First of all, everything is fun at Disneyland! That just comes with the territory. That said, we all know there are attractions we love and attractions that we love every once in a while and some that just don't sound that interesting. I'm always open to new experiences and have been pleasantly surprised to find some rides and attractions that are much better than what they seem at first glance!
- Animation Academy (Hollywood Land, DCA) - This little treasure is inside the Art of Disney Animation pavilion at California Adventure. Most people visit the pavilion only for "Turtle Talk with Crush" or to meet Anna and Elsa, but right next to that foreboding line of Frozen-loving children is the entrance to the Animation Academy where you can learn to draw a Disney character. The whole class is about 15 minutes, but you get step-by-step instruction by a Disney animator and a little history about the character as you draw (hence why I now know a bit more about Oswald :)). All in all you get a free souvenir you made yourself and you can keep coming back because they draw a different character each class!
- Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (Frontierland, DL) - Tom Sawyer Island is frequently thought of as a destination for children only so it took me quite some time before I finally took a keel boat over. The whole island is a playground with hidden passages, rope and pontoon bridges, and other fun activities. Kids will get a kick out of it and can fit in more of the passages than adults can, but it was surprisingly fun! It's a great way to relax just a bit and slow down in the middle of the day so you don't run yourself ragged and you get some great views of the Rivers of America, New Orleans Square, Frontierland and Critter Country.
- Games of the Boardwalk (Paradise Pier, DCA) - I never understood why Disney kept these games open after Toy Story Midway Mania opened next door with essentially the same games. One visit we were with a friend and she wanted to try them out so we loaded up a Boardwalk gaming card and went to town. We ended up spending the entire card in five minutes and went back for more! They were a lot of fun and you're guaranteed a prize every time at the fishing game. Later I went with more of my family and we played other games only between us and no other guests so one of us always got a prize (usually my niece). I love the plush toys you get, too, because the Mickeys are dressed up as Paradise Pier CMs! So cute!
- Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes (Critter Country, DL) - If you ask a Cast Member, they'll tell you that the canoes are your arm workout for your vacation. It's actually completely true, but also really fun! Your canoe guide ends up feeling more like a Jungle Cruise skipper so you're not only paddling a canoe around the Rivers of America but you're busting a gut at the same time as they make fun of you for struggling with the concept of paddling! Sometimes you even get to race another canoe if they end up catching up to you. These are only open seasonally so keep an eye out and give them a try if you find them open!
- Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (Cars Land, DCA) - This is probably the biggest surprise I've ever gotten from a ride at Disneyland. I was riding them simply to say that I have ridden them and have had the experience, but when it was all over I thought "Let's do it again!" It looks rather tame when you watch them, but when those tractors throw you around you get some pretty intense Gs! It's not so intense so that kids are scared but it's enough of a thrill that anyone will enjoy it. Literally everyone I know who has tried them says the exact same thing: "I didn't expect that to be so fun. I'd do it again!"
Now I know that two of the items on this list will be closed extensively come January for Star Wars land construction, but either fit them in on your next trip if you're going soon or keep them in mind when they reopen in 2017. You will not be disappointed!
Do you know of any attractions that were a fun surprise when you finally tried them?