It can be hard to decide whether you should spend your time in Disneyland Park or California Adventure, no matter if it’s your first visit or your tenth. Each park offers unique lands, attractions and dining options.
Here are the key differences between Disneyland Resort and California Adventure.
Disneyland: What do you need to know?
Disneyland was located in Anaheim (California) and was the first park that Walt Disney saw as “a source for joy and inspiration to the whole world.”
It opened its doors to the public for the first time in July 1955. Over the years, it has grown to nine different lands that guests can explore.
Disneyland attractions, themes and notable dining
You will be immersed in many different themes, dining experiences, and attractions at each land. Disneyland will introduce you to:
Main Street, U.S.A. is the first place guests see upon entering Disneyland. You can take the Disneyland Railroad to Main Street or shop at restaurants like the Carnation Cafe and souvenir shops.
Adventureland. Here you’ll find historical attractions like Indiana Jones Adventure and Jungle Cruise. You can also grab a Dole Whip from the Tiki Juice Bar.
New Orleans Square. New Orleans Square is the home of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which inspired the Hollywood movie franchise. The Haunted Mansion is also available. You can also book fine dining reservations at Blue Bayou Restaurant.
Critter Country. Splash Mountain in Critter County can be refreshing on hot California summer days. Hungry Bear Restaurant is the perfect place to stop if you have a hungry stomach.
Frontierland. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Disneyland’s thrilling coaster-style attraction, is the place to be if you are looking for something more. If you love to collect and exchange Disney pins, Frontierland is the place for you.
Fantasyland. Fantasyland is where you can see the iconic castle of Sleeping Beauty. This land offers the most attractions for all age groups, including Matterhorn Bobsleds and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Mickey’s Toontown. This is a fun place for families with young children to enjoy the park’s Toontown. It is currently closed for renovations, but will reopen in March 2023. The new attraction Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is expected to be there.
Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland is a futuristic theme park that lets you daydream about the future. Attractions like Autopia and Space Mountain are available. After your space battle with Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters you might be craving pizza. Alien Pizza Planet is “A Better Place” and offers a variety of delicious pizzas. ”
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Disneyland is home to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This is Disneyland’s newest land. Rise of the Resistance offers a chance to meet Kylo Ren. You can enjoy themed food and drinks at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo as you navigate the galaxy. Oga’s Cantina is the only place where you can purchase alcohol in Disneyland, and it serves adult beverages for guests 21 years old or older.
You can’t visit the parks without enjoying delicious food and thrilling attractions. Fantasmic is the most popular show in Disneyland. There are many shows across all of the lands. This 27-minute show, featuring Mickey Mouse, can be enjoyed at Tom Sawyer Island, Frontierland.
The fireworks show at Disneyland can be used to close your visit. They are located in specific areas like Main Street in front of “It’s a Small World”, or at the main entrance plaza.
The Disney California Adventure
Disney California Adventure is Disneyland Resort’s second park. It was opened in February 2001. It is intended to show guests the most famous attractions and places of California.
Disney California Adventure theme parks, attractions and noteworthy dining
California Adventure offers fewer theme areas than Disneyland.
The eight themes are:
Buena Vista Street. Walk along Buena Vista St., which is named after the location of The Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, California. Carthay Circle Restaurant offers fine dining and Clarabelle’s serves ice cream.
Hollywood Land. You can watch Mickey Mouse’s PhilharMagic in Hollywood Land or you can cool down in the air-conditioned Animation Academy to get a hands-on drawing experience. Here you’ll find Award Wieners, which offer hot dogs with a variety of toppings.
Paradise Gardens Park. This park has rides for children, such as Jumpin’ Jellyfish, Goofy’s Sky School and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.
Cars Land. Cars Land puts you in Radiator Springs, the world created by Pixar Animation Studios. It was released by Walt Disney Studios. For cone-based treats and snacks, stop by Cozy Cone Motel and ride Radiator Springs Racers.
Pacific Wharf. For meals, guests can make a beeline for Pacific Wharf inspired by the waterfront piers in the Monterey or San Francisco areas. California Adventure’s main dining area, with sit-down restaurants such as Wine Country Trattoria. Magic Key holders have exclusive access to the Magic Key Terrace.
Grizzly Peak. Grizzly Peak has a rafting attraction called Grizzly River Run. You can also ride Soarin’ Around the World if you want to stay dry during your visit. This allows you to hang glide along an international tour with a projector dome.
Pixar Pier. The Incredicoaster is a thrill-seeker’s delight. Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel offers a bird’s-eye view of all the park. The Lamplight Lounge is a restaurant that serves up gastropub-style food along the waterfront.
Avengers Campus. Avengers Campus is the newest addition to this park. You can find your favorite Marvel heroes there, as well as attractions such as Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure or Guardians of the Galaxy – mission: BREAKOUT! Pym Test Kitchen and Testing Lab are a nod to Marvel’s Ant-Man and serve themed food like the Quantum Pretzel.
California Adventure-specific Experiences
California Adventure offers park-exclusive shows that guests can enjoy, just like Disneyland. Paradise Gardens Park hosts World of Color, a 22-minute show featuring color projection and water. You can also catch live-action shows at Avengers Campus like The Amazing Spider-Man!
California Adventure and Disneyland have different access to alcohol. Only guests over 18 can get a drink at Oga’s Cantina and Blue Bayou. Alcohol must be consumed within the park. Alcohol is however available at many California Adventure restaurants, casual dining places, and carts. California Adventure has a more adult feel, as guests can take a drink with them while they explore the park.
California Adventure vs. Disneyland – Recap
The theme lands that you are interested in visiting will determine which park you visit. Each park has its own attractions, shows, and themes. The resort has a Park Hopper ticket, which allows you to access both Disneyland Resort and other attractions if it is your first time.
(Top Photo courtesy Disneyland Resort)
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