Dueling Disney: Similar Attractions

Written by Keith Gluck. Posted in Animal Kingdom, Disney, Disney History, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Resort, Dueling Disney, Keith Gluck, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

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Published on September 25, 2013 at 3:00 am with 25 Comments

Sometimes, the attractions at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts are the same. Sure, they may have a few subtle differences, such as being longer, shorter, better, worse, and so on and so forth. But fundamentally, the attractions themselves are the same. But what about the ones that DON’T have a replica of themselves on the other coast? What about the ones that are sort of, kind of similar, but don’t really count as the same attraction? Well, today Keith and Jeff will be looking at said rides to see who has the superior similar rides!

(As usual, Keith is representing Disneyland, while Jeff represents Walt Disney World)

Topic 18: Similar Attractions

Keith: Jiffrinson. Have you ever noticed how some of the attractions at the Disneyland Resort are kinda similar to certain ones in Walt Disney World?

Jeff: One, I told you never to call me that in public. Two, why, yes, you are correct. They may not be spot on, but some of them are pretty close to each other. I mean, there are plenty of them we can compare and contrast. But I warn you now…chances are, we’ll leave one out and get yelled at in the comments. YES, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT YOU! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!! ;)

Keith: Haha. We can also talk about ones that aren’t exactly similar, but have similar names! What do I mean by that, readers? You’ll see!

Want to know why California Screamin’ is better than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Jeff? California Screamin’ has a loop.

Jeff: So does RnR.

Keith: Oh.

Jeff: Got anything else?

Keith: Patterned after the old-fashioned wooden coasters, California Screamin’ debuted with Disney’s California Adventure in February of 2001, and was instantly considered to be one of the best attractions in the park (although, admittedly, that honor wasn’t hard to achieve back then). This steel coaster climbs to an altitude of nearly 120 feet, plummets 108 feet, and reaches speeds close to 60 mph.

Jeff: While we don’t have a California Screamin’ out in Walt Disney World, we do have another roller coaster: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. The band greets you in the pre-show, inviting you to their concert at The Forum, but unfortunately, traffic ensues. That’s where the coaster part comes in. The enclosed steel coaster is an amazingly smooth, and incredibly fun, ride. Opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in July 1999, it accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds. This makes it the second-fastest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort (behind Test Track). You experience 4.5 G’s as you go into the first inversion, which is more than astronauts feel during a shuttle launch. How is THAT for awesome? To further enhance your experience rushing through Los Angeles in a “limo,” one of several Aerosmith songs plays through the speakers on the coaster, allowing you to rock out while you get your coaster on. Hey Keith, since the story is pretty similar, maybe we should have compared this one with Super Star Limo instead, eh?


Keith: Nothing can compare to Superstar Limo. Nor should anything be compared to Superstar Limo. Have you ever seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I contemplated visiting Lacuna, Inc to have SSL erased from my memory, but I decided not to, so I can constantly be reminded how good we have it these days.

I like RnR, but California Screamin’ is nearly twice as long. Twice the track, twice the fun! The fact that it’s outdoors and reaches a respectable height means we have much more to look at than fake Hollywood road signs. Oh, and in 2010, Neil Patrick Harris teamed up with Disney Imagineers to create new recordings for the attraction. Neil Patrick Harris > Steven Tyler. Sorry, Jif.

Jeff: Most coasters are outside, so I’m still going to side with RnR, due to it being an awesome steel roller coaster placed completely inside an awesome building. With fake, black light lighted road signs. Pheesh.

Speaking of similar things (awesome segue, I know), let’s move on to two rides that have the same exact track layout, but offer two completely and wildly different experiences!

Opening in Animal Kingdom in April 1998 as Countdown to Extinction, it was renamed to Dinosaur in 2000 to tie in to the film of the same name. The attraction takes you on a journey through time to experience the time of the dinosaurs, right before they become extinct. Using the time rover, you journey to see Styracosaurus, Cearadactylus, and more up close and personal. You even come face to face with a deadly Carnotaurus, who continues to chase you throughout your ride. Now, as a dinosaur lover, I enjoy the ride. I think it’s pretty awesome. People give it a bad wrap, but I like it. I will fully admit, though, that when it works correctly, Indiana Jones has it beat.

Keith: Really? Indy vs. Dinosaur? Now you know how I felt when we did Epcot vs. DCA!

Jeff: Exactly. And it’s the worst.

Keith: Ugh, Dinosaur. I just can’t. That ride depresses me. I am probably in the minority here, but I will never understand why the Imagineers chose to theme a ride around the obliteration of a species. I also lose my hearing for a few days every time I ride it. Seriously, why does it have to be so loud? It’s almost as if they’re trying to make up for its lack of visuals by blaring the sounds of dino-roars straight into your brain. The only thing I like about that attraction is the fact that Jerry Rees directed all of its live-action and CGI elements. If only they had let him design the ride itself (sad face).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, like every attraction, underwent many story changes throughout its development. At one point they planned for the ride vehicle to emerge from the temple and race along the banks of the Jungle Cruise river. Another idea was to make a mine car coaster (hmmm, mine car coaster–they should put one of those in the Magic Kingdom) to emulate the infamous scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And yet another extraordinarily ambitious plan involved the Indy vehicles, mine cars, Jungle Cruise boats and the Disneyland Railroad all intersecting at the same point in the ride. Um, yeah. They scrapped that idea. Besides Indy himself, only one aspect remained a constant in each planned version: a rolling boulder.

A full six months before the Indiana Jones Adventure premiered, Disney opened up its queue to curious guests. It was the first time Disneyland had done that, and it got a lot of folks excited for what was coming. In March of 1995, the attraction finally opened, and has been an absolute guest favorite from day one.


Jeff: While you’re out adventuring with Indiana Jones, let’s continue on with that expedition-like theme, and journey on to Expedition Everest. Opening in April 2006 at Animal Kingdom, this thrill ride has it all: excellent theming, a thrilling coaster, and an encounter with a mythical creature that is truly disco-tastic! Taking more than three years to build, this coaster propels you forward, backward, and forward again into an encounter with the Yeti. Using digital projections, extremely convincing torn up track effects, and a never working animatronic, this ride is sure to please. In all seriousness, I love the heck out of this ride, despite its flaws. I was amazed the first time I went on it and saw the track torn up in front of my eyes, and the mighty yeti swiping at me. Even in its current form, it’s still a fantastic coaster and one that will please everyone.

Just please fix the yeti already, Joe.

Keith: Hey Jeff! Your guys’ Yeti doesn’t even–oh wait a second, that horse doesn’t appear to be breathing.

Since we covered Expedition Everest vs. Matterhorn in our Disney Mountain Range duel, I am just going to recycle a few of the highlights: The Matterhorn is the world’s first tubular steel track coaster. It is one of the very first E-ticket attractions in Disney history. It had the Skyway travel through it, has real-life mountain climbers travel on it, and is a “prop” in the best fireworks show in all of Disney (Remember Dreams Come True). The Matterhorn is so awesome, it’s had entire lands fighting over it for years (when the Matterhorn debuted it was categorized as a Tomorrowland attraction–now it stands stoically in Fantasyland). Some lucky cast members can even take five inside our snowy mountain and shoot some hoops. Where is the basketball court inside Expedition Everest?? Answer me!

And last but not least: Permanecer sentados por favor. Like I said before, Jack Wagner for the win.

Jeff: Shoot some hoops? Check yo’ self, Gluck, because I do believe the basketball hoop has been gone for a bit of time. WHERE IS YOUR ENTERTAINMENT NOW, AIR JORDAN?

Last, but not least, I’d like to break out another attraction that has a fairly prominent love and hate relationship with the community: Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. Located in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, this show takes place AFTER the film, and the monsters are now using laughter to power their city. Set as a comedy club, with Mike W as your “monster of ceremonies,” the monsters do their best to make you laugh. Not only that, but the show is interactive! You can send in your own jokes for the monsters to use, and there is a fair amount of audience participation during the show. Have you ever been that guy? I LOVE being that guy!

I know a lot of people loathe this show for some reason or another, but I do quite enjoy it. Sure, it’s location may not be in the best of places, but overall, it’s charming and it makes the kids smile.

Keith: Is it gone? I have heard conflicting rumors. Disney released an official video during the 2012 refurb, and if you check out minute 1:12 of this video, it’s still there!

But even without b-ball, Matterhorn still wins. Neener neener.

So you guys took the film Monsters, Inc., created a comedy club out of it, and put it in Tomorrowland? What horrible theming! Let me tell you about proper theming. We utilized the story of Monsters, Inc. for a classic dark ride and put it in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of a park themed around California. Yay us! Oh wait a minute.

Okay, so the locations of both of our Monsters, Inc. attractions don’t make the most sense thematically. But, which attraction is better? I confess that I do enjoy Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. Once I was picked to be the guy who “had the sudden urge to dance,” and it was a hoot. And I like the interactivity of not only being singled out in the audience, but being able to text in your jokes before the show. That said, I will always prefer Mike & Sulley to the Rescue, and let me tell you why.

I actually wrote a review of this ride on The Disney Project about two years ago. Amongst other things, I praised the fluidity of the attraction. The scenes have more than enough to keep your eyes occupied, and there’s so much detail you can even spot new things from time to time. All of the scenes were done well, especially the door scene. The effects aren’t mind-boggling, but they are very good for a dark ride. And unlike the newer Mermaid attraction, there is no feeling of disconnection. Each scene flows to the next. As always there is only so much time and space to work with, but I think Disney chose the right scenes to use in order to summarize the film.

I hate to even mention Superstar Limo again (I feel as if every time I do, a puppy dies, or at least suffers hurt feelings), but for the readers who didn’t know this, it was the original ride in the Mike and Sulley attraction building. As I mentioned in my Disney Project review, while coming up with a better ride than SSL could have been done with an etch-a-sketch and a blindfold, creating a high quality dark ride was in no way guaranteed. The fact that they pulled it off makes Mike and Sulley to the Rescue that much sweeter. The Imagineers even hired a 48-piece orchestra to help “capture the emotion” of the movie’s theme for the ride’s soundtrack. Unlike the attraction it replaced, this attraction was not done on the cheap. And it shows.

Jeff: Fine, Keith. FINE. I will admit I do enjoy Mike and Sulley to the Rescue. Plus, anything is better than Superstar Limo! However, the charm of an interactive show, to me, kicks your Monsters to the curb. Sorry, buddy, but I still stand firm that Walt Disney World has the better versions of some of these similar attractions.

What says you, people of the Internet? Does Disneyland reign on this one? Or does Walt Disney World have the better versions of things that are kind of the same? Let us know in the comments below!

Dueling Disney is written by Keith Gluck and Jeff Heimbuch

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

You can follow us on Twitter: @DisneyProject and @JeffHeimbuch

About Keith Gluck

Keith Gluck writes for and volunteers at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. He also runs a Disney blog called thedisneyproject.com, and travels to Disney Parks as often as he can. A fan of many facets of The Disney Company, Keith's main interest is the life and legacy of Walt Disney. For questions/comments, or to request a certain topic be covered, please send an email to: [email protected] Twitter: @DisneyProject Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Disney-Project/194569877288847

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  • OprylandUSA

    Claire Huxtable > Sallah

  • mncstr

    In my opinion: California Screamin over Rock and Rollercoaster, Indy slightly over Dinosaur, Everest over Matterhorn (hate the new seating configuration), and Mike and Sully to the rescue over Laugh Floor.

    Now what about Radiator Springs Racers vs. Test Track? I think I go RSR.

  • LoveStallion

    Keith wins just for so many pithy comments about Superstar Limo, which is hands-down the worst attraction in Disney history. It wasn’t in “so bad it’s good” territory. It actually sucked the life force out of you.

    And the PUPPETS?! Holy acid trip, Batman. Talk about nightmare-inducing.

  • eicarr

    Since all attractions mentioned are in walking distance from each other(and most motels) and you don’t have to endure unbearable heat and humidity to ride them, the edge goes to the DL similar rides. To be a real competition Tokyo DL and DL Paris should be in the mix too.

  • aquila

    This one is actually pretty close for me….Indy definately beats Dino for DL and EE is much more fun than Matterhorn despite its “historical significance” and wins for WDW. Screamin and Rock and Rollercoaster is tough because I love them both. Screamin I have ridden much more and has an nice long track layout with lots of fun elements. R & RC has much better theming and crazy dark ride fun but is also much shorter. Have never done Monster’s laugh floor but enjoy the dark ride in DL more the more I go on it. So, overall, I give the win to DL but when the Yeti was working on EE that would probably be my favorite ride of the bunch.

  • Illusion0fLife

    Of the ones mentioned, I’d have to say that Screamin’ beats RnR for a few reasons, but a big one being that Screamin’ is completely unpretentious. Both are pretty standard steel rollercoasters, but where RnR triest to hide that fact with a half-baked “story” and tacky day-glo road signs, Screamin’ embraces being just a rollercoaster, and a rather fun one at that.

    Indy beats Dinosaur, no question (although, I DO question why they still insist on tying it to a movie that few people remember and less remember fondly). And even with a broken Yeti, Everest edges out the Matterhorn ever-so-slightly.

    As for Laugh Floor, it’s fine, I guess, but it feels sort of unsubstantial. Turtle Talks works as one small part of a larger attraction (The Seas in EPCOT, the Animation Building in DCA), but Laugh Floor feels like the supporting role of a larger attraction that doesn’t exist. Mike & Sully to the Rescue isn’t the best dark ride ever made, but at least it feels like a complete attraction.

    There’s a few other similar attractions I can think of: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage > The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Radiator Springs Racers > Test Track (even the new version which, itself, is much better than the original), GRR > Kali, Barnstormer > Gadget’s, and even a sad, neglected Carousel of Progress is >>>>> Disneyland’s Innoventions.

    • mikedoyleblogger

      This. I agree, Laugh Floor is fun but there’s just not much there. I can do ITTBAB several times a visit. But Laugh Floor is just kind of meh.

  • Big D

    Well, it may be kind of a familiarity breeds contempt kind of thing, but I think I like the all of the WDW options a little better. Rockin Roller Coaster and Screamin are both pretty similar, but I guess I just like indoor coasters better then outdoor coasters. And for some reason, I kind of like Dinosaur better then Indy. I think Dinosaur is a little bit more frightening. When the jeep stops next to a dinosaur that looks like a mini t-rex and you hear the computer say “identifying” you’re sitting there thinking: “This dinosaur is going to eat me, move you stupid computer!” I also prefer the dinosaur at the end that pops out toward you as opposed to a rolling ball that just rolls but never rolls forward toward you. Expedition Everest beats Matterhorn by a mile and then some, but it’s hardly fair to compare the newest, most state of the art ride at WDW with a ride at DL built in the 60′s. As for Monsters, the one time I’ve ever visited the laugh factory it was really very funny, so I imagine that one is as hit-or-miss as any comedy club. However, I can only compare my one experience vs. Mike & Sully to the rescue, so I’ll have to go with Laugh Factory.

    Sorry DL, I do still love you!

    • Monoautorail

      Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959.

  • mikedoyleblogger

    “The charm of an interactive show” really translates to “we didn’t want to have to deal with the higher maintenance costs of building an actual ride.” I found that so depressing about Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland–Monster’s Inc. and Stitch as the two big attractions at the land’s entrance. An interactive show no one likes and an interactive show that breaks the theme completely, but nothing to actually ride until you make it much deeper into the land.

  • Skimbob

    I would like to add that to me the Matterhorn beats EE because at night the Matterhorn ride is really cool and the snowman is more scary in my opinion than the yeti.

  • LoveStallion

    The Matterhorn is my favorite Disney attraction of them all, so this isn’t even really a fair comparison for me. I’m so glad they never replicated it anywhere, though EPCOT almost got one years ago.

  • MikeBlakesley

    We just got back from a trip to Disneyland — our first in 18 years. I was excited to ride the Matterhorn but was extremely disappointed in it. It’s too rough, for one thing. It just wasn’t as wonderful as I’d remembered it. Comparing Matterhorn to Everest isn’t even a valid comparison….Everest is at its heart a dark ride with coaster elements, where Matterhorn is just a coaster built into a mountain. It was groundbreaking for its time, of course; but this is one time when the newer technology definitely wins.

    As for the Screamin / RnR debate, I would say that Screamin is definitely the better coaster ride, but RnR wins on theme. Since Disney is known for its theming, I’d have to give the edge to RnR. The rush you get from going into that first loop is amazing every time. Having said that though, RnR is in SERIOUS need of an update to its preshow. One thing that’s always driven me crazy about it is, the cast member always says they’re going to take you to the studio where Aerosmith is “working on a track.” Then you go inside and what’s the track? “Walk This Way,” a song from over 30 years ago!! Why in the world would Aerosmith be doing anything on that track? They should have used an unreleased album track or something…or maybe created a NEW track for the attraction. Or at least the cast member could say something like “Aerosmith is remixing an old track” or something like that and then have “Walk This Way” sound a little different somehow. It just feels like the took the lazy way out on this element of the pre-show — which is disappointing when everything else in the attraction is so spot-on. (I realize this gripe makes me a serious music geek but that’s just the way it is, I guess.)

    On the other hand if they DID update it, they might ruin it like they did with Test Track. So maybe leaving it alone is the best thing.

    As for the day-glo road signs…do you really need anything else? You’re moving too fast to take in a lot of extra stuff anyway.

    • Illusion0fLife

      I’d rather an attraction have extensive details that I may miss the first couple of times than tacky decorations that are easily digestible at 60 mph.

      • TylerDurden

        Then I can’t imagine how you must feel about Screamin which has no decorations at all :P

      • billyjobobb

        Screamin doesn’t need decoration. There is a whole park to look at.

  • TylerDurden

    WDW wins this round big time, for the attractions they picked. If they had compared Fantasyland dark rides, Pirates, etc. then DL would win, but in this particular collection DL barely can compete. Everest is a million miles better than Matterhorn, MiLF is a much more unique experience than the Monsters Inc dark ride, and RnRC is actually thrilling, compared to the tame and un-themed Screamin’ (lol, being outdoors gives you great views of what, the convention center?). While Indy does have Dinosaur beat, it’s not by as much as Everest and RnRC have their counterparts beat. WDW obliterates DL in this article.

  • DrMemory

    In the “defunct attractions” department, I feel quite confident in saying that “Adventure Thru Inner Space” kicked the butt of “If You Had Wings/Could Fly/etc.” up and down the block six ways to Sunday.

  • Haven

    I still feel that the original Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, both late 60′s designs are still among the best, largest, longest and completely immersive attractions ever done. Both are a testament to the WED designers of old. Okay, throw in Indy and Everest for modern times. And Harry Potter, oh wait, he’s at Universal……..

  • jacobeee

    Although the new seating configuration SUCKS for the Matterhorn, I do have to say Disneyland wins this one….