Entertainment

Ranking Every Ride At Disneyland By Scariness

Disneyland and the adjoining California Adventure are two of the best theme parks on Earth, but not every attraction is for the faint of heart. Here is a ranking of every ride by scariness (based on my personal hang-ups and phobias).

52. Casey Jr. Circus Train

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 31, 1955

This is a pretty safe bet, unless you’re afraid of adorable trains. And if you’re afraid of adorable trains, you should probably just wait in the parking lot.

51. Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train

Location: A Bug’s Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Oct. 7, 2002

Another adorable train, although in this case, you’re riding inside the hollowed-out body of a giant caterpillar, which is somewhat distressing to think about.

50. King Arthur Carrousel

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

It’s a carousel, albeit one that’s spelled “carrousel” for whatever reason. The horses are a little alarming, but once you’re riding, you’ll be fine.

49. King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

Instead of riding horses, you climb aboard sea creatures. As soon as you adjust to the concept of giant fish, you can enjoy this straightforward ride. Rest assured, you’re not actually under the sea.

48. Mark Twain Riverboat

Location: Frontierland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

I know what you’re thinking: Boats are terrifying. This one runs on a track, so it’s totally chill. Also, you might even learn something!

47. Sailing Ship Columbia

Location: Frontierland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: June 14, 1958

While the Columbia looks a lot more foreboding than the Mark Twain, both boats run along the exact same track. On the other hand, the Columbia literally killed someone. It probably won’t happen again, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind.

46. Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Aug. 16, 1955

OK, now we get into actual phobic territory, namely being suspended in the air. That having been said, Dumbo is tame enough for most toddlers. Plus, you can adjust the height, and even at its maximum, it doesn’t climb high enough to induce serious panic.

45. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Dec. 6, 2012

The early fantasy-themed dark rides are so surreal that they’re truly unnerving, but this more recent addition to the genre is a pretty literal adaptation of The Little Mermaid. It’s not scary, except for Flotsam and Jetsam, because duh.

44. Storybook Land Canal Boats

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

At the beginning of this tranquil boat ride, you go straight through the mouth of a giant whale. It’s not OK. But it’s smooth sailing after that, as long as you’re not creeped out by meticulously detailed miniatures.

43. Disneyland Railroad

Location: Disneyland
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

Most people never ride the Disneyland Train, so they have no idea that in the middle of this laidback trip around the park, THERE ARE DINOSAURS. Seriously, you go through a retro prehistoric diorama. Other than that, though, it’s just a train.

42. Autopia

Location: Tomorrowland
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

There is very little to fear about Autopia, a ride in which you “drive” a “car,” but are actually stuck on a track. And yet, Autopia does give you an early feeling of adulthood, which is definitely scary.

41. Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies

Location: A Bug’s Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Oct. 7, 2002

Unlike Autopia, you’re encouraged to crash into other vehicles when you ride Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies. You can’t do a lot of damage, but the force of impact is still alarming.

40. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Location: Critter Country (Disneyland)
Opening Date: April 11, 2003

The scariest thing about this ride is that most people don’t know it exists. Seriously. Otherwise, it’s your typical dark ride, and probably one of the least-frightening experiences possible involving a hungry bear.

39. Muppet*Vision 3D

Location: Hollywood Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

In its original incarnation, this show was known as “Muppet*Vision 4D,” an apt name given the fact that BUBBLES LITERALLY COME OUT OF THE SCREEN. Bubbles aren’t scary, but breaking the fourth wall certainly is. Anarchy.

38. Alice in Wonderland

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: June 14, 1958

It’s your standard dark ride, made slightly scarier by the fact that Disney’s Alice in Wonderland is inherently nightmare inducing. On the plus side, this ride is too short for you to fully freak out on.

37. Francis’ Ladybug Boogie

Location: A Bug’s Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Oct. 7, 2002

This spinning ride is a much tamer version of Disneyland’s Mad Tea Party, which means you’re very unlikely to throw up. Do not make direct eye contact with the ladybugs, though. They have death in their eyes.

36. Luigi’s Flying Tires

Location: Cars Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: June 15, 2012

More bumper cars, but these hover just above ground. Is it science or magic? Either way, it’s against the laws of nature. Try not to focus on that while you lightly bounce into the floating tires around you.

35. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

Location: Hollywood Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Jan. 23, 2006

There’s a lot to be nervous about based on this ride’s title: the word “monsters,” the exclamation point, the random ampersand. But it’s actually a tame dark ride, and the monsters themselves are less scary than the darkness.

34. Peter Pan’s Flight

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

There is one truly scary moment in Peter Pan’s Flight, and it’s also the most magical — your pirate ship flies over London at night. The effect is dazzling, but it’s clearly not a big drop. You could totally survive the fall, not that you should try.

33. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: March 17, 2005

There are a few frightening elements to the ride — Evil Emperor Zurg is evil and an emperor — but at least you have a blaster gun with which to defend yourself. Honestly, nothing is more terrifying than embarrassing yourself with a low score.

32. Toy Story Midway Mania!

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: May 31, 2008

Is Midway Mania really any scarier than Astro Blasters? Probably not. But carnivals are slightly more unsettling than outer space, so it gets a boost. See above re: the anxiety of a depressingly low score.

31. Pirates of the Caribbean

Location: New Orleans Square (Disneyland)
Opening Date: March 18, 1967

You know what’s scary about Pirates of the Caribbean? The fact that the old animatronic pirates look cartoonish, but the newly added Jack Sparrow looks freakishly real. It’s as though Johnny Depp is following you through the ride. Gah.

30. Jumpin’ Jellyfish

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

Now we’re getting into attractions that might scare people who aren’t even abnormally skittish. But Jumpin’ Jellyfish isn’t quite as petrifying as it looks. The titular “jumpin’” is really more like light hopping, because this ride was designed for kids.

29. Golden Zephyr

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

OK, it looks more pee-your-pants fast than it really is. Truth be told, Golden Zephyr won’t even run when it’s windy. When it’s not, you go for a spin that’s a lot more chill than you’d expect. (You’re still high enough in the air to freak out, though.)

28. It’s a Small World

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: May 28, 1966

There is something wrong about It’s a Small World. The message of multiculturalism is great, but that incessant song and the dead eyes of animatronic dolls — it’s creepy, OK? This ride changes people.

27. Star Tours—The Adventures Continue

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: May 20, 2011

The new Star Tours is definitely an improvement from the original, which hadn’t been updated since the late ’80s. It’s also objectively scarier, with more Star Wars villains and, depending on which version you get, actual violence done to Wookiees.

26. Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room

Location: Disneyland
Opening Date: June 23, 1963

The Enchanted Tiki Room is not a ride. It’s not really a show either, so much as a 12-minute trap. Everything about this “attraction” is a nightmare: animatronic birds, horrible music, and a lengthy running time. Get a Dole Whip instead.

25. Jungle Cruise

Location: Adventureland
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

The fear factor of the Jungle Cruise rests largely on your tour guide. A lazy Disney cast member will let the animatronics do all the heavy lifting, but an aspiring actor can turn the ride into an actual thrill. WATCH OUT FOR THE HIPPOS.

24. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Location: Mickey’s Toontown (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Jan. 24, 1994

The ability to spin your car around adds some extra anxiety to this dark ride. Plus, there’s that one harrowing moment when it looks as though you’re about to be sprayed with toon-killing dip. (You’re not.) Also, there was a horrible real-life accident.

23. The Haunted Mansion

Location: New Orleans Square (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Aug. 9, 1969

Have you been on the Haunted Mansion recently? Despite being one of the few intentionally scary rides, it’s just not that spooky. There is a moment, though, where the lights go out and someone screams and it scares me EVERY TIME.

22. Captain EO Tribute

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Feb. 23, 2010

Captain EO is very strange and very cold, and it’s only called a “tribute” because it reopened shortly after Michael Jackson’s death. The seats tremble throughout, and Anjelica Huston is a terrifying alien. Truly chilling, but also dull.

21. Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: May 23, 1983

It’s nightmare after nightmare on this ride: First, you’re trapped in a bird cage; then, you’re transported to the suggestively named Pleasure Island; then, you watch your friends turn into donkeys; and finally, you’re nearly swallowed by a whale. Fun?

20. Soarin’ Over California

Location: Condor Flats (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

Yes, this is a simulation ride, but it’s a simulation ride in which you’re in a plane (terrifying) and your feet are DANGLING OVER THE ABYSS. It’s all pretty magical until you look down and realize you’re actually suspended in the air. Not cool.

19. Disneyland Monorail

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: June 14, 1959

Do you know what “monorail” means? It means “one rail.” As in, JUST THE ONE. I rest my case.

18. Astro Orbiter

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: 1998

I can’t even look at this photo without breaking into a sweat. Yes, the Astro Orbiter is basically a more grown-up version of Dumbo. (And yes, you can also adjust the height.) But there is just something more frightening about traveling by rocket ship than by flying elephant.

17. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

SPOILER ALERT: You die at the end of this ride. You die, and you go to hell. So while the ride is ostensibly for children, it is, in fact, a heavy morality tale. Recount all your sins while the heat rises and you’re confronted with painted devils all around you.

16. Mickey’s Fun Wheel

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: May 4, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight: There is nothing “fun” about dangling in a tiny gondola 160 feet in the air. I don’t care that Ferris wheels are a classic theme park attraction, and that this one doesn’t have any fatalities. It’s too high, and it’s too dangly. Next.

15. Gadget’s Go Coaster

Location: Mickey’s Toontown (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Jan. 24, 1993

It may be a roller coaster for kids, but it’s still a roller coaster. And if roller coasters scare you, Gadget’s Go Coaster is scary. It’s not as scary as the big kid rides, but it’s still scary, and I’d really appreciate if everyone would stop laughing.

14. Silly Symphony Swings

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: May 28, 2010

This type of ride is called a “wave swinger” or a “swing ride” or “my actual worst nightmare.” As innocent as the Silly Symphony Swings look, they’re ludicrously scary. You won’t fly out of your seat and plummet to your death, but it feels that way!

13. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: June 11, 2007

If you’re even a little bit claustrophobic, do not go on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. If you’re afraid of the ocean, which you should be, do not go on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Also, there is an anglerfish. Do not click this.

12. Radiator Springs Racers

Location: Cars Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: June 15, 2012

Radiator Springs Racers lulls you into a false sense of security. There are lots of talking cars. There is even a farting car. And then, suddenly, you’re racing, and it’s actually super stressful. Also, this ride breaks down a lot, which is ominous.

11. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Location: Frontierland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: Sept. 2, 1979

Without question, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the most fun roller coaster at Disneyland. (Some will say Space Mountain. They are wrong.) But it’s a roller coaster, and one that has derailed. Also, the goat has dynamite in its mouth!

10. Matterhorn Bobsleds

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: June 14, 1959

The Matterhorn is scary, namely because there’s a Yeti that roars at you, but also because it’s probably the most painful ride at Disneyland. Even after they redid the bobsleds, you will exit the ride feeling sore. And what’s scarier than pain?

9. Grizzly River Run

Location: Grizzly Peak (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

Things start off easy, and then the rapids pick up, and you realize you’re never going to feel dry again. The most unsettling moments come when you’re forced to face one of the big drops backward. But on the plus side, no one will notice if you pee a little.

8. Splash Mountain

Location: Critter Country (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1989

The drop at the end of Splash Mountain may only be 53 feet, but it’s long enough for your whole life to flash before your eyes. There’s also the distinct possibility that you will crash into the briars. Just because it never happens doesn’t mean it won’t.

7. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye

Location: Adventureland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: March 4, 1995

This ride has it all, if by “all,” you mean, “things that are horrifying”: giant snakes, giant boulders, giant darts flying at your head. Yeah, it’s simulated, but it definitely feels like you could die at any moment, probably in the room with all the bugs on the walls.

6. Goofy’s Sky School

Location: Paradise Pier
Opening Date: July 1, 2011

Before Goofy’s Sky School was Goofy’s Sky School, it was Mulholland Madness, a ride that was shut down because it was TOO DANGEROUS. Presumably it’s safer now, but it feels like you’re going to fly off the rails at every single turn. Petrifying.

5. Mad Tea Party

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

This is supposed to be a ride for children, but that’s nonsense. A serious spin on the Mad Tea Party will leave you dizzy, disoriented, and without any sense of self. No one who rides the teacups properly can do so without an existential crisis.

4. Space Mountain

Location: Tomorrowland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: May 27, 1977

It’s impossible to get a good photo of Space Mountain, because it’s a roller coaster that’s ENTIRELY IN THE DARK. Yes, it’s fast and full of curves and drops, but the real horror is not knowing what’s going to happen next. Perhaps derailment?

3. California Screamin’

Location: Paradise Pier (California Adventure)
Opening Date: Feb. 8, 2001

California Screamin’ is your standard scary-as-hell roller coaster. For people like me who prefer something mellow like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, California Screamin’ is not an option. It goes upside down. Who decided that was a good idea?

2. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Location: Hollywood Land (California Adventure)
Opening Date: May 5, 2004

Let’s go over my checklist of things that terrify me. Elevators? Check. Old hotels? Check. Cobwebs? Check. Falling to my death? Check. This ride is so scary it should be banned. Ban drop rides. Ban elevators. Ban The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

1. Snow White’s Scary Adventures

Location: Fantasyland (Disneyland)
Opening Date: July 17, 1955

No. NO. Absolutely not. The scariest ride at Disneyland and California Adventure is this Snow White-themed dark ride that has traumatized generations for decades. Here’s the scary part: The Disney World version of the ride was even more upsetting, to the extent that it had to be shut down. Never forget.

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