Differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World

I have now been to Disneyland a number of times, but nothing in comparison to the number of times I have been to Walt Disney World.  When visiting Disneyland, I cannot help but compare it to my more frequently visited theme park.   I am sure there are many more differences I will not cover, but here are a few of the ones I observed during this most recent vacation to Disneyland:

1.  Disneyland’s Fastpass Ticket Distributors are all themed – I know the ones at Walt Disney World are themed but not as heavily as those found at Disneyland.  They include differing top portions specifically themed to many of the attraction to which they distribute Fastpasses.

2.  Disneyland’s Fastpass Ticket Distributors work funny – These little distributors are picky.  You MUST have your park ticket upside down, with the metal strip to the right or it will not distribute the Fastpass.  I stood there and stood there trying to figure out what I was doing wrong because I was not getting a Fastpass in return as I was simply putting the park ticket in the machine any-which-way as you can at Walt Disney World.  A local explained that I would need to add the ticket only one way to get the Fastpass. 

3.  Disneyland and Disney World do not share Ticketing Systems – I had thought about upgrading my Annual Pass for Walt Disney World to the Premium Pass.  This would allow me to get access to Disneyland on all of the days I was in Anaheim and grant me access to the water parks for upcoming Disney World vacations (my Annual Pass is not the Preferred Annual Pass which includes the water parks!)  The process to see the cost difference for the upgrade was grueling.  Disneyland cast members had to call Disney World for pricing.  After waiting 20 minutes, I found out that Disneyland does not tax their tickets, thus they do not apply the monies I had already paid in taxes on my Annual  Walt Disney World pass towards the purchase of a Premium pass.  With this in mind, it was not worth it to upgrade my current pass to the Premium Pass.

4.  Hand stamps – When you exit one of the theme parks at Disneyland and believe you will be returning later, you need to get your hand stamped in order to be allowed re-entry.  At Walt Disney World, no stamp is needed.

5.  The Downtown Disney District is within Walking Distance – When visiting Disneyland’s theme parks, you are within walking distance of Downtown Disney!  Unlike Disney World where Downtown Disney is a bus ride away, Disneyland’s Downtown Disney is within walking distance of the theme parks.  This allows you extra places to shop and eat within a few minutes walk!

6.  The Monorail – In Disney World, you can take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to many of the resorts, to EPCOT, and to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).  In Disneyland, the monorail only makes two stops:  Disneyland’s Tomorrowland monorail station and Downtown Disney District’s monorail station.  You must have you bags checked and park admission verified before being allowed to ride the monorail!  It is funny, because in Walt Disney World, the monorail is like a FREE ride for anyone while at Disneyland park admission is needed to ride.  Another difference is that at Disneyland, you can still sit at the front of the monorail when you request to do so!  Here we are with our friend Sheila from CookingUnderwriter.com and her daughter riding in the front of the monorail:

7.  Fastpass for World of Color – Disney World does not have Fastpasses for their nighttime shows.  However, at Disneyland you need to get a fastpass to World of Color (in most instances) in order to gain access to see the show!  When I was in Disney California Adventures, fastpasses could be picked up close to the Grizzly River Run attraction.  Fastpasses were distributed for the 9:00 show first.  Once all of those fastpasses had been distributed, you would then be given a fastpass for the 10:15 show.  You cannot request fastpasses for the 10:15 show instead of the 9:00 show.  Should you not have a fastpass, you can gain admission if not all spots have been filled for the show.

There are loads of other differences.  For example, many of the rides we have in Disney World are also available in Disneyland.  However, the rides begin outside instead of under cover (i.e. Winnie the Pooh).  The details that are found on many of the Disneyland attractions are SUPER.  In some instances, Disneyland makes me wonder why the details seen there were not added when the same attraction was added afterwards in Disney World.  If you have any differences  you have noticed, please feel free to add them in the comments.


4 comments for “Differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World

  1. JT
    September 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Unless that changed very recently, you can request the front of the monorail at Disneyland as well.

  2. Jusy
    October 4, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Yes, the Disneyland Monorail only has two stops. However, bag and ticket checking is only done at the Downtown Disney stop. Why? It has to do with the next stop which in a sense you are entering the park — Disneyland Tomorrowland. If you board at Tomorrowland, nothing is checked. At WDW, all the monorail stops are basically outside of the theme park you are going to. When you go into the park, that’s when your bags and tickets are checked.

    I like the theming of Winnie the Pooh and Toy Story Mania better at WDW then at DLR. It seems the theming for the older rides are better at DLR then WDW. While it is the reverse for the newer rides.

  3. October 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    The monorail must have changed – I remember it making a stop at the Disneyland Hotel also, back in the early 90’s.

    • October 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      As the Yesterland site’s entry about the Disneyland Hotel puts it…

      “Then the Disneyland Alweg Monorail arrived. The monorail station was adjacent to the lobby. Tram service was still available, but the cool way to go to Disneyland was to take the monorail. Although all other guests entered Disneyland at Main Street Station, Disneyland Hotel guests who arrived by monorail train entered the park in the back corner of Tomorrowland. And that’s still how it is today.

      Only today the monorail station is no longer in the Disneyland Hotel. It’s in the Downtown Disney shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. And it doesn’t look at all like the original Disneyland Hotel Monorail Station. Guests have wondered why the station was moved to a less convenient location. In reality, the station didn’t move. The hotel “shrunk” when the original sections were demolished, leaving the station a surprising distance from the nearest Disneyland Hotel building. The old lobby and Monorail Lounge are gone; a Rainforest Cafe is now in that location.”


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