How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart

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How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart online . . . you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.

How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart.
How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart. Make sure you’re pinning and planning from information on the Disney destination you’re actually going to visit. Photo credit: Sangre-La.com via Foter.com / CC BY

I’m in the business of helping you plan your vacation to Disneyland and I love researching things online. But sometimes Pinterest, BuzzFeed and other websites just confuse people planning their Disney trip.

There’s Disneyland and Walt Disney World plus Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Shanghai opening in 2016 which further complicates the matter.

I’ve even seen an entire book on Amazon labeled Disneyland planning that references “Disney Land” once with a picture on the cover but the content is about Disney World. OH boy! Just buy my Disneyland book instead and you’ll be good to go.

When you’re planning your trip to Disneyland and I see you’ve pinned things that apply to Walt Disney World (or vice-versa), I feel really bad. Because maybe you’re expecting to dine at Be Our Guest (in Walt Disney World, BTW), but you won’t find that at Disneyland. And I feel even worse when I see you’ve pinned outdated information. Today I want to make it right.

Like identical twins, there’s always a few tricks to tell them apart and today we’re going to learn how to tell Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida apart when researching online.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: The Castle

Disneyland is pink, gray and blue and is named for Sleeping Beauty. Walt Disney World is much larger with taller spires and a more gray-blue appearance. The castle at Walt Disney World is named for Cinderella.

Different angles make the castles appear very similar and sometimes I even have to look twice myself.

Another obvious difference is price. Disneyland and Walt Disney World usually have different admission fees, but you can get discount tickets to either Disney destination with our authorized partner here.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Nicknames

Disneyland and Walt Disney World nicknames confuse even the most educated Disney fan.

The official tagline for Disneyland is “The Happiest Place on Earth” and while many people use that for Walt Disney World, the tagline for WDW is “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” It’s kinda my pet peeve when people call Magic Kingdom The Happiest Place on Earth, but that’s as much as I’ll say about that :).

People often refer to Walt Disney World as just plain “Disney” because they’re referring to all the parks in Orlando as a whole. People also refer to Walt Disney World as the Magic Kingdom (but that’s actually one park’s specific name, and we’ll get to that in a moment).

California visitors often refer to both parks at the Disneyland Resort as “Disneyland.”

When you’re pinning things on Pinterest, anything that says “Disney” most likely means Walt Disney World, even if the tips might be applicable to both resorts… just be careful! Disneyland advice will usually specifically say, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort and/or California Adventure.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Parks

The Disneyland Resort is made up of two parks: Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park.

Walt Disney World is made up of four main parks and two water parks which are: Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park.

And yes, the gates for California Adventure and Hollywood Studios look identical.

Disney California Adventure gates; how to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart.
Disney California Adventure gates; how to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart.

Just like Disneyland and Magic Kingdom gates look generally the same, so watch out for that when planning and researching online.

Disneyland gates. How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart when you're planning a trip.
Disneyland gates. How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart when you’re planning a trip.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Attractions

Some attractions have the same names at both the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. Attractions themselves are often different during the ride and/or queue. Most often you’ll read about “Disney secrets” and most often they apply to one ride or the other, so don’t get your hopes up too high when searching these out in the parks.

How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World apart when planning and pinning online.
How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World apart when planning and pinning online. Photo credit: Theme Park Tourist via Foter.com / CC BY and Ken Lund via Foter.com / CC BY-SA.

I recently received some promo material from Disneyland Resort, made by the actual Disney company. It was printed specifically for Disneyland (not a one size fits all kinda deal) but had an image of the teacups from Disney World.

I couldn’t believe my eyes! The designs are so different to me, I don’t know how that got past the eyes of so many who have to see things through the design phases to the press phases and beyond.

Here are attractions you will find at both resorts so be aware when researching online that you’re reading about the right resort:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Autopia and Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Monorail
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • it’s a small world
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Carrousels
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mark Twain and Liberty Square Riverboats
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Soarin’
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse and Swiss Family Treehouse
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Enchanted Tiki Room

Another important point to mention is Disneyland DOES NOT have Magic Bands or Fastpass+. Magic Bands and Fastpass+ only apply to Walt Disney World. What do we have? Disney MaxPass; read all about it here. 

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Entertainment Districts

How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World apart.
How to tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World apart.

Each Disney Resort has an entertainment district onsite which are open to the public without the need for admission.

Disneyland has Downtown Disney District and Walt Disney World has Disney Springs, which was called Downtown Disney until just recently.

If you’re pinning tips for Downtown Disney, make sure it’s for the right resort . . . and if it says Downtown Disney referring to Walt Disney World, it’s likely old information and you may want to steer clear.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Holidays

Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort
Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort

Special events at Disneyland and Walt Disney World go by different names.

Disneyland has Mickey’s Halloween Party while Walt Disney World celebrates Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Read more about Mickey’s Halloween Party here.

When Christmas time rolls around, Disneyland has decorations and ride overlays galore, but so far only Walt Disney World can claim Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Disneyland does however host a Christmas parade and fireworks throughout the season.

We hope this article has helped you plan your Disney vacation when pinning and organizing various tips online. Be sure to also stop by our Disney Must Haves page for ideas on what to bring in the parks on your next trip.

How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart: Extras

Help us add to the list!

  • Disneyland does not have Magical Express. There is a slightly similar option run by an outside company licensed to use the name “Disneyland Resort Express” but it has a very limited operating schedule.

What other ways do you tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World apart when planning trips online?

2 thoughts on “How to Tell Disneyland and Walt Disney World Apart

    • Trena! Thanks for adding that to our list. At one time Disneyland did have something similar but it wasn’t a good deal and was not very popular. But as you likely know, the dining plans at Walt Disney World are very popular. Thanks again for your comment.

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