Disney fanatics living in the United States are lucky because both coasts boast iconic Disney theme parks to take delight in. Most already know the story behind how these parks got their start; Walt Disney pursued his vision for extending his entertainment industry beyond the bounds of just movies and television, going on to open his family-oriented Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California in 1955. Later on, after taking stock of needed areas for improvement as well as exploring the possibilities for what else he could be accomplish with more area to work with, Walt upgraded his dream with plans to establish an entire Disney “World” in sunny central Florida. Walt Disney World Resort opened to the public in 1971, though Walt passed before having the chance to see it premier. Many Disney World attractions are admittedly replicated versions of those found in Disneyland, although all of the above add their own exclusive touches to the original presentation. Other attractions, however, truly are completely, one-of-a-kind concepts not seen in its park counterpart. For this article, we’re examining similarities and differences worth noting in a few of the attractions found at Disneyland and Disney World.
This or That Different Attractions
Elusive Beasts: Matterhorn vs. Everest
If you’re in pursuit of a couple cryptoids of the legendary, bipedal ape variety, then neither Disneyland nor Disney World will disappoint you. Over at Disneyland, Matterhorn Bobsleds has been delighting fans since 1959. A coaster-style ride set along the snow-capped Swiss Alps, riders get to experience the thrill of steep climbs and zips along the tracks at breathtaking high speeds, all while trying to evade the clutches of the one and only Abominable Snowman.
Disney World didn’t get its elusive beast equivalent until much later, in 2006, with the opening of Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Animal Kingdom Park. Also a high-speed rollercoaster set along the backdrop of a steep mountain slope, the intensely rugged climbs and ascent, along with all the forward and backward dips, twists, and drops culminate to a climatic conclusion in which you come face-to-face with that menacing yeti of local lore and legend.
High-speed Driving: Cars vs. Test Track
If you’re looking to satisfy your need for speed the racecar way, then you can’t go wrong by taking a detour over to Cars Land, located within Disney California Adventure. While there are many attractions making up this section of Disneyland’s second park, our focus is on Radiator Springs Racers. Here you get to ride along (in slot cars) and embrace a Cars-themed coaster-style experience, which combines traditional dark ride excitement with an open-air outdoor racing rush set along a scenic route.
Disney World’s Test Track, which is located in Future World over at EPCOT, predates Radiator Springs Racers. While it doesn’t follow the same Cars theme, there are undeniable similarities between the two coasters. Like the aforementioned, Test Track takes riders on an accelerated drive via slot cars and also mixes together dark ride delights and open-air outside thrills.
Plunging Down: Tower vs. Breakout!
We have a unique situation when we look at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. Once home to both Disneyland and Disney World alike, the Disneyland version, which opened later than the one still operating in Disney World, underwent a reimagining in 2017, when it was assigned a new theme and was transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: Breakout! As you probably guessed, the ride’s motif features Guardians of the Galaxy scenes set along the same synchronized (though varied) drops with accompanying music taken from the films’ famous mixed playlist.
Disney World’s attraction still is, and always has been, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. In keeping with the same storyline inspired by the cult classic Twilight Zone television series from the 50s and 60s, this creepy riding experience, set within a randomly synchronized dropping elevator system, keeps fans enthralled and screaming for more.
A Goofy Comparison: Sky School vs. Barnstormer
Goofy is one of Disney’s most popular classic cartoon characters. So, it’s only natural that each park would feature a kid-friendly rollercoaster starring the famous goof himself. Over in Disneyland you have Goofy’s Sky School. At Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park there’s Goofy’s Barnstormer. While you’d expect each one to be a carbon copy of the other, the only real commonality between the two is that they both star Goofy in relation to an aerial antic gone wrong. Goofy’s Sky School is more reminiscent of a wild mouse-style coaster, more closely related to the former Primeval Whirl attraction that was once a part of Animal Kingdom Park in Disney World. If we were trying to find a Disneyland-based equivalent attraction to Disney World’s Goofy’s Barnstormer, the closest thing would likely be Gadget’s Go Coaster. Inspired by the thriftiness of the character Gadget from Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers series the track patterns and shorter duration are pretty similar to one the previously mentioned.
Same But Different Attraction Classics
The Haunted Mansion
Some park attractions are iconic classics at both locations. That’s certainly the case with Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. When we examine the similarities between the Disneyland version and the one in Walt Disney World, we can admit that they are essentially the same ride, but we cannot deny that even they reveal distinguishable deviations. For one thing, the houses are altogether different models. While the Disneyland presentation is that of a southern-style plantation house (appropriate for its location in New Orleans Square), the Disney World home appears to be more of a Dutch Colonial structure (as a reflection of its incorporation in Liberty Square). Despite their differences, both houses are undeniably creepy.
Both attractions incorporate the majority of the same happy haunts in one way or another, though even here there are noticeable differences. The Hat Box Ghost in the attic, for instance, is a Disneyland exclusive. Likewise, Disney World does offer a few more additives throughout the riding experience and most notably in its extended queue. Another point worth mentioning is that Disneyland’s attraction takes on holiday theming changes in decorations whereas Disney World’s presentation is timeless in that it always offers the same experience to guests anytime of the year.
Disney’s Jungle Cruise attraction opened in Disneyland back in 1955 as one of its original, classic attractions. Likewise, when Disney World opened in 1971 it too had a replicated version of the original classic. Even so, you will notice several key differences between the Disneyland and Disney World experiences when undertaking this humorous fun-pun ride. For example, the Disneyland version includes a man-eating piranha attack. Disney World’s version does not include piranhas but does take riders on a venture through a temple. Also, when you consider the commonalities each one does share, some locations and the order for certain iconic scenes are slightly switched around a bit. Disney World’s version of the ride tends to run a little longer. Other differences you may observe include the boathouse/queue sections for each Jungle Cruise installment, in which the Disneyland version actually spans two stories high.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The history of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is a very storied one indeed. For starters, it was originally intended to be a walkthrough wax museum, rather than a dark-ride boat attraction. We can all agree in hindsight that the decision to make it what is now was all for the best. The ride also managed to achieve a Disney first—being an attraction that inspired a widely popular film franchise that in turn re-inspired the ride via themed upgrades to reference the movies. And no matter which park we visit, we can’t help but love all versions of this attraction. For years it was a Disneyland exclusive, having opened to the public back in 1967. Unlike some replicated classics, this ride did not immediately open in tandem with Disney World’s grand opening, though. There was reportedly a misconception that fans visiting Disney’s Florida-based park would not have an interest in the attraction. But that was certainly not the case, and fans of the classic Disneyland version wanted an equivalent Disney World installment, which they eventually got in 1973.
Like every attraction that appears at both Disneyland and Disney World, there are some noticeable differences in each installment. One major example is that the Disneyland attraction is also site to the Blue Bayou restaurant. Additionally, it serves as the housing to the Disneyland Dream Suite—a space once intended to be a private apartment to serve Walt and his family. Furthermore, the Disneyland version is a lot longer than its Disney World counterpart—nearly twice as long, in fact. It also brags about having two sudden drops, whereas Disney World’s equivalent has just one. Aside from that, both deliver on an exceptional experience and similarly conveyed storylines.
If we took an extended look into each and every Disneyland attraction in comparison to its Disney World clone, we would find that no two attractions truly are exact replicas. Part of the magic of Disney is that every offering is an entirely one-of-a-kind original—uniquely diverse in its own right. And that’s why you simply must experience each one for yourself and get as much Disney as you can!