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Are the scariest rides at Disneyland the thrilling coasters? Or are there other rides that could frighten youngsters? Get all the tips from a Disneyland expert including height requirements, which rides have scary potential and the best ways to handle fear.
Scariest Rides at Disneyland
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park are family oriented theme parks. Each of these Disney parks offer rides and entertainment for all ages, including many attractions that haven’t any height restrictions. But does that mean everything is appropriate for your kid? Not necessarily! Some Disneyland rides do have dark elements or thrills that might prove too scary for some kids.
Planning a Disneyland vacation? These are the top thrill rides including height information, scare factor and what to look out for. These are the tips on the scariest rides at Disneyland – the list might surprise you!
Disneyland Park – Thrill Rides
The dips and turns on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad can put kids on edge (Photo Credit: Orange31 on Pixabay)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
There are some small drops on this runaway train ride that are tummy tickling. Inside on of the mountains is a dark and perilous dynamite scene that might frighten some kids.
Gadget’s Go Coaster – 35″ or taller
Intended as a “first coaster” for preschoolers and young children, this is a quick one-minute ride. There are some drops and swift turns but it’s over before you know it!
Haunted Mansion – No height restriction
The Haunted Mansion is filled with bone chilling thrills that are sure to frighten some kids. Interestingly, the Nightmare Before Christmas inspired version from September to early January is more colorful and quirky. Kids may enjoy it more than the traditional version.
Indiana Jones Adventure – 46″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This rocky ride into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye is inspired by the movie series, with mummies, snakes and other frightening images.
Matterhorn Bobsleds – 42″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
Quick turns and small drops on this bobsled ride through the iconic mountain, the roaring Yeti (aka: Abominable Snowman) is spotted near the track on several occasions.
Splash Mountain – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
You can’t hide that fact that this one is a thrill ride, as guests walk past the long, deep drop on this wet and winding log ride. There are tame moments inside with cute creatures but that drop is a steep one that may off-put many kids.
Space Mountain – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This indoor thrill ride is fast and dark, with inspiration taken from rocket ships zooming through outer space. The rocking soundtrack is thrilling but many don’t enjoy the blind twists and turns (no loops though!).
Potentially Scary Rides at Disneyland
Astro Orbitor – No height restriction
This rocket-inspired ride is very fast spinning but each rider can control the up and down motion. Younger guests are able to sit in their parents lap, which is comforting, despite the speed.
Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run – 38″ or taller
This ride inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge isn’t particularly scary, but there are some thrilling moments. Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run is a motion simulator ride with interactive elements. Younger kids may not appreciate being seated in an individual chair, out of reach of their parents. But many youngsters will enjoy the “video game” style of this attraction and get involved with pushing buttons.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – No height restriction
This quirky ride is mostly just fun but has a few moments that might frighten kids, including a loud oncoming train and a devilishly steamy scene at the end.
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Snow White’s Scary Adventures – No height restriction
You might not expect these two rides from Fantasyland to make the list, but they are both slightly on the dark side with several scary elements (Evil Queen and Monstro the whale).
Pirates of the Caribbean – No height restriction
True, there’s no height restriction on this leisurely boat ride, despite that there are two small drops in the dark. The dips might set off nervous kids, in addition to the eerie music, creepy skeletons and realistic animatronic pirates.
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin – No height restriction
It’s dark and there are some scary elements (threats of “The Dip”) but otherwise kids will like the colorful spinning ride.
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
Folks that aren’t big fans of bumpy motion simulators may not enjoy this life-like ride through space, complete with shooting lasers and daring dives.
Think you have a thrill seeker? These are the top thrill rides at Disneyland.
Disney California Adventure Park – Thrill Rides
Goofy’s Sky School – 42″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This jerky coaster offers riders swift drops and blind turns.
Grizzly River Run – 42″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
Spinning and short drops with overhead water falls and blasts from the river. You will get soaked!
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission BREAKOUT! (formerly The Tower of Terror)- 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This ride has the biggest drops of any Disneyland Resort attraction. In fact with your eyes squeezed shut, you may not know if you’re going up or down!
Incredicoaster (formerly called California Screamin’) – 48″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This classic roller coaster is the only one with a loop-de-loop! Big drops and high speeds make this classic coaster thrilling but also a bit scary.
Radiator Springs Racers – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
This Cars Land favorite is a thrilling combo of coaster and dark ride. After a storytelling cruise inside, racers will line up at the starting line for a speedy race around Monument Valley.
Soarin’ Around the World – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
Kids who are afraid of heights may not initially enjoy this ride that lifts riders into the air. However once you are immersed in the film shown on the large screen, you may not notice how high up you are.
Potentially Scary Rides at Disney California Adventure
Jumpin’ Jellyfish – 40″ or taller (FASTPASS offered)
With the quick drops, this one is a good precursor to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Pixar Pal-A-Round (formerly called Mickey’s Fun Wheel) – No height restriction
Try starting with the non-swinging version before moving to the more thrilling swinging gondolas.
How to Avoid the Scariest Rides at Disneyland
If you have an anxious kid at Disneyland, you might consider having an adult ride first. This will give you an idea on whether you think it will be a good ride for your kid. Only you as a parent know your child. What might be too frightening for one kid is exciting and fun to another kid.
Use the Rider Switch option. One adult waits with the child while everyone else goes on the ride. Then when that ride is over, the adults switch places and enter the ride through either the exit or FASTPASS line. See the cast member at the entrance for instructions on using Rider Switch (or “child swap”) for that attraction.
What to Do If Your Kid Gets Scared
Despite your best planning, sometimes kids are set-off and can get frightened. While most of the things at Disneyland are fun for all, there may be seemingly innocuous attractions that are scary for kids at Disneyland. These are some
- Try taking a snack break. Buying a special treat and indulging in the best food at Disneyland is a welcome distraction for many kids.
- Watch a ride video on YouTube. If your child just went on a ride that frightened them, try having them watch it again, this time behind the screen. YouTube has lots of on-ride videos that your kid can watch. Seeing it again (from the cozy lap of a parent) can help desensitize the scary parts.
- Take a hotel break for quiet rest or pool time.
- No pressure tactics work best when kids are anxious at Disneyland. If your kid was freaked out inside of a “dark ride” you might want to avoid those attractions for the rest of the day. Forcing a kid to continually ride something they are scared about isn’t going to make for a very magical day!
- Switch gears and avoid the rides, if that’s what is triggering fear. The parades, live shows and dance parties are bright and colorful entertainment that’s free of potentially scary aspects. There are also completely sweet rides like it’s a small world and Dumbo that shouldn’t upset many.