Listed below are my top ten rides at Disneyland for visitors short on time. While a large number of Southern California residents own an annual pass to the Disneyland Resort, there are just as many out of town visitors. A common question asked by many is the number of days necessary to properly experience all the rides and attractions at the Disneyland Resorts. I always recommend a 3 day minimum – one day per park with the third day to revisit the favorites and enjoy dining and shopping in Downtown Disney. While three days at the park is ideal, there are visitors who are only able to plan a one day visit. If you are going to the Disneyland Resort for a quick one day visit, don’t miss these top 10 rides.
Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times……..
1) Space Mountain located in Tomorrowland is a must for my family on every trip. The excitement of a high speed roller coaster in complete darkness makes this ride #1 on my list. Did you know that six of the original seven Mercury astronauts attended Space Mountain’s opening – Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Sen. John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Alan Schepard and Deke Slayton were there on May 27, 1977.
2) Star Tours located in Tomorrowland, is a 3d simulator ride that takes you on an adventure across the galaxy. This ride is a must for all Star Wars fans.
3) Matterhorn in Fantasyland is my personal favorite. Partly because it opened in 1959 (year I was born) but mostly because to a lot of us growing up in California, the site of the Matterhorn in the distance seen from Interstate 5 freeway is magical. No matter where you were going to or coming from if you drive by Disneyland, you would see it and for a moment it would take you back to your last trip to the park.
4) “It’s a small world” in Fantasyland is everyone’s favorite. I will however warn you about this ride. You will hear loud and off key singing throughout the ride (especially if I am on your boat) and the song will be stuck in your head the rest of your day.
5) Big ThunderMountain Railroad located in Frontierland is an indoor-outdoor rollercoaster. The theme is that of an old mining train. Although it gives the appearance of a rickety ride, this is another great ride for roller coaster fans.
6) Pirates of the Caribbean located in New Orleans Square is a true pirate adventure complete with pirate ship attacks, chaos and destruction. A true Disney classic. Originally intended as a walk through wax museum, the ride was eventually converted into a ride. Pirates as it is usually called was the last ride whose construction was overseen by Walt Disney himself. The addition of Jack Sparrow to various scenes brought a whole new look to Pirates of the Caribbean.
7) Haunted Mansion located in New Orleans Square begins with a bone-chilling walk through a portion of the Mansion to the dune buggy boarding area. Once on board you travel through a very scary path complete with singing tombstones and dueling ghosts. Don’t forget to check for hidden mickeys.
8) Splash Mountain inside Critter Country is a favorite, especially in hot weather. The sign “you may get wet, needs to be changed to “You WILL get wet” soaked actually. Another fun log ride, complete with a 53 foot drop will have young and old, screaming with laughter and little bit of fear.
9) Indiana Jones in Adventureland has all the excitement of the Indiana Jones movies. After boarding a jeep vehicle you are transported into the Chamber of Destiny where one special door will open to begin your adventure. A ride filled with one narrow escape after another, beetles, hissing snakes, falling boulders make for an unforgettable adventure.
10) Jungle Cruise in Adventureland is an old favorite. Although there have been few changes to this ride over the years, it is a staple and a must ride to get the full Disneyland experience. My family rides the Jungle Cruise on most visits to the park, and will chime in during the famous comment about Schwitzer Falls and “the back side of water”. This ride is recommended mostly because it was one of the originals and has Walt’s touch visible in many areas.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg or in Disneyland’s case, the tip of the Matterhorn, when it comes to spending just one day at the parks. I hope my list will help visitors make sure that at the very least, you are able to enjoy the rides that make Disneyland, the magical place we all love.
Let me know if your favorites are on the list in the comment box below.
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I LOVE living near Disneyland and having APs so I can visit the parks all the time. As the ET reporter for Chip and Co and a Travel Agent, I enjoy sharing my Amazing Magical Adventures with my fellow DAs.
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