How do the attractions compare between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort?

When I returned from my recent trip to the Disneyland Resort, I had many friends and family ask me about the attractions in Disneyland (DL) and Disney California Adventure (DCA). They asked why I would go to Disneyland when I had the same attractions here. I think you all know by now I am a big Disney fan. So let’s talk a little bit and compare the attractions between the East and West Disney parks.

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If you are a Disney fan it is fun to compare the rides between Walt Disney World (WDW), Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Just remember at the end of the day, this is just my opinion and you may find you like the opposite. I am not a thrill seeker so I asked friends and family for opinions also.


  • Space Mountain– in Disneyland the ride track is smoother and the area seems darker. The loading process is better in Disneyland. You sit side by side when you ride in Disneyland, where you sit behind each other at Walt Disney World. I rode this once here at WDW and it scared me so I won’t be trying it again. I would like to go back and check out the queue.
  • Soarin’ over California– the theming before you ride is much better at Disneyland. This area of the park is currently under refurbishment so the theming is likely to change. Hopefully parts of this theming will stay. To me it was the history of aviation. They are changing the theming of the area to Grizzly Peak Airfield. When it reopens the ride will have an updated screen and a digital projection system. Soarin’ in WDW was a “gift” from Disneyland for their 50th anniversary. Soarin’ over California seems more intimate, where at WDW the queue is designed for a 300 minute wait. I love the movie that is shown in both attractions. Rumors are out there that a new movie may be coming. WDW is supposed to be increased the capacity with a new theater. This is my favorite ride so don’t miss it in either park! Look for all the details as you are soaring. Every time I go I find something I hadn’t seen before.
  • Grizzly River Run– compared to Kali River Rapids. Grizzly River Run is longer and better themed. I like that there is a viewing area where you can watch the riders on this attraction. There are several places to take some great pictures of the area.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean– the Disneyland ride is 7 minutes longer. Once you ride it in Disneyland you will forever be comparing it to the Walt Disney World version. One of the highlights for me is getting to float by the Blue Bayou restaurant. It also seems quieter and you can be surprised when you are about to drop. At WDW there is so much clanking and moving the boat around it is no surprise that something is about to happen. You don’t do as much walking in the queue at Disneyland either.


  • it’s a small world– They added Disney characters to the attraction at Disneyland in 2008. The Disneyland version is longer and the holiday overlay is awesome. If you can, you should visit during the holidays to see the difference. I love the façade and the fact you board outside at Disneyland. It is nice that the queue is mostly indoors at Walt Disney World to keep you out of the heat. This is a classic ride and you shouldn’t miss it in either park. You will be singing the catchy tune all day.
  • Disneyland Railroad– Disneyland has the dinosaurs and the Grand Canyon Diorama. But to me it just feels like they are hiding something when you are going through the tunnel. I do enjoy for a change that you are riding sideways on some of the cars. I think I would give the edge to the train ride in Walt Disney World. I feel like there is more to see. Just be sure to look at all the details along the way on both attractions.


  • Toy Story Midway Mania– the edge for me goes to WDW because of the theming. You have lots to look at and enjoy in the queue. The ride is exactly the same on both coasts. I do think the location of the attraction works better in DL. It looks sort of lost in WDW in Pixar Place. Be sure to get a fastpass for this attraction!
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters– You can pick up the gun on this attraction in Disneyland, which you can’t do at WDW. This is a do not miss on either coast.
  • Haunted Mansion– I think the edge goes to the Disneyland version. But don’t skip this attraction in either park. It is a classic. When you go in the stretching room in the Disneyland version you are actually in an elevator descending to the ride. In late September they add the Jack Skellington and The Nightmare before Christmas overlay. WDW doesn’t change theirs. Disneyland also added the Hatbox Ghost so be sure you see the new addition.
  • Jungle Cruise– nod goes to WDW for the longer ride. Don’t miss the tour of the backside of water in either park!
  • Monorail– in Disneyland it is considered an attraction. At WDW, it is a mode of transportation. Nod goes to WDW because there are more monorails and you can take to theme parks. Although, as a Disneyland Resort guest you can use the monorail to get into the back of the park more quickly. It was great using the monorail to get back to Downtown Disney on a crowded Friday night.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure vs Dinosaur- Indiana Jones by a mile!!! Once you do Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland you will wonder why they didn’t put this into WDW. The ride basically is the same but the theming is so, so much better in Disneyland. Be prepared for a rough ride but don’t miss it!
  • Fantasmic– Disneyland wins this one. Watching it in New Orleans Square is something else. There is more live action and watching it up close is unforgettable at DL. I recommend the Fantasmic Dinner package.
  • Remember Dreams Come True vs Wishes -the fact that Tinkerbell is able to go back and forth, up and down as she flies at DL gives this the edge. WDW only has a single wire. Disney will be premiering a new fireworks show for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary and I am sure it will be fantastic. Once you enjoy Disney fireworks on either coast you are forever spoiled.

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  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroadthe theming is different between the two parks. Disneyland underwent a long refurbishment and I think the ride is smoother at DL. This is another don’t miss rides. I am not a roller coaster fan and I can handle this one. If you want a few more thrills ride in the very back car.

I was sad to leave Disneyland but I still have Walt Disney World to appreciate. I am glad I got to appreciate all the attractions and see which theme park did it better. What do you think of the list? Have you been to Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort? ‘Til next time, See you in the parks!


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