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Best of Orange County 2023: Best amusement park ride

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1. Space Mountain


Space Mountain reclaims the top spot after spending a year as runner-up — a rarity for the perennial Disneyland favorite. The 1977 indoor roller coaster takes riders on a high-speed journey through the dark with many twists, turns and dips.

After more than four decades of thrills, the popular coaster consistently has one of the longest lines in Disneyland.

The attraction occasionally shifts into 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 dark aboard the indoor coaster.

In past years during Halloween, a Ghost Galaxy overlay has filled the ride with paranormal activity with the help of projections, lighting and sound effects.

Riders walk through a futuristic space station before boarding the coaster train in a mission control center. NASA Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper helped design Space Mountain so the ride would feel like an actual space flight. Through the years, the coaster has introduced onboard audio, added new ride vehicles and undergone a complete retracking.

— Brady MacDonald

2. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance


Rise of the Resistance drops from the top spot after a brief reign as the Best of O.C. in 2022. The epic dark ride debuted in January 2020 in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.

The ambitious, first-of-its-kind attraction combines four separate ride systems with state-of-the-art audio-animatronics and visual effects.

Rise of the Resistance enlists recruits to join a battle between the villainous First Order and the heroic Resistance.

The backstory for the attraction finds riders entering a dense forest where the Resistance has set up a temporary and secret military base camp outside of the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the 14-acre Galaxy’s Edge themed land.

Along the way, the recruits will be captured aboard a Star Destroyer, break out of a First Order detention cell, elude the clutches of Kylo Ren and escape back to a secret base on Batuu.

3. Indiana Jones Adventure


Disneyland cleaned every skull, mummy and snake during an refurbishment of Indiana Jones Adventure that refreshed the classic dark ride without disturbing any of the beloved rubble and debris in the crumbling Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

The Adventureland thrill ride takes daring passengers in a rugged troop transport over rough terrain as they race through a cursed temple filled with slithering snakes, screaming mummies and collapsing bridges.

The latest renovation makes Indiana Jones Adventure feel brand new again just like when the thrill ride first opened in 1995.

Walt Disney Imagineering “plussed up” the ride with two new digital effects scenes designed to demonstrate the power of Mara, the antagonist deity within the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at the center of the story unfolding in the attraction.

The Indy refurbishment teams cleaned and painted the projection surfaces throughout the attraction and repaired and refreshed the scenic elements throughout the extensive queue. Video projectors were refocused and lighting fixtures were replaced. The large audio-animatronic snake and rolling ball in the finale have been repaired.

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