Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt...

Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disneyland in California is the original home of the Disney experience and was opened to great acclaim in 1955.  Walt Disney went on to plan another park for the East Coast – Walt Disney World, which finally opened in Florida in 1971 some five years after his death.

Though the two sites are closely acquainted, they are different in many respects.  Here are a few examples of what to expect when visiting each one.

Size and scale

Hotels and other tourist attractions surround Disneyland, so its potential for expansion is hindered by its confined location.  For this reason, Disneyland is smaller in scale than Disney World and contains fewer attractions.  Nevertheless, Disneyland is still comprised of two theme parks, three hotels and a shopping zone, so there is plenty to see and do.  Disney World, on the other hand, has four separate theme parks, 32 hotels, two water parks, five golf courses, a sports complex and two shopping zones.

Rides and attractions

Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to the space taken up by rides and attractions – the more intimate Disneyland has 57 different attractions and rides, compared to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park, which has 41.  This means that Disneyland is easier to navigate – there are just 100 yards between the entrances to its two theme parks, whereas visitors to Disney World need to take a 10 to 30 minute car ride to travel from one theme park to another.

Unique attractions and special rides

Disney tickets will provide families with different experiences at each of the two sites.  There are certain attractions which both parks have in common – for example, Pirates of the Caribbean.  However, whereas Disney World has the Legend of the Lion King puppet show, the Hall of Presidents and Galaxy Search, Disneyland has Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland and the longstanding favorite, Matterhorn bobsleds.

Tarzan’s Treehouse in Disneyland is popular with kids who love to climb and play at having an adventure and is also a hit with moms and dads who like their children to have lots of exercise so that they sleep better at night.  Built like a giant jungle gym, there are no height restrictions and kids can spend as long as they like in Tarzan’s treetop home.

Over in Disney World, the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor provides a very different interactive experience.  Exhibited in a 400-seat theater, the performance features animated digital puppets voiced by live actors who are hidden from audience view.  Kids can contribute jokes to the largely unscripted show or chat with the characters and performers.

English: A Disney bus in Walt Disney World, Fl...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Best time to visit

Families may need to consider geographical location when deciding on the best time to visit the parks, but since both Florida and California enjoy warm summers and mild winters, it’s possible to take a trip during almost any time of year.  At the height of summer, temperatures average between 85 to 87 degrees in Anaheim, California, which some very young children may find uncomfortable.  In Florida, the humidity is greater and rain is more likely to fall between June and August.