As everyone probably knows, I recently visited Walt Disney World for vacation. This was my first visit since being a Disneyland Cast Member; however I spent many of my childhood years at the Magic Kingdom. As I ambled around the park, I found myself with many thoughts that I would like to share.
Walt Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California are similar parks in many ways. People often ask, “Should I visit one if I’ve seen the other?” The answer is YES, especially if you’ve only visited Disneyland. There are about 20 attractions that you’ll find on both coasts, including Space Mountain; it’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Soarin’, and the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. However, each resort has a number of rides that are exclusive to that location. Like the rides, you’ll be able to watch some of the same shows on both coasts. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Fantasmic, Muppet*Vision 3-D, Turtle Talk with Crush, and It’s Tough to be a Bug are all bi-coastal. However, they each offer differences when it comes to queues and theming.
When it comes to the Magic Kingdom, there are many similarities to Disneyland. In my personal opinion what Walt Disney World lacks in rides, they make up for in theming and interactive queues (If Disneyland had the space for immersive queues and theming like Disney World- it would perfect). For the rest of this post, I would like to compare the mutual attractions between Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. I believe, I can offer a good viewpoint of both park because I grew up going to Disney World and am a former Disneyland Cast Member.
Disneyland vs Magic Kingdom
Astro Orbiter: Magic Kingdom
These two attractions are both located in Tomorrowland. While I’m not a fan of either ride there is the simple fact that this ride is in its original location in Magic Kingdom, whereas it’s been relocated to the ground in Disneyland gives a point to Florida. However, each offer breathtaking views.
Autopia/ Tomorrowland Speedway in Magic Kingdom: Disneyland
Honestly, as an adult I don’t ride either version often. Yet, each offers their own theming. Disney World feels like the Indianapolis 500, whereas Autopia feels like a Sunday drive through the park. Disneyland gets the point on this because of the queue, driving under the monorail, and more things to look at while driving.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Disneyland
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: Disneyland
These two attractions are almost identical, but Magic Kingdom is bigger and has a cool tunnel scene. Though, this debate can be settled with the guns. The Magic Kingdom guns are stationary, whereas Disneyland guns are able to be picked up. I also like Disneyland’s secret Astro Blaster targets.
Disney Monorail: Tie
I personally believe this is very hard to compare. In Disney World, the monorail acts as a means of transportation. Yet in Disneyland, it is more of an attraction with one stop. Both are unique, but when it comes to aesthetics Disneyland’s Mark VII monorail is much cooler looking inside and out than the Mark VI that is being used in Disney World.
Disney Railroad: Disneyland
Once again while Magic Kingdom has a larger track, Disneyland’s has more stops. Not to mention the Grand Canyon Diorama and the Primeval World. I believe one could argue that the Disney railroad in Magic Kingdom serves as transportation, unlike Disneyland’s where it is an attraction.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Magic Kingdom
This is the exact same ride, but both queues are different. I give the point to Magic Kingdom because of the interactive queues and duel ride system.
Many people might oppose considering Disney World has its own theater just for the nighttime spectacular, but the show itself is better at Disneyland. Disneyland’s has more of story line, not to mention the finale has characters on board the Mark Twain Riverboat. While in Disney World, it has a nameless ship created specifically for that show. It would also be important to note, that Disney World’s version takes place in Hollywood Studios, while Disneyland’s take place on the Rivers of America.
Haunted Mansion: Tie
This is one of the more difficult comparisons. Disneyland has an exterior that makes one believe they are entering an old Southern home and the recent addition of the Hatbox Ghost. The Magic Kingdom’s version has some pretty incredible technology, interactive queue, and additional rooms. I really enjoyed the extra rooms like the stair room and the mausoleum, as well as the hitchhiking ghost effects. I call this a tie, because each of these mansions are spooky and exceptional.
Side note: Disneyland does get the “Nightmare Before Christmas” overlay. I couldn’t use that in this case since Magic Kingdom doesn’t get it, making it technically not an attraction they share.
It’s a Small World: Disneyland
I am sorry to say, that this was a landslide victory for Disneyland. Disneyland has a standalone building that is extremely charming and enchanting. Not to mention, the interior of the attraction contains Disney characters in their respective country.
Side Note: It is important that I did not include “it’s a small world holiday” overlay to this.
Jungle Cruise: Disneyland
I know what you are thinking! She’s a former Disneyland Jungle Cruise Skipper. Of course she will vote for Disneyland. But hear me out! This is virtually the same ride, but the Magic Kingdom version has a temple part. However, the reason Disneyland gets this is due to the entire queue theming. The exterior of Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise is that of a boathouse. It has a certain charm and the belief that you are going on a real river cruise.
Side Note: If you disagree with this one, please inform me. I would love to discuss. I know I provide a bit of a bias because I am a skipper.
King Arthur Carousel or Prince Charming Regal Carousel in the Magic Kingdom: Tie
These are the same ride. However, Disneyland’s does feature Jingles. Jingles is the lead horse, and Walt’s favorite, named for its very ornate carvings which include beautiful straps of jingle bells hanging from her saddle. For Disneyland’s 50th anniversary in 2005, Jingles was repainted gold from nose to tail, trimmed in 18k gold leaf and set apart as a photo opportunity near the queue for Dumbo. When Jingles was re-installed as lead horse after the Year of a Million Dreams campaign, major portions of Jingles were painted over, except where the gold bells and trim are showing through, with exceptionally striking translucent treatment of the rosettes on Jingles’ head. Jingles was ceremoniously dedicated to Julie Andrews on April 8, 2008 as “Honorary Ambassador”.
Mad Tea Party: Disneyland
I realize the weather in Florida requires the ride be covered, but when you compare the two visually the one in Disneyland looks way better due to the entire theming of the land.
Mark Twain Riverboat or Liberty Square Riverboat in Magic Kingdom: Tie
Both boats stroll around their respective rivers, and the one in Magic Kingdom is larger.
Peter Pan’s Flight: Disney World
They are nearly identical, but for some reason Magic Kingdom’s is slightly more enjoyable. It features interactive queues and it has FP+. Disneyland could quickly steal back this point after it opens with the 60th celebration upgrades.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Disneyland
Another one that’s not even close. I really love the Magic Kingdom’s queue of an old Caribbean fort. But, Disneyland’s is bigger, longer, and has two drops. Not to mention the bayou scene in the beginning creates a certain ambiance and setting.
Sleeping Beauty Castle or Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom: Disney World
I love Sleeping Beauty’s Castle mostly due to the history and it’s almost 60 years old. But Magic Kingdom’s is bigger, prettier, and has its own restaurant. The tunnel through is also home to some remarkable glass mosaics. While the Disneyland’s version has a great walk-through depicting the film Sleeping Beauty, it still can’t rival with the exquisiteness of Magic Kingdom’s castle.
Space Mountain: Disneyland
For me I prefer the double row rocket vehicle, on-ride music, and smoother ride of Space Mountain in Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom version feels a lot like the Matterhorn and is very jerky. But, I did enjoy Magic Kingdom’s space theming that features astronauts, interactive queues, and special scenes when exiting.
Splash Mountain: Disneyland
This may be the most “debatable” of my opinions. I personally feel that Disneyland’s is longer and feature’s more in ride theming. For the Magic Kingdom’s, I enjoyed the double row seating.
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue: Magic Kingdom
The simulator itself is the same. The tipping point goes to the queue, because Disney World’s has a huge AT-AT standing outside of it. It’s important to note that Disney World’s version is located in Hollywood Studios.
Tarzan’s Treehouse or Swiss Family Treehouse in Magic Kingdom: Magic Kingdom
I consider the Swiss Family Treehouse to be a classic. Even though I love Tarzan, I feel that it didn’t drastically improve Disneyland’s. The treehouse’s are almost the same. Thus is boils down to do you prefer the classic film or the newer. I personally prefer the classic film.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Magic Kingdom
The queue and ride are slightly better in the Magic Kingdom. However, neither should have been built since they both replaced classic attractions. Disneyland’s does feature a hidden Max, Buff and Melvin, three characters from the original Country Bears.
Tom Sawyer Island: Disneyland
Not the most enjoyable place if you’re older than 10, but with the Pirate’s Lair addition to Disneyland, it gets the nod over Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room: Disneyland
They are virtually the same ride. However, I enjoy the theming outside Disneyland’s and the fact you can get a Dole Whip before the show.
What you will ONLY see in the Magic Kingdom – Florida
- Carousel of Progress (Tomorrowland)
- Casey Jr. Splash and Soak (Storybook Circus)
- Cinderella Castle (Disneyland has Sleeping Beauty’s Castle)
- Country Bear Jamboree (Frontierland)
- Enchanted Tales with Belle (Fantasyland)
- Goofy’s Barnstormer (Storybook Circus) – Very Similar to Gadget’s Go-Coaster
- The Hall of Presidents (Liberty Square)
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Adventureland)
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor (Tomorrowland)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Fantasyland)
- Stitch’s Great Escape (Tomorrowland)
- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (Disneyland has Tarzan’s Treehouse)
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Tomorrowland)
What you will ONLY see in Disneyland- California
- Alice in Wonderland (Fantasyland)
- Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland)
- Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes (Frontierland)
- Fantasmic (Similar but not identical to show at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
- Fantasy Faire (Fantasyland)
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – (Tomorrowland)
- Gadget’s Go Coaster (Toontown – Similar to Goofy’s Barnstormer)
- Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (Main Street U.S.A.)
- Indiana Jones Adventure (Adventureland)
- Matterhorn Bobsleds (Fantasyland)
- Mickey and the Magical Map (Fantasyland)
- Mickey’s Toontown
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Fantasyland)
- Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure (Fantasyland)
- Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin (Toontown)
- Sailing Ship Columbia (Frontierland)
- Sleeping Beauty (Fantasyland)
- Sleeping Beauty’s Castle (Magic Kingdom has Cinderella Castle)
- Storybookland Canal Boats (Fantasyland)
- Tarzan Treehouse (Adventureland)
Overall, each park is unique and worth a visit. It really just depends on vacation style. If you are looking for a quick weekend trip with less ground to cover, Disneyland accommodates these trips better. Magic Kingdom offers a lot of dining options, the Electrical Light Parade, and special attractions. I personally believe it’s very hard to compare these two park because they are in many ways siblings. But, if asked which one I chose- Disneyland. Disneyland has a way that makes you feel immersed while in the entire park. Within the Magic Kingdom, I could often see the outside world. Disneyland has an immersive way that makes me forget all my troubles. This alone is why I chose Disneyland, it’s charm and ambiance help me become a kid again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my parks comparison! What do you think? Which park would you chose?
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy some of my photos of Magic Kingdom