Welcome back to another “Ranked” article here on Laughing Place. It’s time to head to the west coast for a look at Anaheim’s second Disney theme park, the once-troubled Disney California Adventure (DCA). So much has changed with this park since it opened, that it is barely recognizable from its original form. So with that, let’s countdown my Top 15 attractions at Disney California Adventure!

15. Goofy’s Sky School

Goofy’s Sky School is an off-the-shelf wild mouse roller coaster that can be found at multiple theme parks around the world. It originally opened with the park as Mulholland Madness, which was themed to crazy LA traffic. The refurbishment into Goofy’s Sky School was meant to add an extra touch of Disney, but it is a minimal touch. Basically just a few signs and a Goofy voiceover. I’d like to see something more done to this coaster in the future, or perhaps a replacement attraction. As it stands, it’s still a fun ride, but the lack of uniqueness puts it towards the bottom of this list.

14. Disney Animation

One of the highlights of opening day at DCA was the Disney Animation building, with its incredible 360 degree lobby display. The lobby is still the best part of the experience, however Turtle Talk with Crush and the Animation Academy are both fun diversions. Unfortunately, the Sorcerer’s Workshop walk-through experience is truncated slightly from its original form, with the final Ursula themed room being taken out for the Anna and Elsa meet & greet area. The aforementioned meet & greet has been closed since the parks reopened last year, so that is sadly an underutilized area of the building.

13. Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Over 15 years after Mickey’s PhilharMagic opened at the Magic Kingdom, it finally made its Disneyland Resort debut at the Sunset Showcase Theatre in 2019. Due to the smaller screen at this theater, the presentation of most of the show is oddly small, making it pretty hard to see. That is until the special effects on the side walls kick in during The Lion King scene, adding quite a bit to the presentation. Despite this version’s shortcomings, the show itself is still an enjoyable one.

12. Pixar Pal-A-Round

My biggest problem with this attraction is the name. Pixar Pal-A-Round is cute, but Mickey’s Fun Wheel (and even Sun Wheel) was a better one. Aside from that, it’s a really fun experience, especially the swinging gondolas. Outside of the famous Coney Island Wheel in New York, the Pixar Pal-A-Round is the only ferris wheel in the United States to feature swinging gondolas. It’s a pretty crazy experience, especially if you’ve never rode it before, but it can be so much fun!

11. Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue

Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue was a quick fix to the infamous Superstar Limo attraction, which was perhaps one of the strangest things Imagineering has ever designed. While it was absolutely an enormous improvement over the mess that was Superstar Limo, you can still see a few flaws that stuck around following the transition. Mainly, most of the animatronics were redressed from former celebrities. All of the figures are relatively static, leading to a somewhat dated experience. If Mike & Sulley to the Rescue can receive an update like a lot of the Fantasyland dark rides have in recent years, then we could have a far better attraction on our hands!

10. Red Car Trolley

The Red Car Trolley is an attraction that I have quite the emotional attachment to, and I’m quite sad that it hasn’t run since early 2019. You see, it originally closed for Avengers Campus construction, and I’m sure the ongoing health situation hasn’t helped in getting it back up and running. This is an attraction that adds so much life to Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land, and is always a fun way to get around. It will be interesting to see how it runs through Avengers Campus whenever it reopens.

9. Grizzly River Run

I have to be in a certain type of mood for river rapid rides, but it’s easy to admit that Grizzly River Run is one of the best in the world. From the beautiful setting, to excellent rapid sections and two drops, Grizzly River Run does everything right. The attraction is also beautifully integrated into the surrounding area of Grizzly Peak, making for a wonderful centerpiece to the park.

8. The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

A good, solid dark ride was something deeply missing from DCA’s line-up in the early 2000s. So that’s why The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure was so welcomed when it opened in 2011. The first half of the attraction is perfectly put together, reminiscent of classic Disneyland dark rides. The final act is a little more disjointed, as it just feels like you’re quickly going from one scene to another. That is only a minimal issue though, and for the most part it’s a great attraction!

7. Silly Symphony Swings

I really am not sure why, but I love Silly Symphony Swings far more than I really should. Opening up the swinging ride instead of keeping it enclosed as it was with the Orange Stinger did so much for this attraction. The views swinging along Paradise Bay, along with the wonderful music of the “William Tell Overture” make for a wonderful experience that is also beautifully tied into Disney’s legacy of classic shorts.

6. WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure

DCA’s newest attraction is a great addition to the park’s line-up. A new dark ride was needed, and it was good to see how well it tied into not only the surrounding Avengers Campus, but also into Marvel lore. WEB SLINGERS starts off with a fun pre-show featuring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, that introduces the Spider-Bots, which will become the obstacle to overcome during the ride. Now the ride itself is an interesting progression of the Toy Story Midway Mania style of attraction. I’ll be honest, this ride can get a little tiring, especially if you’re constantly using your arms to fling webs. The technology behind it is so impressive, though, so I can overlook how tiring it can get. Now, I definitely think The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure is the better Spider-Man ride, but that doesn’t stop WEB SLINGERS for being really fun for what it is.

5. Incredicoaster

California Screamin’ was one of those attractions from the early days of DCA that really had no good theme to speak of, but was such a fun ride that it kind of got a pass. Back in 2018, Paradise Pier transformed into Pixar Pier, and with that, California Screamin’ became the Incredicoaster. Most of the tunnels were enclosed, allowing for minimal static show scenes, and Incredibles-themed audio replaced the original score. The Incredibles theming is very minimal, but it’s a welcome aesthetic update from the rather ugly California Screamin’. The ride itself is just pure fun. Not too intense, but enough to be just a little intimidating for thrill seekers in training.

4. Toy Story Midway Mania

Objectively, there are better rides than Toy Story Midway Mania. But not a lot are as fun or repeatable as this. Riding Midway Mania over and over again to sharpen my skills has always been one of my favorite things to do when visiting the Disneyland Resort. While the theming of the queue is not as strong as its Florida counterpart, it does fit in perfectly with the Pixar Pier neighborhood.

3. Radiator Springs Racers

Radiator Springs Racers is unquestionably the best, and most important ride at DCA. It was this ride, along with Cars Land as a whole, that finally put the park on the right path. It’s a truly incredible and immersive experience, worthy to be put up alongside the greatest of Disney attractions. The opening scene, recreating Lightning McQueen and Sally’s drive from the original Cars is a perfect start to a ride full of impressive scenery and animatronics. But what most people ride this for is the race at the end, that is not too thrilling, but is always exhilarating. Now I said it’s definitely the best ride in the park, but it’s not quite my favorite. There are two more attractions left to cover…

2. Soarin’ Around the World

While Soarin’ Around the World was a much needed upgrade to Soarin’ at EPCOT, it doesn’t feel quite as needed at DCA. Now, your flight takes you all around the world instead of over California. While we now have more technologically impressive flight simulators like Flight of Passage, Soarin’ is still a magical experience. The music here is absolutely breathtaking. Jerry Goldsmith’s original score was perfectly updated by Bruce Broughton for the new version. Occasionally, DCA does switch back over to Soarin’ Over California for special events, so it is nice to have both available to experience.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

When it was first announced that The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror would be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction, the Disney fan community let out a collective eyeroll. But then we found out the project was being spearheaded by Imagineer Joe Rhode, and so some hope returned. What we ended up getting was a well-done repurposing of the attraction, that I think is absolutely a better experience. Guardians is just fun! The pre-show featuring Rocket Racoon is excellent, adding an animatronic to what was previously just a TV screen based pre-show. Upon stepping into your Gantry Lift, you will experience 1 of 6 different ride profiles, all set to different classic songs. My personal favorite song to get is “Free Ride,” and shout out to the best line, when Rocket says “Disneyland! That’s thematically inconsistent.” That’s got to be one of the best, meta lines in any theme park.

I also can’t talk about Guardians of the Galaxy without talking about the Monsters After Dark Halloween overlay, which adds a really spooky element to the attraction, where the monsters have escaped following the events of the main attraction. Definitely make a point to check out Monsters After Dark if you haven’t had the chance to experience it!

I hope you all enjoyed this ranking of the Top 15 attractions at Disney California Adventure. If you want to see some more theme park rankings, feel free to check out my other “Ranked” articles listed below:

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