Is Disneyland or Disney world better? Differences between the parks. - USA TODAY

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Disneyland and Disney World fans feel strongly about which destination is best.The biggest differences are obvious, but many others are more nuanced.Understanding those differences and accounting for personal preferences can help travelers pick the right resort for them.

If you want to start an argument among Disney fans, just ask which is better: Disneyland or Walt Disney World

Faithful fans fiercely defend their favorites, but there is no wrong answer.

"It's like picking a favorite child," said Lisa Eylens, who loves both so much she became a planDisney panelist to share tips and tricks with fellow Disney guests.

There are ways, however, for travelers to figure out which destination is right for them. 

"You need to consider your family and what is important to them, what attractions they might enjoy, what characters they might enjoy, how many days do you have," Eylens said. 

It also helps knowing what's unique to each destination.

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What is the difference between Disneyland and Disney World?

"To me, the biggest difference was at Disneyland, there's much more nostalgia. There's much more 'This is what Walt did,'" said Ashley Ryan, a fellow planDisney panelist who grew up going to Disney World. PlanDisney panelists are not Disney cast members but park experts who apply for the advisory role and are rewarded with a Disney trip in exchange for sharing insights with fellow guests. 

Disneyland is the only park Walt Disney personally opened. There, guests can see the Griffith Park bench he sat on when he first dreamed up Disneyland, slurp up Walt's Chili at Carnation Cafe, enjoy attractions he worked on like Matterhorn Bobsleds and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, and as part of the guided Walt's Main Street Story tour, even visit his former apartment above Town Square Fire Station.

"For a true Disney fan, If you haven't ever been to Disneyland, you'll really appreciate the history and the fact that that was Walt's original dream," said Eylens, who's had annual passes for both Disneyland and Disney World for years. "It is a very different experience from Disney World." 

Among other differences, it's easier to park hop at Disneyland because its two theme parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, are just across a plaza from each other and footsteps away from the Downtown Disney District

Disney World is much larger and its four parks – Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom – are further apart. The Florida resort is also home to two water parks, multiple golf and miniature golf courses, ESPN Wide World of Sports and Disney Springs.

"There's definitely more of a variety there than you would get a Disneyland," Eylens said. "And for me, when we go to Disney World, I really love to have some time at the resort too. It's a great way to break up the days at the parks ... and it just makes it feel like a vacation, where we still get that Disney magic staying on property."

While both Disney World and Disneyland feature accommodations, attractions, dining venues, nighttime spectaculars and other experiences unique to their location, there are a number of attractions guests can ride at both resorts, but even some of those, like Pirates of the Caribbean, are executed differently. 

"I really enjoy the subtle differences," said Ryan. When she and her husband first rode Space Mountain at Disneyland, she said, "Immediately we're like, 'OK, even the setup is different.' We got to sit next to each other, where in Disney World we sit front and back. And I felt that overall the Space Mountain at Disneyland was a bit of a smoother ride."

Disneyland also overhauls "it's a small world" and Haunted Mansion for the holidays. 

"The holiday lighting that happens at night is just amazing," Eylens said. "Riding 'it's a small world' and listening to the holiday tunes that they set in and seeing all the holiday decorations, that's one of my favorites."

Other differences longtime fans may notice is Disneyland still has Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which closed at Disney World decades ago. Disney World still has Tomorrowland PeopleMover and Carousel of Progress, which moved over from Disneyland in the 1970s.

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Is Disneyland cheaper than Disney World?

The cheapest tickets at Disneyland cost slightly less than their Disney World counterparts.

One-day, one-park tickets to Disneyland start at $104. 

The starting price is $109 at Disney World.

Ticket prices fluctuate depending on time of year. The more days guests add on, the cheaper each day costs. 

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Which has more attractions, Disney World or Disneyland?

With double the theme parks and two water parks, Disney World offers more attractions overall than Disneyland.

Guests can find details on all the attractions and experiences available at Disneyland and Disney World on their respective websites.

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Which is better, Disneyland or Disney World?

Personal preferences and core memories often dictate which parks people prefer.

#disneyworld is the only answer. Superior parks, Epcot with World showcase, classic long dark rides, DAK has the best theming in the US of any park, resorts that feel like their own mini towns, transportation systems like skyliner and monorail, water parks, Disney springs, etc https://t.co/wkkZqTfhRE

— WDWIsSuperior (@WDWbeatsDLR) October 4, 2022

Disneyland, there’s something so personal about it. It’s the only park Walt stepped in and you can feel it. Disneyworld takes those things that made Disneyland special and try’s to expand on them but lacks Disneylands intimacy and personal touch.

— Startrader72 (@JoelPettey) October 4, 2022

Even though it’s much more of a hassle to get to (flying from London) I prefer DL. Easy to enjoy as a destination in and of itself. I love WDW but it turns going on holiday into an elaborate exercise in planning and endurance.

— Iain MacKinnon (they/them) (@MacKinnonPlus) October 4, 2022

There is a reason WDW is the most visited theme parks in the world. DLand is a tiny locals hangout.

— DJthebeast (@DerekMi16322791) October 4, 2022

For Ryan and Eylens, there's a clear winner: Disney World's EPCOT.

"I am not even shy about it," Ryan said. "EPCOT is my absolute favorite park. I just think that there's really nothing like it out there. You get the rides and the food as well as all of the cultural education in the same place." 

Guests can learn about various countries like Morocco and Norway and sample their foods at EPCOT's World Showcase. Disneyland, meanwhile, hosts cultural celebrations around Lunar New Year, Dia de Los Muertos and holidays such as Kwanzaa and Diwali.

EPCOT also boasts Disney World's newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, one of Eylens' favorites.

"I love throwing my hands up in the air and screaming, and my family is the same," the self-described roller coaster junkie said. "That is our idea of fun." She also loves The Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure. 

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Which one is right for you?

"You can make a really great vacation out of either," Ryan said. "What are you trying to get out of your trip and how long would you like to spend there? What kinds of things are you looking to experience?"

Both destinations require multiple days to enjoy at a leisurely pace, but guests with tighter time constraints can experience more of Disneyland in fewer days than Disney World. Other practical considerations include airfare and other transportation costs and even weather, because rain is almost always in the forecast in Florida and rare in Southern California.

Fandoms can also be a factor. Guests who love classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Disney princesses, Star Wars and Pixar can get their fill at either destination, but Disney World is the only place guests will find Pandora – the World of Avatar and all the animals of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Meanwhile, Disneyland is the place to go for Avengers Campus and Cars Land.

"Cars Land is on the top of our list," said Ryan, whose son is 4 years old. "He loves Lightning McQueen, loves Mater ... Right now is like the sweet spot for 'Cars' for him." 

"You have to really just consider your family before you choose the coast and flights," Eylens said.

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