Disneyland Resort is home to a lot of great attractions. In this list, we will look at MY top 11 rides at Disneyland. As with our top rides at WDW list, this is purely my opinion. I am sure many will disagree with some or all of this list but that’s ok. The best part of the Disney parks is that they have so many different things which appeal to all kinds of different people. To each their own!
With that being said, here are my top 11 rides at Disneyland resort. Since this primarily a WDW focused blog, I will be making comparisons here and their to a rides WDW counterpart (if it has one that is).
11. Grizzly River Run
Grizzly River Run is a river rapids ride at California Adventure. You may remember that Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom made our 11 Worst Attractions at WDW list. Thankfully, the California rapids ride is far superior in almost every way.
The ride is significantly longer, has multiple drops and a better chance of getting wet. I know some people view getting soaked as a negative but if I’m going on a rapids ride to begin with, its most likely because its hot out and I want to cool down. Grizzly Peak is also one of the coolest structures in a Disney park so it gets points for that as well.
10. It’s A Small World
The DL version of It’s a Small World is the same classic one from the 1964 World’s Fair. It is slightly longer than the MK version and features and outdoor loading area with a beautiful facade. In a 2008 refurbishment, dolls of several Disney characters were added to the attraction.
This is was pretty controversial among Disney fans, however we do not mind it. It is fun for kids to try and find the various characters throughout the ride and is done in a way that doesn’t disrupt the art style of the attraction. During the holidays, the ride receives an overlay that really takes it to the next level.
9. Space Mountain
The DL version of Space Mountain is a good bit different from its WDW version. The biggest changes are the coaster cars (seated 2 side by side rather than single file), on board speakers (with super catchy music) and a much smoother track. The track layout is less complex but its worth the tradeoff in our eyes since we don’t feel like we need to visit a chiropractor after riding.
8. Alice in Wonderland
Disneyland has several more Fantasyland style dark rides than MK does, however this is by far the best of the bunch. We enjoy all the others as well, but we love riding Alice in Wonderland. The story is fun to follow, the Animatronics are great and the duration is solid. Most Fantasyland rope droppers run for Peter Pan, but we choose to head to Alice every time.
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland park is for the most part very similar to the WDW version. Luckily the WDW version is great so that is a good thing. There are a few slight improvements to the DL version here and there, mainly a show scene during the last lift and the town of Rainbow Ridge at the end of the ride. On both coasts, its a great ride that never disappoints.
6. Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain was the top attraction when we ranked the top rides at WDW earlier this year. Sadly, the original DL version has a lot of issues that cause to drop substantially here. The single file log seats are uncomfortable, your feet are almost guaranteed to get soaked and the pacing is way too fast.
All that being said, its still a wonderful ride with lots of fun animatronics (many re-used from the retired “America Sings” attraction) and the best soundtrack of any ride at the resort. This version is great, the WDW one is perfection.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
When it was announced Guardians of the Galaxy would be replacing Tower of Terror at California Advenure, I (like many) was bummed. After finally riding it this year, I am ok with change. The California version of ToT which it replaced was far inferior to the WDW version as it was, and frankly the Guardians overlay is just straight up fun. The music, the show scenes, even the queue and pre-show are all fun.
If this had happened in Florida I would be irate. However out in Cali, I’d go as far to say that Mission Breakout is better than the version of Tot it replaced.
4. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Park utilizes the same ride system and a very similar track layout as Dinosaur at AK. Surprisingly, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Utilizing amazing set pieces, some great animations and the iconic John Williams music; Indiana Jones Adventure is a true thrill from start to finish.
3. Radiator Springs Racers
When you take the Test Track ride system, and combine it with a first class dark ride, the results are (not surprisingly) fantastic. That is what you get with Radiator Springs Racers. This ride cost a fortune to build and it shows.The ride starts out with beautiful views of the “Ornament Valley”, before transitioning to a wonderful dark ride.
Much like many of Disney’s modern animatronics, the “cars” on this ride look like acutal cartoons which have come to life. The dark ride portion would be enough to make this a great attraction, however the ride ends on an even higher note. High speed racing against another car full of strangers is an absolute blast.
2. Haunted Mansion
In our Top 11 Rides at Walt Disney World post, we had this to say about the Haunted Mansion:
“When taking out personal preference, a case could be made that Haunted Mansion is the best thing that Imagineering has ever done. Everything about it is masterfully done. It rides the line perfectly between creepy and campy, which results in a ride that is just downright charming and fun. That and an amazing attention to detail lands it the number 3 spot on my list. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame anybody who placed it at number one either.”
The Disneyland version is very similar and everything we said there holds true.
The biggest difference is the inclusion of the “Hatbox Ghost” (pictured above) in the DL version. This awesome animatronic allows Haunted Mansion to jump up to the #2 spot on the list.
Note: The ride receives a “Nightmare Before Christmas” overlay each year from Sept – Dec, but we have never been to DL during those months to experience for ourselves.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean
Far superior to it’s WDW counterpart, Pirates of the Caribbean jumps way ahead on the Disneyland list (It ranks #7 on our top WDW rides list), all the way to #1. Clocking in at around 16 minutes (more than double the MK version), Pirates in Disneyland is the best dark ride in the United States. All the additional scenes are great, the pacing is perfect and of course the music is classic.
To add a cherry on top, it rarely has long waits to ride. All of these factors come together to make Pirates my favorite ride at Disneyland Resort.
We that sums up our list. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!