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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  • danielz6

    Matterhorn and Everest are outstanding attractions for very different reasons. Matterhorn is very nostalgic, charming and mild coaster that has aged incredibly well, visually that is. It’s a real shame that Disney has not fixed the ride comfort issue. Hard to explain why, but a ride on Matterhorn in twilight or evening time is a ride experience you will never forget. Everest on the other hand is the opposite, incredibly thrilling and new and also beautifully themed. It has its own problem though with the Yeti, and its a shame that hasn’t been fixed in so many years also! So both attractions are so unique important to their respective resorts, but both cannot be enjoyed by guests in A mode and I think that is a real shame, especially when Disney is charging you a premium price to experience such attractions. The attractions should be in premium condition and neither of these are.

  • JesterMn

    In terms of track layout and ride feel, I wouldn’t even compare EE to Matterhorn. Really, the comparisons should be between EE vs. BTMRR, and WDW SM vs. Matterhorn.

    Thematically very different, but if you close your eyes and just take in the physical track layouts, feels, styles, and ride qualities, they’re pretty equally matched (even down to the WDW SM and Matterhorn having 2 separate tracks).

  • redrocker

    Hate to burst your bubble Jeff but the hoop and half court is still there in the matterhorn

  • SFDisneyfan

    This is an interesting argument. I like that you guys looked a SIMILAR rides than exact same ride because as we know – Disneyland Pirates is THE Best as well as it’s Tiki Room, WDW’s Splash Mountain is better (Mr. Bluebird is AWESOME).

    I agree that Matterhorn’s seating is too tight and feels like a rough ride, but Expedition Everest with it’s covered and non-functional Yeti is just a HUGE letdown (the most advanced animatronic figure ever…my butt). It doesn’t even move and sometimes is behind a scrim. The Matterhorn’s Harold doesn’t move, but scares me ever time we suddenly make that turn and he growls! Matterhorn rules!

    Indy vs. Dinosaur is a no brainer – Indy is one of the best rides EVER. Dinosaur IS too loud as Keith said. It also lacks the depth of that Indy has thematically.

    I think Rock N Roll Coaster vs. California Screamin is somewhat an odd comparison. I like both (have even enjoyed the Rock N Roll coaster in Hollywood Studios in Paris and was happy they had SOMETHING to ride). They both have merit in their places. CA screamin has NPH doing the announcements, is outside, and fun.

  • Disneyland23

    I agree with Keith… Disneyland wins! (I am sooooo biased though…)