Castle with heart fence and trees

7 Best Disneyland Rides Unique to the Happiest Place on Earth

Last updated:

Disneyland rides are iconic. So iconic, in fact, that many – like Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean – have not only inspired iterations across the globe but beloved films as well. But, how many rides at Disneyland Resort can only be experienced at The Happiest Place on Earth? 

Surprisingly, quite a few! Grab a pencil and have your must-do list handy as we break down the seven Disneyland attractions you can only do here – no duplicates or imitations.  

Must-Do Rides at Disneyland Resort You Can’t Experience Anywhere Else 

Fountains and Mickey ferris wheel at night

Disneyland has been a groundbreaking entertainment destination ever since opening on July 17, 1955, inspiring other Disney Parks as well as theme parks around the world. Naturally, with so many amazing rides, there are bound to be some copies. 

After all, since Disney has a history of recycling animation sequences, such as those in Robin Hood and The Jungle Book, it’s no surprise they would do the same thing with their theme park attractions. You know – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Fortunately, although you can experience many opening day originals like Storybook Land Canal Boats and Casey Jr. Circus Train and newer favorites like WEB SLINGERS – A Spider-Man Adventure and Indiana Jones Adventure at other Disney Parks globally, there are still some attractions at both Disneyland and California Adventure that are exclusive to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Disneyland Park

Alice in Wonderland | Fantasyland

White Rabbit holding pocket watch

You’re late for a very important date – you’re very own “unbirthday” party! This two-story dark ride follows in Alice’s footsteps through her many madcap adventures in Wonderland, all from the back of a giant caterpillar. 

Along the way, you’ll chase after Alice down the rabbit hole, slithering past scenes like the White Rabbit’s House and the forbidding Tulgey Wood and meeting all sorts of strange folk who call Wonderland home, including friendly locals like Tweedledee and Tweedledum, The Mad Hatter and The Cheshire Cat. 

Then, it’s into the red-painted hedgerows of the Queen’s gardens, where you’ll watch a rousing game of croquet before facing off against the formidable Queen of Hearts herself. Will you escape execution in time for your “unbirthday” party?

One of the oldest attractions unique to Disneyland, Alice in Wonderland has been charming guests since debuting at Fantasyland back on June 14, 1958, less than three years after the park officially opened. The ride has seen some changes through the years, with the current iteration reopening in April 1984 before receiving an update in 2014. 

While the ride may be unique to Disneyland Park, it isn’t the only attraction at Disney Parks inspired by Alice’s Wonderland escapades. Spins on Mad Tea Party are found in five of the six Disneyland-like theme parks worldwide, while guests at Shanghai Disneyland can stroll through the whimsical Alice in Wonderland Maze à la Disney’s live-action film. 

Lightning Lane Availability: None

Height Restriction: Any height

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage | Tomorrowland

Lagoon with yellow submarine and mountain

Climb aboard a yellow submarine and dive deep into the big, blue world (i.e., a 6,300,00-gallon lagoon in Tomorrowland) in search of a wayward clownfish on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Originally opened in June 1959 as Submarine Voyage, this unique attraction themed after Disney and Pixar’s beloved film takes voyagers into the world of Nemo, Marlin and Dory.

At the start of your journey, you’ll set out from the appropriately named institute of Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation (NEMO) on a hunt for an active underwater volcano. The entire adventure is viewed through one of the vessel’s many portholes, making for a unique view depending on where you sit. 

Throughout your expedition, you’ll motor past colorful underwater scenes like dense seaweed forests, dazzling coral reefs and a swarm of jellyfish while also encountering a host of Finding Nemo friends along the way. You even get to surf the East Australian Current (or EAC, as Crush likes to say). 

Initially inspired by the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, Submarine Voyage closed in July 1998 and was almost sunk for good before rising from the waves in June 2007 with a new Finding Nemo-inspired twist. In a nod to the film’s environmental themes, the attraction even received an eco-friendly update, including electric-powered submarines and rockwork “painted” with recycled crushed glass. 

Though you can’t ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at any other Disney Parks, you can still get a taste of the ride’s predecessor elsewhere around the world. Tokyo DisneySEA touts 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which simulates diving through water, while Disneyland Paris is home to Les Mystères du Nautilus, a walkthrough attraction styled after one which existed at Disneyland Park prior to the old Submarine Voyage. 

Lightning Lane Availability: None

Height Restriction: Any height

Matterhorn Bobsleds | Fantasyland

Matterhorn Mountain Disneyland

Want to zoom down a snow-covered mountain on a thrilling bobsled ride – and possibly catch a terrifying glimpse of the Abominable Snowman? You’ll have to go to Disneyland Park to do it. The original Disney rollercoaster – plus the first-ever tubular steel coaster – Matterhorn Bobsleds is just one of Disneyland’s iconic mountains, opening back in June 1959. 

For this rollicking ride, guests jump in a six-person bobsled before setting out on a snowy adventure through the mountains. However, before you can go down, you need to go up – way up an 80-foot ascent. 

Then, it’s time to hold on tight as you careen through ominous caves, along jagged ledges, down slippery chutes, across rickety bridges and below icy waterfalls. You’ll even come face to face with a monster of mythic proportions: the Abominable Snowman. But, be careful. We’ve heard these fearsome beasts can be very territorial. 

This classic, alpine-styled attraction was inspired by Walt Disney’s own journey to the real Matterhorn mountain. Of course, while Disneyland’s version may look like the eponymous peak, it’s all a matter of (forced) perspective. While the real thing towers at a lofty 14,700 feet tall, its miniature is precisely 100 times shorter. 

Lightning Lane Availability: Disney Genie+

Height Restriction: At least 42“ (117 cm) or taller

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride | Fantasyland

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

For a joyride through the English countryside and streets of London unlike any other, cruise over to Fantasyland for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Themed after Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and the titular amphibian’s adventures in the classic children’s tale, The Wind in the Willows, the attraction is one of Disneyland’s last opening day attractions still in operation. 

This zany dark ride puts guests in the driver’s seat of Mr. Toad’s old-fashioned convertible as it crashes through walls, hurtles past herds of sheep and crowds of citizens and nearly collides with other cars. Needless to say, Mr. Toad has more than a little bit of toad rage. Unfortunately, while it might be his old jalopy, with you behind the wheel of this reckless road trip, you’re along for the ride. Your next stop? Jail and, ultimately, the depths of the underworld.  

Sounds cheerful, right? In fact, Walt Disney wanted this rip-roaring attraction to be a dark ride rather than a roller coaster because he thought it might be better suited to small children and elderly guests. After all, it is based on a kid’s book. So, while you might find yourself white-knuckling it through parts of the attraction, it’s more lighthearted than scary

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride wasn’t always unique to Disneyland. The ride was also one of the attractions available on Magic Kingdom’s opening day on October 1, 1971. Sadly, the Central Florida version took its last spin around merry England back on September 7, 1998 to make way for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  

Lightning Lane Availability: None

Height Restriction: Any height

The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln | Main Street, U.S.A.

Orange and Yellow Flowers In Front of Main Entrance to Disneyland

Whether you’re into Disneyana, an admirer of Abraham Lincoln, or simply a history buff, you won’t want to miss The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The nostalgic attraction is split into two different components: a museum-like exhibit of rare Disneyland memorabilia and Walt Disney’s Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. 

Before the show, guests are treated to a treasure trove of ephemera illustrating the creation of The Happiest Place on Earth, from rare artwork and behind-the-scenes photos of Walt Disney to a scale model of opening-day Disneyland Park and a Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round carousel horse, as well as the short film Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years

Next, it’s time for the main event: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, an Audio-Animatronic, one-man stage show starring our nation’s 16th president. The Audio-Animatronic was the first human version ever attempted by Walt Disney Imagineering and a passion project of Disney’s, an avid Lincoln fan. 

While Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln didn’t make its debut at Disneyland – Honest Abe’s Audio-Animatronic doppelganger first took to the stage at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, in an appearance so realistic it was dubbed “alarming” by National Geographic – today, the attraction is exclusive to The Happiest Place on Earth.  

First, enjoy a short film outlining Lincoln’s journey from a modest log cabin to the halls of the White House. Then, take in a stirring presentation by a next-gen Audio-Animatronic of President Lincoln as he delivers lines from some of his greatest speeches. 

Lightning Lane Availability: None

Height Restriction: Any height

Disney California Adventure Park

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! | Avengers Campus

Guardians tower during day

At this ride unique to Disney California Adventure Park, the Guardians of the Galaxy are in trouble, and it’s up to you to bail them out. The Collector and his fortress-like collection have set up shop in Avengers Campus – and the Guardians are his latest acquisitions. 

Luckily, Rocket has managed to free himself from his electrified case and, in the form of an Audio-Animatronic (or in CGI on a screen, in the event of a technical malfunction), asks you to help spring everyone else. 

Your goal? Get Rocket to the top of the gantry lift so he can blow the generator to smithereens and save the team. Unfortunately, while the explosion opens the cages, it also cuts the power for the gantry lift, sending you and your fellow guests out of control until Rocket can restore power. 

It’s a romp of a ride and a worthy first addition to Disney’s cadre of MCU-inspired rides stateside. Sure, as the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which can be currently found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris and Tokyo DisneySea, the drop-tower format is by no means exclusive. Still, this superpowered reimagining is certainly unique to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Lightning Lane Availability: Disney Genie+

Height Restriction: At least 40“ (117 cm) or taller

Radiator Springs Racers | Cars Land

Racers attraction signage with Lightning McQueen

Buckle up and motor over to Cars Land for a scenic drive down Route 66 on Radiator Springs Racers. This California Adventure exclusive takes guests for a spin around beautiful Carburetor County, where most of the first Cars film takes place. 

This family-friendly road trip boasts face-to-face encounters with friends like Lightning McQueen and Mater, stunning desert vistas of the Cadillac Range and a high-speed drag race sure to thrill Cars fans and adrenaline junkies alike. 

The ride starts out with a leisurely Sunday drive through the quaint hamlet of Radiator Springs, where you’ll meet some of its citizens, including Sally, Luigi and Doc Hudson. Then, it’s time to head to the starting line for an exciting faceoff against your fellow racers. 

While the technology for this ride comes from Test Track in Epcot, Radiator Springs Racers is unique to Disney California Adventure Park, as is Cars Land. So, once your joyride is over, be sure to spend some time exploring everything else this part of the park has to offer. 

Lightning Lane Availability: Individual Attraction Selection

Height Restriction: At least 40“ (117 cm) or taller

Well, that concludes our list of the best Disneyland rides you can’t do anywhere else. What are your favorite rides at Disneyland that are unique to the resort? Let us know in the comments! Then, find out how to stretch your travel budget with our Disneyland ticket discounts