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Scariest Rides at Disneyland: 19 Roller Coasters and Thrilling Attractions

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Disneyland is best known for sweet characters and rides that please kids and kids-at-heart. But there is a more intense side to the Happiest Place on Earth that thrill-seekers appreciate. Roller coasters in Disneyland feature huge drops, special effects, and loop-the-loops. The fear factor isn't just about speed, though. Plundering pirates, pretend poisonous snakes, and spooky ghosts can make rides seem frightening. Buckle your lap belt because we're ranking the 19 scariest rides at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout tops is one of the scariest rides at Disneyland!
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout

Location: Avengers Campus in California Adventure. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. Minimum height: 40 inches.

Although not a roller coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout tops this list of the scariest rides at Disneyland.

Long-time fans of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror were horrified when their beloved thrill ride left Anaheim. In 2016, it opened as Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout.

Join Rocket the raccoon hero on a mission to release his fellow guardians from the movie series' villain, Taneleer Tivan—a.k.a. The Collector. The Guardians theming is less creepy and more playful. The ride's free-falls, however, have become less predictable, more chaotic, and more scream-inducing.

Especially if it's your first time on this ride, you may find the unexpected drops terrifying. It plummets riders at speeds up to 39 miles per hour. Did I mention that the biggest fall is a whopping 130 feet?

If you've got little kids who love the movie but shy away from scary rides, this attraction may be too much for them. In fact, this ride makes some grown-ups scream and cry involuntarily like babies. Don't believe me? Watch the video of yours truly below.


For a more mellow version of the same dropping sensation, go for a ride on Jumpin' Jellyfish in Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park. (There is a 40-inch height restriction). If that one's too scary, do NOT attempt Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout!

Incredicoaster, the fastest roller coaster at Disneyland!
Incredicoaster, the fastest ride at Disneyland (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

2. Incredicoaster

Location: Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 48 inches.

Formerly California Screamin', the tallest Disney roller coaster became the Incredicoaster in 2018. Zip through the world of The Incredibles on a high-speed chase to find Jack-Jack on this thrill ride. According to many (including my teens!), this is the best roller coaster at Disneyland.

Take off with a blast, going from zero to 55 miles per hour in just four seconds. This speed makes it the fastest attraction at Disneyland Resort. What's more, it's one of the speediest Disney roller coasters anywhere.

Like to do loop-the-loops? Incredicoaster is the only roller coaster that does an inversion in the California Disney theme parks.

Space Mountain Disneyland roller coaster
Space Mountain (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

3. Space Mountain

Location: Tomorrowland in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. Minimum height: 40 inches.

Space Mountain tops out at a fairly mellow 28 miles per hour. Riding in the dark, however, increases the scare factor of this popular ride.

Would-be astronauts launch into a faux outer space. Then you'll experience rapid turns in total darkness, save for some twinkling stars and special effects. You can't see where you're going next, which provides an extra dose of thrill.

There are no significant declines, though. If you loathe that sinking feeling in your stomach caused by big drops, then Space Mountain may be for you.

Goofy's Sky School, a roller coaster at Disneyland
Goofy's Sky School (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

4. Goofy's Sky School

Location: Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 42 inches.

This sweet-looking roller coaster is surprisingly nerve-wracking. It isn't high speeds that make this one of the top thrill rides, though. In fact, the fastest speed on Goofy's Sky School is just 27 miles per hour. Rather, it's the jolting turns and odd seating. Passengers may feel like they're going to fall off the ride at any moment. (Of course, with Disney safety measures, you won't.)

The Matterhorn, one of the roller coasters at Disneyland
Matterhorn Bobsleds (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Matterhorn Bobsleds

Location: Fantasyland in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 42 inches. 

Board a bobsled ride on a re-creation of the Swiss Matterhorn Mountain. At just 27 miles per hour, it's not necessarily the speed that will scare your kids on Matterhorn.

Beware of the Yeti!  An abominable snowman creature pops up and growls at riders on Disneyland's oldest roller coaster. Plus, it's a pretty jerky ride.

Splash Mountain's scary drop
Splash Mountain (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

6. Splash Mountain

Location: Critter Country in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 40 inches.

For the most part, Splash Mountain is a mellow journey through the Disney film, The Princess and the Frog. At the end of the ride, however, passengers experience a 50-foot drop, traveling up to 40 miles per hour. There are no seat belts so hold on tight and brace yourself for a big splash.

My husband and I convinced our kids to ride Splash Mountain with promises of ice cream when they were ages 5 and 8. Years later, I think they may be ready to forgive us.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride at Disneyland
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Steven Diaz, photographer)

7. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Location: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. Minimum height: 40 inches.

Travel to a galaxy far, far away aboard this new Disneyland ride. Your transport vehicle fights off bad guys like stormtroopers and Kylo Ren aboard Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Expect small drops, loud blasts, and intense battles. Motion simulations (similar to Star Tours) may make some riders feel queasy.

If your kids enjoy the Star Wars movies, they can probably handle this ride. As an alternative, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is a less intimidating Star Wars ride.

The Haunted Mansion, a scary ride at Disneyland
The Haunted Mansion (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

8. Haunted Mansion

Location: New Orleans Square in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. No height restrictions.

The scariest part of this haunted house is the hanging body that dangles above your head before you even board. If riding with young children, tell them NOT to look up and cover their eyes while in the mysteriously stretching room. The actual ride, though, is a lighthearted haunted house with no jump scares.

After the spooky start, you'll board slow-moving cars for a tour of a mansion and graveyard haunted by some fairly creepy ghosts. I was positively horrified by this ride at age 4 when I believed in all the magic of Disney — Mickey Mouse, ghosts, and all.

If you're not sure whether small children can handle this one, then give it a go during a fall visit to Disneyland. That's when the ride transforms into the more playful Haunted Mansion Holiday with Jack Skellington and other characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Radiator Springs Racers, one of the best rides at Disney California Adventure theme park
Radiator Springs Racers (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Radiator Springs Racers

Location: Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 40 inches.

Radiator Springs Racers go up to 40 zippy miles per hour. But there aren't any huge drops or creepy elements. Check out my video of this ride below.


Sitting in race cars from the Cars movie series, riders take a low-key spin through Radiator Springs. You'll take a tour of Ramone's House of Body Art or Luigi's Casa Della Tires, too.

Then it's time for a race. A different car wins each time. Despite the speed, most nervous riders will like this one. Just make sure kids meet the height requirement before investing in a very long wait.

This is one of Disneyland's most popular rides so expect long lines for Radiator Springs Racers. If traveling with teens or brave bigger kids, then you may want to do the Single Rider Line.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad takes upgrades the typical theme park choo-choo ride ~ Scariest Rides at Disneyland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

10. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Location: Frontierland in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. Minimum height: 40 inches. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the most easy-going of Disneyland's full-sized roller coasters. Therefore, it makes a good choice for the whole family to ride together if everyone meets the height requirement.

At 40-miles-per-hour, it's faster than some of the other coasters but there aren't any crazy drops, loop-the-loops, or scary characters. Plus, it's a train. And all kids love trains!

Pirates of the Caribbean may seem scary to children
Pirates of the Caribbean (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

11. Pirates of the Caribbean

Location: New Orleans Square in Disneyland. No height restrictions.

Pirates of the Caribbean is another Disney attraction that terrified me as a kid. Pirates shoot (fake) guns right at you. Smart kids probably should be a little afraid of this indoor ride.

And then there's a creepy voice howling, “Dead men tell no tales.” There are a couple of drops in the dark at the beginning of the boat ride, too.

Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, a somewhat scary Disneyland ride
Indiana Jones Adventure (Photo credit: Disney/Lucas Film Ltd.)

12. Indiana Jones Adventure

Location: Adventureland in Disneyland. Lightning Lane with Genie+ available. Minimum height: 46 inches.

Enter the Temple of the Forbidden Eye aboard Indian Jones Adventure. This ride doesn't go extremely fast, but it's quite the adventure with lots of twists and turns.

Make-believe bugs and giant snakes add an ick factor. Then there's a giant boulder that looks like it's going to crush your vehicle.

The scariest thing about Indiana Jones Adventure may be how often it breaks down. Seriously, beware of wait times that often stretch on and on. This typically happens when something falls on the track and must be retrieved before riding can resume.

Grizzly River Run can be a dry or a VERY wet ride at Disney California Adventure Theme Park
Grizzly River Run (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

13. Grizzly River Run

Location: Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure. Lightning Lane with Genie+ and Single Rider Line available. Minimum height: 42 inches. 

Want to try whitewater rafting but not sure you can handle the adrenaline rush? Take a spin on Grizzly River Run to see if you've got what it takes. There are a few drops, but nothing overwhelming.

The fear of getting doused with water from mini waterfalls adds to the fun. That is unless you're the only one who gets soaking wet.

It always seems like one passenger per raft gets doused, much to everyone else's delight. That can be super funny if it's daddy getting soaked. Or it could cause a major meltdown if your child is the one who must walk around in soggy socks for the rest of the day.

The Mad Tea Party at Disneyland
The Mad Tea Party (Photo credit: Disneyland Resort)

14. Mad Tea Party

Location: Fantasyland in Disneyland. No height restrictions.

The Mad Tea Party isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea. Kids and adults who have no fear of motion sickness, however, will enjoy spinning in circles in giant teacups.

Children's sense of equilibrium tends to readjust faster than it does for us old folks. Keep that in mind before you grab the wheel and send your family into a tizzy.

Fun fact: The Mad Tea Party is one of the original Disneyland attractions. It has been twirling guests since opening day on July 17, 1955.

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is like a Tilt-A-Whirl but way better ~ Scariest Rides at Disneyland
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is like a Tilt-A-Whirl but way better (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

15. Mater's Junkyard Jamboree

Location: Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. Minimum height: 32 inches and accompanied by another rider 54 inches or taller.

Similar to a Tilt-A-Whirl, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree sends riders spinning in crazy circles. It's less dizzying than the Mad Tea Party, though. And in my family's opinion, it's a lot more fun. Cars character favorite Mater sings a square-dancing song while you zig this way and zag that way.

Is your family crazy about the Disney Cars movies? Read my tips for visiting Cars Land with kids!

Gadget's Go Coaster kiddie roller coaster in Disneyland
Gadget's Go Coaster (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

16. Gadget's Go Coaster

Location: Mickey's Toontown in Disneyland. Minimum height: 35 inches.

For children too small or scared to brave other Disneyland roller coasters, Gadget's Go Coaster makes a good first thrill ride. At its fastest, the kiddie coaster goes a reasonable 21.7 miles per hour.

Plus, it's a short ride. Even timid riders can handle 44 somewhat thrilling seconds.

As of May 2022, Mickey's Toontown is undergoing refurbishments. It is set to reopen in early 2023.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, a scary Disneyland ride
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride includes scary elements (Photo credit: Duke Remington, Wikimedia)

17. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Location: Fantasyland in Disneyland. No height requirements. 

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride typically has a shorter queue than the rest of the rides in Fantasyland. And for good reason. It's scary.

Why? First of all, it's a super dark ride. Second, the storyline is freaky and unknown to most kids and adults. It's based on the 1949 Disney movie, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Lastly, there are jerky movements, loud noises, and a heated room filled with devils.

When my son was a baby, I strapped him into his Baby Bjorn and took him on this Disneyland attraction. Bad idea! He clawed at my face in fear with his little baby nails the whole time.

Pixar Pal-A-Round at Pixar Pier
Pixar Pal-A-Round at Pixar Pier (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disneyland Resort)

18. Pixar Pal-A-Round

Location: Pixar Pier in California Adventure. No height restrictions. 

Those who fear heights will have a tough time at the 160-foot top of Pixar Pal-A-Round. For the rest of us, it's an easy-going and fun way to get a bird's eye view of California Adventure Park.

Control freaks and motion sickness sufferers should avoid the swaying gondolas. The line for the fixed gondolas tends to be much shorter anyway.

This is the only attraction that made both my Disneyland scariest rides list as well as my list of the best rides for babies and toddlers at Disneyland. Ironic, I know.

This Ferris wheel was formerly known as Mickey's Fun Wheel and the Sunwheel prior to that.

Snow White's Enchanted Wish ride at Disneyland
Snow White's Enchanted Wish (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

19. Snow White's Enchanted Wish

Location: Fantasyland in Disneyland. No height restrictions. 

This Fantasyland ride stars Snow White and the seven dwarfs. It used to be named Snow White's Scary Adventures. I mean, scary is right in the name!

In 2020, the ride was revamped and given its new name, Snow White's Enchanted Wish. It's less intimidating to younger guests now. There is still a scene where the Evil Queen looks in a magic mirror, then turns around to reveal a frightening old witch instead. However, Disney eliminated the ride's jump scares and added LED lighting to make the ride less ominous.

Still, I advise checking out more lighthearted dark rides first if riding with little kids. If children do well on Peter Pan's Flight and Alice in Wonderland, then they might enjoy Snow White's Enchanted Wish.

Disneyland with kids
Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

FAQs: Disney Roller Coasters and Scary Rides

Which rides and roller coasters in Disneyland are scariest?

It really depends on your definition of scary.

When it comes to roller coasters in Disneyland, scariness is in the eye and the stomach of the beholder. Riders who hate inversions will want to avoid Incredicoaster. Hate drops? Steer clear of Guardians of the Galaxy and ride Space Mountain instead.

The make-believe factor and darkness will freak out little ones on rides that adults find innocuous. Pushing children too far to experience scary rides before they're ready can backfire and lead to a lifelong fear of rides.

Fear of heights and motion sickness also play a role in determining whether a Disneyland ride is scary or not. But if you like all thrill rides, then get in line and have a great time!

Which Disney ride is the fastest?

At speeds up to 65 miles per hour, the fastest Disney ride in the world is Test Track. It's located in Epcot at Walt Disney World.

Which Disney Parks roller coaster has the biggest drops?

Reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour, Expedition Everest is one of Disney's fastest attractions. It's also the roller coaster with the biggest drops. In fact, the ride's biggest drop is a whopping 80 feet. You can find Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Disney World.

What is the best time to ride Disneyland roller coasters and other popular rides?

The best times to avoid long waits are early in the morning, right when the theme parks open.

Also, you can sometimes find shorter standby lines during parades and spectaculars like fireworks or World of Color. Keep in mind that some of Disney's most popular attractions close during performances, though.

Book Your Disneyland Trip

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Teens in Galaxy's Edge - Star Wars Land at Disneyland
My teenagers in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Learn More Disney Tips

Disneyland is different with big kids. Read my tips for visiting Disneyland with teens and tweens.

Disney isn't just for kids! Take a peek at 17 romantic things to do at Disneyland.

Curious about Disney's theme park in China? Look at my Shanghai Disneyland tips.

Add some Disney flair to your family's France vacation with these tips for visiting Disneyland Paris with kids.

Scariest Rides and Roller Coasters at Disneyland

Keep this List of Disneyland Roller Coasters and Scary Rides

Be sure to save this list of the scariest Disneyland rides and roller coasters for future reference. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

What do you think are the scariest rides and roller coasters at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Disneyland has hosted my family at various events over the years. We have paid for many more Disney trips ourselves. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. Claudia Krusch says

    This is a great guide fr people with younger children. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy Mission. I was one of my favorites.

  2. Thanks for ranking these rides by how scary they are. Now my kids know exactly which rides to go on!

  3. Amy Desrosiers says

    I have always wanted to ride Splash Mountain. To me, it looks mega fun and right up my alley.

  4. I would enjoy going on all of these rides. I love all kinds of rides, especially those that are thrill rides. I haven’t been to Disneyland before, but I have always wanted to go there.

  5. Jenna Wood says

    I may be old school but Space Mountain is a classic and still delivers a good jolt to this day. What a fun list!

  6. Jenn Mitchell says

    I never really thought of Disney as having scary rides but I guess they do. Nice ranking system!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thanks, Jenn! There certainly are some scary rides at Disneyland if that’s your thing. Of course, you could always avoid these rides and go the mellow route, for sure.

  7. TColeman says

    I love that you have shared these like this! It is good to know so that when you have a group you know which to ride.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Yes, it’s always good to have a ride plan before you visit Disneyland. You definitely want to maximize your fun time!

  8. Love your list. We are definitely a Disney family through and through.

  9. I would add Snow White’s Scary Adventures to this list. While it’s a kid ride, the evil queen and evil hag scare the crap out of kids and there is always screaming when we go on the ride. All though I’ve learned that there will always be a kid scared of EVERY ride at Disneyland. We were once on a boat with a kid who was screaming and crying on the Storybook Canal Boats because of Monstro and another kid screaming on Dumbo because it flies and they had to put theirs all the way to the ground. Disneyland is such a great place for families.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      My son was one of those kids who was afraid of every ride when he was little. As a baby, we brought him on most of the rides at Fantasyland and rides like Pirates of the Caribbean but once he was able to speak…he refused to even go on a carousel for years. We spent a lot of time watching the shows and parade at Disneyland during those years!

  10. Jeanette says

    I am dying to go to Disneyland with my son. I am thankful that there are posts like this so I know there are rides to avoid with him when we get there.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Jeanette – You don’t necessarily need to avoid all of these. For example, we took our kids on Pirates of the Caribbean when they were really little, with no problems. It got a little scarier for them when they were preschoolers and now we’re back to riding it. These tips will hopefully help you decide whether to give the ride a go or not. 🙂

  11. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    I will not go on Tower of Terror. I don’t like the feeling of my stomach in my throat. It just doesn’t do it for me. My husband and kids will ride that stuff all day, though.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Tower of Terror is now Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout at Disney California Adventure. Your husband and kids would love it, I’m sure. Meanwhile, you and I could go get a glass of wine at the Golden Vineyards! :-)-

  12. robin rue says

    For me, it’s Splash Mountain. Or Tower of Terror. I don’t like to drop, so those terrify me.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Big drops scare me too! I can handle Splash Mountain but Guardians of the Galaxy (formerly Tower of Terror) is too much for me. As you can tell from my video! 🙂

  13. Ellen Lanin says

    Excellent write-up that will be enjoyed by all Disney park lovers ( and who isn’t ). The video on the Cars ride made me feel like I was actually enjoying the motion.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thanks! 🙂 Leo was so afraid I would drop my phone while recording that video!

  14. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    LOL – Disney has a scary side after all!

  15. OMG. These rides are really scary

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