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East Coast vs West Coast: Which Has the Better Attractions?

East Coast vs West Coast: Which Has the Better Attractions?

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland both have amazing attractions that are unique to their parks, however, they have many rides that are the same, too. You might think that having the same ride would mean the rides are identical, but that is not necessarily the case. Some attractions are actually better than their cross-country counterpart and it’s time to put them head to head to see who the big winners are!

Autopia (DL) vs. Tomorrowland Speedway (WDW)

Winner: Autopia

Credit: Disney

Disneyland wins hands down in this battle of the speedways. Autopia is not only a longer experience, but guests have better control over the cars they are driving.

The terrain in which you drive over is much more unique, too. Rather than just driving around in a large loop like a racetrack, Autopia has different lanes that take guests on narrow paths up and down winding hills.

While I personally have no issue skipping the Tomorrowland Speedway, Autopia will be one that I make sure to ride each time I visit Disneyland.

Space Mountain (DL) vs. Space Mountain (WDW)

Winner: Space Mountain Disneyland

Credit: Disney

This was a close battle, but the win goes to Disneyland’s Space Mountain. There are several differences between the east coast and west coast attractions. Walt Disney World’s ride vehicle seats 6 people per train with two rockets holding three seats situated one in front of the other.

At Disneyland’s version, Guests are seated side by side in groups of two. This allows Disneyland to get more guests through per ride as the attraction is much smaller than the one located in Walt Disney World.

Credit: Donna

While the unique rocket design of Disney World’s vehicles adds to the overall theme of the attraction, they are incredibly uncomfortable to get into and it can be awkward if you are riding with total strangers.

Disneyland’s ride is also faster reaching a maxium speed of 35mph compared to Disney World which only reaches a maximum speed of 28mph.

The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (DL) vs Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid (WDW)

Winner: Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid

Voyage of the Little Mermaid May Be Reopening Soon!
Credit: KtP

There are few differences between the two rides, but the win goes to Disney World. The advantage lies in the overall appearance and theming of the ride building and queue. At Disney World, the ride is built inside Prince Eric’s castle and does a better job at immersing guests in the story of The Little Mermaid.

The ride building at Disneyland is Greek/Roman-inspired with large archways and tall columns similar to the early 20th-century-style architecture seen on old seaside boardwalks.

While it’s very beautiful, it doesn’t pull you into the story in the same way. As far as the attraction is concerned, the rides are nearly identical with just a few small differences.

Pirates of the Caribbean (DL) vs Pirates of the Caribbean (WDW)

Winner: Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland

Credit: Disneyland

This is one of the easiest choices in this whole debate. The Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean is far superior to the one at Walt Disney World and it is twice as long as its east coast sibling.

Disneyland’s version does a better job of conveying the passage of time throughout different points in the journey. The early cave scenes are part of the present showcasing the current state of the villanous pirates in their demise. By plunging down not one, but two drops, guests travel back in time to the glory days of pirates pillaging and plundering.

The “living” pirate scenes are very similar between the two coasts, but the end of the attractions are different. To represent the return to the present, guests are taken back up a waterfall rather than simply disembarking at a seperate dock and riding up a steep moving walkway.

The Haunted Mansion (DL) vs The Haunted Mansion (WDW)

Winner: The Haunted Mansion Walt Disney World

Credit: KtP

Disney fans will tell you there are pros and cons to both versions of The Haunted Mansion. They are unique enough that you should ride both attractions, however, the version at Walt Disney World is squeaking it out for the win here. Agan the tipping point goes to theming and building design.

Each park’s ride building was designed to blend into the lands they are situated in. Disneyland’s version is designed after an old southern plantation while Disney World’s version is designed after the old 18th-century Gothic-Style mansions seen in early colonial days. The manor’s design and queue are far spookier at Walt Disney World which creates a more immersive experience.

Credit: Disney

While some guests will argue that hatbox ghost puts Disneyland on top, Disney World is slated to receive its own hatbox ghost this year which levels the playing field. Others may use the special Nightmare Before Christmas layover to tip the scales in Disneyland’s favor, but that is one reason we are giving the win to Disney World.

Disneyland’s ride loses its main theme for several months of the year and while fans of the the movie will enjoy the overlay, others looking to enjoy the regular theme will be out of luck for a good chunk of the year.

Peter Pan’s Flight (DL) vs Peter Pan’s Flight (WDW)

Winner: Peter Pan’s Flight Disneyland

Peter Pan's Flight and Tomorrowland Speedway to close for refurbishment in 2019
Credit: KtP Writer Christina

It is no contest between the east coast and west coast this round. Disneyland soars into the winner’s spot with its far superior updates and ride technology.

Disneyland’s version offers higher-quality fiber optics and the track itself is not only smoother but faster. You actually feel like you are flying rather than just moving slowing through a dark room. Disney World’s version of Peter Pan’s Flight is in desperate need of a similar update because side by side there is no way that it holds a candle to the one at Disneyland.

Radiator Springs Racers (DL) vs Test Track (WDW)

Winner: Radiator Springs Racers Disneyland

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

There is absolutely no contest when it comes to which version is better. Even though both attractions use the same type of ride system and vehicle, Radiator Springs builds on that with superior theming, storyline and ride elements.

Radiator Springs Racers begins like a family dark ride, winding around various scenes and nearly colliding with some of your favorite Radiator Springs residents before making it to the track for the big race.

At the end of both rides, you are taken out onto the track for some high-speed fun. While the end racetrack portion is arguably the best part of Test Track, it goes to show that faster isn’t always better.

Test Track is the fastest ride in all of Walt Disney World at almost 65mph. Radiator Springs Racers is far slower (40mph) and yet it beats Test Track becuase of the racing element and overall track design. There is also an edge for re-rideability due to the possiblity of different outcomes each time you ride Radiator Springs Racers.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (DL) vs Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (WDW)

Winner: Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters Disneyland


There are several things that make the Disneyland version better than Walt Disney World. One of the biggest selling points of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is that your blaster is not attached to the vehicle. You can pick it up and have better aim to shoot your targets.

In Disney World, you not only have very minimal control over your blaster, but it can be very difficult to see where you are actually shooting. To make things worse, all of the targets look exactly the same and unless you have insider knowledge, you don’t know how much each “Z” target is worth.

Credit: KtP

In Disneyland, the “Z” targets are shaped as either circles, triangles, diamonds or squares and those specific shapes will determine how much a target is worth.

There is also no score limit in Disneyland. While the vehicle scoreboard will max out at 999,999 like in Disney World, the score keeps tracking after that number in Disneyland. Guests who surpass 999,999 on their vehicle scoreboard can visit the kiosk at the end of the ride to look up their final score.

Disneyland Monorail vs. Walt Disney World Monorail

Winner: Walt Disney World Monorail

DeSantis-Ordered Inspections of the Monorail Begin in Disney World
Credit: Monica

In Disney World, guests rely on the monorails as a major form of transportation around the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and resort areas. The monorail is solely a form of transportation rather than an attraction and does not require any kind of park admission to ride. In Disneyland, the monorail system functions more as an attraction rather than a major form of transportation.

To ride the Disneyland monorail, guests must have a valid ticket to enter Disneyland Park becuase the monorail only goes back and forth between two monorail stations (one in Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park and one in Downtown Disney).

The Walt Disney World monorail is not only a good form of transportation to several resorts and parks, but it is a more comfortable ride than the one at Disneyland. For these reasons, we are giving the win to Disney World.

“it’s a small world” (DL) vs “it’s a small world” (WDW)

Winner: “it’s a small world” Disneyland

Credit: Maggie

This is another pairing in which the winner is a slam dunk. As wonderful as Disney World’s “it’s a small world” attraction is, there is just no comparing it to the one at Disneyland.

“it’s a small world” at Disneyland is much bigger than its Disney World counterpart. The show building is grander, and there are several sections that Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” has that Disney World’s does not include such as an American Western and Under the Sea section.

Aside from being much larger, what sets the Disneyland version apart from its east coast sibling is that it incorporates Mary Blair-style Disney characters into various scenes hidden throughout the ride.

We had so much fun searching through each scene to spot the various characters and they did not detract from the overall ride experience. The characters fit in seamlessly into the surrounding cultural area, and you might just hear a little tune from the character’s movie mixed into the “it’s a small world” theme song.

Grizzly River Run (DL) vs Kali River Rapids (WDW)

Winner: Grizzly River Run Disneyland

Credit: KtP

It takes a lot for me to want to walk around the parks with soggy clothes and squishy shoes all day. The ride has to be worth that level of wetness and for Kali River Rapids, that is a definite “no”. Kali River Rapids is a giant game of water Russian roulette. There is no way to determine who will be soaked and the drenching can be disproportionate around the raft.

Aside from potentially walking off dripping wet, the theme for Kali River Rapids is incredibly dull. Without any narration or further detail, guests just have to infer that the overall theme is related to the negative impacts of logging and deforestation.

While Grizzly River Run is also a raft ride, that is the only close similarity it has to Kali River Rapids. Everything about the ride is better! The rapids are much faster and you spin and bump into things in an out-of-control way that’s exhilarating. Not only is the ride more thrilling, but throughout the entire ride, you run into waterfalls, water canons and squirting machines that will leave everyone in the raft completely soaked.

If I am going to come off a ride soaking wet, it better be worth it. We had an absolute blast riding Grizzly River Run and didn’t even mind being soaked because the level of fun we had laughing with our fellow raft strangers was worth it.

Adding up the winners it’s clear there is something special about the rides at Disneyland. Their unique differences make them superior to their east coast counterparts.

Have you ridden any of these Disneyland rides? Which ones do you think are better? Let us know in the comments below and check out more Disneyland content here!

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