The Golden Zephyr is a simple swing ride, a style that's been around for decades. The cars hang from a superstructure that spins. As the ride speeds up, the cars fly outward over Paradise Bay, then gradually descend as it slows to a stop. It looks a little like the Dumbo and Astro Orbiter rides in Disneyland, but with one difference: Riders can't control the height of their vehicle on the Zephyr.
The views from the ride are nice, especially at night — but some people say the only excitement it generates is a feeling that you could fall into the water. The ride also lacks any Disney theming.
It's a good ride for taking photographs and easy to get shots like the one above. It's also beautiful at night when it's lit up.
The Golden Zephyr ride vehicles look like something out of an old Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon sci-fi movie, all shiny silver with fins.
Golden Zephyr is similar to Silly Symphony Swings, which many visitors like better. Unless you're on a quest to do every single attraction in the park, one or the other of these rides is probably enough.
What You Need to Know about Golden Zephyr
- Location: Paradise Pier
- Rating: ★★★
- Restrictions: None but small children must be able to sit up by themselves.
- Ride Time: 3 minutes
- Recommended for: Families with children up to pre-teen age.
- Fun Factor: Moderate to boring.
- Wait Factor: Low. Most of the time, it's less than 10 minutes.
- Fear Factor: Low for most people. If you get dizzy easily or are afraid of heights, it may not be for you.
- Herky-Jerky Factor: Low to medium. The turns are sharp but not fast, and there are some fast sections. There are no jerky movements, dips, or turns, but the ride vehicle tilts to one side which could be uncomfortable for some people.
- Nausea Factor: Low to medium, depending on your sensitivity. If you tend to get nauseous or dizzy when flying in circles, take your favorite precautions.
- Seating: Ride vehicles look like silver rocket ships. Riders sit rows of two in individual seats. Each car holds 12 people. You have to take two steps up to get in.
- Accessibility: You have to climb one flight of stairs to get to the loading area. If you can't manage that, find a Cast Member and ask them how to get to the boarding level. You'll have to transfer from your wheelchair or ECV to the ride vehicle by yourself or with help from your traveling companions. More about visiting Disneyland in a wheelchair or ECV
How to Have More Fun
- Golden Zephyr may close during bad weather or if there's a breeze of more than about 10 miles per hour. If rain is predicted for later in the day, go before it starts or you'll miss out.
- If you and your riding companion are not the same size, the smaller person can get smashed against the side of the ride vehicle. Watch it before you get on to figure out which side the smaller person should sit on to avoid that.
- Golden Zephyr is one of the California Adventure rides that are best at night.
- Like most rides at Paradise Pier, this one closes early on days when there's a World of Color show. Check the daily schedule to be sure you don't wait too long to ride it.
While you're thinking about rides, you should also download the essential Disneyland Apps (they're all free!) and get some proven tips to minimize your Disneyland wait time.
What is a Zephyr, anyway? The technical definition is a soft, gentle breeze. Which is what you might feel when you're going in circles on it.
If you like seaside amusement parks England, the ride may look vaguely familiar. When they were designing the Zephyr, Disney Imagineers went to the boardwalk at Pleasure Beach in Blackpool to see their "Flying Machines" which have been operating since 1904.
The first ride of this kind was the Harry Traver Circle Swing, created in the early twentieth century.