Things to Do in Disneyland Now that Disney World Can’t Match

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Disneyland and Disney World are two of the most popular theme parks in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. While both parks offer a wealth of attractions and entertainment, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we’ll compare Disney parks and take a closer look at some of the things you can do at Disneyland that you won’t find at Disney World.

As the original Disney park, Disneyland has a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans. While Disney World may be bigger and offer more attractions, Disneyland has its own unique charm and set of experiences that make it a must-visit destination.

So, whether you’re a die-hard Disney fan or just planning your first trip, read on to discover some of the top things to do in Disneyland park that you won’t find anywhere else.

Race through Radiator Springs with Lightning McQueen

Carsland at disneyland California Adventure Park
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Since its debut in 2012, Carsland has been a standout attraction at Disney California Adventure. Based on the popular Pixar film franchise, Carsland immerses guests in the world of Radiator Springs, complete with a replica of the film’s iconic town. Aside from frequent sightings of Lightning McQueen and Mater, one of the highlights of Carsland is the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

The Radiator Springs Racers ride begins with a slow drive through a surprisingly realistic desert and the town of Radiator Springs, ending with a high-speed race through the dessert. The ride ends with a thrilling sprint to the finish line, where guests can see who won the race.

Disneyworld4ever on Twitter expressed guests’ glowing approval for the attraction. “The Radiator Springs Racers ride is easily one of the best attractions at Disneyland. The theming and attention to detail are incredible, and the race itself is so much fun. Definitely a must-do ride!” –

While Disney World offers a number of exceptionally immersive experiences placed in fabulously themed lands, such as Pandora at Animal Kingdom, the recreation of the fictional town of Radiator Springs is one of the more stellar examples of Disney imagineering. Sure, you could argue that Radiator Springs Racers is just EPCOT‘s Test Track reimagined or that Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree is a replica of Alien Swirling Saucers in Hollywood Studios, but the little details here go a long way when comparing Disney parks. That’s before we even talk about Luigi’s Roadsters.

See the video below.

Things to Do at Disneyland: Escape the Abominable Snowman on Matterhorn Bobsleds

Matterhorn Bobsled at Disneyland in the early morning.
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Disneyland’s Matterhorn ride is one of the park’s most iconic attractions. Opening as far back as 1959, the ride was the first roller coaster to feature a tubular steel track as well as an electronic dispatch system. This innovative feature made it possible to put more than a single car on the track at a time.

On the Matterhorn ride, guests board a bobsled and embark on a thrilling journey through a snow-covered mountain. The mountain itself was designed to look like the real Matterhorn Mountain, which is located in the Alps and features snow-capped peaks, rocky cliffs, and a shimmering lake.

While the ride may start off slow as guests climb the through the mountain, the journey quickly picks up speed as cars twist and turn through dark tunnels and around sharp corners. Sudden drops are common throughout the ride as are frightening glimpses of Harold, the Abominable Snowman with the not-so-scary name. The ride ends with a final plunge back down to the base of the mountain and a sudden surprise stream crossing.

The Matterhorn is a classic Disneyland attraction that continues to be popular with visitors of all ages. The ride’s unique theming makes it a must-ride attraction for many guests, and its status as one of the park’s original attractions adds to its nostalgia factor. The Matterhorn ride is a testament to Disney innovation and the imagineers’ ability to create immersive and exciting experiences that guests continue to enjoy for generations.

Dive Deep with Nemo and Friends on a Submarine Voyage

Comparing Disney Parks, the yellow submarine from Disneyland's Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage won't be found at Disney World
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Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage is a popular attraction that takes guests on an underwater adventure through the world of the popular Finding Nemo movie franchise. The ride opened in 2007 and replaced the park’s original 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which opened in 1959 but closed in 1994. Similar to the original ride, the reincarnated version features 8 submarines, each of which can hold up to 40 passengers, and takes guests on a an approximate 12-minute journey through a fictional underwater world filled with colorful fish, sharks, turtles, and other sea creatures.

After a few minutes of listening to the submarine captain call out directions to the crew, the craft takes a sudden dive into the deep and specialized technology is activated, allowing guests to hear what happens in the depths of the sea. Suddenly, characters from the hit Pixar film, Finding Nemo, begin to appear.

From here on out, guests follow the adventures of Nemo, a small clownfish, his father Merlin, and friend Dory, a blue tang fish, as they navigate through the ocean and encounter various sea creatures along the way. The ride features impressive animatronics and special effects that bring the characters and underwater world to life.

Visit Mickey and Minnie’s Cartoon Life at Toon Town

Post office at Disneyland's reimagined ToonTown, something you won't find at Disney World when comparing Disney parks.
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Toon Town at Disneyland has been a guest favorite land since 1993 but underwent a massive refurbishment in 2023. The new Toon Town features updated theming, improved attractions, and interactive experiences that allow guests to step into the world of their favorite cartoon characters.

The land is filled with new attractions and experiences, including a reimagining of the original Gadget’s go Coaster into Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Gadget Coaster and the first ride to feature the mouse that started it all. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway takes guests on a discombobulated journey into cartoon land as your locomotive—driven by Goofy of course—veers off track, allowing each trackless car to take riders on different journeys.

Interestingly, while Toon Town has been reimagined and updated at Disneyland, the same land was removed from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park in 2011. The decision to dismantle Toon Town from Disney World was due to a desire to focus on newer and more popular attractions, such as the innovative 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride.

However, the reimagined Toon Town at Disneyland has been so successful that there are rumors of a possible Toon Town expansion at Disney World in the future. Guests to Disneyland speak favorably about the bold theming and the many spaces where families can interact or simply rest in shade together.

Take a Walk-Through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

When comparing Disneyland and Disney World castles, there are some startling differences. The first is that Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland contains a walkthrough exhibit.

The walk-through attraction at Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is an enchanting experience that takes you into the world of Sleeping Beauty. As you make your way through the attraction, you’ll encounter several interactive elements that allow you to become a part of the story.

For example, you can spin the spinning wheel that cursed Princess Aurora and hear the voice of Maleficent as she curses the princess. You can also see dioramas that illustrate various scenes from the story, including the fairies’ gift-giving to Aurora, the prince’s battle with Maleficent, and the happy ending when the prince awakens Aurora with a kiss.

On the other hand, Disney World’s Cinderella Castle houses a different attraction altogether—Cinderella’s Royal Table—a luxurious dining experience fit for a princess. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers guests the chance to meet Disney Princesses such as Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White.

Enjoy classic Disney attractions like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Mr. Toad poses for a picture at the entry to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride found only at Disneyland park in California
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Have you ever heard of a “Toad-in”? That’s the name given to the protest sparked by fans of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride when Disney World closed the attraction in 1997. The “Save the Toad” movement even made headlines with major media outlets.

Despite the efforts of loyal fans, Mr. Toad was removed from Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, but you can still take the wild ride at Disneyland. And a wild journey it is, from psychedelic scenes to rapid twists and turns, this is one attraction you really need to see in order to understand the following. Even then, you might still question the devotedness of the ride’s aficionados.

Enjoy Alcohol-Free Mint Julep Drink

The mint julep drink offered at Disneyland is a fan-favorite beverage that has been enjoyed for decades. Made with a sweet blend of mint syrup and water, served over ice and garnished with fresh mint leaves, the drink has become just one of many Disney treats that guests can’t get enough of.

The popularity of the mint julep drink can be traced back to the opening of Disneyland in 1955. Initially served only at the park’s exclusive Club 33, a private venue reserved for VIP guests, the drink’s popularity soon compelled Walt to include the beverage at the park’s Mint Julep Bar.

Since then, the drink has become an iconic part of the Disneyland experience, with guests often stopping by the Mint Julep Bar to cool off and enjoy the refreshing beverage. With its delicious flavor, iconic status, and refreshing qualities, it’s no wonder why the mint julep has a cult following among Disneyland guests. Or perhaps it’s the exclusivity of the experience. You won’t find mint juleps at Disney World.

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Ride a Ferris Wheel of Death

Shote of the The Pixar Pal around on Pixar Pier is something people do at Disneyland that can't be experienced at Disney World
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While more formally recognized by the benign name of Disney Pixar Pal Around, the iconic Ferris wheel taking center stage on Pixar Pier at Disney’s California Adventure park has earned some not so friendly nicknames. Wheel of Death and Wheel of Doom are just two of the earned monikers.

If you’re wondering why a simple Ferris Wheel could elicit such a strong response, it’s important to explain that this is no ordinary carnival ride. Instead of placidly transporting guests to stunning views, this contraption offers a swinging version, with gondolas that move along a steel track.

Riders who choose the swinging option will be treated to a wild ride that sends their gondola sliding back and forth as they circle around the wheel. The motion can be quite intense, especially when the gondola reaches its highest point, but the adrenaline rush is worth it for those who enjoy a little more spark from the ordinary.

For guests who prefer a more mellow experience, the stationary gondola offers a smooth and relaxing ride, with beautiful views of the park and surrounding areas.

To see our experience on the wheel of death (yes, we’ll call it that), watch our ride on YouTube.

Comparing Disney Parks: Why Explore Disneyland’s Original Adventures?

When it comes to things you can do at Disneyland that you can’t do at Disney World, the list is extensive. From unique attractions like the Pixar Pal-A-Round ride and the walk-through attraction at Sleeping Beauty Castle, to iconic treats like the mint julep drink, Disneyland truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors.

While comparing Disney parks is always a fun and engaging activity, it’s important to remember that each park has its own unique charm and appeal. So, whether you’re a lifelong Disney fan or just visiting the parks for the first time, Disneyland has something for everyone. So, be sure to add these exclusive Disneyland experiences to your bucket list and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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Kathleen Hesketh and Ali Patton, mother daughter travel bloggers

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother daughter travel bloggers sharing our knowledge and experience from multiple years of Disney travel with other Disney lovers and first-time visitors, hoping to simplify your vacation experience and help you enjoy all of the magic of a visit to Disney World. As Disney vacation planners, we can now book vacations through Mickey World travel, at no additional charge, and help you realize all of the magic of a trip to Disney.

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Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughter, Ali.

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