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Disneyland Roller Coaster Guide

Updated on October 7, 2013

Roller Coasters in Disneyland and California Adventure

The Haunted Mansion and The Pirates of the Caribbean may be some of the best known rides at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, but the parks also have some great roller coasters.

One ride at Disneyland is an American Coaster Enthusiasts Landmark and another one in California Adventure is among the top 10 longest steel coasters in the world.

After riding all of them many times, I can guarantee that they're all fun!

Here's a quick guide to the Disneyland roller coasters, including history, facts, videos and more information about Disney's coasters.

(Image of California Screamin roller coaster by SolarSurfer via Wikipedia)

Disneyland Roller Coaster List - A quick list of the six coasters and the year they started operating

Here's a list of the Disney roller coaster rides inside Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, California. You can learn more about each of these coasters and see videos of the actual rides in the sections below.

  1. Matterhorn Bobsleds -1959
  2. Space Mountain - 1977
  3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - 1979
  4. Gadget's Go Coaster - 1993
  5. California Screamin' - 2001
  6. Goofy's Sky School - 2011

The Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first roller coaster built in Disneyland, and it's been operating since June 14, 1959. If you're visiting Disneyland, this ride is a "must-do."

Although the Matterhorn Bobsleds might be considered a tame coaster by today's standards (it isn't exceptionally fast and doesn't have any loops to take you upside down), it's been named a landmark by the American Coasters Enthusiasts organization because it's the first tubular steel continuous track roller coaster in the world.

Park visitors sit in "bobsleds" that take you 80 feet up in a 1:100 scale replica of Switzerland's Matterhorn and then you careen down the mountain, around corners, and through caves before ending the ride in an "alpine lake." (Don't worry - you don't get wet.) The Matterhorn Bobsleds ride is the second slowest roller coaster in Disneyland (only Gadget's Go Coaster in Toon Town is slower), but the ride does jerk and bump around more than many modern coasters.

The ride straddles the border of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland and offers two separate runs - one on each side of the mountain. Each run has its own queue. The Fantasyland run is actually a bit longer, lasting for 2:26 minutes, compared to 2:07 for the other run, so if you're looking for a few more seconds of fun, this would be the run to take.

Unlike other rides that have been duplicated at Disney parks throughout the world, Disneyland is the only one with the Matterhorn Bobsleds, so if you're visiting the park, don't miss this one!

Information for parents:

The height requirement for the Matterhorn Bobsleds is 42" (107 cm) or taller. The ride is tame in comparison to many modern roller coasters at theme parks, but it does have several dark areas that might scare younger kids, including an area where a large Yeti monster with creepy glowing eyes roars as your bobsled flies by.

(Image credit: HarshLight via Wikipedia)

Space Mountain, which opened in May 1977, was the second roller coaster built at Disneyland, and it continues to be immensely popular. Get a FastPass to avoid long lines during peak seasons.

Walt Disney was the person who originally envisioned a space-themed roller coaster for Disneyland, but Space Mountain wasn't built until after his death, and the first Space Mountain coaster was built in Walt Disney World in 1975. The Disneyland version opened two years later.

Space Mountain is located in Tomorrowland. It takes riders on a 32-mph journey in near total darkness, broken only by thousands of stars and other cosmological bodies. Wind is constantly blowing, due to vents and other "rockets," and a soundtrack plays while you're journeying through the stars. The ride lasts 2:48.

Information for parents:

The height requirement for Space Mountain is only 40" (102 cm) or taller, but not every child who meets this requirement is going to be ready for this ride because it takes place in complete darkness. If your child still sleeps with a night light, you're probably better off skipping this one.

(Image credit: SolarSurfer via Wikipedia)

Big Thunder Mountain Disneyland Roller Coaster - A Disneyland roller coaster almost everyone can enjoy

Big Thunder Mountain is the third roller coaster opened at Disneyland, starting its service in 1979. The coaster takes riders on a fast-paced runaway mine train adventure through rugged canyon scenery inspired by Bryce Canyon in Utah.

Interestingly, the miniature town of Big Thunder that you pass near the end of the coaster ride predates the attraction. The town was originally named Rainbow Bridge and was repurposed from the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train that transported guests around Frontierland for almost 20 years until the late '70s.

Information for parents:

The height requirement for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is 40" (102 cm) or taller. Most kids who meet the 40-inch height requirement will enjoy this ride. It speeds along an outdoor track that has only a few short tunnels, no inversions or crazy loops, and no scary monsters. If your kids have outgrown Gadget's Go Coaster, this is the next one to try.

Unfortunately, if you're reading this article in early to mid 2013, you'll need to wait to check out this ride, as it's closed for refurbishment until late 2013.

Gadget's Go Coaster - A tame roller coaster for little kids

Gadget's Go Coaster is designed for little kids. It's short (under one minute), slow (only 21.7 mph), and two adults won't even comfortably fit in a single car. You'll need to ride with a child or sit in a separate car.

This Disneyland roller coaster is located in Toontown and is based on the character Gadget Hackwrench from the "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" animated TV program. Gadget herself can be seen on top of a small weathervane on a building towards Chip and Dale's Tree House. Ironically, the TV series was canceled three years before the ride debuted.

Information for parents:

The height requirement for Gadget's Go Coaster is 35" (89 cm) or taller. This ride is a very short and mild coaster ride that is probably best suited for kids under 10. It's a great way to introduce young kids to roller coasters, but most will quickly grow out of it.

If you love roller coasters, you won't want to miss California Screamin'. With a top speed of 55 mph, it is by far the fastest coaster in the Disneyland Resort, and one of the fastest rides at any Disney theme park in the world. It's also the 8th longest roller coaster in the world at 6.072 feet (1,851 m) long and the longest ride with an inversion.

This coaster launches you from 0 - 55 mph in 4 seconds, and then takes you on a high-speed ride that climbs to 120 feet, takes you upside down, and drops you 108 feet. The ride lasts about two and a half minutes.

Trains depart every 36 seconds, but the wait for this ride can still be very long. You'll want to get a FastPass to avoid long wait times.

Information for parents:

The height requirement for California Screamin' is 48" (122 cm) or taller. This is definitely not a ride for young kids who might meet the height requirements but aren't quite ready to get a birds eye view of the park or be propelled upside down at 55 mph.

(Image by Lisa Howard)

Goofy's Sky School is the renamed and re-themed roller coaster that previously operated as Mulholland Madness from 2001 - 2010.

It was refurbished as part of the overall renovation of the California Adventure park. The new Wild Mouse-style ride takes you three stories high as you journey over 1,200 feet of track.

Information for parents:

The height requirement for Goofy's Sky School is 42" (107 cm) or taller. This ride probably won't be too scary for most riders who meet the height requirement, but the ride does have many tight turns that are designed to give the impression when you approach a turn that you'll continue going straight and fall off the edge of the track. Some kids might find this a little scary.

(Image credit: deror_avi via Wikipedia)

What's the Best Roller Coaster Ride at Disneyland and California Adventure? - Vote for your favorite!

Which is the best Disneyland roller coaster?

See results

Disneyland Roller Coaster Trivia

Six of the original seven Mercury astronauts attended Space Mountain's opening, including John Glenn.

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What's Your Favorite Disneyland Roller Coaster? - Please sign the guestbook

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    • profile image

      The_Kelster 3 years ago

      @HowardYoung: My dad feels that way about Goofy's Sky School as well! It's fun though!

    • profile image

      HowardYoung 4 years ago

      I always have the feeling when riding Goofy's Sky School that I'm going to get tossed out of the car. It's a very scary ride!

      Disneyland did a great job at refurbishing the Matterhorn last year. Worth the wait if you haven't been on it in a while.

      My favorite is Screaming. They have a single rider line that is not well known. Go to the Fast Pass dispenser and ask the Cast Member for a single rider ticket. Then enter the exit gate for immediate entry. Wait time less than a few minutes. There's also a Hidden Mickey that you can see when you go through the loop. Tilt your head back and it's between the tracks.

    • Sandy Spencer profile image

      Sandy Spencer 4 years ago from Phoenix

      wow! Loved this-- Haven't been to Disney in awhile and this was great!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing great information to us. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I've been to Disneyland a couple of times and love the roller coasters!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 4 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've been to Disney World many times but never Disneyland. I don't think Disney World has as many rollercoasters ... but I'm not one who'd know, really, because I'm too chicken to ride them. I do like to watch them from the ground, though! Very nicely done lens, by the way. *Blessed*

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 4 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've been to Disney World many times but never Disneyland. I don't think Disney World has as many rollercoasters ... but I'm not one who'd know, really, because I'm too chicken to ride them. I do like to watch them from the ground, though! Very nicely done lens, by the way. *Blessed*

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 4 years ago

      Space Mountain is my favorite - I could ride it over and over!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I love Roller Coasters, but never went to Disney. One day I will.