This or That: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland – Attractions

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Castles

We are often asked, “Which is better; Walt Disney World or Disneyland?” The answer to that question is, 1) varied based on who you ask, and 2) depends largely on what you want in a trip. While we aren’t having THAT debate today, we are going to be debating which version of similar attractions are better between the two parks. This or that? Walt Disney World’s version or Disneyland’s?

In some cases, the rides are nearly identical (either in name or in layout/overlay), and in others, they resemble each other but are very different. For some of the rides, the biggest difference is just the queue. Now, sometimes our opinions may differ from the popular opinion, but in other cases, popular opinion is what it is simply because it’s right.

This post is part of a WDW Disney Friends blog hop! So when you are done reading our post, head on over to our friends posts too, you won’t regret it!

disney friends blog hop

Let’s get into it!

This or That: Astro Orbiter

astro orbitor

Tomorrowland is where you’ll find this ride in both parks. The actual mechanisms of the ride are identical, but what’s fun about the Astro Orbiter at Magic Kingdom (WDW) is you have to ride an elevator to get to it resulting in you being much higher, which means the views are much better. I wouldn’t wait longer than 20 min for either version of this ride, and we like it at night, especially when the fireworks going. At Disneyland, you are super close to the Castle and it’s a beautiful view. At Walt Disney World, it’s simply breathtaking.

This or That: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder, known as “the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness,” can be found in Frontierland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). This one is too hard to choose for me, I like them both. I think that WDW’s is longer and has the better queue. Once again this comes down to nostalgia for me, so I will have to go with Disneyland for this one. I can’t choose, don’t make me choose!

We definitely have more memories at Big Thunder in Disneyland, mostly because we go there more often. I also love the location of the actual ride in DL more… it’s much more central to everything and therefore easier to hop on whenever the line is low. The dynamite upgrade to Disneyland’s version was also worth the wait.. it’s great! However, I did like the aesthetic of the WDW one. It’s just more grand!

There are also subtle differences in the theming: Disneyland’s is based off of Bryce Canyon in Utah, while Walt Disney World’s is based off of Monument Valley in Arizona. In my opinion, these differences are worth making the effort to experience both if you can!

This or That: Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Dumbo is in Fantasyland in Disneyland, and the Storybook Circus section of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom (WDW). The ride itself is the same in both parks, so no differences to compare in that sense. However, Walt Disney World has TWO identical rides so the line is double as fast, and there’s a GIANT inside play center for kids! If I was a local (and it wasn’t COVID) I would 100% be taking my kids there instead of the local Crash Crawlies/Go Bananas.

This or That: Fantasmic!

Fantasmic! can be enjoyed twice nightly in Disneyland on the Rivers of America (New Orleans Square / Frontierland). In WDW, the show can be seen in Hollywood Studios.

We grew up with the OG Fantasmic! at Disneyland. You know, the one where you had to have someone in your party sacrifice hours of time to put down a blanket and reserve a spot. Nowadays, you can just walk up right before the show and stand for the presentation.

The Disneyland version is superior in every way except for one big distinction: the seating. In Hollywood Studios there is a MASSIVE arena that seats 6900, with room for an additional 3000 people to stand. Every seat is a good seat, you’ve got cast members hyping up the crowd, everyone is committed to doing “the Wave,” and the absolute pleasure of experiencing the show without standing the whole time or having kids sitting on your neck. I did really like that you could sit down while watching the show. I’m pretty short, so guaranteed I’m ending up behind the tallest person in the park with a kid on their shoulders during the fireworks, or Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

As far as the actual show goes, I like the close proximity of the Disneyland version (you can FEEL the fire on the water!) and the overall story. I’m 50/50 on whether I like the old version with Peter Pan better than Jack Sparrow and the pirates… but when it comes to the grand finale, nothing beats the size and closeness of the DL version. The WDW version does have a small Pocahontas section, which is nice to see. When it comes down to it though, I’m going to see it every trip (DL or WDW), because to me there’s nothing more quintessential than Fantasmic!

This or That: Haunted Mansion

Impressive in both parks, the Haunted Mansion is found in New Orleans Square in Disneyland, and Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom (WDW). Again, very similar rides but I like the OG version in Disneyland. The queue may be more interesting in WDW, but I like the New Orleans aesthetic in Disneyland better. Also, you may not know this but there is a Holiday overlay from September-January in DL. The Haunted Mansion becomes the Haunted Mansion Holiday and is transformed into The Nightmare Before Christmas which we prefer hands down. From the Christmas packages, to the smell of gingerbread, to Sandy Clause himseld… it’s just all so magical. I tend to agree. I liked the interactive queue at Walt Disney World a lot… but the ride itself seems to make more sense in Disneyland, and the Holiday overlay is the best part of the ride for certain.

This or That: “it’s a small world”

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“it’s a small world” is found in Fantasyland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). We all know this isn’t everyone’s favourite… the song is repetitive, but wow is it great for kids. In 2009, Disneyland made a smart call and added stylized Disney characters to the ride, placing them in their respective countries and adding snippets of their musical themes that you can hear whilst passing. Now the ride is almost like a scavenger hunt, seeking out the beloved characters as some are in plain sight and others require a bit more searching. For me, this made all the difference in the ride experience as it broke up the monotony of the original.

I agree, there’s something really fun about looking for Alice in England, Ariel under the sea, Lilo and Stitch in Hawaii, etc. Well played, Disneyland, well played.The outer aesthetic of the DL version is also undeniably better with a working clock that displays dolls every hour on the hour. (I feel like the WDW version does this too, only much smaller and inside?) There’s definitely much more appeal to the outside facade that makes up the DL version.

This or That: Jungle Cruise

You can find this ride in Adventureland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). I like that these rides are similar but also different enough to keep it interesting. DL is another OG ride so there is something special about it. WDW has a cave which I really thought added an interesting element. I think we can all agree that it’s not so much whether this is better in DL or WDW, but rather the Skippers that make the ride.

If you have a good Skipper, you have a good ride. If you don’t, you don’t. I love that Disneyland added the piranhas, that part is different and exciting. It will be interesting to see how much of each ride changes (similarly vs. differently) with the refurb coming up. Something we all agree on is that Jingle Cruise (the Christmas overlay) is the BEST and we are bitterly disappointed that it got moved to Walt Disney World and ripped out of the hands of us West Coasters!

This or That: Mad Tea Party

Also found in Fantasyland both in Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). Personally, I prefer the Disneyland version of this ride. It is all outside, which could be a problem for those that can’t take the heat, but I love the pretty lanterns that provide a canopy. The WDW version was obviously exactly the same, but with a heavy steel type roof. I mean, yes, it’s Disney, so it’s not hideous. But I don’t like the feeling of being enclosed. I, for once, don’t have a strong opinion either way about this one. I thought the one in Walt Disney World was really pretty, but there’s nothing like the Matterhorn in the backdrop of DL version and the open night sky after dark!

This or That: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Fantasyland houses this ride in Magic Kingdom; Critter Country in Disneyland. This ride is enchanting at both parks. I love that they each featured a different part of the classic movie. I don’t think I prefer one over the other, but I will say that once again WDW has the better queue. Lots of interactive things to look at and touch.

It’s a cute ride, especially for anyone traveling with kids under 6. Nothing sticks out overly for me in regards to which is better… they are both great. I like the surrounding theme better in Disneyland, with Pooh’s Corner and the Winnie the Pooh character meet and great all close by. In Magic Kingdom, if you have kids that are little, take them on this ride while the rest of the party is on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train… in Disneyland, do the same while your party is on Splash Mountain.

This or That: Peter Pan’s Flight

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You can find this ride in Fantasyland at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Ride-wise we found these rather similar, however the queue in WDW is far superior. First off, being inside helps soooo much (hello 90+ degree heat standing in line in Disneyland…), and then you have the interactive elements throughout. Having so much to look at made the queue time fly by, plus it was a nice respite from the heat. Agreed. The queue is really an extension of the ride and gives you more bang for your buck if you will. If you’ve only ever done this by FastPass then you are truly missing out. Walking through the entire Darling house is just as exciting as the (short!) ride itself. Look for fun details like Tinkerbell flying around the nursery and more!

This or That: Pirates of the Caribbean 

Pirates is found in New Orleans Square in Disneyland, and Adventureland in Magic Kingdom (WDW). Disneyland’s version is actually longer than the one in WDW. It clocked in at 15 minutes as opposed to, I believe, 7 minutes in WDW (yes, I timed it). The DL version has a few more areas, as well as more Jack sightings, which are some of my favourite additions. I don’t know if it’s because this is our family’s traditional first ride on every trip, but this is one that I would hands down choose Disneyland over WDW. The Disneyland version also has a couple of drops, which I personally love. Some kids have called it a “down down” and they don’t like it, haha!

Here’s where I’m going to cause some waves… I LOATHE the Walt Disney World one, solely because of the queue. They corral you like cattle into this GIANT space where you are crammed in with no real direction whatsoever. I do think this is one thing that’s probably gotten better with COVID and the way they do lines now, but it’s just too willy-nilly for me. Some people will press ahead of others, and some will spread out three people wide, and none of this is what they are meant to do. It’s a disaster. I’m in a cold sweat now just thinking about it. I will forever and always FastPass this ride in WDW from now on (if they ever come back!).

This or That: Space Mountain

Located in Tomorrowland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). Okay, I have strong opinions about this one, and I recognize all may not agree with me. I do not enjoy the WDW version of Space Mountain nearly as much. It was actually a WDW original, Disneyland built their version two years later and I think they made some wise improvements. Disneyland’s feels way way way faster and I think the track layout is better with a bigger drop. As a DL native I was super disappointed with the original in WDW, but I would still ride it with a smile.

The WDW version reminds me of the Matterhorn in DL. It uses a similar style track and car, so I honestly felt like I was bobsledding in the dark versus blasting through space. Give me that front row DL Space Mountain any day! I actually agree, I MUCH prefer the side by side seating at Disneyland and just find it more enjoyable all around. I know this is the most controversial thing that we could say, because WDW natives will die on the hill that theirs is better, but I’m just going to go ahead and say they are wrong.

This or That: Splash Mountain

You can find this ride in Critter Country in Disneyland, and Frontierland in Magic Kingdom (WDW). Splash Mountain has always been my favourite. There is nothing like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to put me in the right Disney mood. I’m looking forward to seeing the transformation (Note: In 2020 it was announced by Disney that the DL and WDW versions of this ride well be re-themed to “The Princess and the Frog”), but I will definitely miss the original.

Back on topic; which one is better? I have the classic memorized and there is just something so nostalgic and familiar about it. That being said, I preferred the story progression in the WDW version. It was more linear from start to finish and I thought it told the story better. We also love that the boats in WDW are bigger and you can sit side by side with your little kids, rather than wrapping your arms around them from behind.

I’ll give you that the seating is better… side by side is a more enjoyable way to ride for sure, especially when you have a 3 and 4 year old in the flume with you. I think it’s because I KNOW Disneyland’s version so well, that I felt the WDW version left a bit to be desired. We will miss this ride for certain in the refurb, but are looking forward to the Princess and the Frog as well.

This or That: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Tiki room

Found in Adventureland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). I don’t remember a huge difference between these two. The best part in both is definitely that you can take Dole Whip in with you and enjoy it during the show… along with the air conditioning! The saddest part is that the version in Walt Disney World had a bit of a different experience with Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from The Lion King both featured in “The Tiki Room: Under New Management,” which I was really looking forward to seeing. It ran from 1998-2011 until a FIRE destroyed Iago’s animatronic and the experience was no more. It was very hated by most reviewers, but I would’ve liked to have seen something a little different than the same show that has been around since 1955!

This or That: Alien Swirling Saucers vs. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree

You will find Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land at DCA, and Alien Swirling Saucers in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios (WDW). This is another ride that has the same bones, but is different in every other way. Both feature a different ride experience than you might expect… think the classic Scrambler you’ll find at most fairgrounds.

The theming for both is super fun, and totally different. Mater’s instructions are hysterical, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding at Halloween or Christmas, you get to hear him singing Holiday tunes and it’s fantastic! The Alien Swirling Saucers run with the idea that you are in “The Claw,” and you do get to hear some Toy Story favourites as well. The actual ride experience is the same so it really just boils down to if you are a bigger fan of Toy Story or Cars. To me, they are both fine. Something you’d do once or twice in a trip but definitely not FastPass worthy.

This or That: The Barnstormer vs. Gadget’s Go Coaster

Gadget’s Go Coaster (picture courtesy of maple.leaf.mouse)

You can find the Barnstormer in the Storybook Circus section of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom (WDW). Gadget’s Go Coaster is found in Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland. While neither are thrilling or must do’s for this family, Gadget’s Go Coaster takes the cake. First, Rescue Rangers theme? Yes please for this 90’s girl! The Barnstormer truthfully just felt like the smallest roller coaster in the kiddie section of any regular old theme park. Bor-ing. Use the space better. 

This or That: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin vs. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

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You can find both of these rides in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. They are nearly identical other than how you hold the guns themselves. It’s an interactive ride where you shoot things in the rooms you travel through, gaining points to become an Intergalactic Hero. Suitable for all ages!

I feel very strongly about this one. Astro Blasters > Space Ranger Spin. Hands down. I was soooo frustrated when we visited WDW in 2016 and I tried to use the guns on this ride. If you have ridden it you know what I mean. They are locked in; boooooo!

Astro Blasters has the superior guns. You can actually pick them up, move them around and aim where you want; even if the vehicle is facing a different direction. Plus, they have laser lights so you can see where you are shooting and adjust as needed. When you don’t have to move the vehicle to get in the right direction it makes it easier as a pair to not take someone away from what they are aiming at and you can even shoot behind you.

Also, the targets are better and there are some hidden ones to find if you know the tricks. The vehicles are more comfortable. Everything about it is superior. Period. While I don’t disagree with this assessment, I do think the track is more fun in WDW. 

This or That: Cinderella Castle vs. Sleeping Beauty Castle

The castles are the iconic symbols at the centre of both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. To a non-Disney lover, they are just a castle and may even look similar. But they really are not. There is just something magical about seeing the OG Disney castle. She may be small but she is mighty. And it’s so much fun doing the Sleeping Beauty walk through. I agree. While Cinderella’s Castle is bigger, it has some identity crisis issues for me.

They are constantly changing her (her?) colours, and have even done some CRAZY “upgrades” over the years (do yourself a favour and Google the “Candy Castle” from the 25th anniversary). The walk through of Sleeping Beauty is an attraction that is just that… it’s narrow and not thrilling, but it’s lovely and fun to do once in a trip. That being said, I would LOVE to stay in the Cinderella Suite at Walt Disney World one day, and eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table, an all you care to enjoy Table Service Restaurant.

This or That: DINOSAUR vs. Indiana Jones Adventure

This is one of the few times that I’m Team WDW over Team DL. Indiana Jones is cool and all, but I’ve been on it so much that I feel like at this point I could take it or leave it. DINOSAUR was a fresh take on a familiar concept.

I’m shocked Elisia! For me, Indiana Jones is better. As a standalone ride, DINOSAUR was fun as a new adventure, especially because we had no idea what to expect. I’m also looking forward to taking my youngest back as she’s now totally and completely obsessed with dinos! I do have to say that what’s lacking for me is the emotional attachment. How many people can really say they’ve seen the movie this ride is based on? Give me Indiana any day, every day. Side by side, the story, suspense, and excitement of Indiana has DINOSAUR beat no contest.

This or That: Expedition Everest vs. Matterhorn Bobsleds

Matterhorn sits loud and proud in the center of Fantasyland in Disneyland. Expedition Everest can be found in Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Everest is hands down my favourite Disney roller coaster. I don’t even think it’s a fair comparison to be honest. Another unpopular opinion in this family; I find Matterhorn to be super jerky and unenjoyable. That being said, we have learned a few tips and tricks to make the most of it. Always front load the bobsled. This ride is driven by gravity, so if you put your largest party members at the front you will go much faster. Second, always do the left track. And finally, riding at twilight is magical.

Agreed, there is no comparison. Matterhorn is super jerky. The Yeti enhancements are fun, but as a thrill seeker, Everest is one of my favourite roller coasters to date. Okay, them’s fighting words! Compared side by side, Everest is better. It’s bigger, it’s higher, it’s more extreme and it’s extremely well themed… but Matterhorn has my heart. Yes, it’s jerky and uncomfortable… there is no denying that. But the combination of the music, the climb, and the nostalgia, it’s just my favourite. As Heidi said, give it a try at twilight or after dark (time it with the fireworks for a truly unforgettable view!); there’s nothing like it! (And don’t knock the right side, it’s pretty great too. You really have to ride both tracks at least once.)

This or That: Kali River Rapids vs. Grizzly River Run

You will find Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom and Grizzly River Run in Disney’s California Adventure Park. Grizzly River Run is everything you want in a water ride. Thrill, theme, and the shock of how much water lands on you (Every. Time!). We are Team Poncho, almost always, because dirty park water does a cute outfit ruin. It’s found in an under-appreciated area of the park, and the lines can get enormously long. The best part are the big drops… they are thrilling and worth the long wait every time.

Kali River Rapids was incredibly underwhelming for us. While the theming is also there (give Detour to Neverland’s “Storytelling” episode a listen for all of the intricacies), it leaves much to be desired in the thrill department. I would actually skip this one all together personally, especially if you don’t have ponchos. Fun fact: the first time my husband and I were in WDW we went on Kali and had a wall of water come down on us (well, mostly my husband). You would think that this would be a welcome treat in the middle of an August heat wave, but with the humidity he never completely dried leading to an unfortunate chafing situation. It felt like the sole goal was “get people wet,” rather than “be an enjoyable ride.” The squirt guns shooting at our faces were also not very welcome.

Team Poncho

This or That: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster vs. Incredicoaster

Undoubtedly the most extreme rides currently on property for Disney in North America, you can find the Incredicoaster in Disney’s California Adventure Park, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios in WDW. I’m 100% Team Incredicoaster for this one. I don’t really like twisty loops. Loops have never really thrilled me. They are just uncomfortable. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster didn’t have enough drops for me. The refurb of The Incredicoaster (previously California Screamin’) really took it up a notch. It’s so unique that they were able to combine the story with a roller coaster. I haven’t had the chance to ride the Incredicoaster since it changed over, but I have to agree. Firstly, it’s outside. Secondly, it’s taller and higher and the theming is significantly more relevant than Aerosmith. Aerosmith doesn’t feel Disney AT ALL.

The only plus to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is that kids can’t see that it goes upside down, so it’s easier to trick them into going on it! Both have the zero to FAST starts that gets the adrenaline pumping, and both have music that’s synced with the experience, which is rather unique to Disney versus traditional theme parks. I do enjoy them both, but it’s time for a refurb already on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Disney! Even the Jonas Brothers would be more in keeping with a Disney theme than Aerosmith.

rockin' rollercoaster

This or That: The Seas with Nemo & Friends vs. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Finding Nemo is in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, and The Seas is in Future World in Epcot. Besides the fact that both have Finding Nemo characters, these rides are completely and totally different. This is another tough one. Finding Nemo in Disneyland is in a submarine, which can be very claustrophobic for some people. It does have a very cool effect to “dive” under the water, and it’s fun to look at the under sea life whilst under the sea. The Seas with Nemo & Friends reminded me of The Little Mermaid ride, with the conveyor belt entrance, and swift ride lines. Between the two, I really enjoyed the real aquarium aspects of the Epcot version, as well as the ride itself. Being in a submarine is pretty fun, but it’s a long loading process getting in and out. Epcot takes this one for me.

This or That: Soarin’ Around the World vs. Soarin’ Over California

You will find Soarin’ in Epcot (Future World) and Disney’s California Adventure (Grizzly Peak). This isn’t a totally fair comparison because both rides were originally Soarin’ Over California… then they were both changed to Soarin’ Around the World. For a short time (and we do hope they continue to do this) DCA switched BACK to Soarin’ Over California.

I really do love Soarin’ Over California. The scents are just so spot on for me. The smell of pine, and the orange grove trees are so iconic for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a West Coast girl, but the scene at sunset with the surfers is paradise. Soarin’ Around the World was cool, but the smells were a little more assaulting than comforting.

I TRULY wish they would permanently keep Soarin’ Over California in DCA, and Around the World in Epcot. It just makes the most sense theme wise for the parks they are in… and gives you a reason to want to visit both! I like both renditions but I agree with Elisia, the smells are better in California… and I also feel like the CGI is more obvious in Around the World. Nothing beats the climax of the original (spoilers!); flying over Disneyland… at Christmas… with fireworks… it has my heart forever.

This or That: Swiss Family Treehouse vs. Tarzan’s Treehouse

Found in Adventureland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW), these treehouses are a walk through attraction. Tarzan’s Treehouse in DL used to be the Swiss Family Treehouse and I have to say, I like Tarzan better. Maybe because it’s more recognizable plus the bottom has a “trash the camp” interactive play space. I also think that Tarzan’s Treehouse has a better view from the top. Swiss Family Robinson is largely irrelevant to modern Disney, but there’s still something about it for me. I loved that movie as a kid and we had a wonderful time watching it as a family as part of our “Every Disney Movie Ever Made” challenge. That being said, put side by side, Tarzan is better and makes more sense in Adventureland. But (for now!) I’m happy that we still have both.

This or That: Test Track vs. Radiator Springs Racers

You’ll find Test Track in the Future World section of Epcot (WDW), and Radiator Springs Racers is of course in the Cars Land section of DCA. This is a hard one to compare. The tracks are very similar but the theming could not be more different. We loved being able to build our own concept cars on Test Track; but Radiator Springs is nothing short of spectacular. Truly there is no other land quite like Cars Land and this ride is the heart and soul of it. It literally feels like you are in the movie, so this is a no-brainer for me. I agree, the theming makes Radiator Springs Racers the better of the two. It’s really all of the things you want Test Track to be. Unless you are a major gearhead, there’s no competition between Cars and… well cars.

As for the ride itself, the overall design is similar in that you start slow with story and build to a super fast head to head race against another car, but that’s where the similarities end. Test Track allows you a few minutes to design your car, giving an element of both personalization and ownership for the race. But Cars wins in the storytelling department FOR SURE. One thing to note… Test Track is intentionally a bit faster. It reaches speeds up to 65 MPH, whereas Radiator Springs only gets to 40 MPH. Side by side, Radiator Springs wins every time… but I don’t mind me a little speed when I’m in Epcot!

This or That: Tom Sawyer Island vs. Pirate’s Lair

Found in Frontierland in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW), this “island” is a lovely break from all the hustle and bustle of the parks. I have to say that Pirate’s Lair in DL has more to explore and is great fun, but both islands are a great place to escape the heat (as both are heavily shaded) and the crowds. Bonus tip: We like to bring our packed lunch to eat here; Pirate’s Lair has picnic tables and excellent views. I would agree that Pirate’s is a bit more relevant than Tom Sawyer Island, but to be totally honest I’ve never stepped foot on either. I have enjoyed watching people cross over the water and be adventurous on the island from the queue of Big Thunder though! If I was an AP (annual pass holder) I think I would invest more time in exploring both islands.

This or That: Tomorrowland Speedway vs. Autopia

Both of these attractions can be found in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom (WDW). Disneyland wins this one, hands down. This is a Disneyland OG ride and without a doubt the better of the two. The track is more interesting and also much longer. It even has an “off road” section!  It winds through tree-lined streets with a picturesque view of the Matterhorn in the background. Speedway is just a race track, which is thrilling for kids, but if you have been on the DL version you know what I’m talking about.

This or That: Toy Story Mania! vs. Toy Story Midway Mania!

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Found at Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios (WDW) and on Pixar Pier in Disney’s California Adventure Park. Aside from the queue, I seem to remember this ride being exactly the same. If you have littles, the board game style queue in WDW is so much more interesting. We visited before this was part of Toy Story Land, but even though there wasn’t much around it, we REALLY loved that the line was mostly indoors! 

The line up in DCA is predominantly outside with no air conditioning and absolutely nothing to look at until the very last room. The ONLY redeeming part of this ride at DCA is the interactive Mr. Potato Head… and thankfully they added FastPass which was MUCH needed (although with the current re-opening, there’s no FastPass, lol!). We recommend doing this ride first thing in the morning, or in the evening, as the afternoon sun in California is unforgiving. We have had many a meltdown in this queue, so WDW wins this one for me.

This or That: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror vs. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Tower of Terror can be found in Hollywood Studios (WDW), and Guardians is in the Avengers Campus section of DCA. I used to be team Tower of Terror; but let me tell you, Guardians of the Galaxy took a spooky, amazing ride and turned it into a pure fun, amazing ride. We took my eldest niece on ToT when she was 5 or so. The theming was so spooky that it really freaked her out. By the time that the dropping started, she was pretty terrified. GotG removed the scary atmosphere and injected it with a dose of fun. The WDW version of ToT didn’t feel like it dropped quite as far, which was also disappointing for me.

It’s definitely easier to compare apples to apples when they were the same ride. I like that the DL one is taller, and therefore you fall further… which is more thrilling! We enjoyed that the whole “elevator” comes off the original track and moves forward in the WDW version (VERY alarming the first time when you are used to the DL version), but the excitement of not knowing when you will drop in the DL version is the best part. I agree with Elisia that the theming is better for kids with Guardians, and I also love that there are several different music themes so you never know what you are going to get!

This or That: Under the Sea vs. The Little Mermaid

Found in the Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and in the Paradise Gardens section of Disney’s California Adventure Park. An exact replica except for one detail… the outside. Disneyland’s version was placed into a preexisting building, while WDW’s version is inside a beautiful facade of Prince Eric’s castle, which is much more impressive.

This or That: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe all of these are identical to one another in both parks… basically exact copies.

You can find Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge in both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. I will say that between the two, Disneyland’s version of Galaxy’s Edge has the bigger footprint, and therefore is better. More space is always more fun. (This, by the way, is unusual because WDW almost always has the bigger space!)

Both Smuggler’s Run and Star Tours are motion simulator attractions. Star Tours changes sequences so that (hopefully!) its a different scenario each time, and Smuggler’s Run can be affected by the roles played by the team members aboard. (Star Tours can be found in Tomorrowland in DL, and in Hollywood Studios in WDW.) Rise of the Resistance is the same ride as far as I know, but I haven’t ridden it yet and I don’t want to read any spoilers! (Leave a comment if I’m wrong.)


That’s all for now! Do you agree with our assessments? If not, where did we get it wrong? Do you prefer Walt Disney World or Disneyland? We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to check out the next blog in the hop about Disney World!

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Have a magical day!
Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle

6 thoughts on “This or That: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland – Attractions

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  1. Great post! I can’t wait to ride Haunted Mansion and Pirates (did not realize it was twice as long in DL!) when we go in 2022 (hopefully). I totally agree that WDW’s Pirates queue is terrible. There is so much that they could have done with it to make it more interesting rather than switchback after switchback, stone walls and dampness.

  2. Such a great post! There were some Disneyland rides on here that I’ve never even heard about lol! I can’t wait to visit Disneyland someday so I can compare! 🙂

    1. right! We loved being able to compare the first time that we went. It was the best part!

  3. What a fun article! We’ve just returned from WDW and have been talking over all these differences. We decided that one thing we like about the Hollywood Studios version of Star Tours is the queue area. The shady Endor forest at HS was a lot more pleasant than the roped-off switchbacks against the building in Tomorrowland at Disneyland.

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