Zach and I tried to fit in everything we possibly could in the time that we were in Walt Disney World (WDW). Surprisingly, we couldn’t do it despite being there for two weeks! For this blog post, I thought I would start out by going over every ride and attraction we did at WDW’s Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom is essentially WDW’s Disneyland, with many of the same rides and attractions. While there are several similarities between the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, there are notable differences, as well. Since our home park is Disneyland, and this is the question we get asked the most, I will note some of the major things we noticed as well as which attractions we think are better, worse, or the same between the two parks.
Also, we were very much living in the moment during our honeymoon, so I apologize for the limited or low-quality photos. But at least it’s reflecting how we experienced these places in real life!
When I first stepped onto WDW’s Main Street U.S.A. for the first time, I was struck by how tall the buildings were and how wide the street was. It was obvious that WDW was not constrained by any kind of height requirements while building the parks. The façades of the buildings also appeared to be more ornate and detailed than Disneyland’s. In general, the Magic Kingdom hosts the same main lands as Disneyland, including Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland. Magic Kingdom also includes Liberty Square, but there’s no Toontown or New Orleans Square.
One of the most striking differences is the Magic Kingdom's castle. While Disneyland is home to Princess Aurora’s castle from Sleeping Beauty, the Magic Kingdom hosts Cinderella’s. The castle is HUGE. It’s at least 2-3 times the size of Sleepy Beauty’s, and it’s beautiful. If I could take just one thing from Magic Kingdom to have in Disneyland, it would probably be their castle. It’s so picturesque and makes the fantasy of being in a fairy-tale world even more immersive. There’s also a stage in front of the castle, which hosts several performances throughout the day. However, because of this, there are very limited opportunities when you can actually walk up to or through the castle. When the opportunity does arise, inside there is a beautiful mural made of tiles depicting Cinderella’s story.
Another thing WDW really excels at compared to Disneyland is its line experiences. The lines for several attractions were designed to better incorporate the rides themselves and would often include interactive displays that guests could touch or play with, or fun games. It made long waits just a little more bearable by having cool details and scenery to explore as well as cute little games to play along the way. I go into more detail in each attraction’s description.
So, I decided to provide a list of everything we did and give it a final ranking of if we thought it was better, worse, or the same as Disneyland’s. Hopefully this can be a helpful resource for anyone planning their own Disney World trip or whoever’s just curious as to how the parks compare. Keep reading!
Adventureland in WDW is host to many similar attractions as Disneyland’s Adventureland. The most notable difference is that there’s no Indiana Jones ride! Overall, the area has a similar feel as Disneyland’s version, being heavily vegetated and having an explorer theme.
What we did:
Jungle Cruise: Better than Disneyland
Unlike Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise was transformed into the Jingle Cruise for Christmas. Disneyland has also hosted the Jingle Cruise in the past but did not do it this last year. It’s essentially the same ride but with holiday decor, jokes, and puns. We really loved the Jingle Cruise at Disneyland, so we were excited they were still doing it in WDW. The ride was almost the exact same as Disneyland’s, except they had an extra portion where you go through a dark tunnel filled with statues, artifacts, and a few animals, and it has a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe. The skipper doesn’t narrate through the tunnel, which was actually a nice touch and makes it a little creepier. Since this is basically the same ride, plus this additional part, I would say the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise is better than Disneyland’s.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin: Not available in Disneyland
This is an Aladdin-themed aerial carousel-style ride, similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant (which is in both Disneyland and WDW), where you ride your own magic carpet. It’s very similar to Dumbo or Astro Blasters in Disneyland, but it allows you to make more sudden drops by moving the carpet up and down, which is very exhilarating when you don’t expect it — and when you let your new husband take the controls. To mimic a flying carpet, the movement is much more wavy, and there is also some fun Aladdin-esque music playing for your flight. Of all the aerial carousel rides available at the Disney parks, this is definitely my favorite. Unfortunately, it’s not available in Disneyland!
Pirates of the Caribbean: Worse than Disneyland
Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom is very similar to Disneyland’s but is smaller and a little less impressive. The space they built it in is not as big, so it feels a bit cozier and shorter. However, the line experience is significantly better. The entrance is much grander in appearance, and the line is very pirate -nspired and is more on theme with the ride than in Disneyland, where you just wait outside for most of it without much theme-ing.
Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room: Worse than Disneyland
The Enchanted Tiki Room is also almost the same as the original version in Disneyland, with a few minor differences. The line experience does not include the usual show from the tiki gods; instead, there is a small pre-show hosted by a couple of animatronic parrots while you wait for the tiki room to open. It was cute and a fun change, but I think I prefer Disneyland’s queue for this attraction. The Tiki Room, once you’re inside, is bigger than Disneyland’s with more seating. However, the show and look of all the birds, flowers, and tiki men are all the same. They also serve Dole whips right outside the tiki room, and have a pineapple and vanilla swirl available on the menu that we really loved, and is not available at Disneyland.
Frontierland looks and feels very similar to Disneyland's Frontierland, with a rugged, Western theme.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Same as Disneyland
Big Thunder in the Magic Kingdom is so similar to Disneyland’s that I can’t even recall what subtle differences there were. Therefore, it’s just as fun and exciting!
Country Bear Jamboree: Not available in Disneyland
This was my first time experiencing the Country Bear Jamboree. It had been an attraction at Disneyland for a long time, featuring animatronic bears that put on a musical performance, but it was removed from the park in 2001. It’s still up and running at WDW, and let me tell you, I can see why they let this one go at Disneyland. It’s…weird. The songs are dated, and not in a way that feels timeless. I also didn’t find it very fun. I was more just intrigued and in awe with how odd it was. I did enjoy the Country Bears though when they were out in costume roaming around and interacting with guests in the park!
Splash Mountain: Better than Disneyland
I don’t ride Splash Mountain too often in Disneyland, but the WDW version is very similar. It’s a little longer, and you can sit in pairs in the log versus individually, which are two of the major differences. The famous drop also didn’t seem quite as steep, but I’m not sure if it actually was. I enjoyed WDW’s Splash Mountain a little more, simply because it was more fun to be able to sit with Zach for the ride.
Liberty Square is a small colonial American-themed area along the Rivers of America. It’s fairly small with just a couple of buildings — hence the “square” and not “land” nomenclature. It is, however, home to one of Disney’s most famous rides, the Haunted Mansion, as well as a few American-themed attractions.
The Hall of Presidents: Not available in Disneyland
The Hall of Presidents is a show that highlights major moments of U.S. history and includes audio-animatronics of all 45 U.S. presidents that speak and move. The Hall of Presidents had been closed for several months, with a lot of controversy surrounding how Disney would incorporate our controversial 45th president, Donald Trump, once it reopened. There were rumors that the part that included all the animatronic presidents would be removed altogether. We walked by the Hall and noticed people piling in, so we jumped inside, immediately knowing that it had been closed; we didn’t expect it to be open on our trip. We later found out that we stumbled upon their soft opening and actually sat in one of their first shows to the public! I’m not much of a history buff, but it was an enjoyable experience that included a movie showing the journey of the U.S. becoming an independent nation and highlighting important historical figures. When the movie was finished, the screen opened up to reveal the animatronic presidents, which included Trump. It was really incredible seeing so many animatronics, and from a distance in the audience, they truly looked real. They would even make subtle movements while they weren’t talking, which seemed a little too lifelike. Overall, it wasn’t my favorite experience at WDW, but it was definitely an interesting one, and it was cool seeing it after it opened with the new president.
Haunted Mansion: Better than Disneyland
The Haunted Mansion is another Disney attraction in both Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. The two versions of the attraction actually look quite different from the outside, which I didn’t expect. Like some other attractions already mentioned, the line experience is also far more interesting. There were little interactive installations — like instruments carved into stone that would play if touched them, books on a shelf that would pop in and out, and little details that made the experience extra spooky and on theme. The ride itself was pretty similar with the addition of a couple of extra rooms, including a really cool library scene. Overall, I would say the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion is an even better experience than Disneyland’s.
The Muppets Present...Great Moments in American History: Not available in Disneyland
Zach and I both love the Muppets and didn’t even know they had their own little show in Liberty Square until we stumbled upon it while it was happening. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, and a few chickens perform famous historical moments as Sam the Eagle proudly narrates them. Naturally, hijinks ensue, and it is just delightful. It’s such a funny little skit, with great songs and all the silliness you’d expect from the Muppets. It was one of our favorite parts of the Magic Kingdom.
What we didn’t do:
Liberty Belle Riverboat
In general, parts of Fantasyland are a lot more dated and have not aged as well as Disneyland’s Fantasyland. Instead of brick and castle-esque façades, its a bit more colorful and cartoon-y in some sections. It does include some different areas and rides though, including the Beast’s castle from Beauty and the Beast, which was fun to see.
What we did:
Dumbo the Flying Elephant: Better than Disneyland
The Magic Kingdom’s Dumbo ride is the exact same as Disneyland’s, but they actually have two carousels instead of one. This ride also excels when it comes to the actual line experience, as well. Instead of a conventional line, riders are given a beeper and can go spend their time waiting in a large circus-themed play area versus standing in line. Since Dumbo is one of the most popular children’s ride, we thought this was genius. Kids are able to run around and play on equipment instead of having to uncomfortably stand in line, and it looked so fun! When the beeper goes off (similar to the ones you get in restaurants), guests can go ride the attraction.
It's a Small World: Worse than Disneyland
It's a Small World doesn’t appear to be nearly as big of a deal in WDW as it is in Disneyland. The entrance is similar to any dark ride entrance, with just a sign on the outside. The ride is also a lot shorter and feels just as dated as the original. Disneyland definitely wins on this one.
Mickey's PhilharMagic: Not available in Disneyland
This is another attraction in WDW that is not available in Disneyland. Walking in, we saw what appeared to be a 3D orchestra performance conducted by Mickey; however, when Donald Duck is setting up, he decides to try on Mickey’s magical sorcerer hat, which controls the instruments. Naturally, Donald doesn’t know how to use it and loses the hat before going on a wild adventure through musical performances of classic Disney movies (Lion King, Little Mermaid, etc) trying to get the hat back. The show was actually a lot of fun, and we ended up watching it a couple of times (it also has one of the shorter lines!). I also enjoyed seeing classic movies animated in 3D, which gave a new depth to movies I’ve seen hundreds of times.
Peter Pan's Flight: Same as Disneyland
Just like in Disneyland, Peter Pan’s Flight is very popular with long waits almost all day. Luckily, like so many attractions in WDW, we were able to get fast passes and ride it a couple of times. It’s very similar to Disneyland’s but is a little longer, which I enjoyed. I always feel like the ride in Disneyland is so short compared to how long you have to wait for it, so I liked that this one had a longer ride experience. Some of the sets in the ride were a little different, but overall, it was the same ride. Disneyland’s more recently went under refurbishment, so I would say it looks even better than the WDW version. Overall, though, I would rank them about the same.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Not available in Disneyland
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is an incredibly popular ride in the Magic Kingdom and not available in Disneyland. The rides takes you on a wild roller coaster train ride through the tunnels and mountains that the dwarfs are mining for jewels. The most interesting part of this coaster is that the carts swing! The carts you sit in feel like they are on a hinge and subtly swing side to side as you move. The ride is fast but also family-friendly (my favorite kind of coaster) and very short. It’s so fun that we tried to ride it every time we were in the Magic Kingdom. We were only able to get fast passes for this ride once, but we learned that if you got in line just before the park closed, the wait would only be about 30-40 minutes (compared to the 75- to 120-minute waits the rest of the day). Like so many of WDW’s rides, the line experience was also great and included several little interactive games or displays for guests to experience while waiting. This was definitely one of our favorite parts of WDW.
The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as the Great Goofini: Not available in Disneyland
The Barnstormer is a small kid coaster featuring the Great Goofini. It’s a very short coaster, but we loved the stunt plane theme-ing and had a lot of fun riding it!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Better than Disneyland
Zach and I love Winnie the Pooh and have always enjoyed riding it at Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom’s version is even better! It’s longer with a few different displays and just so cute. The line experience is also a lot of fun, with interactive displays and games throughout the line.
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid: The same as Disneyland
This ride is literally the exact same as Disney California Adventure’s Undersea Adventure except for one detail…THE FREAKING LINE EXPERIENCE. I know, I’m sounding like a broken record. First of all, the entrance to the ride is incredible, with a big ship and sign inviting you onto the ride. The line is filled with an ocean-inspired design and decor as well as a little game you play throughout the line featuring some sneaky crabs stealing Scuttle’s treasures. Toward the end of the line, an animatronic Scuttle is there to entertain you and interact with guests in line. We absolutely loved it!
Tomorrowland in WDW is similar to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, with a futuristic theme that feels a little dated. There are a few different rides and experiences that aren’t in Disneyland, and Star Tours is actually in Hollywood Studios and not in the Magic Kingdom.
What we did:
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: Not available in Disneyland
This had one of the shorter waits on some very busy days in the Magic Kingdom, which made it very appealing to do. I had no idea what it was but didn’t expect much. I was delighted when I realized it was an interactive comedy show with a few monsters from Monstropolis! Similar to Crush Talk in Disneyland, the monsters will call out guests, poke fun at people, and tell silly jokes. You can also submit jokes via text, and they will tell a few. It was really fun and cute!
Stitch's Great Escape!: (Thankfully) Not available in Disneyland
Stitch’s Great Escape was probably the worst ride I have ever been on in a Disney park. The alien police capture Stitch before you’re locked in a room with him and — you guessed it — he escapes. In the ride, you’re strapped into a chair, the room goes dark, and you’ll start to feel movement — like Stitch jumping on your chair, burping noises, air as he runs by, etc. It’s kind of weird and creepy and just not very fun. From what I understand, the ride is only open when the park is very busy, and customer satisfaction at the Magic Kingdom actually goes down when it’s open. I know there are plans to close it completely at some point, and with good reason.
Space Mountain: (Much) Worse than Disneyland
Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom was surprisingly quite different from Disneyland’s. The ride experience was similar to the Matterhorn, where you sit one by one and the ride is significantly more jerky. You literally feel like it jumps off the tracks at some points, and I’m pretty sure you would hit your hands on something if you kept them in the air while riding. The ride is also brighter than Disneyland’s, so you can faintly see the tracks, and the music isn’t as loud or fun in the cars. Overall, Disneyland’s Space Mountain is much more fun — smoother, faster, and darker. However, the line experience is better, as with most of the Magic Kingdom rides. It feels as if you’re actually on a ship with views of space outside of the window, and there are a few fun little games to play while waiting.
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover: Not available in Disneyland
The PeopleMover is a fun, slow, ride that is essentially a “tour” of Tomorrowland. It’s relaxing, and the line was fairly short — so win-win there. The coolest part was that it actually goes INSIDE Space Mountain. We were so shocked when we realized we were inside the ride. It’s a neat vantage point of the ride and fun to hear people on Space Mountain laughing and screaming on the coaster. The rest of the ride circles you around Tomorrowland with a voice narrating what you’re seeing. It’s a lot of fun, and we rode it a few times just to rest.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress: Not available in Disneyland
This is an interesting experience with a lot of history. Walt Disney created the Carousel of Progress for the 1964 World’s Fair to take visitors on a tour through life as various technologies developed. It has its own theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” that is now a Disney classic. One of the most famous aspects of this attraction is that the the audience moves in a carousel to each era’s display of technology rather than the stage. It also features a lot of old audio-animatronics as you witness a family experience major developments in technology. I didn’t necessarily love the Carousel of Progress, but I really enjoyed watching it knowing its history and laughing at their vision of the “present day” — which does include VR video games and an oven you can talk to, similar to asking Alexa something. So maybe they weren’t too far off!
Overall, despite thinking that many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides and attractions were better or the same as Disneyland’s, I still prefer Disneyland. It might be nostalgia and Disneyland feeling like “home,” but if I could, I would take the best parts of the Magic Kingdom and just plop them in our Disneyland (like the castle and Great Moments in History). I also really missed New Orleans Square, which I prefer over Liberty Square in WDW. In general, I also think our lands are a bit more immersive, especially Fantasyland. Overall, though, the Magic Kingdom is still full of Disney magic and offers some really incredible experiences that aren’t in Disneyland. I’m so grateful for the experience and cannot wait to go back!
Do you prefer Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom? Or if you have never been to Disney World, what are some of your impressions after reading this post? Let us know in the comments!
With churros and pixie dust,