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There's something of a polite rivalry between fans of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Depending on which coast you're on, or at least closest to, there's a knee-jerk response to the question of which theme park is better. While it's mostly impossible to compare Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the latter park is simply so much larger than the Disneyland Resort that any true comparison is near impossible, but on a per attraction basis, that comparison is a little easier to me.
Previously, we looked at 10 attractions that you can find at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World that are superior at the original Disney theme park. However, there are a lot more attractions that the two resorts share, and just as many, or technically slightly more, that are a much better experience at Walt Disney World. Here they are...
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Found in Disneyland's Critter Country, the most fascinating thing about Splash Mountain is that the attraction is based on Song of the South, a Disney movie that the company actually wishes everybody would forget ever existed. However, while Uncle Remus is nowhere to be found, Splash Mountain does bring back the animated characters of the film, like Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear, in a classic log flume ride Guests float In single-seat logs through a story that sees Brer Rabbit decides to leave his home in the Brier Patch, though doing so causes him to run afoul of Brer Fox and Brer Bear. He is very nearly captured and eaten before he convinces them to throw him back in the Brier Patch as guests fall down a 50-foot drop.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: While the basic structure of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World is the same, a lot of details are different. Splash Mountain can be found here in Frontierland as there is no Critter Country. In addition, the log ride vehicles are two-seaters as opposed to be single seaters found at Disneyland. The story that you go through here is pretty much the same as the Disneyland version. However, the ride itself is longer ,which means this version of the attraction simply gives you more of that story with more characters.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: Sometimes bigger is truly better. The Walt Disney World version of the attraction just has a lot more to offer than Disneyland. In addition to the one massive drop that each ride has, the Walt Disney World version has four smaller drops whereas Disneyland only has two. Disney World also has more, and better, animatronics. Many of the animatronics used at Disneyland were recycled from an earlier attraction called America Sings, while at Walt Disney World most of the animatronics were made for this ride so they are of a little bit newer vintage.
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: if you find yourself in the hub of Disneyland's Main Street USA and you head toward Tomorrowland, the first thing you see is Astro Orbiters. It's right there at the entrance to the land. The ride itself is a simple one, very similar to Dumbo's Flying Elephants. You simply board a ride vehicle get pulled up in the air and get to fly around in a circle. You have simple control to raise and lower the ride vehicle a little bit, and after a couple minutes, you are lowered back to the ground on the ride is over.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: Astro Orbiter is ultimately the exact same ride at Walt Disney World and nearly everything about it is the same. It's located in Tomorrowland just like at Disneyland. However here, the ride is not found at the front of the land, but somewhere more towards the middle. In fact, you have to go up a small staircase to get to it because the ride is located on the roof of another building.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: Location makes all the difference. Because Astro Orbiter is just in the middle of Tomorrowland and because it's on top of a building, you are flying through the air that much higher than you are at Disneyland. This makes the otherwise basic ride a bit more thrilling and also opens up the view. There's simply a lot more to see. The entrance to Tomorrowland at Disneyland is currently undergoing renovations, which might open things up a bit and allow riders to see a bit more there, but currently the bottlenecked entrance to Tomorrowland limits how much you can see while you are flying through the air.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh can be found in Disneyland in Critter Country, alongside Splash Mountain. The attraction replaced the Country Bear Jamboree with a simple dark ride that takes you through familiar stories from Disney's Winnie the Pooh movie. The queue is located entirely outdoors, which is nice on pleasant days, though certainly when it gets hot it can get a little uncomfortable. It's a fairly simple ride as things go, but if you are somebody who was ever mildly disturbed by Winnie the Pooh's Heffalumps and Woozles, then there is certainly excitement of this ride that might give you the creeps.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: The actual ride is essentially identical at Walt Disney World when compared to Disneyland. So, like many other attractions, the differences come before you actually get on the ride. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Walt Disney World is located in Fantasyland alongside many of the park's other simple storybook dark rides. The queue here is also indoors as are many in Florida because it rains so much more often. However, this indoor situation gives the attraction the ability to theme itself a little more with pages from Winnie the Pooh story books on the walls and even some interactive screens that can keep people entertained while they're waiting for the ride.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: The queue at Walt Disney World gets you in the mood for the ride a little bit better than it does at Disneyland. Also, the location can't be overlooked. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh just makes more sense existing in Fantasyland than it does at Critter Country. Fantasyland is the place where you want rides like this, which makes the experience more enjoyable. Also, as an added bonus, the Walt Disney World version of the attraction includes a couple of easter eggs referencing Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the much beloved attraction that it replaced.
Toy Story Mania
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Toy Story Mania is a combination of an attraction and game as it combines 3D screens with an interactive ride vehicles that are taken through a variety of different scenes where they can use pop gun-style devices attached to the ride vehicle to shoot darts at balloons or throw baseballs at plates or toss rings in Toy Story-themed carnival games. The ride can be found at the Pixar Pier area of Disney's California Adventure in Disneyland Resort, the highlight of the queue is a massive Mr. Potato Head animatronic voiced by the late Don Rickles who is actually capable of interacting with the quests in line to some degree.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: Toy Story Mania can be found at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. The attraction saw a bit of a retrofit and overhaul to the show as part of the building of Toy Story Land. The entrance to the ride was actually shifted so that you can now enter it from the new land. The attraction itself is identical to the one at Disneyland. The biggest difference is in the mechanics whereas Disneyland attraction has only a single track, Walt Disney World has multiple tracks, so the attraction can handle a lot more people in a shorter amount of time.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: Once again, when the ride is the same, the queue makes a difference. Walt Disney World's indoor queue has a lot more theming, which is a big deal. As you walk through the line, you are surrounded by giant sized versions of classic toys making you feel like you are the size of a toy which is kind of the idea, since the ride itself is supposed to be a "play set." There's a little bit of this at Disneyland, but because the queue is mostly outdoors, there just isn't nearly as much on it. Toy Story Mania fits a lot better in the Paradise/Pixar Pier area in California than the ride did when it was simply located inside Disney's Hollywood Studios, but inside the new Toy Story Land where the entire land is designed to make you feel like you're the size of a toy, even the location is superior at Walt Disney World.
Peter Pan’s Flight
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Peter Pan's flight is one of the single most popular attractions you will find at Disneyland. It's the one part of Fantasyland that always has a significant line because the ride, while simple, significantly improves on the standard Fantasyland dark ride experience. Rather than sitting inside a car that is pulled around the floor on a track, the pirate ship design ride vehicles here are pulled on a track overhead so the pirate ship actually flies through the air. Much of the actual scenery to view while on the attraction is below you showing off some impressive miniature work. Beyond that, the ride takes you through the story of Disney's Peter Pan we all know it pretty well.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: Structurally speaking, Peter Pan's flight is identical at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. However there are a handful of minor differences. There is a cool element in queue here where you can watch Tinkerbell fly around the bedroom of the Darling children and there are other interactive elements as well. The ride itself is largely the same at both parks. Although, the Disney World version is a bit longer.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: This one is really close, as the rides are so similar. Many of the show scenes simply have a different art style between the two parks, and various people may feel differently about which is better. But the fact that Walt Disney World's attraction is longer, and therefore can take a slower pace so you can soak in everything, makes it the better attraction.
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: While Star Wars is now a huge part of Disney Parks thanks to the opening of Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, before any of that, we had Star Tours. The attraction is a motion simulator experience that sees guest take on the role of intergalactic tourists who are looking for a pleasant vacation experience checking out various points in the Star Wars galaxy. The queue takes you past C-3PO and R2-D2 working on ships, as well as various droids doing the Star Wars equivalent of standard airport security, like x-raying luggage as well as the passengers themselves. Once on board your craft, a confused and lost C-3PO becomes your pilot and you are taken through a variety of different Star Wars experiences from all three trilogies. The attraction is randomized so you will only get a few select pieces from a variety of options making the re-rideability of the attraction very high.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: Star Tours in Florida is found at Disney's Hollywood Studios. While the exterior of the Disneyland version of the attraction simply looks like the rest of Tomorrowland, at Walt Disney World the entrance is located in a small forest resembling part of Endor, a holdover from when that was the location you were supposed to be visiting to in the earlier version of Star Tours. The space includes a small Ewok settlement and a massive AT-AT Walker as well.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: It seems almost silly to give Walt Disney World the win here based on the first part of the entrance queue, but it's really the only significant difference between the two attractions, and there's really no argument that the Hollywood Studios version isn't better.
Dumbo The Flying Elephant
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Dumbo the Flying Elephant wasn't technically speaking a day one attraction in 1955, but that was only because the ride wasn't quite ready. It opened shortly thereafter and has been a staple of Disney Parks ever since. Just board the flying elephants and the attraction pulls them up into the sky and you get a circle view of Fantasyland as you go around and around with some basic ability to move your ride vehicle up and down.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: For a long time the Walt Disney World version was literally identical to the Disneyland attraction. It was practically located in the exact same spot in Fantasyland. However, when Walt Disney World's Fantasyland received a major renovation, things changed significantly for Dumbo the flying elephant. The ride was moved to to a new corner of Fantasyland called The Storybook Circus and the ride was also doubled, as there are two separate rides that guests can take.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: Considering that Dumbo the flying elephant in the movie was a circus performer, the circus environment for the attraction makes a lot of sense, and the fact that the iconic ride can handle twice as many guests as the Disneyland version make the Disney World one better overall.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: What used to be the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland is now Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout. The structure of the ride is ultimately the same as it was, but of course the attraction itself is completely different. Guests find themselves visiting the collection of The Collector, Benicio del Toro's character from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Upon entering to The Collector's private office, they are met by, of all people, Rocket, who tells the guests he needs their help to break out the rest of the Guardians who have all been captured. Guests make their way to the gantry list where they assist Rocket in breaking the security of the Collector's fortress, causing the ride vehicle to shoot up in the air and fall down and high-speed. In between the falls guests view video screens which show the Guardians of the Galaxy escaping, all to the '70s pop soundtrack we associate with the characters.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: In Florida, the classic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is still available. Upon entering the Hollywood Tower Hotel, guests view a short video clip where a Rod Serling sound-alike tells the story of the hotel and the maintenance service elevator that can transport you to another world. Upon boarding the elevator guests are taken through the hotel before experiencing the same drop ride experience as can be found at Disneyland.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: It's a bit more difficult to compare these two rides now because they're so different but, while the Guardians experience is the newer of two, there's something to be said for the classic Twilight Zone experience. It fits the spooky hotel and drop ride experience a bit better. Even if we were still comparing the original Disneyland version of the attraction, Walt Disney World Is still the superior one, because all Disneyland's has is the drop ride portion of the attraction, while Walt Disney World has a bit more story building up to the climax.
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Jungle Cruise was an opening-day attraction at Disneyland in 1955 and it is still incredibly popular experience today. Upon boarding your boat, you are taken by your personal skipper on a tour of the rivers of the world. Specifically, you are taking down famous rivers in Africa and Asia. You float by various scenes where you are surrounded by different animatronic animals as humans, all while your boat skipper tells some of the best terrible jokes you ever heard.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: The Jungle Cruise made the leap to Walt Disney World as soon as it opened in 1971, though the ride did undergo a few changes. Like everything else at Walt Disney World, the attraction is much larger, and includes a significant sequence in a sunken temple that you won't find in California.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: The addition of the temple in Jungle Cruise makes the Walt Disney World version ever so slightly better than what you can find at Disneyland. It's a minor difference, to be sure, but when you're dealing with a classic attraction any little bit helps. It will be interesting to see if the forthcoming movie results in any significant changes to either version of the ride that might change this opinion.
Journey of the Little Mermaid
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, as it is called at Disney California Adventure, is your standard storybook dark ride as found in many Disney parks. You board a seashell on an omni-mover track and you are taken through a telling of the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. There's a very cool "Under the Sea sequence with dozens of dancing animatronic fish, and a huge Ursula as well.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: The ride called Journey of The Little Mermaid is the same ride at Walt Disney World,though it can be found as part of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Once again, because we're simply dealing with a ride that tells the story of the movie, the attraction is largely the same.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: Once again, it's all about the queue and the theming. Disneyland's queue is about as bare bones as you can get. It's easy to walk past the attraction and not even notice it because little is done on the outside of the building to tell you there's even anything there. Walt Disney World's queue is incredibly elaborate. You'll find waterfalls and castle walls and ships with Ariel figureheads built into the mast. Everything about this queue is designs take you to the world of The Little Mermaid the Disneyland version simply doesn't do that.
What The Ride Is Like At Disneyland: Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is located in the part of the park known as New Orleans Square, so the house is designed to look like a southern mansion that has fallen on somewhat hard times. Upon entering the mansion, you find yourself in a room with no windows and no doors that appears to be stretching. You can walk down a narrow corridor where busts appear to be following you and you enter your "doom buggy" for a trip through the mansion and various spooky scenes, including a head that speaks to you from within a crystal ball and a party where ghosts are dancing. Even 50 years later, this is still one of the greatest attractions in the history of a Disney theme park.
What The Ride Is Like At Walt Disney World: Located in Liberty Square at Walt Disney World, Haunted Mansion is done in a more Gothic style to better fit its location. This version of the attraction forgoes the section where you must walk to your doom buggy and puts you on board the ride vehicle almost immediately. Therefore, many aspects you walk past at Disneyland you ride past at Walt Disney World. Most of the haunted scenes you see here are identical to the ones at Disneyland. However, there are a couple of scenes like an M.C. Escher-inspired staircase, and a shadowy figure playing the piano, that can only be found in the Florida version of the attraction.
Why Walt Disney World Is Ultimately Better: While I had previously stated that the Disneyland version of The Haunted Mansion was superior between Halloween and Christmas because it's the only one to get The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, for the rest of the year, the Walt Disney World version is is the one to experience. The additional rooms here give you a reason to seek out the Florida experience.
While Walt Disney World may do some of its attractions a little better than Disneyland, the fact is none of these attractions on either list are in any way bad. They're all great, and while I think there are some clear reasons why one version of a given attraction might be superior to another, there's enough variety in here that a lot of people may have very different opinion for very logical reasons.
In the end, whether you are visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland, there is plenty to keep you entertained and show you a good time. If anything, the fact that there are superior versions of some attractions at one park versus the other gives you a reason to visit both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and not keep your vacations focused on a single coast.
Images courtesy WDWNews.com/Disney