Which Is Older Disneyland Or Disney World?

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Disneyland California and Walt Disney World are two of the most iconic theme parks from the Disney franchise.

However, you may be surprised to know that the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California is older than Disney World, having opened on July 17th 1955. In fact, Walt Disney World’s premier theme park, Magic Kingdom didn’t open to the public until over 16 years later on October 1st, 1971.

Anchored by Sleeping Beauty Castle and divided into nine themed lands, Disneyland Park is just 30 miles from Los Angeles. This theme park became incredibly popular due to its family-friendly attractions, thrilling rides, and wonderful ambience. In fact, Walt Disney World is a direct result of the original Disneyland park’s success.

Alongside the age and the park’s location, the other major difference between the two Disney resorts is the size. Disneyland is located on 500 acres (less than one square mile) of land, while Walt Disney World Resort spans more than 43 square miles in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

As a result, Disneyland consists of just 2 theme parks (Disneyland Park and California Adventure) and 3 on-site hotels. Meanwhile, Walt Disney World has 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), 2 water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and more than 25 on-site hotels.


Disneyland was the first park that was created by Walt Disney. The concept of Disneyland began in the early 1950s after Walt Disney watched his daughters at a local amusement park. He was inspired to create a friendly, safe, and clean place where parents and children could have fun together, different from the dirty and dated amusement parks of the time. 

The park itself didn’t open until July 17, 1955, and Walt Disney was there to greet guests on opening day. When the park opened it immediately became a hit, seeing more than one million guests in less than two months.

Some of the most popular rides and attractions at Disneyland Park include Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It’s a Small World.

I recommend Klook for your Disneyland California tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

On February 8, 2001, a second theme park, Disney California Adventure Park, opened at Disneyland. This park features rides and attractions like the Incredicoaster, Radiator Springs Racers, and Toy Story Midway Mania.

In addition to its two theme parks, Disneyland also has three on-site hotels and the Downtown Disney District, and outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations.

Although Disneyland was extremely popular when it opened, Walt Disney felt constrained by the limited amount of real estate in Anaheim and endeavoured to build an even better theme park. Less than 10 years after Disneyland opened in California, Walt Disney had already set his sights on an even more ambitious project: Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World was the second park created by Walt Disney. However, sadly he passed away on December 15, 1966, five years before the Magic Kingdom park opened on October 1, 1971.

Walt learnt from his mistakes with Disneyland and when purchasing the land for Walt Disney World opted to plan a much larger resort. As such, Walt Disney World spans over 43 square miles and contains;

  • 4 Theme Parks
  • 2 Water Parks
  • 25 Hotels & Resorts
  • Disney Springs: A shopping, dining and entertainment complex
  • 3 Golf Courses
  • Fire Station

If you’re based in the UK I recommend AttractionTix for Walt Disney World tickets. They have the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

If you’re based in the US or Canada I recommend UndercoverTourist for your Walt Disney World tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

When Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, it featured a similar layout to Disneyland, but on a larger scale. Magic Kingdom has six themed lands including Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland, and is centred around Cinderella’s Castle.

It features many of the same rides as Disneyland and offers visitors the opportunity to meet their favourite Disney characters and experience magical moments like daily parades and a nightly fireworks show.

On October 1, 1982, a second theme park opened at Disney World: EPCOT or the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. This park was based on one of Walt Disney’s late-in-life visions of a futuristic city.

EPCOT has evolved significantly in recent years and is now divided into World Discovery, World Celebration, World Nature, and World Showcase, the latter of which features 11 pavilions themed to different countries around the world.

The next theme park to open was Disney’s Hollywood Studios, originally known as Disney-MGM Studios, which debuted on May 1, 1989. Although this is another theme park that’s changed a lot over the years, its core purpose has always been to bring the magic and glamour of the movie industry to life.

These days, guests can step into their favourite movies in themed lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land and experience thrilling rides and attractions.

The final park to open at Walt Disney World was Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998, and is themed around nature and animal conservation. Some of the most popular attractions and rides at Animal Kingdom include Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Avatar Flight of Passage.

Other Disney Theme Parks

In addition to Disneyland and Disney World in the United States, four other Disney parks have opened around the world:

  • Disneyland in California on July 17, 1955
  • Disney World in Florida on October 1, 1971
  • Tokyo Disneyland in Japan on April 15, 1983
  • Disneyland Paris in France on April 12, 1992
  • Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong on September 5, 2005
  • Shanghai Disneyland in China on June 16, 2016

This makes Disneyland the oldest Disney theme park, and Shanghai Disneyland the newest.


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