Disneyland, the iconic theme park in Anaheim, California, first welcomed guests on July 18, 1955. Since its opening, it has hosted over 500 million visitors from around the globe, making it the world's second most visited park after Disney World in Orlando, Florida. For a comprehensive history of Disneyland, visit Wikipedia.
Fun Fact: Disneyland has grown significantly since its opening, with new attractions and lands continuously added, making it a dynamic and ever-evolving destination.
As a local resident near the Disney Resort, I've spent countless hours exploring the parks. I'm excited to share my experiences and tips to help make your visit as magical as possible.
Disneyland's operating hours typically range from 8 AM to Midnight, though these can vary. For the most current schedule, check here. Guests staying at Disney hotels enjoy the added benefit of an extra hour in the park before standard opening times.
Spanning 85 acres with over 60 attractions across 7 themed lands, Disneyland can be overwhelming. To streamline your visit, plan ahead using Disney’s official website, where you can filter attractions by thrill type, interests, or age group.
The Disneyland mobile app is an invaluable tool for navigating the park. It includes real-time ride wait times and the new Genie and Genie+ services for personalized planning and ride bookings.
Tip: To avoid large crowds, try visiting Disneyland on weekdays and non-holiday periods. The park is especially busy during weekends and major holidays.
Enjoying Disneyland depends on your personal preferences and, if applicable, the ages of your children. And remember, you don’t need to have kids to enjoy the magic of Disneyland!
See important updates about the park at the end of this page.
Here's a suggested way to experience the park, particularly suited for families with older children (teens and pre-teens).
The main gate typically opens 15-30 minutes before the official park opening time. Be sure to grab a park map and the day's entertainment schedule as you enter.
Tip: Guests staying at Disney hotels have the advantage of entering 1 hour earlier than the standard opening time. Make sure to use this extra time to enjoy the park with fewer crowds.
Upon the main gate opening, head straight through Main Street without stopping at the shops – there will be plenty of time for shopping later. Position yourself near the ribbon and wait for the park to officially open.
When the final barrier is removed, make your way quickly to your first ride of the day.
Tip: Consider using Lightning Lane for popular rides. This service allows you to bypass long lines and enjoy more attractions during your visit.
The Seven Lands of Disneyland
Disneyland's attractions are spread across seven uniquely themed lands, each offering its own set of rides, shops, and dining experiences.
Star Wars - Galaxy's Edge
The land features two major attractions, multiple dining options, and themed snack bars.
Fun Fact: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is the largest single-themed land in any Disney park, spanning over 14 acres.
Key attractions include Space Mountain, Star Tours, Star Wars Launchpad, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Don't miss Autopia and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Explore all Tomorrowland attractions here.
New Orleans Square, themed after 19th-century New Orleans, offers a charming riverfront ambiance. It's home to two iconic attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.
Also, it's a prime spot for Disneyland's spectacular fireworks shows like Fantasmic or Mickey's Mix Magic, which are displayed over the Rivers of America. Learn more about New Orleans Square here.
Tip: For a unique dining experience, try the Blue Bayou Restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, known for its atmospheric setting and delicious cuisine.
Adventureland transports visitors to an exotic tropical jungle filled with adventure. Highlights include the thrilling Indiana Jones Adventure, the enchanting Tarzan's Treehouse, and the classic Jungle Cruise. Discover more about Adventureland here.
Frontierland recreates the American Old West with attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and The Golden Horseshoe. The Rivers of America add to the land's charm, with steamboats and rafts adding to the frontier experience. Explore Frontierland in detail here.
Critter Country, designed to resemble woodland areas, is perfect for a more tranquil experience. It's home to the popular Splash Mountain and the rustic Hungry Bear Restaurant. Read more about Critter Country here.
Fantasyland brings to life Disney's fairy tales with attractions like Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and the beloved It’s a Small World. Learn more about Fantasyland here.
Fun Fact: Fantasyland underwent a major renovation in 1983, transforming it into the enchanting land we know today, with its detailed facades and immersive storybook atmosphere.
Mickey's Toontown, inspired by 1930s cartoons, is a whimsical land designed for younger guests. Attractions include Gadget's Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, along with the houses of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Explore Mickey's Toontown here.
Toontown, a beloved area in Disneyland known for its whimsical design and attractions, underwent significant renovations and was excitingly reopened in 2023. The revamped Toontown now features new attractions and experiences, enhancing its appeal to visitors of all ages.
Main Street, U.S.A.
Main Street, U.S.A., is the heart of Disneyland, designed to evoke the charm of an early 20th-century American town. It's a blend of Victorian and early modern architecture, with shops, dining, and entertainment that harken back to Walt Disney's childhood era.
Key attractions include the Emporium for shopping, City Hall for guest services, vintage vehicles for leisurely rides, and the Main Street Cinema showcasing classic Disney cartoons. Dining options range from the Carnation Café to the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. The street is also a prime spot for parades and offers a great view of Disneyland's fireworks.
The Disneyland Railroad at Main Street Station is a relaxing way to tour the park, offering a scenic loop with stops in different lands.
Main Street, U.S.A., is more than just an entrance; it's a nostalgic journey into America's past and the first taste of the magic that Disneyland offers.
During the holidays, Disneyland transforms into a winter wonderland. The park is adorned with a massive Christmas tree, festive decorations, and twinkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere as you enter the main plaza and gaze towards Main Street.
The iconic Sleeping Beauty's Castle is bedecked with icicle-like lights, adding to the enchanting holiday vibe. Nearby, a lively dance party often takes place, adding to the festive cheer.
A special holiday parade, starting from the main entrance and winding through Main Street to the 'It's a Small World' ride, is a seasonal highlight. The ride itself is transformed with bright lights and a festive program, celebrating global holiday traditions.
Tip: The holiday season is one of the best times to visit Disneyland, offering unique experiences and special events that are not available year-round.
Upon entering Disneyland, the train station platform is a notable feature. The Disneyland Railroad not only provides convenient transportation between lands but also offers a delightful journey. It includes stops at several locations and features a Grand Canyon simulation and a prehistoric dinosaur diorama, making it a unique and enjoyable experience.
Disneyland Lightning Lane and Other Services
Lightning Lane is a convenient service to avoid long queues at popular attractions. For instance, if the wait for Space Mountain is lengthy, you can book a Lightning Lane appointment for a shorter wait time. This service is part of the broader range of options available to enhance your Disneyland experience. Learn more about Lightning Lane and other services here.
Disneyland caters to a wide array of tastes and budgets, offering everything from quick snacks to full-service restaurants. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, you'll find plenty of options to satisfy your cravings. Check out the full Disneyland dining guide here.
Disneyland has undergone significant changes during and post the Covid pandemic, resulting in an enhanced visitor experience. Key updates include:
- Advance ticket purchase and reservation requirements for park entry.
- The Disneyland app for planning your day, checking ride wait times, reserving dining, and booking Lightning Lane rides.
- The option to purchase Genie+ for added flexibility in booking Lightning Lane rides.
- A special Lightning Lane pass for the popular Rise of the Resistance ride, which is highly recommended.
These changes have streamlined the Disneyland experience, making it more enjoyable and efficient for visitors.
In my opinion, the park emerged as a better experience due to those changes.
- Most importantly, you can't enter the park on a whim. You have to buy the tickets and make reservations before you enter. While purchasing your passes online, you will get a chance to make reservations.
- Download the app and use it to plan your day. You can check ride wait times, reserve dining, and book Lightning Lane (LL) rides.
- Purchase the Genie+ add-on for even more flexibility in booking LL rides.
- Pay the additional $20 LL for Rise of the Resistance ride. You will be glad you did.