Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (2022)

Ideally, if you visit Disneyland Resort, you’d have at least two days to spend time in both of the parks. Otherwise, you need to know how to divide your time.

Disneyland has a lot in common with Disneyland Paris in that each park’s general layouts presented to guests are similar. But, if you have ever been to Disneyland Paris, you know that the second gate, Walt Disney Studios, doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.

At Disneyland Resort, it’s not so simple. Disney California Adventure has come a long way in 20 years, and it continues to evolve more than any other Disney park. On the other hand, Disneyland is the original Disney theme park, and there is so much to discover, both old and new.

So, in the question of Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure, who wins?

Note: Both parks open on April 30 to California residents!

Pros and Cons of Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure

Both parks have a long list of pros, and the cons aren’t actually negatives. They’re meant to point out what one park has that the other doesn’t so that you can make decisions based on your interests.

Disneyland Pros

As the original Disney Park, Disneyland has a lot going for it. Fans of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort like to downplay the success of Disneyland and Walt Disney’s overall satisfaction with it.

The truth is that most of Walt Disney’s disappointment with Disneyland was fixed by Michael Eisner’s approach to building a more immersive resort experience.

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (1)

Disneyland has nostalgia on its side, and not just because it’s older. It was created to evoke these euphoric feelings from the beginning. That’s part of its genius.

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You also can’t argue the presence of Walt Disney at Disneyland. There are traces of him everywhere, from the firehouse apartment to the Golden Horseshoe balcony to the espresso machine at Cafe Orleans.

Even if you don’t have that same sort of reverence for the man who created Disneyland there is a certain charm to the place. The level of Imagineering under Walt Disney’s guidance far surpassed what has been done since its creation.

The use of space and visual trickery that Disney is known for were operating on a scale back then that has not been reached since.

For example, take the difference between the crooked path of Adventureland and the wide-open space of Frontierland. Magic Kingdom’s versions may be larger, but they pale compared to craft and details.

Disney California Adventure Pros

Since 2001, Disney California Adventure has grown a lot. The park offered very little when it opened. However, even then, it was a remarkable tribute to the diversity of California. Some of it, such as Grizzly Peak, was stunning and still is.

Disney built on the California premise and refined it, bringing Walt Disney’s story front and center. One of the best aspects of Disney California Adventure is Buena Vista Street. The setting takes you to the beginning of Walt Disney’s California journey, starting with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit greeting guests at the park entrance.

Buena Vista Street is a gorgeously aesthetic choice for introducing the park and a perfect mirror to Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland.

Disney California Adventure is not locked into a formula like Disneyland is. It’s a testing ground for new ideas and is afforded more leniency when it comes to change. Lands have come and gone in the park’s short history.

One of the great advantages of visiting Disney California Adventure is Cars Land, which pulls right into the world of Radiator Springs. The design is flawless, and the views of Ornament Valley are breathtaking. Radiator Springs Racers is one of the best Disney rides, anywhere… ever.

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (2)

Disneyland Cons

Disneyland’s “deficiencies” only lie in what is available elsewhere.

You can’t meet Marvel characters in Disneyland. Certain attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Break Out and Soarin’ Around the World are not at Disneyland.

Really, the only reason not to go to Disneyland is if you want to experience the attractions and experiences that are only available at Disney California Adventure.

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Disney California Adventure Cons

Due to the experimental freedom and the constant change, Disney California Adventure has not settled into a unified theme. It’s a collection of ideas at best. Many of those ideas are great, but they don’t have the timelessness or the consistency of Disneyland.

Pixar Pier is an attempt to unify an area of the park in a way that pales in comparison to how cool Cars Land is. One of Pixar Pier’s main benefits is the availability of good casual eats (see below).

Another potential downside for the park for some is the lack of any Lucasfilm presence. Disney California Adventure should have been the park of choice for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and it wasn’t.

Although Imagineers chose a location for Galaxy’s Edge within Disneyland that makes thematic sense, it would have fit in much better if incorporated into Disney California Adventure similarly to Marvel.

Dining at Disneyland Versus Disney California Adventure

We always look forward to eating at Disneyland Resort. From the Halloween and Christmas treats scattered throughout both resorts to old standbys like Dole Whip, choices abound.

Disneyland Dining

When it comes to food, Disneyland has The Blue Bayou, a romantically-lit table service restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean from a beautifully designed terrace.

Adventureland offers exotic quick service small plates at The Tropical Hideaway, where one can also source a famous Dole Whip.

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (3)

The Hungry Bear offers views of Tom Sawyer Island and the Mark Twain Riverboat. Carnation Cafe offers an atmospheric dining experience in the heart of Main Street U.S.A.

Disney California Adventure Dining

Disney California Adventure offers a lot of dining. Pixar Pier has tons of counter service options that pay homage to the films from Angry Dogs to Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff.

Lamplight Lounge is where Pixar Fans can go for a drink and some inspiration from the sketches and animated movie memorabilia. I think the food is pretty good, too.

Carthay Circle Restaurant is a beautifully decorated replica of the theater of the same name that premiered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This fine dining experience is superb, and even the lounge is such a sweet way to unwind at the end of a thrilling day. Now that the kids are older, we come in here for air conditioning during the summer and a glass of nice wine.

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With the recent opening of Avengers Campus, guests have some new dining opportunities at Disneyland California Adventure. This new area of the park hosts Pym Test Kitchen, a restaurant where Ant-Man and the Wasp use their growing and shrinking technology to create one-of-a-kind foods like giant soft pretzels and massive chicken patties.

Right next door is Pym’s Tasting Lab, which is a great spot for adults to enjoy craft beers and innovative cocktails. Avengers Campus also has two food carts: Shawarma Palace and Terran Treats.

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (4)

Disney California Adventure offers something else that Disneyland does not have: food festivals. During the Lunar New Year Celebration, Food and Wine Festival, or the Festival Foods Marketplace that occurs during the Disney Festival of Holidays, you must visit Disney California Adventure if you are a foodie.

Attractions at Disneyland vs Disney California Adventure

Which park you visit depends largely on which rides and attractions you’re interested in. Disneyland rides are entirely different from Disney California Adventure rides.

Disneyland Rides and Attractions

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (5)

Disneyland has many of the most popular Disney attractions. The Disney Mountain Range consisting of Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Big Thunder, and Splash Mountain all house iconic rides.

Disneyland also has the best rides for families including the entirety of Fantasyland with its princesses and rides that are popular with younger kids.

In addition, the most classic Disney rides from Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion to The Jungle Cruise and The Tiki Room all await inside.

One of the more recent offerings at Disneyland resort is Galaxy’s Edge, which opened in May 2019. In this 14-acre land, Star Wars fans can fly the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s famous ship, on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, or join the Resistance in a climactic battle against the first order, on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Disney California Adventure Rides and Attractions

Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure: Pros and Cons | La Jolla Mom (6)

Disney California Adventure is the place to go for Pixar and Marvel experiences. Pixar Pier has the Incredicoaster roller coaster (the only ride with an inversion in both parks) and other themed attractions.

Cars Land is home to Radiator Springs Racers and you’ll find the popular Grizzly River Run water ride in Grizzly Peak.

Since June 2021, the all-new Avengers Campus is open at Disney California Adventure, which replaced the previously existing “A Bug’s Land.” This epic new area features a Spider-Man-themed adventure called “Web Slingers,” and a portal to Doctor Strange’s lab.

At the center of the campus is the Avengers compound, home to Marvel’s mightiest heroes. Guests can also look forward to character meet-and-greets with some of the famous Avengers including Thor, Black Panther, and Black Widow. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission: Breakout ride is now located in Avengers Campus.

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Buy Disneyland Discount Tickets to Both Parks

You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may be compensated.

Visiting both parks is made easy with Disneyland discount tickets that can be 1 Park Per Day tickets or Park Hopper tickets in increments of two, three, four, or five days.

Print and go straight to the gate or use a mobile ticket.

The Bottom Line

In the Battle of Disneyland vs. Disney California Adventure, Disneyland is the clear winner for now. However, with the recent opening of Avengers Campus, Disney California Adventure is slowly catching up.

Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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FAQs

Which Disney park is better Disneyland or California Adventure park? ›

If you want to experience classic Disney magic, then Disneyland Park is the right choice. If you're looking for something a little more adventurous and modern, California Adventure has got you covered. No matter which park you choose, you're sure to have a magical time visiting the happiest place on earth!

Is Disney's California Adventure kid friendly? ›

You should feel good picking and planning what you want to spend your time doing. California Adventure with kids is super fun and if you're going to be doing Disneyland for more than one day it's totally worth your time. Go, have fun, meet characters and then tell us what your favorite memories are!

Which Disney park is more kid friendly in California? ›

If you have never been, Disneyland is the way to go. Disneyland has enough to keep young kids busy all day, for sure: "it's a small world," Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh are great for young kids. Some of the attractions, like Snow White's Scary Adventures, Mr.

Is it better to go to Disneyland or California Adventure first for park Hopper? ›

Start at Disneyland

Getting in early before the park fills up will make it easier to get about and reduce waiting times for rides and attractions. With a park hopper ticket, you will also have to stay in the first park until 1 pm. After this time you can move freely between the parks.

Is California Adventure less crowded than Disneyland? ›

Disneyland Park is the original Disney theme park and it's more crowded than its counterpart. However, Disney California Adventure Park is newer and less crowded. No matter which park you choose, you will find attractions and experiences that you will love and have memories for years to come.

Does California Adventure have more rides than Disneyland? ›

There are more rides, more lands, more rides for adults, and generally a better park. California Adventure serves alcohol in a couple of their restaurants. You wont find that anywhere at Disneyland. You can buy a hopper pass that allows you to go between the two parks, but it does cost more.

What age is best for California Adventure? ›

Kids ages 9-11 are finally tall enough (and often daring enough) for thrill rides such as the Indiana Jones Adventure (Disneyland) and California Screamin' (California Adventure) but are also the perfect age for Disney classics such as The Jungle Cruise (they'll finally get those corny jokes) and Pirates of the ...

Is Disneyland Park or California Adventure better for kids? ›

There are several rides that are accessible, but if your family has time for only one park, the choice is clear: choose Disneyland. There are many rides for children as young as the age of one year at the Disneyland park, but California Adventure offers less bang for your buck with a toddler.

What Disney park is better for kids? ›

Magic Kingdom Park has the most number of attractions suitable for younger children and is also where they can meet their favorite characters or wave to them in the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade or Disney Adventure Friends and Mickey's Celebration Cavalcades.

Can you do Disneyland California Adventure in 1 day? ›

We discovered that yes, it is possible to visit both Disneyland and California Adventure in one day. You won't see everything (although we hit all the highlights), but you'll have a lot of fun.

Do you need a full day for California Adventure? ›

With a good strategy, you can see and do all of California Adventure easily in one day. In fact, with my plans, you can typically have all of the park's attractions completed just in time for a late lunch.

Can you spend a whole day at California Adventure? ›

Prior to my visit I'd heard that a lot of guests get bored after just half a day at Disney California Adventure Park. However, we easily spent a whole day at this park as there are plenty of rides and shows to keep the whole family entertained.

Does Disney California Adventure have fireworks? ›

Fireworks occur on select nights only. Please check the Entertainment Schedule for the performance schedule. All fireworks at Disneyland Park are dependent on weather conditions and are subject to change or cancellation.

Is Disneyland or Disneyworld better for younger children? ›

It's home to two theme parks and three themed on-property resorts. Disneyland is regarded as a great destination for shorter vacations and for families with younger children.

What is the number one theme park in California? ›

When it comes to fun amusement parks in California, you know Disneyland is at the very top of the list.

Is it worth it to go to California Adventure? ›

Re: Is California Adventure worth the money? Yes, California Adventure Park is worth it just for Soarin Over the World, seeing Carlsland at night, and various other attractions Imo. BUT, Disneyland has 2 Parks and over 100 attractions that can easily take 2 or 3 days for a visit.

What day is Disneyland least busy? ›

Best Time to Visit Disneyland in 2023
  • The first half of September; Tuesdays through Thursdays for the remainder of September and the second half of October.
  • Mondays through Thursdays in November (minus the week of Thanksgiving)
  • Mondays through Thursdays during the first half of December.
25 Jul 2022

How many days do you need for Disneyland? ›

How many days should you spend in Disneyland parks? Though there are just 2 parks at Disneyland Resort, there are still plenty of attractions and things to do. Ideally, you should plan on spending a total of 3-4 days in the parks to cover most everything, including rides, characters, shows, and fireworks.

Which Disney park is better for adults? ›

The best Disney World park for adults is: EPCOT.

This park has long been considered the best Disney park for adults. It has a wide range of adult-themed rides, restaurants, and shopping. EPCOT also hosts various festivals throughout the year geared towards adults in Disney world.

Which Disney park is better for toddlers? ›

Magic Kingdom Is The Best Park For Toddlers

Magic Kingdom has the most ride options for toddlers with only 6 attractions having any height requirement. What is this? Magic Kingdom has 24 rides for toddlers which is why this park is so fun for families with small kids.

Is Disney genie plus worth it? ›

For those who are looking for a quick answer to whether Genie+ is worth the extra cost or not, the answer is “Yes” but it depends on many factors including your personal budget, how much time you have, and how many rides you want to do per day.

Is Disneyland worth it for a 3 year old? ›

Disneyland is great for small children because most of the rides do not have height requirements. But as your child gets a little bit older, they might start noticing rides that appeal to them. And some of those rides might have height requirements that you'll want to be prepared for.

Which California Disney park is best? ›

While Disneyland remains the most popular in influence and attendance, Disney's California Adventure makes a really excellent option as well, offering all the Disney fun you'd expect at any Disney theme park!

What is the best age to take a child to Disney? ›

Parents often wonder if their kids are too young (or too old) to go to Disney World. The best age to take a child to Disney World is between 3 and 12 years old, but people of all ages will enjoy the park.

Which Disneyland Park is best for 10 year olds? ›

Kids around this age usually love to explore, especially topic like space – making EPCOT on of the best theme parks for 10 year olds. Epcot has a whole neighborhood dedicated to discovery, outer space and innovation.

Which Disneyland Park is best for 4 year olds? ›

The first stop inside Disneyland Park should be Fantasyland. Most rides in this area have no height restrictions. Themes are geared towards little ones, making Fantasyland a preschooler's dream come true!

How many days is a 5 year old at Disneyland? ›

It can normally take 2 or 3 days at regular crowd times. I would say a 5 day park hopper would be good. I suggest that you include one afternoon in Disneyland Park so that you can experience the fun and character filled Soundsational Parade. There may be other entertainment during the afternoon you can catch as well.

Does an 8 year old need a stroller at Disney World? ›

Many people waste lots of time and money on strollers at Disney World for their kids who are 6, 7, 8, 9, or even 10 years old because they think they need them. The truth is that any healthy kid over the age of 4 does not need a stroller at Disney World.

Which Disney park is best for a 5 year old? ›

Magic Kingdom is one of the best Disney parks for 5 year old and younger, offering a wide array of options for families—from character meet-and-greets to attractions to a stunning fireworks display. Make sure you watch your child's face when a parade goes by at Magic Kingdom.

Which Disney park should I go to first? ›

No matter what your plans may be, Magic Kingdom will always be the best choice for your first park. Seeing the iconic Cinderella Castle, watching your favorite characters parade around, and walking onto Main Street USA is the perfect way to get you into the Disney mood and help you feel the magic, as its name suggests.

What's the difference between Disneyland and Disneyland Adventure park? ›

', the main differences are the attractions and themes. As explained above, each park has different themed areas to explore. Whilst you can enjoy Star Wars-themed attractions only at Disneyland, you will only find Marvel attractions at California Adventure Park!

What Disney park is better in California? ›

While Disneyland remains the most popular in influence and attendance, Disney's California Adventure makes a really excellent option as well, offering all the Disney fun you'd expect at any Disney theme park!

Which is better Disneyland or Disney World? ›

Although Disney World has more on-property lodging with fun themes at different price points than Disneyland, the latter blows Disney World away when it comes to its wealth of simple off-property options that don't leave you feeling too far from the magic.

What is the best Disneyland Park? ›

Still, Magic Kingdom has the most well-rounded attraction lineup of any park at Walt Disney World. It's also home to plenty of fan-favorites like Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Carousel of Progress, and the Peoplemover.

Does Disney California Adventure have fireworks? ›

Fireworks occur on select nights only. Please check the Entertainment Schedule for the performance schedule. All fireworks at Disneyland Park are dependent on weather conditions and are subject to change or cancellation.

Which is better for little kids Disneyland or California Adventure? ›

There are several rides that are accessible, but if your family has time for only one park, the choice is clear: choose Disneyland. There are many rides for children as young as the age of one year at the Disneyland park, but California Adventure offers less bang for your buck with a toddler.

How many days do you need for Disneyland and California Adventure? ›

There are over 75 attractions between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. On a normal day, the average guest will only experience 10-11 of those. It would thus take you at least 6 days to experience everything in the two theme parks, assuming you didn't want to re-ride anything.

Is California Adventure worth it for adults? ›

Out of the two parks at Disneyland, California Adventure definitely feels more like it's geared toward adults with a couple of great bars and winery-themed dining. If you're planning to visit without kids, this guide full of California Adventure tips, highlights, and FAQs is all you need.

Can you do California Adventure a day? ›

With a good strategy, you can see and do all of California Adventure easily in one day. In fact, with my plans, you can typically have all of the park's attractions completed just in time for a late lunch.

How many days do I need at Disneyland? ›

How many days should you spend in Disneyland parks? Though there are just 2 parks at Disneyland Resort, there are still plenty of attractions and things to do. Ideally, you should plan on spending a total of 3-4 days in the parks to cover most everything, including rides, characters, shows, and fireworks.

Which is more crowded Disneyland or Disney World? ›

Disney World is generally more crowded than Disneyland, although Disneyland can get crowded, too, at times. Disneyland sees increased crowds around holidays, such as during winter break, the end of March and around Columbus Day, and school breaks, including several weeks in early October.

Which Disney is better for toddlers? ›

Just because Magic Kingdom is the best Disney World park for toddlers doesn't mean the other parks aren't fun with little ones. There are special attractions and different character options for toddlers at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Which is cheaper Disneyland or Disney World? ›

In general, ticket prices at Disney World cost slightly more than at Disneyland. At both parks, the per-day cost of tickets decreases when you buy a multi-day ticket.

Is it worth it to go to California Adventure? ›

Re: Is California Adventure worth the money? Yes, California Adventure Park is worth it just for Soarin Over the World, seeing Carlsland at night, and various other attractions Imo. BUT, Disneyland has 2 Parks and over 100 attractions that can easily take 2 or 3 days for a visit.

Which Disney park is best for adults? ›

The best Disney World park for adults is: EPCOT.

This park has long been considered the best Disney park for adults. It has a wide range of adult-themed rides, restaurants, and shopping. EPCOT also hosts various festivals throughout the year geared towards adults in Disney world.

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