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!
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 California Adventure. 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.
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:
23. Jumpin’ Jellyfish – I guess the jellyfish theme on the pier sort of fits. But it’s an amusement park ride that is best served to get a unique view of whatever street show is going down below.
22. 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. Others like it way more than I do so don’t just take my opinion!
21. 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.
20. Jesse’s Critter Carousel – This somewhat recent addition to Pixar Pier is fine. It doesn’t look great and it’s not extremely unique but the critters are cute.
19. Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters – 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.
18. Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sulley To The Rescue – This attraction has an actual plot. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good plot and there is nothing visually that sets this apart. Lately it’s had much longer lines for one reason or another.
17. Turtle Talk With Crush – We’re getting into better attractions now. At least Turtle Talk is unique and a pretty fun experience for kids. It’s also a nice place to cool off on a hot day. With that being said, it’s forgettable.
16. 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.
15. Red Car Trolley – The slowest moving ride in the park takes guests through Buena Vista Street and into Hollywood Land. It’s a leisurely ride that’s worth doing when everything else has a long line!
14. 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. And it looks gorgeous at night.
13. 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.
12. 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. The new Coco scene added is fantastic!
11. Goofy’s Sky School – This roller coaster scares me to death but some think it’s fun and wild mouse coasters make for memorable experiences no matter who you go with!
10. 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.
9. WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure – The latest attraction that’s come to Disney California Adventure is in Avengers Campus, and is a 3D interactive ride. Helping Spider-Man is fun and this scores points for being accessible to all ages, but the actual ride isn’t much more than average.
8. 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.
7. Animation Academy – Animation Academy is a hidden gem and is a fun attraction for everyone. I’m the worst artist around and I even find this fun as a cast member teaches you how to draw a classic Disney character. This is one of the places we take everyone who visits DCA.
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’ Over California comes back from time to time and is probably a top-3 attraction in this park.
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. 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.
2. Incredicoaster – What I said about Mission: BREAKOUT! could apply to Incredicoaster. The ride itself is extremely fun and a must-do. I don’t know if any of the changes from the previous California Screamin’ are much of an upgrade but smelling chocolate chip cookies briefly before going through a roller coaster loop is a nice plus!
1. Radiator Springs Racers – This really isn’t close. Radiator Springs Racers is the best attraction in DCA by a long shot. 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 to RSR at California Adventure and it deserves the top spot without a doubt.
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 are your favorite attractions in California Adventure? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Attraction Rankings, Attraction Reviews
I probably never asked this but how would you rank the Disney parks you’ve been to from best to worst?
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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:
2. Magic Kingdom
3. Animal Kingdom
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.
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Hope you have fun in Tokyo!
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Will you also be doing rankings of the rides at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea?
Eventually, yes. It will probably be long after I get some reviews and a trip report out though.
I’m not sure who weewee’d in your corn flakes, but folks, don’t take these descriptions to heart. Many of the rides disliked here are loved, especially by younger children. They are the audience for them and I love taking my kids on them. The re-dress of the boardwalk to Pixar Pier was genius, including the Incredicoaster. It gave the park personality and my kids love visiting with their favorite Pixar characters. And how do you write a review like this, saying the park needs better rides, when even last year we knew Marvel Campus was coming? Mission Breakout blows Tower of Terror (Twilight Zone? Really?) completely out of the water. Maybe get someone else to rank Cali Adventure next time?
I didn’t think I was especially negative, as there are parts of DCA that I absolutely love. My problems with Pixar Pier are outlined here. https://wanderingindisney.com/2019/10/28/pixar-piers-downfall/
I have issues with Mission: BREAKOUT! in the way it looks and how it fits into the overall theme of the park, as for the actual ride it’s a ton of fun! Being in the top 4 is pretty good.
As for your last few comments, the main portion of this post was written 4 years ago. But even if it wasn’t, Marvel Campus is adding one ride in the immediate future that looks to be similar to Toy Story Mania. I can still think that the park could use another E-ticket. Hopefully the third phase of Marvel Land goes off without a kink due to the pandemic.
I wrote in the post that I can’t account for other people’s memories and I rank the attractions and park based on thematic design and how much I enjoy the rides. Of course, theme parks are built with kids in mind but the best theme parks in the world blend architecture, design and story with fun for all ages. California Adventure does that in places but I think it lacks in some areas. I still love it dearly. I’m glad you do too!
Reverse the list and then add Radiator Springs Racers & Grizzly a little higher and you have my list. I LOVE the Monsters, Inc ride but yeh, something is definitely missing in the Little Mermaid ride.
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It sounds like you really didn’t like this park much.
I do like the park fairly well mostly thanks to some incredible areas like Cars Land and Grizzly Peak. The entrance is beautiful, as well. As a whole, it does have a bit of an identity crisis thematically. From an attraction standpoint, it could use something really creative to pair with Radiator Springs Racers. Outside of that ride the ride systems for the best attractions boil down to a raft ride, drop ride and big coaster. Those are great, but something more creative would do the park wonders! Hopefully that’s coming soon with an Avengers ride.
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