What is the difference between Disneyland and Disney World?

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A trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World is unforgettable. Whether tied to the nostalgia of visiting as a kid or making new memories as an adult, the resorts hold special places in many people's hearts.

Loyal fans can fiercely debate and enumerate the merits of each, like which has the best rides, fireworks and food.

While both resorts are safe bets for any Disney lover, there are some objective differences travelers should consider when deciding on a destination. Here are some of the biggest distinctions between Disneyland and Disney World, as well as a little history on both resorts.

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Mickey Mouse welcomes guests to Disneyland.
Mickey Mouse welcomes guests to Disneyland.

Location, location, location

For starters, Disneyland Resort is in Anaheim, California, less than 30 miles from Los Angeles.

Walt Disney World Resort straddles Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando.

Fun fact: Both resorts are in their state's Orange County.

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Size matters

Another major difference between Disneyland and Disney World is size.

According to Parksavers.com, Disneyland spans about 500 acres; Disney World covers more than 43 square miles of land, making Disney World much larger.

Different parks

California is home to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney District.

In Florida, Disney World is home to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney World also includes Disney Springs, ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex, several golf courses, two miniature golf courses and two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

Places to stay

Disneyland has three resort hotel properties: Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel.

Disney World has more than two dozen resort hotel properties, including Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, which also offers campsites.

Disney castles

The featured castle is different at each resort.

Sleeping Beauty Castle is the centerpiece at Disneyland Park. It’s about 77 feet tall.

At Disney World, Cinderella Castle is iconic of both Magic Kingdom and the larger resort. The castle is about 189 feet tall.

A new crest honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort adorns Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park.
A new crest honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort adorns Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park.

Unique attractions

While guests at both resorts can enjoy Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and "it's a small world," the versions are slightly different.

Additionally, Disneyland is the only place for rides like Matterhorn Bobsleds, Storybook Land Canal Boats and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The Magic Kingdom's version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride closed.

Rides specific to Disney World include Spaceship Earth, Avatar Flight of Passage, Rock n' Roller Coaster and Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. The Carousel of Progress made its debut at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and lived at Disneyland before moving to Disney World in 1975, according to the attraction's webpage.

Notable nicknames

Disneyland is known as the "Happiest Place on Earth."

Disney World is called the "Most Magical Place on Earth." That magic carries into other titles, like Disney World's 50th anniversary festivities, which have been dubbed the "World's Most Magical Celebration."

Which came first?

Disneyland opened July 17, 1955. It was designed and built under the supervision of Walt Disney.

Walt Disney World opened on Oct.1, 1971. Roy Disneyhelped design and open Disney World after his brother Walt's death in 1966. Its design was based on a plan called “The Florida Project,” created by Walt Disney.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Disney World vs. Disneyland: The biggest differences