10 Great Rides at Disneyland You Won’t Find at Disney World

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The Golden Zephyr

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, some of the best rides and shows at Disneyland aren’t at Walt Disney World.  So let’s start with the rides!  Here are ten rides that you won’t want to miss at Disneyland.

1.  Number one has to be Indiana Jones Adventure.  It has to be!  Indiana Jones is an amazing ride.  You start off in the beautifully detailed queue.  It’s easy to forget you are in Disneyland at all once you go inside that queue.  You are suddenly transported to Indy’s world.  Once the ride itself begins, it’s a feast for the eyes and other senses.  I won’t give anything away, but this ride is not to be missed.  It’s one of the best there is.  DINOSAUR uses the same technology at Disney World, but doesn’t “pull it off” nearly as well.

2.  California Screamin’.  Some people think of this as an outdoor Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  There are some definite similarities like the launch that literally takes your breath away, but California Screamin’ is no knock-off roller coaster.  It’s one of the smoothest roller coasters I’ve been on, and it’s a long ride at over 2 minutes.  It’s also one of the few roller coasters I’ve ridden where I feel it’s worth waiting for the front row.

3.  The Matterhorn Bobsleds.  The Matterhorn is a Disneyland classic and one of the iconic skyline views in the park.  It opened in 1959 and was the first steel coaster in the world.  It’s an old-fashioned, herky-jerky roller coaster, but it’s great fun.  Zipping inside and outside of the mountain with Yeti-like creatures (that work) spooking you throughout.   FYI – the left side is more thrilling at 2 minutes, while the right side runs at a more leisurely pace and offers a 2.5-minute ride.  Until a few years ago, Mickey and his friends climbed the Matterhorn during a regular show.  It was crazy cool to see Mickey in climbing gear scaling the side of a mountain.

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

4.  Monsters, Inc: Mike and Sully to the Rescue.  Monsters Inc is not a thrill ride by any stretch.  It’s a dark ride.  And it’s a great one.  The special effects are wonderful.  At one point you travel through what is likely a relatively small room and yet it feels like you are in a room with hundreds of flying doors.  Don’t miss Roz at the end!

5.  Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  Finding Nemo is Disneyland’s modern adaptation of the old submarine ride that was such a classic.  In the ride, you are transported through a quick version of the Finding Nemo story.  The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland points out that you do not have to be a Nemo fan to enjoy the scale and effects.  It can be a long wait, but it’s a visual thrill.

6.  Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.  Tucked away in Toontown, Roger Rabbit’s is a spinning dark ride.  The car spins on its own, and you can make it spin even more.  While a little disjointed at times, it’s still a fun place to cool off and take in the sights.  Well, whatever sights you can take in between spins.

7.  Davey Crockett’s Explorer Canoes and the Sailing Ship Columbia.  Disneyland has several great ways of traveling the Rivers of America.  One is the canoes.  While not exactly a thrilling ride, it’s a fun diversion.  It does take some work!  The riders actually do paddle the canoes.  A fun canoe guide can make this a hilarious trip around the river.  Another way around is the majestic Sailing Ship Columbia.  It’s a beautiful ship with two decks to explore.

8.  Alice In Wonderland.  Alice in Wonderland is nothing spectacular, but it’s a very cute diversion.  Your caterpillar buggy takes you through the story of Alice and Wonderland.  There’s no Johnny Depp in this version, but there are some nice surprises.  At one point you pop outside on the second story!

Storybook Land Canal Boats

9.  Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train.  I put these in the same category because they take you to the same sights.  They are very different rides.  On one you are floating in a boat through Monstro’s open mouth, on the other you are riding in a small circus train.  Both take you through a very detailed, miniaturized version of some movie favorites.  Even the plants are miniaturized!  For many Disneyland lovers, these rides are some of the most magical in the park.

10.  Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  Who can forget Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride?  Long since gone at Disney World, this classic can still be found at Disneyland.  It’s just good mindless fun.  Not the best special effects, but it’s been there since the park’s beginning.  That alone explains its popularity.

And there’s more!  A Bug’s Land rides, Silly Symphony Swings, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Goofy’s Sky School, the Golden Zephyr, and many more!  When Cars Land opens, I’ve heard Radiator Springs Racers alone may be worth the admission price.

So how about you?  What are your favorite rides you can only find at Disneyland?

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Tammy Whiting

Tammy has been a lover of all things Disney for most of her life. There’s nowhere on this Earth she’d rather be than on a Disney cruise with her family. She’s a Space Force wife and proud mom of two wonderful children and one beautiful daughter-in-law . She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2008 and became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She now owns her own travel agency - Storybook Destinations. You can reach Tammy at Tammy@StorybookDestinations.com.

24 thoughts on “10 Great Rides at Disneyland You Won’t Find at Disney World

  • September 23, 2011 at 8:12 am
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    Other than the Monsters Inc. ride, I can’t tell what the other pictures are from. Could you possibly caption them or mention them in the article. They’re interesting pics and I’d like to know what rides they’re from.

    Reply
    • September 23, 2011 at 8:34 am
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      Okay, the captions look a little wonky, but hopefully that helps!

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      • September 23, 2011 at 9:16 am
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        Fantastic. Thanks.

  • September 23, 2011 at 10:13 am
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    Casey Jr. is one of my favorites…especially riding in the caboose facing backwards!

    I also prefer the last row on California Screamin’. Although the front is awesome too.

    I love both Disneyland and Disney World. But I definitely miss all of these when I’m at ‘the World.’

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    • September 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm
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      The back row is great too! It’s just an excellent ride all around.

      Reply
  • September 23, 2011 at 11:31 am
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    I seem to be alone in this, but I like Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. I think some of the effects are great! Granted, I wouldn’t wait in line too long for this, but still…

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    • September 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm
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      You’re not alone! I think Disney does a great job on all of their dark rides, Pinocchio’s included.

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  • September 23, 2011 at 11:52 am
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    I also want to point out that Autotopia is so much better and different than Tomorrowland Speedway that I’d consider it a ride that doesn’t exist at WDW.

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    • September 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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      Autopia is better at Disneyland. Absolutely. I’m going to do another blog on rides at Disneyland that are in both parks but are better at Disneyland and Autopia is one of them. I didn’t quite count it as a different ride, but definitely better. I was torn on Grizzly River Run too. It’s really a different ride than Kali River Rapids, but it’s so similar I just counted it as better.

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  • September 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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    I like some of the subtle differences where it is the same ride. For example, going through the bayou at the beginning of POTC at DL and the bigger drop. Singles on Splash vs dual rider. It means you can’t just say “oh, I did POTC at WDW, no need to do it here at DL.” I like that there is overlap, but differences as well, between the two resorts.

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    • September 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm
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      I totally agree, Markonefive! I like that they didn’t carbon copy rides in both parks.

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  • September 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm
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    One thing to mention is that Pirates of the Caribbean is MUCH better at Disneyland than at Disney World – it’s significantly longer with several more scenes, and it goes right past the Blue Bayou restaurant which is a nice touch.

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    • September 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm
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      Absolutely! Pirates is much better at Disneyland.

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  • September 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm
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    Going on Grizzly River Run ruined Kali River Rapids for me. It so much better and longer ride.

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    • September 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm
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      I rode Kali River Rapids a couple of weeks ago, and felt the same way.

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  • September 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm
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    Wow–I really feel like I need to make a trip to DL. I have always been about WDW, but now that we have 3 little ones–a trip to California might be necessary, especially when Radiator Springs open up!

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    • September 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm
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      Great! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in Disneyland! I also think Radiator Springs is going to knock our socks off!

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  • September 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm
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    though the queues of kali vs GRR goes to Kali…..southeast asia queue is amazing!

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    • September 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm
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      Very true. This most recent trip was the first time we’ve waited in the queue in years, and I had forgotten how detailed it was!

      Reply
  • September 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm
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    While I make it to WDW several times a year, it’s been about 15 years since I’ve been to Disneyland. I think a return visit is WAY overdue! Thank you for the great article!

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    • September 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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      You are way overdue, Janet! I hope you make it back soon!

      Reply
  • April 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm
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    A new comment on an old blog post…

    This post makes me even more excited about our upcoming June trip to Disneyland. It will be my first time on the west coast. I’ve been to WDW 10 times and thought it couldn’t be beat, but I’m anxious to see the differences!

    Reply
    • April 6, 2013 at 11:18 am
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      You’re going to love it, Christy! 🙂

      Reply

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