Definitely a difference, no question.
I've built a bankroll from $0 playing in freerolls
then moving up. When you don't front your own money to play there are a lot of "All-in no matter what on the first hand" players. One of them always wins a huge stack within minutes and can control the action. Besides that, its harder to steal blinds, make a bluff or even fold sometimes because players are just terrible.
In regular cash tournaments, there is a lot more emphasis on position, stealing and well timed bluffs. Generally, players don't risk their entire stack unless they honestly feel they have the best hand, which makes calling an all-in harder to do. You need to be able to make huge laydowns, and follow betting patterns to pick up on discrepancies. People know what they are doing and use all their poker skills to make the money.