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Planning a Trip to Disneyland vs. Disney World

May 17, 2024

Disney World may be the more popular destination to visit, but Disneyland is a must do for any Disney fan!  Afterall, Disneyland is the original park and the one that Walt Disney himself got to visit. 

Disney World and Disneyland have some similarities, but planning for Disneyland will certainly feel different for seasoned Disney World guests.  Here are some key differences for Disney World regulars to keep in mind when planning a trip to Disneyland.

Number of Days to Visit

With Disney World, you can often spend a full week there and still not have the time to do it all with four theme parks, two water parks, and Disney Springs.  With Disneyland, everything is more compact, and you don’t need a long trip.  You can typically visit everything at the two theme parks and Downtown Disney within a few days.  

On Property Resorts

Disneyland Hotel (Photo Credit: WDW News Today)

At Disney World, there are more than a dozen resorts to choose from.  At Disneyland, there are only three Disney-owned-and-operated resorts: the classic Disneyland Hotel, the craftsman-style Grand Californian, and the newly redesigned Pixar Place Hotel.  As with Disney World, there are perks to staying onsite, such as 30-minute early entry into a theme park before regular park opening. 

Park Reservations and Hopping

In Disneyland, park reservations are still required.  You can reserve Disneyland or Disney California Adventure through the Disneyland website.  Unlike Disney World where you can now park hop immediately after visiting your first park of the day, guests at Disneyland can only park hop between Disnelyand and Disney California Adventure after 11am.  However, park hopping is easier at Disneyland since the two theme parks are within walking distance of one another–no transportation is needed!

Dining Reservations

Fish of the Day at Cathay Circle Restaurant (Photo Credit: WDW News Today)

A big part of planning a trip is dining.  At Disneyland, you can make reservations up to 60 days out on the Disneyland website or via the Disneyland app.  However, unlike Disney World you cannot make them for the length of your stay.  Instead, you’ll need to book one day at a time.  Also, reservations open at 6am PT rather than ET.


While you cannot use MagicBand 2.0 at Disneyland, you can use MagicBand+ for park entry and Lightning Lane entrances.  They also light up and pulse during World of Color, Fantasmic!, and other nighttime shows, and guide guests in finding virtual bounties in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.   

Genie+ Rules

Radiator Springs Racers (Photo Credit: WDW News Today)

Genie+ is available on both coasts but works a bit differently at Disneyland, and it starts at $30 per day.  At Disneyland, Genie+ is good for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure; you don’t have to choose a park.  

Another difference is that you cannot select a specific time for any Individual Lightning Lanes.  You just get the next available time.  Individual Lightning Lanes are available for Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Disneyland.  

When booking your Genie+ selections in Disneyland, you need to be in the park to make your first selection rather than booking it at 7am as you would in Disney World.  One benefit to this later start at Disneyland is that fewer rides tend to sell out first thing in the morning.  

Plan a trip to Disneyland!  Rent DVC points through the DVC Rental Store to stay at the Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian for a fraction of what it would cost booking directly through Disney.

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