Which rides are a "must-do" at Disneyland and California Adventure...?

I have one day to spend at the park with my daughter (who is six, but over the height req for every ride). She loves roller coasters but is not too old for the flying elephants…

I am using a software called RideMax, which helps organize your visit to keep you out of long waits and line-ups as much as possible. The problem is, I don’t want to cram too much in, but am not familiar with the Disneyland rides.

We did go to Disneyworld two years ago - it was very fun, but we did miss out on a few rides because we did not know closing times on some of them…

Anyway, which rides are “must-dos” for Disneyland and California Adventure?

The Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, it’s really fun, and it’s one they dont’ have at Disney World.

If you only have one day, I’d stick to Disneyland only. At California Adventure, the only rides really worth it are California Screamin’ (the roller coaster), Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (same as in Florida, if you’ve been there), and Soarin’ over California (later copied in Florida). In the summer the raft ride is nice, and there is a kids’ play area nearby. (I’ve not yet been on the new Toy Story ride or most of It’s a Bug’s Land.)

In Disneyland, avoid Fantasyland. As charming as the dark rides are, they usually have long lines that don’t use the FastPass system. Getting one or two rides in might be worth it, especially if she especially likes one of the movies*. Mickey’s Toon Town has a lot of kid-oriented stuff.

My list of can’t miss:
Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad**, Haunted Mansion, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Also check the daily schedule for parades, shows, and fireworks. There are also street performers with schedules, check out the barbershop quartet or the trash-can drummers.

*: Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Alice in Wonderland for dark rides.
**: When they say hold on to your hats and glasses, they mean it.

I would agree with the Disneyland only plan for just one day.

For her age, I’d recommend
For “experience”:

  • Pirates of the Carribean
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Star Tours
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild ride
  • It’s a Small World

For thrill rides:

  • Space Mountain
  • Matterhorn bobsleds
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Jets

(I haven’t been on Indiana Jones, but I’ve heard it’s pretty good)

I can’t completely agree with this advice. I think the Toy Story ride is a definite can’t-miss, and the other rides mentioned at California Adventure are well worth the trip over. I also think the food at California Adventure is generally better. Take a break in the middle of your day, head across the way, get a Fast Pass for California Screamin’ and then hop in line for the Toy Story ride (which doesn’t have Fast Pass). Soarin’ Over California is interesting and fun the first time around, but I tend to think the line for that gets to be disproportionately long for how short the ride is. I’d recommend checking that one out on your way back out of California Adventure. And I just did Tower of Terror for the first time this weekend and thought it was fantastic.

I think California Adventure gets too much of a bum rap. In my mind, it’s well worth the time.

Meh, personally I find the Indiana Jones ride kind of underwhelming. I wouldn’t put it on a “must ride” list.

I’d suggest:

– California Adventure –

Soarin’ – It’s the best thing in the park and worth the walk over from Disneyland.

– Disneyland –

Pirates of the Caribbean – The addition of Jack Sparrow made it even better.
Haunted Mansion
Peter Pan’s Flight – The lines can be crazy but it’s the most magical of the dark rides in Fantasyland

It’s a Small World isn’t a “must ride”, but the line usually moves really fast so it’s a “why not?”
Splash Mountain** is a lot of fun, but the line is usually a killer.

I always make a point of hitting Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride when I’m at Dizzyland. And Peter Pan’s Magic Flight–the part where you fly over London at night is super cool, IMHO.

For Disneyland, I recommend Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Big Thunder is fun too. She’d probably like the submarine ride now that they’ve retrofitted it for Nemo, but the lines are usually horrible.

For California Adventure, Soarin’ Over California (just did this for the first time this summer, and I loved it!) and the Tower of Terror if she’s not prone to fright. The atmosphere is very cool (I kept getting Bioshock flashbacks for some reason) but it’s actually quite short so don’t wait in line too long for it.

You can also buy alcoholic drinks in DCA but not in Disneyland Park – probably not much of an attraction for the 6-year-old, but could make the day a little more pleasant for an adult.

I wasn’t that impressed with the Indiana Jones ride either.

I love Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain (Splash Mountain is nice and long for a log ride).

I agree, and I’m also excited about the plans for the near future over there. I just think two parks in a single day will cause burnout. I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t try to rush things and get everything done in a short amount of time. I also don’t have children yet.

Former Disney employee here

You’ll want to hit all the big rides early, get Fastpass if you can. I find that Indiana Jones ride takes a lot of time to get to, based on the seating of the cars the general type of ride it is. Get that Fastpass first. Depending on what day you go(Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the slowest), the Fastpass will reserve a spot for you in a couple hours or in the afternoon.

From Adventureland, go to Pirates of the Carribean first. Its a 30 mins ride with a 15 min line, and a lot of fun. The Jungle Cruise is a relaxing little ride, but its hit or miss depending on the boat operator. He/she’s supposed to tell jokes and stuff, but some of them suck. Haunted Mansion is right next to it, so go on that next. Depending on the line, you can go or skip Splash Mountain. Its only redeeming value is the big drop, and you dont’ want to spend 2 hours in line for 3 seconds of ride. The animatronics in there are of the old Country Bears and random short cartoons Disney used to produce, so I doubt your daughter will recognize any of the characters. If she likes Winnie the Pooh, head to Critter Country real quick and hop on that ride, then go back towards the middle of Disneyland and get on Thunder Mountain.

You can get lunch around that time probably, try to eat before 11am or after 2pm, lines are shorter. I second the Peter Pan ride, its great and about the only Fantasyland ride of distinction. Skip the boat ride through the big whale’s mouth, and the Fantasyland train, they suck and are short. From there, you can head to Toontown for that Roger Rabbit ride, then take the Its a Small World ride really quick. The lines move fast in that.

From there, Matterhorn’s pretty close, and then Space Mountain. Autopia’s in the same area, but if she can’t reach the pedals then it probably wouldn’t be too fun for her. The Finding Nemo submarine ride is there, but its one of the newer upgrades so the line may be long. Skip Innoventions, its just a big arcade/museum thing. Star Tours is also in Tomorrowland and that’s a lot of fun, and the Tomorrowland rockets are there right in front of it. Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblaster is there too, and I found it to be quite fun. Plus you get to shoot at stuff with a gun!

In California Adventure, the only decent rides are Soaring Over California and California Screaming. There’s a small ride call Mulholland Drive or something that’s fast and short. Make her sit on the edge, it’s scary :smiley:

Not many people would think this, but in that park, go to the Bug’s Life area. There’s a 3D movie thing there based on A Bug’s Life that is ten times better than the 3D Honey I Shrunk the Audience thing in Disneyland. Go on that, its great. Not many people know about it and the entrance looks deserted, but it is great.

Last, check out the showtimes for the Hyperion Theater in the Hollywood section of California Adventure. If you go on a weekend, they have 6 shows of that Aladdin show playing. It is spectacular. Its basically a singing and dancing show based on the movie in a comfortable theater setting. They have a Genie that does a standup act in the middle using current events, so you’ll always see something new. Plus, I think Aladdin runs through the crow or something. Fun fun show, kind of a hidden gem. Last, if you’re next to the Hyperion already, check out the Tower of Terror. They have a show within the line, and even the lines snake through some very interesting areas (the supposed basement of the hotel).

We just took our six year old daughter in May. My recommendations are:

Pirates of the Caribbean
Indiana Jones (it may be underwhelming for an adult, but my daughter loved it & still talks about it 6 months later)
Jungle Cruise
Big Thunder Mountain
Star Tours
Haunted Mansion
Splash Mountain
Snow White/Peter Pan/Mr. Toad/Alice in Wonderland
The Nemo submarine
The train ride around the park
The little storybook boat ride
the monorail

I didn’t take her on Space Mountain or The Matterhorn. The Carousel of Progress (or whatever it’s called) was kind of a waste of time (IMO). The Asimo show was kind of neat, though.

California Adventure was kind of a waste for my daughter (the 12 year old loved it). I would never take a 6 year old on Tower of Terror or California Screaming unless they absolutely love those types of rides beforehand. We went on the Ariel carousel, and hung out in the Bugs Life area, and went on the Ferris Wheel. CA is more of a “big kids” park.

Don’t forget to stop & get something to eat. My husband is a mad man and forgets that little kids need to take breaks and eat. The Jedi show was pretty cool. My daughter enjoyed watching that every time.

What? No love for the Tiki room? The best part of Disneyland!

Oh yes! How could I forget the Tiki Room? Absolutely. And the wait is never that bad.

For lunch at Disneyland I’d recommend the Blue Bayou. The food is decent and it’s connected to the loading area for Pirates so it has great ambiance. It’s also dark, cool, and relatively quiet which can make for a nice break from the heat and hustle outside.

Be sure to get reservations though. It’s almost impossible to get a table as a walk-in.

I like Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, and the Matterhorn.

When I was six, I liked the Matterhorn and some space ride. It might have been Space Mountain.

In California Adventure the roller coaster is great, and the Soaring Over California is great. (People are saying “the first time” but I’ve only been on it once, and for me that’s true for everything anyway.) I liked the Tower of Terror but wasn’t sure it was worth the wait.

Under the expert guidance of someone who’s been there a lot, we got a Fastpass to Splash Mountain and then went on the PotC ride and it was perfect timing. After that we had to wait for everything else, all day.

My personal favorites are:

Star Tours
Haunted Mansion
Indiana Jones

Tiki Room.

Haunted Mansion

Pirates of the Caribbean.

The rest is pure gravy.

I really liked Soaring as well. Most of the other posters have hit the highlights, but I enjoy the Storybook Land Canal boats. Really nice bonsai and miniatures. Maybe because I am a model train nut, so any scale model stuff really does it for me. And it is nice and peaceful. Food is much better over in California Adventure.

The Moon Burger at Tomorrowland Terrace used to be a decent burger. No more. It is a hockey puck that sits up on the shelf in great stacks to dry out. You can also eat at Downtown Disney. The New Orleans themed place was disappointing and pricey, but I was surprised to enjoy my food at Rainforest Cafe, and much more reasonable. I always get a frozen banana from one of the cart vendors when I go.

An overlooked attraction in CA is the animation class. They teach you to draw a Disney character. The Muppet Show thing is pretty good too.

Tower of Terror is well named. One of the scariest rides in the park, so beware. I am pretty jaded with thrill rides, and have ridden it several times, but I don’t think I will again. It isn’t so much the drops, it’s the waiting for the drops that kills you. And you never know when they are going to come, because the ride is programmed to run a different sequence each time. :eek:

My brother in law rode Jumpin Jellyfish with his kids, and apparently the seats are sculpted in such a way that he was singing soprano afterwards. Not friendly to the male anatomy.

I was prepared to hate the revamped Pirates, but was very well impressed with it. Above that ride on the second floor over the entrance is an often ignored store/gallery with a lot of original Disney production art, if you are into that sort of thing. If they are running the sailboat instead of the riverboat, that is kind of interesting as well.

The Pooh ride gave me motion sickness, but not badly. It has a repetitive rocking sensation that did not agree with me at all.

Bit of trivia: The Matterhorn was the first tubular steel roller-coaster. Another Disney innovation.

Neat class. But the real gem in the Animation building is Turtle Talk with Crush. I love the Toy Story Zoetrope. Actually, I love the Animation building in general. Very underrated.

That was turned into a hotel room for winners in the last Disney promotion. The Gallery is now on Main Street.