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Travel: Top 5 Best Rides at Disneyland & California Adventure

Best Rides Disneyland California Adventure

This summer my brother surprised his son with a birthday trip to Disneyland where the whole family came along too. I’d been to Disneyland nearly 10 years ago and Mike and I had been to Disney World together just a few years ago, but this would be our first trip with little ones (niece and nephew). 

We went on some rides with the kids and some rides on our own, and below is my list of Top 5 Best Rides at both Disneyland and California Adventure (as per our tastes), plus a few honourable mentions. You can also check out my round-up of best fun foods to try at Disneyland California Adventure too!

Top 5 Best Rides at Disneyland & California Adventure

1. California Screamin’ (Rollercoaster)

Disneyland California Adventure - Paradise Pier - Amusement Park Rides - California Screamer
The California Screamin’ is an awesome rollercoaster at Paradise Pier California Adventure!

One of my favourite parts about going to amusement parks is that Mike’s comfort zone is pushed just a little bit further each time. When I first met him, he was afraid of going on any high height or speedy ride. During this trip, he was able to go on the California Screamin’ rollercoaster at California Adventure (which includes an upside down portion) AND he loved it so much, we went twice in that same day! It also helped that for some reason the stand-by entrance wait was only 5 minutes both times (what!) so we really lucked out when we went. 

This rollercoaster takes you up almost 120 feet and then plunges you all over Paradise Pier. It’s the longest and fastest roller coaster at Disneyland and also the funnest. The loop-de-loop and whirlwind start makes it look a bit scary but it isn’t! This is a must ride at Disney California Adventure! 

Must be at least 48″ to ride. 

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout (formerly Tower of Terror)

Disneyland California Adventure - Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout - Amusement Park Rides
The new Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout ride (formerly Tower of Terror) at Disney California Adventure.

No one in our party had been on the Tower of Terror ride before and now we can’t (at Disneyland anyway) because it’s been turned into the new Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! ride. The premise: The Collector has collected the Guardians of the Galaxy and you’re able to go glimpse them in public for the very first time at his fortress in California Adventure! One snag: Rocket the Raccoon has been waiting for you to arrive and help him break out his friends. 

This ride takes you to the top and bottom of the fortress (or the “up and down ride” as my niece and nephew call it) with your screams set to the sweet soundtrack of Star Lord’s awesome mixtape. This elevator lift ride will have you flying off your seat (literally) and wanting to come back for more (which we did! This was another ride we rode twice). Totally awesome. 

Must be at least 40″ to ride. 

(Though probably not recommended for most kiddies. My niece is 40″ and 4-years-old and this was definitely not for her… lol) 

Bonus: Depending on the timing of your ride, you might luck out and meet Groot right after you exit! Eep. I love him. 

Disneyland California Adventure - Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout - Amusement Park Rides Groot
Bonus: after Mission: Breakout, meet Groot!

3. Radiator Springs Racers 

Disneyland California Adventure - Cars Land - Amusement Park Rides
Head over to Cars Land for their awesome Radiator Springs Racers ride.

I haven’t seen any of the Cars movies but the Radiator Springs Racers ride at Disney California Adventure raced right up to the top of my favourite rides. Pile into these cars for a journey through Ornament Valley before racing side-by-side with another car! You’ll race over hills, straightaway paths and around sharp turns – all set to the super picturesque Cadillac Range Mountains.  

Disneyland California Adventure - Cars Land - Amusement Park Rides
Beauty setting for the Radiator Springs Racers ride at Car Land!

The wind will blow your hair back and you’re sure to feel butterflies on the Radiator Springs Racers ride (up and down the valley hills creates some nice small drops!) I love this ride not only for the thrill and the really excellent animatronic talking cars, but also because of the beautiful race setting and big, open blue sky. 

Must be at least 40″ to ride. 

4. Toy Story Midway Mania

Disneyland California Adventure - Paradise Pier - Amusement Park Rides - California Screamer Toy Story
Paradise Pier’s Toy Story Midway Mania and California Screamer.

I’ve played the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride over on the Disney side of the park (and at Disney World) before and thought it was sort of fun. I didn’t realize it’s WAY more fun older brother ride, Toy Story Midway Mania, was just across the way at California Adventure. In Toy Story Midway Mania you hop on this mid-way inspired carnival car where you use a launcher to aim at different targets in a bunch of carnival-themed games. You’ll throw eggs, toss darts, break plates, do a ring toss (on Toy Story 3-eyed green aliens) and blast a bull’s eye. 

It’s so much fun and you can see exactly where your target is hitting (unlike with the Buzz ride). 

All sizes, all ages can ride. 

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Rollercoaster)

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Disneyland Frontier Land Ride Amusement Park
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Ride! Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup (Flickr CC by 2.0)

So, in reviewing my Top 4 rides I’m noticing that they’re all located in the California Adventure park side of Disney. I’d say the more ‘adult’ and thrilling rides are definitely on this side but one of the more thrilling rides on the Disney side (in Frontier Land) is the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! This rollercoaster-style ride takes you through a haunted mine on a speeding, runaway mine train. This ride is pretty wild – as you go up, down and around canyons and caves. Tall people, keep your head ducked because some parts of the ride look like they have low clearance!! 

Must be at least 40″ to ride. 

Honourable Mentions

It’s worth making note of these 3 other rides including: 

Mickey’s Fun Wheel 

Disneyland California Adventure - Mickeys Fun Wheel Ferris Wheel - Amusement Park Rides
Mickey’s Fun Wheel (non-swinging) is a great family-friendly ride!

Mickey’s Fun Wheel on Paradise Pier California Adventure is a great ferris wheel that gives you the option of something wild or relaxing. Choose the swinging or non-swinging cart to decide what type of ride you want. The swinging carts seem like it would be a huge mistake (LOL!) We went with the kids on the non-swinging cart that gave us some fantastic views of the whole park (up 150 feet high) and at a really relaxed pace that was a nice break in between all the Disney parks crowds and madness. It would be nice to go during the day and night – for different views of the park! 

All sizes, all ages can ride. 

Space Mountain

Space Mountain was my favourite ride at Disney over 10 years ago and today is still one of the best rides on the Disneyland side of the park. Located in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain is a high-speed rollercoaster (speeding rocket) that will take you across the galaxy. You’ll fly by bright lights, stars, comets and the remote blackness of the universe, all set to fairly frenetic music. It’s definitely one of the fastest, most thrilling rides on the Disney side of the park. 

Must be at least 40″ to ride. 

Slash Mountain

You gotta love Splash Mountain for its 5-story, dramatic plunge at the end of the ride. My only complaint – needs even more splashes! As far as thrilling water rides at Disney go though, this is one of your few options (the other being the Grizzly River Run in California Adventure which we didn’t get a chance to try!) 

Must be at least 40″ to ride.

Soarin’

We didn’t get to try the virtual reality ride Soarin’ – which takes you on a high-flying ride around the world – but I know based on our thirst for thrills and general enjoyment of virtual rides, that Soarin’ would’ve been on our list had we gone. This ride simulates you hang-gliding across some of the most scenic, awe-inspiring views of the world. Our friend Kristina, who lives in Anaheim and hung out with us for a portion of our Disney days, also highly recommended Soarin’. 

Must be at least 40″ to ride. 

For the Really Kid-Friendly Rides

Be sure to check out Toontown (in Disney) and A Bug’s Land (in California Adventure) for various kiddy rides.

General Tips for Tackling Rides at Disney

Figure out your FASTPASS system! You can get Fastpasses to skip the line for most of the rides at Disney but a certain period of time must pass before you can get another Fastpass.

You can get a FASTPASS for a ride about every 2 hours, so if done correctly – you should be getting a FASTPASS for one ride, getting in line for another ride, going for the ride in your first FASTPASS before getting another FASTPASS for more rides. 

If you’re bringing kids, I get the appeal of having little ones enjoying the magic of Disney but from an efficient-rides perspective, bringing a kid who is at least 7 years old is your best bet because they don’t need to be supervised by a parent, so you can take advantage of the often shorter Single Rider line! 

So that wraps up my list of best rides on our Disneyland adventure! There’s obviously a lot of rides at Disney, and it would seriously be impossible to do in just one day. We had a 3-day Park Hopper pass which I would highly recommend. With at least 3 days (and it really felt like 3 full days), we still weren’t able to try all the rides but I think we made a good dent (and went back for multiple trips on the rides we especially loved). Our taste in ‘best rides’ is also of course going to be different than others’ tastes. My friend Catherine was shocked I didn’t include Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean on my list! Both also very good rides. 

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what your favourite Disney rides are! 

Best Rides Disneyland California Adventure
Pin + share my list of best rides at Disneyland + California Adventure!

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She’s also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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1 Comment

  • Amanda

    your list is awesome, I loved the cars ride and grizzly river run was great, I will agree with the Ferris wheel, it seemed like a good idea and your not belted in and swinging over Disneyland! lol

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Chocorrant is one of Edmontonโ€™s newest patisserie & cafes. They make their croissants in-house, fresh daily, and infuse awesome flavours into these buttery,  fluffy pastries. I had only ever really had cheese, chocolate and regular croissants before Chocorrant opened my eyes to all the wonderful flavours you can have in a croissant! They also have savoury croissant sandwiches and sell over treats too! Visit their cute little store on @shop124street. Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
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To enter, do two things: 
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2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! Iโ€™ll pick a winner on Dec. 3 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”
Ernest's is an Edmonton food gem - an affordable fine dining spot featuring delicious cuisine and excellent service by NAIT Culinary Arts and Hospitality students. This dining room has been a huge part of the Culinary Arts department for over 50 years, and is recognized as one of Edmonton's top dining experiences. The coolest part is that all the food is prepared and served by students! Ernest's offers a lunch and dinner menu, along with a lunch buffet, and is often host to a bunch of wicked culinary dinners featuring celebrity chefs and local chefs. You're always in good hands at Ernest's. Theyโ€™ve also been named one of Canada's Best 100 Restaurants in past years, AND for 2017! If you've never tried, now's your chance! I used to call it a hidden gem but it shouldn't be hidden because everyone should know about Ernest's! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
* * THE WINNER IS @reneechan_yeg! * *
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To enter, do two things: 
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2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! Iโ€™ll pick a winner on Dec. 6 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”
El Cortez is a super cool Mexican kitchen + tequila bar just off Whyte Ave @oldstrathcona. The restaurant/bar specializes in traditional Latin food with a modern twist. Their tasty menu features tacos, tapas, gourmet street food, and Latin brunch. They are one of just 9 establishments in the WORLD to be certified by The Tequila Regulatory Council (so their tequila offerings are legit). They also have amazing decor and an overall wicked vibe - like when I say it's super cool I mean this place oozes cool. Check out the funky graffiti-style wall art and the crazy-lit bathrooms. El Cortez is always a good time. They just launched their new winter menu too so be sure to check it out, PLUS - on Tuesdays its half-price tacos!! ๐ŸŒฎ Theyโ€™re also currently running a holiday gift card promotion! For every minimum $50 gift card purchased, El Cortez is donating $5 to the Humane Animal Rescue Team @hartedmonton! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood#exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #tacos #tacolife #allabouttacos #tacostacostacos #mexicanfood #latinfood #mexicanstreetfood #elcortezyeg #elcorteztequilabar #tequilabar #mexicanrestaurant #tuesdaytacos #everydayistacotuesday
  • ๐ŸŽ DEC 4 GIVEAWAY! ๐ŸŽ
Mondays can be hard. Ramen can help! ๐Ÿœ Todayโ€™s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป is a $50 gift card to @yegnoodles!! Eat all their delicious noodz. ๐Ÿœ
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure youโ€™re following me and @YEGNoodles!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! Iโ€™ll pick a winner on Dec. 5 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”
The Prairie Noodle Shop takes Japanese ramen and infuses it with flavours unique to Alberta. The team behind Prairie Noodle Shop tested the market with a series of ramen pop-ups before opening their 124 Street location. This prairie-inspired ramen is one of the best (and certainly one of the most unique) in the city! Try their NEW winter menu which includes beef and curry bowls, the return of their ๐Ÿง€ bowl, and new small plates & beers! ๐Ÿบ Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
* * UPDATE * * The winner is Jerb2 from Twitter! Thanks for entering everyone!! .
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood#exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #yegnoodles #ramen #ramenislife #japanesefood #soup #souperb #tasteab #japaneseramen #albertaramen #albertapork #ramennoodles #noodles #noodz #yegsoup #souperb
  • Sunday Funday at @centralsocialhall trying their delicious brunch ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿ˜ & learning about how the company has evolved over the years - stepping up their #yegfood game! Thanks for the great company @becausemimosas @argenplath @antonatienza & for the invite @jessekupina @vancebosch @chattygirlmedia! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป
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#yeg #brunchbrunchbrunch #yegbrunch #exploreedmonton #edmonton #edmontonfood #edmontonbrunch #waffles #belgianwaffles #belgianwaffle #waffles #wafflelove #mimosas #welcometothebrunchclub #brunchqueen #centralsocialhall #centralsocialsunday #sundayfunday #sundaysareforbrunch #brunchislife #yegdt #yegdtfood #instagrammablefood #instagrammable
  • ๐ŸŽ DEC 3 GIVEAWAY! ๐ŸŽ
On Sundays, we brunch! ๐Ÿณ๐Ÿฅ“๐Ÿคค Thatโ€™s why todayโ€™s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป is Brunch for Four to @xix19! (valued at $120!)
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure youโ€™re following me and @xix19!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! Iโ€™ll pick a winner on Dec. 4 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”
XIX Nineteen offers simply great food. Head Chef Andrew Fung is one of my favourite chefs in Edmonton. Must-orders on their brunch menu: their crispy chicken & waffle (pictured), their five spice bao benny, their Moroccan meatball tagine, and their banana bread french toast. On their regular menu - XIX Nineteenโ€™s signature Ahi Tuna Twists is a must!! XIX Nineteen has two locations - one in Terwillegar south Edmonton and one in St. Albert. Give it a try if you havenโ€™t yet! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
* * UPDATE * * Congrats to @gingergolovely of Instagram, winner of Brunch for Four to @xix19! Thanks to everyone who entered. Watch for more giveaways! .
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood#exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #xixnineteen #xix19 #chefandrewfung #terwillegar #stalbert #stalbertfood #brunch #sundaysareforbrunch #sundayfunday #brunchbrunchbrunch #chickenandwaffles #bubblewaffles
  • ๐ŸŽ DEC 2 GIVEAWAY! ๐ŸŽ
Todayโ€™s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป is an All-You-Can-Eat Brazilian Steakhouse Dinner for Two to @EatPampaYEG! (valued at $100!)
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure youโ€™re following me and @EatPampaYEG!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! Iโ€™ll pick a winner on Dec. 3 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”โ€”
Pampa's Brazilian churrascaria provides unlimited fire-roasted select cuts of AAA Alberta beef, pork, chicken and lamb, served table-side. I love their rump steak! They also have a huge salad bar and unbelievably delicious Brazilian cheese buns (#paodequeijo!) Pampa has two Edmonton locations (downtown + Ellerslie) and one location in Calgary! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป
* * UPDATE * * Congratulations to Candice M from Facebook, winner of Dinner for 2 to @eatpampayeg!! .
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood#exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #pampa #pampabraziliansteakhouse #braziliansteakhouse #churrascaria #rodizio #allyoucaneat #AYCE #buffet #meatbuffet #meatsweets #eatpampaYEG #yegdt #yegdtfood #pampaellerslie

LINDORK