coast resort excels: a better Pirates of the Caribbean ride with more flume drops, the Christmas overlay of “It’s a Small World,” New Orleans Square, more stuff to see inside the castle, and of course, Mr. Toad!