Disneyland, and it’s sister park Disney California Adventure, have attractions and rides for the very young, like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as well as the thrill-seeking big kid in your family, but if you’re traveling as a family it can be hard to find a ride to for everyone. Big kids don’t want to ride on the ‘baby’ rides and little kids just don’t meet the restrictions (and probably aren’t ready for) the bigger thrill rides. The folks at Disney understand and have a collection of rides the whole family can enjoy together.
Based on our family pick, here are the top 5 rides to accommodate everyone:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
It’s hard to believe the ride came before the movies. It’s actually because of the movies that my kids love this ride and have enjoyed even when they were little. Riders float through various scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean story, from the Bayou Bateau, and Dead Man’s Grotto, right through a middle of a battle in the village. As you’re floating through caves, caverns and at night, the ride is dark with a few pitch black moments (two small drops happen here too). Although this is a water ride, you don’t get wet. This ride can get busy but lines usually move fairly quickly (thus no FastPass option). Although this rides is fairly tame for thrill seekers, Pirates of the Carribean fans will love riding through the story (and it’s a great attraction when you want to get out of the sun).
- Jungle Cruise
Step abord this covered boat as you chug through the unexplored jungles. Kids will love seeing the automated animals and older riders will groan at the skipper’s tongue and cheek humour throughout the ride. First time riders will enjoy a few surprises along the way and veterans will love how the boat captains make each experience unique. And if your little one is lucky, they might get a chance to steer the boat and earn the license.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster
Whether you’ve familiar with Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear, the AstroBlaster will still entertain you. Half ride, half game, riders embark on a mission to take down Zurg by using their lazer guns (two per car) to shoot at targets. Even if little kids are too you to rally aim, they’ll love the experience, plus they can spin the car around for added fun. Bigger kids will be all about the score, to see who in the car racks up the most points. I love how at the end you can email your picture and score to yourself. Now that’s a great souvenir and it’s free.
- Haunted Mansion
I must admit, when my youngest first went on this ride at the age of 3, she was a tad nervous. Now this is one of her favourite rides. Sit back and relax as you ride through Haunted Mansion, seeing various ghosts and ghouls living it up. The ride isn’t in the dark but there isn’t a lot of light either. And now worries, nothing jumps out at you. Really, the scariest part of the ride is the library when you first walk in (there are scenes of darkness here). My kids (older and younger) like to sit in their own car, or rather Doombuggy, all on their own for this ride. Watch the lines. As it gets closer to nighttime you might find longer lines. You can use your FastPass though you’re bound to find a time of day when line-ups are minimal.
- Toy Story Mania
Disneyland isn’t the only place to find rides for the whole family, Toy Story Manie in Disney California Adventure is sure to be another crowd pleaser. Similar to the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlaster, Toy Story Manis is part ride, part game. Riders wear 3D glasses and using cannons (2 per car) they try to hit as many targets as they can as they wiz through various scenes. I love that your car spins and twirls as it moves from scene to scene, adding an extended ride feel, and the different scenes and items that pop out of your cannon (virtually) are great fun. You even feel blasts of air as rockets shoot off from the 3D screen; a great affect adding to the whole 3D experience. At the end, everyone will be comparing scores. This is a fairly new attraction and still garners long lines to hit it early or use your FastPass.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have many rides available without height restrictions, opening them up for a whole family experience. There are just a few of our favourite that have been entertained our family from preschooler, preteen to adult alike.
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