Home » Comparing Kingdoms: The Ultimate Diagram of Disney’s “Castle Park” Ride Lineups, Overlaps, & Exclusives

Comparing Kingdoms: The Ultimate Diagram of Disney’s “Castle Park” Ride Lineups, Overlaps, & Exclusives

There’s nothing quite as distinctly Disney as the “Disneyland-style” theme park. Since Walt’s original magic kingdom opened in 1955, the tenets of a “Castle Park” have been written and rewritten, from Anaheim to Orlando; Tokyo to Paris; Hong Kong to Shanghai. It can be easy to lump those “Castle Parks” together, assuming that if you’ve been to one, you’ve pretty much been to them all. Sure, fans can explain how different the personalities and details of those “Castle Parks” are, but many people just want to know – at the end of the day, what makes each “Castle Park” special? What makes each worth visiting on its own? What does it have that no other “Castle Park” does?

Since including “hidden gems,” walkthroughs, shows, nooks and crannies, and other non-ride “attractions” would be far too subjective, cumbersome, and ever-changing, we decided to compare each park’s lineup with a metric we can define: rides. Based on the indisputible definition and list we created for each park in our Ride Count Countdown, we can quantitively and fairly compare the lineups of each “Castle Park.”

I wanted to assemble a one-of-a-kind, by-the-numbers look at how the six “Disneyland-style” parks around the globe compare. The hand-drawn, six-way Venn diagram I came up with (below) took a whole lot of rearranging to get right, but the results show which rides are shared between “Castle Parks” and how… plus, which rides are exclusive to one “Castle Park” versus any others. (Note that some “exclusives” have earned asterisks – Magic Kingdom, for example, is the only “Castle Park” with the Little Mermaid dark ride, but another resort does have a copy at its “non-Castle Park.” Get it?)

We’ll reveal each park’s exclusives one by one below, but if you’re as fascinated by this “Comparing Kingdoms” graphic as we are, you can purchase poster and canvas prints (or tees to give people behind you in line something to study) at my online art shop!

6. Disneyland Paris (1992)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 3

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
  • Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain – Rebel Mission
  • Phantom Manor

Disneyland Paris is pretty clearly the “red-headed stepchild” of Disney’s “Castle Parks.” Imagineers spent years designing a richly romantic, deeply detailed, and beautifully scaled park, only have it be outright rejected by the French. Disneyland Paris was plunged into a financial meltdown that lead to decades of closures, cop-outs, and cancellations across Imagineering. What’s worse, the resort’s second park – the Declassified Disaster: Walt Disney Studios – has absorbed nearly every dollar in capital expense since. Disneyland Paris’ newest from-scratch E-Ticket opened nearly thirty years ago.

As a result of being in suspended animation, Disneyland Paris has the fewest exclusive rides of any “Castle Park’s” collection – and two of them are technically variants of stateside classics (though we argue that both the park’s Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain spinoffs are different enough from their American counterparts to count as something else entirely).

What’s also interesting is to see what rides Disneyland Paris does not share with other “Castle Parks.” The swapped placements of Frontierland and Adventureland mean the park has no Tom Sawyer Island and no Jungle Cruise. Its cooler weather kept Splash Mountain out. And since it’s been essentially unchanged since 1995, it missed the Winnie the Pooh bandwagon – the only “Castle Park” without a Pooh dark ride!

Must-See Exclusive: Depending on your thrill tolerance, either of the park’s two “reimagined” classics will do. The Modern Marvel: Phantom Manor is an operatic experiment that repurposes the bones of the Haunted Mansion as something new. The genuinely-eerie ride replaces dancing ghosts with decaying corpses and singalongs with saloons. Though rethemed with Star Wars, the core of the Lost Legend: Space Mountain – De la Terre á la Lune still provides an experience unlike any other – a launched Space Mountain that flips guests upside down three times.

5. Tokyo Disneyland (1983)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 5

  • Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast
  • Happy Ride of Baymax
  • Monsters Inc.: Ride & Go Seek
  • Pooh’s Hunny Hunt
  • Western River Railroad

Interestingly, Tokyo Disneyland’s three standout “exclusives” are three massively popular dark rides. Monsters Inc.: Ride & Go Seek may be an odd fit for Tomorrowland, but the interactive dark ride is absolutely sensational. Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast is the park’s newest attraction. While it finally gives Beauty and the Beast a long overdue dark ride, reviews have been mixed given that the attraction is basically a new genre of “singalong” attraction. 

One very interesting component of Tokyo’s “exclusive” ride collection is the Western River Railroad, which departs from a station above the Jungle Cruise boathouse, circles Adventureland and Frontierland, passes through the Primeval World, then returns. This “replacement” for the Disneyland Railroad was allegedly concieved because, due to Japanese transit regulation, a “traditional” Railroad encircling the park and stopping a various stations would require a timetable and ticketing, just like the resort’s Monorail.

Must-See Exclusive: Far and away, the park’s main draw for foreigners is Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. The first of Disney’s trackless dark rides, the ride holds up even two decades later as one of Disney’s best. Even if it’s hard for stateside fans to believe that Tokyo’s Pooh ride is a genuine E-Ticket, Hunny Hunt will make anyone a believer.

4. Magic Kingdom (1971)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 5

  • Goofy’s Barnstormer
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin*
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid*
  • Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress

Believe it or not, Magic Kingdom has only five genuinely-exclusive rides among its “Castle Park” sisters, and two of them get asterisks (meaning that, yes, this is the only “Castle Park” that has them, but they exist at other Resorts in a “non-Castle Park.”) Interestingly, you might also argue that not one of Magic Kingdom’s exclusive rides would qualify as an E-Ticket – even if two of them are classic fan-favorites that Magic Kingdom has mercifully preserved since 1975.

It makes some amount of sense. Magic Kingdom was quite literally “Disneyland East.” Additions and subtractions during the translation from California to Florida were relatively few in terms of rides, and just about every headlining addition to the park since (like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain) has come to Magic Kingdom only when rolling out to multiple “Castle Parks.” It’s even happened this decade, when Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ceased being exclusive to Florida’s “Castle Park” thanks to Shanghai. (On the other hand, Disney World’s clone of TRON Lightcycle Run pulled the ride out of Shanghai’s exclusives, too.)

And yes, I can already hear readers shouting, “But Disney World has a ton of exclusive stuff when you add in the rides at the other three parks!” You’re right! It does! But comparing Castle Park to Castle Park is an interesting measure, and maybe a new way of seeing how these particular parks stack up. Because sure, Walt Disney World as a whole has a lot of exclusives… but maybe seeing what only Magic Kingdom has among Castle Parks tells a story, too, and helps explain why some Disneyland regulars opt to skip the park entirely.

Must-See Exclusive: Whereas every other resort’s “must-try” is some exclusive, blockbuster, showstopping E-Ticket, Magic Kingdom’s list of exclusives lends itself more toward nostalgia. Given that Disneyland’s Lost Legend: The PeopleMover closed decades ago and remains rotting in plain sight, Disney World’s version of the continuously-moving aerial highway is an absolute delight.

Likewise, the Modern Marvel: Carousel of Progress just a few steps away is literally a landmark of Imagineering. Walt Disney allegedly named the Audio-Animatronics show his personal favorite and decreed that it should never cease operation. Just to be safe, consider it a “must-see.”

3. Hong Kong Disneyland (2005)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 5

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle!
  • Big Grizzly Mountain Mine Cars
  • Iron Man Experience
  • Mystic Manor
  • Toy Soldier Parachute Drop*

Not yet counted: Frozen Ever After* and Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs

One of the primary complaints levels against the itty-bitty Hong Kong Disneyland when it opened was just how little of note the park contained. Besides leaving out tried-and-true Disney Parks classics (like “it’s a small world,” Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Big Thunder Mountain), the park had absolutely no rides – zero – that made it a must-visit versus any other “Castle Park.”

Obviously, a whole lot of work has gone into changing that. A three-year, three-land growth spurt added Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point – each of which contributed a “Castle Park” exclusive ride. More recently, the park became a testing grounds for Marvel with the Iron Man Experience simulator. Interestingly, the transformation of the toy-sized Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters into Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle makes Hong Kong the only “Castle Park” without a Buzz blaster.

The latest push for the park is a Frozen-themed mini-land. The “Living Land” style recreation of Arendelle will include a version of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rethemed to Frozen and well as a dark ride – rumored to be a clone of Epcot’s Modern Marvel: Frozen Ever After (which, granted, will still be a “Castle Park” exclusive in Hong Kong since no other Disneyland-style park has it).

Must-Try Exclusive: Despite all the pomp and circumstance around Hong Kong’s growth spurts, there’s arguably still nothing there that’s topped the Modern Marvel: Mystic Manor. Aside from its own in-depth entry through the ride’s creation, we cite this musical, S.E.A.-inspired haunted mansion as one of the best rides of this century so far.

2. Shanghai Disneyland (2016)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 7

  • Hunny Pot Spin
  • Jet Packs
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure
  • Roaring Rapids
  • Soaring Over the Horizon*
  • Voyage to the Crystal Grotto
  • Woody’s Round-Up

Not yet counted: Unnamed Zootopia ride

The legacy-leaving project of then-CEO Bob Iger, Shanghai Disneyland represented a reinvention in more ways than one. Finally breaking in to the massive market of mainland China, Iger’s 21st century Disneyland needed to make the Magic Kingdom palatable to a country with no interest in Americana. No Main Street. No Frontierland. No Adventureland. One look at its layout and you’ll recognize Shanghai Disneyland started from scratch.

Another part of its role as a reinventor? Allegedly, the park’s majority owner – the government-owned Shanghai Shendi Group – insisted that Disney drop any of its classic E-Ticket from the park, replacing them with custom counterparts. That’s why Shanghai Disneyland has relatively few intersections on the Venn diagram – no Haunted Mansion, no Marvel, no Star Wars, no Frozen, no “Mountains”…

Instead, the park debuted a handful of headliners, including the Modern Marvel: TRON Lightcycle Power Run (which is no longer exclusive to this Castle Park since it’s being uploaded in Florida), Soarin’ Over the Horizon (which has an asterisk since it’s been exported to California, Florida, and Japan, but never in a Castle Park), and Roaring Rapids.

Must-Try Exclusive: It’s difficult to put Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure into words. Yes, it’s a Pirates ride overtly themed to the Pirates film series (which inherently irritates some Disneyland purists). But as a Disney Parks ride, Battle for Sunken Treasure is legitimately one of the most awe-inspiring experiences on Earth. Larger-than-life, ridiculously immersive, and packed with jaw-dropping moments and Audio-Animatronics, this is – without a doubt – the ride that singlehandedly is worth the plane ticket for many.

1. Disneyland (1955)

“Castle Park” exclusive rides: 9

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Disneyland Monorail
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
  • Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run*
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance*
  • Sailing Ship Columbia

Spoiler alert: Disneyland is the smallest of Disney’s “Castle Parks” by size, yet packs in more rides than any other, contains more E-Tickets than any other, preserves as many “Opening Day” Originals as any other, and now, more “Castle Park” exclusive rides than any other, too, including at least five that would rank as “headliners.”

Sure, both Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are asterisk’ed here due to the fact that Walt Disney World does have them, but in terms of “Castle Parks,” only Disneyland fits the Batuu duo in to an already-chocked-full lineup.

Surviving since 1959, Disneyland’s ride lineup includes both the one-of-a-kind Matterhorn Bobsleds (the world’s first modern steel roller coaster) and Submarine Voyage (a Finding Nemo-overlaid older sister to Magic Kingdom’s closed Lost Legend: 20,000 Leagues). Similarly, Disneyland still has its version of Magic Kingdom’s Lost Legend: Mr. Toad’s Wild Rideplus the only Alice in Wonderland dark ride at a Disney Park. Its unique Sailing Ship Columbia – a second vessel circumnavigating the Rivers of America – adds a ninth. 

Must-See Exclusive: Since you can find Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its E-Tickets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it only seems fair to highlight Disneyland’s legitimately-exclusive anchor attraction – the Modern Marvel: Indiana Jones Adventure. The epic adventure ride sends guests deep into the lost river temple of the forgotten god Mara, where booby traps and inexplicable special effects await.

Yes, Indiana Jones Adventure uses the spectacular EMV ride system and a nearly identical layout to Disney World’s Modern Marvel: DINOSAUR, but Indiana Jones Adventure is – without a doubt – one of the greatest rides of all time. Exclusive to Disneyland, the ride is a destination in its own right and makes every other “Castle Park’s” Adventureland feel suspiciously vacant.

Closing Comparisons

In our search to look at Disney Parks differently, the Venn diagram of “Castle Park” ride lineups is a pretty captivating sight! (Tap the image below for a larger and more detailed view). Aside from revealing which rides are located at just one of the “Castle Parks,” it also reveals interesting intersections, overlaps, and exclusions!

For example, only one “Castle Park” is without Peter Pan’s Flight; “it’s a small world” and the Mad Tea Party are missing from another. There are more Space Mountains than Splash Mountains; more Pirates than Autopias. Only Anaheim and Tokyo have Toontowns, while both Shanghai and Hong Kong feature Toy Story Lands – with some shared rides and some exclusive to each respective version.

In other words, it’s easy to lump “Castle Parks” together when we talk about Disney Parks and Imagineering… but frankly, the only thing they all have in common is a castle, a carousel, and a flying elephant!

If you want to give folks behind you in line something to study (and support more in-depth Disney Parks designs), visit my online art shop to purchase tanks, tees, and hoodies with the hand-drawn Comparing Kingdoms graphic (plus posters, throwpillows, prints, and more)!