I think everyone should experience Disney atleast once in their lifetime. There is something for everyone. It always amazes me what they can do. Some of my favorite exhibits are the oldest ones. The Haunted house, Bear Jamboree, It's a Small World, The President's (you swear sometimes they're real). They do have lockers. IMHO food is pricey. I have been to Disneyland once, and DisneyWorld many times. It is an environment you can't help but feel happy and safe.
Disneyland is much more compact which means you can see most of the attractions in one day. Disney world is huge and it would take you a week to make a dent into the various attractions. Bring lots of money (or good credit cards), food, water, sodas, snacks and attractions are pricey. It is well worth the expense to feel like a kid again. Have a wonderful trip!!
Smaller sounds better less walking. Are things like the Haunted Mansion and Cinderella Castle the same at both DisneyWorld and Disneyland? What is the average cost for a meal I hear at least $20 and lots of Burger places. Any place have healthy sit down food the kind that doesn't come on a bun?
The Haunted Mansion and Cinderella Castle would be pretty much the same. As a first timer to Disneyland you might want to take the Disneyland Railroad first before you do anything. It will familiarize you with the park. A couple years ago the train started 10 minutes before the attractions opened. You will find any kind of dining you want. You will find snacks, counter-service, food courts, buffet, and table service. In addition to DisneyLand there is a Downtown Disney District which you should be able to take a bus to. It also has many options for dining. With your limited time though you probably want to spend it all at Disneyland.
Disneyland also has the California Adventure Park, themed around California history (but hardly dry and boring - you know Disney!) If you're there for a couple days you could spend a day in each park (Magic Kingdom being the official term for what was always just "Disneyland.")
Disney World is better!!! You'd pick one of thier parks for a day that's all, it's bigger then Disneyland but only because there are more parks within to choose from. Disneyland in CA is smaller because it's only the size of the Magic Kingdom park, you know the one where Cinderella's Castle is. They also have Epcot, Animal Kingdom & Disney MGM. You wouldn't be able to see everything in all the parks in one or two days. Each park charges it's own admission price, though you can buy a Park Hopper pass which will let you go into different parks in one day without paying separate admission. There are some nice Disney water parks too (We live in Orlando by the way) Typhoon Lagoon, is our favorite. Very tropical, relaxing setting with fun slides and a lazy river that circles around the whole park. You can bring your own food too, which most people don't know. That place is so nice in the warmer months. You're not allowed to bring alcohol, though we do smuggle it in on the bottom of our cooler. Get there early when the gates open so you can pick a good site to camp out for the day. We don't go to any of the theme parks, (except for Typhoon Lagoon) in the summer months, though lots of people do. It's very uncomfortable. Cooler weather makes it much more enjoyable. Tickets for Magic Kingdom went up again, think it's somewhere near $50 for adults. You can get a burger, fries & a coke for $10 if you eat that kind of stuff. We eat a lot before we get there, big breakfast, so you're not wanting to snack all day. I think everyone should go to Disney at least once in your life. Many people who cruise do stop there before or after the cruise. That's why Disney built thier own cruise line. We went on one of thier ships, it was really great. The service was the best I've every had on any cruise line, really top notch. They didn't overdo the Disney decor on the ship, very low key, beautiful ship.
We were at Disney World a couple of weekends ago. Spent one day at EPCOT, one day at MGM Studios. The one day/one park admission was $62 per person, but this past Sunday it went up to $67. The Park Hopper pass was like 40% more expensive. It was hot but not so much that we couldn't walk around. We spent 10 hours at EPCOT and 8 at MGM. The parks looked crowded, but there were no lines for anything that were longer than 10 minutes! It was amazing. We were able to do even the newest things like "Soarin'" (which is awesome) and turn around and get right back on again. I've heard that a lot of the Florida residents who usually visit the parks are staying home this summer because of the price of gasoline.