Disney California Adventure Vs. Disneyland: How Are They Different?
Disneyland is actually home to two Disney parks in the same complex, and these are the notable differences between the two.
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.
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:
- New Orleans Square
- Critter Country
- Mickey’s Toontown
- 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!
Should You Go to Disneyland or California Adventure First?
If you’re planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort, one of the most obvious questions you’ll need to answer is, which park should I visit first?
Many people prefer to visit Disneyland Park first and then California Adventure. The reasoning behind this idea is that Disneyland Park was the original, so guests should see it first. However, the order in which you should visit the parks mostly depends on preference.
Should I Go to Disneyland or California Adventure First?
As stated above, which park you should visit first really just depends on preference.
But, most people, myself included, believe that Disneyland Park is the best to see first.
Personally, I think Disneyland Park is the best to go to first because it throws you into the Disney experience immediately.
I mean, California Adventure is a great park, but Disneyland provides guests with an immersive encounter that’s nearly impossible to match.
Disneyland was Walt’s park, and he definitely had an eye for building parks in a way that makes you feel like you’ve landed on a different planet.
And while California Adventure is pretty impressive, it just doesn’t beat the feeling of awe you get when you step into Disneyland.
Additionally, there is a popular idea that you should visit Disneyland first because it was the first park Disney built at the resort.
The idea is to experience the original before heading for the newer model.
Really, I have to say I like this viewpoint because there is a sort of logic to visiting the parks in the order that Disney built them.
But, I would like to introduce a counterpoint that I have seen some people bring up.
Basically, the belief is that since Disneyland is the more immersive park, you should visit California Adventure first so that you can build up to the experience of Disneyland.
And while this wouldn’t be my personal suggestion, I can definitely understand it.
What’s the Difference Between Disneyland and California Adventure?
Well, the answer to this question is that there is a huge difference and not much of a difference at all.
I know that sounds like an odd statement, but let me explain.
On the surface, Disneyland and California Adventure are rather similar.
They both have pretty much the same kinds of rides, restaurants, and shops.
Plus, in both, you will get the full Disney experience, with characters that walk around the park and the history of Walt Disney.
Disneyland and California Adventure also have themed areas that almost mirror each other in the way that Disney has laid them out.
If you pay attention, though, there are some big differences between the two parks.
For one, Disneyland offers a more traditional Disney experience that is similar to Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
Many of the areas in Disneyland definitely have a more retro, 1950s feel than anywhere in California Adventure.
For example, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland have an atmosphere that is more akin to the older Disney aesthetics.
Meanwhile, California Adventure opened in 2001, compared to Disneyland’s original opening almost 50 years prior, and it’s easy to tell that California Adventure is newer.
The difference mainly comes down to the fact that California Adventure houses places like Pixar Pier and Avengers Campus, neither of which were part of the original Disney company.
And finally, probably the biggest distinction between the two comes down to the themes you’ll find in each, which I’ll explain more about below.
Which Disneyland Park Is Best For…
In this section, I will go over which Disneyland park is best for different groups of people so that you can decide which park you and your family will want to visit first.
If you’re looking for rides for small kids, Disneyland Park has a larger quantity of rides made for toddlers.
Some of the rides in Disneyland Park that toddlers often really love include Dumbo and It’s a Small World.
But, you shouldn’t disregard California Adventure, especially if your child really adores the characters and movies that you can find represented there.
For example, at California Adventure, you can discover some of the characters and merchandise for movies that are popular among young kids, such as Spider-Man, Inside Out, and Toy Story.
For those who want to experience rides that bump them around and fling them to new heights, Disneyland Park is also probably the best.
Disneyland Park has some of the most famous Disney thrill rides, such as Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain.
But, California Adventure does have a good bit of its own scary rides.
For example, in California Adventure, you can try out the Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, and Goofy’s Sky School.
If you are a Marvel fan, California Adventure is definitely the park for you.
With the new Avengers Campus, you can see characters such as:
- Capitan America
- Black Widow
- Captain Marvel
- Black Panther
There are also, of course, Marvel-related attractions, like:
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure – A game where you have to help Spider-Man stop his malfunctioning Spider-Bots before they destroy Avengers Campus.
- Guardians of the Galaxy’s Mission: Breakout – A thrilling ride with big drops bound to get your adrenaline pumping.
- Ancient Sanctum – This attraction gives you a chance to explore the ancient sanctum and meet Doctor Strange.
- Avengers Headquarters – Here, you can watch a live-action show that stars all your favorite Marvel characters.
Star Wars Fans
No Star Wars lover will want to miss Galaxy’s Edge, located in the back of Disneyland Park.
It’s here that you will get to meet Star Wars characters, such as Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, R2-D2, and the Stormtroopers.
You’ll also have a chance to jump in the Millennium Falcon and fight against the First Order.
Afterward, you can try your hand at designing and building your own lightsaber and droid at Savi’s Workshop and the Droid Depot.
Then, relax with some of Luke Skywalker’s famous blue milk while you explore the merchandise at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and First Order Cargo.
Did you know that Disney parks are some of the most popular places for wedding proposals?
Although Disneyland Paris and Florida’s Magic Kingdom are the top picks, lots of people pop the question in Disneyland Park, often in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Thus, Disneyland Park is my top pick for couples, even those who aren’t ready to get down on one knee or who already did a long time ago.
And even though the Sleeping Beauty Castle and Snow White’s Grotto are the most romantic places in the park, there are other areas of Disneyland where couples can share a special moment.
For instance, if you want a quiet meal, you can head to the Hungry Bear Restaurant or Blue Bayou.
Or, if you’re looking for a lovely place to take some great photos, why not try the Court des Anges in New Orleans Square.
Overall, there really isn’t a clear answer to which park you should visit first, even though most people agree that Disneyland Park ought to be your initial stop.
However, which park you should experience first primarily depends on your own personal preference.
Table of Contents
I love traveling. I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica, and I always looking for the next adventure.
Ever since I was a child, my favorite trips have been to theme parks – I love getting lost in the magic of Disney and have never had a bad experience at Universal Studios.
I never shy away from trying new things and enjoy making new memories wherever I go.
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Disneyland VS Disney California Adventure: Differences
Theme parks or amusement parks are the places, where every kid wants to spend their holiday. Having fun on attractive rides is not only a source of joy for kids but adults also love to ride them in theme parks.
Theme parks originated in England and one of the earliest was Bartholomew Fair in England in 1133. By the 18th and 19th centuries, theme parks evolved as places for entertaining the masses.
During the Gilded Age dated roughly from 1870 to 1900, Americans started working for fewer hours and had a more disposable income.
Americans sought new venues for entertainment. Theme parks were set up in major cities to meet this opportunity. These parks served as a source of fantasy and an escape from the life of burdens and stress.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are also two modern theme parks, about many of us are familiar with.
Although both parks are similar by name but reality there is a lot that differs between them, so let’s have a look at them.
Disneyland Park is a family-friendly park with more rides and attractions with a broader audience from children to adults. Disney California Adventure has a larger number of thrill riders that proportionally have a number of height restrictions which mostly attracts the older audience.
This is just one difference between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, to know more about their facts and differences. Read till the end as I will cover all.
Overview of Disneyland
The distinctive castle background of Walt Disney Statues is two of the most recognizable features of each Disney theme park.
Disneyland is an amusement park located in Anaheim, California, that opened in July 17, 1955.
Walt Disney came up with the idea of Disney land after visiting various amusement parks in the 1930s and 1940s. He bought a 160-acre (65 ha) site near Anaheim for his project which was designed by a creative team hand-picked by Walt himself.
Since its opening, Disneyland has gone through various expansions and major renovations. It has a larger cumulative attendance than any other amusement park in the world, with 726 million visits since its opening.
In 2014, the park has approximately 18.6 million visits, which made it the second most visited site amusement park in the world.
According to reports, the Disneyland resorts have supported around 65,700 jobs which include. about 20,000 direct Disney employees while 3,800 third-party employees.
Disneyland has been declared a prohibited flight zone by United States Federal Aviation Administration. No planes are allowed below 3,000 feet within the territory of the park.
How many rides are at Disneyland?
Disneyland currently boasts 49 attractions, the largest number of attractions for a Disney Theme park.
Naming all the rides at Disneyland would obviously make the article very long. But I’ll not miss out on the best rides you shouldn’t be missing when you visit Disneyland.
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Space Mountain
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Soarin’ Around the World
You can watch this video, to be familiar with all the rides present at Disneyland.
Overview of Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure or commonly known as California Adventure is an amusement park located in the Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California. Currently operated by Walt Company, its total area covers about 72-acres.
The Disney California Adventure was opened on February 8, 2001, as Disney’s California Adventure Park. It is the second of two theme parks built in the Disneyland Resort complex, after Disneyland Park.
The concept of Disney California Adventure park arose from the meeting of Disney executives in 1995, following the cancellation of the EPCOT Center.
The construction of the park began in June 1998 and was completed in early 2001. Initially, Disney projected a high attendance rate at the park.
A series of preview openings held in January 2001 led to negative reviews. However, after the park was opened, Disney spent several years adding new.
In 2007, Disney announced a major overhaul of the park which consisted of new expansions and reconstruction of existing areas.
The Disney California Adventure park is listed as the 12th most visited place in the world.
Night view of the Disney California Adventure park
Is it worth going to Disney California Adventure?
Yes! It is worth going to the Disney California Adventure, especially since adults would enjoy riding its thrilling rides.
Most of its visitors have shown great response, and have recommended Disney California Adventure ideal for teens and adults.
It’s Soarin Around the World and the night view of Carland with other places of attraction can make your visit to Disney California Adventure really memorable and joyful.
Disneyland vs Disney California Adventure: Are they the same?
Although both theme parks are very popular and are pretty similar by name, it does not means that both are the same. Despite the similarity in their name, both the parks also share differences between them. The table below represents the differences between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
|Disneyland||Disney California Adventure|
|Opened on||July 17, 1955||February 8, 2001|
|Total Area||40 ha or 500 acre||72-acre or 29 ha|
The key distinctions between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Disneyland Park is a family-friendly park with more rides and attractions with a broader audience from children to adults. Disney California Adventure is a larger number of thrill riders that proportionally have a number of height restrictions which mostly attracts the older audience.
Disneyland vs.Disney California Adventure: Which is better?
Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are very most popular theme parks that will make your visit memorable.
However, it gets a bit difficult to compare both the parks with each other as both are pretty similar. Each of the parks gives its own experience to the visitor through its attractions and thrilling rides.
Disneyland is a classic, you will get the full nostalgic experience while walking into the Main Street, with the Castle, museum, and the train. Disney California Adventure has also changed and is pretty iconic, with thrilling rides such as Tower of Terror and Screaming as well as Soarin’ Around the World making it a place that everyone must visit at least once.
Disney California Adventure is a larger number of thrill riders that proportionally have a number of height restrictions which mostly attracts the older audience.
Disneyland Park is a family-friendly park with more rides and attractions with a broader audience from children to adults.
Both the theme parks have hosted millions of satisfied visitors. However, Disneyland has the upper hand with eye-catching attractions and pleasurable rides. Disneyland has a rich and long history of entertaining its visitor with a high satisfaction rate.
Is Disney California Adventure as big as Disneyland?
Disneyland has a long history of providing high-quality entertainment to its visitors.
No, Disney California Adventure is not bigger than Disneyland. Disney California Adventure has a total area of 72-acre or 29 ha, Disneyland covers an area of 40 ha or 500 acres, which makes it pretty bigger than Disney California Adventure.
Disneyland has eight themed regions, including Main Street USA, Tomorrowland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square, Adventureland, and Fantasyland, all based on iconic characters and themes.
Only seven lands make up Disney’s California Adventure, the product of a lot of hard effort and innovation to make this park distinct. Buena Vista Street, Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier, Hollywoodland, Car’s Land, Pacific Wharf, and ‘A Bug’s Land’ are among the themes.
Disney California Adventure and Disneyland are well designed and one the most popular theme parks which are evidenced by millions of visits made there every year.
With their popularity, both theme parks have a couple of distinctions that differentiate them.
Regardless of their differences, both the parks are astonishing, and entertaining and are made built in an eye-catching manner. Both parks entertain their visitors in the best way possible which makes them one of the most preferred parks to visit.