Obviously Disneyland is meant for families. That was Walt's entire idea when he first dreamed up the park and most guests feel they know which attractions are best already, but the truth is they tend to simply follow the crowds and trends and can skip over some lesser-known gems that everyone will love. Check over this list and if you've done all of them. If not, you have a few more to try on your next visit!
- Alice in Wonderland | Fantasyland - I'm not ashamed to admit that this is my favorite ride in Fantasyland! Not only do you get to step into the story of Alice but the ride begins and ends outside with some cool views that most kids will enjoy.
- Autopia | Tomorrowland - Drivers of many ages can sit behind the wheel and drive themselves across Disneyland's miniature freeway and, for a moment, off-road. Kids who are taller can ride by themselves, otherwise adult supervision is needed.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters | Tomorrowland - This arcade-style ride is a must-do for families because you can constantly challenge kids to a rematch or simply have everyone try to beat their own best score. I've reached level 7 - do you know all the secrets of the game?
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant | Fantasyland - A true classic, a version of Dumbo has been around since the opening day of the park. Soar over Fantasyland in the only spinning ride where you fly side-by-side.
- Enchanted Tiki Room | Adventureland - Reportedly one of Walt's favorites, the Enchanted Tiki Room is home to the world's first audio-animatronic figures. When they ask everyone to sing along, please do! The show is only about 15 minutes long, allows food and drink inside (Dole Whip, anyone?) and engages the audience from start to finish.
- Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage | Tomorrowland - The Submarine Voyage is an attraction with a time commitment because it loads slow and lasts about 10-15 minutes, but it can be worth it. Each rider gets their own view port as you dive underwater to see Nemo and his friends.
- "it's a small world" | Fantasyland - You can't visit Disneyland without taking a trip around the world on the happiest cruise that ever set sail! If your family is not sure they want to hear that song on repeat for 15 minutes, here's a game you can play: see who can spot the most Disney/Pixar characters before the ride is over. There's over 30 to see - who can get closest?
- King Arthur Carousel | Fantasyland - This is an actual antique carousel Disney purchased and moved to the property while they were building Disneyland. Walt loved riding them with his daughters and wanted everyone to have the same experience. If you're lucky you can try to ride on Jingles. He was Lilian Disney's (Walt's wife) favorite horse and dedicated to Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins herself).
- Mad Tea Party | Fantasyland - You can't go wrong with this classic. Spin as little or as much as you'd like until the tea party comes to an end. My family always tried to spin the fastest and was even called out by CMs from time to time!
- Main Street Cinema | Main Street, USA - Tired and hot? Step inside the Main Street Cinema for a while and let the kids watch one of 6 classic Mickey Mouse cartoons while you take a load off and enjoy the cool air.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh | Critter Country - Hop along with Pooh, Tigger and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood on a very blustery day. I like to try and identify everyone's houses in the queue before stepping on board. There are a few I haven't found yet, but they're all there!
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride | Fantasyland - If your family like fast-paced stories then this is perfect for them. Even if you've never seen The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad you'll still enjoy riding in and around Toad Hall - just watch out for the ending!
- Peter Pan's Flight | Fantasyland - Yes, this is a very popular attraction already. Kids love the fact that you "fly" over the ride and over London and Neverland along with Peter. It's the shortest of the dark rides and the longest line, so you figure out when you would like to spend the time on it.
- Pinocchio's Daring Journey | Fantasyland - The best part of this ride is the Pleasure Island scene. I know you're not supposed to really be enjoying it, but it's well done and a lot of fun!
- Pirates of the Caribbean | New Orleans Square - Mild thrills and immersive stories await on this ride. Since there are no height requirements, the entire family can enjoy this ride together.
- Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin | Mickey's Toontown - Literally this is what would happen if you put a teacup from the Mad Tea Party and rode it through Mr. Toad. It's the best of both worlds! If you don't want to spin you don't have to but it's a lot of fun and often forgotten about at the back of the park. FastPasses are usually available, too, so no need to wait long.
- Snow White's Scary Adventures | Fantasyland - If your kids don't like witches or surprises then this isn't a great option, but the fact that it's darker than most dark rides works in its favor for many fans. Step into the role of Snow White and ride through your own fairy tale to the "Happily Ever After". Anyone ever notice that it ends a bit abruptly? Oh, well.
- Tarzan's Treehouse | Adventureland - When the kids get a bit squirrelly set them loose in Tarzan's Treehouse. Guests can move at their own pace through the treehouse itself and there is a small play area at the end where guests can hang off ropes, bang on pots and pans or just generally explore the camp.
Disney California Adventure
- Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind | Pixar Pier - This is the only spinning ride of its kind in this park and has a lot for everyone to look at and take it before, during and after the ride. Which emotion did you get when you last rode? They change every time.
- Jessie's Critter Carousel | Pixar Pier - This has all the perks of King Arthur Carousel at Disneyland, but here you can ride on the back of some of the cutest and zaniest critters around!
- The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure | Paradise Gardens Park - The Little Mermaid is one of only 3 dark rides in DCA but it would be just as welcome at Disneyland. The key to understand is that Scuttle is telling the story of Ariel but may miss a few details here and there. It's lots of fun, rarely has a long line and gets you out of the hot sun!
- Mickey's Philharmagic | Hollywood Land - Many people (and I do mean many people) forget about this cute little show. The story follows Donald on a whirlwind adventure through classic Disney songs and scenes. Originally made for the Magic Kingdom many years ago, it's a worth-while addition to DCA and everyone in the family will enjoy it. Seriously one of the best 3D park movies I've seen.
- Monsters, Inc.: Mike & Sulley to the Rescue | Hollywood Land - It's a dinky little ride, but very cute! The most impressive scene is the door vault! Ride vehicles can fit up to 6 so even larger families can sit together.
- Redwood Creek Challenge Trail | Grizzly Peak - This is a fantastic place for kids of many different ages to run around and get their energy out! Things are also very fun for adults, but if you'd rather sit on one of the many benches around and wait, then by all means please do so. A small zip-line is often open as well though it tends to have a line.
- Toy Story Midway Mania | Pixar Pier - Similar to Buzz Lightyear, the best part of this arcade-style ride is that you can keep riding it over and over again to try and beat your score. Unlike Astro Blasters, it's much easier to see where you're aiming so there's not as much question as to why your score is the way it is. Remember to let the string go ALL THE WAY back in before pulling again or it doesn't register.