The Unofficial Guides team is continuing our tribute to second-rate Disney rides that we still sorta love with a dive into Pinocchio’s Daring Journey at Disneyland, one of Disney’s Best Worst Attractions.
Now that we’re done panning the attractions in DCA’s Paradise Gardens Park, our ongoing series on Disney’s Best Worst Attractions is crossing the Esplanade into Disneyland Park for a visit with the less-desirable second-generation rides in Fantasyland. Originally added to the park during the 1983 New Fantasyland renovation, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey has not kept pace with its neighbors in terms of technology or popularity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip it entirely.
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey is a traditional indoor “dark ride” based on the 1940 animated classic (not the poorly received 2022 live-action remake). This twisting, curving track ride in the dark traces the adventures of Pinocchio as he tries to find his way home. The action is hard to follow, and it lacks continuity. Though the sets are three-dimensional and more visually compelling than, say, Mr. Toad, the story line is dull and fails to engage guests.
In the ride’s defense, it features some deliciously trippy Pleasure Island imagery and a clever vanishing Blue Fairy effect. And although it hasn’t received the digital upgrades that have rejuvenated Peter Pan, Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland, that means Pinocchio usually has the shortest queue of the Fantasyland dark rides. Still, the longest waits occur 11:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Judge for yourself whether Pinocchio’s Daring Journey belongs on our Best Worst list by watching this 4K POV video:
We rate Pinocchio’s Daring Journey as 2 1/2 stars, and recommend saving it for the second day if you’re touring the park with children. Parents should be aware that Pinocchio’s Daring Journey contains some more intense imagery than other Fantasyland rides, and Monstro’s appearance scares a few very young preschoolers. While most small children seem to handle this ride well, a Manhattan mom warns:
Pinocchio is quite scary; it seems to feature one nightmare after another, particularly if a child is not familiar with the story/movie. Our son refused to ride any other rides for an hour or two after it, and it was our first one!
Is Pinocchio’s Daring Journey on your must-do or must-skip list? Let us know in the comments below.
For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr. All Disneyland fans should also check out The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey.
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I gave this ride a try during a solo trip to Disneyland a few years ago. At first, it appeared to me that the ride was out of service since there were zero people in line. But then I saw the CM at the loading area and found out the ride was not broken, just very unpopular. I did like it, mostly because it is a non-screen ride, it is not available at Disney World, and as an older person, I do know the Pinocchio story. My guess is that the number of kids who know the story, even if they have a hazy idea of who Pinocchio is, would be very small these days, despite the recent remake. A family who can do their “homework” by watching the classic film ahead of their trip should find this attraction worthwhile.