Top 10 Disneyland Rides Ranked by Scariness
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, but are a little worried about how intense the rides and attractions might be, you aren’t alone. Everyone isn’t a fearless Disney guest, which is why I thought this list of Disneyland rides ranked by scariness would be so helpful.
In this article, I’m going to rank the top Disneyland rides from least scary to most scary, and I’ll dive into what it is about each attraction that makes it either relatively harmless or extremely intense!
Disneyland Rides Ranked by Scariness (TLDR)
Here is how I would rank the Disneyland rides in terms of scariness (with Radiator Springs rated the least scary ride and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction ranked as the most scary ride):
10) Radiator Springs Racers – Least Scary Disneyland Ride
9) Space Mountain
8) Haunted Mansion
7) Matterhorn Bobsleds
6) Smuggler’s Run
5) Pixar Pal-A-Round
4) Goofy’s Sky School
3) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
1) Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout — Most Scary Disneyland Ride
Now, without further delay, let’s take a closer look at every single attraction on this list.
Radiator Springs Racers
Coming in at number ten, we have Radiator Springs Racers! This is a very popular attraction in Disney California Adventure (more commonly known as DCA) that puts guests in the driver’s seat of their very own race car for a high-speed adventure which concludes with a race to the finish line.
While it is without a doubt the least intense attraction featured on this particular list, Radiator Springs Racers can still be considered an intimidating attraction for some visitors who are not a fan of speed.
The most intimidating part of this attraction for guests tends to be the sharp corner during the race and the high speeds that can make some guests feel uneasy. Additionally, the ride largely takes place in a dark and immersive environment which then switches to bright neon lights and an outdoor portion, which can add to the overall intensity due to the abrupt lighting changes.
For some guests, the combination of speed, darkness, and competition can make Radiator Springs Racers an intimidating attraction that they may want to skip.
Scariness Ranking: 3/10
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Space Mountain is one of the most popular attractions within the Disneyland resort, but it can also be an intimidating one for some visitors who find themselves to not be a fan of the dark. The ride takes place completely in the dark (unless there’s a technical glitch) and simulates a journey through outer space, with sudden drops (although they are not large), sharp turns and high speeds.
The biggest difficulty with this particular attraction is undeniably the darkness of the ride, which can make it extremely disorienting and difficult to anticipate what’s coming next. The ride also features a handful of sudden jolts and jerks, which can be jarring for some guests.
The last big fear factor for this attraction is that the ride is somewhat claustrophobic, as it takes place in a narrow and enclosed space that is meant to simulate a spaceship. For visitors who are not used to this type of environment, Space Mountain can be an intimidating scary attraction that they may want to avoid or send someone else first.
Scariness Ranking: 4/10
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Haunted Mansion is a very popular and well-known classic Disneyland ride that has been scaring visitors since it first opened to the public in 1969. The calm but mentally stimulating ride takes guests on a journey through a creepy and aptly named haunted mansion, where they encounter a large number of intimidating creatures including ghosts, ghouls, and other spooky characters. It also features a pre-show that gives many guests a shocking fright!
The ride features a very wide range of special effects, including eerie lighting, creepy sound effects and animatronics that bring the ghosts to life. The ride also takes place in a dimly lit environment, which can be mildly unsettling for some visitors.
Additionally, the ride has a sense of unpredictability, with unexpected twists and turns (although they are admittedly rather calm) that can catch guests off guard if they have never been on this attraction before. Combined with the supernatural theme of the ride, Haunted Mansion can be a truly scary experience that may not be suitable for all visitors.
Scariness Ranking: 4/10
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The Matterhorn Bobsleds is an absolutely thrilling ride within the Disneyland resort that offers a unique combination of speed, drops and twists while also providing an entertaining ride. The attraction takes place on a bobsled-style rollercoaster that is modeled after the famous Matterhorn mountain and accompanying attractions in Switzerland.
The ride features a large variety of very sharp turns, steep drops and unexpected events that can be quite intense for sensitive riders. The ride also takes place in an incredibly dimly lit, cavernous environment which can add to the sense of unease and potential claustrophobia for some visitors.
Additionally, the ride can be incredibly loud when you factor in the combination of the sound of the bobsleds racing along the track and the ambient sounds added into the environment by the Imagineers.
Scariness Ranking: 5/10
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Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Smuggler’s Run is one of my absolute favorite rides between the two parks, but it can be terrifying for those who are not expecting the content of the attraction! This virtual reality and 4DX type attraction is based on the infamously popular Star Wars franchise, and requires guests to pilot their own ship. While it is a thrilling and exciting attraction for many visitors, it can also be a scary experience for some who may not enjoy the idea of motion simulator attractions.
The ride simulates piloting none other than the Millennium Falcon, and passengers are responsible for navigating through space as well as avoiding obstacles and completing missions. The ride can be incredibly disorienting and dizzying for first time riders, as it features sudden drops, sharp turns and rapid acceleration of which passengers feel every little movement.
Additionally, the ride is set in a very dark and immersive environment, which can which can make some guests feel even more nauseous or dizzy since there is no solid ground visible. While Smuggler’s Run is not the most intense ride in Disneyland, it can still be a scary attraction for some visitors especially those who are not used to thrill rides or who don’t enjoy the Star Wars franchise.
Scariness Ranking: 6/10
Pixar Pal-A-Round Swinging Gondolas
The Pixar Pal-A-Round Swinging Gondolas are a part of an attraction in DCA that offers a unique and thrilling experience for visitors. However for some guests, the ride can be a terrifying experience. Unlike the average and more traditional Ferris wheels, the swinging gondolas on the Pixar Pal-A-Round move back and forth rather aggressively as the wheel rotates, which can create a feeling of instability and cause some guests to feel disoriented and even ill due to motion sickness.
Additionally, the gondolas are open on the outside (they have a strong chain-link type cage that keeps guests contained, but they are fully open view) which can make some guests feel exposed and vulnerable as they swing high above the park.
The ride can also be affected by strong winds due to its incredible height, which can cause the gondolas to sway even more on bad weather days. While the ride can be a fun and exciting experience for some visitors, for others it can be a terrifying attraction that they may want to avoid.
Scariness Ranking: 7/10
Goofy’s Sky School
While we recognize that Goofy’s Sky School is a ride in Disney California Adventure that is marketed very heavily towards children, it can still be terrifying for some visitors (if not the overwhelming majority of guests!).
The ride is a fairly wild rollercoaster that takes guests and riders on a thrilling (and bumpy) ride that simulates being on a plane flown by none other than Goofy himself. The coaster features a very large amount of sudden drops, sharp turns and tight corners that can make passengers feel like they are about to fly off the track and off the high tower that the ride is placed on.
This attraction is completely outdoors Which allows you to see everything around you, including the ground! Even though the ride is marketed towards children, we feel that it is without a doubt, one of the more terrifying attractions that guests of any age can participate in. The ride is of course admittedly not as intense as other rides in the park, but the sudden jolts and jerks can be quite scary for some visitors and especially those who have not been on this particular attraction.
Scariness Ranking: 7/10
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
While Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is certainly not the fastest roller coaster in Disneyland, it is still one of the most intimidating rides in the park. This particular attraction takes visitors on a thrilling ride through an abandoned (and haunted) gold mine that is filled with seemingly unexpected twists and turns as well as a handful of sudden drops. A rather large portion of this rollercoaster is also set in the dark, which adds significantly to the fear factor.
The ride features sudden jolts and jerks that can take passengers by surprise, and the coaster’s theming adds to the overall intensity of the ride due to the darkness and haunted nature of the railroad. This particular attraction is also notorious among guests for its sharp turns that can make passengers feel like they are about to fly off the track in multiple locations.
While Big Thunder Mountain Railroad certainly may not be as fast or intense as other coasters in the park, it still provides a thrilling and scary experience that is not to be missed by guests who enjoy this type of adventure.
Scariness Ranking: 7/10
It is safe to say that Incredicoaster at Disneyland California Adventure is our #2 choice for the scariest attraction in either of the two DIsney parks. If you find yourself feeling the need for speed, this attraction is most certainly for you! This thrill ride is not for the faint of heart, and it’s most certainly not number two on our list just because it happens to be the fastest roller coaster in the resort.
The ride starts its journey with a sudden launch that propels riders within the coaster from 0 to upwards of 55 mph in just a few short seconds. The coaster then zooms through several rapid fire twists and turns, sudden drops, and the attraction even features one inversion towards the middle of the ride before subjecting riders to even more rapid twists and turns.
This attraction also features a pair of dark tunnel sections where riders are plunged into what feels like darkness (although when the ride is at a standstill due to technical difficulties, it doesn’t appear as dark) and experience sudden bursts of light at the conclusion of the tunnel.
Scariness Ranking: 8/10
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Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
Coming in at number one for the scariest ride in the Disneyland, we have none other than Mission Breakout! This mind-numbingly terrifying attraction is a drop tower ride that takes visitors on a mission to “assist” the Guardians of the Galaxy in escaping from the Collector’s Fortress.
If the mechanics of the ride sound slightly familiar to you, this would be because it was formerly known as the popular attraction, Tower of Terror. The ride features a series of sudden drops that take visitors up and down the tower, and the pattern of drops is generally not the same from one rider to the other (but instead alternates into a series of different patterns), making it rather difficult for riders to know what to expect.
Mission Breakout is set to the popular music of the 70s and 80s to match the soundtrack of the original film and includes characters from the popular Marvel franchise. In addition to the unpredictable nature of the drops on this particular attraction, the ride also has very dim lighting and it’s very hard to see the people and area around you, which of course does a great job in adding to the fear factor.
Mission Breakout replaced one of the scariest attractions in Disney—Tower of Terror—so it’s no real surprise that this attraction is #1 on my list.
Scariness Ranking: 9/10
Why Is Splash Mountain Not Listed?
You may notice that Splash Mountain is not listed here, and there’s a big reason why: it’s closed. Or, should I say, it’s temporarily closed.
Splash Mountain was closed in May of 2023 to be re-themed into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The attraction will be based around Tiana from the 2009 animated movie “The Princess and the Frog.” When this attraction does indeed re-open, it will most likely rank as the first or second most scary ride at Disneyland (considering the attraction ends with a huge five story drop!).
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