The 5 Best Attractions in Disneyland for Guests of All Ages

When planning a trip to Disneyland, families with large spans of ages among their ranks will often be worried that there won’t be enough for them to be able to enjoy together. Older kids and adults may be excited about the thrill rides like Space Mountain or the Matterhorn but wary about having to spend hours with their baby brother on “kiddie rides.” Parents of the youngest kids may be worried that there will be nothing their baby or toddler is tall enough to ride. When it comes down to it, however, Walt Disney built Disneyland as a place for families to spend time together. There are plenty of rides and attractions, therefore, which can be experienced by everyone and lead to some great family bonding.

1. King Arthur Carrousel – The tradition of the merry-go-round dates back hundreds of years, and it was at a carrousel in Burbank, CA where Walt Disney first had the idea for Disneyland. Sitting and watching his kids enjoying the ride from a nearby park bench, he envisioned a place where families could enjoy spending time together. This is why everyone is encouraged to ride Disneyland’s merry-go-round, the King Arthur Carrousel. There are no height limits, the youngest children can share a horse with their parents, and older guests can ride in one of the chariots if they don’t want to straddle a horse. Line up the whole family atop beautiful hand-carved steeds, and you can enjoy leaping through Fantasyland together.

2. it’s a small world – Say what you want about the song; it’s never going away. The popular “it’s a small world” attraction opened in 1966 and has been entertaining families ever since. This ride is a fantastic choice for a baby’s first Disney ride as it can introduce young ones to the experience of Disney attraction while being a smooth ride without any unexpected elements to it. Older guests can enjoy the original audio-animatronics that were designed by Walt Disney’s original team of “Imagineers” for the 1964 world’s fair as well as trying to spot all the Disney characters that were recently added to the ride in its 2008 refurbishment. The whole family can share a boat and enjoy one of the original Disney attractions together.

3. Mark Twain Riverboat – Over in Frontierland is one of Disneyland’s opening day attractions. The Mark Twain Riverboat has been plying the waterways of the “Rivers of America” since 1955 and is a fantastic ride for families to enjoy together. Grab a spot on one of the three decks, either standing or sitting, and admire the scenic views as you pass by Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country while circling Tom Sawyer Island. The ride is a lazy trip past the homes of Native Americans and frontier settlers, featuring animatronic animals populating the river’s shores. Between the details of the riverboat itself and the scenes it passes by, this attraction truly features something for everyone.

4. The Disneyland Railroad – Both an attraction and an effective means of transportation around Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the Disneyland Railroad features actual steam locomotives that circle the park making four stops. Passing by the scenery of Disneyland as well as going through some of its ride buildings, a trip on the trains can be a great way for families to relax together and just enjoy the sights and sounds that surround them. The last portion of the Railroad, between the Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A. stations includes a trip through dioramas depicting the Grand Canyon and the Primeval World of the dinosaurs.

5. Big Thunder Ranch – While not a ride, the Big Thunder Ranch area in Frontierland is certainly one of Disneyland’s best family-friendly attractions. This area is actually a big petting zoo filled with animals from goats to donkeys to some of the off-duty Clydesdales that pull the Main Street trolleys. Guests of all ages can enjoy petting these animals together, and since no one is allowed to feed the animals, they are constantly seeking affection rather than food. This makes Big Thunder Ranch one of the friendliest petting zoos you’re ever likely to visit.


About Wandering Mouseketeers

We are Taylor and Tracy — husband and wife from Boulder, CO — and we love all things Disney, as well as general travel. This website was originally created to showcase our Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line trip reports, but we've also got an entire series of blog posts about what it was like to live for a year and a half in Orange County, CA. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about our various adventures. All of our Disney trip reports have lots of pictures and details that you can use to plan your next vacation!