7 Rides That Are Better at Disneyland than Disney World
I don’t mean to brag, but MickeyBlog runs an excellent Facebook page. You should follow it for the occasional dose of Disney magic. Members of our staff occasionally livestream from the parks, and a recent video from Disneyland is the inspiration for this article. Here are seven rides that are better at Disneyland than other Disney theme parks.
The thrill of driving a car is generational. It’s a rite of passage when kids grow up and get their license. Back in the 1950s, however, cars weren’t common like they are today. And the idea of driving a miniature car appealed to kids so much then that Autopia once had three different active attractions.
When Tomorrowland Speedway debuted at Walt Disney World in 1971, cars had become more prevalent but still weren’t a constant presence. The Magic Kingdom version of the ride mimics the original and even surpasses it in some ways, but Autopia dates back to Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. Its heritage and ties to Walt Disney himself will always make Autopia superior to its successors. Plus, kids still love to pretend like they’re grown-ups and drive around the track today. It’s a timeless source of family entertainment.
The Stretching Room is the most important part of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. In this location, Imagineers set the tone for the rest of the macabre ride through a supernatural residence. And Disneyland is the only place where the Stretching Room is an elevator.
When park builders constructed other Haunted Mansion-based attractions, they had plenty of space. At Disneyland, the original team at WED Enterprises faced a unique challenge. Even in the earliest days, space was limited at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Someone got the bright idea to transport guests from the ground floor into the abyss. Yes, the theming matches the ride structure at Disneyland’s version of Haunted Mansion. You will get lowered into the ground thanks to an elevator system. You won’t even realize it since you’re in the Stretching Room watching the pictures on the wall expand.
Behind the scenes, the floor is an elevator taking you down into the underworld that is the home for 999 Happy Haunts. It’s that special touch that elevates the first Haunted Mansion over all the others that have come after it.
Indiana Jones Adventure
This selection may confuse you. There isn’t an Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Walt Disney World, but it does have a twin. DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom uses the same ride technology and dark set design. Imagineers specially designed enhanced motion vehicles (EMVs) for the two attractions.
With an EMV, you can ride from set to set. However, you’ll do more than that. EMVs employ similar technology to the theaters and seats in Star Tours. You’ll bounce around on your ride as you work your way through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. This clever bit of design turns the exploration into a pure adrenaline rush.
I’m a huge fan of DINOSAUR for its realistic portrayal of a trip back to the age of the dinosaurs, but I’m a total Indiana Jones fanatic. Bumping into him during the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is an unbeatable experience for me.
It’s a Small World
Presuming that you clicked the link above, you know that this ride was the inspiration for this article. Our friend, Greg, mentioned how he prefers Disneyland’s version of It’s a Small World. And he’s absolutely right.
This attraction is a part of theme park history. It’s one of the pavilions Walt Disney and his team built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Uncle Walt was so persuasive that he got Pepsi executives to pay him for the project and then ship parts of the installation to Disneyland.
A trip down this river doubles as a journey through Disney lore. All of the other Disney versions of It’s a Small World are imitations. The one that Walt Disney lovingly crafted is at Disneyland.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Okay, this selection may be cheating, and it’s certainly controversial. Please hear me out. I’m a superfan of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. But let’s be real. That attraction is 25 years old. Yes, it’s undeniably a classic, but a more modern version of the same concept breathed life into a struggling park, Disney California Adventure.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! honors the heart of Tower of Terror by maintaining its drop tower elements. The difference is in the implementation. The bounces up and down aren’t merely for random adrenaline bursts. They tell a story about the struggles of the mercurial superheroes that guard the galaxy.
Battles never go smoothly for Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax. It’s their messy nature that makes them so endearing, and the attraction really plays up these elements. Plus, it randomizes the ride experience based on the songs in the rotation. The storytelling ends the moment the bouncing begins on Tower of Terror. On Mission: BREAKOUT!, it’s just starting, and that’s why it’s better.
Pirates of the Caribbean
One ride was famously the last one that Walt Disney worked on before his death. Struggling through cancer, Uncle Walt would gamely hitch a ride on a crane and move from set to set on Pirates of the Caribbean. He would miss the opening of the attraction by only a few months, but it’s unquestionably a lasting part of his legacy. Pirates of the Caribbean is Walt Disney’s parting gift to the world.
The Disneyland version is the one that he lovingly crafted. It’s the most modern one right now, too. Imagineers plussed the ride in 2018, altering one of the scenes. The Redhead is no longer up for auction. Now, she’s a buccaneer aiming to turn a profit by selling (presumably illicit) goods on the open market. Disney has added a character meeting with Redd at New Orleans Square to highlight her even more. It’s a fun improvement to one of the seminal theme park rides in the world.
Everything’s better with a friend, right? Sure, Space Mountain debuted at Walt Disney World, but the coaster cart there has a flaw. Imagineers built it as a solo vehicle. It’s a minor quibble about the seminal roller coaster, but it’s a valid one.
Space Mountain arrived at the Happiest Place on Earth two years later, and it had a better ride cart. The ones at Disneyland seat two guests per row of three, thereby doubling throughput. So, it’s better for Disney. For riders, the lines are shorter, and the experience is shared. You’ll raise your arms and scream together.
Thematically, the feeling of isolation at Magic Kingdom is more logical. From an enjoyment perspective, however, packing into a space car with your partner is much more entertaining.