After visiting Disneyland this summer, we wanted to share our thoughts on it versus Disney World and share all of our comparisons with you!  It was a lot of fun for us to think about the differences and things that we preferred at which park.  Hopefully you will enjoy this little wrap up too!  And, if you missed them and want to know all the details about our time at each individual park, you can find it here:


Before we dive in, there are just a few things we think you should know...
1.  We are BOTH much more familiar with Disney World.

2.  Kentucky is clearly much closer to Florida than California.

3.  Jess grew up a Magic Kingdom kid and is extremely partial (by fault).

4.  Dave has graciously participated in all my Disney traditions.

5.  We haven't visited Hollywood Studios together (yet!), so our thoughts and opinions don't include that park.  Although, California Adventures has a "Hollywood Studios" feel.

6.  Any day spend at Disney (regardless of which park you're at) is always a GREAT day!

OK, now for the fun!  But before we get started, please know this post is LONG.  We wanted to give you all the details so please excuse the length.  Although if you're Disney lovers like us, you'll get to the bottom and be wishing there was still more to read.  HA! 

Without further ado (drum roll please)... here are some BIG and basic differences between your Florida Disney Experience and your California Disney Experience.


There are FOUR Disney parks in Florida and TWO in California.  Now, there are also two Disney water parks in Florida too... but we're only talking major parks when we say four.  Before we start comparing, here's a break down of all of the parks and where they are located...

Theme Parks:
Magic Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Water Parks:
Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
Disney's Blizzard Beach

Theme Parks:
Disneyland Park
Disney California Adventure Park


Disney World uses FASTPASS which is a service included in your ticket purchase that allows you to secure (3) passes either 30 or 60 days before visiting depending on if you are staying on property.  Once all 3 passes are used, you are able to secure an additional pass upon completion of each ride in which a pass was used.  The printed FASTPASS is no longer used (those of you who have been visiting Disney World for awhile might remember when this was the initial system), now everything is done electronically.

Disneyland uses MAXPASS which is purchased separately ($10 per person, per day) from park tickets (can be used at both parks).  The system is similar in allowing you to pick a limited number initially and then allowing you to secure an additional pass upon completion of a ride.  If you do not purchase the MAXPASS, you can still use your paper tickets to get passes (one by one) by going to the ride and getting a printed pass.  Both FASTPASS and MAXPASS are used though their respective apps, either Disneyland or Disney World.  We suggest both FASTPASS and MAXPASS to make the most of your day at Disney.


  • MAXPASS seemed to make selections easier (and earlier in the day).
  • FASTPASS can be more stressful initially (set that alarm clock!), but make your morning at the parks more planned out (which we like).
  • MAXPASS allows you get more passes throughout the day (we felt like).
  • FASTPASS does not have any extra charges, which we appreciate because let's be honest... Disney ain't cheap!
  • Bottom line...  definitely use either FASTPASS or MAXPASS depending on where you are.


Here's the thing, Disney World has some amazing food but you are most likely to find it at Epcot (hello food & wine festival!) and the resorts!  We were surprised at how good the food was at Animal Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom on the other hand (the park we visit most in Florida) has average food.  Yes, there are some nicer dining options in the park (we don't waste our time at the "nicer" dining options) that are supposedly really good.  However, if you're averaging up the park food there... it's that.  Average.

I think we are especially more confident to say that now because the food at Disney Parks in California was so much better all around!  When we visited Disneyland, we park hopped more frequently so more of our food was consumed at California Adventure, but the food at both parks was pretty dang good, y'all.

The quick service food at these parks were better than quick service at Magic Kingdom and more comparable to Epcot and options at Animal Kingdom.  Doesn't anything with Mickey ears just taste better?


Starting with the very best...
1.  Epcot
2.  California Adventure
3.  Disneyland
4.  Animal Kingdom
5.  Magic Kingdom
Yeah, yeah... we know.  We've got to get to Hollywood Studios!


Disney Springs is now what used to be Downtown Disney in Orlando.  Downtown Disney is the same concept in Anaheim.  Disney Springs has A LOT going on!  It has continued to grow (like crazy!).

Over the years, it has gone through changes but is now probably bigger than ever and literally has something for everyone in the family regardless of their age.  We love spending evenings here when we visit and it's somewhere many people go while doing the "Disney vacation" thing in Orlando.

Downtown Disney in is kind of seeming more like... (dare I say it) a ghost town compared to the rest of Disney.  We're not sure if this shopping and dining experience just doesn't work in Anaheim like it doesn't in Orlando, but my goodness it just doesn't have all that much going on.

While Dave was in Anaheim for work before I got there, he ventured to Downtown Disney for dinner and his expectations (compared to Disney Springs) were let down after arriving and walking around.


There really wasn't a whole lot of comparing to us.  Disney Springs rivals Downtown Disney and it isn't even close.  Whereas we always find some new reason to like Disney Springs even more, our expectations for Downtown Disney were a complete let down.  Disney Springs all the way in our household!


The funny thing is when we visit Disney World, 9 times out of 10 we stay at my parent's condo.  We have both stayed on property at Disney before, but the majority of times we visit we stay at the condo which is totally convenient for Disney and we absolutely love it!  If you're interested in renting it, email us.

There are so many Disney Resorts in Florida... like so many (awesome!) choices.  You seriously can't go wrong with staying on Disney property in Florida.  Plus, when you stay on property at Disney World things seem to be even more convenient because transportation to and from everything is just easier.

Disney resorts in California are less appealing to us.  There aren't near the options as there are in Orlando but the real difference to us was that there are many more close hotel options in Anaheim that aren't on Disney property.  We stayed at the Hilton Anaheim during our visit and it was only a short walking distance to the parks... yes, I said walking!  This just doesn't happen in Florida because Disney World is so big and spread out.  We also had a great view of the parks that even included the fireworks show each night.


If you're wanting to splurge or do an all out Disney vacation (including staying on property) do it at Disney World in Florida!  When visiting these parks, it is worth it and there are so many neat choices of Disney resorts.  The list is much shorter in California and convenience can't be argued as easily.  Also, we just have to say (especially in case you aren't familiar with the area) that there are lots and lots and lots of other awesome resort property options in the Disney World area if you are visiting and don't want to stay on property.  All around, hands down... Disney Property (or surrounding property) in Florida gets our vote!


As with anything Disney related, park hopping adds an extra charge on tickets whether you are in Florida or California.  Tickets for the parks can be purchased as individual single day tickets or as park hopper tickets which allow you to go to and from between parks.  There is also different pricing on single day versus multiple day.  It's pretty simple... the more days you spend at Disney, the cheaper each individual day is.  However you should note that no day at Disney is ever really "cheap" per say.  And, you can get park hopper tickets regardless if you are going for one day or ten days.


With 4 parks in Florida and 2 in California, if you're going for the full out Disney vacation chances are you'll be spending more time at parks in Florida.  With a longer vacation, most people allot more time to spend at the parks in Florida meaning that you could easily do full days without hopping from one to the other.

It can be argued that you don't need a FULL day at some parks in Florida, but we certainly think it makes for an easier day (especially if you're lugging littles).  I've also heard that you need TWO days for Magic Kingdom which could be true, but I like to make the case that you CAN do it all at MK in a single day.

In saying that, I know it must be noted that we do it without littles.  Meaning we don't have to wait in line to meet all of our favorite characters and get their autographs.  We also don't spend lots of time dining (insert the character breakfast or dinner at Belle's castle).  We do however occasionally grab a fastpass if time allows randomly throughout the day to see our Disney pals at the park.

While we DON'T think purchasing park hopper tickets in Florida is necessary, it can be nice to go to and from parks throughout the day (especially if you're staying on property).  A perfect example of this would be if you had littles and everyone was already asleep by 8:30 so you went back and missed the fireworks, but didn't have as long of a day at one of the other parks during your stay so everyone went back to take afternoon naps and then went to Magic Kingdom later on evening to catch the fireworks.

Park hopping certainly gives you more flexibility, so if you aren't concerned with the additional cost then go for it!  But, if you're on the fence and not sure we're here to reassure you that it isn't necessary.

Although Disney makes things super easy with bus, monorail and boat transportation in Florida it is still MUCH more convenient to go between the two parks in California.  For starters, there are only two parks and they are literally right across from one another... like RIGHT across.  Although you could spend a full day at each individual park, we did both Disneyland and California Adventure in one day. 

We would argue that if you're visiting Disney parks in California you should definitely buy park hopper tickets.  Even if you aren't necessarily thinking about visiting both parks.  You read that right.  You'd be surprised by how easy it is to go from one another.  Even if you don't anticipate going between the two, you'd be crazy not to with how conveniently located they are to one another. 


You would think all Disney parks operated the same, but there are minor differences between parks in Florida and California.  One that we noticed right off the bat was the actual tickets themselves.  Disney World parks in Florida use credit card like tickets.  You can also link magic bands to these tickets so that you never actually have to take out a ticket (which are used when scanning for fastpasses).

Tickets in California are paper tickets versus the type used in Florida.  It seemed dated (but also reminded us of being kids at Disney) when we saw the paper tickets being used.  If you do not purchase the maxpass to use in California (we DID purchase it) and still wanted to secure fastpasses during your visit, you would have to keep pulling out the paper tickets to run through the fastpass machines for each ride.


If you're like us, you link all park tickets to either the Disney World or Disneyland apps while visiting which makes things the easiest.  If you don't typically use these, you should!  With that said and if we're giving you our thoughts on just the tickets themselves, we prefer park tickets at Disney World over Disneyland.  Getting out those tickets (in the credit card format) is much easier than having to dig for paper tickets, which can also get easily mixed in with the paper fastpass tickets at Disneyland.  Honestly, we wouldn't be surprised if Disney parks in California switched sooner than later to this method.  Stay tuned!


Cinderella's Castle (completed in 1971) is located at the heart of Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland.  Quite frankly, it is the iconic symbol of the park.  It is surrounded by a picturesque moat and lush greenery.  Both Cinderella's Royal Table (a storybook setting for breakfast, lunch or dinner) and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (magical makeover headquarters) are located within the Castle.

 Sleeping Beauty's Castle (built in 1955) is located in the center of Disneyland.  You can walk through the Castle and relive scenes from the beloved Disney classic.  You were not originally able to walk through the Castle, but you can now which is a similarity with the Cinderella's Castle in Florida.  Both Castles also serve as the backdrop for the nighttime spectacular firework shows. 


Although Sleeping Beauty's Castle is known as the original, in my opinion it just doesn't compare to Cinderella's Castle.  Cinderella's Castle is what I grew up with as the Castle.  Quite simply, I also find it more impressive.  In case I haven't made it clear, which I'm pretty sure there's no question... I'm team Cinderella Castle all the way.  Sleeping Beauty's Castle is pretty cute too, though.  Who am I kidding?  If Disney reached out needing a Princess to move into one of the castles, I'd take either in a heartbeat.  :)


We'll give you a break down to let you know which park gets our vote for specific rides in addition to  our favorite rides at each individual park along with our top favorites, period.  Here we go!

Long story short... you kind of get the idea on which park we deemed as having the "best" version of rides.  Honestly, the list could keep going but you get it.  Dave quickly responded without doubt to Disneyland on just about every ride we compared.  I tried to keep my biased opinion to myself, because most part of me wanted to quickly defend Disney World.  #magickingdomkid  It's the tradition in me, I can't help it.  Perfect Example: shooting ice through my straw at Columbia Harbour House during dinner.  Yes, still.

There is a long list of rides in both parks.  Those lists include some of the same (or very similar) rides in California and Orlando, but that aren't necessarily at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom.  There is also a list of extremely impressive individual rides found uniquely in their respective Disney parks.

Our "favorites" aren't at Disneyland or Magic Kingdom.  In fact, if we picked a park based solely on rides, we wouldn't pick either.  Here's a list of our favorite rides at each park along with our all-time top favorites.

The ones listed above are our very favorites if we HAD to choose our top pick at each park.  Thankfully, we don't AND because there are so many awesome rides at the different Disney parks here are our top three selections at each... minus Hollywood Studios since we still need to visit.

If you missed them and want to see details about our time at each individual park, you can find it here:

Last but not least, we want to know what YOU think!  Please, please, please share your thoughts on Disney with us.  Do you have a favorite Disney Park?  A favorite ride?  A favorite Disney resort?  A favorite snack?  (... I see you, dole whip!)  Special Disney traditions?  Any Disney tips or tricks?  We want to know!

No comments