If you’re planning a vacation to Disney, you may be wondering whether Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is right for you.
Both parks are incredibly different, after all, Disneyland Paris is based in Paris, France and Walt Disney World is based in Orlando, Florida in the United States.
Disneyland Paris has just two parks, while Walt Disney World has four and two waterparks.
And that’s just the start!
We’re incredibly fortunate to have had the ability to visit both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World (among other Disney parks around the world) many times over the past decade.
As such, we feel more than qualified to help you understand the differences between these two trips and get a better understanding as to which vacation might be best for you.
Table of Contents
- Who Is Disneyland Paris For?
- Who Is Walt Disney World For?
Who Is Disneyland Paris For?
Disneyland Paris was founded in 1992, and is home to two theme parks; Disneyland & Walt Disney Studios.
Formerly known as Euro Disney, Disney has a number of on-site hotels for a range of budgets as well as the Disney Village several to several stores and restaurants.
But who is this Disney resort best for?
Those Looking For A Theme Park Weekend
Given that there are just two theme parks within Disneyland Paris, you can comfortably visit the theme park over three days (or less with certain tips and tricks).
As such this makes Disneyland Paris the ideal choice for those based in Europe looking for a quick theme park weekend or for those looking to add a theme park trip to a wider European vacation.
Walt Disney World on the other hand has four theme parks and two waterparks, and as such if you want to see it all thoroughly you’ll want at least five to ten days to see everything.
Those Looking For A Laid Back Theme Park Experience
With so much to see and do at Walt Disney World, it can get incredibly overwhelming and often require months upon months of planning and reservations.
There are many memes across the internet depicting this, and in reality, for many (myself included) this is a reality of maximising a trip to Walt Disney World.
However, if you’re looking for a more laid-back Disney experience then Disneyland Paris may be a better fit.
Some restaurants still sell out a couple of weeks in advance, you can generally get seated at most places on walk-up (especially in the off-season).
This makes booking a last-minute trip to Disneyland Paris as enjoyable (if not more) than one booked weeks or even months in advance with detailed planning and preparation.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to planning a trip to either of these theme parks but also to exploring them.
That’s because there’s significantly less resort-wide transport and moving on buses, monorails or boats between parks.
Instead, the two Disneyland Paris theme parks and the Disney village are all within a stone’s throw of each other with the majority of on-site hotels all being within walking distance.
Disneyland Paris is the obvious choice for those based in Europe for two reasons;
It’s a significantly shorter flight time.
This combined with the two parks instead of four and two water parks means it’s a significantly more affordable vacation.
However, this only tends to be the overall cost.
As in most cases, the cost of a two-week trip to Walt Disney World (the most common duration for European travellers) often works out the cheaper price per night when comparing similar resorts & experiences.
As such if you’re looking to get in a quick Disney fix Disneyland Paris may be the optimal choice, with Walt Disney World being reserved for a longer more expensive trip in the future.
Those Looking To Experience Paris & French Culture As Part Of A Vacation
Given Disneyland Paris’s close proximity to the French capital and the relatively short time it takes to explore the two parks it’s the perfect choice for tourists looking to experience more of what Paris or even France as a whole has to offer while on vacation.
The train station situated just outside of Disneyland Paris Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy has trains running directly into Paris city centre.
This journey takes roughly 40 minutes each way and costs approximately €60 per person.
Who Is Walt Disney World For?
Walt Disney World opened in 1971 and is the largest Disney resort in the world comprising of four theme parks, two water parks, a large entertainment and shopping district and more than 32 resorts and hotels.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Walt Disney World more than a dozen times over the past decade, and have still yet to see everything this incredible place has to offer.
So, knowing all that who do I think a vacation to Walt Disney World is best for?
Those Looking For A Longer Vacation
Given the sheer scale of Walt Disney World, it’s rare you’ll find many people visiting the resort for the day.
Instead, most North American-based travellers spend between 3 and 5 days here with most international travellers booking between 10 days and 2 weeks.
This is mainly due to the amount of travelling required by international travellers and the amount of PTO those in North America get when compared to those in Europe.
As such Walt Disney World is only suitable for European travellers who are happy to book a 10-day to 2-week vacation.
I’ve done five days here before and believe me, the jetlag was 100% not worth it!
Keep in mind that even with a 3-day, 5-day or even 2-week break here, it’s impossible to experience everything the Walt Disney World resort has to offer.
It’s this combined with the magic of the experience is that keeps people such as myself coming back year on year.
North American Based Travellers
If you’re based in North America then travelling to Walt Disney World instead of Disneyland Paris is likely to be significantly more affordable and significantly quicker (depending on the mode of transport).
As such I’ve often found that those from North America visiting Disneyland Paris have made the trip as part of a wider European vacation (which often includes the likes of England, France and Italy).
While many North Americans will either make the trip to Walt Disney World specifically or use it as a stop-gap on the way to visit family and friends in nearby states.
Those Happy To Plan Their Vacation In Advance
Any trip to Walt Disney World requires some level of planning and preparation in advance.
If you only want to do a minimal amount of planning and preparation then simply make sure you buy your tickets in advance and reserve your park days.
While tickets for each park can be purchased at the gate on your arrival this can only be done if the park hasn’t sold out for that date (which does happen!)
Meanwhile, if you have a park hopper (most common for international travellers and those booking multi-day tickets online) then without a park reservation on top of your park ticket you’ll be unable to enter the park before 2pm.
On the more extreme end of planning and preparation, you have those like myself who like to create detailed spreadsheets of dining reservations, park days and itineraries.
Having planned a Disney vacation for twelve people as part of our wedding trip I can assure you, that the more people you’re travelling with, the more planning is going to be required.
Of course, if this is your first trip to Walt Disney World this can be incredibly overwhelming so make sure you do plenty of reading, watch all the Disney Youtube channels and join some friendly Walt Disney World Facebook groups for hints, tips and advice.
Again, keep in mind that even with all the planning in the world it’s simply impossible to experience everything that Walt Disney World has to offer!
Those Looking To Explore Beaches & Other Theme Parks As Part Of Their Trip
There are a magnitude of beaches and other theme parks all situated within a 2-hour drive of Walt Disney World which makes this resort a fantastic choice for those not only looking for a longer vacation but also a more action-packed one.
Some additional theme parks to consider alongside Walt Disney World while on vacation include;
- Universal Studios
- Discovery Cove
- Peppa Pig World
- Busch Gardens
Meanwhile some nearby beaches you may want to visit include;
- St. Pete Beach
- Cocoa Beach
- Daytona Beach
This is all alongside other major attractions and entertainment districts including the Florida Mall, the Mall of Millenia, Vineland Outlet, Gatorland and so much more.