Disneyland Vs Disney World Ride Showdown

We get asked one question more than almost any other — ‘isn’t Disney World and Disneyland pretty much the same place?’ And yes, they came from the same brain, of the same genius man (Oh Walt!), but no, they are not the same thing. In fact, people seem to be firmly entrenched in two camps of which theme park they like more – with one side passionately arguing that the original is the best, and the other side disagreeing, and saying that newer is always better. We fall somewhere in the middle. We consider Disney World to be our ‘favorite resort’, with it being the place we’ve visited the most, and the Disney Park that we have the most memories at. But lately, we’ve begun to fall in love with Disneyland – we find it charming, full of detail, and sentiment. There’s a respect for legacy that we just can’t seem to get enough of. One thing we love about being bi-coastal park travelers is getting the chance to experience both parks interpretations of the same attraction. Many classic rides are ‘duplicates’ at both parks, but have enough differences and variations to declare that one is better than the other. Below, we’ve compiled a list of SOME of the rides that both Disney World and Disneyland share, and which park we think holds the winning attraction.

1. Space Mountain

This iconic, indoor, dark roller coaster, first appeared in Magic Kingdom in Florida. It’s themed after a shuttle launching in space, and both Disneyland’s and Disney World’s versions of the ride are not to be missed. We give the edge to Disneyland though, because it’s newer, and has a significantly smoother ride track.

Winner: Disneyland


2. Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or, ‘the wildest ride in the wilderness’, is a runaway train themed roller coaster (and also a significantly better ride at night), and well executed at both parks. We personally think the landscaping on Walt Disney World’s version was a bit better, and give the advantage to them on this ride.

Winner: Walt Disney World


3. Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain is an indoor log ride set to scenes from the movie ‘Song of the South’, and culminates in a 50 foot drop into a watery ‘briar patch’. You might get soaked, you might only get a few drops on you – it varies ride to ride. We aren’t huge fans of Disneyland’s version of this ride, but we LOVE Disney Worlds. We think the main difference is the easiness in which you can follow the storyline of the film at WDW’s ride. We think that the plot gets lost in Disneyland’s interpretation of the ride.

Winner: Walt Disney World


4. Pirates of the Caribbean

This ride is a ton of fun – it’s also a 21st century PR nightmare, without a shred of political correctness. We hope Disney never changes this swashbuckingly-good time to try to fit in with the times.¬†Disneyland is the clear winner of this showdown. It’s version is longer, has scenes that Disney World’s doesn’t have, and has far less emphasis on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies.

Winner: Disneyland


5. Peter Pan

This would have been a draw until recently, when Disneyland did a massive refurbishment on this ride in celebration of their parks 60th birthday. Disneyland’s Peter Pan now looks bright, shiny, and modern, with new lights and spiffed up LEDS. It’s beautiful, and not to be missed.

Winner: Disneyland



6. Toy Story Mania

The rides are essentially identical at both locations, with one major difference – for some reason, Disneyland’s version doesn’t draw the 75+ minute wait times that Walt Disney World’s does. Because of our hatred of lines, we give the clear advantage to Disneyland.

Winner: Disneyland

7. Dumbo

When ‘New Fantasyland’ was re-imagined at Walt Disney World, Dumbo was one of the attractions that got a spiff. For starters, the ride was doubled. There’s not only one Dumbo now, but two, meaning there’s usually not a wait time. But when there IS a wait time, there’s an air conditioned tent to wait inside of, and they give you a pager, like at a restaurant, and you come back when it buzzes. The whole area around Dumbo was also re-imagined, with a new, and improved Circus theme, that we think was amazingly well executed. Disney World has the clear advantage for flying elephants.

Winner: Walt Disney World


8. Haunted Mansion

We think both presentations of these 999 happy haunts are well done, and this is just a matter of preference. Haunted Mansion is a draw.

Winner: Draw (unless it’s during a Holiday overlay, that only Disneyland does. Then, advantage goes to Disneyland)


9. Soarin’

This is the exactly same ride, with one difference – at Disneyland, they have a single rider option. This is enough of a difference to make me want to do a happy dance, as it’s not unusual to see 80 minute lines or longer at Walt Disney World for the exact same ride. If you’re willing to sit by someone you don’t know, you can wait for less than 10 minutes, any time of the day.

Winner: Disneyland


10. Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Again, we think this is essentially the same ride. We give the advantage to Disney World, because the ride has an impressive queue, and is housed inside of an equally impressive rendition of Prince Eric’s Castle. Walking up to the ride at WDW’s version, is as much an experience as riding the ride.

Winner: Walt Disney World


We love to encourage people to visit both parks, and compare the two for themselves! As loyal Disney World lovers, we didn’t think that we would like Disneyland until we visited, and now we love both, and see the two parks as completely different experiences.