Disney California Adventure Best Rides – 10 DO NOT MISS Rides at DCA, Disneyland

Disney California Adventure is all about the Rides. There are some really great rides in the park, ones, that really cannot be missed. But with long queues and limited time and many other great things to see and do in the parks then it is important to prioritize, especially if you only have a one day Pass. It might be you do not get to ride every ride in the park. So to help you out we put together our 10 Best Disney California Adventure Rides. Focus on these first and pick off the rest only if you have time.

Even on quite busy days by smart use of FastPass/MaxPass, you should easily get through our top 10 in time to catch the Colors of Light show at 9 pm. Our DO NOT MISS Ride list will ensure you get to experience the best rides in the park and cut out the less brilliant rides that can waste time. Time better spent on other things!

Disney California Adventure Best Rides

Disney California Adventure – Disneyland, California

This Guide is designed to help those traveling to the Park on a Single day Pass. Maybe you only have two days at the resort and are planning a day at each park. Good move. You can find our guide to the BEST Disneyland Rides here.

Disney California Adventure is not the biggest park in the world and any more than a day at the park and you should easily fit in almost every attraction on our Full Ride list. Here you will find every ride in the park and full reviews and guides for most of them.

If you are planning in hitting BOTH parks in one day then prioritizing is essential. there is no way you will fit everything in one single day! To help plan that we have put together our ride guide for Park Hopping so you can hit the best of both parks. If you are not sure how long you need at the park we have you covered there too with our How long to Spend at Disneyland Guide.

While putting together our guide we took a few things into account. Disneyland is not just about the biggest and best rides but about fun for everyone and that little bit of Disney magic. So while the headline attractions are always going to steal the show they only get the top spots if they really deserve it.

We have included a full review and guides for each ride and included a thrill rating. Not everyone likes the big thrill rides so we point out if anything is going to make your hair turn prematurely grey! We have rides included in the list for everyone, not just the thrill-seekers and while DCA certainly provides a lot more thrills than Disneyland Park there is still plenty of Disney magic for all ages!

Following our list we take a look at planning your day to fit the rides in, whether or not to get a MaxPass, and what else other than rides you might want to check out in the Park. So Without further ado, we present our…

Disney California Adventure Best Rides

10 – Grizzly River Run

  • Thrill Rating – 3/5
  • Overall rating – 3.7/5
Grizzly River Run Moment

DCA’s only water ride. This classical Rapids Raft ride has a unique twist of a spinning descent. it is also beautifully themed around stunning sequoia and redwood mountain forests of Northern California.

9 – The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

  • Thrill Rating – 2/5
  • Overall rating – 3.8/5
The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure

A Charming classic dark-ride retelling the story of the Little Mermaid. While the ride has the look and feel of a true Disney Classic the ride is actually quite new and combines old-school Imagineering with some more modern effects.

8 – Turtle Talk With Crush

  • Thrill Rating – 1/5
  • Overall rating – 3.8/5
Turtle Talk with Crush

Kids will adore this interactive meet and greet with the ACTUAL Crush. To be honest, most adults will love it too as the on-the-fly digitizing of a live actor into crush is staggering and the banter is seriously funny. Keep an eye out for special guests! Different show every time!

7 – Mickey’s PhilharMagic

  • Thrill Rating – 1/5
  • Overall rating – 4/5
Mickeys PhilarMagic

A joyful 12 minute 4-D Theatre show with 3-D animation, Water, light, and aroma effects. Watch as Donald (No Mickey) Gets mixed in some of your favorites Disney Scenes. Aladin, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia, and The Little Mermaid are all featured.

6 – Toy Story Midway Mania

  • Thrill Rating – 3/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5
Toy Story Midway Mania

A Fantastically over-engineered 4-D Shooting game where you take part in a series of suer fun Midway Style games with digitized ammunition and targets, fun for the whole family and can get seriously competitive!

Tip – Make sure you check our Toy Story Midway Mania Page for tips on how to make sure you win and how to unlock bonus rounds!

5 – Pixar Pal-A-Round

  • Thrill Rating – 4.5/5
  • Overall rating – 3.8/5
Disney California Adventure

Not Your average Ferris Wheel. The Swinging version of the Ride is seriously unsettling as the gondola slides about on its rails creating the illusion of impending doom! Choose a Non-Swinging for a more sedate experience.

4 – Guardians Of The Galaxy – Mission: Breakout

  • Thrill Rating – 5/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5
GOTG MB Rocket

Our old Number 2 – Since its update from Tower Of Terror to Guardians Of The Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, the ride has lost a little something. It is still a seriously Fun and thrilling ride though and one not to miss!

3 – Incredicoaster

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.3/5

Dominating the Park Skyline as all Big Boardwalk Coasters do, the Incredicoaster takes Pride of place. The Ride’s theme is a little weak but makes up for this by being a really good, solid coaster. The only inversion in the resort!

2 – Soarin’ Around the World

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.6/5
Soarin Around The World

Soarin’ is a technological Marvel. Any review will completely fail to do the ride justice and just has to be experienced. The sensation of flying is realized in a way you never imagined and really takes your breath away.

1 – Radiator Springs Racers

  • Thrill Rating – 4/5
  • Overall rating – 4.7/5
Radiator Springs Racers View

This is ride theming on a whole new level. The Imagineering team has completely recreated the Sonoran Desert and built a race track for you to blast around. Immensely fun, staggering to look at, and easily the best ride in the park…With Queues to Match!

Note – It is worth mentioning that in Epcot, Florida we have their versions of Soarin And Test Track (Which is basically Radiator Spring Racers with a different theme) In the complete opposite Positions. The incredible theming adds so much to the ride that it elevates it far above the more clinical and sterile Test Track even though The latter is the Faster and more Thrilling 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.

There is a whole lot more to do in the park other than rides. Some people get focused solely on the rides and miss some great attractions and shows. We point out the best of the rest so you can make the most of your day

Meet and Greets

There are loads of Characters popping up around the park and many of them are quite different from the usual characters in Disney Parks. Here you can meet Groot, along with other Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel Characters, Mike and Sully, Lightning Mcqueen and Mater, and most o the Toy Story Crew. The usual Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy are obviously around for a meet and greet and you can also find Anna, Elsa, and Olaf!

Character meets are much more low-key in the park and queues less insane than over in Disneyland. So take advantage and get some of the more unusual Characters ticked off your list.

Nighttime Show – Colors Of Light

The Nighttime Spectacular at Disney California Adventure is the Colors of Light Show. This is a Fountain show that utilizes Lights, Lazers, and water projections scenes in a pretty cool way to perform some of Disney’s favorite numbers.

It is well worth sticking around for, while we would always choose the Disneyland Firework shows over Colors of light if you are at the resort for two days the DCA Nightime show is very different and pretty unique!


The Dining options are a little less exciting than over in the Main park, We tend to limit ourselves to lunch in DCA. The Cathay Circle is the only Fine Dining experience and while it is a fantastic restaurant it lacks any real Disney Charm. The Wine Country Trattoria offers some nice relaxed Italian dining with great wine, but on the whole, we tend to head out of the park for dinner. Lunch options are more suitable with some great choices for a quick-service lunch, We head Pacific Wharf for the best lunch options including our favorite, Clam Chowder in a Bodin Bread bowl that takes us back to the San Francisco Sea Front.

Check out our full guide to Dining In Disneyland Resort, California

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion

At least three times a day Disney puts in its Frozen live show at the Hyperion theater. Fans of the film will adore this wonderful and witty re-enactment of the events of the film. If your group does not contain fans of the film then it can be safely avoided. For those who are not fans, but have a group containing fans, especially younger ones, well you may find this a long hour…sorry but you had kids!

Yes, the show is a whopping 1 hour long and pretty much is just a retelling of the film but performed live by talented stage actors pretty much scene by scene. The performance has some pretty epic lighting effects and fantastic costumes and good performances. You do really need to love the film to be willing to commit an hour of your park time to the show. Really we would save this for the Die-Hard Frozen Fans or people on long multi-day tickets.


Getting onto out 10 Do Not Miss Rides should not be a huge problem for most people. With good use of the FastPass, you should have time to fit in everything, along with a good few Character meet and greets, grab some food and be ready for the World of Colour a 9 Pm. This is if you plan your trip correctly, otherwise you could waste a whole load of time unnecessarily.

Should we buy a MaxPass?

For a One day trip to Disney California Adventure, you probably don’t need a MaxPass unless the park is really busy. Weekends, Holidays and any time when visitor numbers get really high a Maxpass is very advisable. For single-day trips when you are happy just hitting the big rides you should get by with regular FastPass and Single Rider queues. Read more about this here.

Arrive at Rope Drop.

Getting there early is always the best way to maximize your ride count. In the first hour before the park opens ride queues are seriously low and many rides are simply walk on. You can easily bag 2 or three of the top rides early on leaving much more time to hit everything else later in the day.

Remember Dinsey Hotel guests get extra magic hours on some mornings if possible avoid those days (unless you are a Disney Hotel Guest) as queues will already have started forming before you even get in the park.

Use your MaxPass/FastPass Wisely

It is essential you make full use of the FastPass or Maxpass system if you want to ride as much as possible. If you are just in DCA for the day then FastPass will suffice, but MaxPass makes everything a lot easier, plus you get the PhtoPass included. If you are on MaxPass as soon as you are in the park pass the turnstile make your first MaxPass selection. We tend to choose Soarin’ Then head to the far end of the park and try and get to Radiator Springs Racers and Guardians of the Galaxy done in the first 30-40 Mins.

If you are on a FastPass we would head to either the Guardians of the Galaxy or Radiator Springs Racers and grab a Fast Pass. Then head to the other and join the hopefully short queue. Ride it, then your Fast pass for the other should be good to go.

This gets the first 2-3 Top rides ticked off before the park has even really got going. Incredicoaster never really gets huge queues and these can be skipped via Single Rider, meaning you can almost get half of the best of rides done before lunch!

Have Your Say

Any list of this nature will be sure to raise eyebrows and cause a little controversy. We all have our favorites and our own opinions. So the actual order of the list is less important than making sure these are the rides you hit first. If you ride all the rides on our list You are sure to have a great day! This won’t stop some people from wanting their say in the matter though!

If that’s you just fire away in the comments. We love nothing more than discussing Disney rides and attractions so we really value your input and feedback. Got any Questions? Again we encourage you to fire away below in most cases we respond within a day, often much less.

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