This list ranks all 67 attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, with pros & cons of every ride and show as we rate them from worst to best. Whether it’s a Walt-era classic like Matterhorn, new like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, or even something straightforward yet iconic like Dumbo, it’s ranked here. (Updated February 26, 2023.)
What we’re trying to accomplish is an objective assessment of every attraction, determining how good or bad it is, for what it is. A ride like Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, for example, may look like fairly simple amusement park fare, but it offers joy, humor, and ear-worm songs that exceed expectations. By contrast, Grizzly River Run is a bigger budget attraction that squanders its potential, underdelivering in the process.
It’s hard to view two dramatically different attractions like those (and others), and determine which is better. Of course, subjectivity comes into play to a degree in resolving those questions, and disagreements are unavoidable. To that end, we’re incorporating into this list several lessons learned from our Rankings of All Attractions at Walt Disney World.
February 26, 2023 Update: A lot has changed since our last re-rankings, and almost all of it has been positive. For starters, two new nighttime spectaculars have debuted for the 100 Years of Wonder (or Disney100). Consult our Guide to Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration at Disneyland & DCA for everything you need to know about that.
In addition to that, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has debuted in Toontown. Speaking of which, that land is otherwise still closed for reimagining, meaning Toontown’s other rides are not ranked here. We’ll return for another update next month following its reopening and, presumably, the closure of Splash Mountain.
One lesson learned from our list ranking Walt Disney World attractions was that if someone strongly disagrees with an internet blog post of theme park ride rankings, they will insult you. Still not sure why such a list would be that upsetting for anyone, but to each their own. Even with half of social media calling you an “idiot” for the list, it’s fun to attempt. It’s likewise fascinating to read the reactions as to how other Disney fans would rank their top and bottom picks.
The larger lesson learned was that trying to discount nostalgic biases was a mistake. It turns out the people most inclined to read a list like this are likewise nostalgic. It’s also true that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that some attractions possess, which turns them into fan favorites. This “secret sauce” may be inarticulable at times, but its very existence is an objective quality.
To that point, a list ranking Disneyland attractions definitely needs to take nostalgia into account. Even for a first-time visitor, it’s obvious that the castle park is steeped in history and traditions. Even decades later, this is still “Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom,” and the charm and quaintness are part and parcel of the experience. In any case, lessons learned and adjustments applied here.
67. Jumpin’ Jellyfish — Kiddie “drop” ride that slowly goes up and down. Offers neat views and might be thrilling to small children.
66. Astro Orbitor – Spinner ride similar to Dumbo, except not iconic.
65. Jessie’s Critter Carousel — It’s a carousel.
64. King Arthur Carrousel – It’s also a carousel, but with an extra “r” in its name that pushes it up a spot. (Kidding–it’s the castle view that gives it the bump.)
63. Golden Zephyr — Neat views of Pixar Pier, but it has nothing on the nearby Silly Symphony Swings. Do that twice instead of this once if you desire more aerial spinning.
62. Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind – The amount of time spent on such a pedestrian attraction is mind-boggling. Inside Out deserves better–and could’ve gotten it for the budget blown on this.
61. Disney Junior Dance Party —A musical celebration featuring Disney Junior characters, including Doc McStuffins, Vampirina, and Timon. Mickey and Minnie Mouse even drive in from Hot Dog Hills to join the fun, which is a good warm-up for a fine feast at Award Wieners.
60. Pixar Pal-Around — It’s “only” a Ferris Wheel and arguably the best thing about it is how it adds to the Pixar Pier “skyline” at night from across the bay, but there’s something to be said for that view high above Disneyland Resort with the San Gabriel Mountains (especially when they’re snow-capped) in the distance.
59. Silly Symphony Swings — A dressed-up off-the-shelf ‘wave swinger’ attraction that spins guests in circles. It sounds simple, but thanks to the music, views, and breeze on your body, it has a calming and smile-inducing effect. Make a stop at nearby Bayside Brews beforehand for the ultimate in swinging sublimity.
58. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters — This replaced Luigi’s Flying Tires, and was the first trackless ride in the U.S. Disney Parks. It features cute little roadsters “dancing” around the course, with a fun finish. It’s charming, but you’ll likely leave with the feel that it doesn’t live up to its promise. Still, it scores points for not stinking!
57. Goofy’s Sky School — Garish wild mouse coaster that replaced an even more garish wild mouse coaster. The inclusion of Goofy is neat (even if the farm/sky school thing makes little sense) and the ride is mildly thrilling, though.
56. Autopia – A Disneyland classic that gives kids the chance to drive through a large track and lush environments. The addition of ASIMO and Bird to Autopia give it new life, and really improve the experience. However, it remains a relic from another era, with the biggest downside weighing it down being the overwhelming and almost intoxicating stench.
55. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – A rudimentary dark ride that feels like it was built in the 1960s, but is actually (supposedly) modern. Winnie the Pooh and crew are great, but the Country Bears were evicted for this?!
54. Tom Sawyer Island – An entire island play area for kids that harkens back to a bygone area. It’s really well done, and a great place for kids to blow off energy. Adults may enjoy the tranquility of the island, too. Worlds away from the chaos of a theme park. Also, there are pirates.
53. Animation Academy — The highlight of the Animation Building at Disney California Adventure, and might even be considered a hidden gem. The animation classes are fun and education, and the exhibits throughout the building are neat diversions.
52. Turtle Talk with Crush — An interactive digital show with Crush “inside” a tank as he interacts with kids in the audience. Although the interactions are with kids, the humor is often geared towards adults, and this Living Character Initiative based show is surprisingly fun for all ages.
51. Mad Tea Party – This spinner punches well above its weight because it’s simply so iconic. Whirling around with views of Fantasyland and the Matterhorn while the California sun flitters in is something every Disneyland visitor should experience.
50. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue — This is another newer dark ride that feels like it’s from the 1960s, which is obviously not possible here (absent a time machine) since this movie didn’t come out until the 2000s. Still cute and charming, but nothing flashy from a tech perspective.
49. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey – This Fantasyland dark ride doesn’t have the fans or following as the others, but we love it. Some fun details, practical effects that still impress, and fun scenes.
48. Sailing Ship Columbia – A relaxing float around the Rivers of America aboard what basically amounts to a pirate ship. What’s not to love?!
47. Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes – After chowing down on a corn dog, fried chicken, lobster mac, and Monte Cristo, this physically strenuous experience of paddling an actual canoe on the Rivers of America makes me feel a little better about my poor dining decisions. Others may vehemently disagree with that assessment, but we find it fun and a wonderful change of pace. I also love that something like this still exists in a modern theme park.
46. Mark Twain Riverboat – Another relaxing way to float around the Rivers of America. It’s like the Explorer Canoes, but without doing the work of powering the boat yourself!
45. Disneyland Monorail – Enjoyment of the Disneyland Monorail is very much situational. Taking it as a shortcut through Downtown Disney on a pleasant evening? It’s a sublime experience; a great way to enter Disneyland. Riding from Tomorrowland in the middle of a hot day while looking out onto Harbor Boulevard? Not so much.
44. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – A perfect example of how an ordinary amusement park more can transcend its ride system and be something more with clever Imagineering. Mater hosts his junkyard jamboree, with kitschy crap in the queue and nonsensical songs that’ll get stuck in your head. That may not sound like a great sales pitch for Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, but it’s a real diamond in the rough. Or at least a lightly damaged chrome hubcap in the junkyard.
43. Dumbo – The iconic spinner ride is a classic and rite of passage for all children. With views of Fantasyland and Sleeping Beauty Castle, it’s hard not to feel like a kid at heart while riding, especially if you do so at night when Disneyland is all lit up and there’s a crisp breeze in the air. Pure Disneyland magic.
42. Mickey’s PhilharMagic – Added to Disney California Adventure about a decade too late, this 3D montage film still fills a nice roll. It features movies mostly from the “Disney Animation Renaissance” cleverly tied together with Donald Duck. Children of the 90s are still sure to enjoy this film. The latest update adding Coco bumps it up a few spots.
41. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure — Possibly ranks higher than it should because DCA is seriously lacking in family-friendly dark rides. Nevertheless, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is a classic Fantasyland-style attraction with 21st century technology. It’s not the most immersive attraction and the “book report” style drags it down as compared to the classics, but it’s still very enjoyable.
40. Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-Through – 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.
39. Red Car Trolleys – Modeled after the Pacific Electric Railway, these scenic trolleys travel between Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land. While nothing fancy, the Red Car Trolleys immerse guests in a bygone era of California, and allow you to slow down and savor the park.
38. Main Street Vehicles – Like the Red Car Trolley, but not on a track. These cars score added points for views of Main Street at Disneyland, which is best enjoyed from the upper deck of the Omnibus.
37. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail — When Disney originally created Disney California Adventure, they did the Golden State area right. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is evidence of this, as it’s a beautiful play area to explore. Check out the elevated rope bridges for great views of the park!
36. Casey Jr. Circus Train – This scenic train ride gives guests the chance to ride aboard cars or in cages. Casey Jr. 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. It’s tough to reconcile how this ranks 10 lower than Storybook Land Canal Boats as they’re similar experiences–we simply prefer the boats, even though we really enjoy both.
35. Grizzly River Run — This takes the white water raft ride concept to the next level, offering some beautiful visuals along the way. While I think the beautiful details found in Grizzly River Run are great, it would nice to see a bit more to make this a “next level” Disney attraction. Still, it’s something you should experience at least once if you don’t mind being soaked!
34. Toy Story Midway Mania — A 3D screen-based shooter game with Toy Story characters that is (literally) also available for the Nintendo Wii. It’s a fun game-based attraction, but it’s too one-dimensional and not nearly as good as the hype suggests.
33. Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters – Another interactive and competitive game-attraction set in the Toy Story universe. Dimensional sets and practical effects make this slightly superior to Toy Story Mania. Working blasters, a better scoring system, and cleanliness make it far superior to the Walt Disney World version of the same attraction.
32. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – This is the “do as we say, not as we do” ranking. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage takes guests aboard actual submarines to…find Nemo. It’s a relatively long attraction with some awesome sets and detail. However, the wait times can be long, the queue is incredibly boring and entirely outdoors, and the subs themselves are cramped and often smell of BO. We love the idea of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, but don’t do it very often because the actually experience is a bit of a chore and can be unpleasant.
31. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln – Another Disneyland classic that is only appreciated by a minority of guests, but scores big points for its enduring legacy. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln incorporates some of the best elements of Hall of Presidents and the American Adventure at Walt Disney World, for an engaging and entertaining historical presentation.
30. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – A 15-minute musical serenade from Audio Animatronics birds that 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.
29. Tale of the Lion King – This stage show in Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre near it’s a small world features a cast of around 20 performers, including incredibly talented singers, dancers, and drummers. It’s a reinterpretation of the Lion King, with a story-theatre approach using dialogue, song, dance and live percussion to tell the story of Simba’s journey.
It features unique arrangements of “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Tale of the Lion King uses colorful costume designs, scenery, dancing, and Swahili to present a culturally-rooted twist on the story. Tale of the Lion King is an incredibly well done production–more than a straightforward retelling of the movie. This high energy show also offers a change of pace from montage shows with something for everyone that should appeal to the whole family.
28. Storybook Land Canal Boats – Another 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. This attraction may seem simple, and it is–as with Disneyland, that’s part of the charm.
27. Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure – If Toy Story Mania is like a Wii game on wheels, this is like an Xbox Kinect game on wheels. The experience is high energy and fun, with an amusing premise, pre-show, and non-stop action. It’s a tad disappointing as the anchor attraction for Avengers Campus, but it’s still a solid addition to DCA.
26. Incredicoaster — Formerly California Screamin, this roller coaster has been rebranded as the Incredicoaster, and props from the Incredibles have been scattered around its track. None of this is an upgrade in any way whatsoever, but this is still the best coaster you’ll experience in a United States Disney theme park. Ultimately, Incredicoaster is a ride more about thrills and fun than it is about Disney attention to detail–but that’s good enough.
25. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – This quaint Fantasyland dark ride goes into the irreverent world of Mr. Toad from the Wind and the Willows. On what other Disney attraction do you visit a bar, declared guilty in a court of law, die in a truck accident, and go to hell?! Quite simply, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride would never be built today. It’s arguably something special that hits with today’s audiences because of that, rather than in spite of it.
24. Disneyland Railroad – Not only does Disneyland Railroad have a scene with real (okay, Audio Animatronics) dinosaurs called Primeval World, but it has lovely scenery, and the history of being Walt Disney’s railroad. We do Disneyland Railroad more than any other attraction on this list, but recognize it’s not a “sexy” ride that will appeal to everyone.
23. Jungle Cruise – A boat ride through the rivers of Adventureland that encounters hippos, lions, and piranhas, and a lot of monkeys following the recent reimagining. The highlight has thus become 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.
22. Snow White’s Enchanted Wish – With the reimagining, Disney Imagineers took the weakest of the Fantasyland dark rides and turned it from something dated and disjointed into something with fun flow, impressive effects, and a few magical moments. Relatively simple, but shockingly effective, improvements cause it to jump up the list.
21. ‘it’s a small world’ – You already have an opinion on this one, and you probably love it or hate it. For us, this is the quintessential Disneyland ride. An outdoor queue and boarding area that takes advantage of the Southern California setting, followed by the iconic (or infamous) attraction featuring the children of the world and that oh-so divisive song. While there are some things the Florida version does better, we love ‘it’s a small world’ at Disneyland. Plus, ‘it’s a small world’ holiday is not to be missed–an improvement upon the original.
20. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – The ‘supporting’ player for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is definitely not a perfect attraction. The interactivity is a mixed bag and a gameplay-centric ride is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, there’s a lot to like about Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run beyond the game/ride experience. The queue is beautiful, the pre-show is impressive, and stepping foot into the Millennium Falcon while waiting to board the ride is arguably the highlight of the attraction as a whole.
19. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – This 3D motion simulator montage ride through various locations in the Star Wars universe was recently updated to include scenes from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and tie into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Those updates have made Star Tours’ story more cohesive, and the attraction is arguably better than Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. (We don’t think so, but the case could be made.)
18. Matterhorn – If you’re looking for a roller coaster that will deliver physical pain, Matterhorn is for you! That’s not really a joke, and is what drags Matterhorn down from its rightful place in the top 10. In theory, the Matterhorn is perfect. A great track layout, stunning views, and cool show scenes punctuated by brief yeti encounters. Even though it’s lower tech, the Matterhorn was Expedition Everest decades before the latter was even conceived. The problem is that it can inflict some real punishment on your back, and we hesitate to ride as a result.
17. Alice in Wonderland – Another Fantasyland dark ride that was recently re-imagined and updated, this one takes guests into the world of Alice in Wonderland. This is our favorite, and we’re not even fans of Alice in Wonderland. There’s something to be said for the indoor/outdoor nature, and it scores added points for being unique to Disneyland. Nevertheless, it’s not as objectively good as Peter Pan’s Flight.
16. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – The newest addition to Disneyland, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway has turned Toontown into a bona fide land on par with its counterparts. Runaway Railway features a series of loosely-connected vignettes in a variety of environments, with a tremendous range in the settings.
The pacing is fairly frenetic and disorienting at points, but in a sense, the ride is very much in keeping with how a cartoon would bounce around. It also boasts an earworm of an original song that’ll have you humming for hours afterwards. Runaway Railway is the next generation dark ride that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the classics in Fantasyland at Disneyland.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! — Ardent Marvel fans will claim it deserves a spot in the top 5, whereas its detractors will argue it’s a clear downgrade from its predecessor, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Our view is somewhere in between. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! is way better than we expected, but doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Nevertheless, the pre-show is good, the premise generally works, and the ride is undeniably fun.
14. Space Mountain – A dark rollercoaster through space with cool details, including a blast-off tunnel and on-board music to spice up the experience. While it lacks the pre-show and post-show appeal of its Walt Disney World sibling, the on-ride experience is significantly better (and arguably taken up a notch by the campy Hyperspace Mountain and Ghost Galaxy incarnations of the attraction).
13. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – 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!” 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).
12. Soarin’ – California > The World. DCA rotates between the two versions, with the original Soarin’ Over California only running in March and April (typically) while the newer Soarin’ Around the World is shown the rest of the year. The OG Soarin’ ranks considerably higher than the newer version (we’d put that around #20), which might be our bias towards California speaking. It’s more likely because the original is dragged down by distortion, an overuse of CGI that pulls you out of the moment, and cheesy animal transitions. We like Soarin’ Around the World, but we’ll take flying above the real versions of Anza-Borrego, Yosemite, Tahoe, Malibu, Camarillo, Los Angeles, etc. over a bent, totally fake Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, etc., in a heartbeat. It’s really no contest.
11. Peter Pan’s Flight – Soarin’ Over London & Neverland isn’t quite as majestic as flying above California, but Peter Pan’s Flight scores big points for its sense of nostalgia and reimagined practical sets. It’s the perfect Fantasyland dark ride, with new effects and superior maintenance that helps it achieve true suspension of disbelief, and something guests of all ages will love.
10. Splash Mountain – This log flume ride features a story from Disney’s Song of the South film, with a great range in environments, catchy music, and moody atmosphere—all of which culminates with a big drop into the briar patch. As with the Walt Disney World version, it features an impressive lineup of Audio Animatronics figures. The only downside is that the pacing is a bit too fast, guests get too wet, and the story is a bit disjointed. Still, it’s a must-see, and one of Disneyland’s best attractions.
9. World of Color ONE – The entertainment spectaculars are ranked consecutively here, which started out as a happy accident and turned into a purposeful decision upon realizing that makes them easier (for you) to compare and prioritize. If being totally objective and attempting the difficult task of comparing entertainment to rides, this might move down a slot.
World of Color – ONE is the Disney100 version of the beloved mixed media nighttime spectacular in Disney California Adventure. When it comes to the narrative, songs, or movies featured, ONE is not quite as good as ‘classic’ World of Color, and falls a slot as a result of that. Nevertheless, World of Color – ONE features 90% of what makes the original version of this nighttime spectacular so beloved.
Featuring projections, fire, and other amazing effects, the dancing fountains of Paradise Bay present a jaw-droppingly beautiful montage presentation of Disney animated classics. There’s no story to speak of and the vignettes arguably drag on a bit too long, but you will be so blown away and entranced by the colorful fountains, projections, and other visuals that you’re unlikely to notice. World of Color is the perfect way to end a day at Disney California Adventure.
8. Wondrous Journeys – This is the Disney100 fireworks show at Disneyland, which sometimes includes pyro and sometimes does not. Wondrous Journeys is a love letter to the history of Walt Disney Animation Studios, and makes a strong case for the title of best movie montage nighttime spectacular of all time. Not just at Disneyland, but anywhere…ever…period.
Everything about Wondrous Journeys is amazing, from the original song to the way the movie songs are weaved together to the show’s arc–everything. Normally, a fireworks should would have a tough time beating World of Color, but this is no ordinary fireworks show. Suffice to say, Wondrous Journeys is to Disneyland what Happily Ever After is to Magic Kingdom. Except with Baymax, Blue Fairy, and arguably even a more cohesive narrative thread. (But minus the big ‘ole castle!)
7. Magic Happens Parade – The newest daytime parade at Disneyland, Magic Happens debuted 3 years ago before going on a nearly 3-year hiatus. Suffice to say, the parade still feels brand new, with great original music, inventive floats, and passionate performers. Magic Happens is an ambitious yet intimate production, with a healthy mix of characters from both new and classic movies.
It’s really difficult to compare to World of Color or fireworks, as those are like dessert after a long day and this is like an entree; as with that comparison, Magic Happens is the more substantive of the entertainment options, whereas Wondrous Journeys and World of Color are sweet and satisfying ways to end the day!
6. Fantasmic! – The fan-favorite nighttime spectacular that’s been running for several decades at Disneyland, Fantasmic is hugely popular for a reason. It’s shown in the evening, but it’s totally incomparable to other nighttime spectaculars–more like a stage show mixed with a water parade mixed with World of Color and fireworks. Fantasmic is basically grab bag of the highlights from every other entertainment production all rolled into one amazing production.
The setting on Rivers of America is perfect, and the Pirates of the Caribbean battle scene on the Sailing Ship Columbia plus huge Maleficent dragon make Fantasmic a masterpiece that Disneyland regulars revisit again and again. If you only see one entertainment production at Disneyland (a big mistake), make it Fantasmic. It’s worth the effort or buying the dining package.
5. Radiator Springs Racers — Anything in the top 5 could be our favorite attraction at Disneyland Resort. They are all that good, but it would probably be too much of a cop-out to rank them all as tied for #1. Radiator Springs Racers is easily the best attraction at Disney California Adventure.
Radiator Springs Racers features an exquisitely-staged dark ride through Radiator Springs, which is bookended by a leisurely drive and race through Ornament Valley. The attraction offers the best elements of both a thrill ride and dark ride, the pacing is perfect, and the visuals are impressive. All of this culminates in an experience that is incredibly satisfying. As with the other top 5 entries, we could do Radiator Springs Racers again and again without ever getting sick of it, noticing new details with each ride-through.
4. Indiana Jones Adventure – Prior to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this was the most revolutionary addition to Disneyland in decades. Indiana Jones Adventure was a generation-defining attraction and paved the way not just for future rides, but influenced entire lands. Everything about this thrilling ride is excellent. The queue setting the tone, the humorous pre-show, and the daring journey aboard a transport vehicle deep into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in search of unimaginable rewards. As Sallah would (and does) say, “it is unlike anything you have ever experienced, I assure you!”
3. Haunted Mansion – On our Walt Disney World list, Haunted Mansion is tied for the number one slot. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is inferior to that in some ways, but superior to that in some ways. a slow-moving dark ride that is home to 999 happy haunts that are dying to meet you. No further explanation or praise is necessary. You’re living under a rock if you aren’t familiar with the premise of the Haunted Mansion and what makes it so special. It’s unlikely that rock-dwellers are reading this list. Then there’s the seasonal Haunted Mansion Holiday, which itself would crack the top 15 of this list if it were ranked separately.
T1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – A revolutionary feat of Imagineering that redefines what a theme park attraction can be. It blurs the boundaries of queue, pre-show, attraction, and puts guests in the middle of an intergalactic adventure. It carries Disneyland forward into a new generation, building on the lessons learned with Indiana Jones Adventure for something iconic that will become this era’s Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion.
What makes Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance so mind-blowing is massive set pieces and a slew of how did they do that moments. The result with Rise of the Resistance is something epic in scale that feels more like an interactive blockbuster film than it does a traditional theme park ride. (Read our spoiler-free Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Review for more.)
T1. Pirates of the Caribbean – If you’ve only done the Magic Kingdom version of this boat ride, you haven’t truly experienced Pirates of the Caribbean. This significantly longer version features a frame narrative (think Heart of Darkness) that establishes a foreboding atmosphere and presents what’s to come as a cautionary tale. What follows is a series of vignettes featuring Audio Animatronics pirates engaging in swashbuckling mayhem in huge and impressive sets of a burning town.
The attraction deftly balances lighthearted humor alongside the dastardly deeds of pirates in what should be a jarring juxtaposition, but it just works. Pirates of the Caribbean is a quintessential slice of mid-century Americana, and with that a sometimes cavalier attitude that has landed the attraction in hot water (so to speak) with modern audiences. Nevertheless, it continues to resonate, immersing guests in a pirate attack while also delivering personality and emotion.
What’s perhaps most interesting about the two #1 attractions here is that both evoke similar sensations of being in the midst of a movie’s filming. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance feels like a modern blockbuster with mind-blowing SFX and frenetic energy. Pirates of the Caribbean is like a classic of a different era–somewhat indecent and with dated effects, but engaging storytelling plus so much charm and personality that you don’t even notice it’s a half-century old.
Obviously, no one is going to have identical rankings of every single Disneyland and Disney California Adventure attraction. With that said, which rankings on our list do you really agree or really disagree with? Which rides and shows do you think are overrated or underrated? What makes your top 10 and bottom 5? We’re ready to hear friendly and spirited debate about a lighthearted topic that ultimately doesn’t matter, so please share your thoughts in the comments—even if you disagree with all of our ride rankings and think this list is totally idiotic!