Once upon a time (that time was right now), there were two amusement parks in Anaheim, CA.
Like many pairs of siblings, they were incredibly close but couldn’t be more different…
This is their story.
Or, well – at least, this is some cool stuff about them.
If you’re trying to decide which to visit, Disneyland vs. California Adventure, this info will help you choose which park to spend your upcoming vacation time in.
Together, the two parks complement each other and comprise the entirety of what’s known as the Disneyland Resort. This article will compare their differences in terms of:
- Which is best overall
- Style, Size & Geography
- Age recommendations
- Booking both or either
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If you don’t know what you want yet, let this article help you find your happiest-ever-after vacation. Our expert Vacationeers (aka, travel agents) will get you hooked up whenever you’re ready.
Overall Benefits Of Disneyland vs California Adventure
One of their main benefits is how close they are to each other!
It allows every family to choose between seeing:
- One park for the entire trip
- One park one day, the other park the next
- Both parks the same day – easily – using a Park Hopper ticket
(Curious about more options? Compare the differences between Disneyland, CA and Walt Disney World, FL, or consider a sublime expedition to other exquisite worldwide destinations with Adventures By Disney.)
In California, Disneyland and California Adventure share the same Disney property – including the same parking lot – with their entrances spaced just an easy, one-minute walk across the courtyard from one another.
As Hercules would say, you can go that distance.
Every mile will be worth your while.
Happily, this also means both parks have equal distance to Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian, and the Disneyland Hotel.
But that’s where the similarities between Disneyland and California Adventure conclude.
Except for obviously existing in the same magical Disney Universe of favorite characters, fanciful foods and fantastic rides, they are completely different.
The good news is that both parks keep adding and updating attractions, contain oodles of nostalgia, create astonishing fun, and can be family-oriented or more grown-up – as you choose.
The park that’s “best” is going to be the one that sounds best to you and offers your family’s preferences.
The California sky’s the limit!
Read on to learn more so you can choose your most magical adventure.
Disneyland Rides vs. California Adventure Rides
If you have a favorite character you want to see or a favorite movie you want to enjoy the ride for, consider choosing your amusement park based on the shows and attractions available at each location.
By the by, if you want to be able to start using the Disney-insider lingo right away, be sure to call all the rides attractions instead of rides. (Only “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride” is a ride – but even it’s referred to as an attraction!)
Disneyland houses 71 total things to do, including:
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Space Mountain (the classic Disneyland rollercoaster)
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Mad Tea Party
- Jungle Cruise
- It’s A Small World
- The Disneyland Railroad
- And more!
California Adventure Attractions
California Adventure has fewer total activities, coming in at 50, but a larger number of thrill attractions, such as:
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Incredicoaster (the amazing California Adventure rollercoaster, which has changed its name and theme since the park opened)
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Radiator Springs Racers (aka the Cars Ride)
- Grizzly River Run
Plus plenty for the little ones, like:
- The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- World of Color
- And more!
What Time Does Disneyland Open vs. What Time Does California Adventure Open
Their respective hours are subject to change throughout the year and depending on the day of the week you are visiting.
Generally speaking though, their hours are currently as follows:
Disneyland is open from 8:00 am to midnight.
California Adventure is open from 8:00 am to 9:00 or 10:00 pm.
If you’re hungry for even more hours of spectacle and delight, reach out to us here to see if there are any extra magic hours you can reserve by staying in a Disney property or taking advantage of other available special offers.
Disneyland Resort Map
The style of the two parks differs greatly, but the size of each is fairly similar.
Disneyland rests on 85 acres, while California Adventure occupies 72 acres, each dedicated to its own unique design, theme and attractions.
Disneyland, known as “The Happiest Place on Earth” ever since opening in 1955, is divided into fanciful lands full of fun, excitement, and classic Disney-themed attractions:
- Main Street, USA
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- New Orleans Square
- Mickey’s Toontown
- Critter Country
California Adventure, which opened in 2001, celebrates the breathtaking grandeur of California, highlighting its beauty throughout the following areas (with the help of some creative Disney characters of course):
- Buena Vista Street
- Paradise Gardens Park (which used to be Paradise Pier)
- Pixar Pier
- Grizzly Peak
- Pacific Wharf
- Cars Land
- Hollywood Land
- Marvel’s Avengers Campus
California Adventure Map
Disneyland vs California Adventure Dining
Let’s get the most critical point out of the way first:
Yes, they both have character dining.
Also, keep an eye out for turkey leg carts, churro carts, fruit carts, and the smorgasbord of fab quick dining options at both parks.
Basically, you can eat your way around either park and never run out of options.
** Side note: if you’re as big a fan of turkey legs as we are, you might enjoy our Turkey Leg Talk podcast – great for dreaming about the park or enjoying while you’re traveling there!
Now getting into the nitty-gritty: What fun food places are available in each park?
Some Disneyland faves:
- Blue Bayou
- Cafe Orleans
- Bengal Barbecue
- Carnation Cafe
- Oga’s Cantina
A few California Adventure faves:
- Carthay Circle Restaurant
- Carthay Circle Lounge
- Wine Country Trattoria
- Pym Test Kitchen
- Shawarma Palace
And news flash: a couple of the best dining experiences aren’t at EITHER location!!
For fine dining, it’s Napa Rose.
For character dining, don’t miss Storytellers Cafe.
They’re both at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
Downtown Disney also has outstanding dining that can be enjoyed without even entering the parks.
** Important Bonus Note: In restaurants at either park or Disney property hotels, the chefs are incredible at adjusting to both food allergies and picky eaters.
With all these great options, everyone can find what they want to eat, regardless of Disneyland vs. California Adventure bound.
Cost of Disneyland vs California Adventure
Their cost is exactly the same!
Well, the base cost, that is. We can’t be held accountable for what happens at those Main Street souvenir shops or your favorite snack stand on Pacific Wharf…
Guess what else?
Under three is always free!
So don’t leave your littlest kiddos home – bring them along.
They may not remember this trip, but you certainly will. Plus you’ll have family pictures hanging over the mantle to remind them…
Cost starts at $104 for adults or $98 for 3 to 9-year-olds for one park, one day.
The per-day ticket costs go down the more days you visit the park.
Other factors that affect cost, beyond your length of stay:
- Time of year
- Number of people in your party
- Transportation to and from the parks
- Adding any Park Hopper tickets
- Hotel & additional amenities
Park Hopper Disneyland Resort
Park Hoppers add an extra $60 per person, per day, and you can start “hopping” between the parks after 1:00 pm at which point you can go back and forth as many times as you wish.
Magic Key Passes Disneyland Resort
Or if you want to return multiple times throughout the year, consider the new Magic Key Passes, which replaced annual passes.
If you’re curious about any special pricing available right now, we keep track of all the current & best Disney deals right here. Check ‘em out!
And listen, all this stuff can be crazy complicated.
That’s why Ear To There has an entire team of Disney travel experts to help take the stress, confusion, and necessary extra work off your shoulders – so you can actually relax and enjoy both the planning and the doing of the vacation.
Contact us here if you are ready to have less stress, do less work, and save money in the process – because once you’ve booked with us, we continue tracking any new deals that come along and we’ll make sure they’re added to your reservation.
So not only do you get our services for free, but we will also actively help you save money on your trip wherever possible.
It’s our Pixie Promise.
Disneyland For Adults
Historically alcohol-free, you can now get adult beverages in Oga’s Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Even Blue Bayou now offers creative cocktails.
But adults will find so much more than just the alcohol to enjoy in Disneyland.
The magic is there for everyone to share, with fast-paced rides and the new Star Wars land (Galaxy’s Edge) eager to welcome you to its alien universe and “out of this world” experiences.
California Adventure For Adults
Wine being a California staple, the same is true for this California-celebrating amusement park. So don’t hesitate to sit down for a tasting.
If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss the fantastic Food & Wine Festival that happens from early March to late April each year.
There are plenty of traditional amusement park rides, silly things to take selfies with, and kiosks filled with beloved Disney treats in California Adventure. Not to mention the brand-new thrill of epic possibilities and superhero friends awaiting fans of any age at the Avengers Campus.
(Plus, Paradise Pier Hotel actually has a secret, dedicated back entrance to California Adventure for anyone currently staying there.)
Be sure to reserve a dessert party to watch the spectacular & beyond World of Color show projected onto a huge water screen after dark. Now that’s a celebration!
Booking Disneyland Or California Adventure – Or Both!
Whether you’ve got your plans all laid out (and are already hearing When You Wish Upon A Star playing in your head) or you still need more advice (and you’re hearing alarm bells trying to decide between park layout, rides, food, or that je ne sais quoi quality), we’re happy to help.
Ready to book with the best Disney travel agents in the biz?
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Feeling overwhelmed with all the exciting options?
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Flexibility & Access
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Contact one of our amazing Vacationeers with the button below to get set up with a free, no-obligation quote so we can help you plan the Disneyland or California Adventure vacation of your dreams.