Which Disney Park Has The Most Rides?

Written by David Yeh. Posted in Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Features, Walt Disney World

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Published on March 31, 2014 at 2:00 am with 46 Comments

MiceChat Moderator David Yeh rekindles an old debate between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Folks often assume that the much larger Walt Disney World offers more rides. But, as David shows us, that’s not really true. This article isn’t about which resort is best, it’s about which has the most rides. Which park comes out on top? Read on.

Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World

West Coast vs. East Coast

Purist vs Tourist

All of these are examples of an age-old debate that never seems to end, nor will it anytime soon as each Disney park and resort continues to grow. There are fans who love both resorts and there are fans who definitely side with one over the other. Deciding which is truly better is never an easy task though, as childhood memories and emotions become as involved as if someone was defending their own religion. Feelings are hurt, friendships are tested, and that’s not what Disney is all about is it?

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I decided to take a more scientific approach to comparing the resorts, not to say which is better, but rather to say which is in need of more attention. Even when looking at attractions at the Disney Parks, favoritism is unavoidable. There are those who will declare, and rightfully so, that Tower of Terror in Florida is better. And many will point out that California’s Pirates of the Caribbean is the superior version and again, they’d be right. The purpose of this study though is to not determine which is the better version of anything but to instead look at the amount of bang you’re getting for your hard-earned buck. Which resort really does offer the superior theme park experience? And why?

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We need to start at the beginning and take a look at the term “attraction”. Walt Disney preferred the use of this term instead of ‘ride’ or ‘show’. Grouping them all together into a roster of ‘attractions’ was certainly classier, as a ‘ride’ back in those days were often associated with a dirty amusement park, not something that Disneyland would ever resemble (until 2001, I kid I kid).

Over the years, the meaning of “attraction” has changed, oddly enough, to become just about everything. From a Meet & Greet to a Museum Exhibit or Art Gallery; from a stage show production to a video game arcade, anything that isn’t a shop or restaurant is now an “attraction”. These attractions are all part of the great experience that Disney provides of course, but if you look at the Disney Parks, what is it that continues to bring guests from around the world to those gates on a daily basis more than anything else? What really gets people talking? It’s world class rides designed and executed by the Walt Disney Imagineers that excite, educate, stimulate, and attract guests both young and old. Sure, it’s great to meet Mickey and his friends but would you pay the price of admission to only do just that?

I understand that the Disney experience is different for everybody but for me personally, without the rides, there is no Disney Park. Even if I don’t ride anything, it’s great to just to see them, hear them, enjoy them vicariously through other guests. Seeing the Matterhorn Bobsleds traverse the icy slopes of Anaheim’s famous mountain is enjoyable for me, as is watching others brave the steep drop of Splash Mountain.

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Having gone to Walt Disney World a handful of times, I always felt that I ran out of things to do very quickly and didn’t quite understand why. To put it more plainly, once I was done with all of the shows and other attractions, I didn’t feel there was enough to ride. The WDW resort has four theme parks, so why did I feel that I didn’t get my fill of Imagineering goodness like I do at Disneyland?

So, I decided to count and see what was really going on. To do so, I use official sources. I obtained all of my data from Disneyland.com and WaltDisneyWorld.com. I merged the multiple listings of the Disneyland & Walt Disney World Railroad as a single ride for each park, since it’s essentially one attraction. Likewise, instead of listing only one entry for Main Street Vehicles, I counted each of them as a unique item.

So what makes a ride? If you can stand or sit and it transports you more than a few feet, it’s a ride. No 3-D movies, no exhibits, no Circle Visions, no Great Escapes, and no Laugh Floors. I’m also not including transportation that exists outside of the parks since they are not part of the paid park admission. Also excluded are the two water parks at Walt Disney World, which is a category that they will continue to dominate.

So are you ready to count with me?

Since I’m a thrill junkie, I thought it would be fun to start with just thrill rides.

 Walt Disney World Thrill Rides (in alphabetical order): 12

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Mission: Space
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Test Track
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disneyland (in alphabetical order): 11

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • California Screamin
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Four theme parks to two and the thrill count is almost identical. Some might be wondering but no, I did not forget the Barnstormer or Gadget’s Go-Coaster – both are lacking in real thrills and they would simply cancel each other out anyway. And of course later this year, Walt Disney World will add the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster to their thrill numbers, but even then, shouldn’t the score in Florida be higher by at least 50% since they have double the number of theme parks?

Now let’s look at the total ride counts on their own (not “Attractions”).

Magic Kingdom: 27 rides
Epcot: 10 rides
Disney Hollywood Studios: 6 rides
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7 rides
Walt Disney World Resort Total: 50 rides
Unique to WDW: 23

Disneyland Park: 36 rides
Disney California Adventure: 21 rides
Disneyland Resort Total: 57
Unique to Disneyland: 30

Wait what? Disneyland’s two parks have more rides than all of Walt Disney World? How could this be? Surprised? I sure am! And there’s more rides at Magic Kingdom than Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom COMBINED! No wonder the attendance there wins year in and year out. To be fair though, Epcot wasn’t really in the game for the rides (and neither was Animal Kingdom really), but despite that, Epcot still has more rides than Animal Kingdom; and even Animal Kingdom has more rides than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. DHS has a combined attraction count of just 13, which only 6 of them are rides! How can anyone still argue that DHS is a full day park? If it wasn’t for Park Hoppers, how much would this park really be worth to visit for one day?

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It is also interesting to point out that Disneyland Park has the most rides (and attractions) of any Disney Park… in the WORLD. And sure, it’s been around the longest but it’s also one of the smallest. Wonder why you’re so tired when you visit Walt Disney World? It’s all the walking you have to do to get to much fewer attractions (and rides).

Of course, Walt Disney World still has more combined ‘attractions’ than Disneyland, with many more exhibits, walk-throughs, shows, meet & greets, and filmed presentations to fill up all that land. Walt Disney World also has a much fuller Downtown Disney, two water parks, golf and spas, several gorgeous resorts and arguably the better dining options offered at any theme park or resort. But to quote Ariel from the Little Mermaid, “But who cares? No big deal. I want more.”

More rides means more of Walt Disney Imagineering magic that you ought to be getting with your admission. More rides means more adventures and more things to conquer. When you were a kid didn’t you want to just tackle everything on that park map? I can only imagine that every family is doing the very same.

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I know the argument and heard it many times. “It’s not just about rides.” Of course it isn’t JUST about rides, but those who argue it isn’t about rides are probably those who go so frequently and so often that they don’t ‘need’ to do any of the rides to enjoy themselves. The millions of Annual Passholders at Disneyland literally go for a few hours only to have lunch and maybe hit up a ride, and they would be perfectly happy skipping a ride because they could do it next time. The difference at Disneyland though is that they have the option to go on all of those rides if they wanted to. Want to hit up all the water rides? Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure is less than a 15 minute walk to Splash Mountain at Disneyland. What are the options to do all of those rides while at Walt Disney World? Your park hopping bus or monorail can only get you so far. Are Magical Mornings or Extended Evenings that special if everyone in the entire resort is doing the exact same thing? But that’s another argument for another day.

Rides are what make the theme park experience feel full and it’s quite shocking to me that the fuller experience in that regard is at the one most people haven’t yet experienced: Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland. If each Disney Resort was a cake, from this study, it would seem that Disneyland Resort makes for a much better cake and just the right amount of frosting. Walt Disney World is a smaller cake in a bigger pan with a whole lot of icing.

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On every trip to Walt Disney World when you encounter Cast Members that find out you’re from Southern California (or when I was a Disneyland cast member), all of them right on cue would get that smug look on their face and say “It’s bigger over here isn’t it?” Looking at the rides, bigger doesn’t exactly mean better.

Below, a full list of what I included in the ride count. Each resort and each park lists are provided.

Walt Disney World (alphabetical order): 50

  • Astro Orbiter
  • The Barnstormer *
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dinosaur *
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure *
  • Expedition Everest *
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros *
  • The Great Movie Ride *
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment *
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Kali River Rapids *
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris *
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Living with the Land *
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Maelstrom *
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin *
  • Main Street Vehicles – Horse Drawn Street Car
  • Main Street Vehicles – Jitney
  • Main Street Vehicles – Fire Engine
  • Main Street Vehicles – Omnibus
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mission: Space *
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Primeval Whirl *
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith *
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends *
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train * (opening 2014)
  • Soarin’
  • Space Mountain
  • Spaceship Earth *
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Studio Backlot Tour *
  • Test Track *
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover *
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • TriceraTop Spin *
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney World Railroad
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress *
  • Wildlife Express Train *

Magic Kingdom (alphabetical order): 27

  • Astro Orbiter
  • The Barnstormer *
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin *
  • Main Street Vehicles – Horse Drawn Street Car
  • Main Street Vehicles – Jitney
  • Main Street Vehicles – Fire Engine
  • Main Street Vehicles – Omnibus
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover *
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Walt Disney World Railroad
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Epcot (alphabetical order): 10

  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure *
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros *
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment *
  • Living with the Land *
  • Maelstrom *
  • Mission: Space *
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends *
  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth *
  • Test Track *

Disney Hollywood Studios (alphabetical order): 6

  • The Great Movie Ride *
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith *
  • Star Tours
  • Studio Backlot Tour *
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disney’s Animal Kingdom (alphabetical order): 7

  • Dinosaur *
  • Expedition Everest *
  • Kali River Rapids *
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris *
  • Primeval Whirl *
  • TriceraTop Spin *
  • Wildlife Express Train

Disneyland Resort (alphabetical order): 57

  • Alice in Wonderland *
  • Astro Orbitor (note spelling difference)
  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • California Screamin’ *
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train *
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes *
  • Disneyland Monorail
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage *
  • Flik’s Flyers *
  • Francis’ Lady Bug Boogie *
  • Gadget’s Go-Coaster *
  • Golden Zephyr *
  • Goofy’s Sky School *
  • Grizzly River Run *
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train *
  • Indiana Jones Adventure *
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish *
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • King Triton’s Carousel *
  • The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Luigi’s Flying Tires *
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Vehicles – Horse-Drawn Streetcar
  • Main Street Vehicles – Jitney
  • Main Street Vehicles – Fire Engine
  • Main Street Vehicles – Omnibus
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree *
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds *
  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel *
  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! *
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride *
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey *
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Radiator Springs Racers *
  • Red Car Trolley *
  • Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin *
  • Sailing Ship Columbia *
  • Silly Symphony Swings *
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures *
  • Soarin’ Over California
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats *
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘em Buggies *
  • •Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disneyland Park (alphabetical order): 36

  • Alice in Wonderland *
  • Astro Orbitor (note spelling difference)
  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train *
  • Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes *
  • Disneyland Monorail
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage *
  • Gadget’s Go-Coaster *
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure *
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Vehicles – Horse-Drawn Streetcar
  • Main Street Vehicles – Jitney
  • Main Street Vehicles – Fire Engine
  • Main Street Vehicles – Omnibus
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds *
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride *
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey *
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin *
  • Sailing Ship Columbia *
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures *
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats *

Disney California Adventure (alphabetical order): 21

  • California Screamin’ *
  • Flik’s Flyers *
  • Francis’ Lady Bug Boogie *
  • Golden Zephyr *
  • Goofy’s Sky School *
  • Grizzly River Run *
  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train *
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish *
  • King Triton’s Carousel *
  • The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Luigi’s Flying Tires *
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree *
  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel *
  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! *
  • Radiator Springs Racers *
  • Red Car Trolley *
  • Silly Symphony Swings *
  • Soarin’ Over California
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘em Buggies *
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Walt Disney about his Florida project:

Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland: the blessing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all of the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.

Does Walt Disney World live up to Walt’s dream? Does Disneyland?  Which resort offers you the most value for your money? And which offers you the most bang for your buck!

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46 Comments

Comments for Which Disney Park Has The Most Rides? are now closed.

  1. In the paragraphs between the picture of Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth, I believe you are mixing up “attractions” and rides, again. Might want to revisit and edit.

    Great article, but I think it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison, as MK in Florida is really the only park designed to be a ride-heavy park. EPCOT was never supposed to be about rides and now it plays a bit of catch up trying to balance things out. Studios was about movie magic and competing with Universal. Animal Kingdom is half zoo.

    Disneyland Resort, on the other hand, has two parks that are ride-driven. DCA has never had a broader theme of film production, utopia, zoology, etc. It was just another park with RIDES, like DisneySea (sidenote: I still weep that we do not have DisneySea). DCA is really just an extension of Disneyland, not an alternative.

    These aren’t criticisms of the article. You have really thought it all out and done a great job, but I think the premise alone lends itself to criticism.

    • Thanks for the comment! I have clarified the paragraph in question.

      I think my goal for this article is to point out that Walt Disney World was always supposed to have been, in my mind, the ultimate Disney experience. I know to many families who visit, they go there because they believe that thought process as well and don’t even bother researching Disneyland because it’s smaller. With that said, shouldn’t someone go to Walt Disney World and get what you can get at Disneyland and much, much more?

      Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom weren’t slated as “ride” heavy parks but the lower attendance in those parks proves (to me at least) that there’s not enough to do. Disney California Adventure was designed with a Florida Park mentality: it has the Disney name, it doesn’t have that many rides, and it has more dining and shopping. We all know how well that went with the locals.

      Disney California Adventure is the newest in the U.S. Disney Parks and the recent expansion has proved that new rides keep guests coming back in a big way. Walt Disney World needs to do the very same (to a park that isn’t Magic Kingdom) and their business will soar even greater.

  2. When Parkeology did WDW47 last year, we got to see this angle up close and personal. We were focused on the WDW side, of course. One of the things that jumps out to me in comparing the 2 resorts is in ride duration.

    Purely as an intellectual exercise (without any judgements of quality), WDW has far more “long” attractions. At Disneyland, the longest rides are probably Splash, Pirates, Mark Twain/Columbia. About 10 minutes in length. There are a whole ton of rides that are 3 minutes or less, including virtually all the Fantasyland rides, Paradise Pier, Bugs Land, and others.

    Disney World has some beasts in it though. GMR, the Safari, COP, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Backlot Trams (though part of this is walking tour) can range closer to 20-30 minutes — and that’s not counting all the other 10-minute-range rides unique to WDW: Spaceship Earth, PeopleMover, Wildlife Express, Living with the Land. And of course their versions of Pirates, Mansion, Small World, Splash, Jungle Cruise…

    DCA carny rides are also really driving up DLR’s ride count. Around 8 rides that probably go for 90-seconds each between Paradise Pier and BugsLand. A couple in CarsLand too, plus the Red Car Trolley, though you can cancel out a few of them with things from WDW (Triceratops Spin, etc).

    DLR also counts the Monorail as an attraction, which of course exists at WDW, but as transportation.

    Again, not making judgements about which is “better” (I love both), but even discounting for park hopping (which is a breeze at DLR and a pain at WDW), DLR is taking up less of your time per ride.

    • Probably the best counter-argument so far! I agree with you and almost considered including A Bug’s Land and Paradise Pier as a negative in Disneyland’s ride count (but forgot).

      But for the sake of argument, let’s remove Drive ‘Em Buggies, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, and Francis’ Lady Bug Boogie from A Bug’s Land and Jumpin’ Jellyfish and Golden Zephyr from Paradise Pier. With those removed, Disneyland still has a higher ride count than Walt Disney World (52 to 50)

      You are absolutely correct though that WDW has some beasts but I’d also argue that some of those rides are a little too long in the tooth these days and need some major updating. You also left off Small World and Haunted from Disneyland’s list of lengthier rides, and the Disneyland Railroad too is more fulfilling than the Walt Disney World Railroad.

      There’s highlights in both when comparing it that closely but the point still stands. Shouldn’t Walt Disney World have more than what we’re expecting? If Disney is able to imagine a volcano with a land within, shouldn’t Walt Disney World have something equal or better to that? Shouldn’t Walt Disney World have a version of all the latest ride technology utilized across the Disney Parks?

  3. If you’re counting the Main Street Vehicles, would you not also need to include Epcot’s Friendship boats in the count? Also, Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island? Great analysis, either way.

  4. The term I’ve used to describe this phenomenon is density. DLR’s density is higher in every aspect: the rides, the colors, sounds, experiences, etc. It’s like DLR has started a magical chain reaction, where every sight and experience is wonderfully saturated and builds on each other. While the much larger WDW is enjoyable, it doesn’t have the same heat of compression DLR has.

  5. We’ve visited WDW once after many visits to Disneyland, and we found that for ALL all the same rides between the two parks (e.g., Tower of Terror), the version in WDW was about 25% smaller. SMALLER! Tower of Terror at WDW has only two elevator shafts, ToT @ CA has three. Indiana Jones at WDW is smaller than the one at Disneyland. Even Small World @ WDW is significantly smaller. Main Street at WDW Magic Kingdom is about 75% the size of the one at Disneyland. Over and over again, we found the WDW rides were smaller/shorter than the same ride at Disneyland/CA. Soarin’ at WDW (really, Soarin’ Over California) has only two theaters, the one at CA has three.