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You'd think this would be "easy to look up", but... no.

And what's with the inconsistent naming? Why isn't it "Disney Land" or "Disneyworld"?

I've numerous times consulted Wikipedia to try to straighten this out, but always come back even more confused than I was before.

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    I’m voting to close this question because it is not about travelling – Xnero Jul 3 at 18:12
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    About 3,500 km. – Mike Harris Jul 3 at 20:33
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    Voted to reopen. Understanding a location name to clear some confusion is 100% on topic for a travel website. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 3 at 21:57
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    Are you asking solely about the inconsistency in spelling? – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jul 4 at 5:52
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    What is the question? Are you asking why one is spelled as two words and the other as one word? Are you asking whether they are two different places? Are you asking how one park differs from the other? – Ben Crowell Jul 4 at 15:50
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The big difference is the scale.

Disneyland (in California) was the first theme park Walt Disney built. Originally consisting of one theme park and one hotel, though after Walt's death it was expanded into a resort with a second theme park, more hotels and some other attractions.

Disney world (in Florida) was a much bigger project, this time Walt Disney wanted to control not just the immediate theme park but the whole area surrounding it. While sadly Walt died before the park was actually built the result was nevertheless a Disney-controlled resort with four theme parks, two water parks and loads of hotels and other attractions.

There are also a number of foreign (outside the US) Disneylands. As far as I can tell these are much closer in scale to the original Disneyland than they are to Disney World.

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    "As far as I can tell these are much closer in scale to the original Disneyland than they are to Disney World." This is correct. None of the other properties come anywhere close to the scale of Walt Disney World. As a side note, the reason that "Walt" is included in "Walt Disney World," unlike the other properties, is that Roy Disney (Walt's brother) decided to do that in honor of Walt, since Walt had died while it was still under construction. – reirab Jul 4 at 8:42
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    People visit Disneyland while on holiday, people go on holiday to Disney world. – Ian Ringrose Jul 4 at 12:25
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    @IanRingrose That's overly simplistic. – chepner Jul 4 at 16:12
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    @IanRingrose ? Plenty of people travel to LA, solely to visit Disneyland. I have, many times. – Azor Ahai -- he him Jul 6 at 14:43
  • When I think of Disney World, the most iconic image that comes to mind is the EPCOT "golf ball". – Acccumulation Jul 6 at 20:52
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The difference is that Disneyland is in California and Disney World is in Florida.

Please see Disneyland

and Disney World

I suppose the idea was that they would not be confused.

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    Other Disney parks have different names again, like Eurodisney in Paris, France, which of course is in Europe. – Willeke Jul 3 at 17:52
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    @Willeke It's just called "Disneyland Paris" now. It was renamed in 1994. – reirab Jul 4 at 8:48
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    @alephzero: I don't think US Americans are the most relevant target group for Disneyland Paris. – Heinzi Jul 4 at 19:54
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    @alephzero If someone goes to Paris, Idaho thinking that "Disneyland Paris" is there, they deserve to be shocked. – Gabriel Luci Jul 4 at 20:42
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    @alephzero: many these American cities should be renamed, to not confuse Americans that may be looking for the Eiffel tower there... – Taladris Jul 5 at 11:46
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DISCLAIMER: Read OP carefully. Also, SE does not require every answer to be all-inclusive.

Reading your question carefully, I’m not sure you’re asking about the easy stuff like location, scale or features. You seem to be asking a lot about the etymology: the word crafting.*

Historically there are reasons** many country/state names end in “land”: Ireland, Scotland, England, Rhineland, Poland, etc. The style has been used for fictional/created non-countries too: wonderland, playland, etc. Disneyland is simply continuing that style.

Different deal with the Florida resort. They wanted it named after Walt Disney, i.e. the full name. Waltdisneyworld would be a very ugly word formation. So they went with “Walt Disney World”.


* And since others have covered the scale, features and location well, there is no point in re-treading their work; and SE rules do not encourage or require that.

** Some very smart people want me to delve into the etymology of that; but that’s not your question.

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    The other answers do a good job of answering the title question (ie, what is the difference), but this is a great answer to the question actually asked in the body (ie, why the inconsistent naming). In my experience (on other stack exchange sites), partial answers are perfectly acceptable and even encouraged, especially if it addresses something the other answers have not. – WillRoss1 Jul 6 at 15:03
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    Syntactically speaking, -land is a common suffix, as you described, but -world is not. Had Disney World come first, Disney Land might have been used to stick with the convention. But with Disneyland coming first, Disneyworld wasn't just ugly, it was invalid (or at least unconventional) word construction in the first place. Of course, with the inclusion of the often omitted "Walt", neither Waltdisneyworld nor Walt Disneyworld make any sense at all. – WillRoss1 Jul 6 at 15:04
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Map from Wikipedia with the different names by location:

enter image description here

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2

In the USA, Disneyland is the name of Disney's property in Anaheim, California.

Originally, Disneyland was a single theme park, and still is. It has various versions around the world, but I imagine here we're talking about the Disneyland theme park in California.

Confusingly, since opening, Disney has also opened another theme park (Disney's California Adventure), a shopping area, and hotels around the original Disneyland park. The overall resort here is called the Disneyland Resort.

Walt Disney World, on the other hand, is Disney's resort in Florida. This is far, far larger than the Disneyland Resort and contains far more - more parks, hotels, shopping, and areas to expand into.

Walt Disney World contains the Magic Kingdom, Florida's version of the Disneyland theme park. However, in my experience, a lot of people call this park "Disney World", which is where I believe a lot of confusion stems from.

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Why Disneyland?

Most likely to play off Disney's fame (he was a prolific film and TV producer by then), as well as matching the motif of the park. Remember, the parks have always focused on the Disney stories. This is how Disneyland opened in 1955

Disneyland circa 1955

Note how the various areas are named. In particular

  • Frontierland
  • Adventureland
  • Tomorrowland
  • Fantasyland

Notice a motif? And to top it off, Walt Disney started a Disney anthology series that started in and around the park.

Walt Disney World

Announced in 1966, Walt Disney would die that same year. There's no reason why Disney called it "Disney World", but it's far less common to use "world" as a suffix. But it was Roy Disney who named the whole resort after the man

One of his first decisions was that the Disneyworld project would be officially renamed “Walt Disney World.” Roy was insistent that people be reminded that this was Walt’s project. Very few others in the company agreed with that choice because of marketing reasons.

In a meeting, someone referred to it as “Disneyworld” and Roy’s hand went to his glasses as he focused on the offending word: “I’m only going to say this one more time. I want it called ‘Walt Disney World.’ Not Disneyworld, not Disneyland East, not anything else. Walt Disney World.”

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