Attraction Rankings

Disney California Adventure Attraction Rankings

Arbitrary rankings have become a national pastime on par with baseball and eating way too much on holidays (and most other days of the year.) In fact, I wonder what the internet would look like without thousands of blog posts ranking this or that. It’d probably be full of fake news, memes and dumb videos. So, not much would be different… With that in mind, it’s time for me to earn a blogging badge and throw out a long ranking list. Since this is a Disney blog, what better items to rank than attractions!

Cozy Cone Cars land night

Now this isn’t a typical top-10 list. Wandering in Disney is nothing, if not thorough. Instead I plan to give you a ranking of each attraction open at the six U.S. Disney Parks. I do need a few rules though:

  • No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank and I don’t particularly like them in the first place. Unless its King Louie, I love King Louie.
  • No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies though.
  • These are all my opinion. Every attraction is probably someone’s favorite. While that is corny and seems a little silly, I do think it’s true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.

Carthay Circle

That seems good enough for now. Here’s a link to all of our attraction rankings for each park we’ve been to. Let’s get to it! I’ll add in a sentence or two about each attraction and why I put it there. Here we go, from worst to first:

21. Jumpin’ Jellyfish – I guess the jellyfish theme on the pier sort of fits. But I don’t like rides that just bounce up and down.

20. Turtle Talk With Crush – We’re getting into better attractions now.  At least Turtle Talk is unique and a pretty fun experience for kids.  With that being said, it’s forgettable.

Purple Fountains WOC

19. Jesse’s Critter Carousel  – This somewhat recent addition to Pixar Pier is fine. It doesn’t look great and it’s not extremely unique.

18. Silly Symphony Swings – Yeah, this is another amusement park ride stuck in California Adventure. I do like that this offers nice views along the pier. This goes surprisingly high as well, adding a little thrill.

17. Golden Zephyr – The same thoughts here as the swings above it.  This has a more interesting ride vehicle, in my opinion, placing it slightly higher on this list.

16. Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sulley To The Rescue – We’re finally getting to attractions that have an actual plot. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good plot and there is nothing visually that sets this apart.

15. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – I’ll be honest, I despise this attraction. I think it looks bad and I’m not a fan of attractions that are just book reports of the movie. Still, I know others who really like this attraction and this was as low as I could put Ariel’s Undersea Adventure which really isn’t that bad.

Little Mermaid Boat Scene

14. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters – Okay, this should be below Ariel’s Undersea Adventure but I had to put my touch on this somehow. The reason Luigi’s is even halfway up the board is because it is trackless and surprisingly fun to whip around on with younger kids. I like the look of it at night too.

Luigi's in ride

13. Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind – The attraction formerly known as Flik’s Flyers received a new identity being themed to Inside Out. It looks pretty good and the ride is fairly relaxing. Unfortunately, the ride capacity is very small so the line moves slowly.

12. Pixar Pal-A-Round – I’m terrified of this ferris wheel, specifically the swinging version of this ride. That said, this ends up fairly high because of the views the ride offers.

11. Mickey’s Philharmagic – This is a copy of the 3D movie from other parks but it is a good, short little movie that features many classic Disney characters. This is especially nice on a hot day.

10. Goofy’s Sky School – This roller coaster scares me to death but some think it’s fun and it is probably a better ride than anything else on this thus far.

9. Animation Academy – Animation Academy is a hidden gem and is a fun attraction for everyone. I’m the worst artist around and I even found this fun as a cast member teaches you how to draw a classic Disney character.

Animation Academy

8. Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – While this looks like a basic spinner ride, Mater’s is a blast to go on. This is surprisingly fun and impossible not to smile on.

Maters Jamboree

7. Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – Maybe the most underrated spot in California Adventure. I think this playground/trail is relaxing for parents and a wonderful spot to run around for little ones. There is no doubt that the Redwood Creek is one of the most beautiful areas in DCA too.

6. Toy Story Midway Mania – There’s quite a jump in quality from 7 to 6. Toy Story Midway Mania is a blast and fun for the entire family. It doesn’t crack the top-5 due to the lack of story and immersion.

5. Soarin’ Around The World – The current iteration of Soarin’ is significantly worse than Soarin’ Over California. It’s still a fairly unique and beautiful ride but I’d like to see them go back to the original attraction.

Soarin light

4. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! – Mission: BREAKOUT! replacing Tower of Terror is still a point of contention for me. I don’t think the new attraction is better than the former. With that said, Mission: BREAKOUT! is a good amount of fun and is re-rideable.

3. Incredicoaster – What I said about Mission: BREAKOUT! could apply to Incredicoaster. The ride itself is extremely fun and a must-do. That said, I don’t know if any of the changes from the previous California Screamin’ are much of an upgrade.

2. Grizzly River Run – This attraction is under-appreciated and extremely beautiful. The rapids ride showcases Grizzly Peak which is one of the icons of the park. If that’s not enough, the ride is really fun and a great family attraction. Getting soaked may scare some people off but grab a poncho and enjoy one of the best raft rides there is.

1. Radiator Springs Racers – This really isn’t close. Radiator Springs Racers is the best attraction Disney has created in the last 15 years. The ride offers beautiful scenery, a classic Disney dark ride with audio-animatronics, and a sense of thrill at the end. There is nothing close RSR at California Adventure and it deserves the top spot without a doubt.

Overview 

Doing this list confirms what I already thought of California Adventure – it needs a few more high-quality rides.  The quantity is pretty impressive but the bottom 10 on this list are all pretty bad attractions.  While it’s fine to have some attractions that don’t wow guests (in fact, those are needed) those rides can’t become the norm instead of the exception. With that beings said, DCA has taken a huge step in the last decade and I think that will continue in the future.

What rankings did I get wrong? Let me know in the comments! If you’re looking for a way to ride all of these in a timely fashion, check our FastPass guide to California Adventure here. Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney!

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15 replies »

    • Good question! We’re going to Tokyo in 2 months so I was saving this as a blog post until we were back from there. I also expect these rankings to change drastically over the next few years as all of Disney’s current projects open. A quick ranking (without explanation) for today would be:

      1. Disneyland
      2. Magic Kingdom
      3. Animal Kingdom
      4. Epcot
      5. California Adventure
      6. Hollywood Studios

      I love Animal Kingdom more than most and there is a huge drop off from California Adventure to Hollywood Studios.

      Liked by 1 person

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