Best Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide

If you’re planning a 2015 trip to Disneyland, you probably want to know which attractions and rides are not to be missed, and which rides you can probably skip. This guide to Disneyland rides contains short reviews of our top picks, as well as numerical scores for every attraction in Disneyland.

Our list of the top Disneyland attractions includes plenty of recognizable names, along with a few sleeper-picks that we think a lot of people overlook, but are actually really enjoyable. While we don’t recommend skipping any attractions based upon the advice of others if you have the time to experience them all (why not form your own opinion–you might like something totally different than us!), if your time is limited, here are the must-see rides and attractions in Disneyland. Note that this list only covers Disneyland, the park. We have a separate review of attractions at Disney California Adventure.

Worth noting is that not everything on this list is a blockbuster, “E-Ticket” attraction that draws huge crowds. While we love these big-name attractions, we feel a day at Disneyland is about variety, and some of the lesser-known attractions are also very well done, just not in a ‘knock-your-socks-off’ way. The list of “top attractions” includes everything we feel makes for a well-rounded day at Disneyland.

Ideally, you’ll have more than one day to explore Disneyland and have a separate day for Disney California Adventure (read our Disneyland Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best), so you will be able to experience everything, not just our top picks. If you are stretched for time and only have one day for both parks, you won’t be able to experience everything on this “top attractions” list.

Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. In other words, dark rides are judged against other dark rides, coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. We do not take into account how different demographics will like the attraction. Obviously, if an attraction has a height restriction that precludes kids from riding it, its “score” for them wouldn’t be as high as what we’ve listed. Likewise on attractions that are geared towards kids but may not appeal as much to adults. Here, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall, within its category.

Top Disneyland Attractions

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (8/10) – A relatively new attraction at Disneyland, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage takes guests aboard actual submarines to find Nemo. It’s a relatively long attraction with some awesome sets and detail. The wait times can be long, the queue is incredibly boring, and there’s no FastPass, but the payoff is well worth the boring wait, especially for Finding Nemo fans.

Pirates of the Caribbean (10/10) – Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat-ride back in time to the days when pirates ruled the Caribbean. The attractions features Audio Animatronics pirates engaging in swashbuckling mayhem. This is one of our favorite attractions at Disneyland, and is considerably longer than the Walt Disney World attraction by the same name. It contains a considerable amount of detail (we recommend experiencing it more than once to take in everything), a catchy song, and lines usually aren’t too long due to its high capacity.

Indiana Jones Adventure (10/10) – Indiana Jones Adventure is a thrilling ride aboard a transport vehicle deep into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye on a daring journey in search of unimaginable rewards. Along the way you’ll incur the wrath of Mara, who will force you to encounter caverns of bubbling death, screaming undead mummies, erupting lava, evil wraiths, and giant snakes. Everything about this attraction is excellent–it’s our favorite attraction at Disneyland. From the incredible queue to the humorous pre-show to the special effects-laden attraction itself, Indiana Jones Adventure still feels as cutting edge today as it did when it opened back in 1995. Part of this is thanks to several special effects upgrades it received in mid-2013. As Sallah would (and does) say, “it is unlike anything you have ever experienced, I assure you!” This attraction is incredibly popular and routinely has long waits, making it a great use of FastPass.

Space Mountain (9/10) – Space Mountain is a dark rollercoaster through space. There’s some cool theming here, a blast-off tunnel, and on-board music to spice up the experience. Space Mountain is a FastPass attraction, and it’s highly recommended that you utilize it. This is another attraction that is dramatically different than its Walt Disney World counterpart.

Haunted Mansion (10/10) – The Haunted Mansion is a slow-moving dark ride that is home to 999 happy haunts that are dying to meet you. No further explanation should be necessary; if you aren’t familiar with the premise of the Haunted Mansion, you’re probably living under a rock. I have no interest in rock-dwellers reading this website. For those familiar with the Walt Disney World version, a lot in the Disneyland version is the same or similar. Die-hard Haunted Mansion fans will disagree, but the vast majority of guests won’t notice many differences. If you visit around Halloween or Christmas, you’ll see “Haunted Mansion Holiday,” which features a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. It’s awesome.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (9/10) – Another Disneyland classic. This attraction is a hybrid film and Audio Animatronics performance by the famous U.S. President. It incorporates some of the best elements of Hall of Presidents and the American Adventure at Walt Disney World, including my personal favorite, the song “Golden Dreams.” Many guests, mostly communists, find this attraction boring. We absolutely love it. It’s not a thrill-ride, to be sure, but it is an incredibly well-done glimpse into the history of this great nation. If you have time beforehand, check out the Steve Martin (and Donald Duck) video in the lobby created for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (8.5/10) – A guest favorite, Big Thunder Mountain a rollercoaster themed as a runaway mine train on a ride through the barren landscape of the Old West. Hang onto your hats and glasses, because Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is “the wildest ride in the wilderness!” Big Thunder Mountain is a FastPass attraction, and it might behoove you to use that if lines are over 40 minutes for it. There are differences between this Big Thunder and Walt Disney World’s, notably the town of Rainbow Ridge (a remnant from the classic Mine Train Thru Nature’s Wonderland attraction). Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is being refurbished through early 2014.


Storybook Land Canal Boats (8/10) – The Storybook Land Canal Boats are a Disneyland classic. Cast Member-led boats of guests float past miniaturized versions of villages, castles, and homes of Disney characters. It’s a cute, “peaceful” attraction, not a big-budget ride that will knock your socks off. Our favorite scene is Pinocchio’s village, because the Imagineers have designed this scene so the Matterhorn appears as another mountain towering over the village in the background. This attraction may seem simple, and it is, but that’s part of the charm. Storybook Land Canal Boats isn’t especially popular, but long lines can form because it has very low hourly capacity. We recommend hitting it early in the morning or late at night.

Mickey and the Magical Map (8.5/10) – Mickey and the Magical Map debuted in 2013 in the Fantasyland Theater. The plot involves Mickey attempting to finish a map, with an ink blot continually eluding him and taking him places…or something like that. Really, whatever the plot is supposed to be is just an excuse to tie together songs from different movies. And that’s fine. The individual song and dance numbers are great, and the video screen-stage transitions are good; just don’t expect to make any sense of the show’s overarching story. Seats in the rear-center are best for viewing the large video screen-stage.

Matterhorn (7/10) – The Matterhorn was Expedition Everest decades before Expedition Everest was even conceived. This rollercoaster through the yeti-guarded mountain is a thrilling attraction that most guests will enjoy. The Matterhorn received an extensive overhaul an reopened in 2012 and many guests–us included–feel it’s no longer as good as it was. Still, it’s an iconic attraction and good fun. FastPass is not available at the Matterhorn, so plan on hitting it early or using the Single Rider line to avoid long waits.

Splash Mountain (8.5/10) – Splash Mountain is a log flume ride that features a story from Disney’s Song of the South film, and climaxes with a big drop into the briar patch. Walt Disney World fans might find themselves a little perplexed by Splash Mountain. Disneyland’s Splash Mountain is the original (by a couple years), and in some ways, it’s better. Disneyland recycled high quality Audio Animatronics from “America Sings” for Splash Mountain, and many of these Animatronics look better than those found in their Florida counterpart. However, the pacing is entirely too fast, guests get entirely too wet, and the story is very disjointed compared to the Walt Disney World version. Still, it’s a must-see, even for Walt Disney World fans, as it’s dramatically different than the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction.

Casey Jr. Circus Train (8/10) – Another Fantasyland staple, the Casey Jr. Circus Train offers a scenic view of Fantasyland as guests ride aboard cars or in cages (now is your chance to finally put the kids in a cage!). It’s another attraction that is simple, but has a lot of appeal thanks to the great views it offers of Fantasyland, the fun music, and the whimsy of the train, itself. Even as adults, it’s a favorite attraction of ours (and we have no childhood nostalgia towards it) that is difficult to articulate. It has a real kinetic energy and is just good, clean fun.

Peter Pan’s Flight (8/10) – If you don’t arrive right at park opening, you might want to consider skipping Peter Pan’s Flight. It’s considered a Fantayland classic, as it takes guests in “flying” ships above London and Neverland, but really, it’s not as impressive as it sounds, especially given the hour-plus waits it regularly attracts. Flying over London is cool (and small children might actually “buy” the flying part), but that’s its big draw. We enjoy Peter Pan’s Flight, but I wouldn’t wait more than 20-30 minutes in line for it, especially if your time is limited. If you arrive right at park opening, this is the attraction to hit first.

Fantasmic! (10/10) – Fantasmic! is a musical battle between the forces of good and evil set in Mickey’s dreams (and on the Rivers of America) with stunning effects, including pyrotechnics, water, lasers, fire, and a huge dragon. If you’ve seen Fantasmic! at Walt Disney World, you haven’t actually seen Fantasmic! The Disneyland version is infinitely better, with an excellent Peter Pan battle scene (on the Sailing Ship Columbia) replacing the Pocahontas scene, among other things. Disneyland locals generally camp out hours in advance of Fantasmic!, so if possible, catch the late show. Here are our other tips for the best places to view Fantasmic, and tips for photographing it.

Jungle Cruise (8.5/10) – Jungle Cruise is a boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, among other animals and natives, along the way. However, the real highlight here is the non-stop zingers of the skippers who pilot the boats. If you don’t appreciate dry, intentionally corny, or self-aware humor, you may not like Jungle Cruise. We’ve seen a number of guests exit the Jungle Cruise with confused looks on their faces. Jungle Cruise skippers often break the carefully-crafted illusion of Disneyland (example: pointing out the “p” breed of snake is not a python, but instead, “plastic”). Most kids won’t get these jokes, so don’t worry about that. We love the Jungle Cruise, as do most guests, but some are not fans. It’s also an attraction that is highly skipper-dependent. If you get a poor skipper, your ride will be sub-par.

Remember… Dreams Come True! (10/10) – Remember… Dreams Come True is the name of the brilliant fireworks show at Disneyland through most of the year. It’s a veritable tribute to Disneyland’s best attractions, past and present, and is easily the best Magic Kingdom-style fireworks show ever created. If you’re visiting in the summer months you’ll instead see “Magical,” and if you’re visiting during a Halloween party or during the Christmas season, you’ll see seasonal fireworks shows themed to those holidays instead.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (8/10) – Enchanted Tiki Room is a 15-minute musical serenade from Audio Animatronics birds and offers a celebration of island romance and wonder performed in a theater-in-the-round. You’ve probably heard these catchy songs before; the fun music of this attraction, and its history, makes it an attraction not to be missed.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (9/10) – Completely re-imagined in 2011, Star Tours is a flight-motion simulator into the Star Wars world with digital 3-D video, Audio Animatronics characters, and in-vehicle effects. Star Tours features multiple storylines, with some 64 different experience combinations, making it an attraction you can experience again and again. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly popular, so this might prove difficult. If you’ve experienced the attraction in Walt Disney World, we recommend skipping Star Tours at Disneyland if you’re short on time, as they’re largely the same. Otherwise, Star Tours is a must-do. Use FastPass.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (9.5/10) – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is the relatively new daytime (and sometimes nighttime) parade at Disneyland. The float design in this parade is inspired, with art design by the highly regarded Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily. One of the best daytime Disney parades we’ve ever seen, and right up there with Happiness is Here at Tokyo Disneyland (also done by Kidney and Daily).

‘it’s a small world’ (9/10) – ‘it’s a small world’ is the iconic attraction featuring the children of the world and that oh-so divisive song. Again, unless you live under a rock, you’re familiar with it. ‘it’s a small world’ at Disneyland differs substantially from the Walt Disney World version; it features Disney characters tastefully inserted into several show-scenes, an outdoor queue and facade, and other scene differences. If visiting at Christmas, ‘it’s a small world’ holiday is not to be missed.

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (7/10)  – Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters enlists your help in an interactive and competitive game-attraction to save the universe in this blast-em-up, ride-through adventure. It’s like a ride-through video game, and is a lot of fun. We often find ourselves riding re-riding late at night when there’s no line to see who can get the highest score. This attracton is far superior to the Walt Disney World version of the attraction.

Alice in Wonderland (7.5/10) – A Fantasyland dark ride into the world of Alice in Wonderland. This is our favorite Fantasyland dark ride, and we’re not even fans of Alice in Wonderland. Best hit early in the morning on a fast-paced tour of the Fantasyland dark rides, as lines can get long for it later in the day due to its lower capacity.

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin (8.5/10) – Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin takes guests aboard a dark ride voyage into Toontown in interactive vehicles (guests can spin them). Lines are often long for Car Toon Spin, making it a good FastPass attraction. It’s the only attraction worth experiencing in the Toontown land of Disneyland. Sometimes, the FastPass machine for Car Toon Spin is not synced with the rest of the park’s FastPass machines, meaning that you can get another FastPass while you hold a Car Toon Spin FastPass. (Just one of our 101 Great Disneyland Tips!)

Reviews of the Best Rides at Disneyland

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (7/10) – Another Fantasyland dark ride favorite, this attraction goes into the irreverent world of Mr. Toad from the Wind and the Willows. Worth experiencing for the irreverence alone. On what other Disney attraction do you go to bar, crash into a truck, and go to hell?! It would never be built in today’s politically correct era, and is worth experiencing for that alone, although the attraction itself is woefully outdated.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-Through (8.5/10) – A simple, but fun walk-through of Sleeping Beauty Castle featuring interactive “window” scenes from the film. An often overlooked, but very cool attraction that takes little time to experience and should not be missed.

A few Fantasyland attractions are omitted from this list, all of which are worth experiencing if you have the time. If you arrive right at park opening and there are no Magic Mornings, you can easily bounce from Fantasyland attraction to Fantasyland attraction and quickly knock all of these out in about in hour or so.

If you can manage to hit all of these attractions in one day at Disneyland, you should have a great, well-rounded visit. If you have more time, consider hitting other Disneyland attractions, each of which we’ve scored below.

The Rest

Astro Orbitor (4/10) – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo, except not iconic.

Autopia (5/10) – Kids might like it as it gives them a chance to drive; lush environments and large track.

Captain EO (3/10) – Enjoyable only for Michael Jackson fans and those who love cheesy products of the 1980s. Laughably bad for everyone else.

Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes (6/10) – Paddle an actual canoe on the Rivers of America. Not for everyone, but a lot of fun for those who enjoy this sort of thing. Definitely not an attraction you’d expect in a modern theme park.

Disneyland Monorail (6/10) – A relaxing trip around Disneyland Resort, but with a lot of glimpses of the outside world. We love monorails, but in this case, we prefer the Disneyland Railroad.

Disneyland Railroad (8/10) – The Disneyland Railroad is, quite simply, a normal railroad that circles Disneyland in a scenic manner. However, the Disneyland Railroad is dramatically different. Not only does it have a scene with real, live (okay, Audio Animatronics) dinosaurs called Primeval World, but it has the history of being Walt Disney’s railroad.

Gadget’s Go Coaster (4/10) – Way too short; recommended only for small children who can’t do other coasters.

Innoventions (1/10) – Don’t make the mistake of going inside unless there’s a Marvel display you want to see. If it weren’t for the Marvel stuff, Innoventions’ score might be in the negatives.

Jedi Training Academy (6/10) – Gives kids the chance to become Jedi in a decent stage show.

King Arthur Carrousel (4.5/10) – Garden variety carousel.

Mad Tea Party (6/10) – Gets points because it’s iconic and somewhat fun if you have the time.

Mark Twain Riverboat (7.5/10) – Relaxing way to float around the Rivers of America. Great way to spend a peaceful afternoon, but we recommend the Disneyland Railroad over it if you’re limited in time.

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey (6/10) – Decent dark ride based on Pinocchio. Very dated, but charming.

Tom Sawyer Island (6.5/10) – Fun and highly immersive play area for kids, now featuring pirates.

Sailing Ship Columbia (7/10) – Another relaxing float around the Rivers of America.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures (5.5/10) – Dated and somewhat disjointed; still a cute attraction if you have the time. Has been spruced up in recent years with some new effects.

Tarzan’s Treehouse (7/10) – Fun area that can be quickly explored as a nice change of pace from doing rides.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6/10) – A newer Fantasyland-style dark ride located in Critter Country that’s enjoyable, but still feels dated.

This leaves out random pieces of entertainment, character meet & greets, and a few other seasonal offerings, but it should cover every attraction listed on a Disneyland park map. We’d strongly encourage you to try everything for yourself, as your opinions might differ from ours, but if time is an issue, skip the attractions on the lower list.

If you have any other questions regarding what you should do at Disneyland, please let us know!

As for figuring out the rest of your Disneyland trip, including what to pack, whether you should stay off-site or on-site in a Disney hotel, where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland trip planning guide!

For updates on Disneyland, the latest news, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts…

Which Disneyland attractions are your favorites and which do you skip? If you haven’t visited Disneyland yet, which ones are you most excited about? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

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75 Responses to “Best Disneyland Attractions & Ride Guide”

  1. Melissa says:

    I think you’ve covered all the bases! I think of Disneyland as my “home” park — I’ve been visiting it sixteen years longer than I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World. It’s so interesting how things are “the same, but different” when you compare it to the Magic Kingdom. It’s like the Magic Kingdom is Gus Van Sant’s remake of PSYCHO: it’s very much like the original, but just a little off.

    I definitely recommend Indiana Jones to anyone visiting Disneyland. It’s a really fun, unique ride. Unfortunately, it seems to always be either closed when we visit or the ride breaks down while we’re in line. If I didn’t have memories of the ride, I’d suspect the whole thing was an elaborate hoax and that Cast Members use the building to have Adventurer’s Club-style parties while the guests queue up outside waiting for nothing. I don’t think I’ve been on the ride since 2008.

    I prefer Disneyland’s flagship boat rides to the Magic Kingdom’s as well. I know some think this is sacrilegious, but I think that “it’s a small world” has really benefited from the Mary Blair-esque Disney characters that have been, as you said, tastefully integrated into the ride. It’s just a masterful inclusion. I enjoy the longer, more detailed Pirates of the Caribbean as well.

    Space Mountain in Disneyland is, frankly, the best roller coaster ever. The speakers in the headrests and pitch-black darkness make it incredibly immersive.

    Saving the best for last, the Alice in Wonderland dark ride is perfect. The 1951 classic is my favorite Disney animated feature and I’m glad it gets lots of love in Fantasyland.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I wouldn’t say Alice in Wonderland is perfect…anymore at least, but it sure is great!

      Indiana Jones does seem to breakdown ALL. THE. TIME. It broke down twice once while we were on it. Being walked through the attraction was a cool experience, but I wouldn’t have been as thrilled if it happened after waiting 40 minutes in standby. They need to give it a nice 6 month refurb (Al Lutz has indicated that one is coming, so who knows!).

    • Lindsay Kamel says:

      I couldn’t find this on your website so sorry if I missed it. Are the Disneyland and Disney CA adventure fast passes linked?

    • Cindy says:

      We were thinking of taking our 4 grandchildren to Disneyland in June 2016. They’ll be 2,4,5, and 7. Will there be plenty for then to enjoy (and not scary) or should we put it off for a year?

  2. Melissa says:

    We leave for Disneyland next Tuesday! I just wanted to let you know that this list was so helpful. Thanks for posting it. :)

  3. Kevin Crossman says:

    Finding Nemo Subs isn’t exactly a new attraction. Newly re-imagined maybe.

    With all due respect, I don’t think Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is a good recommendation for the average first-time guest in 2012 (1972, maybe…). This attraction has not aged well and does not have the scope of similar attractions at WDW (which, honestly, wouldn’t be on my recommend list either).

    A better option in the same building is the Disneyland film starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck, which you mentioned briefly. That film provides some wonderful historical context and is still really hilarious for kids of all ages.

    Lily Belle tickets are obtained in the train station, not city hall (as of our Feb 2012 trip…).

    The recent changes to the outdoor portion might mean that Alice has dropped a bit from the previously well-earned “must do” status. It’s just so sad now.

    Otherwise, I can’t complain about your list. You definitely hit the broad set of highlights for most families. Glad you skipped Autopia, Pooh, and Innoventions.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Classifying Nemo as anything other than new is a stretch, I think. The show scenes are new, the plot is new, etc. Conceptually, it’s a totally different attraction, even moreso than Star Tours: the Adventures Continue, which I would also classify as a new attraction. At some point, you cross the line from reimagining to creating something different. Where you draw the line is subjective, though.

      If I ever do a list of Walt Disney World attractions, rest assured that Hall of Presidents and American Adventure will be on it. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is a wonderful attraction, and if present day guests are too dense for it, that’s their issue.

      When we last tried to ride the Lilly Belle in December 2011, you could make reservations for the Lilly Belle at City Hall, and tickets were given to you at the Train Station. You could also try to “catch a ride” directly at the Train Station, but your chances of success (in our experience) are dramatically reduced. I haven’t heard of any changes to that policy, so I’d be curious to know whether you just tried going directly to the Train Station, or whether City Hall turned you away.

      Agreed about the outdoor portion of Alice. Screw you, Cal OSHA! 😉 I still think the attraction is a must-do, but the end is not nearly as special.

      • Larry says:

        When we rode the Lily Belle in August, 2011 I went directly to the Main Street station. The station master took my name and number of guests and gave me a return time.

        The ride was magical. Not only were we riding in Walts private car, but the Cast Member accompanying us was full of additional trivia (for example, my granddaughter was sitting in Johnny Depp’s favorite chair).

        It was definitely a unique way to experience the trip around Disneyland, and one that was over much, MUCH too soon.

  4. Larry says:

    You pretty much captured our favorites, starting with Peter Pan (always our first attraction of our visit). The only ones that I would add as must-dos for us would be Dumbo and King Arthur’s Carrousel, not for the experience as much as for the nostalgia (my first visit to Disneyland was 1957, my wife in 1955).

    And we completely agree with the opinion of Innoventions as a “must-avoid” attraction. The only time we have gone into that attraction recently was to get points for the Gumball Rally.

    One last point … not only have we ridden on the Lily Belle, I have also piloted the Mark Twain (successfully, I might add — didn’t run into any boulders).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The Mark Twain Wheelhouse is on our list of things to do. Glad you’ve had the chance to experience it!

  5. Victoria White says:

    Thanks for the list. Since I found this website 2 days ago I have learned so much. Piloting the Mark Twain, Lillybell as well as some of the dining. I am a season passholder and have been for years. My Father was one of the original builders of Disneyland and thus very special to our family. Your photograpy is amazing! Thanks again for such a fabulous site for Disney Fans. PS Your wife is really beautiful.

  6. David says:

    I’m not so keen on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – it’s just so long (weird because I love Great Moments with Mr Lincoln and The Enchanted Tiki Room).

    Matterhorn is my all-time favourite ride in any Disney park. While I love Expedition Everest too, Matterhorn beats it largely because of charm and history (every time I ride I can’t stop thinking about that Basketball court at the top!).

    The first time I visited Disneyland last year I went on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride and was left pretty speechless after the experience. Definitely worth going on just because there is nothing else like it! The Storybook Canal Boats in the evening are beautiful. My dream job has always been to work as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise but now I would love to work on the Canal Boats!

    The Mission-Impossible-esque music on Space Mountain makes for an thrilling experience, but I don’t think it will ever take the place of the clunky yet charming Walt Disney World version.

    Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion – enough said!

    I love Captain EO, but I am a massive Michael Jackson fan. I think it should stay until they have an idea for something better to put in its place!

    Haven’t visited Walt Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room since the change, but seeing Disneyland’s version has made me really excited about seeing it! But I think Disneyland’s will still come out on top largely because of the cool pre-show and the fact that you’re allowed to take your dole whips in with you!

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  8. Abdul Nsar says:

    I am planning to visit the Disney Paris on 30th March 2013 Saturday. Our total team is 16 people including 6 adults and 7 children. Could you please advise me on the selection for one day

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Sorry, but this guide concerns Disneyland, not Disneyland Paris.

      Our favorite Disneyland Paris attractions are:
      1. Phantom Manor
      2. Pirates of the Caribbean
      3. Space Mountain
      4. Casey Jr.
      5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
      6. Sleeping Beauty Castle Dragon (walk-through)
      7. Disney Dreams!
      8. Le Pays des Contes de Fees

      …in no particular order. Hope that helps!

  9. nicole says:

    We are planning trip in 2014 with 4 kids 8 and under and 6 adults. If we can only do one day, what would you list to do from best on down.

  10. Tammy says:

    I only disagree with 2 of the ratings. Splash Mountain is 10/10! The speed thing and wet thing are different based on the crowd level at the park. We have had a leisurely trip and stayed mostly dry during slower times when they aren’t trying to increase ride capacity.
    Remember…dreams come true! has to be a 11/10. It’s gotta have the highest rating of everything in the park. Truly the best experience in Disneyland.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We’ve zipped through Splash Mountain enough times early in the morning that, although I’m sure speed can be controlled, it’s not consistent enough to warrant a perfect score from me. This is one of the few cases where the Walt Disney World version of an attraction is clearly superior to the Disneyland version.

  11. eamenes says:

    I’ll take Snow White, Pinocchio and Tea Cups over Small World, Tiki Room and the Circus Train any day. Probably over the Canal Boats, too. Seriously — the Circus Train???

  12. Katherine says:

    We loved Mickey and the Magical Map!!! It’s way better than the Princess show they had there before. I know the DL dark rides aren’t that great by WDW standards, but they’re neat for the nostalgia of being original park rides. I really disagree with your rating of the Submarines. There really isn’t much difference from its original set up. They just added the Finding Nemo effects to spruce it up a bit, and now it consistently has one of the longest waits in the park. If we ride them at all, we typically go at the very end of the day before we hop on the Monorail to head back to the hotel. I would give Captain Eo a negative number if I could. Don’t get me wrong, words can’t describe how much I loved that show as a kid, but now it’s just dated and the shaking seats left over from Honey, I Shrunk the Audience are obnoxious.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We really enjoy Mickey and the Magical Lamp, too. It has great production value and talent (just goes to show the quality of performers you can get with LA right there). The only thing holding it back is the odd storyline. It would be better, I think, if it were more honest about just being a series of unrelated songs with a very loose structure to hold it all together. The map and ink blot thing are way overdone, I think.

      I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who gave Captain EO a negative number. I hate that attraction. It only earns points here because it does have appeal to select audiences. I think it’s insulting to have that dated of a show in TOMORROWLAND, of all places.

  13. Leslie Smith says:

    My family and I are visiting Disneyland for the first time. We have heard that the Fantasmic show is amazing, and I wondered if registering for the premium viewing area and desert sampler program is worthwhile. Thanks for your advice.

  14. Steven says:

    spot on for most, but I think you were a bit generous for Innoventions.

  15. Ashley says:

    Thanks so much for giving a comparison to WDW rides. I have been there more than a dozen times, and finally get to go to Disneyland after a conference. I want to make sure I see the things that are different, and skip things that are the same if I do not have time. This moved Pirates to the top of my list – I love that ride at WDW and love the idea of an extended one!

  16. Yvonne Paradise says:

    Highly recommend doing Casey Jr. at night. Storybook Land is all lit up and it is absolutely beautiful.

  17. Paul says:

    Splash mtn is the best.

  18. Great site. Lots of useful information here.
    I’m sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing
    in delicious. And of course, thank you in your sweat!

  19. kendra says:

    We finally went into Innoventions during our trip in February 2014 and myself and the kids really enjoyed it! (Ages 8,5, and 3 if that matters)
    they have a few fun interactive games, xbox and playstation setups (which we didn’t play the game systems because you can do that anywhere. ..I mean come on its Disneyland no one needs an xbox marathon)
    An iron man interactive armor station for kids that you can have put on your photopass card, plus a huge display area of all phases of iron man’s armor. But most awesome of all was the Thor Meet and greet. They made it really interesting and special.
    From what I just recently read on another page is Captain America is now going to have. Meet and greet in innoventions too!

  20. ran6110 says:

    Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (7/10)

    Why only 7/10? for me and my wife it’s a 10/10!

    I regularly score a million or more points.

  21. Alexei Wyatt says:

    I recommend the Matterhorn for anyone still listening

  22. Steve says:

    First off, thanks for the Disney info you provide. Second, I know you’re a big fan of Disney, and these lists are subjective to be sure, but honestly, these ratings mean little when the lowest one is a 7. There are some stinkers in this list, most notably Nemo. Looooong wait for little payoff in cramped, crowded ‘subs’. For those not familiar, as you enter, you go below the water line, the ‘sub’ never submerges. It goes along a track and you look out a window. Not much better than when Nautilus was running (and that one REALLY stunk, imho).

  23. Jed Ashton says:

    Why such a low rating for Thunder Mountain that is my favorite by far who are the haters that don’t like it?

  24. Justin N says:

    My high school band teacher was a Disney fanatic, and we went every year to march at the park during Magic Music Days. One of his best tips was for Thunder Mountain Railroad– “Watch the goat!”

    As you crest a hill before a helix, a goat appears on top of a rock outcropping on your right. Instead of staring ahead at the track, watch the goat as you go around. It totally changes the experience.

  25. DocHudson says:

    Great article, I read a bunch of these before our 1st trip there in last week of April 2014. Star Wars, Space Mountain and the 2 trains were as advertised: fun and unique.

    Mr Toad’s Wild Ride is truly a classic from another era, but it (and Roger’s ride) spooked both my normally tough 5 and 3 yr olds…just a touch too dark but I liked them.
    I didn’t get very wet at all on splash mountain towards the middle/back of a car, and the animatronics far exceeded my (fairly low) expectations. Jungle Cruise was ok w/ a 30 min wait at night, but our guide was good. The food over in that side was better too.

    Pirates, Nemo, Its a small world were all closed, but short lines other than 180min+ to see Elsa and Anna.

  26. Kathy says:

    First, I love all the comments, getting a lot of tips, and I read a lot about Disneyland. In regards to Mr. Toads Wildride I would caution parents of younger kids, just prepare them. We took my then 4 year old daughter, it was one of the first dark rides we did in Fantasyland and scared the socks off her. She was ruined for anything “dark” after that. She is 12 now and still won’t do the “toad ride”. The Disney magic was too real for her.

  27. DaveRamseyIsDangerous says:

    If you have small children, Innoventions is great, especially on a really hot day. In fact, I highly recommend the Peter Pan story room for small children.

  28. Kathy says:

    Do you know what attractions are “new” say in the last 5 years? I heard recently that the Monsters’s Inc attraction was a ride – it was a theatre last time we checked it out. I wonder if we overlooked anything else. They used to have easy to print attractions with locations on the Disney website – no more – only an interactive map which is neat if you are online, but not good in the park. I like to make sure we do not miss anything. (The print on the hand-out maps it too small for my senior eyes). Thanks!

  29. Nikki says:

    Thank you for list iof suggestions. I have not been there in over 5 years and taking my girls there for the first time tomorrow. They are a little younger so will definitely take them on the ones recommended. Thank you.

  30. Nikki says:

    Thank you for list iof suggestions. I have not been there in over 5 years and taking my girls there for the first time tomorrow. They are a little younger so will definitely take them on the ones recommended. Thank you.

  31. Amanda says:

    I’m planning to visit Disneyland and California Adventure this December. I’m so excited to experience it during the holidays. My daughter will be 15months old at that time. Can you possibly tell me which of the rides/attractions will be safe for me to carry her in my lap? Specifically, I’d really like to see the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion. I’d appreciate your help, thank you! By the way, really enjoying your blog..

    • Amanda says:

      Sorry i forgot to mention she’s 30″ tall now so I don’t imagine she’ll be more than 33″ by then..

  32. Adam says:

    We visited Walt Disney World last year and loved it. Our 6 year old loved the Goofy Barnstormer ride. Are there any of these type of roller coaster rides for his age at Disneyland? We are going in 2 weeks. Thanks.

  33. Adam says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Gadget’s Go Coaster. I wanted to double check if DCA and DL have their Fastpasses connected. In other words, can I have a Fastpass in DCA the same time I have a Fastpass in DL? I seem to be getting mixed answers from people. My idea is to go over to DCA on my own and get Radiator Racer passes (I hear they go in the first couple of hours) and then meet back with my family and we go over to Disneyland and do Fastpasses there. We then go back over to DCA later and ride the Racers. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  35. fgth says:

    Hi and thanks for your site

    For a French family having visited Disneyland Paris more that 40 times since 1992, do you recommend to do “duplicate rides” like Space Mountain (sorry to say that but the Paris version is far better :-D), Pirates of the Carribean, or Haunted Mansion (phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris). We will be visiting DLR in June 2015 and we will only have two days, so the question is important for us.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      You just listed 3 of my favorite attractions at both parks, and I think each of these three differs substantially enough between the two parks to make it worthwhile to do them at Disneyland when you visit.

      The Paris version of Space Mountain is definitely cooler, but it’s also more painful. That ride is rough!

      • marsha says:

        I hurt my neck on the Space Mountain ride in Disneyworld as did my doctor. Is the Disneyland ride any gentler?

  36. Edmond says:

    Man, this is the 2nd time today I’ve read/heard someone say they don’t like Captain EO … I guess it’s the nostalgia talking but I love it! I’m taking my wife to Disneyland next month (her first time ever) and the more I read of this blog the more excited I get .. I cannot wait 😀

  37. Cats says:

    Hi Tom, super happy to find your blog. Am planning a 4 day trip to see Disneyland and California Adventure end of October 2014. I am very excited as we are all first timers on this trip. My parents, hubby and 2 daughters aged 2 and 6. Any tips to save tickets? Would my 2 yr old daughter enjoy any rides at all? My daughters are looking forward to go trick or treating. Is it worth to pay the additional price to attend the after party? Thanks. So many questions. Excited much.

  38. Karen Carter-Barron says:

    I’m going to Disneyland in October and I want to say that I like your rating system. I’ll be using it as a guide when we go! THANX!! ☺

  39. brownie says:

    I have been having a blast reading through your blog! I am taking my 8 year old to dl early next year for her first time and am doing everything I can to hopefully make her trip as special as it always has been for me! Something I’d like to add is that there are certain rides that are way more fun if you ride in front, and that I have found over the years that big thunder is immensely more enjoyable if you ride in the very back. Hope that’s still true anyway, as I haven’t been since the referb. Thanks for all the fun reading!!

  40. Sky says:

    went there yesterday. still here :)

  41. Christoph says:

    Hi, you write “Many guests, mostly communists, find this attraction [the Lincoln ride] boring” – what would make me a communist so I should not bother?

  42. Bear says:

    My cousin worked on that Indiana Jones ride he talked about the HUGE party that went on the night before the ride opened. I also remember there were hieroglyphics you could decipher that I never had time to figure out. But I really liked it.

    My one Disneyland tip is if you can go when it rains… shorter lines. And best of all go on Superbowl Sunday. The place is pretty much EMPTY aside from foreigners!

    And yeah a lot of the rides are dated but I like them that way all that nostalgia coming back. I tip my hat to the Alice ride too brings back LOADS of memories. And lord knows it will be a sad day when I can no longer go to hell in Fantasyland.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Haha, about the rain comments. So true–Californians are deathly afraid of the rain!

      It sounds as if Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride will soon be receiving a modernization, so the day you can’t go to hell in Fantasyland shouldn’t be any time soon! :)

  43. Leeta says:

    I LOVE your site! I’ve been going to Disneyland since 1959 (yeah, I’m getting up there). I’ve also taken my children there numerous times over the years and I really can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been there. Growing up in Southern California was a blessing, at the time, even getting to go on “Grad Night.” We’ve lived out of state for many years, but Disney was always a vacation destination.

    My adult daughter, my best friend (who has never been) and her 9 year old granddaughter are going next month in March. I’m treating my friend and her granddaughter, who will be having a birthday, to a experience that I know the little one will never forget. Do you have any tips on what special things are/can be done for children’s birthdays? I want this to be a special trip for both the Grandmother and Grandchild.

    Again, you do an awesome job. Thanks!

    • Marcia says:

      I have a 9-year-old, so I know your young friend will love it! She will be old enough to ride just about anything, and young enough to just enjoy it.

      You can get a birthday button at City Hall, no charge. I went once on my birthday (I got my button at the ticket window actually, so it’s worth asking there to possibly avoid the City Hall line). With the button, she will get many, many “happy birthdays” from cast members and other guests. Simple, but so special.

      I’d say treat her to a kitchen sink sundae. We liked the Oswald. Big enough for all of you to share.

      My 9-year-old loves pin trading. Tom has a post dedicated to that. A set of pins to bring and trade would be a neat present (if anyone is looking for ideas of what to get the birthday girl to use at DL).

      I heard the Dapper Dans sing Happy Birthday to someone last time I was there.

  44. savanna says:

    we will making our first trip to DL in a couple weeks, of course during a busy time. The tickets were purchased for us because they it’s a must go place. We wouldn’t have been able to go if it wasn’t for my husband’s boss and his son. We only have one day and want to make the best of it. We still haven’t told our 11 year old that she’s going to DL! I want to see if we can get the $ for an extra day so we can get a good experience without feeling rushed or go to Disney California adventures while we are there. I did go to DW when I was little buut I don’t remember it much. I wrote down your list of things to do! Thank You! Do you think 2 days at DL would be better than 1 day at DL and 1 day at DCA??

  45. Jedi Tev says:

    I thought they closed Toon Town down for a Star Wars themed area, is this true? I’m heading there in a couple of weeks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Toontown is still open. The rumor is that Star Wars Land will replace it, but as of now that’s just a rumor. Expect Toontown to be open the rest of the year.

  46. Crystle says:

    My husband and I are headed there with our 6 1/2, 5, and 2 1/2 year olds on Monday! I went back in ’87, but don’t really count that, and he’s never been before, so it will be an experience to remember for sure! Your website has been invaluable for us in our planning, thank you for taking the time to write up and review all of the rides and restaurants – and I LOVE then sense of humor in the reviews!

    I am curious, do you think Toontown is worth taking the time to go see, or would it be better spent elsewhere? We will for sure be in DL for 2 days, DCA for 1, and we’re undecided on the 4th day where we’ll go. I’d love advice if you have the time.


  47. Bob says:

    It’s a little late for Crystle, but I personally think the only thing in Toontown worth waiting in line for is Roger Rabbit (largely because the queue for that ride is a serious contender for best theming in the entire park, though to my mind Indiana Jones just barely edges it out). If there’s no line to get in (often there won’t be), Mickey’s House, Minnie’s House, and Donald’s Boat are worth seeing once, as is the theming of the Toontown area in general. Avoid Gadget’s Go Coaster at all costs; 4/10 is FAR too generous. The ride is very short compared to the wait time, but it’s also so rough you won’t want it to last even as long as it does. If I were told “you can get into Disneyland an hour early, but you have to ride Gadget’s Go Coaster” I’d say “no thanks, I’ll wait.”

  48. Monique says:

    What’s a good day plan of fun and romance for a couple only at Disneyland? Any ideas?

  49. Joanna says:

    I am wondering if there are any roads less traveled within the park. We have enjoyed theme parks that have had walking paths that not as many people have known about. Does Disneyland have any paths like this, that we can enjoy as we move around the park…especially because we will be visiting during the crowded month of July?

  50. Kathleen says:

    I go to Disneyland,California in August and I’m doing research on what rides to do. So your list was very helpful. Thanks!

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