The Top 10 Best Rides at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure

Are you planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort in California? Do you want to know which rides and attractions are must-sees at the two theme parks? Herewith is a list of the ten very best Disneyland rides (plus two honorable mentions).

While we are on the subject of what's best at The Mouse, you may want to take a look at Disneyland's best table-service restaurants, best quick-service restaurants, and best snacks and desserts

  • 01 of 12
    Pirates of the Caribbean ride
    ••• gwaar/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2.5 - Small splashdowns, mildly frightening images.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: New Orleans Square in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: No

    It's one of the most famous rides -- and it inspired one of the most successful movie franchises (whose characters were, in turn, incorporated back into the ride). It's a glorious tour-de-force in theme park storytelling. While its younger sibling in Florida's Walt Disney World is also great, the California original is longer and considerably better.

  • 02 of 12
    Disneyland Haunted Mansion
    ••• Disney. Used with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5 - More silly than scary, buy young children may find it disconcerting.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: New Orleans Square in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: No

    Opened soon after Pirates of the Caribbean (although it was many years in the making), Haunted Mansion is another landmark Imagineering achievement. The classic ride still holds up well after all these years (thanks in part to ongoing plussing, such as the reintroduction of the Hatbox Ghost).

  • 03 of 12
    Indiana Jones Adventure
    ••• Disney.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4.5 - It's not a coaster, but the vehicles are somewhat aggressive, the sets can be dark, and the action can be scary for younger passengers.
    • Height Requirement: 46 inches
    • Location: Adventureland in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: Yes

    Based on the popular movie series, Indiana Jones Adventure is a fabulously themed attraction with a groundbreaking ride system. It is an E-Ticket in every sense of the word.

  • 04 of 12
    Tower of Terror
    ••• Kirt Edblom/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7 - Multiple freefall drops and launches, sensations of weightlessness, psychological thrills.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot in Disney's California Adventure
    • Fastpass: Yes

    At its core, the Tower of Terror is a freefall ride. But with its compelling storyline and special effects, it is so much more than that. It is a modern-day classic from the Disney Imagineers.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12
    Radiator Springs Racers Sign
    ••• Sam Howzit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5 - Fast, but not crazy-fast, action with a hint of coaster-like airtime.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: In Cars Land at Disney California Adventure
    • Fastpass: Yes

    Part immersive storytelling dark ride, part thrill ride, Radiator Springs Racers perfectly blends the classic theme park attraction features to deliver a remarkable experience in the grand tradition of E-Ticket rides. Based on the charming Pixar film, Cars.

  • 06 of 12

    Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

    Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
    ••• Disney. Used with permission.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 2 - Some scenes are dark, loud, and could be a tad frightening to wee ones.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Tomorrowland in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: No

    The Submarine Voyage, a classic ride that dated back to Disneyland's earliest years, was decommissioned in 1998 and left for dead. Along came a plucky clownfish to save the day. Now featuring a Finding Nemo story, it is better than ever and utterly charming.

  • 07 of 12
    Soarin' Over California (Nightime)
    ••• Sam Thompson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy! 10=Yikes!): 2.5 - Gentle motion simulation, moderate height and "soaring" simulation.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Golden State in Disney's California Adventure
    • Fastpass: Yes

    What a rush! The ride system, combined with the immersive domed screen, makes for a giddy experience. In 2016, Disney changed the content. Instead of focusing on California, the attraction now takes guests soarin' around the world.

  • 08 of 12
    Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
    ••• Loren Javier/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4.5 - Relatively mild motion simulator thrills. Those prone to motion sickness may experience discomfort (although closing your eyes should quell any queasiness).
    • Height requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Tomorrowland at Disneyland
    • Fastpass: Yes

    The first motion simulator attraction in a major theme park, Star Tours got a major overhaul in 2011 that improved it dramatically. With its reprogrammable content, Disney is able to incorporate new footage featuring the latest Star Wars films.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12
    Space Mountain at Disneyland
    ••• Disney.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 4.5 - Coaster turns and dips (although no big drops); illusions of high speed; darkness hides track and riders don't know what's coming next.
    • Height Requirement: 40 inches
    • Location: Tomorrowland in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: Yes

    The classic indoor coaster got a major makeover in 2005 that made the ride much smoother, the interior darker, and the whole experience more of a seamless blast through the cosmos. Without the effects, it's a fairly poky junior coaster; with the Imagineers' pixie dust, it's an exhilarating mind-bender of a ride.

  • 10 of 12
    Toy Story Mania
    ••• Disney.
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 1.5 - The ride vehicles move somewhat quickly and partially spin. 
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Paradise Pier in Disney's California Adventure
    • Fastpass: No

    I'm not a huge fan of interactive shoot-em-up dark rides, but Toy Story Mania is quite a hoot. Gamers and non-gamers alike will adore it.

  • 11 of 12

    It's a Small World

    It's A Small World
    ••• matt evans/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Honorable Mention

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0 - Virtually no thrills
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Fantasyland in Disneyland
    • Fastpass: No

    One of Disney's rides that debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair, "It's a Small World" is one of the world's most famous theme park rides -- and features one of the world's most famous (and annoying) songs.

  • 12 of 12
    Disney California Adventure - Turtle Talk with Crush!
    ••• Jeremy Thompson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Honorable Mention

    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 0 - This is a charming show with no gotchas or scary moments.
    • Height Requirement: None
    • Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot in Disney's California Adventure
    • Fastpass: No

    Some might find it odd to choose the "Finding Nemo"-themed show above classics such as Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain for a top-12 list of best Disneyland attractions. But Turtle Talk with Crush, which features real-time animation and audience interaction, is a wild Imaginnering breakthrough.