Home » 6 Disney Clone Pairs You May Not Recognize

6 Disney Clone Pairs You May Not Recognize

Cloning. It’s become a dirty word in the circles of Disney Parks fans. That’s probably unfair, since it was Walt’s idea to take the best of his California park and transplant it – with some additions, subtractions, and general changes – as Florida’s Magic Kingdom. Cloning continues today, albeit with a bit more finesse (think of Toy Story Midway Mania and the three drastically different ways it’s presented across the world) and that’s probably a good thing. Why should visitors to Orlando and Tokyo be denied a Midway Mania just to keep it exclusive to California? 

There are identical clones (Soarin’ Over California and Soarin’, for example) and attractions that use the same ride system but in innovative new ways (Test Track and Radiator Springs Racers; or Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Mystic Manor), and even “Spiritual Sequels” with disconnected rides related “in spirit.”

But not all cloning is equal. Below are six pairs of attractions that are identical on the inside but so different on the outside, you may not even notice it. 

1. Indiana Jones Adventure and DINOSAUR

Image: Disney

Location: Disneyland (Indiana Jones Adventure) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DINOSAUR)

When Disneyland opened Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye in 1995, the revolutionary ride stunned the industry with its massive setting, dark and foreboding story, and unimaginable special effects. The star, though, was its EMV – Enhanced Motion Vehicle… a technology so incredible, it ranked among our list of the 7 Modern Wonders of the Theme Park World.

Each vehicle on Indiana Jones (disguised as troop transports from World War I) is like a giant slot car powered along a smooth, level track. As the chassis glides, the passenger platform is attached to a motion base, which means it rocks, dips, shuffles, rumbles, and more, simulating rough terrain, climbing over rubble, and exaggerating turns as riders race to escape the malevolent gaze of the double-dealing deity Mara. The ride is considered one of the greatest Disney dark rides ever, and earned its own in-depth entry in our library of Modern Marvels: Indiana Jones Adventure – Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

Image: Disney

It would be pretty obvious to most riders that DINOSAUR – which debuted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998 as Countdown to Extinction – uses the same EMV vehicles to simulate a race through the final moments of the Cretaceous period before a cataclysmic asteroid destroys the dinosaurs. What’s far less obvious is that Indiana Jones Adventure and DINOSAUR share a layout, too!

Though it may be hard to believe, your path through the dismal, doomed jungle is almost an exact replica of the race through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. But for a few (literal) cut corners, each twist and turn is the same, with analogous scenes so well-disguised, even those lucky enough to have ridden both are unlikely to realize it! Of course, that’s also one of the chief complaints about DINOSAUR. In a vacuum, it’s a successful, terrifying, exciting dark ride. But knowing that set dressing is all that separates it from Indiana Jones Adventure makes it fair game for comparison… and in a head-to-head match, DINOSAUR doesn’t stand a chance.

A Shared Moment: On Indiana Jones Adventure, the vehicle exits the station and enters the Chamber of Destiny where one of the three doors swings wide, opening into a slight incline up toward Mara’s cursed face and then a sharp left turn into a crumbling hallway. On Dinosaur, the doors to the Time Tunnel open, leading to an incline toward the Cretaceous jungle ahead, followed by a sharp left into a jungle clearing. 

2. Carousel of Progress and Star Wars Launch Bay

Disneyland’s Carousel of Progress. Image: Disney

Location: Magic Kingdom (Carousel of Progress) and Disneyland (Tomorrowland Expo Center)

Created by Walt Disney as the headlining attraction for General Electric’s pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, Carousel of Progress is an incredible animatronic show that chronicles one family’s advance though the century as the mircles of electric convenience make life easier and easier. We traced the origins of this Walt Disney original in Modern Marvels: Carousel of Progress – a must-read for Disney Parks history fans.

The ingenious attraction is made up of an outer ring of six theatres which revolves around a central core divided into six stages. To the tune of the Sherman Brothers’ “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” the show was a tremendous hit for General Electric at the World’s Fair. After the Fair’s closure, the ride was packed up and relocated to Disneyland for a 1967 debut within a Lost Legend: Walt’s New Tomorrowland.

Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress. Image: Disney

Disneyland wasn’t the attraction’s final stop, though. In 1975, it was relocated to the brand new Magic Kingdom, where it continues to play today as the longest-running stage show with the most performances in American history. Back at Disneyland, the uniquely circular revolving theater was re-used for another animatronics-based revue show called America Sings, which closed itself in 1988 so its innumerable critter animatronics could be re-used inside the new Splash Mountain (where they earned a spot on our must-read Countdown of the Best Animatronics on Earth).

The Carousel Theatre remained empty for a staggering 10 years (just one of many blemishes on a dark period in Disneyland history) until the arrival of an expansion so despised, it earned its own in-depth entry in our infamous series, Disaster Files: New Tomorrowland 1998. As part of this dismal vision of the future, the revolving theater was reused as a West Coast outpost of Epcot’s Innoventions. During its time as Innoventions, the building continued to rotate (albeit constantly and not in the stop-and-go “show” style) with the exhibits hosted in the inner, stationary core. Supposedly a showcase of future technologies, it wasn’t long before the simple walkthrough felt as dated as Epcot’s version, and simply wasn’t worth the land it occupied.

Disneyland’s Star Wars Launch Bay. Image: Disney

In 2015, the building was recast as the more general “Tomorrowland Expo Center,” able to host rotating, temporary exhibits. Right now (and for the foreseeable future), it’s got Star Wars Launch Bay on the bottom floor. A Marvel Super Hero HQ on the second level closed and never re-opened. Innoventions may have been a waste of space, but it’s got nothing on Star Wars Launch Bay – a laughable excuse for an “exhibit” that’s high on gift shops, low on fun or interactivity. And as part of the 2015 transformation, the building’s constant, slow rotation was halted permanently.

Even if Star Wars Launch Bay is no better than the tired Innoventions that it replaced, it’s very interesting to stand within the circular building once home to the revolving, two-story Carousel of Progress, now home to a Star Wars museum! Long term, fans expect the Tomorrowland Expo Center to go the way of the dodo, opening up precious land in the cramped park.

3. Grizzly River Run and Roaring Rapids

Location: Disney California Adventure (Grizzly River Run) and Roaring Rapids (Shanghai Disneyland)

One of the (few) noteworthy attractions at Disney California Adventure when it opened, Grizzly River Run also happened to be one of the park’s most beautiful. That’s thanks to its setting in Grizzly Peak, a land meant to transport guests to a 1950s National Park, back when the whole family would pack up the Rambler and hit the road. The gorgeous, forested ride around and through the caverns of the eponymous Grizzly Peak is beautiful and produces gorgeous views for passers-by, too… Waterfalls, forests, boulders, mills… 

Unfortunately, the ride itself has significantly less that you’d classify as “Disney quality.” One infamous omission: wildlife. Not a single animatronic critter can be spotted along the rapids run, which seems oddly out of place for a Disney park… What Grizzly River Run does offer is the longest drop on any rapids ride.

Unless you include its twin. 

In 2016, Disney opened its first park in mainland China. And Shanghai Disneyland changed everything. New lands, new rides, and new versions of classics you though you knew. In fact, you can catch up on all the unique elements of this “distinctly Chinese” park in our In-Depth: Shanghai Disneyland feature. Here’s what you need to know: the Shanghai park doesn’t have an Adventureland at all! In its place is Adventure Isle, with a quasi-Indiana Jones story that places us in the 1930s alongside the League of Adventurers as they encounter a remote island – long believed to be only a myth – and its native Arbori people. All of the land’s rides and attractions are placed within this unique story.

One of the headliners is Roaring Rapids, a wild river run through the rocky caverns and valleys of the land’s iconic Mount Apu Taku to uncover the truth behind the mysterious roar from behind the falls. The locals say it’s due to the imposing river guardian Q’aráq who protects the isle’s waterways, but that can’t possibly be true… right? In truth, Roaring Rapids is even more bare than Grizzly River Run, with only a few vines and brambles to break up the red rocks… But Roaring Rapids’ notoriety stems from its up-close encounter with Q’araq itself in the form of an animatronic so stunning, it ranks near the top of our must-read Countdown of the Best Animatronics on Earth.

Image: Disney

Even if their highlights, drawbacks, stories, and settings couldn’t be any more different, fans were shocked to uncover that Grizzly River Run and Roaring Rapids are almost exactly identical sisters with the same layouts wrapped in very different packages. Two of Disney’s three attempts to incorporate rapid rides into the parks (with the third being Animal Kingdom’s Kali River Rapids) don’t accumulate to much evidence that the ride system is fit for the kind of storytelling Disney’s known for, but at least they’re great ways to cool down.

4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and Tower of Terror

Location: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Walt Disney Studios Paris), Tower of Terror (Tokyo DisneySea), and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! (Disney California Adventure)

The original (and objectively, best) of Disney’s drop rides – Walt Disney World’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – opened in 1994. Often imitated but never duplicated, the one-of-a-kind ride uses a trackless ride system technology and features a show scene unlike any other on Earth. Being so unique, we can say that there’s not one ride like it, even among its (still astounding) sisters. So forget the Hollywood Studios original and let’s examine its three younger sisters. They’re the subject of discussion here, as three duplicate attractions exist in three very different forms around the world.

Image: Disney

We chronicled the in-depth story of Disneyland’s disastrous second park in its own in-depth Disaster File: Disney’s California Adventure. But one turning point in its uneven story was the 2004 addition of its own version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Seemingly custom-made for a park meant to celebrate the stories, legends, and settings of the Golden State, the haunting Hollywood Tower Hotel in California pioneered a new ride system meant to give the ride higher capacity, higher uptime, and a lower budget.

The more cost-effective-yet-still-E-Ticket version of the ride was then duplicated to the underbuilt Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris… two identical clones, each a new take on the haunted Hollywood happenings of Halloween night, 1939. 

Image: Disney

Here’s where the plot thickens… In 2006, Tokyo DisneySea – the most heralded and celebrated of Disney’s parks – opened its own Tower of Terror using the ride system developed for California Adventure. However, the spooky 1950s anthology series The Twilight Zone is unknown in Japanese culture, necessitating a change. True to form, Tokyo’s designers decided to develop an original story within the cross-continental continuity of S.E.A. – The Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Set in New York City 40 years before the Hollywood Tower Hotel, the new plot follows a ne’er-do-well antiques collector who arrogantly steals a cursed artifact from an African village, dooming himself and his gorgeous Moorish revival hotel on New Years Eve, 1899.

As part of DisneySea’s American Waterfront, we’re transported to a New York of the 1920s, with the once-elegant hotel now in ruins. A preservation group is trying to raise funds to have the old hotel designated a historic landmark, and they’re fundraising by selling tours of the hotel and its vault of cursed cross-contininental loot under a headline-grabbing nickname… “Tower of Terror.” If the idea of a new kind of tower sounds tantalizing, dive into the complete history of the ride concept and its rebirth in Japan with one of our favorite features, Modern Marvels: Tokyo’s Tower of Terror.

While The Twilight Zone might be well-known for its twist endings, nothing prepared fans for the most unthinkable plot twist yet… In 2016, Disney announced that barely a decade after its introduction (and less than four years after the park recieved $1.2 billion in development that gave the park a historic Californian story), Disney California Adventure’s beautiful pueblo deco hotel would become a “warehouse fortress power plant” based on “the beauty of an oil rig” (these are Disney’s words, not ours).

The park’s Hollywood Land (and indeed, all of its romantic Californian lands) would now be lorded over by a sci-fi superhero prison and become the super hero themed Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Derided by fans and understood by most as a short-sighted and ill-concieved IP-cram, the new thrill ride will re-use Tower of Terror’s queue and ride, now redressed as a space warehouse. We chronicled the total, behind-the-scenes story of Disney’s development of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and its demise in a must-read entry, Lost Legends: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Think what you will of Disney’s decision in California… The interesting end result is that three rides comprised of the same, identical ride system exist on three continents with three unique stories: Hollywood, 1939; New York, 1899; and… well… today, in outer space.

5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril and Raging Spirits

Temple of Peril, via CharacterCentral.net

Location: Disneyland Paris (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril) and DisneySea (Raging Spirits)

When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, it was met with a resounding financial thud. Overbuilt and undervalued by locals, the resort was bleeding money and hope seemed lost. Plans to give Disneyland Paris its own clone of the EMV-based Indiana Jones Adventure under construction in California were deemed far too expensive. What financers decided on instead was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, a more bare-bones approach to adventure that still managed to renew interest in the resort. Famously Disney’s first ever roller coaster to go upside down (through a single loop), the 1993 ride was just the thrill Paris needed while the more elaborate Space Mountain – a totally new version with nothing in common with the American rides – was being developed for Discoveryland.

Image: Disney

In 2005, DisneySea opened a clone of the off-the-shelf roller coaster, likewise dressing it in elaborate temples, artifacts, and effects. Head-to-head, DisneySea’s is more elaborate, dressed as a South American temple with flaming waterfall steps, a steaming finale, and carved crocodile heads that (strangely enough) tie this ride into the Society of Explorers and Adventurers universe, too! 

Tokyo’s version of the ride is not themed to Indiana Jones outright… though, in a twist of fate that must sting particularly to Paris fans, it’s right next to a built-out EMV-based Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull, wrapped into the South American setting of the park’s entire Indiana Jones land, Lost River Delta.

A Shared Moment: Both rides are well known for their single inversion – a vertical loop. Tokyo’s follows up the manuever with a photo-worthy dive under the temple’s flaming waterfall steps where a burst of fog envelopes the train as it dashes to the final brakes. 

6. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Xpress: Platform 13

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster… without the box around it. Image © Rik Engelen.

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) and Walibi Holland (Xpress)

Believe it or not, sometimes attractions get cloned outside of Disney’s parks, too. And we’re not just talking about those horrifying Chinese “small world” attractions. Disney works almost exclusively with roller coaster manufacturer Vekoma, and Vekoma makes roller coasters for any park that wants to buy one. As Vekoma was building Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith for Walt Disney World, it was re-building it without the box around it at Six Flags Holland as Superman: The Ride.

Six Flags sold its international parks in 2004. The park became Walibi Holland and the ride was re-themed to remove allusions to the Man of Steel. The Daily Planet queue became a travel agency and the ride was named Xpress. In 2014, it was given a dark twist and renamed Xpress: Platform 13, repainted in grey and black with a haunted queue and dark ride scene finale. In any case, the end result is an outdoor version of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster that reveals just how twisted and convoluted the three-inversion coaster really is. The only difference is that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s layout is a bit more compact to make up for the lost speed due to the train’s very heavy on-board audio system. 

Fun Fact: Vekoma’s LSM Launched Coaster (the model name for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Xpress) is itself modeled after an even more twisted coaster built by Premier Rides, which also originated as an enclosed coaster before being built elsewhere outdoors.


Did you have an inkling about any of the shared pairs? Is this a healthier way to clone? Instead of directly duplicating attractions from one place to another, Disney is able to save big on technological sharing, but still provide unique experiences from place to place.