Disneyland vs Magic Kingdom

We went to Disneyland last weekend (April 13-14, 2024) and Magic Kingdom WDW back in May 2023. (I put a detailed discussion of our Genie+ strategy for DL in the advanced strategy thread).

In the interest of sparking more DL conversation on this board, here are the reasons that my wife and I were so impressed with DL and really prefer it to MK:

  1. DL seemed more intricate and detailed. Little nooks to explore that we did not find at MK.

  2. Related, DL has a more authentic feeling than MK. This is really notable on some of the old school rides like Small World and Pirates (MK versions seem like inferior copies).

  3. There is more to do at DL than MK. For example we appreciated that Galaxy’s Edge is in the park; GE at HS is a trek.

  4. Things are denser and closer together at DL. This means less walking time between attractions.

  5. Characters are just walking around at DL and easy to meet. At MK it seemed like all the character meetings involved lines (and LLs) at set locations which required extra planning.

  6. Staying offsite at DL is much more convenient, which allows for major cost savings. There are many decent affordable hotels within 10 minute walk to the park gates. At WDW, getting from an offsite hotel to the parks can be a logistical nightmare.

  7. Hopping to DCA is so easy. And the combination of the 2 DLR parks provided an experience that was equivalent in my mind to 3 of the 4 WDW parks (but nothing to compete with Animal Kingdom, which is my favorite WDW park).

  8. Lightning lanes are less competitive and easier to stack at DL.

  9. Weekends tend to have lower crowds at DL, which is great for out-of-state visitors.

Tell me why I’m wrong!


I cannot do that because I agree 100 percent with you!


I think the general consensus is that DL is better on many fronts. WDW has some advantages, such as the better ToT, AK with FoP, etc. But I think the main advantage WDW has over DL is also a weakness. That is, it’s enormity. There is so much to see and do both in and out of the parks.

If you want a more ride-centric experience, DL seems the more logical way to go. But if you want an all around vacation vibe that is more relaxed (or can be), then WDW is the way to go.

The biggest issue for us is one of location. Flights and accomodations to DL are significantly higher than for us to go to WDW. So, WDW always wins out. So, I haven’t been to DL since I was a teenager.

I am hoping to rectify that in the coming years with my wife!



Otherwise :100:

All of this is accurate. Someone just asked me yesterday which is my favorite Disney park of the ones I’ve been to (only one I’m missing is Paris) and my response is Disneyland overall for those reasons. However, Epcot, Shanghai Disney and Tokyo DisneySea all have things about them that make them great too and make this a hard thing to state emphatically.


I love Epcot too. But I think DCA incorporates some Epcot-like features (soaring, radiator springs compared to test track, turtle talk, Elsa & Anna) and also has a similar geographic layout. Just on a much, much smaller scale.


Can’t fight you one bit because I also agree. Nothing at DL to compare to AK,


My favorite WDW park is Epcot and while DCA can have a similar vibe in places and small parts, DCA to me isn’t quite there at the level Epcot is. It approaches it, but Epcot has the single best park icon of all time and WORLD SHOWCASE. If DCA had showcase type area then maybe we can talk, and while the wheel is great as DCA’s icon, it definitely doesn’t have the same gravitas as the giant golf ball that’s immediately recognizable.

But yes, overall, DL is amazing and everyone should see it. And definitely go more over weekends when the undesirables (Magic Key holders such as myself), are blocked/limited to our small pool of reservations that only expands when ticket holders aren’t biting.


Totally agree. DCA is like a dash of Epcot, a swirl of Hollywood Studios, and a big dose of Pixar-themed county fair.


And yes. Nothing comparable to world showcase at DLR.


This! Every time I walk in there I’m just transported to a happy place with food, music, unique shopping and gorgeous architecture. While I love some of the experiences in DCA and honestly my top favorite DLR rides are all in DCA (GotG, RSR and IC) and while the park is prettier aesthetically than it once was when they had the giant signs when you walked in, it’s still not World Showcase pretty to me.


I think what we’re learning here is that you just have to visit all the parks cuz they all have got something, (except I can fully skip MK in WDW since DL is so much better, except for castle projections are better on the big castle during fireworks)


I think HS at WDW is also skippable. Combining Galaxy’s Edge and MMRR at DL with everything at DCA there is not much left that is unique to HS.

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This is my problem with DLR for me. I just did a podcast episode on this (Mimosas with Mickey - this is episode 7).

I had an absolutely grand time at DLR. But it didn’t feel like a “destination” to me. From the Pixar Pal-around, I could see highways. With traffic. I wasn’t immersed. It was a fantastically fun place to be, with lots to do and see, but it felt, well, like a theme park.

I love “theme parks”, but WDW parks never feel “theme park-ish” to me. Even though I know they are. WDW feels like a whole other place. I can forget the outside world exists. Even if I’m just there a day (which I’ve done, and which I did at DLR)… it’s like I’m somewhere completely different for a day. On vacation. Not just at an amazing theme park.

Editing to add - UOR feels the same way as DLR to me. And I love UOR… so it’s not a matter of not loving it. It’s just not the magic to me.

Does that make sense?


I feel like ToT being so different there, plus RnRC and SDD do make DHS still a unique stop for me and if I was a first timer I’d add some of the shows but I get what you’re saying. It’s not a lot of distinctive attractions. And I too prefer the layout and slightly different coloring of SWGE in DL. And MMRR is better at DLR too.


Sort of but I disagree to an extent. Seeing the highway does not disturb me for example and I’d say that Pixar Pal Around is just a skippable ride in general so I can avoid that view and it only makes my Disney vacation better ha ha ha.

When I stay onsite at DLR it doesn’t feel like a day trip to me. But it does feel like a shorter destination and the resorts themselves don’t feel as grand as the ones in WDW. So I agree in that sense. If I want to just go hang out at a Disney resort and not really park, I’d choose WDW every time and I’d choose AKL. That place is magical


Totally agree with your list! Disneyland is better in all of these ways.

I love WDW for its own reasons, many of which have been mentioned by others:

  • Sprawling, isolated escape from real life
  • More and better dining options
  • AK and EP do not have direct comparisons at DLR
  • Onsite hotels are much more immersive (that said, GCH is the best Disney hotel IMO).
  • Feels newer and cleaner for the most part

Honestly, I need both in my life! Thankfully I’m in a position to hit each coast at least once a year.


I totally feel you on a lot of this! Hopping is so much easier. Getting around between DL, DCA and DTD is just a hop-skip-jump. Or a very odd monorail ride. Each park has more to do in California, so, yeah, G+ is less restrictive.

Pirates in MK is an inferior copy! Initially, it wasn’t there because the actual Caribbean is really close. But once people complained about the “missing” attraction, they put one in, but the space was already squished from JC and BTMR. So they put in what they could into MK.

According to Wikipedia, the ride in MK is about 1/2 the time as the one in DL.

But as for ToT. I still love that ride, but Mission Breakout in DCA is just so much more fun!


Agreed. Mission Breakout was our second favorite after Hyperspace Mountain (which was also better than the MK equivalent).


But … you’re NOT wrong! :rofl:


What?! :scream: That may have been true when it was Tot, but it is far superior as GOTG Mission Breakout!

This is very true. I would not necessarily plan a 7 day DL vacation, but could easily spend 7 days at WDW, especially staying on site.

Yes, my least favorite park of all six I’ve visited (so far).

Yes, space at MK is skippable for me. But I will ride Space at DL on repeat if I can! And it’s even better as hyperspace mountain!


I think that was our most ridden ride last week. So much fun and I don’t even love Star Wars as you know.