Disneyland Park is TWICE as Good as the Magic Kingdom

We visited Walt Disney World over the New Year’s break, and very much enjoyed our time there. As a longtime Disneyland visitor I always find the Magic Kingdom to be a disappointment. There are many things to like about the park, to be sure. But as a Disneylander I am left with an unsatisfied feeling. There are some obvious differences in the park, especially with super-headliners like The Matterhorn and Indiana Jones not at the Magic Kingdom. On the other hand, as a newer park there are different/improved things in Florida as well.

Main Street Vehicles at Disneyland

Main Street Vehicles at Disneyland

So, I decided to see if I could quantify this. This analysis looks only at attractions and not at shows, character greetings, fireworks, shopping and dining, or other intangibles. Instead, we’re just looking at attractions to experience.  What I did was compare the attractions in each park. If they were clones (or near clones) of each other, then that would be a wash and even out from a points perspective. If a similar ride was “a little” better in one park or the other, then I would award one point. If it was significantly better then I would award two points.

In terms of attractions unique to one park or the other, 1-3 points are awarded based on value/scope. So, Shunken Ned’s Jungle Boats at the Magic Kingdom only gets a 1, whereas something of larger scope and appeal such as Mickey’s PhilharMagic gets a 3.

In my ratings below, I’ve tried to be as fair as possible. In some cases I actually awarded points to the attraction I actually prefer less, due to historical value or other elements. An example of this is Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, which I prefer but lacks an extra scene in the Magic Kingdom version (which, therefore, gets the points). I grouped attractions more or less together by land, though this wasn’t completely equivalent due to differences in the parks.

Disneyland Magic Kingdom Notes
Main Street USA
Main Street Vehicles 2 Main Street Vehicles Vehichles rarely run at MK, greater variety at DL too
Disneyland Railroad 1 Walt Disney World Railroad Primieval World missing at MK
The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln The Hall of Presidents 2 Greater scope and entire land built around this attraction. But DL has the Steve Martin movie.
The Disney Gallery 1 none Not much of an “attraction”
Fantasyland
Sleeping Beauty Castle Cinderella Castle 1 Much larger castle including a restaurant. But DL has a walk through.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant 0 Dumbo the Flying Elephant 0
It’s a Small World 1 It’s a Small World Larger attraction features Disney characters in DL.
Mad Tea Party 0 Mad Tea Party 1 Can spin the cups much faster at MK
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1 Better queue and theme and ride at MK
Peter Pan’s Flight Peter Pan’s Flight 1 Better animatronics at MK
King Arthur Carrousel 0 Prince Charming Regal Carrousel 0
Snow White’s Scary Adventures Snow White’s Scary Adventures 1 More focus on Snow White at MK
Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3 Excellent 3D film with Disney music
Casey Jr. Circus Train 2 Mild thrills for kids
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride 2 Dark ride with cult following
Alice in Wonderland 2 Used to be a 3 until OSHA forced changes on outdoor portion
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey 2 Dark ride
Matterhorn Bobsleds 3 Disney classic
Storybook Land Canal Boats 2 Charming boat ride
Adventureland
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room 0 Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room 0 Essentially similar once again
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Pirates of the Caribbean Much longer ride at DL
Jungle Cruise Jungle Cruise 1 Longer attraction with extra scenes at MK (but Trader Sam is better at DL)
Tarzan’s Treehouse 0 Swiss Family Treehouse 0 Essentially similar
Shrunken Ned’s Junior Jungle Boats 1
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin 2 Fun Dumbo-like attraction
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye 3 Super-headliner
Frontierland
Splash Mountain 0 Splash Mountain 0 Essentially similar
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 0 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 0 Essentially similar
Frontierland Shooting Exposition 0 Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade 0 Essentially similar
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island Tom Sawyer Island 1 Themed better at MK and big plus for Fort you can enter
Mark Twain Riverboat 0 Liberty Belle Riverboat 0
Haunted Mansion Haunted Mansion 1 Extra scene in MK, but better looking exterior at DL. Edge to MK for elaborate queue and hitchhiking ghosts
Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes 1 Only runs on weekends and busy season
Sailing Ship Columbia 1 Runs less frequently than Riverboat
Country Bear Jamboree 1 Would be a 2 if animatronics were well maintained
Tomorowland
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 2 Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin Much better experience with hand-held blasters in DL
Astro Orbitor 0 Astro Orbiter 0 Essentially similar
Space Mountain 2 Space Mountain Far better track, audio effects, seating in DL
Autopia 0 Tomorrowland Speedway 0 Essentially similar
Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover 2 So sad that this isn’t running at DL anymore
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress 1 Very very dated animatronic show
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor 2 Wish it was funnier
Stitch’s Great Escape! 2 I like it better than the predecessor but nobody would be sad to see this go
Disneyland Monorail 2 Part of Walt’s vision of a world in motion
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage 3 Nemo overlay works well and preserves a Disney original
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue 3 Super-headliner
Captain EO Tribute 2
Innoventions 1 Not very compelling, but maybe more than Carousel of Progress
ToonTown
Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey 2 Charming fun
Minnie’s House 1
Goofy’s Playhouse 1
Donald’s Boat 1
Chip ‘n Dale’s Treehouse 1
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin 3 Immersive dark ride
Gadget’s Go Coaster 2 Short kiddie coaster
Disneyland 51 Magic Kingdom 24

As you can see, Disneyland’s rating was 51 with Magic Kingdom only ranking as 24. That’s twice as many points!

Magic Kingdom currently suffers due to the construction of the new Fantasyland attractions. So, the loss of Mickey’s ToonTown surely hurts. That said, the Magic Kingdom is still far, far behind its cousin in California.

If you have any thoughts on the rationale or my ratings, please leave a comment below.

Fort Langhorn at the Magic Kingdom

Fort Langhorn at the Magic Kingdom

4 Comments

Lisa jacobsJanuary 14th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Hi Kevin… Since I gre up o. The East Coast, I spent my kid years going to MK… so for me, it always gets the nostalgia vote… But I like your summary and I agree that the rides really are better in California. As an adult, the thing I love about MK is all the additional places (Epcot, etc) so that you can really explore more and make a full week with the family… Thanks for sharing your summary.. Love it!

Kevin CrossmanJanuary 14th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Yes, Lisa. Comparing the two parks outside of their greater context isn’t exactly a fair comparison. We thoroughly enjoyed Disney World, especially Epcot and the Animal Kingdom parks that are so unlike what we have in the two parks in California.

As much as I love Disneyland, it’s at most a four day vacation (especially once the expanded sections of Disney’s California Adventure open this summer). Far more to do in Florida.

TAZJanuary 15th, 2012 at 10:38 am

I see what you are saying. And I honestly agree with you, BUT I don’t think its fair to give points to DL for rides that exist at WDW, just not at MK. Star tours for example. 3 to 0. Thats not fair. (also Captain Eo and Innoventions)

I realize that it barely dents the score difference, but those attractions were put it the other WDW parks because it fit with the themes of where they were placed.

Kevin CrossmanJanuary 15th, 2012 at 11:00 am

There’s a certain merit there for sure, TAZ. On the other hand, it isn’t like Magic Kingdom doesn’t have space for something like Star Tours. They’ve just placed it in another park and put another attraction in the similar location (attractions that everyone agrees are not as up to par). And, to be honest, while I don’t think much of Captain EO I do think it fits thematical better in Disneyland.

What I was trying to convey, especially to WDW vets, is that these two parks while very similar are oh so different. Definitely not equivalent - not even close.

It will be interesting to compare again in a couple years after the new Fantasyland opens in Magic Kingdom with several unique attractions.

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