A few years ago before the pandemic, we got the chance to travel to Walt Disney World for a conference. Being massive Disney fans, we were super excited of course to be able to attend the conference and spend some time in the Walt Disney World theme parks afterwards as well. You’d think that living so close to the Disneyland Resort here in Southern California and going as often as we do (#Disneyland4Life), this would not be that exciting.
You would be wrong. It was very, very exciting.
Because while the Anaheim and Florida theme parks have much in common, there are also many attractions that ONLY exist at Walt Disney World (and vice versa at the Disneyland Resort).
What are the Walt Disney World attractions that the Disneyland Resort does not have, you ask?
If you’re a Disneyland Resort regular going to visit Walt Disney World for the first time and are wondering which attractions you can only see in Florida, I’ve conveniently compiled this list for you.
If you have a limited amount of days to visit Walt Disney World and are wondering which parks you must do (and which you can skip because you can still experience them at the Disneyland Resort), then this list is also for you.
First, here are some basic differences between Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort:
The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is comprised of two theme parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park – and an outdoor shopping complex called the Downtown Disney District.
Walt Disney World is comprised of four theme parks – Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park – and an outdoor shopping complex called Disney Springs. It also has two water parks called Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, two Disney-themed mini-golf courses, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Though there are so many unique things to see and do at Walt Disney World compared to the Disneyland Resort, we’ll be focusing on the theme park attractions in this post.
By the way, the word “attractions” can be applied to rides in which you get in a vehicle and are moved around a space, a walk-thru experience, and also theater-style entertainment where you sit in a stationary seat and watch a show in front of you.
While Walt Disney World is far larger than the Disneyland Resort, don’t let the size overwhelm you. There are many attractions there that also exist at the Disneyland Resort. So if you have visited the parks in Anaheim and just want to experience unique attractions at the Orlando parks, or are pressed for time and want to make sure you don’t miss anything you can’t get back here in SoCal, this list is for you!
Here are the unique Walt Disney World attractions you’ll want to hit on your next Florida visit:
Magic Kingdom Park:
While many consider this park to be a copy of Disneyland Park, and it fact it does have a similar structure with a castle at the center and themed “lands” radiating out from the center of the hub, there are many unique attractions here that don’t exist on the west coast.
- The Barnstormer (similar to Gadget’s Go-Coaster at Disneyland Park, but with different theming!)
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station
- Cinderella Castle (not really an attraction per say, but important to note this castle looks and IS different from the one at the Disneyland Park, which is Sleeping Beauty Castle)
- Country Bear Jamboree (one of my all-time favorites!)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant (while Disneyland Park also has a Dumbo ride, this one has a fun indoor play area WITHIN the queue that is worth checking out if you have little ones)
- Enchanted Tales With Belle
- The Hall of Presidents
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (similar to the Dumbo ride but with carpet vehicles that can seat a family of four!)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Disneyland Park also has a Pooh ride, but it is slightly different. Most notably, the ride vehicles are different and this one has a fun interactive queue area for kids)
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Seven Dwarves Mine Train (this is a Magic Kingdom Park must-do!)
- Swiss Family Treehouse (Disneyland Park also has a treehouse, but it themed to the TARZAN animated films)
- Tomorrowland Speedway (Disneyland Park also has a driving car attraction, but the theming is different – personally, I prefer the west coast version!)
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (another one of my all-time favorites!)
- Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress (a sentimental favorite, and the coolest place to get in a nap IMHO)
For this park, there are only two attractions that also exist in Anaheim, both at Disney California Adventure Park: Soarin’ Around the World and Turtle Talk With Crush.
Everything else about this park is unique (even when compared to other Disney resorts across the world) including the entire World Showcase. I love walking through the 11 pavilions representing different countries across the globe, and eating a different cuisine for every meal!
So I’m going to skip listing them all here, but just know there are 35+ unique attractions at Epcot for you to enjoy!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
This park is most similar to Disney California Adventure Park here in SoCal, but still has a lot of differences as well. It also is the home for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land in Florida.
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Muppet*Vision 3D (fun 3D show and a great spot to cool off on a hot day)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (a must-do if you like thrill rides!)
- Slinky Dog Dash (a coaster that both kids and adults can truly enjoy)
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (similar ride technology to the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT attraction at Disney California Adventure Park but definitely worth a ride if you like thrills!)
- Voyage of The Little Mermaid
- Walt Disney Presents (a fun walk-thru exhibit with unique and rare Disney artifacts)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park:
Like EPCOT, this park is unique amongst all the Disney parks across the globe. In fact, every attraction there is unique to this park and can’t be found anywhere else. (It’s Tough to be a Bug! used to be at Disney California Adventure Park but closed many years ago. Kali River Rapids is similar but not the same as Grizzly River Run, and DINOSAUR uses similar ride technology to the Indiana Jones Adventure but is a completely unique theme and worth doing if you love being scared by incredibly realistic dinos!)
Again, I’m going to skip listing them all here, but there are 45+ unique attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, including wild animals from all over the world.
If you can’t visit all four Walt Disney World theme parks, which ones are must-dos?
Sometimes our travel plans don’t allow us to spend as much time as we want on vacation, at Walt Disney World or elsewhere. While I would always encourage Walt Disney World visitors to allot at least one day per park for their visit to get the full experience, I realize that is not always possible.
So, if you’re only able to visit one Disney park in Florida, my advice would be to do EPCOT or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. That said, if your kiddos are huge TOY STORY fans, then you’ll want to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see Toy Story Land because it is super fun!
Don’t forget that Walt Disney World offers Park Hopper tickets that work just like the ones at the Disneyland Resort. So you could, if you wanted to, visit more than one park per day. For instance, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are within walking distance of each other, so you could spend the morning at one park and then hop over to the other park in the afternoon.
If you REALLY want to get crazy, you could even visit all four parks in one day! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that, but if you do decide to shoot the moon, hopefully this list helps you pinpoint which unique Walt Disney World attractions you absolutely must do during your visit.
Next up…must-do unique Disneyland Resort attractions for regular Walt Disney World visitors!