Disney fans, especially those living in California, will happily tell newcomers about both Disneyland and the newer Disney California Adventure Park. Determining the differences between the two is similar to discerning between Universal Studios and Magic Kingdom; both are located within Disneyworld but are very different parks. In California, both Disneyland parks are similar but with drastic differences that may influence a visitor's choice on which to head to first.

Each park also has its own pros and cons. With Disneyland being founded decades and decades before Disney California Adventure Park, it does have more of a vintage, old-fashioned vibe. Disney California Adventure Park is newer, but might also lack some of the charms of the OG park. Let's dive into some more differences between the two.


Related: How Parents Can Make The Most Out Of Their Day At Disneyland With The Kids

The Original Disneyland

Disneyland was created on July 17th, 1955 in Anaheim, California. Originally, it was an endeavor that many people thought would fail but, as it turns out, it was only just beginning to shape the way we view Disney parks today. Now, Disneyland-style parks can be found all over the world and we have the original location in Anaheim to thank for that. With the park's massive success following its first weeks of opening, it would be another 46 years before the idea came about to add more to the complex - more on that later.

The size of the parks differs only slightly with Disneyland taking up 85 acres, with roughly 44,000 visitors each day, according to the Los Angeles Times. So, it can be surmised that the Disneyland acreage sees more visitors than its latter-added counterpart, Disney Adventure. The second major difference - and one thing that Disneyland wins, hands down - is the entrance to the park. Visitors walking into Disneyland will immediately be on the park's Main Street, USA. It's only one of nine sections throughout the park that are themed, and it makes an impression.  Some might argue that the rest of the park's attractions are more interesting and engaging than that of Disney Adventure:

  • Adventureland
  • Frontierland
  • New Orleans Square
  • Critter Country
  • Fantasyland
  • Mickey's Toontown
  • Tomorrowland
  • Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Disneyland is also home to some classic rides, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Splash Mountain, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, It's a Small World, and Matterhorn Bobsleds. At night, Disney California Adventure likely has the upper hand thanks to its more modern forms of entertainment. Disneyland puts on a show called Fantasmic, featuring iconic Disney characters, puppets, music, and floats, and the classic Disney Villains Dance Party.

Disney California Adventure Park

Built in 2001, Disney California Adventure Park is the most recent addition to the Disneyland complex. While it might seem strange comparing the two since they do share the same acreage (of which this park takes up 72), they are very different and offer different things. Disneyland California offers slightly fewer attractions but the trade-off is that they are newer:

  • Buena Vista Street
  • Paradise Gardens Park
  • Pixar Pier
  • Grizzly Peak
  • Pacific Wharf
  • Cars Land
  • Hollywood Land

As opposed to entering on the park's Main Street, visitors walking into Disneyland California will first enter Buena Vista Street. This entrance makes an impression in a different way and sets the newer and more modern tone that the rest of the park takes on. Upon first walking in, guests are also greeted by two iconic statues in Disneyland California: a statue of Walt Disney, and a statue of Mickey Mouse.

Although Disneyland California was built nearly 50 years later, it does have some rides that have since become just as iconic as the classic OG Disneyland rides. These include Pixar Pal-A-Round, Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin' Over California, Toy Story Mania!, and The Littler Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure. In regard to the park at night, Disneyland California has garnered a reputation for its after-dark show, World of Color. This miraculous display incorporates a variety of mediums in order to create a show that's seemingly futuristic and engaging. With the use of mist, color, water, and projection, Disneyland California guests will be privy to one of the best light shows in the state.

  • Fun fact: The water projections reach a whopping 200 vertical feet, which accounts for the 19,000-square-foot image on the screen.

Similarities Between The Two Park Complexes

One thing that the two parks share is the food. Dining is available throughout both Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure Park, and neither park is better than the other - aside from personal opinions, at least!

So, if anyone is seeking clues as to which provides better food, both parks are on equal footing there.

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