When Walt Disney himself originally decided to build a theme park back in the early 1950’s that would be a place where all families could come together and have fun while leaving the worries and stresses of the outside world at the park’s front gates, he never could have imagined how large his empire would grow or how many theme parks around the nation he would inspire to build. Today, in addition to the one little theme park known as Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. that Walt opened in 1955, which has expanded today to include Disney’s California Adventure Park, there are almost 50 square miles of family fun in Central Florida today that make up the Walt Disney World Resort. But besides the sheer size of the two theme park resorts and the location, what are the fundamental differences between Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and Disneyland in California? While the debate continues today on which is the better resort complex, we encourage you to keep reading and make that decision for yourself!
As we mentioned earlier, the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., was originally conceived by Walt Disney, meaning that each and every nook and cranny in the park was his idea and passed through his inspection before being presented to the public. The only problem Disney found, however, once his park was completed on eight acres of land, was that there was not much room for expansion (although Disneyland presently spans over 180 acres) and you could still see signs and outside influences even when you were in the Disneyland Park. That is why, several years later, Disney set out on a private plane through the state of Florida to look for a place to build his second theme park resort that would be reclusive from the rest of the world. He chose Central Florida because of its warm year-round climate, proximity to many highways (the Florida Turnpike and Interstate 4 intersect only about 10 miles from Walt Disney World) and, at the time of the purchase, there was nothing but vast undeveloped landing the area, a far cry from what it is today. Walt did succeed, though, in making sure that all of the theme parks and hotels at Disney World are surrounded by land and nothing but other Disney attractions, giving you the feel once you drive below that Walt Disney World welcome sign that you are entering a whole new world.
Another major difference in the two theme park resorts is that the Magic Kingdom Park, the first theme park to open at Walt Disney World in Florida, was fashioned after the Disneyland Park in California and had a lot of Walt’s influences, but unfortunately opened in 1971 about five years after the unfortunate death of Walt Disney. Disney still had a hand in the Magic Kingdom and with the early plans of EPCOT (the experimental prototype community of tomorrow), but most of the final plans and designs were left up to his team and his brother, Roy Disney, who came out of retirement to head up his production company and oversee the plans for the Walt Disney World Resort. When it opened, the Magic Kingdom Park included many of the same attractions and lands that Disneyland had, including Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. And, both parks also centered around a towering castle at the end of Main Street that have become the focal points for the two parks, although Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland stands at 77 feet tall while Cinderella Castle, much like everything else at the Magic Kingdom Park is a bigger and more grandeur version of Disneyland, registers 189 feet in height.
The concepts of those two parks may be the same, and there are other similarities between the Disneyland complex and the Walt Disney World Resort. Both have greatly expanded over the years, and they have also shared many of the same attractions – if one succeeds at one park, it is likely to move to the other if it fits into the landscape. Among the most popular attractions that have moved from one coast to the other are the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which opened in 1994 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in 2004 at Disney’s California Adventure Park, and Soarin’ Over California, which began at Disney’s California Adventure and was added to Epcot’s attractions in 2005. Another major part of Disneyland in California that was adapted from Florida is Disney Springs, an entertainment/shopping complex that has expanded throughout the years in Orlando from just a retail shopping area to a complete entertainment/shopping/dining center and was built along with Disney’s California Adventure Park just a few years ago.
While Disney Springs in Walt Disney World in Florida is much larger than Downtown Disney in California, much of the same is echoed throughout the two resorts. Walt Disney World now houses four theme parks, two water parks, over 20 resorts and countless activities for families, while Disneyland has two theme parks and three on-site hotels. But, while the Disneyland Park may fit into the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom, don’t expect to have any less fun visiting Disneyland as you would visiting Disney World.
If you are planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in the future, you may have one advantage, however – discounted tickets through OrlandoFunTickets.com.