Disneyland has something for everyone, thrill seekers included! The thrills here are just as visual and cerebral as they are tummy-tickling which makes them great for a wide variety of ages. I’ve included big thrills as well as mini-thrills for thrill seekers in training.
Big Thrills at Disneyland Park
When looking for thrills at Disneyland, look no further than the mountains…namely Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Matterhorn and Space Mountain.
Splash Mountain is a mostly tame log ride that takes you through the story of Song of the South inside Critter Country. However the sweet fun inside culminates in a five story drop down a waterfall that will tickle your tummy. Many kids will balk at riding this one because you can’t miss seeing guests being hurtled down the flume at the ride’s entrance. And you will get wet (possibly soaked), so keep that in mind and switch your walking shoes out for plastic flip-flops. (40″ or taller)
Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland is one of my favorites, but you’d never have guessed when I was younger. My parents quite literally dragged me on, crying! This is one of the rides that I like to go on twice; Once in the daytime and again at night because the experience changes. You’ll sit inside a train car and be treated to fast speeds and dips as the runaway train blasts through this “wildest ride in the wilderness”. Watch out for that dynamite! (40″ or taller)
The Matterhorn Bobsleds, the ride many guests love to hate. I will confess that this was a favorite when I was younger and my dad would encourage us to lean into the curves to make our bobsled zip faster. It’s another ride that is great to ride in the day and at night. Unfortunately since the bobsleds have been redesigned, I’m not a fan and the Matterhorn ride is extremely uncomfortable and painful to my back. Those bobsleds definitely need more padding! With the addition of new Abominable Snowman, I’m excited to give this Fantasyland ride another try on our next visit. (42″ or taller)
Space Mountain, the fastest of all coasters inside the Disneyland Park will take you to the edges of the universe on a high-speed adventure. Guests board what looks like a rocket inside this Tomorrowland thrill ride that combines darkness, planetary lights and stars and a rockin’ soundtrack. If you’ve never ridden this one before you might find yourself feeling a bit dizzy after the many swirling circles that your rocket takes. (40″ or taller)
Indiana Jones Adventure inside Adventureland is dark, mysterious and not for the faint of heart. You’ll board a 12-person vehicle that takes you on a bumpy journey akin to what Indiana Jones would experience (snakes, booby traps, lava, mummies, etc). Pay attention to the ride warnings on this one as the ride is very rocky (secure your possessions!) (46″ or taller)
It’s a race through the universe in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, a thrilling motion-simulator ride. Don your 3-D glasses and step inside the “Starspeeder 1000″ for a trip to one of six planets in one of fifty possible scenarios. This exciting flight simulator also includes animatronic characters and adventure to the far reaches of the galaxy. (40” or taller)
Mini-thrills at Disneyland Park
A great warm-up for the bigger thrill rides, these mini-thrills will give you a little tummy tickle but would be unlikely to cause any fears or upset stomachs.
Astro Orbitor – this is Dumbo the Flying Elephant for the big kid set. Board a rocket that spins you around in a circle and use the joystick to raise and lower. This one is especially cool at night with the lights of Tomorrowland twinkling around you.
Gadget’s Go Coaster – a great beginner’s coaster set inside the whimsical Toontown. Guests only need to be 35″ so many three-year olds are old enough to ride. It’s only one minute long (just a climb, drop and a few quick dips and it’s over), so the ride is over quickly. Perfect for first time thrill-seekers!
Pirates of the Caribbean – it’s dark and somewhat spooky in here! With realistic animatronic pirates, skeletons and a short water drop your little one might be trembling a bit but it’s all a yo-ho good time in the end.
Across the esplanade at Disney’s California Adventure Park, there are thrills of another kind.
Big Thrills at Disney’s California Adventure Park
Drop in for a scream of a time at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror! I will confess that this ride is the only attraction I’ve never set foot on. I’m always worried it’s going to induce a headache with those random drops. It’s also a bit spooky, as I’ve gleaned from the images online. My stepdaughter has walked in and walked out in the past, saying she’s too scared to ride. Perhaps next time I’ll gain the courage? (40″ or taller)
There is one ride at the Disneyland Resort that will literally turn you head over heels and that’s California Screamin’! Set back in the Paradise Pier area, you can’t miss this one…just follow the screams! Though it looks like a rickety coaster of old, it’s actually a very smooth ride, full of dips and twists and one big loop-de-loop! (48″ or taller)
Mickey’s Fun Wheel in Paradise Pier has two sections; one is a stationary gondola that turns just as any ordinary Ferris wheel. Choose the second gondola and you’ll enjoy a perilous swing each time the Ferris wheel rotates. Neither of them are appropriate if you’re afraid of heights (myself included!). Try it at night when the wheel is lit. (No height requirements)
Race into Cars Land for a turn on the high-speed Radiator Springs Racers! Part slow dark ride, part roller coaster, this one is 100% can’t miss. Six guests ride inside their race car which competes against other car in a race to the finish through the Ornament Valley. (40″ or taller)
Mini-Thrills at Disney’s California Adventure Park
Goofy’s Sky School – This one in Paradise Pier is zippier than it first appears. The tiny cars quickly cruise across the track, blindly turning sharply and dipping up and down. (42″ or taller)
Grizzly River Run – What seems at first like a float down a lazy river soon becomes a spinning trip down the Grizzly River, full of dips, drops and a good soaking! This is another one where I’d recommend changing your shoes and socks for flip-flops before. (42″ or taller)
Jumpin’ Jellyfish – Float up and down gently 40″ high in your two-seater jellyfish bench. Not scary unless you’re afraid of heights (ahem!) (40″ or taller)
Silly Symphony Swings – Sit in an individual swinging chair, which raises and lowers, dipping up and down while simultaneously spinning. It’s a classic and great for young ones (you can even choose a side-by-side double swing). (40″ or taller)
Thrill-Seekers Must Haves
Thrill-seekers are used to be turned head over heels! Nothing kills the thrill-buzz though like losing your car keys in the upside-down loop of California Screamin’. Girls should secure everything in a zippered bag like the LeSportsac Tink Hobo Bag and guys can store it all in a Star Wars Force Awakens BB-8 Backpack.
Capture your thrills for all time with a cool camera that goes anywhere like the Panasonic HX-A500 4K Point-of-View Wearable Action Camera Camcorder or the Nikon COOLPIX S33 Waterproof Digital Camera.
Kick start your day bright and early by being ready with Park tickets in hand before you arrive. I recommend purchasing Park tickets through Park Savers to save a few dollars and time in line at the gate.
If thrills are your thing but your body doesn’t always cooperate, make sure to take a peek at my post with Top Tips for Avoiding Nausea at Disneyland so you’ll know how to deal with any motion sickness ailments.
This post contains affiliate links
What’s your favorite Disneyland thrill ride?