Disneyland Or Disney World? Things To Consider When Planning Your First Disney Trip

So, you have made the decision to go on your first Disney Park trip!  It’s time to pack you bags, hop on a plane and go, right?  Well, not quite.  There are a variety of things that you should plan for, starting with which destination to go to.  Disney World vs. Disneyland is an old debate that has a different resort winning depending on who you ask.  My goal for this post isn’t to decide which resort is better for a first time visitor but instead raise a few points to be aware of when deciding which Disney coast to go to.  This post isn’t involving any of the parks outside of the U.S. although I do think you should visit those if given a chance.

California Grill star fireworks

Of course, deciding on a vacation destination depends on a number of different factors.  The biggest ones are probably how far you have to travel and how big your budget is.  For example, if you live on the east coast and are working with a limited budget, Disneyland might be a little bit difficult to get to.  This post will mainly assume that you have a budget that can get you to both parks.

Without further ado, here are a few points to consider when trying to decide between Disneyland and Disney World.


How long is your vacation?

The first point to consider when deciding where to vacation is knowing how long your vacation is.  It’s my opinion that Disneyland lends itself to a shorter vacation and Disney World is better for a longer vacation.  Disneyland consists of two parks that you can see a good bit of in 3 or 4 days.  Disney World, on the other hand, has 4 parks (or 3 and a half, considering the state of Hollywood Studios), 2 water parks, an expanding shopping and dining district, and many hotels to explore.  If you want to see a decent amount of Disney World, chances are you’ll need a week.  This doesn’t make Disney World superior, it just has more to experience.  Not everything is as well done.  So, if you are taking a longer trip I’d say that lends itself to Disney World and a shorter trip lends itself to Disneyland.  Unless…

Are you doing things other than theme parks?

Lion King

Some may disagree, but I believe Disneyland’s location in Southern California gives vacationers many more options of things to outside of the parks than Orlando.  Southern California offers great shopping, beautiful beaches, and several big cities within a couple of hours (Los Angeles and San Diego).  There’s also the tourist destination of Hollywood within an hour from Disneyland.  Orlando has a ton of theme parks at its disposal, including the quickly expanding Universal Orlando.  But, Southern California is no slouch when it comes to theme parks with Universal Hollywood, Six Flags, Legoland and Knott’s Berry Farm.  All of the theme parks somewhat even out and that let’s Southern California’s other destinations be the star here.  If you are going to Southern California for a week, I think 4 days at the parks and 3 days exploring the other sites is a great compromise.  On the other hand…

Do you want to stay inside the ‘Disney bubble’ the entire vacation?

By ‘Disney bubble’ I mean that you get to the airport and then are taken care of by Disney the whole vacation.  While this has its cons, this also makes vacations easier, more convenient, and sometimes more magical.  When staying inside this bubble, there are less things to worry about and, usually, fewer details that you have to plan.

Magic Kingdom ferry

For staying inside this ‘bubble’ Disney World is the way to go.  With their huge property, they can pick you up at the airport, take you to your hotel and then you never have to go outside the property again until the end of your vacation.  Disneyland has a few hotels on property and a number of them outside the gates but there are many remnants of the outside world as you get to and from the parks each day.

How much do you want to relax on your vacation?

This question isn’t dependent on whether you choose Disney World or Disneyland.  Relaxing or not relaxing can be achieved at either coast.  But, each place has different options for a restful vacation.  At Disney World, the hotels are more elaborate.  The pools are often bigger, the land they sit on is larger to wander around, and there are plenty of lakes and landscapes to look at.  They also have water parks at Disney World which can be pretty nice to relax at.  While at Disneyland, they have the pacific ocean about 15 minutes away, along with some great beaches.  The hotels aren’t quite as relaxing but it’s hard to beat the ocean.

Cassie Cars


While I believe these are the main points to begin to consider when trying to decide between Disneyland or Disney World, there are plenty more that I didn’t even begin to bring up.  There may need to be a part 2 to this post.  For now, if you have any questions about the differing parks, please put them in the comments and I will gladly answer them!  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

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