Between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, there are so many fantastic attractions to experience. These attractions fall into two separate categories: those that were created from a completely original idea and those that are based on a specific Disney movie. While the rides that are not inspired by a Disney movie are enjoyable, it’s also very exciting to learn that a new attraction is being built that features beloved Disney characters and stories.
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Disneyland Attractions Based on Movies
A lot of the time, these attractions are either extensions of the movie’s plotline or place the characters in a completely unique situation not explored in the film. Because of this fact, we never really know what to expect when a new ride is announced, and there’s a lot of anticipation waiting to see what Disney’s team of Imagineers has created out of a popular movie.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure both have a lot of great movie-inspired attractions, but depending on what you have planned, it can be challenging to fit everything you want to do into your trip. If you won’t have time to experience them all during your vacation, we suggest checking out these top Disneyland attractions based on movies.
Alice in Wonderland
Inspired by Disney’s animated film Alice in Wonderland, this whimsical dark ride takes guests on a trip through the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland, complete with colorful characters and iconic locations from the film, like White Rabbit’s House, Tulgey Wood, and the Queen’s Garden, ending with a scene of the Mad Tea Party. This Disneyland-exclusive ride has been making guests smile since 1958 and continues to be one of the most iconic Disneyland rides of all time.
Snow White’s Enchanted Wish
This classic dark ride, based on Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, invites guests to join Snow White on a journey through the cottage of the seven dwarfs, the mines filled with gems, the Queen’s sorcery chamber, and more as you encounter beloved characters. The ride has recently been refurbished, creating an even more stunning set and storyline throughout the ride. This attraction allows you to revisit some of the most iconic scenes in the movie with the stunning new elements and effects.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
While a lot of the newer, higher-tech, and more intense rides typically get a lot of love (and will later on this list), the classic movie attractions are not to be dismissed. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, located in Critter Country at Disneyland Park, is one such attraction. This ride is beloved by many, and for good reason.
It features Pooh and all his friends from The Hundred Acre Wood in familiar scenes from the 1977 film of the same name, including Pooh getting stuck in the honey tree, the blustery day where “the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down,” and Pooh’s run-in with Heffalumps and Woozles. It’s also a family-friendly attraction that guests of all ages can enjoy, making it an easy pick for those with younger or smaller children who aren’t able to enjoy the big thrill rides yet.
Finding Nemo Undersea Voyage
Another great attraction for the little and big kids is Finding Nemo Undersea Voyage, which can be found in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park. On this ride, you board a submarine and make your way down into the depths of the ocean until you reach the Great Barrier Reef and East Australian Current. As you travel under the sea, you run into Nemo, Marlin, Dory, and the rest of their friends (and foes!) and see them in their natural habitat.
This attraction is one that takes the main characters and basic outline of the 2003 Disney-Pixar movie and incorporates them into a modified experience for guests to enjoy. There may be some scenes or plot points that have been rearranged or changed slightly to better fit the new storyline of the ride, but overall, it generally holds true to the original film.
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
There are two interactive rides at the California theme parks inspired by the Toy Story movies, and the original is Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. This attraction is located in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, and it’s a great example of taking a major storyline from one of the films—namely, the fight between Buzz and his nemesis, the Evil Emperor Zurg, in Toy Story 2—and expanding on that idea to create something unique.
On this attraction, guests are battling it out in a laser shooting game to not only defeat Zurg but also beat the other person in their ride vehicle. It’s a fun challenge for those who are a little competitive to see if they can win bragging rights over the other people in their party, and because it’s a slow-moving attraction with no height requirement, guests of all ages are able to ride even if they can’t quite shoot the laser yet.
Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
This ride is a family-friendly attraction that captures the humor, charm, and heart of the original movie. With its retelling of the Monsters Inc. story we all know and love, it appeals to both children and adults, offering a nostalgic and immersive experience. Join Mike and Sulley on their adventure to save Boo and experience the laughter-filled world of Monstropolis firsthand!
Located at Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure, The Incredicoaster is the perfect attraction to showcase how an existing ride can be reimagined and updated to feature a specific Disney movie. When it opened, this rollercoaster was named California Screamin,’ which was unaffiliated with any Disney characters or film. When Paradise Pier was rethemed to Pixar Pier, the popularity of The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2 inspired Imagineers to re-theme the rollercoaster as well.
The story of the Incredible family fits the original design of the coaster very well. When Jack-Jack’s superpowers get out of hand and he begins teleporting from tunnel to tunnel, the different abilities of the rest of the family members are showcased through the various features of the rollercoaster. Overall, the redesign into The Incredicoaster fits very well, and it’s also just an incredibly fun ride!
WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure is an exciting attraction found at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort inspired by the most recent Spider-Man trilogy. This interactive dark ride immerses guests in the world of Marvel’s iconic superhero, Spider-Man, and allows them to experience the thrill of web-slinging just like the friendly neighborhood hero.
This ride is completely interactive, allowing guests to play against their families to see who can web the most Spider-Bots, which have escaped during a WEB Workshop. It also does not have a height requirement, which makes it an accessible ride for smaller guests.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Peter Pan’s Flight is another beloved ride that’s based on a classic movie, and it’s also the only Disneyland opening day attraction on this list. Found in the heart of Fantasyland, this attraction is similar to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in that it is made up of several iconic scenes from the film Peter Pan and doesn’t stray too far from the original story.
Onboard a pirate ship, guests sail out the Darlings’ bedroom window and above the city of London to Neverland. Although the ride is short, all the major and supporting characters are featured, and the ship flies over Mermaid Lagoon, the Lost Boys’ camp, and the waters where Tick-Tock Croc is waiting down below. This is another attraction that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and although the line can get long, it’s definitely worth the wait.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Another example of taking an original attraction and reimagining it based on a specific Disney movie is Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! This thrill ride can be found at Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure, and it looms over the rest of the park since it is housed in the tall building that was previously home to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
While there is a lot of discourse about whether or not replacing an iconic ride like Tower of Terror with a Marvel story was a good idea, we believe that overall, the Imagineers did a good job transforming the ride to fit the Guardians of the Galaxy story. Considering there is a major difference between the frightening tale of the classic Hollywood Tower Hotel and the wacky adventures of the ragtag group of the Guardians, the attraction was rethemed very well, and guests still get to enjoy the thrill of the drop tower.
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
While Disney wasn’t originally planning on creating an attraction based on the Indiana Jones franchise, the success of the Epic Stunt Spectacular! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida prompted them to build an Indiana Jones-themed ride in California. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye can be found in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, and it’s a great ride for a few reasons.
The attraction does a great job of balancing elements of memorable scenes from the Indiana Jones movies with original concepts to expand the storyline a bit further. The fact that riders can end up with any of three different chambers at the start of the ride adds an extra layer to the experience. And it has a very unique track system, since the only other ride that exists with the same setup is DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.
Did you know that in this ride, Indiana Jones’ voice was not recorded by Harrison Ford? To learn about who ended up creating this voiceover, read our list of the most iconic Disneyland voiceovers.
Toy Story Midway Mania!
The most recent interactive ride to come from the Toy Story movies to Disneyland is Toy Story Midway Mania! at Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure. On this ride, guests compete against the rest of the riders in their car in a string of different carnival games, including tossing rings and pies, throwing baseballs at plates, and sending suction cups at targets. Each game is hosted by different characters from the movies, including Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Hamm, and the Green Army Men.
While the game in Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters has a nostalgic feel to it, Toy Story Midway Mania! is much more technologically advanced and uses 3D visuals instead of lasers. This design helps give the game much more variety and makes it easier for younger guests to participate since they can focus on the images on the screen in front of them rather than trying to aim a laser at a target off in the distance.
Radiator Springs Racers
One of the most popular and thrilling attractions at Disney California Adventure is Radiator Springs Racers, inspired by the Disney-Pixar Cars trilogy and appropriately located in Cars Land. The design of this attraction is true to the scenes in the first movie where Lightning McQueen is practicing his racing through the desert and mountain ranges near Radiator Springs.
This is a ride that truly fits the story and theming of the movie it is centered around. It features interactions with almost all the major characters doing the things they do best, like Ramone giving the cars a fresh coat of paint and Luigi changing out their tires before the big race. The fact that the winner is completely random each time is also a great touch, as riders never know what type of experience they’re going to end up with.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Our number one pick for the best Disneyland attraction based on a movie is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park. This ride is unlike any other at the two California theme parks, both for the theming surrounding the franchise and the experience the ride offers.
Through the multiple stages of the attraction, you interact with main and supporting characters from the newest trilogy of Star Wars films, and even the Cast Members operating the ride play different roles in the story, including members of The First Order and the Resistance. The integration of the Cast Members into these two different camps heightens the experience and makes Rise of the Resistance one-of-a-kind.
If you’re a massive Star Wars fan, be sure to read our guide on Star Wars Land tips for Disneyland and Disney World.
What are your thoughts on our top picks for movie-based Disneyland attractions? Would you rank these in a different order? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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