The Most Popular Disneyland Rides

You May Want to Avoid Some of These Popular Rides

Finding Nemo Ride at Disneyland
••• Finding Nemo Ride at Disneyland. ©Betsy Malloy Photography

This is simply a list of the most popular attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. You may want to use it to be sure you don't miss out on anything — or so you can avoid all those long lines.

If a ride has a Fastpass option, it's because it's popular. Most of the rides listed below offer Fastpasses, which will cut your time standing in line. Find out how they work in this FASTPASS guide. A few rides that everyone loves don't have Fastpass option and they are noted in the description.

Along with the list, I'll give you my best guess about why each one attracts so many people. And why even though they're popular, they may not be for you.

If you want to find out more about Disneyland rides, check the  Best Rides at Disneyland (based on ratings, not popularity),  Disneyland Rides for Kids, and Roller Coasters at Disneyland. If you want to know what's new this year (or in the past few years), check the New Rides at Disneyland

Use this Disneyland Ride Guide to get an overview of all the rides, find ways to have more fun on them, get info height restrictions and accessibility.

The Most Popular Disneyland Rides

In alphabetical order:

Autopia: Autopia is a popular Disneyland ride for every kid who wants to have a driver's license but is too you to get one. For anyone over the age of 10, it's a less than exciting experience.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: It's not a big, scary roller coaster like they have in other theme parks, but Big Thunder is a fun ride, with a little surprise at the end.

It can be a problem for anyone who suffers from motion sickness, or for people who can't tolerate lots of fast turns, drops and jolts.

Haunted Mansion: Almost every Disneyland fan I know says no visit is complete without a trip through the Haunted Mansion. Part of its appeal may be the rich visual environment, so you see something new every time you ride.

The only people who don't like it are afraid of the dark - and small children who find it too scary.

Indiana Jones Adventure: Chasing bad guys (or running from them), a couple of encounters with the famous archaeologist and a generally wild ride draw lots of people to "Indy." The ride is wild and herky-jerky, and not a good idea for anyone who can't tolerate that.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Pirates is another one of those rides that regulars go on every time they visit. It was popular long before the film starring Johnny Depp and even more enjoyable now that three Captain Jacks are lurking around the scenes. It's also a long ride inside a cool place, that's good for a little rest. The biggest drawback is that "Yo ho, yo ho," song that gets stuck in your head.

Space Mountain: It's an indoor roller coaster that zips around in the nearly complete darkness as if you're flying through outer space. It is best enjoyed (in my opinion) in the company of someone else who will scream as loudly as you do at every turn and drop. It's less nausea-inducing than other rides where you see things zipping past you, but it still bothers some people. And it's not a good idea for anyone who can't handle the fast movements, drops, and turns.

Splash Mountain: The signature last drop down the waterfall that ends with a big splash is this ride's big attraction. The rest of the journey is a slow water ride. Because it's so busy with only a little thrill at the end and the wait can be really long, I usually opt to skip it. 

Star Tours: This simulator ride takes you on a wild trip through a Star Wars movie-themed universe. The 3-D is fun and it's designed in segments that combine randomly, so the story is different every time you ride. It's also a ride that's not for anyone who suffers from motion sickness or has issues with the fast, jerky movements.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage doesn't require a FASTPASS, but its lines are always long. Although that's partly because of the way the submarine vehicles load and unload, it's also a very cute trip through Nemo's underwater world.

You have to climb stairs to get in and out, and it may not be a good option for anyone who is claustrophobic - or scared of sharks.

Peter Pan's Flight also has no FASTPASS. It's surprising how popular it is, given that it's an old-style ride that doesn't rely on electronic effects - but that's also its most charming characteristic.