One of the questions I get asked the most is about Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World. Specifically, people want to know – what’s the big difference? In truth, I could write posts and posts about how different and similar the parks are! I’ve already written about a few attractions I LOVE at Disneyland that can’t be found at Disney World. Today I’m focusing on just one aspect of the parks – Fantasyland. Out of all the other lands, Fantasyland is the one that is drastically different from park to park. Each one has its own charm and a certain magic that is unique to that park.
So what is the difference? If you’re heading out to either park, you should know the major differences. This way you aren’t upset or heartbroken if one you had your heart set on isn’t there! Here are breakdowns of both Fantasylands – the one in Magic Kingdom, and the one in Disneyland Park!
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We start off our tour with a show unique to Florida – Mickey’s Philharmagic. This adorable 4D show follows Donald moving through different Disney movies. He makes his way through The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid and more! Rumors have been swirling for a while that they may update the video to include more recent movies like Tangled. Either way, it’s a cute show and one of my favorites and a great way to cool off in the Florida heat!
Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland underwent dramatic changes in the 2010’s. Disney expanded this section of the park to include not one, but TWO more castles in addition to Cinderella Castle! Now, Ariel and Belle both make their homes here and have added attractions to boot. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid is found in this Fantasyland, whereas the same attraction can be found at California Adventure at Disneyland. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh can be found in Fantasyland as well, whereas it is in the Disneyland only land of Critter Country in California.
In addition to a few Beauty and the Beast themed restaurants, Enchanted Tales with Belle is an interactive attraction where kids listen to Belle’s story time. Some kids even get the chance to act out and participate in the show! You can get a Fastpass for this attraction, but it doesn’t usually have too horrible of a wait. If your little one is a huge Belle fan, this is a definite must do for your party!
One of the best attractions in Fantasyland, in my opinion, is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Head on the mine train into the Dwarfs’ mine and some of the BEST animatronics Disney has come up with recently. In opening this coaster, they had to close Snow White’s Scary Adventures, but some of the animatronics have found new life at the end of the ride.
Closure of Toontown
Finally, Mickey’s Toontown was closed and incorporated in to Fantasyland. Goofy’s Barnstormer can now be found near Dumbo, along with Casey Jr’s Splash ‘N’ Soak Station. Both of these attractions follow the circus theming of Dumbo, and unlike the Disneyland version, there are TWO Dumbo carousels! This obviously makes the wait much more bearable with double the rides going. You can also meet Mickey and friends dressed in their carnival gear. This is a great area to let little ones burn some energy!
While much tinier than Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland’s Fantasyland has many more attractions packed in to the small area. The Matterhorn is a classic bobsled rollercoaster that can only be found at Disneyland. A beloved classic attraction, it was the inspiration for Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom – but nothing holds a candle to the original.
Storybook Land Canal Boats are another attraction found only in California. This relaxing boat ride takes you past dioramas of classic Disney scenes, including the palace in Agrabah from Aladdin and Ariel’s undersea home in Atlantica. Be sure to ride this boat ride at night as well! The views are absolutely gorgeous when they’re lit up in the dark. Going around the Storybook attraction is the Casey Jr. Circus Train, a cute little train ride inspired by Dumbo. This is a great place to take real young children while the bigger kids ride The Matterhorn or Space Mountain!
There are quite a few dark rides at Disneyland that are not found in Florida. Alice in Wonderland is a dark ride taking you through Alice’s adventures from the animated movie. Fittingly, it’s right near the Mad Tea Party attraction. This ride goes both inside and out as you travel in your Caterpillar ride car. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey is another dark ride that takes you through the story of Pinocchio, and is right next door to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. This ride used to be in Fantasyland in Florida as well, but closed to make room for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. None of these rides usually have much of a wait and are very fast loading.
One of the best dark rides in Disneyland’s Fantasyland is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Fans were extremely upset when they closed this ride in Florida for the Winnie the Pooh ride, but can still be found in California. Ever wanted to follow Mr. Toad as he makes his way through the English countryside – and beyond? Here’s your chance!
Finally, Disneyland’s Fantasyland also has a performance stage featuring Mickey and the Magical Map. This musical show features characters from beloved movies like Pocahontas and Princess and the Frog and is beloved by both little kids and adults. You can find the entrance near the “it’s a small world” attraction. Before you leave, be sure you check out Sleeping Beauty Castle – there is an entire walk through attraction inside! This walkthrough takes you through the story of Princess Aurora and Sleeping Beauty.
Which is Best?
Here’s the thing – they’re BOTH great in their own way! Personally, I like Fantasyland at Disneyland more than the Magic Kingdom, simply because it has a more classic feel to it. Many of the attractions that were there were ridden by Walt himself and have a special connection to Uncle Walt because of that reason. Mr. Toad is also one of my favorite attractions, along with the Sleeping Beauty walkthrough! Alternatively, new Fantasyland brought new life to the Magic Kingdom. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one of the best rides Disney has opened in a while! Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland also has the room to spread out, making the experience more immersive.
So there is no definitive answer to this question. Each one is unique in it’s own way, yet they are also very similar. For example, Princess meet and greets, Peter Pan and “it’s a small world” are just a few of the similarities they share. Each one still captures the Disney magic – just in different ways. No matter which one you head to, you’ll find yourself grinning ear to ear as you take in all the fun around you!
Need to know more about each park? Be sure to check out the Unofficial Guidebook to Disneyland that is updated every year. They also have a version for Walt Disney World!
Which land is YOUR favorite? Let me know below!