Disney World vs Disneyland
To the inexperienced, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom don’t seem to be much different. After all, they both have the same classic rides. How different could the same ride be? The answer is very little or very much, depending on the ride. Disney often offers similar, but different experiences on same-named rides in different parks. This can be due to monetary, spatial, or technological differences. Sometimes, the Imagineers want to challenge guests to find the uniqueness in each ride. Regardless of the reasons, the Magic Kingdom isn’t Disneyland. Their rides aren’t always the same experiences, making both parks uniquely their own. Here are some of my comparisons of same-named Disney attractions.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Winner: Magic Kingdom
The track layout is almost identical in both parks. However, Magic Kingdom’s Big Thunder is 25% larger which allows for a longer ride experience. I don’t know if this is true, but Disneyland’s Big Thunder seems much slower. I always seem to get whipped around and slide in my seat at the Magic Kingdom. I’ve never had that happen to me at Disneyland. Disneyland lacks the adventurous thrill Magic Kingdom’s Big Thunder has.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Disneyland) / Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)
The rides are almost identical. They have the same rooms, the same targets, and the same point values. However, in Disneyland, you can pick up your gun. In the Magic Kingdom, your gun remains stationary in its mount. Picking up your gun allows for more accurate shooting which makes the game more fun. The stationary gun can be difficult to work with and I often don’t know which laser beam is mine.
There isn’t much difference between the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland version. I prefer the exterior of the Disneyland version, though I do enjoy the Magic Kingdom’s as well. The Haunted Mansion’s story seems to fit in better at New Orleans Square than in Liberty Square. The idea of ghosts and hauntings seem to belong in New Orleans more than in New England. I gave Disneyland the win on this ride because of the Hat Box Ghost animatronic. I love the story of his resurrection back into the ride and it’s a good update to the classic ride. I also enjoy the Holiday Haunted Mansion overlay that Disneyland does. The Magic Kingdom does have the recently-updated hitchhiking ghost effects at the end of the ride. It is a short, but an exceptional tidbit. I personally love it when the ghost rips my face off, blows it up like a balloon, and pops it.
it’s a Small World
The exterior of the Disneyland version is more attractive and inviting. I like boarding onto my boat outside in the California sunshine. I like that there is a special holiday version where all the dolls sing Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls. And I LOVE that there various Disney characters placed throughout the ride. Who doesn’t look up in the Arabian section and smile when they see Aladdin and Jasmine flying on the magic carpet? Magic Kingdom’s Small World seems dreary in comparison.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Winner: Magic Kingdom
The ride loading system at the Magic Kingdom is superior to the Disneyland version. The Omnimover-style ramps allow for more people to get on the ride faster. The ride is longer and the scenes are extended. The interactive queue is amazing and alleviates boredom. Watching Tinker Bell flutter about interacting with various objects is pretty cool. The queue in Disneyland is unexciting and cramped. The biggest downside to the Disneyland version is that it does not have a FASTPASS. If you don’t run to Peter Pan’s Flight immediately, you will be waiting at least 45 minutes for a 2 ½ minute ride. Not the best use of your time.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Disneyland wins this ride, hands down. Pirates is a longer ride in Disneyland and has extra scenes. Sailing by the Blue Bayou Restaurant and yelling at the patrons to throw you a dinner roll is a Disneyland must do. The Disneyland version even has a real human skull embedded in the ride. Growing up going only to Disney World, I never understood the hype about Pirates of the Caribbean. When I went Disneyland, I got it and I loved it. I tend to skip this ride at the Magic Kingdom. I never miss it at Disneyland.
Special thanks to Brittni Sutter for writing this article! As a lover of all things Disney, I’ve made it my life’s mission to learn about the history and artistry the House of Mouse. I’ve vacationed to half of the resorts and plan to complete the Disney Parks mecca in the coming years. I fill my life with as much magic as Disney can muster and I love encouraging others to do the same.