Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Here are the top 10 theme park attractions in Southern California

September 29, 2019, 1:58 PM · The fall's cooler weather finally has arrived in Southern California, but it's never the offseason for theme park fans around here anymore. No matter what the calendar nor the forecasts say, it's always a good time to visit a theme park in Southern California. But what to do first?

These are the top 10 theme park rides (not including roller coasters) in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County area, according to our Theme Park Insider reader ratings.

10. World of Color Disney's California Adventure

The night time spectacular at Disney California Adventure is a visual love letter to Disney animation, giving fans a perfect way to wrap their day at the parks.

9. Studio Tour Universal Studios Hollywood

Studio Tour

The heart of Universal Studios Hollywood delivers multiple experiences in one ride, with Jaws, Earthquake, King Kong 360/3D and Fast & Furious: Supercharged, plus your tour of the most famous backlot in Hollywood. (Well, thanks to this tour.)

8. Jurassic World - The Ride Universal Studios Hollywood

Jurassic World - The Ride

This update to the old Jurassic Park flume ride wows fans from the start with a new Mosasaurus "aquarium," followed by ever bigger thrills at the finale.

7. Waterworld Universal Studios Hollywood


Perhaps the best stunt show in theme park history, Waterworld is the go-to example for how a theme park attraction can surpass its source material.

6. Timber Mountain Log Ride Knott's Berry Farm

Timber Mountain Log Ride

The inspiration for Disney's Splash Mountain actually beats that ride onto our list and is currently offering its annual Halloween Hootenanny overlay.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout Disney's California Adventure

Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout

The Marvel-themed revamp of DCA's old Tower of Terror might have the highest "laughs per minute" ratio in the business. It's pure fun.

4. Indiana Jones Adventure Disneyland

Indiana Jones Adventure

Indy revolutionized the theme park industry when it opened in 1995 and remains awe-inspiring today.

3. Radiator Springs Racers Disney's California Adventure

Radiator Springs Racers

A rare attraction where nothing goes terribly wrong, Racers brings the world of Pixar's Cars to life in a delightful road trip.

2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Universal Studios Hollywood

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

One of the world's great theme park attractions, Forbidden Journey empowers Harry Potter fans to experience a few moments of the wild life of Hogwarts students.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland

Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney created the enduring template for theme park attractions with this 1967 classic, laying the foundation for a multi-billion dollar entertainment franchise. All hail the king.

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Replies (8)

September 29, 2019 at 3:57 PM

I pretty much agree with everything on this list except that Fantasmic should be in place of World of Color

September 29, 2019 at 10:13 PM

Again, who'd have guessed a movie as poorly recieved as Waterworld would have a stunt show still a major hit almost 25 years later?

September 29, 2019 at 10:53 PM

It would be interesting to see what this list would look like with only rides and no shows. Presumably Haunted Mansion would be next on the list, but I'm really curious what else just missed the cut. Anyway, I'm with Poscott about everything except World of Color being worthy of inclusion. To be honest, it's my least favorite of Disneyland's nighttime spectaculars.

September 30, 2019 at 1:31 PM

If I had my druthers, I'd put World of Color just outside the top 10 at #11, Water World at #10, and Fantasmic! at #7. The Timber Mountain Log Ride wouldn't break the top 25 for me, though.

September 30, 2019 at 3:56 PM

Good list overall. The one attraction I would add is Transformers at USH. That is my personal favorite and everyone from my grandma to my young niece in my family enjoy it immensely. Not just family but a lot of folks that I talk about this also agree Transformers is a winner. But oh well, this list is mostly rock solid.

September 30, 2019 at 4:52 PM

Pirates is nice, but hopelessly out of date when compared to the version in Shanghai.

October 1, 2019 at 10:18 AM

I pretty surprised that MFSR didn't crack this list. I like Indy a lot, but it's 50/50 whether you actually get a "clean" run on it anymore, and has daily breakdowns that significantly affect its capacity. Maybe the Falcon's absence from this list is more a result of it being too new to have enough ratings, but I assert that it's the second best ride at the Disneyland Resort behind GotG.

October 1, 2019 at 11:30 AM

Oh, Russell, you know the can of worms that's going to be opened by that comment....

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