Best Amusement Park Ride – Orange County Register

1. Space Mountain

Disneyland; disneyland.disney.go.com

While it’s no surprise that Disney dominates the best amusement park rides category, it’s shocking that the top three attractions remain unchanged from last year’s lineup. Even the order has not changed.

Space Mountain once again takes the top spot this year. The 1977 indoor roller coaster takes riders on a high-speed journey through the dark with plenty of twists, turns, and dips.

After more than four decades of thrills, the famous coaster still has one of the longest queues in Disneyland.

The past year will go down in Disneyland history as one of the most unusual with the Anaheim park closed for 412 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The attraction typically spends part of the year in Hyperspace Mountain mode, with a Star Wars overlay that was first introduced during the 2015 Season of the Force event. Scenes of X-Wings, Starfighters and even the Millennium Falcon flash on the interior walls of Space Mountain as riders race through the darkness aboard the interior roller coaster.

For the past few years during Halloween, a Ghost Galaxy overlay filled the ride with paranormal activity using projections, lights and sound effects.

Riders ride through a futuristic space station before boarding the roller coaster train at a mission control center. NASA Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper helped design Space Mountain to make the ride feel like real spaceflight. Over the years, the coaster has introduced onboard audio, added new transport vehicles, and undergone extensive retracking.

2. Go around the world

Disney Adventure in California; disneyland.disney.go.com

The Soarin hang-gliding flight simulator in the Grizzly Peak section of Disney California Adventure combines a mechanical lift system with three rows of seats and an 80-foot-tall concave-dome movie screen.

The five-minute IMAX film “Soarin’ Around the World” visits 13 locations around the world, flying so close you’ll wonder how the filmmakers got permission to capture the footage. The camera flies over the imposing hillocks of Monument Valley and a few meters from the Eiffel Tower.

The short makes many subtle nods to Disney movies and history, including “Cars” (Monument Valley), “Ratatouille” (Paris), “Finding Nemo” (Sydney Harbour), “Moana” ( the South Pacific), Disneyland Castle (based on Neuschwanstein) and the park’s Matterhorn bobsled roller coaster (Switzerland).

The original Soarin’ Over California debuted at Disney California Adventure when the park opened in 2001 with scenes from across the state. The original version of the attraction occasionally returns to Disney California Adventure for limited runs.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

Disneyland; disneyland.disney.go.com

It’s no surprise that this ride is one of OC’s top attractions, as it remains a charming boat trip to a pirate’s lair that seems timeless after more than 50 years in New Town Square. -Orleans at Disneyland.

Its popularity is only enhanced by the fact that visitors enjoy 15 minutes of cool, watery fun, which often provides respite from the park’s brutal heat. And hit movies starring Johnny Depp based on the ride only add to the appeal.

Disney replaced the previous “buy-a-bride” scene that some found offensive with a newer scene featuring a feisty redhead pirate named (what else?) Redd.

It’s the last ride Walt Disney himself had a hand in creating, though he died before it opened, so for the most ardent Disney fans, it’s hallowed ground. For tired parents everywhere, it’s a chance to cool off and rest their toes.

Harold B. McConnell