Disneyland truly has something for everyone. This includes thrill seekers! However Disney Parks do vary from other amusement parks in that the thrills here are just as visual and cerebral as they are tummy-tickling This makes the thrill rides at Disneyland great for a wide variety of ages. I’ve included big thrills as well as mini-thrills for thrill seekers in training.
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Thrill Rides at Disneyland
Some of the thrill rides at Disneyland have low height requirements. This means that preschoolers are quite often tall enough to ride with the rest of their family. However only you know your child. Even if your youngster meets the height requirement, the thrills may prove to be too intense. Be sure to take this into consideration before taking your child if they are particularly nervous.
I also have more tips on these posts:
- Complete Guide to Everything Scary for Kids at Disneyland
- 5 Helpful Tips for Calming Scared and Anxious Kids at Disney
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)
The Matterhorn Bobsleds, the ride many guests love to hate. This ride was a favorite when I was younger and my dad would encourage us to lean into the curves to make our bobsled zip faster. There is very little padding in the bobsled so be aware that if you have a bad back, this ride may exacerbate it. The Abominable Snowman is really quite scary (and loud!) (42″ or taller)
Space Mountain, the fastest of all coasters inside the Disneyland Park This coaster 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)
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)
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)
Indiana Jones Adventure inside Adventureland is dark, mysterious and not for the faint of heart. In my opinion, this is the scariest ride at Disneyland. And it’s not because you’re moving particularly fast. However you will be in the dark and encounter lots of real-looking surprises. 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)
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 (no height requirement).
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 two short water drops your little one might be trembling a bit. But it’s all a yo-ho good time in the end (no height requirement).
Big Thrills at Disney’s California Adventure Park
Drop in for a scream of a time at the Guardians of the Galaxy -Mission: BREAKOUT! 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. Perhaps next time I’ll gain the courage? (40″ or taller)
The original looping coaster California Screamin‘ has been revamped in the Pixar Pier make-over. The new Incredicoaster is themed to the movie The Incredibles. It still has that fantastic loop in the middle!
Pixar Pal-A-Round (formerly called Mickey’s Fun Wheel) in Pixar 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 and it’s not as obvious to tell that you’re 150 feet in the air! (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. There is a sudden stop at the end that you might not be expecting (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)
Soarin’ Around the World – The ride description explains that you’ll be “flying”. True, you’ll be lifted off the ground in a chair that swings slightly in coordination with the film. (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)
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Checking Height Requirements
Before you take on the thrill rides, you’ll need to know if your thrill seeker hits the height requirement. Read this post for all the details on what you need to know about Disneyland height restrictions.
Avoiding Nausea on Disneyland Thrill Rides
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. This way you’ll know how to deal with any motion sickness ailments.
Thrill-seekers are used to be turned head over heels! But nothing will kill the thrill-buzz like losing your car keys on one of the rides. 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.
Thrill seekers don’t let a few splashes slow them down. Carry a Rain Poncho if there is drizzle in the forecast (or to wear on wet rides). And you’ll want to protect your Park ticket in a lanyard like the Mickey and Friends Lanyards with Detachable Coin Purse. Easy to use when scanning for FastPass!