Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland Attractions (Part 1)
As often as I visit, write about, talk about, and think about it, it’s a no brainer that Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is my Disney destination of choice. Go ahead and call me biased, but I have visited- and loved- the Disneyland Resort multiple times too! I don’t think it would be honest of me to (over)state my lifelong, hard-earned Disney fandom status if I hadn’t walked through the Park that Walt himself built.
One of my very good friends (I’ll call her Pam) who accompanied me on a Walt Disney World vacation this past February just got back from the Disneyland Resort, and I couldn’t wait to hang with her again and hear all about her experience out West.
She spent about 4 minutes in my apartment before I not-so-smoothly steered the conversation towards Disney and her recent trip. Knowing her like I do, she expectedly launched into the full run-down: where she ate, how much she loved the autumn decorations, and which attractions she rode.
Since we had both visited Walt Disney World together this year, we delved deep into a conversation topic I wasn’t expecting but welcomed with open arms: which attractions are better coast to coast? We talked about it for almost an hour, but I went ahead and summarized that long talk into one that you can digest in much less time! Let’s go!
Toy Story Mania
Before I dive in, I want to be clear: we compared attractions that were the same at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and discussed which Park had the better version. Most were classic attractions, but we started with this offbeat choice- Toy Story Mania. For argument’s sake- yes, both attractions are exactly the same inside: you sit in a ride vehicle that takes you through a series of 4D mini games and whoever has the highest score wins. Simple.
I haven’t visited California Adventure since the re-imagination of Pixar Pier, but Pam wholeheartedly believes that the Walt Disney World version trumps its west coast counterpart. She feels as though “the theming of Pixar Pier just doesn’t make you FEEL anything. It’s almost like the storyline doesn’t make sense and the whole themeing just feels off.”
This is a great example of just how important immersive and detail-oriented themeing is! The Imagineers always always ALWAYS create a story around each attraction, and in turn, the land that it is housed in. Since I haven’t been to see it in-person, Pam’s summation of Pixar Pier tells me one thing: the re-imagination was rushed, and it didn’t pay off.
Since Pixar Pier was basically given a quick overlay with Pixar themeing in an attempt to drive guests to the park during Summer 2018- and since Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios is in the heart of the best-themed Toy Story area Disney has ever created- I think we have a solid verdict on this one…
Winner: WALT DISNEY WORLD
it’s a small world
I visited Walt Disney World many, many times as a child before I made my first visit to Disneyland what feels like centuries ago. I vividly remember watching the it’s a small world boats loaded with excited and smiling guests pass by from Pinocchio’s Village Haus and waving to the kids my age from the window. I also vividly remember seeing the Disneyland version of the attraction for the first time…and since then, the Florida counterpart just doesn’t do it for me.
The massive outdoor façade of the it’s a small world attraction at Disneyland provides the ultimate ‘wow’ on first approach, and when you throw in the fact that a portion of the ride is outside too, the whole thing is elevated to a level that can’t be touched.
Did you know that the version at Disneyland features elements that Walt debuted back at that famous 1964 World’s Fair? How awesome is that?! Pam and I were in wholehearted agreement on this one, and she says that the new nighttime projections on the outdoor facade at Disneyland are worth the trip alone, so needless to say…
Pirates of the Caribbean
Ahhh, another classic Disney Parks attraction. Versions of this attraction can be found not only in our domestic Disney Parks locations, but at the Parks across the globe too! The California version was originally set to be a quick walk-through attraction meant to pull guests’ attention away from the more popular E-Ticket in an attempt to reduce crowds. When Disneyland began to gain traction and grow in popularity, the attraction went to walk-through to what we have today.
Pam and I dove right into this one. The very first words out of her mouth were “oh my [goodness] that line was HOT in California!”. The last time I visited, the queue wasn’t long enough to make it outside, but according to Pam, her 30-minute wait in the afternoon sun wasn’t a pleasant one…one point for Walt Disney World’s totally indoor queue.
Speaking of the WDW queue, I love the yellow/orange glow that serves as the dim and dramatic lighting that sets the mood for your journey and it’s one of those queues that I don’t mind waiting in because there is always something to see! If I’m being honest though, turning the final bend of the queue in Disneyland is incomparable. Catching a first glimpse of the tables of guests enjoying Louisiana-style food as they wave to the passing boats of the attraction is as classic and nostalgic as Disney Parks.
As for the attraction itself, the story is about the only similarity. True, many of the scenes were re-created in exaction for the WDW version, but if I’m waiting that long for a classic attraction, the nearly 6-minute longer California version definitely gives you more bang for your time spent in line. “It felt so long! I feel like that huge drop and then the climb back to the boarding area at the end really made it feel so much longer. And I don’t’ know exactly what it was but the battle scene was way more intense too. I just liked it better overall”.
Woah Pam, that’s a lot to unpack! Yes, the big drop in the California version is certainly much more thrilling and better-placed than the miniature (read: lame) drop in the WDW version. And she could be onto something with the battle scene too. I remember being so enraptured with the cannon fire and gunshots at Disneyland that it almost felt like a real battle. The effects and technology are certainly more advanced in the California version. Taking all of this into consideration, we agreed on a verdict…
We had a great time chatting about and comparing our favorite attractions, but our hour-long conversation was too long and too in-depth to cram into one article. Be sure to keep your eye on MickeyBlog.com for Part 2 for more classic attraction comparisons…plus a few that might surprise you.
Thanks to ‘Pam’ for letting me use our conversation for this article, we’ll be back again soon! Until then though, we want to know if you feel the same as we do about the attractions. Do you have a preference of where you ride Toy Story Mania? Does the Pirates in Florida hold more nostalgia for you and your family than the original in California? Leave us a comment and let us know, and if you’re planning to visit either Resort, contact me below for a FREE quote!
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