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The Differences Between the Iconic Rides at Disneyland and Disney World

at Disneyland is a stronger experience. There's a physical story of sorts that is much stronger at the beginning, bridging the gap between an embarkation in New Orleans Square and the Caribbean.
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Which rides or attractions that exist at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are markedly better in one version or the other?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

The attraction entrance at Disneyland (DL)


Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World (WDW)

Answer by Matthew Myhrum, Disney Fan

  • Pirates at the Caribbean at Disneyland is a stronger experience. There's a physical story of sorts that is much stronger at the beginning, bridging the gap between an embarkation in New Orleans Square and the Caribbean. There is much more time spent at the beginning of the ride creating a mystical and exotic setting before thrusting you into the middle of a sea battle... and it makes all the difference. The last scene in the pirate's lair is also a much better ending, especially given that you're floating through a structure which sways as if it's about to fall apart. Although the Walt Disney World version transitions you slowly from Adventureland to the embarkation point, you're already in a tropical environment in Adventureland.
  • Personally, I prefer the Haunted Mansion in WDW, both in design and experience. WDW has a better line experience (especially since they added more to the graveyard) and the experience as a whole feels more consistent.

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion

  • It's Tough to Be a Bug -- WDW, no contest... there's a natural progression from the moment you enter the line at Animal Kingdom (AK), slowly shrinking in scale and burrowing deeper into the root system of the tree, while at Disney's California Adventure (DCA) in Disneyland, it feels more like a themed building with the interior identical to AK.

Disney's California Adventure's A Bug's Life

Animal Kingdom's It's Tough to Be a Bug

  • Toy Story Mania -- a bit of a toss-up... WDW plays off the idea that you're slowly entering Andrew's bedroom/toy chest, and is embedded into the Pixar Area without much context. at DCA, it reflects the fact that it's part of a Boardwalk style amusement park -- but is relatively fixed in only that. The ride itself is identical, so i would say that if I had to choose, i'd rather wait in line at DCA, as it feels more open and part of the surrounding environment.
  • Star Tours - The ride and interior are the same, but the transition into the ride is better at WDW.
  • Jungle Cruise -- Pretty much the same experience at both.
  • Soarin' -- the ride is the same, but the line and surrounding area at DCA is a bit better themed, and feels less outdated than Soarin' at Epcot.
  • The Little Mermaid -- Once the ride starts, it is exactly the same, but the line is way better at WDW, as you slowly make your way into seaside caverns, and into what looks like an ancient stone temple. At DCA, it's just part of the midway.

I can't comment on any of the other shared attractions, as I have not experienced the others at Disneyland/DCA.


Answer by Paul Schnebelen, Disney Geek

In no particular order:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean is better at Disneyland -- two real drops instead of one quasi-drop, the Blue Bayou sequence prior to the drop sets the mood better, the cave/Dead Men Tell No Tales sequence is more substantial. WDW's fortress-themed queue is better, though.
  • Jungle Cruise is a little better at WDW, because of the Cambodian temple sequence. I prefer Disneyland's queue to WDW's because of the second story and the AA bird.
  • I haven't seen the rehabbed version at WDW, but before the rehab, Big Thunder at WDW was better -- the flooded town was a nice extra touch.
  • Splash Mountain is better at WDW -- I love that the DL version used the original figures from America Sings, but the story makes more sense at WDW thanks to the extra couple of scenes and the queue.

Splash Mountain at Disneyland

Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom

  • Pooh is better at WDW -- the story's a little more coherent because of the way it's staged and WDW's version have moments of vehicle motion that accent the ride instead of the vague wavy motion the DL vehicles make (the DL vehicles are cuter, though). Tokyo's version kicks both their butts.
  • It's a Small World is better at DL. WDW has the advantage of not being stuck in a trough, and the redone loading area helps, but DL's clock and the meandering paths into and out of the show building add to the fun. The sets at DL seem more substantial, too. DL's final scene especially feels more substantial to me that WDW's. I could do without the Disney characters at DL, though...
  • Snow White is better at WDW... oh wait, they took it out for a meet-and-greet. With Peter Pan being a wash (except for WDW's Speedramp) and four unique dark rides at DL (Snow, Toad, Pinocchio, and Alice), DL's Fantasyland beats WDW's Magical Kingdom's original Fantasyland. (I haven't seen the New Fantasyland at MK, so I'm going to reserve judgement.)
  • Space Mountain is better at DL -- audio in the vehicles, a better soundtrack, better loading area, and side-by-side seating make up for having only one track.
  • Buzz Lightyear is better at DL -- the show scenes are better, and it's nice to be able to remove the guns from the mount to shoot at targets.
  • Innoventions is much better at WDW, if only because it's more substantial; the Marvel meet-and-greets help the DL version, but not much. Whenever WDW is willing to give back Carousel of Progress, we'd be happy to ditch this turkey and put it back in.
  • Autopia is better at DL. Cuter vehicles and more types of vehicles (although I love that WDW still has the classic Mark VII vehicles) and lots of show scenes to hold your interest. And DL's Autopia expanded by merging with the old Fantasyland Autopia, where the Autopia at the MK seems to shrink every time they add something to Fantasyland.

Disneyland's Autopia

Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Speedway

  • Monorails are better at WDW. Less meandering at WDW, but it's real transportation there, and the trains are bigger, with air conditioning.
  • Tower of Terror is better at WDW. No Fourth Dimension corridor, and the effect they added to replace doesn't make up for the loss. The DCA version gets props for featuring more references to the Twilight Zone in the queue and post-show area.

Attraction at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios

Attraction at Disney California Adventure

  • Star Tours was a wash before the update -- the exterior area [at WDW] with the Ewok village was a nice touch, but it's not really part of the attraction, and the "back behind the set walls" queue are before the first pre-show scene never really worked for me.

Attraction at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios

Attraction at Disneyland

  • Haunted Mansion is better at WDW. I like that DL's stretching room actually has a moving floor and that we get Haunted Mansion Holiday at DL, but the effects and the queue are better at the MK. But with the additions at DL over the past few years, it's gettin' close...
  • DL's Enchanted Tiki Room beats WDW's. WDW gets props for getting rid of "Under New Management", but why cut so much out of the show compared to the DL version? (Don't even get me started on what they did to Country Bear Jamboree...)
  • MK's Cinderella Castle beats DL's Sleeping Beauty Castle, hands down. DL's castle is cute and charming, but it always feels a little puny after a trip to WDW.

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Walt Disney World's Magical Kingdom's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Also not technically a duplicate, but close enough:

  • WDW's Swiss FamilyTreehouse beats DL's Tarzan's Treehouse. I want to live at WDW's treehouse when I walk through. At DL, I just want to check out the show scenes and leave.
Attractions that are basically a wash at both resorts
  • Peter Pan's Flight (see above)

  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • It's Tough To Be A Bug (sorry, the pre-show area doesn't make that much of a difference!)
  • Main Street Vehicles
  • Disneyland/Walt Disney World Railroad
  • Soarin'
  • Astro Orbiter/Astro Orbitor (although props to WDW for keeping it in the right place!)
  • Jedi Training Academy
  • * It's not technically a duplicate between the resorts, but since they use the same ride system, what the hey: DL's Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye beats WDW's Dinosaur! Darkness as a substitute for sets is just being cheap, WDI.

    I can't speak to Dumbos' Circus, Toy Story Mania, or Voyage of the Little Mermaid, because I haven't done the WDW versions yet.

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