If you only have one day at Disneyland or the Park is VERY busy, then you may only have time to really see the highlights of the Park rather than everything that is available. With over 30 Rides and attractions available along with firework shows parades and meet and greets it is A LOT to get in. If you are just not going to have time for everything then what do you choose first? What is worth the queue times and what would we really regret missing! Fear not, Our handy top 10 Best Disneyland California Rides and attractions will show you all the ride you just cannot miss out on.
Even on Busy days you should be able to fit all this, along with a few meet and greets, a Parade and the Fireworks show, into one magical, exhausting, day. Especially if you get a MaxPass, which for a one day visit you should definitely do. So sit back and take in our Disneyland MUST NOT MISS Rides and attractions.
Disneyland Park, California
First off this guide is geared SOLEY at Disneyland Park California, if you are visiting the Disney California Adventure, check out our Don’t Miss guide here. Maybe you are really going for it and trying to smash both parks in one day, in which case you need our Disneyland AND DCA Guide here.
If you have a bit longer than a day and want to take in everything this guide may not be for you, you would probably prefer out full-ride guides, Disneyland Ride Guide and Disney California Adventure Ride Guide. But if you are in the right place and are planning a whirlwind trip to Disneyland Park California Below are our Top 10 Rides and attractions not to Miss at Disneyland.
Disneyland is a Themepark like no other, it’s rides and attractions are not all high thrill blockbuster rollercoasters and cutting edge 5D Motion Simulators. The Park focuses on old-fashioned rides that showcase the magic and wonder of Disney. The charm is in the incredible attention to detail and real wonder the imagination can bring. So our list is far from just the biggest flashiest rides in the park, it showcases rides for everyone and rides you will never forget.
After the list, we will take a quick look at what else to make sure you see that is not a ride and how best to plan the day to maximize your time and finally conclude the list with a few extras just in case you get lucky and have a bit more time to kill.
Disneyland California’s Best Rides
Ok let’s begin our countdown of the Disneyland California’s Do Not Miss Rides
10 – Indiana Jones Adventure
A fantastically themed ride from beginning to end. As you first enter the Jungle realm and then enter the lost temple, every effort has been made to recreate a world time left behind. The Ride itself is a fun trip on a typical indy adventure complete with lava, poison darts, and Giant rolling boulders.
9 – The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion is one of Disney’s all-time classic rides. It is an old school ghost train using simple but really clever light tricks from yesteryear to make for a really charming experience and one that really shows off the magic the Imagineers can pull off!
8 – Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise is a family boat ride around a jungle river-themed to resemble several of the worlds Remote Jungle habitats. lined with model animals and scenes depicting jungle life, the cruise is accompanied by a hilarious commentary supplied by a live guide. Seriously funny and not to be missed.
7 – It’s A Small World
Possibly the Scariest ride in the whole park, maybe the world, the incessant melody of that song in childlike choral fashion instills a horror movie fear in you like nothing else. By the end of the ride, you are not really sure if you are happy are sad, you just have a feeling nothing will ever be the same again! Or maybe that is just us?
6 – Big Thunder Mountain Railway
Disneyland’s most white knuckle ride. If you want to ride the big one then this is as big as it gets at Disneyland. In reality, it is a pretty tame coaster but really fun with some excellent theming. Adrenaline junkies will be disappointed, but everyone else will have a ball!
5 – Pirates Of the Caribbean
A Boat ride through the golden age of pirates featuring everything you would expect from the masters of plunder and mischief. A phenomenally detailed creation where you will spot something new no matter how many times you ride. An all-time classic.
4 – Peter Pan’s Flight
Imagineering at it’s absolute best. A simple flying boat ride over models of old London, Neverland and beyond, brought alive by simple but stunning lighting techniques that turn the mundane into a dream world. Despite the HUGE queues and no Fastpass line, it is one you just have to wait out for.
3 – Space Mountain
Supersmooth, perfectly themed and really fun space-themed rollercoaster. Not the Scariest Rollercoaster in the world but the fantastic theming and superb layout make this really feel like you are zipping through space rather than just riding a boring old rollercoaster.
2 – Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run
The all-new Galaxies edge is the obvious big draw at the minute, and while the whole land is an attraction the Chance to ly the Millenium Falcon is an opportunity not to be missed. Regardless, riding the newest ride in the park and one that has arrived with so much fanfare is an obvious Must-Do when visiting the park. It helps the ride is seriously fun aswell!
1 – Dumbo the Flying Elephant
That’s right our Number 1 MUST DO Ride at Disney land is the Humble Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Why? It’s just pure refined Disney Essence. It is what made us all love Disney as children, why we still do today, and why your children will too. Simple, Childlike Wonder personified by a ride.
What Else Not To Miss
Not everything at Disneyland is about rides. There is a lot more to see and do on any visit. Below are a few things you definitely don’t want to miss.
Meet and Greets
Characters and Princesses are dotted all over the park and are available to meet and get a photo with for anyone willing to spend 10-60mins queuing for the privilege. There are a huge number of Characters available and they change daily use the App to see who are available. But expect Micky, Minnie, Goofy, Snow White, Cinderella, Pooh, and Tiger, to be among the characters available every day.
The Parades change seasonally and alter most years so knowing what to expect can be challenging, but there should be a parade of some type every day, currently they are running the Main Street Electric Parade in the evenings, but this will be replaced with the Mickey’s Magic Happens Parade sometime in 2020, rumours suggest.
Every night in Peak Summer season there are evening fireworks shows and also special shows during holidays and special events. There is something very magical about watching the Fireworks burst above the Sleeping Beauty Castle and the whole park stops and watches as the magic happens.
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk Through
As the name suggests the Sleeping Beauty castle at the center of the park is a full working attraction where you can take a walk through the hallowed halls of the castle.
Unlike most theme parks where the food is just repeated selection of fast-food junk, Disney has some really excellent and varied eateries with some really good themes, most of it is not cheap but it is fairly affordable considering the location. Obviously the Fastfood junk is available too if that’s what you are after.
Even just hitting the top 10 Rides plus a few meet and greets, a Parade and the Fireworks in the evening can be a challenge in a single day, especially now with Galaxies Edge thrown in, and if the crowds are high, can be a real push. So, to get through our recommended list and element of planning will be needed. First off…
Should we buy a MaxPass?
Yes, For a one day trip, a MaxPass is essential. You may get lucky and get through a lot without but really to ensure you get the most out of the day you are going to want a MaxPass. Read more about this here.
Arrive at Rope Drop.
If you just have one day you are going to need to be there early and maximize time. Arrive before the park opens and get in the queue. Also, plan on going to the park on a day where the Extra Magic Hour is at Disney California Adventure so the Disney Hotel Crowds are over there not in Disneyland an hour before you.
Head to Big Thunder Mountain
Once the park opens head towards Big Thunder Mountain. Most people head either to Fantasyland, Tomorrowland or Galaxies Edge. By getting to Frontierland you will probably walk on to Big Thunder Mountian Railway, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and jungle Cruise with minimal Wait times, possibly less than 5 Mins each! Within the hour you have bagged 4 rides!
Use your Max Pass Wisely
On the Way to Frontierland, You should have stopped and bagged a Fastpass for one of the other rides. Head over there now and get the 5th ride in, Keep using the fast pass where possible to bag rides while queueing for others.
Unfortunately, Dumbo, Peter Pan and Smugglers run all do not Except Maxpass. So you are going to have to wait these out. But it’s not Disneyland without a little queueing. You will also need to wait for any Meet and Greets.
An Alternate plan is to head all the way into Galaxies edge and straight onto Smugglers run. This will be the quickest way to tick off the ride, but if it’s busy you will have a lot of company and you could run the risk of queues building on all the other rides before you get a chance to head over to Critter county from Galaxies edge. However, if Smugglers run is a MUST do this is a good strategy. But don’t hang around in Galaxies edge head over to Critter County, New Orleans, Adventureland, and Frontierland as soon as you are off Smugglers run before the queues there become huge. You can head back to the edge later to explore.
11-15 – Still got time?
If you have ticked everything off the list and sill have time, or need to use a Maxpass and nothing in our top 10 is available then the list goes on…
11 – Splash Mountain
A fantastic flume ride and a very close contender for our top 10, especially on hot days! Our Rating – 4.0 – Read More…
12 – The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
A Fantastically Bizzare Romp through hundred Acre Wood Our Rating – 3.3 – Read More…
13 – Star Tours the Adventures Continue
Star Wars Themed Motion Simulator taking you on a journey around the Starwars Universe – Our Rating – 4.3 – Read More…
14 – Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Journey under the sea in a semi-submersible with everyone’s favorite Piar Characters, Dory, Nemo, and Friends Our Rating – 3.2 – Read More…
15 – Matterhorn Bobsleds
Disney’s first Roller Coaster, It is showing it’s age a little and is a pretty rough ride and not exactly thrilling. New Effects and Animatronics have tried to breathe life into it but the ride design is just a little outdated Our Rating – 3.3 – Read More…
16-20 Wow, you are doing well!
There are an awful lot of rides at Disneyland and one day is really not long enough to ride everything but if you got this far on our list and still have time then the rides keep on coming!
16 – Mark Twain River Boat
17 – Storybook Land Canal Boats
19 – Astro Orbiter
20 – Roger Rabbits Car Toon Spin
Have Your Say
Disneyland Rides divide opinion and everyone has their own favorites so lists like these are controversial. We love a little discussion so if you have a view on our list, good or bad fire away in the comments. We would love to hear your input. Maybe your favorite didn’t make the list? Maybe you hate one of our top rides. Whatever it is just let us know in the comments.
You May Also Like
- Disneyland Park Ride Guide
- Disney’s California Adventure Ride Guide
- Disneyland, California, Travel Guide