The 5 Rides Disneyland Does Better Than Disney World

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Disneyland Parks, Walt Disney World

Wondering who wins in the battle of Disneyland vs Disney World rides? We’re sharing the five rides Disneyland does better!

Disneyland first opened in 1955, setting the stage for the Disney Parks that would follow. And with so many iconic attractions, it’s no surprise that a few of the most popular rides opened with (or shortly after) Disney World when it launched in 1971. And now, nearly 70 years after Disneyland first opened, we’re taking a look at which of the shared rides the original park still does better!

Disneyland vs Disney World Rides: The Ones Disneyland Does Better

We’re taking a look at Disneyland vs Disney World rides, sharing the key differences as well as which of the rides Disneyland just simply has the better version of (in our humble opinon, of course).

Space Mountain

This was a ride that I have always loved at Disney World, and yet my opinion completely changed after one ride on the Disneyland counterpart. At Disney World, the ride has single-file seating, with two separate tracks that mirror each other. Disneyland has side-by-side seating, with just one single track. The California version has an onboard soundtrack, and generally more lighting effects and music than the Florida counterpart. But where the real differnece comes in is the smoothness of the ride — I cannot emphasize enough how much smoother the coaster is for the Disneyland Space Mountain vs the Disney World Space Mountain.

The difference in design and how smooth the ride in likely comes down to when each of the attractions were built. The Disney World Space Mountain opened in 1975, with the concept first originating from the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland (hence why its a rougher track and single-file seating). The Disneyland version opened two years later in 1977, which featured just one track as opposed to two due to space limitations. In 2003, the Disneyland version shut down for a two-year refurbishment, reopening with a completely rebuilt track making for a smoother ride.

Versions of the ride are also available at Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Anyone who has ridden Pirates of the Caribbean at both Disney World and Disneyland could tell you these are vastly different rides. One of the most notable differences is the ride length for each, with Disneyland’s clocking in at 15 minutes while Disney World’s is just about half of that at eight minutes. The Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean takes you through the Blue Bayou restaurant and includes two drops, as well as additional scenes you won’t find in Disney World. While both rides are classics in their own right, it would be impossible not to choose the Pirates of the Caribbean with more to love as the superior version.

The differences between each ride begin before even entering the queue. Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland is located in New Orleans Square, with a facade made to resemble antebellum era New Orleans. Over at Disney World, the ride is housed in a Spanish fort called Castillo Del Morro, made to resemble Castillo de San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico. You can also find Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris, while Shanghai Disneyland’s version (Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure) focuses more on the film franchise inspired by the original attraction.

“it’s a small world”

An opening day attraction for each park, “it’s a small world” has quite a few differences between the Disneyland and Disney World versions. Over at Disneyland, boats launch from an outdoor loading area, with a stunning outdoor facade where you’ll find a clock tower and moving figures. The queue and facade for Disney World are far more subdued in Disney World, with no outdoor portion. While both feature the iconic “it’s a small world” song by the Sherman Brothers along with animatronic dolls, Disneyland’s version has incorporated Disney characters in each of their native lands, a change that has not been brought over to Magic Kingdom.

its-a-small-world-holiday-disneyland_featured_shih disneyland vs disney world rides

Photo by Brian Shih

While the rides are more similar than different, the slightly longer length as well as the beautiful outdoor facade of Disneyland’s version gives “it’s a small world” in California an edge over Disney World. Versions of the attraction can also be found at Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Haunted Mansion Holiday

The Haunted Mansion first opened in Disneyland in 1969, followed only two years later by the Magic Kingdom counterpart that opened with the park in 1971. At the Disneyland version, guests enter through the mansion’s grounds in New Orleans Square, as opposed to the Liberty Square entrance for Disney World. Both rides have completely different exteriors, but the differences continue inside. For example, Disneyland’s stretching room takes place in an actual elevator, while Disney World’s version has a room and floor that don’t move at all.

Now, here’s the thing: both rides are actually fantastic on each coast, and many would actually give a slight edge to Disney World for a few additional scenes such as the library and staircase scene. Where Disneyland has a key difference that makes it more fun is its annual overlay to Haunted Mansion Holiday. During the Halloween and holiday season, the ride gets a full change to a The Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired attraction. This is something not done over at Magic Kingdom, and it’s a truly fun addition that this writer wishes they would!

Tokyo Disneyland also has its own version of the Haunted Mansion, located in its Fantasyland section. Hong Kong Disneyland also took inspiration to create Mystic Manor, which has a completely different story and theme that are more lighthearted. And Disneyland Paris took a similar tactic, creating Phantom Manor.

Indiana Jones Adventure vs DINOSAUR

So, technically these are completely different rides, but with the same ride system. Indiana Jones Adventure is located in Disneyland, a motion vehicle dark ride that takes you into the word of the Indiana Jones film series. DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the same ride system, but in this case, you’re taking a trip to the past when dinosaurs ruled the world.

indiana jones adventure disneyland vs disney world rides

Photo by Danny Shuster

Indiana Jones Adventure opened in Disneyland’s Adventureland in 1995, originally premiering as Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The ride features an original story, where Indiana Jones brings you on an adventure to find the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The immersive attraction, thrills, and familiar characters of the ride are a must-do for those who love Indiana Jones, with recent updates bringing a fresh experience to the ride. DINOSAUR opened in 1998, bringing guests into a time rover where they’re sent back to capture an Iguanadon. Along the way, you come across several other dinos, including the terrifying Carnotaurus.

While nothing has been fully confirmed yet, concept art revealed at Destination D23 in 2023 showed a potential Indiana Jones ride taking over the space where DINOSAUR currently occupies, meaning we may see the Indiana Jones Adventure come to Disney World in the future!


Posts by Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.

Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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