Walt Disney began capturing the hearts and minds of children (and adults) way back in the 1920s. Not satisfied with leaving the characters and worlds he created to the screen, in 1955 he opened the doors on the first Disney theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. The original park has developed and expanded over the years with a second park, Disney California Adventure Park, opening just opposite.
While Disneyland California may not be on everyone’s list of places to go – I have to admit it wasn’t top of mine when visiting LA – if you’re even the slightest bit intrigued or have children (and can stomach the incredibly high entrance fees), then it can make for a great day out. Read further for some Disneyland California tips!
Getting to Disneyland, California
The original Disneyland, now called Disneyland Park, is found in Anaheim, California, about an hour’s drive from Downtown Los Angeles. The best way to get here (and the best way to explore the sprawl of LA neighbourhoods) is to hire a rental car in LA. There are now two Disney parks in Anaheim, California, just a two minute walk from each other: the original, Disneyland, and the 2001 addition, Disney California Adventure Park. Admission to one will cost nearly $100, while a day pass for both is a whopping $150. If you’d rather break it up over a few days, stay in a hotel somewhere, or would like to stay at Disneyland California then check for deals online.
Disneyland Park, California
Disneyland is the bigger of the two parks and has the majority of the classic rides and sights: It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, the Magic Castle and Main Street, to name just a few. The park is split into different sections and lands, each with there own theme. Main Street is modelled on an old American high street, with shops selling all kinds of candy and Disney goods.
This was part of the original layout and leads up to the iconic Magic Castle. Other areas include New Orleans Square, where you can enjoy clam chowder bread bowls, drink non-alcoholic mint juleps and ride on the Mark Twain riverboat; Adventureland, where you’ll find Indiana Jones and a Jungle Cruise; Frontierland, with it’s host of Wild West themed rides and attractions; Fantasyland, with Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo rides; Mickey’s Toontown for the wild houses of the classic Disney troop; futuristic Tomorrowland; and Critter Country.
California Adventure, California
Disney California Adventure Park opened in 2001. The park is based on the state it calls home with rides and attractions that evoke the history, culture and feel of California, such as Soarin’ Over California, where you’re flown over the glorious sights of the state without leaving the park. There are also rides based on newer Disney and Pixar films, such as the Cars based Radiator Springs Riders and an excellent Toy Story ride. Again the park is divided into different lands and areas, including Hollywood Land, Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, and the latest addition, the impressive Cars Land.
5 Disneyland California Tips
There is just so much to do in Disneyland, so it is important to be organised before you get there. Here are our 5 Disneyland California Tips to help you get the most out of your time.
1. Go in with a game plan – Unsurprisingly, Disneyland gets absolutely packed so it’s important to go in with a game plan. Obviously weekends and holidays are best avoided. If you’ve never been before doing some research online beforehand can also be a real help. One of the best of the Disneyland California tips is to get an idea for the layout and pick out some rides and areas you’d like to go to.
2. Cut down on queuing – One of the main complaints people have after a day at Disneyland, California, are the long queues. I’ve heard of people queuing for over two hours for one ride! There really is no avoiding them, so prepare yourself mentally for some waiting in line. There are however a couple of ways to cut queuing times with the FASTPASS and Single Rider lines. Read up about them online or ask one of the many helpful park attendants and learn how to cut those queues!
3. Sun protection – In case you hadn’t heard, California is hot! Bring sunscreen, a water bottle and maybe a hat. Your day at Disneyland will no doubt be long and exhausting enough without getting heatstroke.
4. Snacks – If you’re jaw’s still on the floor after seeing the price of the tickets you may want to cut corners elsewhere. Food in the park is expensive but, if you bring snacks and a picnic, you can make it through the day without having to fork out for a huge meal too. There are good snacks around the parks too, such as enormous corn dogs, giant turkey legs, excellent churros, and refreshing ice cream.
5. Remember to enjoy yourself – It seems silly to say this about the self-proclaimed ‘happiest place on Earth’ but with the heat, the crowds and the prices you might find that you fast lose faith in Disney’s bold claim. That said, even if you’re not a diehard Disney fan, there’s plenty to enjoy at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure; you may just have to remind yourself every so often. In fact, quite apart from being a theme park for children, Disneyland and the whole world and atmosphere of the place is something utterly unique and incredibly American and almost worth seeing for that experience alone.
Let us know about your experiences or if you have other Disneyland California tips, below! Or tell us about other great things to do in Los Angeles.