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Disneyland in California is a wonderful place for families to have fun and play together, but there are a ton of things to do. To help you make the most of your time there, here is my list of the best things to do in Disneyland for families.
Please note: because this list is family-friendly, you won’t see some of the bigger, more thrilling rides that Disneyland has to offer. Everything on this list is appropriate for almost all ages.
1. Haunted Mansion
First up on my list of the best things to do in Disneyland is the Haunted Mansion. This New Orleans Square attraction is a classic Disney dark ride through a mansion inhabited by ghosts. You ride in a “doom buggy” and observe the ghost in their world.
Don’t let the name fool you. The Haunted Mansion is not scary (for most people)! The ghosts do not jump out at you or attempt to scare you. Younger kids may be apprehensive, but there nothing about this ride is intended to be scary.
As a bonus, during Halloween and Christmas, the Haunted Mansion gets a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. During this time, Jack Skellington takes over the ride and decorates it for his version of Christmas. I highly recommend seeing both the original and the holiday overlay, if possible.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is another classic Disney ride. While both Disney World and Disneyland have this ride, the Disneyland version is better.
This boat ride is a great example of Disney storytelling at its finest. This is just one of those ride that you have to ride when you visit Disneyland.
Pirates of the Caribbean is also located in New Orleans Square.
3. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
What could be more fun than being inside a video game? Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters turns the video game into a theme park ride!
Climb into a ride vehicle and use a laser gun to shoot targets placed by Emperor Zurg as you ride through various show scenes. Your car keeps track of your score, so you can compete with your family and friends.
This is just good clean fun for the whole family! Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is located in Tomorrowland.
Fantasmic! is Disneyland’s daily nighttime show. It includes lasers, fireworks, water screens, and characters.
It is my all-time favorite nighttime show at any Disney park. And while I prefer the Disney World version, I enjoy the Disneyland version too. I think everyone should see this show at least once.
Fantasmic! is a little bit different in California than in Florida, but both of them feature Mickey versus the villains. Both share the same messages: you are in control of your imagination and good triumphs over evil.
This is the perfect way to end your night at Disneyland.
You can’t go to Disneyland and not ride Dumbo! It is the most iconic ride of them all! For younger kids, it is the ultimate experience! For adults, it will make you feel like a kid again!
So, be sure to take time to go for a spin on everyone’s favorite flying elephant! You will find Dumbo in Fantasyland.
6. it’s a small world
The next attraction on this list of the best things to do in Disneyland is it’s a small world. Like Dumbo, this is an iconic ride that you have to experience when you visit Disneyland. This Fantasyland attraction is such a beautiful example of artistry in motion.
It is also another ride that you will find at both Disneyland and Disney World, but there are three big differences between the two. First, the Disneyland version has an outdoor portion that the Disney World version lacks.
Second, Disneyland has added some favorite Disney characters among the dolls in the ride. Be sure to look for those!
Third, at Christmas time, the Disneyland version of it’s a small world gets a holiday overlay that is simply beautiful.
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a very popular ride at Disneyland. It is also one of my son’s favorite rides of all time.
While it is a roller coaster, it is on the mild side. This is great because it allows younger kids (who are at least 40″) a chance to experience a coaster without it being too extreme. This one is fast, fun, and perfect!
The Disneyland version has some extra special effects that put it over the top. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is in Frontierland.
8. Matterhorn Bobsleds
The Matterhorn Bobsleds is a mildly thrilling bobsled ride through a mountain environment located in Fantasyland. This is one of the best things to do in Disneyland partly because it is a fun ride and partly because it is exclusive to Disneyland.
The seating in the bobsleds is pretty tight. So, I would not recommend two adults riding together. Either put each adult with a kid or ride separately.
The bobsleds have a height requirement of 42″.
9. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Another ride exclusive to Disneyland and one of the best things to do in Disneyland is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. This is one of the boldest rides in the entire park.
In this dark ride, you board an old-fashioned car and take a ride with Mr. Toad from the streets to the courtroom to hell itself!
Kids will love “driving”, while adults can appreciate some of the more mature elements throughout the ride. All in all, it is a fun little ride in Fantasyland!
10. Indiana Jones Adventure
Most Disneyland fans will tell you that Indiana Jones Adventure is one of the greatest rides ever invented. I don’t quite agree with that, but I do think it is good enough to make the list of this list of the best things to do in Disneyland.
After walking through a long and detailed queue, you board a truck with other guests and go on a bumpy race through some of Indiana Jones’ more thrilling and iconic moments.
It is fun and exciting without the drops and inversions of roller coasters, so most members in your family will be able to ride this one. There is a height requirement of 46″.
Indiana Jones Adventure is in Adventureland.
11. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is one of the newest rides at Disneyland. You will find it in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Being able to board the Millennium Falcon and go on an adventure is a dream come true for any Star Wars fan.
But, even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, I think you will enjoy this immersive and impressive ride where you take the position of either a pilot, gunner, or engineer and go on a mission through space.
There is a height requirement of 38″.
12. Rise of the Resistance
Last on my list of the best things to do in Disneyland for families is Rise of the Resistance. This is the other ride you will find in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
This may be the best and most immersive ride Disney has ever created! It is so immersive that it is difficult to tell where the queue ends and the ride begins.
This is another one that everyone must ride at least once, even if you are not a Star Wars fan!
Any trip to Disneyland with your family is going to be fun and memorable. But, this list of the best things to do in Disneyland will ensure you have the best time ever.
While these attractions are not necessarily the most thrilling rides in the park, they are the ones that will appeal to most people regardless of age. They are each special in their own way, but collectively, they will give your family lots of laughs.
To get tickets for your trip to Disneyland, see Disneyland’s website.
For more ideas on what to do during your visit, see my post on Disneyland’s Toontown, Carsland, my list of the best things to do in California Adventure, and the most unique quick service restaurants at Disneyland. And check out my tips for celebrating Christmas at Disneyland.
To determine whether you should visit Disneyland or Disney World, see my views on which is better.