The Disney Resort

nullWhen visiting Anaheim, you are guaranteed to have fun. The obvious primary destination is The Disneyland resort area. This includes Disneyland, California Adventure, Downtown Disney and the Disneyland hotel.

You will need several days just to explore the Disney resort area. But if you have more time you can visit other attractions in the area like Knott's Berry Farm; Universal Studios and Seaworld.

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

Read the more detailed articles about the Disney Resort included under this heading. They are full of information and tips that you can't find anywhere else. They also include links to special admission deals.

Once you have done the amusement parks or if you need a break, visit one of the great parks, play golf, play tennis, go hiking, explore the mountains or have fun at the beach - all in Anaheim or within a short distance from Anaheim. Find articles about those other places under the "Back to Nature" section.

Anaheimer Tip: You don't need to spend a lot of money to have fun in Anaheim. You can take the kids to a park or for a hike. You can go for a stroll in downtown Disney or at the Garden Walk.

Books about the Disney Resort:

Disneyland Anaheim Vacationland
Everything Family Guide to the Disneyland Resort
Birnbaum's Disneyland Resort 2009

List of Disney Resort articles:

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California Adventure

nullCalifornia Adventure opened its doors on February 8, 2001. It is a totally separate theme park from Disneyland, but they both reside within the Disney Resort complex.

The park started with five areas but was remodeled recently to include 8 distinct areas:

  • Buena Vista Street
  • Hollywood Land
  • Cars Land
  • A Bug's Land
  • Paradise Pier
  • Pacific Wharf
  • Grizzly Peak

Each area represents various aspects of California, its culture, landmarks and history. It is home to Disney’s only real rollercoaster, a must see hang-glider ride and a unique Ferris wheel. 

To learn more about the history of the park, go to here.

nullThis park is full of rides, shows and parades to enjoy - so plan your visit ahead of time. Your plan should take into consideration the ages of your kids, the length of your stay and your endurance power.

To make your experience more enjoyable and stress-free, plan your visit by going to Disney’s website. The site allows visitors to filter for attractions by “Thrill Type”, “Interests” or “Age”. For example, you can choose “Big Drops”, “Slow Rides”, “Teens”, etc. But before you go there, stick around and learn about the park from a local.

I live practically around the corner from the Disney Resort and spend a lot of time at the parks. I would like to share my experiences with you. Hopefully, it will help get the most out of your visit. 

The park is usually open from 9 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and from 8 AM to 11 PM on weekends and holidays.

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

Tip: Most rides offer a single rider line. Even if you don't see a sign indicating "Single Riders", ask the attendant. They will give a special ticket and direct you to the "secret" line. You can take advantage of this feature even if you are with a group. If you don't mind being separated during the ride, just go for it.

nullSo, what is the best way to enjoy the park? What are the best rides? It really depends on your preferences, but here one way to experience the park:

Buena Vista Street

As you enter the park you will be on Buena Vista Street, which was named after the actual street in Burbank where Disney studios sit. The street leads to the central plaza that represents Los Angeles in the 1920’s. 

Before you reach the plaza, turn right onto Grizzly Peak area for some great fun.

Grizzly Peak

nullTake a hike through California’s national parks with Redwood trees, whitewater rapids and high mountain peaks.

Soarin' Over California

I always like to make this my first ride of the day. If you are anything like me, you will end up going on it multiple times. 

The ride simulates flying in a hang-glider through California. It goes above San Francisco, Redwood Creek, Napa Valley, Monterey, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Palm Springs, Camarillo, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego, Malibu and back to Los Angeles.

nullThe ride ends with a flight over Disneyland at Christmas, with a Christmas parade traveling down Main Street, USA, decorations on Sleeping Beauty Castle, and the fireworks grand finale.

The amazing scenery passing right under your feet is so realistic and the smells (yes! You heard it right: Smells) are so invigorating that you can very easily forget you are in a simulator. 

Soon the ride will be transformed into “Soarin' Around the World”. <FastPass Available>

Tip: Some rides offer FastPass. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example if you go to Soarin' Over California and find out that the wait time is too long, get a FastPass. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you will go through a different line which is usually very short. Be aware that you can only have one FastPass at a time (per rider). In other words, don’t expect to get Fast passes for several rides at the same time. Look for the symbol next to rides offering FastPass.

Books about the Disney Resort

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016 

Disneyland Secrets  

Grizzly River Run

nullAs you exit Soarin' Over California turn right and walk towards Grizzly River Run. This is a whitewater rafting ride. 

The attraction's name comes from Grizzly Peak, the bear-shaped mountain that the rapids flow around. You are guaranteed to get wet on this ride so go during warm weather, or you can buy one of the plastic smocks and avoid the worst of the drenching. <FastPass Available>

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

nullRight opposite to Grizzly River Run, you will find this wilderness themed play area. This place can be great fun for both kids and adults.

You can climb the rocks, glide on rock slides, climb up wooden lookout towers with rope bridges or slide down a rope in a suspended tire.

Don’t forget to go through the Spirit Cave to discover your mystical animal spirit. 

If you prefer to relax and let the kids run amuck, benches are available.

Tip: this play area is very large with many fun things to do. On the way in, inspect the large map to decide which way to go.

Paradise Pier

nullAfter your adventure at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, turn right into Paradise Pier. Step back in time and take a walk on the beach boardwalk where you will find carnival rides, parlor games and fast food. The area surrounds a large manmade lake where the “World of Color” show plays.

Goofy's Sky School

This is a crazy rollercoaster ride where Goofy will "teach" you how to fly. It is based on Disney's animated cartoon "Goofy's Glider".

nullThe ride has a lot of turns, drops and sudden stops, but it is not very fast. The sides of the tracks are wide open. This gives the rider the feeling of falling off on sharp turns. The open sides and the sudden drops may be unsettling for small children.

As you fly in your gliders, billboards on the sides of the tracks show Goofy giving step by steps instructions on how to fly. <FastPass Available>

Jumpin' Jellyfish

nullAt the Jumpin’ Jellyfish, the younger kids can enjoy a parachute jump through a Kelp forest. The secure seats will take them up to a height of 40 feet and then drop them gently to the ground. On the way down they can enjoy a nice view of Paradise Bay.

Tip: If you have loose shoes or slippers on, take them off before the ride or you will lose them.

Silly Symphony Swings

nullHuge spinning swings rock you back and forth as they spin you round and round - synchronized to the music of "The Band Concert". 

As you spin, you have a great view of Paradise Bay and the other rides around you.

California Screamin

This is the only real rollercoaster at the Disney resort. It is currently the fastest steel rollercoaster in the US and features a full loop.

Important Note: The ride closed in Jan 2018 and slated to reopen as reimagineered ride as the "Incredicoaster" - a part of the new Pixar Pier land - slated to open in June 2018.

The ride starts with very quick acceleration through the water in Paradise nullBay and splashes most of the riders. 

The 55 mph speed and all the twists and turns make this ride the most thrilling ride in the Disney parks. <FastPass Available>

Tip: Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks is the single ride line. If you are traveling alone (or willing to pretend you are alone) you can go the single ride line which goes faster than the regular line.

World of Color Show

nullTo end your day at California Adventure with awe and wonderment, you must plan to view this spectacular show. 

The show projects various movie clips from the vast Disney and Pixar collections on a giant screen of water and mist – with a fiery display of pyrotechnics. Accompanying the spectacular display is a magical musical score.

The show also utilizes lights, water, fire, fog, and lasers. Expect to see clips from The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Fantasia 2000, WALL-E, Toy Story, Aladdin and many more.

Tip: The show plays 2 times on the weekend and one time on weekdays. It is immensely popular so you will need to plan ahead.

nullThe best way is to head straight to Grizzly River Run ride and get FastPass tickets to the show. Those free tickets run out quickly, so make it your first stop when you arrive at the park. You can combine those FastPasses with other ride FastPasses.

Another option is to reserve a dining package at one of the sit-down restaurants surrounding Paradise Bay (Ariel's Grotto, Carthay Circle Restaurant, Wine Country Trattoria). Dining at those places is a little pricey, but if you were planning to have dinner anyway, this it is a good way to catch the show too. <FastPass Available>

Lunch Time

California Adventure offers many dining options. You can get a quick snack from places like “Corn Dog Castle” or “Cozy Cone Motel” or you can get lunch for a casual dining place like “Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill” or “Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta”. If you really want to enjoy an upscale experience, try “Carthay Circle” or “Wine Country Trattoria. My favorites:

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill

Grab your authentic Mexican tacos, burritos or tamales and take them to shaded outdoor patio. 

Smokejumpers Grill

nullRight next to “Soarin' Over California” you can enjoy cheeseburgers, chicken and ribs. You can customize your burger by adding your own toppings.

Carthay Circle

A fine dining restaurant that offers mouth water dishes like “Crisp Duck Confit” or “Herb-Crusted Lamb Scaloppini”.  For dessert, you should try the “Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée tart” or the “dark chocolate mousse bar”.

Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company

For a snack, you have to visit this soft serve ice cream stand. The lines are long, but it worth the wait. They serve the usual cup or cone – vanilla, chocolate or swirl. But they also serve coke or root beer floats. 

Cars Land

nullThis is the newest addition to California Adventure park. It spans 12 acres and contains 3 rides and several dining places. 

Radiator Springs Racers

This is a car driving experience through the town of Radiator Springs. After you board your 6 passenger car, you will cruise through town and be greeted by familiar faces from the “Cars” movie. 

nullPassing through an Archway, a valley and under a waterfall, you will end up at the race starting line. Expect some surprises along the way as you pass through a dark and mysterious area.

At the start line, your car will race another car to the finish line going through some exhilarating sharp turns and steep drops. The cars in this section of the ride can go up to 40 miles an hour. 

nullWhile you race away, notice the “Cadillac Range Mountains”. The peaks resemble the tail fins of classic Cadillac models from 1957 to 1962. <FastPass Available>

Tip: At one of those sharp turns with a drop - towards the end - your photo will be taken. Be ready to make your goofiest pose for the camera.

Cars Land also has 2 additional attractions that are more appropriate for smaller children:

Mater's Junkyard Jamboree: Ride a trailer that is pulled by a funny looking tractor. 

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters: You sit in your vintage cars then the cars start dancing around the yard.

A Bug’s Land

nullIf you have small children, you may want to stop at the Bugs Land area. It is themed after the Pixar movie “A Bug’s Life” and has several rides that are suitable for the young ones. Try a funny 3-D show, go flying on Flik's Flyers, drive bumper cars or ride the Heimlich's Chew-Chew Train.

Flik's Flyers

A spinner ride in which riders climb aboard floats made by bugs out of empty food containers. 

Heimlich's Chew Chew Train

nullRide on the German caterpillar Heimlich (from the movie) and eat your way through oversized food like carrots, watermelons and candy corn.

Princess Dot's Puddle Park 

Run around and through an oversized garden hose and a giant spigot that spurts water.

It's Tough to Be a Bug!

Done your 3d glasses and get immersed in a bug’s life. You will find out that it not so easy to be a bug. Flick from the Pixar movie tries to convince you that bugs are your friends.

Hollywood Land

nullStep into the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s and enjoy the magic of cinema and theater. Stroll through Hollywood streets and catch a show at the Hyperion Theater or go on a terrifying ride at the “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion

If you loved the movie, you will enjoy this theatrical rendition of the story. This show replaced the Aladdin show at the same theater.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

nullDo you like to be dropped from high places while experiencing the freefall sensation? Then you have to go on this ride.

Important Note: In 2017, the ride transformed into the “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!”. It will still feature the free-fall drop but with characters and effects from the Marvel comic. 

First, you go through the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. After you check in, an attendant takes you to your room on the service elevator.

Then you unwittingly pass through the twilight zone and into a world where anything could happen - and it will happen to you! 

I don't want to spoil the ride for you too much, but expect to be airborne for a few seconds.

This ride is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle it, then it is a thrill you don't want to miss. <FastPass Available>

Animation Academy

nullDid you always wanted to draw Disney characters but didn’t know how? Then join this session with a Disney animator to learn the basics of animation. At the end of the session, take your creation home with you.

Dinner Time

The gang must be hungry after all this excitement.

If you are in the mood for something casual, go to “Award Wieners” where they serve delicious sausage and hotdogs.

For food truck experience, try the “Studio Catering Co.” for some corn dogs, chips or caramel popcorn.

For dessert head to “Schmoozies” for some great fruit smoothies.

Muppet Vision 3D (currently not running)

nullIf you are like me, growing up watching the Muppet Show, you will definitely enjoy this 3-D show. You will get to watch the main characters doing their silly routine and you will be introduced to a new computer-generated Muppet. Waiting in the line is part of the fun. You will pass through Muppet Soundstage where you can view several displays and props. Don’t forget to grab your 3-D glasses on the way in.

Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular (Cancelled)

The name says it all. This is a theatrical show that lasts Approximately 45 minutes and is filled with wild imagination, dancing genies and flying carpets. Watch your favorite characters from the Disney movie Aladdin and a brand new song written especially for the show.

Disney Deals

Southern California Pass

If you are staying in the area for a week or more, you can purchase Southern California Pass. It includes 3-Day Disneyland Tickets, tickets for one day each at Universal Studios, SeaWorld and your choice of a ticket to the San Diego Zoo OR San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park:

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com! 

Multi-day park hopper

You get a better value for your dollar when buying multi-day park hopper passes. They come in 2, 3, 4, 5-day packages.

California Adventure FASTPASS Attractions

FastPass is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example, if you go to space mountain and find out that the wait time is too long, get a FastPass. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you go through a different line which is usually very short. Be aware that you can only have one FastPass at a time (per rider).

Rides that offer FastPass:

  • World of Color (distributed near Grizzly River Run) 
  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers (distributed near It’s Tough to Be a Bug)
  • Soarin’ Over California
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Coming soon: Guardians of the Galaxy.

California Adventure Single Rider Lines

Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks are the single rider lines. If you are traveling alone (or willing to split from your group when you reach the ride) you can go to the single rider line which goes faster than the regular line. On a recent visit, the wait line for my ride was 75 minutes. I was able to get in within 5 minutes through the single rider line.

Rides that offer single rider line:

  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin’ Over California.

Rider Switch (Swap) Rides

Do you have small children but you don't want to miss out on the thrilling rides? Line up with the whole group and when you reach the attendants let them know you would like to swap. One adult will stay with the young children and the other adults can go on the ride. When the first ride is done, the adult that stayed with the children can now enjoy the ride while the others wait.

Rides that offer rider swapping: 

  • California Screamin'
  • Goofy's Sky School 
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings - Single 
  • Silly Symphony Swings - Tandem 
  • Soarin' Over California
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 
  • Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies.
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Disneyland

null Disneyland opened its doors to the public on July 18, 1955. Since then over 500 million people visited the park from all over the world. It is considered the most visited park in the world, second only to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you really want to know the history, go to Wikipedia

I live practically around the corner from the Disney Resort and spend a lot of time at the parks. I would like to share my experiences with you. Hopefully, this will make your visit more enjoyable. 

The park is usually open from 9 AM to 11 PM, but times may vary. Go here for the latest schedule. Disney hotel guests can enjoy an extra hour of fun before the usual opening time. 

The park is very large. It sits on 85 acres of land with 60 attractions in 7 themed lands. So it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all choice. To make your experience more enjoyable and stress-free, plan your visit by going to Disney’s website. The site allows visitors to filter for attractions by “Thrill Type”, “Interests” or “Age”. For example, you can choose “Big Drops”, “Slow Rides”, “Teens”, etc.

nullYou can also download the new Disneyland mobile app (https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/download-disneyland-mobile-app/) which is very useful for locating rides and checking wait times. 

Disney Admission Deals: See bottom of this article for special admission deals.

Tip: Avoid going on the weekends and major holidays. Disneyland is a very crowded place during those times. Expect long lines.

So, what is the best way to enjoy Disneyland? It really depends on what you like and the ages of your kids – if any. Yes. you don’t have to have kids to enjoy Disneyland.

Here is one way to enjoy the park. It is most suited for a family with older kids (teens and pre-teens).

Starting your day

nullThe main gate opens 15-30 minutes before the official opening time. Don’t forget to pick up your park map and entertainment schedule.

Tip: If you are staying at one of the Disney hotels, then your opening time is 1 hours earlier. Take advantage of this perk

Once the main gate opens rush through Main Street. Do not stop at any of the shops. There is plenty of time for shopping later. Go all the way to the ribbon and wait until the actual opening time.

As soon as they open the final obstacle between you and fun, rush to your first ride.

Tip: Some rides offer FastPass. It is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example, if you go to space mountain and find out that the wait time is too long, get a FastPass. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you go through a different line which is usually very short. Be aware that you can only have one FastPass at a time (per rider).  

Tomorrow Land

Tomorrow Land is a futuristic themed area full of thrills and discovery. This land offers a lot of new and original attractions.

Space Mountain

nullThis is one of the most popular rides in the park. It is part roller coaster and part Disney magic. Waiting in line is part of the fun. You enter a spaceport – with a huge starship in the center, receive your instructions from Admiral Ackbar, ride your rocket ship and blast off into outer space. 

Your spaceship rockets through space with sharp turns and steep drops while avoiding near-collisions with asteroids and enemy spaceships. The ride is dark on purpose so you can enjoy the cosmic background. 

Tip: For the physically challenged visitors, Disneyland provides powered wheelchairs when needed and a special appointment system so they won’t need to wait in line. The appointment system works for everyone in the party.

Recently, the ride was renamed “Hyperspace Mountain” in honor of the “Star Wars” movie franchise. The ride itself was upgraded to simulate a dogfight between Rebel X-wing starfighters and Imperial TIE fighters. <FastPass Available>

Tip: See full list of FastPass attractions at the bottom of this article.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

nullThis is the new and improved version of the old submarine ride. It is very popular and the lines could be very long, especially with younger kids. 

It is basically a submarine ride through the famous animation movie “Finding Nemo”. Once you dive into the depths of the “Tomorrow Land Lagoon”, you will be helping Marlin and Dory to find Nemo.

Breakfast 

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

After enjoying a few rides, take a break and enjoy breakfast at one of those places: 

River Belle Terrace: This is my favorite spot for breakfast. They serve great eggs and bacon breakfast, but they are famous for their Mickey Mouse Pancakes and the great view from the terrace.

Carnation Café: Is another great spot for breakfast. They are famous for their Apple Granola Pancakes.

La Brea Café: If you planned ahead and decided to have breakfast before you enter the park, this nice cafe in Downtown Disney offers good coffee and pastries.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

nullAnother ride based on a popular movie: “Toy Story”. On this ride, kids of all ages can become junior space rangers, ride the XP-40 space cruiser and use laser guns to help Buzz Lightyear destroy the evil villain “Emperor Zurg”. 

During the ride, you have full control over your cruiser. You can spin around to locate and shoot your targets. Score a lot of points and become a "Galactic Hero".

Tip: To score a lot of points, keep firing at all times, try to find the targets with the highest points (like Emperor Zurg), and even when the ride stops, keep firing.

Star Tours

This is a flight simulator ride based on the “Star Wars” movies. Riders will start on a leisurely trip to the “Endor Moon” and end up in the middle of a space battle between the forces of the empire and the rebels.

The ride is now upgraded with scenes from the latest “Star Wars” movie in amazing 3D.<FastPass Available>

Star Wars Launch Bay

 nullThis section of Tomorrow Land used to house the rotating showcase “Innoventions”. Now it is home to Star Wars - The Force Awakens props, characters and memorabilia. Enjoy the spaceship models and take a peek at some behind the scene video clips.

The kids and diehard fans can line up for photos with Chewbacca or the fierce warrior Kylo Ren. At the theater, you can watch a 10-minute behind the scene film celebrating the movie franchise and offering glimpses of future releases.

In the hands-on area, you can play the latest Disney video games line “Infinity 3.0”.

Right outside the Launch Bay, you can see “Storm Troopers” terrorizing civilians.  

Star Wars Path of the Jedi

Take an exciting 12-minute tour of the Star Wars saga. Starting from episode 1 and including the latest blockbuster “The Force Awakens”, relive the thrilling moments of the movie franchise with special effects and motion simulation. Your seat would move in sync with the action on the large screen.

This show is located right under Space Mountain – where Captain Eo used to play. The show is not a 3D show, but you will not miss the glasses. The action on the screen and around you in the theater makes up for the extra dimension.

Autopia 

nullYou can’t have an amusement park without a car ride, and this one was around since the opening of Disneyland in 1955.

The adventure starts while you are winding through the long lines. You will pass through the Grand Stand where cars discuss the world from their point of view. 

Then you will get on one of the Honda-powered cars and drive through a maze of roads. Although you do control the gas pedal and the steering wheel, the cars are on a track. So you can’t go too fast or veer off the designated road. 

As you cruise down the highway, enjoy the quirky road signs and the views of other rides.    null

Astro Orbiter

Take a ride on a rocket that spins around the solar system. This is the ride the greets visitors as they enter Tomorrow Land. 

Lunch

Tomorrowland Terrace: Conveniently located next to Star Wars Launch Bay, this fast food restaurant serves fried chicken, burgers, salads and more.

Tip: Time your lunch with the “Jedi Training Academy” show right there on the terrace. There is usually a showing every hour

French Market Restaurant: If you feel like something more substantial, then walk across to New Orleans Square and have your lunch at this great restaurant. This cafeteria-style eatery serves Cajun/Creole dishes. On weekends, you can catch some Jazz or Dixieland tunes on the onsite stage.

Matterhorn Bobsleds

nullA fast rollercoaster/water ride that tumbles through the iconic Matterhorn mountain. Jump into your alpine sled, climb to the top of a snowcapped mountain then plunge through the caves and waterfalls. Along the way, watch out for the scary Abominable Snowman.

This ride is located in-between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. It doesn’t belong to either land. It also has 2 different entrances. If you pick the Fantasyland entrance will get a slightly longer with some sharper turns.

The Matterhorn is a real mountain in Switzerland with a 14,700-foot summit.

New Orleans Square

nullNew Orleans Square is a themed land based on 19th-century New Orleans. Along with nice riverfront restaurants, it offers two of the most popular rides:

Pirates of the Caribbean 

This ride was always very popular and became even more popular after the release of the movie series with the same name. 

In case you didn’t know, the movie is based on the ride. But the ride benefited from the movie with new upgrades and new characters. 

It is basically a boat ride through Caribbean towns with scenes of pillage and destruction – just like the movie. <FastPass Available>

Haunted Mansion 

nullIf the lines are not too long, this attraction might be worth a visit. Using Disney animatronics and visual effects, you get to see various ghosts and goals in action. 

I am not going to describe this ride in detail because part of the fun is the surprise, but watch out for unauthorized ghostly riders in your buggy.<FastPass Available>

Tip: Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks is the single ride line. If you are traveling alone (or willing to split from your group when you reach the ride) you can go to the single rider line which goes faster than the regular line. On a recent visit, the wait line for my ride was 75 minutes. I was able to get in within 5 minutes through the single rider line.

Disneyland Fireworks

nullIt is not a ride, but it deserves its own section. This amazing fireworks display happens every night at Disneyland and you can’t miss it. Along with the spectacular fireworks show, Disney recently added visual projections throughout the park – best along Main Street.

The display changes with the seasons, with special shows for Christmas and the New Year.

You can view the display from 4 main areas inside the park as well as admission plaza between the two parks. 

Best viewing area, in my opinion, is Main Street. Try to get to Main Street before or during the Paint the Night Parade. Wait until the parade ends then move to the center of the street. Make sure you can see sleeping beauty castle from your vantage point. When the show starts, you will enjoy the fireworks straight ahead and the beautiful projects on both sides of the street. An added advantage is being closer to the exit – if you plan to leave right after the fireworks.

If you prefer to be closer to the fireworks, then try to find a spot in front of the castle – maybe in the center circle between the lands. You will probably have to go very early and wait a while.

Another good spot is at “Small World” ride. It is even closer to the fireworks, but you will not be able to see the castle and Tinker Bell. 

You can also view the fireworks from the Rivers of America area. Not the best location, but it is convenient if you are coming out of Pirate of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion. 

Adventureland

nullAdventureland is designed to take the visitor to a tropical jungle full of surprises and adventure:

Indiana Jones 

This ride is based on the Indiana Jones films. Riders are taken on an adventure in a military transport vehicle through a lost temple with Indiana Jones as your guide. 

The ride is bumpy with a lot of sharp turns. It doesn’t exactly qualify as a roller coaster but comes close to it. <FastPass Available>

Tip: The line for Indiana Jones is usually very long, so if you can, get a FastPass and come back later. Alternatively, you can make it your first ride and avoid the lines

Tarzan's Treehouse

nullIn between rides take the kids to release some energy at Tarzan's Treehouse. Let them climb the tree, cross the ramp to Tarzan’s secret hideaway and bang on the various musical instruments

Books about Disneyland:

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016

Disneyland Secrets  

Jungle Cruise 

The attraction simulates a riverboat cruise down major rivers of the world. Visitors board steamer ships and take a voyage past many different jungle animals.

Frontierland

Frontierland recreates the era of trailblazers and pioneers in the wild west. Running through this land is “The Rivers of America” where steamboats, sail ships, rafts and canoes float by.

Tip: Part of the Rivers of America was recently drained to allow for the new Star Wars Land expansion. The steamboat and raft rides were closed, as well as Tom Sayer’s Island.   

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 

nullThis is a fun rollercoaster ride through mine shafts, bat caves, falling rocks and waterfalls. The rider gets the feeling that they are riding a runaway train. <FastPass Available>

The Golden Horseshoe 

If you haven’t had your lunch yet, this is a good time to stop for lunch or dinner. The dinner and show style restaurant offers fish and chips, chicken breast nuggets, Chili cheese fries and chili in a bread bowl. For entertainment enjoy the silly shenanigans of the Laughing Stock Co.

Critter Country

If you continue your stroll along the rivers of America, you will end up at Critter Country, the home of Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh.

Splash Mountain 

nullThis ride is part log ride and part movie production. The theme is based on the Disney movie “Song of the South”. At the end of the ride expect a steep drop and a big splash. Most riders will get wet! So only go on this ride when the weather is warm. <FastPass Available>

Hungry Bear Restaurant 

Is it dinner time yet? Have a picnic at this riverside haven is nestled among the pine trees. Enjoy cheeseburgers, chicken sandwich or a healthy salad while watching the ducks swim by. 

Fantasyland

nullAfter you experience some adventures in Frontierland, Adventureland and Critter Country, skip back to fantasyland. Pass through the majestic Sleeping Beauty Castle, fly with Peter Pan, tumble into Alice's Wonderland, ride the flying elephant Dumbo or take a trip around "it's a small world".

Tip: Do you have small children but you don't want to miss out on the thrilling rides? Line up with the whole group and when you reach the attendants let them know you would like to swap. One adult will stay with the young children and the other adults can go on the ride. When the first ride is done, the adult that stayed with the children can now enjoy the ride while the others wait.

It’s a small world 

nullThis ride never gets old or boring. Children and adults of all ages will enjoy it. You ride a toy boat through several world destinations, with singing and dancing dolls representing the peoples of those countries. The music is great and it mixes several famous Disney tunes. Once you pass through the lines, it is time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Peter Pan's Flight 

Fly with Peter Pan over London and onto Neverland and through skull rock. Witness a duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. You will get a chance to see many more characters from the movie.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant 

The kids get to fly with Dumbo and his friends over fantasyland. They get to control the flight and decide how high to go.

Other Rides 

Fantasyland is full of other small rides for the whole family. You can spin as fast as you can at the Mad Hatter Tea Party, go as slow as you like at King Arthur Carrousel and visit Alice in her Wonderland.

Enchanted Cottage, Sweets and Treats 

The kids are screaming for ice-cream? Desert or dinner time, you will find good snacks in this cottage located in Fantasyland.

Mickey's Toontown

nullMickey's Toontown is inspired by 1930s cartoons. The buildings, roads and rides all look cartoonish. It is targeted towards younger kids. If you have very young one, they will enjoy Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. They can also visit Mickey Mouse house and Minnie Mouse house.

Tip: From several locations throughout Disneyland, you can take the Disneyland Railroad for a trip around the whole park, or just to hop to another faraway land. The train ride takes you through many of the park’s attractions. This is a good way to explore the park before you visit the actual rides. You also get to see a hidden area that is only accessible by train: The Grand Canyon/Primeval World diorama. This is the longest diorama in the world showing live size prehistoric animals in their natural habitat. 

Disney Deals

Disneyland FASTPASS Attractions

FastPass is a way to avoid long lines at some rides. For example, if you go to space mountain and find out that the wait time is too long, get a FastPass. It will specify an appointment time for you to come back. When you come back you go through a different line which is usually very short. Be aware that you can only have one FastPass at a time (per rider), with one exception: If 2 hours passed since you received your last FastPass, you can get another one.

Rides that offer FastPass:

  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Space Mountain
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Splash Mountain
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds (when it reopens on April 28, 2017)
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

Disneyland Single Rider Lines

Another way to beat the lines and Disney parks are the single rider lines. If you are traveling alone (or willing to split from your group when you reach the ride) you can go to the single rider line which goes faster than the regular line. On a recent visit, the wait line for my ride was 75 minutes. I was able to get in within 5 minutes through the single rider line.

Rides that offer single rider line:

  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Splash Mountain
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Rider Switch (Swap) Rides

Do you have small children but you don't want to miss out on the thrilling rides? Line up with the whole group and when you reach the attendants let them know you would like to swap. One adult will stay with the young children and the other adults can go on the ride. When the first ride is done, the adult that stayed with the children can now enjoy the ride while the others wait.

Rides that offer rider swapping: 

  • Autopia  
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad  
  • Gadget's Go Coaster  
  • Indiana Jones Adventure  
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds 
  • Space Mountain  
  • Splash Mountain 
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue  
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Disneyland Hotel

nullDisney owns three properties in the Disney Resort area. The Disneyland hotel is the original hotel, which was opened along with the park opening. The other two are the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. Each hotel has its own distinctive theme.

The Disneyland hotel was remodeled recently and capacity reduced to allow for the Downtown Disney and California Adventure expansion. One of the original towers was tore down, but any lost capacity was made up by the new Grand Californian hotel and by acquiring Paradise Pier hotel.

nullIf you are visiting from outside of Southern California, staying in one of the Disney Resort properties is expensive, but it affords you great advantages.

Along with the usual amenities, the Disneyland hotel offers the following experiences:

For hotel guests

Rooms

The rooms are comfortable with nice Disney touches everywhere. The headboard lights up and plays music – a hit with kids and adults. 

If you want to splurge, try one of the themed suites like Pirates of the Caribbean or Mickey’s Playhouse. 

Pools

nullAs a hotel guest, you can enjoy 3 pools and 2 waterslides. The water slides go through retro monorail replicas. 

Children’s Activity Center

Children ages 5-12 can use their imagination to create and build or they can play video games. You can leave your children with the experienced staff while you enjoy some adult time.

Magic Hour

Guest staying at any of the Disney hotels can enter the parks one hour before opening time. They can also join a power walk through California Adventure at 6 am while the park is empty.

Fun and Dining for all

You don't have to stay at the Disney hotels to enjoy some of the activities and dining. Here are a few that are available for all.

Tours

nullThe hotel now offers several free tours. You have to reserve a spot at guest services counter next to check-in. 

One of the tours is called “The Happiest Hotel on Earth”. It is a one-hour narrated walk through the hotel in which the tour guide talks about the hotel history. 

Another tour is the “60 Years of Magic” tour that takes about 90 minutes. The walk takes through all 3 Disney Hotel properties. 

Note: Offered tours and schedules are subject to change. Always check with guest services for the latest offerings. 

The park also offers paid tours to help first time visitors explore the parks and the hotels for best experience. Some of the tours are “Disney California Story Tour” and “Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps”.

Goofy's Kitchen Restaurant

nullEnjoy a delicious meal with Goofy and friends. Expect a visit from Disney characters to each table and make sure the Camera is handy. Some of the buffet choices are Mickey Mouse shaped waffles, Omelet made to order, Peanut butter & jelly pizza!

Tangaroa Terrace

This is a great place for casual dining and drinks. Grab a table at the terrace and enjoy the views. You will feel like you were transported to Hawaiian island. 

For lunch or dinner, check out their Hawaiian cheeseburgers and Shrimp Tacos. 

nullFor drinks, try their “Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum” – a coconut, pineapples and rum iced drink.

The food prices are reasonable, but the alcoholic drinks are on the expensive side.

Steakhouse 55 

This is an upscale restaurant with premium beef and seafood. They are famous for the bone-in rib eye and the filet mignon.

The steakhouse also serves a great brunch to start your day. Try their New York steak and eggs, eggs Benedict or the build-your-own omelet. For the young ones, don’t forget the Mickey-shaped pancakes.

Disney Deals

Southern California Pass:

nullIf you are staying in the area for a week or more, you can purchase Southern California Pass. It includes 3-Day Disneyland Tickets, tickets for one day each at Universal Studios, SeaWorld and your choice of a ticket to the San Diego Zoo OR San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park: Find City Pass

Multi-day park hopper

You get a better value for your dollar when buy multi-day park hopper passes. They come in 2, 3, 4, 5-day packages: Get Disney passes.

Books about Disneyland

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016

Disneyland Secrets  

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Downtown Disney

nullDowntown Disney district sits in between Disneyland, California Adventure and Disneyland hotel. The area is full of entertainment venues and restaurants.

The best things are free at Downtown Disney: You can stroll around, enjoy the scenery or listen to street performers. At around 9:30 PM you can catch the great fireworks display right from the district. The fireworks are launched above the sleeping beauty castle, but very prominent from several locations in the district.

If you feel like a big spender, you can indulge yourself with fine dining and happening shows.

Some of my favorite venues:

null Rainforest Cafe: The restaurant is decorated as a rainforest with plants, trees, waterfalls, robotic animals and insects. This place is very popular with families. You should expect a long wait, but while waiting you can enjoy the huge aquariums. Members of your party can shop in the souvenir shop connected to the restaurant. The menu is extensive and includes tropical treats along with traditional American cuisine. While enjoying your meal you will witness a simulated thunderstorm. Kids of all ages love to eat here, and they do have their own menu. Some examples from the menu: Alaskan King Crab Legs, Amazon Fajitas, BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, Caribbean Coconut Shrimp, Fish and Chips. Reservations are accepted and suggested.

AMC Theatres: You can catch the latest movie releases at Downtown Disney’s AMC theaters.  You can pick from 12 different movies to watch. The theater uses stadium seating and offers digital 3D movies when available.

Build-A-Bear Workshop: This store is part of a worldwide chain in which kids and adults can stuff their own teddy bear then dress it up and officially adopt it. The store has a large selection of teddy bears (or other animals). You start by selecting your favorite bear/character. Then you go to the stuffing machine. You will get help in stuffing the bear. The next step is to pick a heart for your bear. Now that the bear is alive, you need to dress it up. You can get lost in the 2 story shop trying to find the right outfit for your bear. With the right outfit in hand, you can now pay for your purchase and print a birth certificate for your new friend.

Tip: Each May, there is a weekend known as Stuffed For Hugs Weekend. Guests at Build-a-Bear are given the opportunity to stuff a preselected animal for charity. The entire process is free, and is very popular. Some people even dress up the donated animal before sending it to charity. There is also a similar weekend that occurs in late October known as "The Spirit of Giving".

nullHouse of Blues (Restaurant and Night Club): This a great place to catch the hottest bands and enjoy good food and a few drinks. You dine at the restaurant or take advantage of the food and beverage service at the music hall. Some of the menu items are Southern-style favorites such as Pan Seared Voodoo Shrimp, Rosemary Cornbread, Tennessee Style Baby Back Ribs, Creole Jambalaya, and White Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding. The house of blues at Downtown Disney is famous for its unique quilt decorations and rose terrace. Local Tip: If you are planning to attend a concert at HOB, go to dinner first. When they open the music hall doors, you can be first in.

The LEGO Imagination Center: If you never played with Legos raise your hand. Well, you must be the only one. This store is a unique interactive experience where the whole family can try out different Lego construction or just drool about the latest Lego sets. Don’t forget to take a picture with the 23-foot Giraffe.

Disney Deals:

  • Southern California Pass: If you are staying in the area for a week or more, you can purchase Southern California Pass. It includes 3-Day Disneyland Tickets, tickets for one day each at Universal Studios, SeaWorld and your choice of a ticket to the San Diego Zoo OR San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park: Find City Pass.
  • Multi-day park hopper: You get a better value for your dollar when buy multi-day park hopper passes. They come in 2, 3, 4, 5-day packages: Get Disney passes.

Tip: The Disneyland Monorail has a station at Downtown Disney. You take the monorail from Tomorrowland or Toontown and stop at Downtown Disney for lunch. Also, when you are first starting your day at Disneyland, you enter the park from this station and land straight into Tomorrowland.

La Brea Bakery Café: Another great place to eat. It offers sandwiches, pastries and delicious desserts. Sit in the outdoor patio, watch the herds of people going by and if you time your dinner just right you will be able to watch the fireworks from your table.

World of Disney: If you are really dying to buy that Disney souvenir before you head home, then this is the store for you. It is one of the largest World of Disney stores, second only to the one in Florida, with a huge selection of character merchandise. You can find backpacks, books, boxers, children’s apparel, clocks, collectibles, costumes, dolls, figurines, gifts, hats, jewelry, luggage, photo albums, plush toys, sleepwear, slippers, socks, souvenirs, stationery, sunglasses, sweatshirts, T-shirts, ties, videos, watches and other items branded with Disney characters and theme park icons. Even if you are not ready to buy, browsing through this huge selection is an entertaining experience by itself.

Other places worth mentioning: Get a snack on the go at Häagen-Dazs, Marceline's Confectionery (watch Candy being made) or Jamba Juice (take your snack next to one of the fountains). Watch a game and dinner at ESPN Zone. Find more souvenirs or a unique gift at Disney's Pin Traders, Illuminations, Sephora, or Something Silver.

Books about the Disney Resort:

Disneyland Anaheim Vacationland
Everything Family Guide to the Disneyland Resort
Birnbaum's Disneyland Resort 2009

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