Disney California Adventure Rides That Aren’t Worth Your Time – Plus, Ones You Can’t Miss

Disney's California Adventure is Disneyland's companion park. Dedicated to the romantic ideal of California, Disney's most recently opened U.S. park (2001) has eight distinct lands to explore, which can seem a bit overwhelming if you've never been before. Full of incredible attractions and experiences, Disney California Adventure has so much for you to do and see during your visit!

It's All About Priorities

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog.

Our best advice for touring any Disney park is to set priorities during the planning phase of your trip and make sure to do those first. If you have any remaining time after completing your must-dos, then you can fill it with lesser attractions that are still worth a go, but not at the expense of those high-priority attractions. Disney California Adventure is full of fun character interactions, street performances, and Broadway-quality shows, but this article will focus specifically on the rides. Here are seven rides you can skip at California Adventure and three you don't want to miss!

Golden Zephyr

Photo Credit: Disneyland.

These shiny zeppelins are pretty to look at, and without boardwalk fixtures like this one to add visual appeal to the streetscape, Paradise Gardens Park would look vast and barren. Although the rowed seating and suspension cables give this ride a bit of an upgrade from run-of-the-mill spinners, at the end of the day, it's still just a spinner, and spinners really make us dizzy.

Jessie's Critter Carousel

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

Despite my love for this attraction's host and the adorable critters from Woody's Round-Up—I'm partial to the skunk who makes the rounds tail-first—this carousel seems rather superfluous considering there's a bigger, more ornate one with historical value over in Disneyland Park. Rather than envisioning a more unique ride experience to pair with the Woody's Round-Up theming, Imagineers added another merry-go-round.

That said, it can be a convenient spot to spend downtime with young kids while the thrill-seekers in your party are riding The Incredicoaster—one of the best rollercoasters at Disneyland—or Pixar Pal-Around.

Jumpin' Jellyfish

Photo Credit: Disneyland.

Brightly colored parachute-like tops decorate these slow-loading ride vehicles, and although their 40 foot rise does offer a nice view of Paradise Bay, you're not going to see the great view unless you end up on the side facing Pixar Pier. Otherwise, these jellies are more gentle than jumpy unless you have littles small enough to get a thrill out of slowly moving up and down. But for those who can tolerate the considerable height, this attraction is just another randomly themed space-filler.

Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog.

These tiny hot-air balloons repurposed the ride infrastructure for Flik's Flyers from the former “A Bug's Land” area of the park to give the psychologically excellent Pixar film, Inside Out, a presence at California Adventure.

It does make me happy to see the life-sized Joy and Sadness figures on the attraction's signage, and it's fun to walk by the memory storage unit and chose a balloon featuring your favorite out of Riley's emotions, but the fact that Emotional Whirlwind only has eight balloons means guests may have to wait quite a while to board one. This is also a very brief ride, so it's really not worth the wait, even for young kids.

Goofy's Sky School

Photo Credit: Disneyland.

There are a few mild thrills on this attraction in the form of surprise dips and hairpin turns, but they don't quite make up for its nearly non-existent theming. Instead of investing in a proper makeover of the former Mulholland Madness, Disney gave the lackluster mouse coaster a new paint job and added some Goofy billboards around the scaffolding. The ride itself is as fun as your average boardwalk coaster if you don't mind spending the rest of your park day with whiplash—but only if you can survive the trudge through the bare bones queue.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel's Undersea Adventure

Photo Credit: Disneyland.

I don't typically suggest skipping many dark rides, because whether they are filled with 2-D plywood like Mr. Toad in Disneyland or state of the art animatronics like Na'vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom, there's something inherently charming about them. So, if you have the time, boarding an omni-moving clamshell for a cool plunge under the sea is a perfectly fine way to spend it.

However, between the once-cutting edge, but now rapidly-aging Ariel animatronics and the mundane storytelling, you might want to consider riding attractions like Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley To the Rescue! and Toy Story Midway Mania first.

Silly Symphony Swings

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

Disney's Silly Symphonies are mini-masterpieces that don't get enough love in the parks, so I'm reluctant to put this on the skip list for that reason, but there's no help for it. This amusement park staple is a mildly thrilling classic but one that most can experience closer to home for less money. Personally, I ride Dollywood's version right here in the Smoky Mountains with my kids nearly every time we visit.

Looking for rides you can enjoy with your littles? Instead of spending too much of your time in the Paradise Garden Park area, I recommend heading over to Cars Land and hitting Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.

Must-Dos at California Adventure

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

By skipping the previous rides during your time at Disney California Adventure, you'll free up time to make your way through the visually stimulating queues and incredible experiences of these must-do attractions!

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

One of the last attractions Imagineered by Disney legend Joe Rohde (Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge) before his retirement from the Disney company, this highly detailed Marvel re-theming of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror features a completely original storyline with performances by the actors from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, a sophisticated audio-animatronic Rocket, and Peter Quill's classic rock playlist. An exciting free-fall tower attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! is a joy to experience, with randomized sequences of drops and swift rises synced up to different scenarios, visuals, and music each time.

Radiator Springs Racers

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

The first time I watched Disney's Cars, I was struck most by the setting, and as a traveler and an adventurer, the idea of exploring that little Route 66 town and driving through “Ornament Valley” captured my imagination. Disney made that dream a reality with Radiator Springs Racers. Imagineers combined the best part of EPCOT's Test Track with the landscape from Cars, and now it's one of the not-to-miss rides at California Adventure.

The Incredicoaster

Photo Credit: Mickey Visit.

Always an exceptionally fun loop-de-loop style rollercoaster, this Victorian pier ornament was pretty generic as the former California Screamin.' The soundtrack blasting through the headrest speakers added some extra pizazz, but its theming could best be described as a rollercoaster in California on which you may scream.

Now featuring popular Pixar characters and new segments of enclosed track with some character surprises inside, The Incredicoaster provides the same adrenaline-pumping ride experience with the creative inclusion of comical scenes starring the masked superhero family along the way.

Disney Employees Immediately Know You're a Rookie When You Make These Mistakes

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It's easy to make some rookie mistakes that can put a damper on the magic during your time at the parks. Learn the top mistakes you need to avoid during your next Disney trip!

We Visit Disney Weekly and We Swear By These Cheap Disney Meals That Are Under All $12 To Help Save Money

inexpensive food at disneyland

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A trip to Disneyland can add up quickly, and dining can be an expensive part of your trip. We swear by these delicious cheap foods, all under $12, that help us save a great deal of money at the parks.

These 15 Disneyland Secrets Have Been Kept Quiet For Years

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There are countless secrets and stories about Disneyland that will change the way you look at the park. Read about the most shocking ones in our list of 15 incredible Disneyland secrets!

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About Jessie Nichols

Jessie is a former educator with years of experience penning prose for various individuals, organizations, and online publications. She's a life-long lover of Disney animation and storytelling and a frequent visitor to Disney Parks with her family. As an East Tennessee girl, Walt Disney World is her home resort, and she enjoys experiencing a different resort hotel to the fullest each time she goes. Simple Disney pleasures are where it's at for her - like watching the Electrical Water Pageant from a resort beach, or enjoying a frozen treat from Sunshine Tree Terrace while soaking up the Adventureland atmosphere. Her favorite attractions include Pirates of the Caribbean, Living With the Land, the PeopleMover, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, among many others.

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